How to Use a Vizio Subwoofer Without a Soundbar

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Getting room-shaking bass without a full surround system is possible using just a standalone Vizio subwoofer.

With some basic wiring know-how and placement experimentation, a Vizio sub can thunder your audio experience whether connected to an AV receiver, TV, turntable or powered speakers.

Let’s explore step-by-step how to best leverage your Vizio sub without a soundbar for fuller media enjoyment.

Connect Vizio Subwoofer to Any Audio Source

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Vizio subwoofers like the VSW205, VSW510, and VSW315 can thunder bass from any audio source thanks to integrated amps and a variety of wired input options.

You do not need a Vizio soundbar or even speakers connected to utilize the powered sub.

The key is getting audio signals into the subwoofer from devices like an AV receiver, TV, computer, or turntable via RCA or 3.5mm connections.

Then strategic sub placement and control adjustments provide optimized low-end reinforcement.

We’ll cover step-by-step setup to blend the Vizio subwoofer seamlessly without a dedicated soundbar.

Proper configuration unleashes these compact yet mighty units’ full bass potential in any media system.

Check Subwoofer Connections

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When setting up a Vizio subwoofer on its own without a soundbar, the first step is to ensure that the subwoofer is connected to power and displaying an illuminated power light.  

Subwoofers like the Vizio VSW206, VSW505, or VSW510 have detachable power cords that must be firmly inserted into both the AC input socket on the rear panel of the subwoofer as well as a wall power outlet.  

When properly connected to power, the power light on the front or side of the Vizio subwoofer unit will light up.  

If the power light does not turn on when the power cord is inserted into the wall, try connecting it to a different outlet or using a different power cord to rule out issues.    

After confirming the subwoofer unit is showing a solid and consistent power light, the next step is connecting audio input cables to feed sound from an audio source component into the subwoofer.  

Most Vizio subwoofers have a pair of left and right RCA input jacks on the rear to accept signals.  

There should be corresponding markings indicating left input and right input.  

To connect something like a Blu-ray disc player or streaming media device directly into the Vizio subwoofer, locate the matching left and right RCA audio outputs on the source component and use an RCA stereo audio cable to feed those outputs into the respective RCA inputs on the subwoofer unit.  

Press the RCA connectors firmly into the inputs on both ends of the cable for solid signal transmission.

Connect Subwoofer to AV Receiver   

A powerful way to utilize a standalone Vizio subwoofer in a full speaker home theater system is by connecting it to an AV receiver’s designated subwoofer output.

Most modern AV receivers like the Denon AVRX-2500H or Onkyo TX-NR676 have RCA output ports specifically labeled Subwoofer Out or LFE Out.  

The benefit of routing through an AV receiver rather than connecting source devices directly to the sub is that the receiver can apply equalization, time delays, and bass management to seamlessly integrate the subwoofer output with the rest of the speaker channels.

To hook up the connection from AV receiver to Vizio subwoofer, locate a pair of open RCA input jacks on the rear of the subwoofer as outlined in the previous section.  

Then take an RCA stereo audio cable and connect one end to the Subwoofer/LFE outputs on the AV receiver and insert the other red and white RCA plugs into the matching RCA input jacks on the Vizio sub.  

This feeds the channel-optimized low frequency sound from movies, music, and games through the subwoofer.   

In addition to the physical audio cable connection, the AV receiver needs extra configuration in its settings menu to properly power on the subwoofer and redirect bass to it from the other speakers.  

Navigate to the speaker setup section and confirm the enabled speakers listing shows the connected subwoofer.  

There should also be a setting like ”Bass Redirection” that sends low end through the sub rather than large main speakers.

Connect Subwoofer to Stereo System  

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Using a standalone Vizio subwoofer with a basic stereo music system such as passive bookshelf speakers or multimedia monitors connected to a computer or turntable can greatly enhance low frequency presence for richer sound.  

This is accomplished by splitting the left and right speaker channel outputs into both the speakers and subwoofer simultaneously utilizing RCA Y-splitter adapter cables.

To integrate the Vizio subwoofer into such a configuration, start by ensuring the primary left and right passive speakers are connected from the receiver or amplifier outputs per normal.  

This feeds the full frequency spectrum through the main speakers.

Then disconnect the cables and attach an RCA Y-adapter splitter onto each channel’s positive and negative terminals instead.  

This splits a single stereo output into two identical outputs.  

Reconnect speaker wires from one set of adapter outputs to power the passive speakers.   

