When wiring up your speakers, the way you wire matters. If you’re wiring up more than one speaker, you have two options: series or parallel wiring.
There are several differences between these two types, and the way you wire your speakers can have a dramatic impact on the quality and volume of your sound.
The first thing to know about wiring is that there’s no right or wrong answer. The only “right” answer is what works for you. That said, there are some things you should consider when choosing which type of wiring to use.
Factors such as power, impedance, and the number of speakers you’re setting up can all influence the way they sound, and depending on your setup one type of wiring will be a better option than the other.
If you’re confused about the differences between series and parallel wiring and want to know how wiring can affect your speaker sound, then this is the guide for you.
Here we’ll take you through all you need to know about series and parallel wiring, the pros and cons of each method, and which option is right for you.
Series wiring is one of the most common methods of wiring for speakers, and can be used to connect one or more speakers to your sound system.
To wire a single speaker in series, all you need to do is connect the positive and negative terminals on the speaker to the corresponding positive and negative terminals on your amplifier.
If you’re wiring more than one speaker, this is where things get a bit more complicated. First, connect the positive terminal of the first speaker to the positive terminal of the amp. Next, connect the last speaker’s negative terminal to the negative terminal on the amp.
From here, you can start connecting to the other speakers. Connect the first speaker’s negative terminal to the next speaker’s positive terminal, and repeat until the penultimate speaker’s negative terminal is connected to the positive terminal of the last speaker.
This repeated link of connections is what gives series wiring its name; the speakers are set up in a line, with each speaker in the series connecting to the next.
Something to bear in mind when setting up your speakers using series wiring is their impedance. The total impedance of your speakers needs to match the output impedance of your amp.
For example, an 8-ohm amp would need to be connected to speakers with a total impedance of 8 ohms (eg. two 4-ohm speakers, or four 2-ohm speakers).
If you don’t match the impedance, it will severely impact your music’s sound quality and even permanently damage the speakers and/or amp.
Wiring speakers in parallel is a bit more complicated, but typically results in a higher power output and better sound quality than speakers connected in series.
To wire two or more speakers in parallel, you have to wire the amp to each different speaker. First, you need to connect the positive terminal of the amp to the positive terminal of each individual speaker.
Then repeat with the negative terminal of the amp, wiring it to the negative terminal of all the speakers you’re connecting. This will need more cables than wiring in series, but the resistance between the amp and speakers will drop, resulting in improved power output.
You can calculate the impedance when wiring in parallel by multiplying the resistance of each speaker together and dividing this by the total resistance of each speaker added together.
This can be written as Rt=(R1*R2)/(R1+R2), where Rt is the impedance, and R1 and R2 are the resistances of the two speakers. For example, if you had two 4-ohm speakers then you’d need a 2-ohm amp, as (4×4)÷(4+4)=2.
Which Wiring Method Is Better?
Both methods of wiring have their advantages and disadvantages, and it’s hard to say which method is better.
In terms of volume and sound quality, you’re usually better off with parallel wiring. Speakers connected in series have higher resistance and divide power between each speaker, which means their total power output is reduced.
Parallel wiring, meanwhile, lessens the resistance and impedance between the amp and speakers. This increases the power output the speakers receive, making them louder and improving your sound quality.
That said, parallel wiring doesn’t work if you’re only connecting one speaker. Additionally, it’s much easier to connect speakers up in parallel compared to the complicated mess of cables that is parallel wiring.
Not only that, calculating the impedance required for your amp can be confusing, and it can be even trickier if you’re connecting more speakers.
Another point in series wiring’s favor is its convenience. Not only is connecting multiple speakers only slightly more complicated than connecting a single speaker, but you don’t need to worry about how many channels and cables you’re able to connect.
Parallel wiring requires more amplifier channels and plenty of cables, which can be impractical or even impossible depending on the amplifier you’re using.
At the end of the day, there isn’t a right or wrong way you can wire up your speakers. While parallel wiring can improve your music’s volume and quality, it’s not always the best option.
The best option for you largely comes down to your setup, how many speakers you’re connecting, and how much effort you’re willing to put in when wiring your speakers.
Regardless of which method you end up using, we hope this guide has helped you learn more about how each wiring method works and how to do it. Now all you have to do is connect your speakers, and you’ll be able to enjoy your sound system to its full potential!