What is a Subwoofer Pre-Out? — Amplify Your Home Audio with this Connection

subwoofer pre out

Setting up a home theater system can be tough if you don’t understand how specific connection ports work. Looking at the ports on the receiver can easily overwhelm. One connection port that’s pretty complicated to comprehend is a subwoofer pre-out. Many users don’t understand its function or importance is in a receiver. Today, this is what our experts will shed more light on.

What Is a Subwoofer Pre-Out?

A subwoofer pre-out is used for connecting powered or active speakers and subwoofers through an external source. It’s an invaluable port on the receiver that powers up the subwoofer without the receiver amplifying it.

High-end receivers usually have three pre-outs — one for the speaker and two for subwoofers. This allows the connection of both the speaker and the subwoofer simultaneously.

wires with subwoofer pre out

How to Connect to a Subwoofer Pre-Out?

Connecting to a subwoofer pre-out is pretty simple. But first, you need to check if your speaker has an external amplifier or not. Speakers with an external amplifier have a pre-out port.

Most brands include a subwoofer cable in the package, while some have a single tip cable and a Y-splitter cable for multiple subwoofer connections.

Related: Guide to Subwoofer’s Y Adapter Cable  

how to connect

To start with, make sure the plug is connected to the power outlet. Then select your desired cable, depending on your connection. Once you have your desired wire, connect the tip to the subwoofer’s pre-out on the receiver and the other end to the left and right RCA line-in inputs on the sub. After the devices are connected, you should be able to play music. If you are still unable to, double-check to see if you plugged the cables into the right ports.

Purpose of a Pre-Out

Pre-out boosts the power of the subwoofer better than the amplifier on an AV receiver. Some high-rated subwoofers below the price of 200 come with their amplifiers and can drain the receiver’s energy, especially when connected in a complex theater system[1]. In this regard, most AV receivers lack the power to amplify all units at the same time.

subwoofer pre-out

With a pre-out, speakers and subwoofers can be connected independently without needing the amplifier on a receiver since they have theirs. That minimizes the load and power on the receiver’s amplifier.

In addition to that, a pre-out is useful when you want to connect different speaker channels. You don’t need to be in the same room to be able to play sounds. Generally, a pre-out allows your speakers to function at their peak capacity.

Advantages of a Pre-Out

These are some of the benefits of using pre-outs:

  • Using a pre-out will lower the pressure on your AV receiver. In a complex home theater system, an AV receiver won’t be sufficient to power all units because it has limited capacity. With pre-outs, the power is decentralized, and the receiver’s lifespan is elongated.
  • You can add more than one channel with a pre-out. For complex setups, pre-outs are best to use because of the numerous connection ports.
  • With pre-outs, the overall speaker system setup is immensely improved, whether you have just an active speaker, passive, or both. Since passive speakers don’t have their amplifiers, you can connect them to the receiver’s in-built amplifier while the active speakers go through pre-outs. This attains some equilibrium.
Advantage of preout

Disadvantages of a Pre-Out

Although pre-outs have immense benefits, they are not without some disadvantages. Below are a few of them.

  • They are costly. Most high-end receivers have pre-outs, but their prices are quite over the top, and they are not the nicest of all options for people with an average home theater setup.
  • Several cables are involved when using pre-outs. It can be frustrating when you want to organize them. Plus, they will give you a hard time cleaning the floor as they quickly get entangled.
  • The power consumption of pre-outs is astronomical. The more powerful the receiver, the more energy it expends, especially when the speakers and the subwoofers are plugged. This can also result in more costs in the long run in terms of bill payment.


What is a subwoofer pre-out?

A subwoofer pre-out connects an external amplifier, mostly in powered or active speakers and subwoofers, to an AV receiver. This connection powers up the entire home theater system seamlessly.

What does a pre-out mean on a receiver?

A pre-out on a receiver means that you can connect your active speakers via the port for better sound output.


If you want to boost your home theater systems’ sound efficiency, getting an AV receiver with pre-outs is the ideal option for you. Subwoofer pre-outs improve home theater sounds, allowing you to have a good listening experience. It’s convenient to set up, thanks to this post by our experts. All you need to have are the right cables.


Picture of Willie Greer
Willie Greer
Willie Greer is the founder of The Product Analyst. A cinephile, he has made it a personal quest to achieve the awesomest home theater possible. He now shares what he has learned through the years on the site, and has enlisted the help of tech-savvy colleagues in providing more insight about today’s most sought-after gadgets.