How to connect subwoofer to receiver without subwoofer output (Beginner’s Advice)

So, you've heard of the wonders of Subwoofers, of how they dramatically boost the audio quality of your sound systems. Now, you want to try them out. That’s amazing!

You’ve taken the first step towards enjoying high-quality audio. I can guarantee you that you'll never hear low-frequency sounds the same way again.

Now that your subwoofer has finally arrived, you realize, while setting it up, that your receiver doesn’t have a subwoofer output.

Hold up! Before you place that call to customer support, let’s chat a bit about how to connect subwoofer to receiver without subwoofer output. Trust me when I say that it is entirely normal for receivers not to have a subwoofer output.

Regardless, you can still connect your subwoofer to the receiver that lacks a subwoofer output. Don't worry. We'll walk you through the process in the article. Keep reading.

There are different ways to connect your subwoofers to your receiver that don't have a subwoofer output. We'll examine some of these methods and the tool you'll need to establish the connection successfully.

Related: How to connect a subwoofer to an old amplifier


Connecting subwoofer to receiver without sub out - Preamp Output Connection

While your receiver lacks a subwoofer output, a preamp output is part of a receiver. With a preamp output, you can make it work. In essence, you can connect your subwoofer and receiver. Let’s go over the tools you’ll need to make this work.

Tools required

  • Subwoofer
  • Receiver
  • Y-adapter

The Pre-process

Now, to connect your subwoofer to the receiver, you’ll need the RCA input on your subwoofer. Some subwoofers come with two RCA inputs. If your subwoofer has two RCA inputs, you don’t need to use a Y-adapter.

Ensure the Y-adapter has two ends; a male end and two female ends at the other end of the adapter. The role of this type of Y-adapter is to double the single RCA input on your subwoofer.

The Process

  1. Connect the RCA Y adapter to the subwoofer by plugging the male adapter into the RCA input port on your subwoofer.
  2. Plug the two female ends of the adapter into the preamp output.

Viola! You’ve successfully connected the subwoofer to your preamp.

Although it's rare for subwoofers not to have RCA inputs, this might be the case with your subwoofer. If that happens, don't break a sweat. Connect your subwoofer to the receiver the same way you'd connect a regular speaker to it.

Related: Subwoofer vs Woofer

How to connect a subwoofer to speaker level outputs - The Speaker Level Output Connection

This method works if your receiver doesn't have a preamp output. It also works if your receiver has a preamp output, but the subwoofer lacks any RCA inputs. It's a reasonably easy connection process. Here, you’ll have to connect the woofer to the receiver the same way you’d connect a speaker. This process should be easy as almost every subwoofer comes with a speaker-level connection. Let's dive into how to establish this connection properly.

Related: SVS SB 3000 Subwoofer

Tools required

  • Subwoofer
  • Receiver
  • Speaker wires

The Pre-process

Before you begin, check to see that your receiver has the spring clip connector. It usually sits pretty at the back of the receiver. Also, check to see that your subwoofer has it. If each piece of equipment has it, then you can successfully connect the subwoofer to the receiver the same way you'll connect your regular speaker to a receiver.

The Process

  1. Using the Speaker wires, connect the wires to the back of the subwoofer after passing it through the AV receiver.
  2. The spring-clip connectors are usually two. Proceed to connect both clips (left and right) at the back of your receiver to the

It is worthy of note that this method of connecting your subwoofer to your receiver is best for powered subwoofers. If your subwoofer is non-powered or passive, then this method might not work for you. However, you can try the following method below that's specifically dedicated to those with passive Subwoofers.

Related: How to test a subwoofer with a multimeter

The Passive Subwoofer Connection

If you do not know, passive Subwoofers differ from active subwoofers because they do not have a built-in amplifier. Although they’re not very popular these days, you could come across a passive Subwoofer.

And if you didn’t know it is a passive Subwoofer, you’d invest your money into it. That’s fine as it is not entirely useless. The only thing is, you’ll have to buy an external amplifier.

So, you won't only connect the receiver to the subwoofer. You'll also join the subwoofer to the amplifier. While it might sound stressful, that's the only authentic way to get your subwoofer to output the right amount of power that it needs to function correctly.

However, you can convert your passive sub into an active one with the help of an external amplifier. Start with connecting your amplifier to the subwoofer. When that happens, you can connect your subwoofer to the receiver using any connection methods highlighted above.


  • Why do I need to install a subwoofer?
    There are quite a lot of reasons to install a subwoofer. But the primary reason is, it boosts the sound quality of your audio system. While regular speakers can produce low-frequency sounds, they can't make them the way a subwoofer would produce them. You need a subwoofer if you love going to the cinemas because of that cinematic sound effect. It's a great way to replicate that profound cinematic effect in your home. You’ll feel every bass and sub-bass detail encoded in the sound of your movie and music. No doubts, a subwoofer gives you that fantastic sound experience that your regular speakers won't give.

  • Do I need an external amplifier for my passive subwoofer?
    The answer to this is Yes. Your receiver can only send signals to your subwoofer. It cannot produce the power your passive subwoofer needs to function. The only time you won’t need an external amplifier is if your subwoofer is an active one. Active subwoofers always come with built-in amplifiers.

Wrap Up

Now that you know how to connect subwoofer to receiver without subwoofer output, nothing can stop you now. You don’t need to panic when your receiver lacks a subwoofer output.

It also doesn't mean you've been condemned not to enjoy the incredible power of a subwoofer.

Rather than jump into the market searching for a new receiver with subwoofer output, save your money. Then, follow these highlighted processes to add the subwoofer to your speaker system.

Once you’ve added the subwoofer to your audio system, you can now enjoy high-quality audio quality, especially to compliment your movies. Have fun!

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