How to Connect a Car Subwoofer to a Home Stereo?




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Do you love the deep, rich bass of a good car subwoofer? Like most drivers, you probably can’t resist cranking up the bass on your favourite songs.

But what if you want to enjoy that booming bass sound at home. If so, you are probably wondering how to connect a car subwoofer to a home stereo? Well, let’s find out.

To connect a car subwoofer to your home stereo, you must connect an RCA cable to the subwoofer’s input (or to the external amplifier if you have a passive subwoofer) and another end to the receiver’s output. For the passive subwoofer, you also have to connect the amplifier with the subwoofer using a speaker wire.

Tip: In many cases, the most complicated part is to power the car amplifier at home. For this, I use the IMAYCC Power Supply Adapter (link to Amazon), and I do not want anything else.

This small box is a simple plug-and-play device, and it supports amplifiers up to 600W, which is more than needed to install a subwoofer at home.

In this article, we’ll explain the basics of connecting a car subwoofer at home and provide some tips for getting the best results.

How to Hook up a Car Subwoofer to a Home Stereo?

In most cases, wiring a car subwoofer to a home stereo is straightforward, but it depends if your car subwoofer is passive or active.

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Therefore, you first need to determine if your car subwoofer is compatible with a home stereo system because some receivers do not allow you to connect passive subwoofers, for example Denon receivers.

Also, because most home subwoofers have their own power, they need to be connected separately from the rest of the home theatre speakers.

In almost all cases, you must use an RCA cable (link to Amazon) and connect them straight to the port labelled ‘Subwoofer’.

On the other hand, most car subwoofers are designed to work with a car amplifier, so unless they are active subwoofers, they will not work with a home stereo receiver without an external amplifier.

To connect a passive car subwoofer to a home stereo, you will need the following:

#1. Car amplifier

#2. Power transformer from 110V to 12V

#3. Speaker wire

#4. RCA cables

#5. Subwoofer box

#6. Home stereo receiver

For active car subwoofers with a built-in amplifier, you will need all the below:

#1. RCA cables

#2. Subwoofer box

#3. Home stereo receiver

#4. Power transformer from 110V to 12V

When you have all the needed equipment in hand, let’s start the installation process, and I will begin with the easier connection of the active subwoofer:

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#1. Take the RCA cable and connect between the stereo receiver and subwoofer outputs.

#2. Place the subwoofer box at the desired location, connect the power cable to the power transformer and switch on the subwoofer.

#3. Set the volume control on the subwoofer to about halfway up and then go back to your stereo receiver and turn up the volume until you reach a comfortable listening level.

Now, let’s see how to connect a passive subwoofer with a home stereo:

Although the easiest thing you can think of would be to connect the passive subwoofer directly to the speaker’s output at the receiver, some manufacturers do not allow the connection of passive subwoofers to their receivers, for example, Denon.

Because of this and the different impedance, you must use an external car amplifier. To make the connection between the passive car subwoofer and the receiver, follow the steps below:

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#1. Connect the speaker wire between the amplifier and the car subwoofer. Make sure that the wire is long enough to reach from the amplifier to the subwoofer.

#2. Once you have connected the speaker wire, connect the RCA cables from the amplifier to the RCA signal outputs at the back of the home stereo receiver.

#3. Next, connect the amplifier to the power transformer. Make sure the power wires are secure and correctly connected.

#4. The last step is to plug the wire from the power transformer into the wall socket.

When the subwoofer is connected, the last step is turning the home stereo on and adjusting the volume to your preference.

As you can see, it is not difficult to wire a car subwoofer to a home stereo, but there are a few things you need to consider.

What Is the Difference Between a Car Subwoofer and a Home Subwoofer?

Except for the different look and enclosure design, most changes are within the woofers themselves.

The main difference between a car subwoofer and a home subwoofer is that car subwoofers produce deep bass at high volumes without distortion.

In contrast, home subwoofers are designed to reproduce low-frequency sounds and spread the sounds over a large area.

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From the technical side, there are two main differences between the home and car subwoofers:

#1. Efficiency

#2. Impedance

Subwoofer Efficiency

The main difference between a car and a home subwoofer is efficiency. Home subwoofers are often much more efficient than their car counterparts.

The speaker’s efficiency tells you how loud the speaker is at a given wattage power level at a certain distance.

For instance, many home subwoofers can create around 90 to 95 dB of sound when driven by 1 watt of power.

On the other hand, most cars’ subwoofers will generally require much higher wattage power to achieve the same decibel listening level.

This is because home speakers are designed to produce sound and push the air towards larger listening areas than car subwoofers.

The cabin of even the largest car is usually much smaller than the open space of a living room or other place where your home entertainment system is installed.

Subwoofer Impedance

Another main difference between the home and car subwoofers is the impedance rating (Ohms).

Car subwoofers are usually designed to work with four or two ohms, while most home subwoofers are rated at eight ohms.

The ohms rating of a speaker is the amount of resistance the speaker offers to the current being supplied by the amplifier.

Theoretically, a speaker with a lower ohms rating allows an amplifier to produce higher wattage levels with lower amounts of electrical current.

This is especially important in a car because the car alternator can only produce a voltage between 12 and 14 volts.

However, lower impedance allows for more crosstalk, noise and distortion. This is why home speakers often use an 8-ohm impedance value.

How to Power a Car Subwoofer at Home?

This is the most difficult part because home subwoofers work with 110V, and car subwoofers work with 12V.

Because of that, to connect the car subwoofer to the home receiver, you will need a power transformer that can transform the 110V to 12V. One that I use and can recommend IMAYCC Power Supply Adapter (link to Amazon)

IMAYCC 110V AC to 12V DC Converter Power Supply 12V 600W 50A DC Switch Transformer for LED Strip, LCD Monitor, CCTV, Radio and Car Stereo.

This would be a must for all standard passive car subwoofers that have to be powered by the amplifier.

Another thing you should keep in mind is that car subwoofers are usually more powerful than home subwoofers because of different impedance. 

Therefore, if you connect them directly to the receiver, they might damage due to the higher current demand.

To avoid that, it is recommended to use an external car amplifier for your car subwoofer, even if you are using it at home.


In conclusion, connecting a car subwoofer to a home stereo is possible, but you need to consider a few things first.

#1. Make sure you know the difference between a car’s passive and active subwoofers in order to connect them correctly.

#2. Be aware that impedance and efficiency are two key differences between those types of subwoofers, affecting the amplifier type you may use.