People who can’t put another hobby or interest above their love for music will prove the following: to achieve the high-qualitative performance of an audio system, it is necessary to link them perfectly. Giving your preference to the most advertised solutions isn’t a guarantee the final results will be as satisfactory as expected.

With the course of time, technologies have modified and developed, and one may think that it is worth looking for the latest equipment only. However, everything isn’t that simple, and there are several vintage machines that will rock more than their so-called heritors.

Here is why we come to a dilemma of the kind — is it possible to connect products from different engineering generations at all? This problem is one that any user can face, since to renovate all the elements of the system each time there is a desire to boost it up.

This problem may be familiar for any user once. Just imagine how const-inefficient and time-consuming the renovation of all the elements of the audio system will turn out to be. Today, we are going to check whether you won’t spoil the productivity of your equipment by linking a subwoofer to an old amplifier. Onwards!

Theoretical Background: Amplifier Value

In simple terms, the main purpose of the unit under analysis is to amplify the signal from source machines to make it functional for the recipient equipment like a pair of speakers or subwoofers. With the help of the element, it is easier to select the necessary gain level and not overload the system, consisting of different devices.

When it comes to choosing such an important solution, customers tend to pay attention to the manufacturer and quality of construction. Several original amplifiers are handmade and differentiate with better and warmer sounding that their younger counterparts.

However, don’t forget that vintage pieces shouldn’t be too old. A lot depends on the durability of the materials applied. Using an amplifier more means to wear out its components gradually. Overall, the lifecycle of a genuine and profound amplifier is within ten-twenty years. The proper care and well-thought-out use conditions will help enthusiasts prolong the longevity of the device.

Something Old, Something New: What Is the Difference?

Older amplifiers are usually believed to be more sensitive due to the peculiarities of their production standards. But that is not the point this time. What really differentiates vintage and modern solutions are their compatibility. The products of today possess a special subwoofer output, which eliminates several connection issues possible. The number of such jacks may vary, but they are dedicated to this special sub bass signal and can transmit it without sound worsening. As you can guess, vintage options don’t have this functionality.

Although there is no separate output in older amplifying tools, there are a few other ways to link a subwoofer to them. In general, there are three main ways to keep the connection safe and stable. Please note that the most efficient way of linking an amplifier to a sub depends on the actual kind of the latter device.

Solution №1: Line Level Converter

A line output converter changes a speaker level output to an RCA (low level) signal for use with any subwoofer with an RCA input jack. You can use them with or without receiver speakers, connected at the same time.

In most cases, subwoofers tend to have one RCA input jack. Then users will have to prepare a special RCA “Y” adapter. For the other scenario, standard make-to-male cables will work. The use of RCA jacks isn’t that spread among home stereo systems, but when it comes to the car stereo universe, the situation is opposite. These cables allow enthusiasts to connect a stereo that isn’t equipped with any special outputs of the RCA kind to divergent outer solutions. Please bear in mind all the manipulations have to be done when the system’s elements are switched off.

It is not a problem to find a line level converter on the market. The price may fluctuate a bit, but it is a relatively cheap and affordable tool.

Solution №2: Subwoofer with Speaker Level Inputs

This method is worth considering for those customers, who possess a subwoofer with speaker-level inputs. To tell the truth, such a sub is especially smooth in connecting to your more senior equipment. For the type of linking under analysis, customers have to use common wires only — no third-party specialized devices. What you need to do is just to take your source unit and link to its speaker outputs. The next step is to perform the same action with speaker wires with the only difference — the connection should be made to the subwoofer’s matching inputs.

Such a configuration doesn’t prevent the target audience from powering a set of speakers simultaneously with the sub tuned on. For that, the parallel connection via speaker terminals will be the right shot. If you are new to this form of linking, check the following rule of thumb: positive inputs are matching with positing outputs, and the same goes for negative ins and outs.

Usually, these connections are present on the back panel of the equipment. If you worry you will miss the necessary plus or minus one, keep checking with the owner’s manual.

Solution №3: Low Pass Crossover

If you are eager to know how to connect a subwoofer to an old amplifier, the methods mentioned above may be completely enough. However, there is one less common, but still possible scenario. In general, there are two main kinds of subwoofers — active and passive. Although the first models are much more spread, the second options are still available. The main difference between them is the presence of a built-in amplifier. Active, also known as powered, subwoofers possess this feature, while the counterparts lack it.

If you are the lucky one to have a passive woofer enclosure, a low pass crossover will become your mediator. This method of connection will filter out notes which are above the crossover’s frequency. In turn, you will achieve excellent bass sound production of your matched system, consisting of a woofer and a vintage amp.

To define how many crossovers you will need at the end, you have to check what a sub type you have. There are single voice and dual voice options. This information is usually provided by the manufacturer.

Please be informed that this setup can’t be used with other speakers connected to the receiver speaker outputs simultaneously.

The Bottom Line

A little research will help realize that even mission-impossible-like challenges can be solved easily. The main thing is to be aware of the auxiliary tools and elements to maintain a safe and durable connection between your subwoofer and old amplifier.


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Troy Hanks

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