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 for Lifewire

Subwoofers are definitely an important component in a home theater system, providing the knock-your-socks-off low-frequency effects impact (referred to as LFE) for all those sci-fi and action 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.

However, before you consider adding a second subwoofer (or even more), make sure you have performed some basic room placement and bass management setting tasks to see if you are getting the best performance out the subwoofer you already have.

Hooking Up More Than One Subwoofer

After working with the subwoofer and room that you have, 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. In these cases, in addition to the differing size of the subwoofers, as well as their frequency ranges, you have to be aware of any differences in power output.

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 an 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 LFE  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 cables.

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.

The Bottom Line

No matter which option you decide is best when comes to the brand, model, size, and connection option(s) of your subwoofers, for each one, you still need to find the best spot in your room that will provide the best performance of each subwoofer individually and all of them together - be prepared to do a lot listening and moving, along with making setting adjustments to get the best result for your room and listening preference.

The considerations and options discussed above are designed to be used with standard powered subwoofers, if you are using passive subwoofers, then you will need an additional external amplifier(s) to power each passive subwoofer.