Are you in the process of building your very own home sound system? That’s right. The one you’ve practically dreamed of having since you were a teen and saved every last penny from those god-awful jobs to get.
Well, congratulations, buddy! We’re truly overjoyed, and proud of you. But in case you haven’t brought those baddies home yet and are still confused about what kind of speaker impedance you should go for and what will be an absolute hit for your system, read right ahead!
What Is Speaker Impedance aka Ohms?
Now, we’re pretty sure at some point, while browsing speakers online or window shopping at the electronics store, you’ve come across a dilemma that:
- A) you brushed off under the carpet and just went with the flow; or
- B) turned to your tech guru friend for advice and got a sleepy/barely understandable answer
So, let’s cut to the chase and answer the question to “What in the world are ohms and why do I have to worry about them?”
Speaker impedance, measured in ohms (Ω) restricts the passage of electrical current within a circuit similar to resistance. Although impedance varies at various audio frequencies whereas resistance is typically constant, the two are close.
Produced by the interchange of the voice coil and other electrical parts of the speaker, an impedance rate can range from a few ohms to millions of kilohms. The most common ones are 2 Ohms, 4 Ohms, 6 Ohms and 8 Ohms.
Impedance Rates & Their Importance
Power losses during transmission prevent speakers with mismatched impedances from producing their best audio.
The impedance rating of a speaker greatly impacts its loudness aka volume. An amplifier may produce distortion if the speakers’ impedance levels are too low for it, and this distortion may get worse when the volume is increased due to the amp drawing too much current. On the other side, prolonged sounds may be interrupted by inadequate voltage (signal) levels pouring out of the amplifier if they are too high for the amp.
Thus, impedance matching, such as pairing a low-impedance speaker with a high-wattage amplifier, is always recommended when connecting two components in this manner to avoid such interference. This is also a major reason why speaker models and specs vary between speaker brands and are sometimes priced at very high rates too.
The Difference Between 4 Ohm & 8 Ohm Speakers
The difference is pretty straightforward. Since 4 ohm speakers have less resistance than 8 ohm speakers, they will sound louder when the volume is set to the same level.
The fact that they will play louder at a certain volume setting does not, however, imply that their peak SPL is higher. Like everything else, you cannot expect something in exchange for nothing. Other factors exist as well, such as speaker sensitivity.
A speaker with a lower impedance rating will need an amplifier with a lower voltage output capacity. As long as their wattage ratings are matched, speakers with greater impedances may require more nominal power. Without a suitable amplifier, a 4-ohm speaker will cause distortion, sound bad, and maybe even harm the speaker, though most of them have some kind of safeguard against this. This is because the high-powered amp feels the need to supply greater power to a speaker with a 4-ohm load, all in one go.
In simpler terms, better audio performance can be achieved by using speakers having impedance is equivalent to that of the amplifier. More power can be used for loudness and low-frequency response when a speaker has a higher impedance rating because less power is wasted during transmission (bass).
As a result, the majority of audio video receivers, such as Denon and Yamaha models, are designed to support 8 ohm speakers. A speaker with a greater impedance might not perform as well since the amplifier might clip (beyond its voltage limit) before it loses power (because power is a factor of voltage as well as current.)
Because amplifiers are not 100% effective, part of the current they receive is converted to heat when a speaker has a lower impedance (below 8). It is claimed that more expensive models of Yamaha, Denon, and other manufacturers can handle 4 ohm speakers better.
To avoid worrying about whether your receiver can handle 4 ohm without having a lower lifespan, we always advise 8 ohm speakers for audio video receivers. especially if you have a tendency to play music loudly.
You can check into external amplifiers that are designed to handle 4 ohms if your receiver has pre outs, which are the signal’s final destination before it reaches the power amplifier stage.
Can I use 4-ohm speakers instead of 8-ohm?
The common consensus is yes, you can, but it really depends on how well you can push speakers with a 4-ohm impedance. After all, impedance problems can affect any home speaker system, regardless of everything.
As we mentioned before, 4-ohm speakers require a very strong amp that can push a 4-ohm load. This is why many speaker manufacturers often save their highest-end or signature models for using a 4 ohms resistance (which obviously cost more than your regular ones).
Another key factor that goes into play here is sensitivity – a speaker with a higher ohm rating and greater sensitivity is more likely to perform equally well.
Do 4 ohms sound better?
4-ohm speakers deliver a remarkable increase in performance and incredibly lifelike sound with very little distortion, provided the amp used is equally good.
Are higher ohms better for speakers?
It depends. 4 ohm speakers will sound louder at the same power than 8 ohm speakers if your amplifier is built to drive them. The same is the case with 8 ohm speakers; they’ll sound louder at the same power than 4 ohm speakers if the amp you’re using is designed to push them.
Which ohm is best for bass?
A subwoofer with a lower electrical resistance generates a louder sound than one with a higher electrical resistanc. This means that 2 ohm subwoofers are louder than 4 ohm ones. Despite being louder though, 2 ohm subwoofers are also more likely to generate sound of worse quality due to their higher power consumption.
So, if you want more bass, you should go for a 4 ohm speaker since 4 ohm subwoofers typically produce outstanding sound quality with relation to bass response.
Do more ohms mean louder speakers?
As we explained previously, speaker impedance, often known as speaker ohms, is the resistance that speakers create against electrical current. Thus, the higher the impedance rate or ohms, the more power is required and vice versa. One advantage of higher ohms though is that the music will sound much clearer and cleaner.
In short, yes. Greater ohms do provide better sound, but only if you’re using the right amp to supply the necessary power.
For example, using 100 ohm headphones with a laptop won’t give you the experience you were hoping for since most laptops can only handle 32 ohms.
Can I use 8 ohm speakers on a 4 ohm sound system?
Yes, you can. The amplifier’s stated Ohms rating is often the minimum, not the maximum.
It is important to keep in mind that if an amp is rated for x Watts at 4 Ohms, the maximum capacity at 8 Ohms might be as low as x/2, or half the claimed output at 4 Ohms. Thus, maximum SPL (also known as sound pressure level or loudness) decreases as Ohms increase.
You draw nearer to a short circuit as the Ohms value decreases. Here’s an example to better understand this: cutting a short across the power source (i.e.a power amplifier). If a fuse, thermal breaker, or other protective mechanism does not stop the circuit, this will lead to the source overheating and/or burning, and boom, goodbye smooth running.
A Quick Recap
Here are some important things we’ve covered in this article and you can easily recall.
Your speakers’ amount of resistance is determined by their impedance. This is measured by Ohms and some of the most frequent speaker impedance ratings are 4 and 8 ohms. For lesser power, a 4-ohm lower impedance is often recommended, while for larger power, an 8-ohm impedance is typically employed.
One thing to note is that impedance does not in and of itself affect how well sound is produced. Other factors such as sensitivity also play a very important role.
If you’re not a hardcore music fan and prefer some low-key casual listening, a lower impedance like 4-ohms would be preferable. However, if you’re a music enthusiast or want to use it professionally, 8 ohms would definitely be a way better option.
We hope this helped answer your question “what’s the difference between 4 ohm speakers and 8 ohm speakers!”
If you’d like to add more information, let us know in the comments below!
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