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What is speaker impedance?

What is speaker impedance

The speaker impedance is a simple concept to grasp, the electrical circuits and components resist the flow of electricity or current up to some extent, and the way in which the resistance caused by the electrical circuits and components is measured is known as impedance.

The unit in which the impedance is measured is known as ohm. The ohm is presented by a Greek letter omega Ω and it is named after a German physicist Georg Ohm.

Easier to understand, isn’t it? Well, there are plenty of misconceptions also when it comes to the impedance of the speakers. One of the biggest misconceptions is that whenever you are buying speakers you have to look for the receiver’s impedance.

But when we look into facts, the receiver is one who is responsible for providing power in your speaker system and impedance is almost neglected. 

When we look into the circuitry, there isn’t sufficient circuitry when the power is amplified inside the speaker to the outputs of the speaker, so there is no room for the building of any significant impedance.

Most people ask the wrong question, how do I match the impedance of my receiver to my speakers? Well, they are asking the wrong question.

Introduction to speaker impedance:

The speakers these days have a measurable impedance value because of the impedance of the drivers and different types of crossover networks. Most of the time, you must have noticed that, while shopping for the speakers, most of the speakers have a rating between 4 and 8 ohms

Well, as we mentioned earlier the speaker impedance is the measure of how much the speaker has the ability to resist the current flowing in it. The lower the impedance in ohms means more power the speaker will be able to extract from the receiver.

That is the reason that a 4-ohm speaker will crave more power as compared to the 6 and 8 ohms speaker. The question might be coming to your mind right now, that when a 4-ohm speaker takes more power than 6 or 8 ohms, why would anyone in the world design the 4-ohm speakers?

It’s a valid question, of course, so let’s move further and understand that, what does it really means when different speaker manufacturers labeled them as 4, 6, or 8-ohm speakers?

The settings of the impedance receiver:

Some people ask the question, does my receiver have an impedance setting too? if you are thinking that your receiver doesn’t have any specific impedance, well you are absolutely CORRECT! Then, what is the impedance setting then?

Let’s solve this riddle by going towards the conclusion, well you might be shocked, that setting the impedance level of your speakers by 4 ohms will eventually lower the maximum power output of the receiver.

With the lowest level of impedance, you are actually sending a message to the receiver of your system to lower the overall performance of the system. This is the biggest reason, our experts recommend high impedance settings in any case.

You have paid your hard-earned cash on the receiver, you surely don’t want to waste it, so must get the maximum performance out of your system.

What speaker impedance really mean?

The speaker impedance varies and it depends upon the frequency the speaker is producing. There are multiple reasons behind this, but the two main factors are given below:

1) Each driver has a resonance frequency, at this frequency the driver moves freely whenever it is engaged or tapped. At that specific frequency, which is produced by the driver, the driver generates a specific force called “electromotive force”. The function of electromotive force is to oppose the flow of electric current and eventually it gives an immense spike in impedance.

2) The second reason for variation in impedance is the increment of the induction of the voice coil, which is increased at higher frequencies and eventually taking the impedance level to go up.

Now let’s come to our main question: when a 4-ohm speaker takes more power than a 6 or 8 ohms, why would anyone in the world design the 4-ohm speakers?

If we talk about honest opinion, then we have to make sacrifices when it comes to sound, if we want higher impedance.

Well, there isn’t any solid rule, as far as the nominal impedance of the speakers is concerned.

But, the 4 ohm takes more power but without any doubt, they have many benefits too.

It has design benefits which include the low crossover component values to reach the same crossover points.

Furthermore, they have low crossover distortion and it has less phase shift. Eventually, it benefits the tweeters, as the tweeters prefer lower internal inductance with the lower mass voice coil.

 

The speaker impedance resists the flow of current which is mentioned earlier, so let’s understand the complete phenomenon by simple relationship:

Low impedance level  –> more current –> more load –> the power will be increased

High impedance level –> less current will flow –> minimum load –> the power will be decreased

One thing you have to keep in mind, which is very important, is that the speaker impedance must be in the range the amp is designed for. From the above-mentioned arrow diagrams, it is clear that the lower the speaker impedance, the higher will be the power delivery to the amplifier.

This statement is true up to the extent that the amp won’t be able to produce more current and power. When this point is reached, either the fuse of the amp will blow off or the will be dead in no time, it can be saved when protection circuitry comes, eventually shutting down the amplifier.

So, be careful not to run the amp with the impedance load of minimum of 4 ohms, to avoid any sort of damage to the product

The settings of the impedance receiver:

Some people ask the question, does my receiver have an impedance setting too? if you are thinking that your receiver doesn’t have any specific impedance, well you are absolutely CORRECT! Then, what is the impedance setting then?

