If you don’t know what ohms are and what they mean in the overall functionality of your speakers, this article will cover all there is to know about it, and while it’s not essential to know these things to get a set of speakers working, it’s always good to know how something actually works in order to do necessary repairs or even be able to fix a few things when setting them up.
Keep in mind that this article is geared towards people that want to know the basics of what ohm means when it comes to speakers, meaning that we won’t be going too much in-depth, but we will be showing you things that you should know in order to have a better experience with your speakers, with useful tips and facts that will make you feel in control of the sound that makes you happy!
What are Ohms(Ω)?
Ohms can also be called impedance, which is the resistance that the specific set of speakers put in front of the power, what this means is that if there is a higher impedance, you will need more power to get the speakers working, but you will also have better quality, simple right?
There are a few common impedances that you will find, which go from 2 to 8 ohms, but in order to help you understand which one is better for you, let’s dive into the details of impedance or ohms.
As we said before this impedance will put up a resistance against the electricity that powers it, think of it this way, a lower impedance means more electricity can go through and a higher impedance means there is less room for electricity to go through, but what are the consequences of this?
Why is Impedance Important for Speakers?
Well, you might think that with more room for electricity to go through, you would get a better sound right? Not exactly, see, if you have let’s say a 2-ohm speaker, you can indeed get loud, but you will get worse quality than a 4-ohm speaker. However is not all better with more impedance, with a 4-ohm speaker you would get a cleaner bass and fewer mids and treble, so it’s not a matter of better or worse, it’s a matter of what you need in a specific environment, and more importantly that the impedance on the speakers is the same as the amp if you are using an amp.
When it comes to the difference between different impedance or ohms, it’s not that big, it’s noticeable but not everyone will notice the difference right away. It all comes down to loudness and clarity, meaning that 2 ohms will give you a loud sound with punchy bass and 4 ohms will give you a cleaner feel to it. As for 8-ohm speakers, just expect the same as the 4 ohms, just a bit cleaner and less loud.
So to sum things up, impedance, or ohms, is the resistance in the speaker that will be against the flow of electricity that goes through it, this electricity will make it possible for the speaker to produce sound. If the resistance in the speaker is low then the electricity will easily flow, which means that there will be more power and a louder sound as a result. If the resistance is lower, there will be less flow of electricity, which means less power and less loudness, but there will be better control of the bass with a lower flow of electricity.
There are also other things to consider such as the price, so if you want to keep your expenses as low as possible, you might not want to look for 2 ohms speakers, since those are more expensive.
Also keep in mind that impedance is not static, for example, if you listen to an instrument through a speaker and you have notes change from a higher note to a lower note, the impedance will slightly get lower, however, it’s good to know the average number in order to have an idea of what you can get.
If you want to know more about how it all works you can check this video on YouTube that explains how impedance and speaker switch work.
If you want a more straightforward video explaining the difference between 4ohm and 8ohms speakers then check this one out!
Do Ohms Have an Effect on Sound Quality?
In a way, you could say yes, but there are a lot of factors that may also have an effect on the quality of the sound. Impedance will affect some of those factors but it won’t directly change the sound quality.
The regulating function of impedance will definitely change some aspects of the sound quality but this will also depend on the amount of power you can use, the quality of the speakers, the amp, and more.
What is the Best Impedance for Car Speakers?
The most common impedance used for car speakers is 4 ohms, this will provide a good balance between loudness and clean definition.
However, it’s always good to check some things before you purchase a new set of speakers for your car, including output transistors, speaker terminals, and voice coil. The idea is to avoid distorted sounds and muffled quality.
Can You Use Bridge Amplifiers to Lower Ohms?
Yes, you can, when you use a bridge amplifier, each output gets just half of the impedance, this means that if you use this with a 4-ohm speaker, the outputs will be half of that, which is 2 ohms, so, in theory, yes, it does lower the impedance.
What Are Passive and Active Loudspeakers?
This is an interesting part of the whole speaker world, passive loudspeakers and active loudspeakers, you can find both of them in the market but what is the difference?
A passive loudspeaker doesn’t have a built-in amp, so there is no need for power in order to make it work, instead, these rely on external amplifiers that give them the signal to function properly.
Passive speakers are more common, and they are in a way the industry standard of speakers.
On the other hand, we have Active loudspeakers, which have built-in amplifiers which do need power in order for them to work.
These types of speakers can have line inputs, instrument inputs, and mic inputs. The idea behind this built-in amp, is that it will give the lower signals a boost that will make the sound a lot punchier.
When it comes to the impedance of these active speakers, you won’t be getting the usual 2, 4, or 8, that we’ve talked about so you’ll see a lot higher numbers and wider ranges.
Important Facts About Speaker Ohms (Impedance)
- Impedance is the resistance against the flow of alternating electrical current, and audio signals are alternating currents.
- Speaker impedance specifications are generally nominal or “average”.
- The IEC standard for the nominal impedance of a loudspeaker says that the minimum impedance shouldn’t be below 80% of the nominal impedance in the defined frequency range of the loudspeaker.
- Speaker impedance depends on the frequency.
- Speakers act as loads and amplifiers act as sources. Optimal voltage/signal transfer occurs when the load impedance (speaker impedance) is much greater than the source impedance (amp output impedance).
- Lower-impedance speakers are harder to drive and require more power from the amplifier.
- A higher speaker impedance will result in a high damping factor, which will allow the amp to have more control over the speaker driver.
- Impedance is high at the resonant frequencies of the driver and enclosure.
- Every speaker has an impedance rating, but keep in mind that the most common are the ones with passive speakers that rely on external amplifiers. Active speakers have built-in amplifiers with microphone, line, and/or instrument inputs rather than speaker inputs, and do require power to work.
You may not need to know a lot about this in order to have a good experience with your speakers, but these are things that you need to know if you are going to be working with sound on a more professional level.
Also keep in mind that even though we mostly talked about 2, 4, and 8-ohm speakers there is a lot more variety of impedance, anywhere from 6 ohms to 20 ohms and so on.