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How to install a powered subwoofer

Learn how to install a powered sub and boost your bass

Powered subwoofers include all the elements of a subwoofer system — subwoofer, amplifier, and enclosure — in one convenient package. Here's a look at how you install a typical powered subwoofer.

Please note: As with any amplifier installation, you'll also need an amplifier wiring kit. The proper size of kit will be listed in the accessories for each powered subwoofer. If you need any help or just have questions about adding a powered subwoofer, contact our advisors

How to install a powered subwoofer | Video Transcript

No matter what kind of music you love, adding bass makes it sound better. Let's take a look at what it takes to install a powered subwoofer in your vehicle with the help of one of our guys from tech support.

Find a place to mount your sub

Before you get started, find a suitable place in your vehicle to mount your sub. The sub’s built-in amplifier generates heat, so adequate ventilation is important. And you'll want to place it somewhere that's not too difficult to access.

Wiring kit and speaker wire

Your powered sub does not come with the necessary wiring, so be sure to purchase an amp wiring kit that includes the wiring and fuses you'll need.

Disconnect the battery

First, disconnect the negative battery terminal to protect you and your gear during installation.

Step #1: Running power wire

Next, run the power cable from the battery to the powered sub. Some kits have the fuse assembly already put together. But if not, cut a short piece of the power cable, enough to cover the distance from the battery to the fuse holder location, and strip the insulation off both ends. Crimp the terminal ring from your wiring kit to one end, and attach the fuse holder to the other end. Strip the insulation from the end of the wire that leads to your amp and attach it to the other end of your fuse holder. It’s important to keep the fuse close to the battery since the lead between the terminal and the fuse is unprotected.

In most vehicles, you can pass the power cable through the firewall that separates the engine compartment from the main cabin using an existing entry point. Once you're inside the cabin, tuck the power cable under trim panels or your carpet along one side of your vehicle until you reach your powered sub location.

Step #2: Running turn-on wire and signal cables

After running the power wire, the next thing to do is run the turn-on wire and signal cables. Both the turn-on wire and RCA signal cables need to be connected to your stereo. Run these cables behind the dash to your stereo. The turn-on wire connects to a remote turn-on wire in your stereo's wiring harness. It's usually blue, but confirm this with your owner's manual. Plug the RCA cables into the appropriate RCA outputs on your stereo.

Run these wires, the turn-on wire, and the RCA cable, down the opposite side of the car from the power wire. This will prevent electrical noise from entering your system and spoiling your music.

All of this assumes you have an aftermarket stereo with preamp outputs. If you have a factory stereo then you'll get the signal to your powered sub a different way. You’ll want to make sure your amp has speaker-level inputs and "signal sensing" turn-on capability. In this case, you can just tap into the speaker wires behind your stereo, or possibly the rear deck speakers. Either way, this will get signal to the powered sub’s built-in amp.

Step #3: Connect the ground wire

The third primary connection is the ground wire. This wire should be connected to the vehicle's chassis. Look for a nearby bolt that you can fasten the ground cable to. The ground wire terminal should be in contact with the vehicle's bare metal. Sand away any paint at the contact point for the best connection.

Step #4: Make your wiring connections

Now, mount your powered sub and make your connections. Try to use gentle curves with your wires and cables when possible to prevent unnecessary wear and tear.

Before you fire it up to test, turn the built-in amp's gains all the way down. And reconnect your vehicle's negative battery terminal. Verify that the sub turns on when you start the car. Then you can play some music and set your gains.

If you have any questions about powered subs, please give Crutchfield a call.

  • Tammy from Wadsworth Ohio

    Posted on 3/4/2023

    How can I add a 4 channel amplifier to this powered subwoofer? When they both need 8 gauge wire and fuse to the battery

    Commenter image

    Buck Pomerantz from Crutchfield

    on 3/6/2023

    Tammy, In a two-amplifier system, you can either run two power wires and fuses to the battery - or you could use a dual-amp power wiring kit to handle both amplifiers.
  • Maddy Moore from Lancaster

    Posted on 2/7/2023

    I'm installing a 10" kicker hideaway in my F150. Theres a plug that I can plug the sub into to play with the factory system. I am wondering if I need to run the power wore to the battery or if I can plug into my stock system and be ok

    Commenter image

    Buck Pomerantz from Crutchfield

    on 2/8/2023

    Maddy, If you're installing an aftermarket amp or powered sub, you'll need to run a separate fused power wire to the battery.
  • Grant Stewart from MONTEVALLO

    Posted on 1/4/2023

    I have installed the new 10 inch powered sub box from Rockford Fosgate in my 2015 Jeep Wrangler jk. It's the package with the 300 watt powered box. I didn't run a remote turn on wire, but instead I tapped into my front dash speakers behind my head unit. I did this because I am running a factory head unit. Am I correct in doing this? I have no RCA Cables connected at all. My only problem is it sounds a little weak. Any help would be greatly appreciated.

