How to Connect a Subwoofer to a Receiver or Amplifier

Easy ways to hook up almost any kind of subwoofer

What to Know

  • Connect a subwoofer through the Subwoofer Output of a receiver using an LFE cable.
  • If there isn't an LFE subwoofer output or LFE input: Connect using an RCA cable.
  • If the subwoofer features spring clips: Use the speaker output of the receiver to hook it all up.

This article explains how to connect a subwoofer to a receiver or amplifier by connecting the subwoofer to the SUB OUT or LFE output of a receiver or amplifier, or using a subwoofer's RCA or speaker wire connections.

Connect Using the LFE Subwoofer Output

The preferred method of connecting a subwoofer is through the Subwoofer Output (labeled as 'SUB OUT' or 'SUBWOOFER') of a receiver using an LFE (an acronym for Low-Frequency Effects) cable. Almost all home theater receivers (or processors) and some stereo receivers have this type of subwoofer output. The LFE port is a special output only for subwoofers; you'll still see it labeled as 'SUBWOOFER' and not as LFE.

An illustration of the options for connecting a subwoofer.
Lifewire / Miguel Co

5.1 channel audio (e.g. media found on DVD discs or from cable television) has a dedicated channel output (the '.1' part) with bass-only content that is best reproduced by a subwoofer. Setting this up merely requires connecting the LFE (or subwoofer output) jack on the receiver/amplifier to the 'Line In' or 'LFE In' jack on the subwoofer. It's usually just one cable with single RCA connectors on both ends.


How to Connect Speaker Wires to Your Receiver or Amp

Connect Using Stereo RCA or Speaker Level Outputs

Sometimes you'll find that a receiver or amplifier does not have the LFE subwoofer output. Or it might be that the subwoofer doesn't have the LFE input. Instead, the subwoofer might have right and left (R and L) stereo RCA connectors. Or they could be spring clips like you'd see on the back of standard speakers.

If the subwoofer's 'Line In' uses RCA cables (and if the subwoofer out on the receiver/amplifier also uses RCA), simply plug-in using an RCA cable. If the cable is split on one end (a y-cable for both right and left channels), then plug in both the R and L ports on the subwoofer. If the receiver/amplifier also has left and right RCA plugs for subwoofer output, then be sure to also plug in both to the receiver.

If the subwoofer features spring clips in order to use speaker wire, then you can use the speaker output of the receiver to hook it all up. This process is the same as connecting a basic stereo speaker. Be sure to mind the channels. If the subwoofer has two sets of spring clips (for speaker in and speaker out), then it means that other speakers connect to the subwoofer, which then connects to the receiver to pass along the audio signal. If the subwoofer has​ only one set of spring clips, then the subwoofer will have to share the same receiver connections as the speakers. The best way to accomplish this is by using banana clips (versus overlapping bare wire) that can plug into the backs of each other.

Subwoofers are typically easy to connect, given that there are usually only two cords to deal with: one for power and one for the audio input. You're far more likely to spend the bulk of time positioning and adjusting a subwoofer for the best performance than actually plugging in a pair of cables.

Was this page helpful?