When shopping for speakers for your sound system, you’ll come across speakers with an impedance rating of either 4 ohms or 8 ohms. But what does impedance mean? Essentially, impedance refers to the resistance of a speaker to an electric current.
Generally, a lower impedance rating means that the speaker draws more current from an amplifier. Thus, the lower the impedance, the more power consumption. That means you have to match the impedance rating of an amplifier to the impedance rating of the speakers. For instance, a speaker with a lower impedance rating will require a more powerful amplifier to produce the same volume as a speaker with a higher impedance rating.
In this article, we’ll discuss 4 ohms vs 8-ohm speakers to help you find out the better option between the two.
Speaker Impedance Explained
The impedance of a speaker refers to the force that affects the amount of current that a speaker draws from an amplifier. In simpler terms, it’s the resistance that a speaker puts to the flow of an electric current. Impedance is measured in ohms.
Speaker impedance is a major determinant of the kind of amplifier you’ll use in your sound system. Thus, it’s important to check the impedance rating before hooking a speaker to an amplifier. A higher impedance means that there’s less resistance. Thus, less current flows through the speaker. On the other hand, a lower impedance means more resistance. Thus, more current needs to flow through the speaker.
4 Ohm Vs 8 Ohm Speaker
Since a 4-ohm speaker has a lower impedance rating than an 8-ohm speaker, a 4-ohm speaker will have more resistance to current flow. That means more current is required to drive a 4-ohm speaker than an 8-ohm speaker. As a result, you’ll need a more powerful amp to power a 4-ohm speaker while an 8-ohm speaker can perform with a less powerful amp as it doesn’t require a lot of power to drive it.
Speaker impedance is significant when connecting two or more speakers to an amplifier. For instance, hooking several speakers to an amplifier in parallel will reduce their total load impedance, thereby demanding more power from an amplifier.
Which Sounds Better Between 4 Ohm Vs 8 Ohm Speaker?
Essentially, both speakers sound great as long as you’re using the right amplifier. For instance, connecting a 4-ohm speaker to an 8-ohm amplifier can damage the speaker due to underpowering it. On the other hand, a 4-ohm amplifier can comfortably power an 8-ohm or 4-ohm speaker. Some amplifiers have a protection feature such that they shut off when the speaker tries to draw more power than the amp can provide. That way, your sound system is protected from damage.
Today, you’re more likely to find 8-ohm amplifiers and speakers. It takes more effort to find amps and receivers that can power 4-ohm speakers. Regardless, you can still find 4-ohm amps to feed either 4-ohm or 8-ohm speakers. However, 4-ohm amps a relatively expensive.
So which speaker sounds better between a 4 and 8-ohm speaker? Well, as long as you’re connecting the speaker to an appropriate amplifier, either speaker will sound great. Besides, the performance of a speaker also depends on other factors other than impedance. As long as you have a powerful amplifier, any top-quality speaker will sound great. However, if your amplifier is struggling to feed the speakers with the power they need, you’ll get poor sound output.
As long as you’ve invested in a top-quality and powerful amplifier, you can invest in either 4 or 8-ohm speakers and get superb sound output. Both speakers can give you high-quality audio when connected to a compatible amplifier. However, 8-ohm speakers would be ideal for anyone who doesn’t have a powerful amp, especially due to budget constraints. Amps with a low impedance rating such as 4-ohm amps are more expensive than 8-ohm amps. Thus, anyone on a tight budget should consider investing in 8-ohm speakers and an 8-ohm amplifier.
Michael Evanchuk is a San Francisco-based sound engineer with 20 years’ experience installing, troubleshooting, and repairing commercial, automotive, and household sound equipment. Evanchuk owns an auto stereo center, where he offers highly competitive car audio installation and repair services. He has written dozens of articles on different sound engineering topics, all of which have been published in leading journals, blogs, and websites.