How to connect a passive subwoofer to speakers

Updated February 21, 2017

A passive subwoofer is a bass speaker that must be connected to an external amplifier for power, unlike some self-powered subs for home theatre. Passive subs can also be connected to speakers for efficient power management by setting the sub's crossover control. The crossover adjusts to a specific frequency, so all sounds below that frequency are sent to the sub to produce bass, while audio above the frequency is sent on to the connected speakers. Standard speaker wire can be used to make the connections.

Uncoil speaker wire off the spool from the subwoofer to each speaker that will be connected. Cut the lengths of wire with the wire cutters.

Strip 1/2 inch of insulation from both ends of each speaker wire.

Attach speaker wire to the back of the sub by lifting the plastic, spring-loaded clips to reveal a hole underneath for each wire. Insert the red wire in the red (positive) terminal on the back of the sub and connect the other wire to the black (negative) terminal.

Connect the other end of each wire to a speaker in the same manner, taking care to match the polarity so the red wire is connected to the positive terminal on the sub and the speaker.

Adjust the crossover knob on the back of the sub to the desired audio frequency to direct sound to the sub and to the attached speakers.

Plug the white and red audio cables from the subwoofer's input jacks to a set of output jacks on an amplifier or preamp, which will provide the power to drive the sub. The red plug on the audio cables connects to the right channel. The white plug connects to the left.


Make all audio connections before plugging the sub into an amplifier or preamp.

Things You'll Need

  • Wire strippers
  • Audio cables
  • Amplifier or preamp
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About the Author

James Clark began his career in 1985. He has written about electronics, appliance repair and outdoor topics for a variety of publications and websites. He has more than four years of experience in appliance and electrical repairs. Clark holds a bachelor's degree in political science.