How To Set Up a Subwoofer in a Car like a Pro
I know there are things that should be left to the professionals. Just like playing basketball, conducting surgery, and installing car audio.
But it isn’t wrong to try it for ourselves, right? Well, except surgery, of course (unless you’re a surgeon reading this). Which is why I am writing this DIY article on how to set up a subwoofer.
Tedious as it may seem, installing car audio by yourself gives you the gratification that’s worth so much more than the sweat, tears, and grease you churned out in the process.
Tools for Setting up Subwoofers for Your Car
- Torx driver
- Nut driver
- Allen wrench
- Utility knife
- Crimping tool
- Panel removal tools
- Cable tie
- Split loom
- Electric tape
As much as possible, stick with the tools and wires listed above. Otherwise, getting an alternative may give you an unwanted result.
Pro tip: Make sure the specs of your amplifier and subwoofers match. You want no electronic barbecue in your car.
Setting up Subwoofers
- Inspect your car. You don’t have to hire the CIA to do this although you probably have to act like one. Start off by checking your car’s electrical system. You are going to modify it a bit, so it’s just right to know what’s working and not before adding your amp and subwoofer.
Some things you have to take note of are:
- Cigarette lighter
- Climate control
- Heated seats
- Lights both interior and exterior
- Power windows
- Turn signals
Pro tip: List them down using a pen and paper or any note taking app you find handy. You know, just in case you have a senior moment.
Pro tip: You may want to use a thick covering such as a fender cover from this point on to protect your car’s paint.
Pro tip: You may use one of the cables to check clearly.
Pro tip: Leave the nut/screwdriver there, so the hole is kept open.
Pro tip: Use a small tray or any container for the fuse so as not to misplace it.
Pro tip: Use a cable tie to make sure the wires inside the hood do not get in the way of the other parts.
When running the power wire along the areas that will get in the way of the passengers, make sure to hide these wires under the floor panels along the door. You may pop these panels up using the panel tools or simply tuck it under securely.
You need to hide the wire as much as possible to avoid premature damage to it due to it being constantly stepped on and to avoid tripping the passengers. It’s also a good idea to use split looms to protect the wire from unnecessary pinching.
Pro tip: Run the wire where there are already existing wires. You can be sure that this is a safe place. Clamp these wires together using a cable tie so that they’re not dangling everywhere.
Pro tip: You may just place the tape after every 12 inches or where you see fit.
Pro tip: If putting the dash on the seat, use a blanket underneath it to protect your seat from unwanted scratches.
Pro tip: Do not use a drill at this moment because it may create an unnecessary hole.
Feed the cables through the hole in front of the passenger’s seat to space where the radio was. Then using the knife of pliers, strip the ends of the remote wire and the remote turn on wire. The latter is the one already part of the factory wires installed.
Next, using a crimper tool, attach the necessary connectors to each end then attach them to each other. Once done, hook up the RCA cable to the subwoofer output located at the back of the radio.
After making sure all wires are securely connected, reinsert the radio into the dash. Screwing it in place and putting back the dash cover.
Pro tip: Because this area may contain sharp edges, it’s a good thing to protect the RCA and remote cables with the split loom. Also, make sure the tuck the exposed RCA and remote cables under the carpet along the passenger’s side.
You may use plywood or glass then attach it to where you plan to put the amp. Then drill and screw the amp in place.
This is also the time when you tie the power, RCA, and remote cables together. Use the cable tie to do it then tuck them under the carpets.
Pro tip: Use short screws to avoid penetrating the other side of where you are placing it, especially if you plan to place the amp in one of the side panels.
Once you have made sure not even a hurricane can dislodge these wires, you may place the rest of the amp screws in place.
For the ground wire, you also have to attach it to the auto body or the back of the seat (depending on where you placed the amp). Use a star washer for better hold.
Pro tip: Do not screw the amp in place too tight. It may damage the cables that run behind it. Also, use split looms for each wire for additional protection. And tie them using cable ties because you don’t want Tarzan’s jungle in your car.
Pro tip: If connecting two subwoofers to a single amp, go to the next section to know how to connect two subwoofers (or more).
Pro tip: Using an oscilloscope will make the tuning easier.
Lastly, check the electric system again to see if you have been professional enough not to damage anything.
Pro tip: Allow a little bit of excess of an untucked speaker wire just in case you want to move it to a different, further place in the future.
How to Connect Two Subwoofers
Connecting two subs to an amp that can handle multiple channels is pretty straightforward and easy. You just have to hook up the positive and negative terminals of the subwoofer to their respective terminals on the amplifier.
The trick comes in if you want to know how to bridge an amplifier, which is good if you want to increase the power output. It’s still not rocket science, but it involves some math when doing it.
What you need
- Multichannel amp
- Stereo wire
- Knife or blade
Here are the Steps
- Take note of the amp’s and subs’ specs. More specifically, you have to know the following:
- Bridged output power and power handling of the amp and sub respectively.
- Impedance of both the amp and the sub.
Basically, what you want to find out here is that the amp has enough juice to handle both your subwoofers. You may use calculators to find this one out.
Using the knife or blade, trim off 3/4” of the insulator on the speaker wires then attach them to the subwoofer terminals as needed.
Woohoo! You’re almost done with your very long day. I will not hold you for long but let me just remind you that this is just one way of setting up a subwoofer in a car. It will always depend, of course, on your devices and the type of car you have.
When in doubt, you can always leave it to the professionals.