Adding a good subwoofer to an audio system can make your favorite music, movies and video presentations come alive with thunderous bass that makes audio seem more realistic and dynamic. All speakers, subwoofers included, have a power-handling rating usually indicated in watts, which indicates how much power the speaker can handle from an amplifier or receiver. If you have a subwoofer rated for 200 watts, it is capable of filling even the largest living or listening rooms with loud and dynamic bass. Getting the most out of your high-wattage subwoofer, though, requires that you properly match it with a suitable amplifier and satellite speakers.
Determining Your Subwoofer Type
The type of amplifier you need to use with your 200-watt subwoofer depends primarily on the type of sub you have and how many additional speakers (often referred to as satellites) you need to connect to your audio system. Therefore, you must identify the type of sub you own before you can match it correctly. Subwoofers come in two basic varieties: active and passive. Active subwoofers have integrated amplifiers for powering two or more satellite speakers and generally more suitable for amplifiers or receivers that have only two channels – left and right. Passive subwoofers, on the other hand, have no integrated amplifier and usually do not connect directly to satellite speakers. If your subwoofer is part of a larger, matching home-theater speaker system, it is probably a passive model. However, if you want to be sure, look for a volume control as well as additional speaker output ports on the rear of the sub. If it has either of these things, it is an active subwoofer. If your sub is indeed an active model, it matches up best with a basic two-channel amplifier or receiver. If the sub is of the passive variety, you should pair it with an A/V receiver with multiple speaker outputs for surround-sound speakers.
Basic Music Amplifiers and Receivers
If you determine that you have an active 200-watt subwoofer, you can use it to power other speakers with a two-channel amplifier or receiver. Basic two-channel amplifiers do not support connecting surround-sound speakers to the unit directly. This reduces the cost of an amplifier or receiver considerably, because amps that drive more channels require separate amplification components for each individual channel. Basic models offer speaker connections for only left and right channels – or simple stereo. Most active subwoofers connect to both the left and right channel outputs on the receiver and have two or more output ports for connecting additional speakers. The amplifier or receiver drives the subwoofer, and the sub’s integrated amplifier powers the external speakers. For example, the Sherwood RX-4105 two-channel receiver, which provides a hefty 100 watts per channel, offers connections for up to four external player devices and includes and integrated AM/FM tuner. If you only need to connect a CD/DVD player or other player and don’t need the AM/FM radio function, consider a model such as the Audio Source AMP 100 2-channel amp is a no-frills volume power source with two external CD/DVD players or tape decks.
If your subwoofer is a passive model and has no integrated amp or external speaker connectors, you must use it with an A/V receiver that has a dedicated subwoofer output. A/V receivers allow you to connect a subwoofer and two, four, six or even more additional satellite speakers for a true surround-sound effect. Additionally, A/V receivers let you control one or more video sources directly from the audio system – you only need one remote for audio and video. If you plan to use only two additional left and right channel speakers with your 200-watt sub, then the Sherwood RX-4503 2.1-Channel Stereo Receiver is more than capable of producing very loud listening levels with only your subwoofer and two additional speakers. If your sub is part of a 5.1 (five satellites and one subwoofer), select a receiver that offers channels for each speaker in the set. The Yamaha HTR-3063 provides an ample 100 watts of clean, clear-sounding power to all speakers in any 5.1 speaker system.
If you have passive subwoofer that is part of a 7.1 surround-sound system, or if you just want the option of adding six additional speakers to your sub, you need an advanced A/V receiver with enough input/output options to support the larger number of satellites. A/V receivers able to power seven satellite speakers, though, are generally considerably more expensive than 5.1 models. However, with the added cost, 7.1-channel capable receivers usually come many advanced features. For instance, the Sherwood R-904N NetBoxx 7.1-Channel Receiver not only allows you to connect your subwoofer and seven satellite speakers, but it also allows you to control up to three TVs, 10 audio devices and multiple video players with the receiver and a single remote control. Additionally, you can connect the R-904N to your wired or wireless router and stream music to computers and other devices connected to your home computer network. The R-904N provides all of the features in addition to pushing an ear-splitting 100 watts per channel to your 7.1 sub and speaker system.
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