Surround Receivers

I Upgraded My AV Receiver but Now My Subwoofer Volume Needs to Change?

People trust what they know. If they have experience with a brand or product, they tend to want to replace that product with a brand that has served them well in the past. This is especially true with high-dollar, infrequently purchased products. Did you have a refrigerator that lasted you a long time? You’ll probably buy another from the same brand. Washers, dryers, TVs…they all tend to fall in this camp. The same is true with AV receivers. Not only might you buy from the same brand because you’ve had good experiences in the past, but because you’ll be familiar with the menu system and controls. You may also think that your settings on an upgraded AV receiver (like the subwoofer volume) might need little to no modification or change.

That’s unlikely to be the case. And here’s why.

Defining Subwoofer Volume

For most people, their subwoofer is the only speaker in their system that is self-powered. It has its own amp. All the rest of their home theater speakers are usually powered by their AV receiver with some people also including external amplification. This means that your subwoofer is the only speaker in your system with a volume knob.

To deal with this, many (if not all) auto-setup programs included with your AV receiver have you adjust the volume knob so that it is close enough to 75dB so that the AV receiver can use the trim level controls to dial it in.

If you’ve upgraded your AV receiver to one of the same brand, you’d think you wouldn’t have to change the subwoofer volume dial setting. It’s the same brand receiver, the same auto-setup program, and the same room correction program. The volume setting shouldn’t change, right?

Wrong. Maybe.

Why You Have to Change the Subwoofer Volume on Your Upgraded AV Receiver

The main culprit here is likely to be output voltage. The connection between your AV receiver and your subwoofer amplifier carries an electrical current that not only tells the subwoofer what to play, but how loud. The voltage controls the volume. While the output voltage usually falls within a range (1.2 to 2.0 volts), any variation from your old AV receiver can change how loud your subwoofer will play.

If you were to replace your old AV receiver with one from a different manufacturer, chances are you’d have to change the volume setting on the back of the subwoofer. You’d think that getting a receiver from the same brand would mean that they use the same output voltage for all the AV receivers. This is not the case. It is not unusual for the output voltage to be different from AV receiver models within the same brands. It is possible that you could get lucky and your new AV receiver will have the same output voltage, but it is unlikely.

What Does This Mean?

Does this mean that your new AV receiver is somehow better or worse than your old one depending on which way you need to adjust your subwoofer volume? Not really. Slight variations in the output voltage don’t really indicate any difference in quality. It does simply mean that you’ll have to adjust your volume knob slightly.

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