What is a Powered Subwoofer? – Types of Subwoofers!

A powered subwoofer is an electronic device that generates low-frequency sound. A common use for a powered subwoofer is in home theaters and commercial movie theaters to provide a powerful bass reinforcement. Powered subs can be used with stereo speakers or as the only speaker system but are usually paired with other speakers such as two-way, three-way, and four-way loudspeakers to create a surround sound experience. Powered subs come in many sizes and shapes, from compact cube designs to large floor standing units. ,

Some models are designed to work exclusively with certain brands of amplifiers. In contrast, others have universal inputs allowing them to be connected directly into an audio receiver without needing external amplification. In general, most powered subs offer more power than unpowered models, which helps ensure that you have the best sound system. Well, what is a powered subwoofer? This article will strive to explain this in depth. Read on!

What is a powered subwoofer connection?

Today we shall answer the question, “What is a powered subwoofer connection?” Since it has been asked quite severally by those looking to buy the best sound subwoofer. A powered subwoofer connection is a system of audio cables that allow an amplifier to power speakers. This type of connection is typically found in home theater systems or any system with bass frequencies. The speaker has its built-in amplifier and can be used as the main left and right channel speakers or just for the low-frequency sound effects.

The most common cable connections are RCA connectors on both ends (red & white). Other types include banana plugs, spade lugs, phone jacks, and so on. This type of connection provides stereo sound quality but not surround sound quality since it only sends a signal from one source (the amp) to two destinations (left & right channels). To solve this constant lack of adequate power supply from a subwoofer amplifier, you should use a powered sub, also known as an active subwoofer. Such type of subwoofer has its own enclosure and is said to be self-contained.

The benefit of using a powered subwoofer is that it will only need a single power cable connection. The cable comes from a surround sound system or a home theater receiver and goes to the inputs of the powered subwoofer. Powered subwoofers do not need several cables as their counterparts (passive subwoofers). This thus means that setting up powered subwoofers to your home theater system is way easier. It is important to note that powered subwoofers need more power to work, unlike passive subwoofers that require less power. Some may feel that their power bill has increased since they purchased an active subwoofer, while others will feel negligible. This all varies from one person, but it is worth mentioning it here!

What are Passive Subwoofers?

Passive subwoofers are referred to as “passive” as they require an external amplifier to power them the same way traditional loudspeakers get powered. Subwoofers require a lot of power to reproduce low-frequency sounds. Therefore, the receiver or amplifier needs to output enough power in order to sustain the deep bass effects. How much power is needed depends on the needs of your speaker—the amount of bass you wish to have and the room size. You can connect your subwoofer speaker just the way you connect other loudspeakers in your home theater. First, you need to connect the speaker wire to both amplifier and passive subwoofer. Also, connect the subwoofer speaker outputs to the speaker terminals of your passive subwoofer.

Passive subwoofers are mainly utilized during custom installations whereby the subwoofer may be placed or mounted to the wall. Some affordable home theater enclosed systems incorporate passive subwoofers; a good example is the Onkyo HT -S7800.

Differences Between a Powered Vs Unpowered Subwoofer

As we have already mentioned, there are two major subwoofer varieties, namely passive subwoofers and active subwoofers. Passive subwoofers are also referred to as unpowered subwoofers, while active subwoofers are referred to as powered subwoofers. There is one main difference between these two types. Active subwoofers have an internal amplifier, while an external amplifier drives passive subwoofers. Both these speaker types need to be merged with the rest of the home theater system. What varies is how the two systems are connected.

Unpowered/Passive Subwoofers (Pros and cons)

Passive subwoofers are well known for their flexible nature. Users can carry out upgrades as much as they want without replacing either the amplifier or the loudspeaker. Passive or unpowered subwoofers receive their signals from a loudspeaker wire hence do not require a power cable or an XLR. These types of subwoofers are also light in weight thus can easily be lifted if you have portable systems. The service is straightforward for both the loudspeaker and the separate amplifier. The speaker connections are accessible, making it easy to exchange the amplifier whenever you wish.

Passive subwoofer pros.

  • Power: You will not spend much on your power bill as these subwoofers require little power to work.
  • Design: These speakers allow for a much easier custom configuration during a home theater set-up.
  • Set-Up: It can work with any amplifier/receiver as it has a subwoofer output on all units.
  • Connectivity: They are the best option if you wish to combine multiple subwoofers to get a large home theater set-up and increase the power load.
  • Expense: A passive subwoofer is cheaper than an active one as the unit has reduced components.

Passive Subwoofer Cons:

  • Set-Up: The cables associated with a passive subwoofer must both provide power and send information. Therefore, you will need more robust cables for this setup.
  • Expense: The costs may escalate as more or higher quality parts are added.
  • Power: If you are connecting multiple speakers to your amplifier, be sure that the amplifier has enough power to fuel both of them.

Active Subwoofers (Pros and Cons)

Active subwoofers have few parts as all you will need will be inside the box. The speaker system in a car or home is referred to as “active” when it possesses a built-in amplifier and power connection. The active subwoofer is more commonly used in powered and unpowered speakers, either in-home theaters or commercial movie theater systems. Some of the designs also allow for high-level inputs like speaker wires. Stereo receivers with a subwoofer pre-out port are also required, which is a good reason.

A stereo receiver without one of these ports will not be able to provide accurate low-frequency sounds because it can’t send the signal through its circuitry from front speakers to back to the woofers. To achieve that deep bass sound you’re looking for, make sure your stereo receiver has an appropriate output feature!

