The addition of a subwoofer to your car’s stereo can make a big difference when it comes to the quality of sound it produces.
With the ability to boost the lower frequencies, a subwoofer can tighten up the bass of your music and give you a fuller sound without having the crank up the volume.
However, you may not want to spend a big chunk of change getting a subwoofer professionally installed at a shop.
Because of this, we have put together this handy 5 step guide on how to connect a subwoofer to a car.
Knowing how to connect your own subwoofer can give you a better understanding of your vehicle’s electrical system and the basic principles of audio wiring.
In this guide, you’ll learn:
- What is a subwoofer
- What are the benefits of connecting one to a car
- What you will need in order to connect it to your car
- How to connect a subwoofer to a car, step-by-step
- And more!
What's in this Guide?
What is a Subwoofer?
A subwoofer is a specialized type of speaker that is built to enhance the lower frequencies put out by your car’s stereo.
Subwoofers are made with heavier materials than are usually present in the stock, full range speakers that come with your car.
Because of this, they can withstand a much higher level of movement in the cones and are able to produce a tighter, fuller bass response. This makes them perfect for pumping up the low end of the music without having to turn the volume up on the speakers.
This gives you a better sound as well as protects your car’s stock full range speakers from potentially blowing by pumping too much bass through them.
Read More >> Top 5 Best 18-Inch Car Subwoofers
What are the Benefits of Connecting a Subwoofer to a Car?
Most of the time, when we turn up the volume of the music in our car, it’s because we want to feel more of the bass.
When this happens, we are not only putting the speakers in danger of being damaged by the excess volume, we are also potentially putting our hearing at risk.
Any noise above 70db has the potential to damage the delicate inner workings of the human ear.
The volume of a loud car stereo can reach upwards of 110db. After prolonged periods of time, this can be incredibly dangerous.
By connection a subwoofer to your car’s stereo, you can get that loud music feeling without actually pumping up the volume too high. A subwoofer can give your music a livelier feel at much lower volumes, making the stereo not only better quality, but also safer.
When Should You Connect a Subwoofer to a Car?
You should be considering connecting a subwoofer to your car if you are someone who is regularly increasing the volume on your car’s stereo.
As we increase the volume on the stereo, our ears tend to get worn out which, in turn, causes us to increase the volume even more.
If you find yourself regularly turning up the volume on your car’s stereo the more you drive, you should definitely consider connecting a subwoofer to your car.
This can not only improve the quality of the music and give you a tighter, more defined bass sound, it can also keep you from damaging your hearing through regular increases of volume that you might not even be noticing.
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Why Should You Connect a Subwoofer to a Car?
The stock speakers that come with most automobiles are usually not of the best quality.
These stock speakers are meant to reproduce the full range of frequencies that are audible to the human ear.
Because of this, they do not have any kind of specialized construction that can highlight the frequencies that we like to hear, such as the lower bass frequencies in the 20-150hz range.
A subwoofer, on the other hand, is specially designed to amplify these lower frequencies and give the music that heavy, chest thumping bass that we like to hear.
They are also made of heavier materials such as mylar and rubber. Unlike the flimsy paper cones of the stock speakers that came with your car, they can withstand these lower frequencies and pump them out more efficiently. They also run less of a risk of blowing and tearing at higher volumes.
So How Do Subwoofers Work?
Subwoofers operate on the same principle as regular, full range speakers do.
They take the signal generated by your car’s stereo receiver and they amplify it using vibrations through a magnetic coil and cone.
The only difference is that they are designed to withstand the heavier, lower frequencies that the music contains and deliver it in a tighter, more focused way.
Most subwoofers are active, which means they will either operate on their own internal amplifier or will require a separate amplifier in order for them to operate properly.
However, there are also passive subwoofers which can be used with the stock amplifier built into your car’s stereo. The one you pick will depend on your needs and your budget. Any subwoofer will be able to deliver better bass response than the stock full range speakers in your car.
Want some more information on how subwoofers work? This video explains the process in-depth :
What Do You Need To Know About Connecting a Subwoofer to a Car?
Connecting a subwoofer to a car is a relatively simple process. Most people will be able to do it with a few simple tools and a couple of hours.
