Adding Subwoofer to 2 Channel Stereo- A Handy Guide

A subwoofer is one of the most critical speakers in any sound setup. Stereo and home theater systems alike are never complete without a subwoofer or two of them. In basic home stereo systems, the sound reproduced by the speakers is often sufficient, but your setup will benefit more from the boost provided by a separate subwoofer.

In addition, most speakers, even in high-end sound systems are not designed to reproduce all the audio frequencies sent to them. This is where a subwoofer comes in to help reproduce some of the sounds you may be missing out. Furthermore, a subwoofer allows you to enjoy full and three-dimensional sound in music and movie soundtracks.

Adding subwoofer to 2 channel stereo

Although subwoofers are commonly used with home theater systems, there is nothing that should stop you from adding one to your stereo sound system. Integrating a subwoofer into your stereo sound setup can radically improve the sound quality, especially when using small speakers.

What’s more, a separate subwoofer helps relieve your speakers of the burden of reproducing most of the frequencies that they cannot handle on their own. As such, adding a separate subwoofer is not just about deeper bass, rather, it helps improve the overall dynamics of your sound system.

However, adding a subwoofer to a two-channel stereo system is usually different from other methods used in standard home theater setups. Ideally, home theater receivers come with a bass management feature (crossover) that helps direct the bass frequencies to the subwoofer and the rest of the frequencies to other speakers.

Because of this, you only need to use a single interconnect cable to connect the subwoofer to your home theater receiver. You can achieve this by running an RCA or subwoofer cable from the subwoofer line input to your receiver subwoofer output.

The case is totally different when it comes to stereo receivers, integrated amps, and preamps. Most of these audio equipments don’t include a subwoofer output jack or any bass management feature. However, this should not bar you from adding a subwoofer to your stereo sound system.

Now, instead of relying on a single interconnect cable to add your subwoofer, you’ll need to learn how to use the speaker level (i.e. high-level) inputs to establish the connection. The good thing is that most subwoofers include these high-level inputs , though some may lack the inputs. Chances are the subwoofer manual will come with a wiring diagram to guide you through the connections.

Adding Subwoofer to 2 Channel Stereo

Adding active subwoofer to 2 channel stereo

  • To connect a subwoofer to a 2-channel stereo, you’ll need to run multiple cables to the receiver speaker output jack. Simply put, the process of adding a subwoofer to a 2-channel receiver requires you to double up the subwoofer and speakers connections.
  • You can start by running a speaker cable from your stereo receiver to the speakers.
  • Next, use the same output to hook up the subwoofer. In simple terms, your stereo receiver will have both the subwoofer and speakers connected. The idea behind this arrangement is to allow you to run both the right and left speakers from the receiver to your subwoofer, then from the subwoofer to the speakers.

Remember: When using a powered subwoofer, it does not draw power from your receiver. As such, the receiver doesn’t need to work twice as hard to power both the sub and speakers. Instead, the subwoofer sees the receiver as a signal, hence amplifying it.

  • With this setup, the two stereo speakers will handle the midrange and treble frequencies, while the sub will handle all of the bass frequencies. The subwoofer can also utilize the inbuilt low pass filter (crossover) to block upper frequencies that may find their way into the subwoofer.
  • The idea behind using crossover is to make the subwoofer pick up from the point where the stereo speakers leave off. You can easily determine the highest frequency the subwoofer is rated to accommodate from the user manual or manufacturer’s website.
  • For instance, if you’re using small speakers with a rated frequency of up to 100 Hz, then you’ll need to set the sub’s crossover frequency to 100 Hz or more. On the other hand, if your speakers are fitted with larger woofers, you can get away with a much lower crossover setting.
  • Once your subwoofer is in place, you can set the volume control to the optimum listening level. When adding active subwoofer to 2 channel stereo, you’ll need to set the volume of the subwoofer so that it sounds best from your listening position. While doing so, just ensure that the subwoofer is neither too boomy nor too thin. For instance, you can set the volume level up to fill your room with bass. Alternatively, you can bring the volume level down if you prefer a more pronounced bass.

Adding passive subwoofer to 2 channel stereo

The process of connecting an active and passive subwoofer to a 2-channel stereo is pretty similar since they both use speaker connectors. However, since a passive subwoofer does not include an inbuilt amplifier, you’ll need to add an external amplifier to your setup. Generally adding a passive subwoofer to a two-channel stereo requires more expertise since you’ll be working with more cables.

When using an active subwoofer you only require to run the speaker cables directly from the receiver to the receiver. On the contrary, a passive setup requires you to add an external amplifier to power the sub, before you can finally connect it to the stereo receiver.

Now, to connect your subwoofer to the amplifier, you’ll first need to run a cable from the amplifier sub out to the subwoofer line in port. In this arrangement, the amplifier acts as a go-between, and sees the subwoofer as an extra channel drawing power from it.

The next step involves connecting the subwoofer to the corresponding output on the AV receiver. To complete the setup, ensure to connect the right and left speakers to the corresponding ports on your receiver. Once everything is connected, you can proceed to fine-tune the sound to your liking using controls provided by the receiver.

The Parting Shot!

Two-channel stereo audiophiles understand the role of a subwoofer in preserving the soundstage of the speakers. Adding a subwoofer in a dedicated two-channel system helps improve the bass cues as well as prevent the soundstage from collapsing, especially when using smaller speakers. In addition, integrating a subwoofer into your stereo setup also helps deliver a more convincing and realistic audio experience.

Avatar for Jamie K. Martin

Jamie K. Martin holds a degree in Audio engineering from Husson University, Bangor. Martin spends most of his time testing and trying the technology he writes about to ensure that he provides first-hand information to our customers from all walks of life.

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