Active Subwoofer Pros:

  • Set-Up: This product can be connected without any extra or special wiring configurations.
  • Connectivity: An active subwoofer is used when only one subwoofer is needed.
  • Design: The majority of the subwoofers are built to capitalize on low-frequency effects channels (LFE), which optimize bass frequencies from a single speaker.
  • Amplifier: All parts needed for a powerful subwoofer are included, eg. a built in amplifier found inside the subwoofer enclosure. Therefore, you do not have to research which pieces will work with your sound system.
  • System design: The audio signals are sent by cables and can be placed farther from the receiver.

Essentially, there is little to no sound leakage since the amplifier and loudspeaker are already available in a home theater subwoofer. It is not necessary to have a bunch of racks for additional equipment. With the purchase of a bass speaker, you will have all your needed components in a box.

An active subwoofer can also be connected to any mixer or sound source easily. When it comes time for an amplifier to be adjusted, the equalization is usually virtually non-existent. People who are not familiar with sound systems should opt for Loud-powered subs. The complexity of the electronics that we use today can be a bit much for some people, but if you are not fond of them and prefer simple things, you can go for an active subwoofer.

Active Subwoofer Cons:

  • Power: Active subwoofers require more electricity, so your bill may be affected if you use them constantly.
  • Expense: Passive subwoofers are often cheaper than a single active subwoofer. But the benefits of an active sub outweigh that, such as higher sound pressure levels and better voice reproduction
  • Design: With a surround sound system, only one active subwoofer should be present at a time.

Powered or Unpowered, Which one is better?

The type of subwoofer is not the determining factor in how good it sounds. However, powered subwoofers are arguably more common as they have a built-in amp and are not limited by an amp’s limitations on another receiver or amplifier. This makes them easy to use with home theater receivers. Every home theater receiver comes with at least one set of pre-amp line outputs designed to connect an active subwoofer.

This enables them to produce very low frequencies that make your music have acoustic or electric bass. If you use an active subwoofer in your car you will note the significant difference of the bass output compared to when you are using range and tweeter speakers. Another disadvantage of passive subwoofers is that you may need an external amplifier to run, which costs more than just the sub.

A powered subwoofer is more cost-effective than a passive subwoofer. If you choose to go with the passive option, the home theater receiver’s pre-out should be injected into the external amplifier to provide line input and output connections for power amp speaker outputs. The passive subwoofer has two speaker connections- a speaker input and an amplifier input.

The receiver or amplifier should have left and right output connections, as well as front speaker inputs. Connect the left/right outputs on the receiver to the passive sub’s speaker outputs, then connect those speakers to your main speakers which are in your front room. When you have a subwoofer with its own internal crossover, it can “strip off” the low frequency sounds and send them to an additional speaker. This means your other speakers will be able to handle everything else! A powered subwoofer also has wireless connectivity thus can easily be connected to an audio system.

In this configuration, when you’re using a subwoofer that has its own internal crossover frequency settings (the chip in the back of most subwoofers and home theater receiver), then all your main high-frequency audio channels go through one set of connections on these inputs and outputs. The bass content goes directly into another input/output connection so there’s no interference between those two signals as they play simultaneously from different sources within the same room or space for better quality sound reproduction.

This eliminates the need for an external amplifier on a passive subwoofer, but it might put more strain on your receiver or amplifier. If you place two subwoofers in a room there would be more uniformity in the music played inside the room more than when using a single subwoofer.

A Powered Subwoofer Wiring Diagram

There are a few things you ought to know concerning a powered subwoofer wiring diagram. First, you need to know what your speakers are wired up like to wire it correctly. Take the sheath single phase power from an amplifier and connect them using speaker cables that measure at least 16 AWG or greater. Now insert the input jack of one into an output on another amp if they’re not already connected by their cable (and make sure there’s no ground loop).

Attach these wires coming out of each amp into its corresponding terminal inside the powered sub-box where connections can be made between amps outside and within. Take all three going back towards the grounding point, which is either through cement slab or metal plate typically found at the same enclosure. A wiring diagram is a map of the wires and equipment in an electrical system.

A powered subwoofer’s power supply turns AC voltage to DC before it enters your amplifier or receiver. This conversion depends on whether you have a single-phase (120V) or three-phase service at home. Single-phase households will need one converter that handles both 120 volts for lights/appliances and 240 volts for heavy-duty items like ovens. Higher frequencies are also generated from a low pass filter while you tune the head unit.

Are powered subwoofers any good?

A Powered Subwoofer is an excellent choice for people who want to experience the full power of their music and movies. This subwoofer will make your bass sound deep and rich with its powerful amplifier while filling up any room with loud volume without distortion. Whether you’re listening from across the living room or on spotify, it will still deliver a clear sound that makes every song come alive! If you have been looking for an affordable way to enhance your home theater system’s audio quality, then consider picking up one of these today. How much bass your sub produces depends on its power rating, which affects the frequency response. You won’t regret it when you hear just how amazing your TV shows and favorite songs can be through this incredible speaker system!

Can I leave my powered subwoofer on?

Yes! Just don’t set your volume too high.

The answer is yes, you can leave your powered subwoofer on. But to avoid it getting damaged from sound blasting out of the speaker and keep people around you happy, turn down the volume a bit so that only those in close proximity are disturbed or annoyed by what’s coming out of the speakers.

How do you hook up a powered subwoofer?

It can be difficult to figure out how to hook up a powered subwoofer. A simple diagram will show you exactly what needs connecting and the order in which they are to be connected. It is helpful if someone who has done this before shows you, but we have some great instructions on our website that walks through step by step with pictures of every component needed for your system setup! With line level inputs your subwoofer box is able to generate low-frequencies and offer you great power handling. Since a powered subwoofer has built in amplifiers, it is easier to carry out the connections as it has its own power source.


We hope you now have a better understanding of what powered subwoofers are and how they can be used to enhance your listening experience. As you go out to buy a subwoofer, get one that will meet your specific needs without breaking your bank!