Can You Use Powered Speakers with a Receiver?

The task of connecting every single component of your home theater setup may seem daunting, to say the least. It is especially the case if you are not that well-versed with the different associated jargon. Passive, active, and powered are just some of the many terms often used when explaining the different types of speakers you have.

Can You Use Powered Speakers with a Receiver?

But add to this that massive amount of other phrases and components, channel, source, amplifier, and receiver, just to mention a few, and things can become even more confusing than ever all of a sudden. On top of that, you have to deal with the lack of clarity in the manufacturer’s direction and poorly drawn diagrams.

All of these can lead to confusion as to what parts you should connect to what, and if the parts will even work together in the first place.

Can you use powered speakers with a receiver, then?

If you bought powered speakers recently and you are planning to pair them with a receiver, you might be in for some surprise. That is unless you know exactly how to connect this two together. But to answer your question, yes, you can use your powered speakers with a receiver.

The next question now is, how do you connect your powered speakers with a receiver? The receiver should include Zone 2 lines or pre-outs so you can connect your powered speakers to it. All you have to do is connect the powered speakers to the Zone 2 outputs or pre-outs. Powered speakers cannot be connected to the normal speaker terminals of a receiver since it will end up damaging your speakers.

Continue reading below to know more about using powered speakers and receivers together.

How to Use Powered Speakers with a Receiver

Also called active speakers, powered speakers are called such due to their built-in amplifier. It means that they don’t need the use or work with exterior amplifiers.

On the other hand, a receiver already has an integrated amplifier. This is why you might have a hard time successfully connecting powered speakers to the home theater receiver.

To connect and use your powered speakers with receivers, here are the steps to follow:

1. Find the Pre-outs of the Receiver

Before you start, you should locate the pre-outs on the receiver. Take note that certain brands call these Line Outs. Initially meant to allow connecting an external amplifier to help ease away the burden on the receiver, the lines are often the only ones working with powered speakers.

The specific number of pre-outs limits the number of powered speakers that can be linked to the receiver. This also lets you expand the home theater system beyond the channels that it was originally meant to support. Good thing that most receivers produced today already likely include pre-outs.

However, older models probably don’t. If this is the case, you have to invest in passive speakers that don’t come with an integrated amplifier. You can also upgrade your existing receiver to a new model featuring pre-outs.

2. Identify Where to Install Your Receiver and Powered Speakers in the Home Theater Setup

Before you start cutting holes, running cables, or doing anything else, make sure you locate where you will position your receiver and speakers in your home theater system.

You need to place your receiver in a well-ventilated spot for better longevity. The placement must also allow easy access to the rear for connection purposes. The receiver is usually located in an entertainment center for most setups.

Speaker placement usually depends on the number of available channels you have. identifying the location of every speaker will help you determine the length of cable you need for running every speaker to the receiver.

3. Connect Your Speakers to the Pre-Outs

After you have determined the placements for your speakers and receiver, you now need to connect these two using the appropriate cables.

Depending on your personal preference and placement, the cabling can be run through the walls to keep them hidden from sight.

Many modern receiver models today accept inputs from RCA, HDMI, and coaxial or optical cables. Most of the time, the pre-outs need standard RCA cables.

A lot of experts suggest using speaker wire connectors to connect your speakers and receiver. Although it might be tedious, this will help ensure that the wires don’t touch and prevent the risks of short-circuiting the receiver.

You need to connect your sources and speakers before you power on your receiver. Also, it is highly recommended to use a surge protector to keep your home theater protected from power surges to your house.

Other Options to Connect Powered Speakers

While pre-outs are considered the standard way of connecting powered speakers, these are not always the only choice you have if you want to add powered speakers to your home theater setup.

Zone 2 Lines

Some receivers feature Zone 2 lines that you can use for connecting powered speakers. These Zone 2 lines were meant to support the use of another source in a different part of the house. For instance, you can stream songs in the master bedroom even while your children are watching a film in the family room.

Some receivers also have a powered regular Zone 2 output and Zone 2 pre-out. Due to the dual configuration, Zone 2 allows connecting a second amplifier for powering the rest of the speakers or connecting directly to the powered speakers.

You can also expand beyond the receiver’s supported channels with the help of Zone 2. For instance, receivers might be sold as a 5.1-channel unit. But the extra Zone 2 ports may let you expand the home theater to a 7.1 channel system. Some manufacturers may also include a Zone 2 feature in the overall channel count.

Just like the pre-out option, it is important to identify the placement of your powered speakers. The occasional Zone 4 and 3 and Zone 2 often use the standard RCA cables although these might also have dedicated binding posts to provide the audio signal and power to a passive speaker.

Stereo Receivers

There are also stereo receivers that accept AV inputs depending on your primary usage. Although stereo receivers are not meant to support home theaters, people who use them for video and music often find them suitable.