How to Connect Two or More Subwoofers in a Home Theater Setup

Getting More Bass When You Need It

Dual Subwoofer Preamp Output Connection Example
Dual Subwoofer Preamp Output Connection Example. Photo © Robert Silva - Licensed to About.com

The Importance of a Subwoofer

Subwoofers are definitely an important component in a home theater system, providing the knock-your-socks-off low frequency effects (referred to as LFE) impact for all those action and sci-fi movies, as well as the low frequencies from acoustic and electric bass, and even kettle drums, from those jazz, rock, and symphonic albums.

However, just because you have included a subwoofer in your home theater setup, that doesn't mean you are getting all the impact you need, or want.

If you have a large room, a room that has acoustical problems, or an irregularly shaped room, you may find that you need more than one subwoofer. For more on the reasons why using more that one subwoofer might be beneficial, also read our article: Using Multiple Subwoofers.

Hooking Up More Than One Subwoofer

If you find that you need, or want, more than one subwoofer, the question becomes: "How do I hook-up two, or more, subwoofers in my home theater system?"

The first tip for integrating more than one subwoofer into a home theater setup is that if you are going to use multiple subwoofers in your listening area, it is best to use all of the same brand and model, so as to have the same low frequency reproduction profile for your room.

However, with some added attention, you can combine two different size subwoofers, such as a larger 12-inch sub with a smaller 10 or 8-inch sub, or subwoofers of different brands and models.

However, you have to be aware of any differences in power output. For more details on getting the best performance from any subwoofer, check out some useful subwoofer installation tips.

Now, before you buy your subwoofers (or combine ones that you already have), make sure they provide the connections that can fit within the three possible setup options below.

The Two Subwoofer Solution

Here are the three ways to add two subwoofers in a home theater system:

  • If your home theater receiver only has one Subwoofer pre-out (sometimes labeled Sub Out or LFE out), just use an RCA Y-Adapter and use it to send two parallel signals to two separate subwoofers.
  • If your home theater receiver has two subwoofer pre-outs, connect one output to one subwoofer and the second one to another subwoofer.
  • If one of your subwoofers has both am RCA Line-in and Line out connection option, connect your home theater receiver's Subwoofer Pre-out to your subwoofer's line in, and then connect the subwoofer's line out to the line-in of a second subwoofer.

Connecting Three or Four Subwoofers

If you are planning to use three or four subwoofers, the best option would be to make sure all your subwoofers have either RCA line or LFEĀ  line out connections and just daisy chain them all together using a series of subwoofer cables - otherwise, may need a home theater receiver that has two subwoofer preamp outputs that you will have to split so that you can feed up to four subwoofers and that is a lot of cable.

The Wireless Subwoofer Option

However, there is one additional subwoofer connection trick that you can take advantage of (and it isn't that expensive).

Both Sunfire and Velodyne make wireless subwoofer adapters that can transmit to up to two or four wireless compatible subwoofers, respectively. In this case, stick with Velodyne or Sunfire wireless subs if possible, but both systems can adapt any subwoofer with RCA line inputs into a wireless sub.

NOTE: The considerations and options discussed above are for using traditional Powered Subwoofers, if you are using Passive Subwoofers, then you will need additional external amplifier(s) to power each passive subwoofer. For more details on how to set up and use passive subwoofers, refer to our article: Passive vs Powered Subwoofers.

More Info

For more on subwoofers, including basics, buying tips, and actual product suggestions read the following supplementary articles:

Subwoofers - What You Need to Know

Before You Buy a Subwoofer

What the .1 Means in Surround Sound

Subwoofer Top Picks