    Commenter image

    Buck Pomerantz from Crutchfield

    on 1/5/2023

    Grant, The front channels you've tapped into probably carry a high-passed signal that contains little bass. Try the rear channels.
  • Paul Wilkerson from Austin

    Posted on 12/21/2022

    I am installing a 500W 4 channel Amp along with an inline AudioControl L7ci. I will run front and rear speakers to the LOC and use RCA to connect them to the Amp (factory stereo also I should mention). I just got ahold of a RF P300-10T subwoofer that I will also be installing. Do I only need to connect the speaker wire from the powered sub to the rear speaker wire in order to get the signal to the sub?

    Commenter image

    Buck Pomerantz from Crutchfield

    on 12/22/2022

    Paul, The way to connect together the gear you describe would be to wire that LOC's inputs to the factory stereo's 4-channel analog output, and connect both the 4-channel amp and the powered subwoofer's inputs to the LOC's outputs.
  • Chris

    Posted on 12/9/2022

    How do I connect this sub along with a 4 channel Alpine S-A32-f Amp? Can the sub get its signal from the rear speaker wires coming out of the amp? (I only have one RCA cable out of the head unit, so I am splitting the RCAs going into the alpine amp.) I'm using Alpine component speakers for front and alpine 2 ways for rear, can all speakers be spliced together at the head unit?

  • Jose Leal from Boise

    Posted on 10/30/2022

    Hello, I bought for my 1994 Chevy S10 pickup and aftermarket clarion radio, 2 door, and 2 dash speakers, and also the Rockford Fosgate Punch P300-10, along with the wire installation kit. I will get them in next week. I am not confused as to how to install the P300-10. Can I connect my 4 other speakers to the P300, or am I needing to buy a new Amplifyer for them? Please let me know, Thank you, Jose

    Commenter image

    Buck Pomerantz from Crutchfield

    on 10/30/2022

    Jose, That powered subwoofer is for low-frequency, bass sounds. Your four full-range speakers should be powered by the receiver or an additional 4-channel amplifier.
  • Hannah from Panama City

    Posted on 10/28/2022

    I'm installing a Rockford Fosgate P300-10 in my 2019 ford fusion hybrid se. I have a px6 (from phoenix automotive). What would be the best way to wire up the turn-on wire and signal cables? I've never done this before and I'm worried about doing it wrong since my car is a hybrid.

    Commenter image

    Buck Pomerantz from Crutchfield

    on 10/28/2022

    Hannah, Step #2 in the video and the written script describes how to make those connections. If reviewing the article doesn't help, perhaps you should hire a professional installer to install your sub in your car.
  • bryan k metzger from Cuba, Mo

    Posted on 8/30/2022

    I PUT IN a after market stereo in my 94 camaro and and all new speakers, also I installed a new 5 om sub speaker 6.5/ the problem is that the sub is not working, what should i do, there is two RCA jacks coming out the right back side of the new stereo do I need to use both RCA jacks hooked up to the sub to make it WORK, THANK YOU

    Commenter image

    Buck Pomerantz from Crutchfield

    on 8/30/2022

    Bryan, Without knowing precisely what stereo and sub you're referring to, we can't help you with advice. If you want a question answered about a system, you must identify the gear by brand names and model numbers so we can get the right information to you.
  • Mark from Southington

    Posted on 5/25/2022

    I had previously installed the Rockford Fosgate P300 powered sub by tapping into left and right front speakers using high-level since I'm still using my factory headunit. I made the connections at the doors to avoid splicing into the factory connectors at the headunit. Everything basically works properly except the sub seems to be overly loud and thus I have to keep the sub gain at the minimum and can only turn the remote sub-level knob to about 1/4. Today I decided to add the Kicker Key 200.4 amp and found that I can't use the HPF/crossover because my sub is effectively tapped into the output side of the speaker connection, and the crossover therefore gets applied to my sub as well. Surprisingly, the sub is not any louder (a good thing). My question is this, I know I will need to tap into the pre-amplified side of the front speaker connections to be able to use the crossover, but should I do something else to address the excessively high sensitivity/loudness of the sub? I thought maybe a simple LOC but I believe the P300 amp already has this built in. I appreciate any advice you could provide to help me and any others in a similar situation.

    Commenter image

    Buck Pomerantz from Crutchfield

    on 5/27/2022

    Mark, It sounds like you may need to use an interface device, like a PAC AmpPro or APSUB, to add amplifiers to your vehicle's factory system with full-range capability.
  • Luke from CLOQUET

    Posted on 5/20/2022

    I purchased the kicker hideaway hs8 for my 2016 f150. What accessories would I need besides an amp wiring kit to install the powered sub to my factory head unit? Also note that I have already upgraded my 4 door speakers that are powered by a small amp installed behind the factory head unit.

    Commenter image

    Buck Pomerantz from Crutchfield

    on 5/24/2022

    Luke, You'll need some way to get signal from your vehicle's system into the sub's inputs. That could e a line output converter or a vehicle-specific interface device for adding a sub. Give us a call so an Advisor can help you figure out what you need.

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