You should think about how powerful you want your bass response to be. If you are interested in the heavy thump, you may want to invest in a subwoofer that has its own built in or separate amplifier.
This will give you a much more powerful experience. However, there will be the added expense and complication of installing the amplifier as well as the speaker.
Read More >> Top 5 Best 10-Inch Car Subwoofers
What Supplies Do You Need To Connect a Subwoofer to a Car?
Connecting a subwoofer to your car doesn’t take much. With some basic tools, it can be done in a few hours. To do the job correctly, you will need:
- A subwoofer and subwoofer mounting box
- A subwoofer amplifier
- A 50 amp in-line fuse
- A wiring kit (should be included with your subwoofer)
- A screwdriver
- A socket set
- 10 gauge insulated wire
How To Connect a Subwoofer to a Car? (5 Steps)
Step 1: Run the cabling
The first thing you should do is run a wire from the battery to the amplifier. This will go from the engine compartment through the firewall.
Wire the in-line fuse as close to the battery as you can. This will ensure that it is working properly and that it will not blow your amplifier. Don’t connect to the battery until the final step.
Next, run the red and white RCA cables that came with your subwoofer’s wiring kit underneath the dashboard and under the carpeting to wherever your amplifier is going to sit.
Be sure to leave a little bit of slack on both ends of all the cabling you are running. This will ensure that you won’t get to the end of the process and not have enough room to hook everything up.
Step 2: Wire the Audio
Once call the cabling has been laid and you have decided on a place to put the amplifier, you can begin wiring the audio.
Pull the stock stereo out of the console of your car. On the back, you should see the red and white RCO cable outputs . These are where you will connect the RCA cables that you have run through the back of the console.
If your stereo does not have these outputs, you will have to strip the connectors off the cables and put them in the speaker cable outputs instead.
Remember when you are doing this that the red is positive and the white is negative. This will come in handy later when you are installing the subwoofer and hooking up the amplifier.
You will also have to connect a wire to the output on the stereo that reads “Remote” or “Amp.” This will tell the amplifier that the stereo has turned on and, in turn, activate it.
Step 3: Install the subwoofer
Your subwoofer should be installed and mounted inside of a portable mounting box.
These mounting boxes are usually made of pressed particle board and are covered with a layer of dampening felt that helps keep the bass tight and focused.
Many subwoofers come with this enclosure and are pre-mounted. If you have one of these, you do not have to worry about installing it yourself.
If your car has a trunk, you can simply set the subwoofer enclosure in the trunk and leave it there.
In the event that your car does not have a trunk, you can often put the enclosure in the backseat towards the middle so it does not impede the leg room of the rear passengers.
Step 4: Wire the amplifier
Once all these wires are hooked up and the subwoofer is installed, you can finish wiring the amplifier.
Connect the cable running from the battery to the terminal on the amplifier marked “Power” or “Batt.”
Then, connect the wire running from the “Remote” or “Amp” terminal on the stereo to the one similarly marked on the amplifier.
Then, connect the RCA cables to the RCA inputs on the amplifier.
Finally, connect wires to the + and – speaker outputs on the amplifier. These will run all the way to the back where the subwoofer is mounted. Connect them to the + and – terminals on the subwoofer, respectively.
Step 5: Connect the power wire
Once everything is hooked up, you are finally ready to connect the power to your amplifier from the battery.
Unhook the positive terminal of the battery. This will be the one that is red and has the larger metal connector.
Twist the power cable that you ran from the amplifier around the positive terminal and put the connector back on, securing the wire between the terminal and the connector.
Now, you can turn the car on and make sure that everything is working. The amplifier should come on when you turn on the stereo and you should not get any interference from the engine. At this point, you should be getting big, booming bass from your newly installed subwoofer!
Our Final Thoughts on How To Connect a Subwoofer to a Car?
Installing a subwoofer is a great way to upgrade the audio experience in your vehicle.
You can enjoy a much better quality of sound without spending much money or investing too much time.
By learning how to connect a subwoofer to a car, you can also gain a great understanding of how your car’s stereo works and how it can be improved.
Once you have installed your subwoofer, you can get that great, thumping bass you’ve always wanted without damaging your car’s speakers or your ears!