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Crossover/equalizer installation guide

Tips for a successful install


Buck Pomerantz

Buck Pomerantz was born and raised in Philadelphia. His parents bought their first television set when he was born. He figured out how to run it by the time he was two. Besides athletics, his formative interests included electronics, amateur radio, music, and stage crew work. He got his BA in writing from Brown University. Then he joined a rock 'n roll band as their soundman and moved to Charlottesville, Virginia. After that venture failed, he spent time in Boston, New Orleans, and Berkeley. He worked in a music store in Austin manufacturing, installing, repairing, and operating sound systems for recording studios, clubs, and bands. He moved back to Charlottesville, ran a little recording studio and finally joined Crutchfield as a copywriter. He has 2 grown children and 3 grandchildren, but after a good nap he can still rock out.

More from Buck Pomerantz

AudioControl FOUR.1

AudioControl FOUR.1 in-dash 4-band equalizer

This installation guide offers examples of crossover and equalizer (EQ) installation types and suggested system layouts. The installation of your crossover or EQ will depend on the make and body style of your vehicle as well as the equipment purchased.


Tools needed, depending on vehicle

A note about wiring: In addition to the tools listed above, your equalizer or active crossover installation will require power and ground wiring, plus RCA cables, terminals, and a remote turn-on lead. The easiest way to get all of these items is in an amplifier wiring kit, available at Crutchfield.

You can also download a pdf of the Crossover/EQ Installation Guide. Note: To view this file, you will need the Adobe Acrobat PDF reader (free download).

Passive crossover

The passive crossover from a set of component speakers


Passive crossovers:

A passive crossover steps into the signal path after the amplification. It's a capacitor or coil usually installed right on your speaker lead. A passive crossover comes with every pair of drivers in a set of components, sometimes mounted on the speaker's frame.

Bass Blockers

Bass Blocker with speaker

Crutchfield also carries passive high-pass crossovers, called Bass Blockers, that clean up the sound of midrange speakers and tweeters by removing the low frequencies. To install one, remove your speaker from its location in your doors, dash, or other (see Speaker Installation Guide or your Crutchfield MasterSheet for more details). Disconnect the positive speaker lead from the speaker, and connect the bass blocker to the speaker in its place. Connect the positive speaker lead to the other end of the bass blocker, and test the speaker's operation. Re-install your speaker.

Kicker KX2

Kicker KX2 active 2-way crossover

Active crossovers:

Installing an active crossover requires a little more work. You have to connect 12-volt power, ground, and a turn-on lead. The active crossover gets installed between your receiver and your amplifier. (Many active crossovers have both speaker-level and preamp inputs, so they can usually accommodate either type of connection.)


Like a crossover, the equalizer gets installed between your receiver and your amplifier. And like a crossover, an equalizer needs power, ground, and turn-on wires. You'll find equalizers that are designed to be installed in the dash, above or below your receiver. These might require custom installation work. Other equalizers are designed to be mounted in a remote location, like the trunk. Either way, the wiring connections required will be the same. To install:

1. Installing (active crossover or equalizer):

A remote-mount equalizer or crossover can be securely mounted with just a few screws. Anywhere between the receiver and the amp is fine. Most people mount the device in the trunk near their amp, especially if you have more than one amp. This also makes it easier to add additional amps later. You should mount it where it will be easy to get to so that you can make adjustments without too much trouble. Don't mount your equalizer or crossover directly on steel — you will invite noise problems. Instead, install it on a non-conductive board and attach the board to the car body (or use rubber grommets under the screws to isolate the chassis).

Locate the remote turn-on lead

Locate the remote turn-on lead behind your radio (usually a blue wire).

Connect the turn-on lead from your amplifier wiring kit

Connect the turn-on lead from your amplifier wiring kit to the blue wire. You can wrap the bare wire ends together and cover with electrical tape, or use solder.

