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Subwoofer connection (1 Viewer)


Jun 6, 2001
I can't seem to get on the search page so I guess I'll pose this question here.
I'm about to get my subwoofer from HomeTheaterDirect (their redesigned one) and I was wondering how I should connect it (also what kind and how many cables to get).
My equipment:
Onkyo 595
HTD Level III Towers
HTD Level III Mains (large bookshelf)
HtD Level III Center
Looking at the manual I have a choice of Line Level Connection or speaker level (high level) connection. Which one should I do and what cables or wire will I need? And any recommendations on a cable would be great.
Also, I'm having a slight problem with my center. It makes a crass kind of sound when actors speak loudly and say like an "at" sound. Turning the treble down on my receiver seemed to have helped but I was wondering if there was another solution? Would biwiring just the center help?
Or maybe that's what I get for a $139 center -- good but not perfect sound? I ordered a lovan director to see if that helps.
Thanks guys.

Bob McElfresh

Senior HTF Member
May 22, 1999
There are 2 ways to hook up a sub:
- Run L/R speaker wire to the sub. The sub will strip off the sounds it wants. Then you run more speaker wire to your L/R speakers which will handle everything the sub does not.
- Use the LFE output of your receiver and a coaxial cable to send un-amplified signals to the sub.
The second hookup is considered superior because:
1) You dont use the receivers power to try and drive the sub.
2) You let the receiver take the LFE (.1) signals AND the low-frequency sounds from any speaker that you define SMALL, and it will route all of it to the sub. The first hookup only works for your L/R speakers.
3) Simpler wiring and easier to move the sub around with a single cable.
The guys at SVS (who build subs for a living) recommend using an inexpensive coaxial cable.
If you have never had a external sub before, you may have to try several corners and placement options before you find it's final location.
What a lot of people have done is go to Radio Shack and buy some RG6 CATV Coax and slap some "F-to-RCA" connectors on the end. This can give you a 25 foot cable so you have lots of room to play with. Total cost: $12
After a few weeks of playing around, you can measure how long of a cable you need for your final placement. If it is under ~15 feet, you can get some Radio Shack/AR cables that will work fine (and look nicer than the CATV coax). If it is longer than that, just trim the CATV coax to fit.
Hope this helps.

Scott Stieglitz

Apr 22, 1999
OK, this is probably a dumb question, but I'm a newbie when it comes to receivers with an LFE output (since I don't own one yet). You said that the LFE signal is un-amplified. Does this mean you must use an amplified subwoofer when using this connection?


Jun 2, 2001
Yes. Though it doesn't matter if that amp is built into the sub, or a totally separate box in line between your Dolby Digital receiver and the subwoofer.
There are two kinds of subs (not counting the increasingly rare passive box that is feed by your surround receiver's main channels. Bose sometimes uses this arrangement).
Do keep in mind though that the low level subwoofer output of Dolby Digital receivers can combine both the ".1" channel of a 5.1 Low Frequency Effects channel WITH the low bass of other channels too, if you set it that way.
So the subwoofer output of a receiver these days is NOT the same as LFE alone.

Bob McElfresh

Senior HTF Member
May 22, 1999
Scott: You've got it. You need some kind of amp connected to the LFE port to actually drive that big woofer.
This is why a lot of subs are self-powered.
But this is actually a GOOD thing. It takes a LOT more power to create a sound at 60 hz than it does at 6 KiloHz. So by having a sub with a built-in amp, your receiver does not have to provide the power. This leaves more power for the rest of the speakers.
The Sony SWMA-40 can be purchased for $199 from some Sears and Best Buy stores.
At $499, the HSU-VT2 (?) is very well respected.
When you get to about $700, you can now buy a SVS with a built-in amp (and people just love them).

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