Can I Use a Car Subwoofer for Home Theater?

So you have a home theatre setup but your main subwoofer’s bass is not as deep as you want. You might be wondering if there’s a way to use a car subwoofer for a home theatre because car subwoofers are known for extremely low bass.

Before I continue, it’s important to remember the steps will vary depending on the subwoofer model you’re trying to use.

Generally, most subwoofers can be connected to a home theatre system with similar methods. But it’s best to double-check your subwoofer’s model before you continue.

Can I Use a Car Subwoofer for Home Theater?

Yes, it’s possible. To use a car subwoofer for a home theatre you need a power inverter or amp that can convert 12 volts from 230 voltage.

Once you have an inverter, it’s a matter of hooking up the right cables with appropriate adapters to your amp or AV receiver.

Look:

Unless you absolutely do not have another subwoofer, connecting a car subwoofer to your home theatre is probably not the best idea. It’s tricky and needs a lot of equipment, wires, and adapters. You also need to make sure the power requirements of all your devices are compatible.

Not to mention car subwoofers are designed and tuned for small environments, not home theatres. You also won’t be able to directly control the volume or bass on the subwoofer.

In most cases, buying a new home theatre subwoofer would be cheaper than buying the equipment needed to use a car subwoofer. Even if you do get a car subwoofer working in your home, it probably won’t sound as good as a regular subwoofer.

Here are some things you’ll need:

  • 12V to 240V power supply
  • Positive to negative wires (Gauge cables)
  • Amplifier
  • AV Receiver
  • A car battery (optional)
  • RCA cables
  • RCA to male 3.5 mm adapter

Having said that, if you really want to use a car subwoofer for home theatre, you can do it, and I’ll walk you through a few methods below:

Buy a 12V DC Power Supply

The reason you need a power supply is that car subwoofers are designed to run on 12 volts. The wall sockets in your home (in the UK) are 230 volts, so you’ll need a power supply that can convert 230 volts to 12 volts.

Car subwoofers also don’t have any way to regulate power on their own, they need to be powered by an amp or AV receiver (passive subwoofer). Active subwoofers have their own power supply and power cable.

Plugging a car subwoofer directly into a wall outlet can completely fry the subwoofer because the voltage from the wall is much higher.

There are lots of power supplies that you can use, even old PC power supplies can work. If you’re going to use a power brick, you’ll likely have to strip the wires, which I’ll talk about a little later on.

Try an Xbox 360 Power Brick:

There’s one interesting low-cost “hack” I came across. If you have one lying around, you can use an Xbox 360 power brick. An Xbox 360 power brick is a 12-volt inverter.

You can use other power bricks (check the description for 12V output in the specifications) but the Xbox 360 is easier because the wires are colour-coded.

Bear in mind, this is a low-cost solution and you won’t be able to push the car’s subwoofer to its maximum, but it should sound okay.

Connecting Xbox 360 Power Brick to an Amplifier

Cut the main Xbox 360 power brick wire, and inside you’ll see 8 small wires; three black, three yellow, one red, and one blue. The black and yellow wires connect to your amp or AV receiver, and the red and blue are used for power.

Each of the wires will need to be stripped. Two of the yellow wires need to be connected to the “12v+ Supply” port on your amp, and one to the “Remote” section. From there, all three black wires need to connect to the “Ground” section on your amp.

To keep the power on, the red and blue can be spliced together.

From there, you need to connect the BRIDGE section (positive and negative) on the amp, to the positive and negative on the subwoofer.

Using a PC Power Supply:

If you have an old PC power supply lying around, you can try using it to power the subwoofer. Most PC power supplies will work with car subwoofers, even if they’re pretty old. The trick to using a PC power supply to power a subwoofer is to find the right wires you need, similar to the Xbox power brick.

It’s a little trickier with PC power supplies because not all the cables are colour coded, and some don’t even have cables. What you need to do is find the +12 Volt wire, ground, and +5V. You’ll need to research your power supply model and look for the pinout diagram to find the wires needed.

Trickle-Charge a Car Battery

Another option that requires more space is to use a power adapter to trickle charge a car battery. From there you use the car battery to power the subwoofer because the car battery outputs 12 volts. I don’t recommend this method because it’s inconvenient but some people have had success with it.

Connecting the Subwoofer to a Sound Source

Once you got the power requirements of the subwoofer sorted, and it’s connected to an amplifier, it’s time to connect a sound source. Your options depend on your amplifier’s ports.

The easiest way to connect a sound source to an amplifier is with an RCA to male 3.5mm adapter. Connect the colour-coded RCA cables to their ports on the amplifier and the other end into your sound source. The sound source could be an AV receiver or a computer.

If everything is connected properly, the subwoofer should work with your home theatre system.

Final Thoughts:

While using a car’s subwoofer in a home is possible, it’s quite inconvenient to get working correctly. Even if it works, the sound quality won’t be great and you won’t have a way to control the volume. As I mentioned before, car subwoofers are designed and tuned for small environments, not for home use.

Unless you are really determined to use a car subwoofer with your home theatre, I do not recommend it. I would buy a new home theatre subwoofer instead, it’ll save you a headache, and the audio quality will be better.

About Tim Gagnon

Timothy Gagnon is a tech blogger and writer. When he's not dissembling computers, he's researching the latest tech gadgets and trends.

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