2. Making the power connections:

  • To obtain 12-volt power: Cut a length of small-gauge cable (16 gauge is typically sufficient) long enough to reach from the EQ or crossover location to your vehicle's fuse panel. Strip one end of the wire, and attach it to the device's power input. This may require a crimp-on connector, or bare wire might be sufficient, depending on the equipment you're installing. Route the wire from the device's location to your car's fuse panel. Using a fuse tap, connect the wire to a source of switched 12V power.
  • To ground the equalizer or crossover: Remove a bolt near the mounting location. Crimp a ring terminal to one end of a length of small-gauge wire, and then bolt the terminal tightly to the vehicle's metal chassis. Scrape away any paint and clean the bolt location thoroughly. If you can't find a convenient ground screw or bolt, drill a hole for one — be careful not to drill into the gas tank or a gas or brake line.
  • Making the turn-on connection: In most cases, you can tap into your in-dash receiver's amp turn-on lead to get a turn-on signal for your device. Remove the receiver from the dash to access the turn-on wire (usually a blue wire). For step-by-step instructions on removing your vehicle's radio, see your vehicle-specific Crutchfield MasterSheet™, or read our In-Dash Receiver Installation Guide. Strip the insulation off a small section of this wire coming from the radio. Strip the insulation off another small-gauge cable that's long enough to reach from the in-dash receiver to the EQ or crossover, then connect the two with crimp caps or solder. Wrap the solder or crimp connection with electrical tape to guard against a short. Using wire ties to secure the wire, route the turn-on lead behind your dash all the way to the mounting location.

3. Making the signal connections:

In most cases, you'll be routing RCA cables from your in-dash receiver's preamp outputs to the inputs of your EQ or crossover. While your receiver is out of the dash to access the turn on lead, connect a set of RCA patch cables (long enough to reach your crossover in its mounting location) to these outputs, taping them together so they won't come apart. Route the patch cables (again using wire ties) behind the dash, and to the crossover mounting location.

The best of both worlds

If you plan on using both an equalizer and a crossover together, the order of connection should be:

  • The receiver's  outputs go to the equalizer's inputs
  • The equalizer's outputs go to the crossover's inputs
  • The crossover's outputs go to your amplifier's inputs
    AudioControl EQL

    AudioControl EQL dual 13-band equalizer

Last updated February 24, 2016
  • Avery from Inglewood

    Posted on 6/27/2015 1:44:18 PM

    How do you install a epicenter with an equalizer

  • Buck Pomerantz from Crutchfield

    Posted on 6/30/2015 10:03:45 AM

    Avery, An Epicenter needs to be hooked up between the source (receiver) and the amplifier. It can go before or after an equalizer.

  • robert from ogden

    Posted on 10/15/2015 7:12:19 PM

    thank you for the help

  • Larry Spires from Centerville GA.

    Posted on 3/10/2016 12:07:22 PM

    Is it OK to connect a bass restorer with a EQ and a three way electronic crossover? Also is it going to be useful or a waist of time? I'm running 6 12 inch planet audio subs two Lanzar 6 1/4 woofers and two 6 1/4 three ways in a 1993 Chevrolet c1500 extended cab powering the subs with two audiopipe 1500.1 amplifiers and the two 6 1/4 mids/highs and two two inch Lanzar tweeters off a Lanzar hertage 1000 watt two channel amplifier.

  • Buck Pomerantz from Crutchfield

    Posted on 3/10/2016 1:00:27 PM

    Larry, I'm not sure if you'e asking about three devices or two, but you can run them all together in a system. If you're referring to three devices, then connect the receiver's output to the bass restorer first, to add in bass, then the EQ to that, to sculpt the tone, and then the crossover, to send the signals on to the amplifiers. Whether the amount of added bass, tone control, and distribution capabilities will prove to be useful or not will have to be up to you. Installing or modifying a car stereo system is always fun and never a waste of time in my opinion.

  • Rizal from tx

    Posted on 4/14/2016 11:21:29 PM

    My equalizer dont shut off,with key or not still on What i do

  • Buck Pomerantz from Crutchfield

    Posted on 4/15/2016 2:37:14 PM

    Rizel, There are three connections that need to be made for powering an equalizer, or any piece of car audio gear. One is ground - run a wire from that connection to your vehicle's metal frame. Another is +12 volts - run a wire to a 12 volt source, like the battery or a spare active slot in the fuse box. The third connection is the turn-on lead, which connects to a source of 12 volts that switches on and off with the car or radio. It sounds like you need to find a different place to connect that lead.