Let’s solve this riddle by going towards the conclusion, well you might be shocked, that setting the impedance level of your speakers by 4 ohms will eventually lower the maximum power output of the receiver.

With the lowest level of impedance, you are actually sending a message to the receiver of your system to lower the overall performance of the system. This is the biggest reason, our experts recommend high impedance settings in any case.

You have paid your hard-earned cash on the receiver, you surely don’t want to waste it, so must get the maximum performance out of your system.

Concluding on current capability:

What is the current capability? The most important thing that your speaker needs apart from impedance and any other thing is POWER. So, let’s look into the most important factor. If you are having a receiver, which has the ability to deliver the power of 100Watts per channel, without giving the distortion in audio, then you don’t have to worry that your 4 or 6-ohm speaker will be underpowered.

One of the most important things here is to consider that the WATT has two important components, the current and voltage. The voltage is what a receiver receives but most importantly it is the current which provides the power to the speakers.

If we talk about the best quality receivers, they have the ability to deliver the current at a consistent pace, without causing any sort of distortion and eventually producing the clean audio quality.

Why should I know about speaker impedance?

Well, you must know about the speaker impedance if you are a true audiophile, one thing you have to keep in mind is that the impedance of the speakers, connected to any amp, must be within the capability of the amp.

Most of the amps are designed in a way that they have the ability to handle speaker load impedance from 4 to 16 ohms. From here, we understand that the minimum impedance level of any speaker is 4 ohms. For the happiness of your amp, you must have a speaker that has nominal impedances of 4, 6, 8 or 16 ohms.

 

The amp won’t be dis-hearted after watching these numbers on the speaker. So, never use a speaker with an impedance level lower than 4 ohms.

If you are planning to connect two or more speakers with one amplifier. Just for an example, if you are planning to connect four 4 ohms speakers, with a single amp, then the amp will give the total load impedance of only 1 ohm, which is far too low for your amp.

You can use a speaker selector in this case; the speaker selector will give you impedance matching along with impedance protection.

Frequently Asked Questions – FAQ's

A. The electrical circuits and components resist the flow of electricity or current up to some extent, and the way in which the resistance caused by the electrical circuits and components is measured is known as impedance. Let us understand this concept by a simple arrow diagram:

Low impedance level  –> more current –> more load –> the power will be increased

High impedance level –> less current will flow –> minimum load –> the power will be decreased

This simply means that the lower the level of the impedance the higher will be the power. So, eventually, the higher impedance is not good for speakers.

. Of course 8 ohm! The 4-ohm speakers need more power from an amplifier to work properly and when we compare this to an 8-ohm speaker, they require the least amount of power from the amplifier to produce the same quality of sound.

The power is a combination of current and voltage, so if you want to provide more current to the speakers, then your amp must have a high power rating. So, always go for the amps with a higher power rating to be on the safe side.

A. NO, the speaker impedance does not affect the quality of the sound; the sound that is supplied to the speakers by the amplifiers is in voltages that are controlled by the music.

There is an inverse relationship between the amount of power the speaker is able to produce and the impedance. This simply means, if you are having 4-ohm speakers, they will be a couple of times louder than the 8 ohms speakers.

It all depends upon the choice of the user, the 8-ohm speakers make it easier for the amplifier, when it comes to bearing the load as compared to the 6-ohm speakers. For example, if 8-ohm speakers are taking 100 Watts of power, then it will draw twice the power when at 4 ohms.

When at 4 ohms, the amp has not enough power to deliver to the speakers, which results in the poor quality of the sound and sound distortion is observed.

Well, honestly speaking the impedance of 6 or 8 ohms is best for the speakers. Most audiophiles and sound experts recommend this level of impedance so that enough power will be delivered to the speakers, which results in the fine quality of audio. The speaker with these impedance levels matches most of the designs of most of the AV receivers.

Too low impedance simply means that you will be getting a timid and bad quality tone. The same goes for the too high impedance, if the impedance of the speaker is higher than the amplifier, then the power output will be much less than the actual ability of the speaker.

You can grasp this concept from a simple arrow diagram given below:

Low impedance level  –> more current –> more load –> the power will be increased

High impedance level –> less current will flow –> minimum load –> the power will be decreased

Yes! You can use a 6-ohm speaker with an 8-ohm amplifier. All you have to do is to check your amplifier and see the ratings on it. More power will be taken from speakers which are lower ohm ratings. So, when it comes to using the mixture of both at the same, you can definitely use a 6-ohm speaker with an 8-ohm amp.

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