Finally, take an RCA stereo cable and plug one end into the other open pair of outputs from the Y-adapter into the matching RCA input jacks on the Vizio subwoofer.  

Now one unified signal from the source components splits into both speakers and powered sub for serious bass reinforcement without needing a full AV receiver.  

Keep source and amplifier volumes conservative at first, then gradually increase loudness for a rich sound balance.

Connect Subwoofer to TV  

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Modern smart TVs can output surprisingly powerful audio, especially when connected to an external subwoofer like the compact Vizio VSW206.  

Most televisions have RCA audio outputs or sometimes an optical digital output to tap into the set’s integrated speakers system.  

To leverage these ports for subwoofer expansion, start by locating the connection options on the rear of the TV labeled Audio Out.  

There will typically be a combined 3.5mm headphone jack, two RCA stereo outputs, and possibly an optical output.

To connect into RCA outputs, verify which pair of red and white outputs are labeled Fixed rather than Variable to ensure the strongest line level signal reaches the subwoofer without volume fluctuations.  

Then use a stereo RCA audio cable to connect from those TV audio outputs directly into the respective RCA inputs on the Vizio subwoofer.  

Make sure left goes to left and right to right when inserting the plugs.  

If the TV only has variable RCA outs, try using a 3.5mm to RCA cable from the headphone jack instead for fixed signal.   

With everything physically connected, power on the TV and subwoofer system.  

Dig into the TV’s settings menu and audio adjustments to confirm external speakers and particularly the subwoofer signal are enabled.  

The subwoofer should now thunder with deep bass when watching movies, TV, or playing games through the set.  

Place Subwoofer Properly    

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Finding the optimal placement for a subwoofer like the Vizio VSW505 involves some degree of experimentation to determine how bass frequencies interact in the listening environment.  

Start by positioning the compact Vizio unit along a wall approximately one to three feet from a room corner.  

Bass tends to amplify and enrich when emanating from a corner due to how low frequency sound waves reflect and build up in an enclosed space.  

Angling or toeing in the front face of the subwoofer toward the central seating or listening area can also focus these vibrations.  

To fine tune placement within these near-corner parameters, actually listen to the subwoofer performance with familiar bass-heavy music tracks while moving the box to different locations.  

Even subtly different positioning can dramatically change acoustic properties.  

Move the test track volume to moderately loud levels, then walk around the room while adjusting subwoofer location to find the loudest, fullest sweet spot without distorting or loose booming tones.  

Mark the optimal location with painter’s tape once found.   

Keep in mind environmental factors like multiple seating positions or open concept spaces may balance output across broader zones.  

Compromise on the overall fullest resonance across seats without huge dips or peaks in certain spots.  

Get a helper to assist in finding this balanced sweet spot for room-filling, rich bass.   

Adjust Subwoofer Controls   

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The last piece in optimizing a standalone Vizio subwoofer is properly configuring the manual control knobs on the enclosure’s rear panel.  

Key controls include volume, crossover frequency, and phase adjustment switches or dials.  

Start by setting volume around 25-50% gain to avoid overdriving the sub right away.  

Then set crossover frequency around 80 Hz, the typical point where deep bass seamlessly transitions into midrange frequencies.  

The phase switch should start at 0 degrees alignment to be in sync with the other speakers.  

To perfect this sub/speaker balance, play familiar music tracks with consistent bass elements like kick drums or bass guitar.  

Focus critically on how smoothly the very low tones blend together between the sub and speakers with no distracting localization to the sub itself.  

If the transition between components sounds muddy, reduce subwoofer volume slightly or increase crossover frequency.  

This tightens bass focus through the mains.   

Conversely, if the low end sounds anemic even with the sub powered on, gently boost subwoofer volume and reduce crossover frequency.   

The goal is rich, full low bass without losing midrange clarity.  

Switch the phase alignment control between 0 and 180 degrees wherever it subjectively sounds fullest.  

Repeat small adjustments until finding the best blend then leave settings alone.  

Revisiting tuning with fresh ears can help dial-in bass nirvana.


Using a Vizio subwoofer without an accompanying soundbar opens up flexibility in system configuration while still providing impactful bass.

By properly wiring connections, positioning the subwoofer unit, and fine-tuning controls, you can achieve excellent low frequency response blended seamlessly with bookshelf speakers, AV receivers, TVs and more.

Continually experiment with placement and settings adjustments until finding bass nirvana.


Dominic is the chief editor of the Burton Acoustix blog which writes about acoustics and soundproofing to help readers with their queries and questions they might have with regard to improving any sound or noise issues that they faced in their life.