8-Ohm Subwoofer vs 4-Ohm

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Updated October 17, 2022

While researching the best speakers, you’re likely swarmed with references to “electrical resistance,” “speaker impedance,” and “Ohm-ratings.” These phrases come with apocalyptic warnings, begging you to buy amps and speakers with compatible impedances. And it’s true; you don’t want to mess up. But to know how to select the best subwoofer compatible with your stereo amp, you must understand the difference between impedance ratings. So to help you, below, we’ll discuss 8-Ohm subwoofers vs 4-Ohm.

KEY TAKEAWAYS:

  • Choosing a speaker with a compatible power rating to its stereo amp is vital to speaker setup.
  • 8-Ohm subwoofers have lower power consumption, leading to lower volume output and a more precise and clear sound.
  • 4-Ohm subwoofers provide a stronger kick and are suitable for situations requiring more power and volume.

The odds are that those looking into speaker systems are debating a dual sub setup. For insight on this, we have a helpful resource discussing two subwoofers vs one. You also may be interested in our article comparing bass tubes vs subwoofers.

Difference Between 4-Ohm Subwoofer vs 8-Ohm

Before settling the score between our two types of speakers, we must define what an Ohm is. An Ohm is a fundamental unit of measuring electrical resistance, and electrical resistance explains how much power the speaker can handle. More specifically, it measures how the speaker impedes or resists an electric current.

Insider Tip

The two main ways to wire a speaker are series and parallel wiring. Depending on which connection you choose, you can increase the speaker volume.

For this article, the essential rule is that the fewer Ohms, the less resistance, meaning that it takes on a larger electrical current. Here comes the apocalyptic warning: connecting a speaker with high resistance to an amp with low resistance (and vice versa) can overload the equipment and cause speakers/amps to burn out.

Once the concept of impedance is clear, you can see why the Ohm load matters. An 8-Ohm speaker has more resistance than a 4-Ohm speaker, meaning the 4-Ohm handles more power output. The same is true for 2-Ohm vs 4-Ohm subwoofers. So how does this affect how a speaker sounds?

While impedance is probably the most important spec to consider, size is another thing to consider when choosing a subwoofer. To learn about this, we have a size comparison article, 8-inch vs 10-inch subwoofers.

Sound Quality

Many variables affect sound quality, but the rule generally goes that the higher the impedance speaker, the more precise it’ll sound. The reason is that a higher power transfer from the amp to the speaker increases the likelihood of distortion.

Warning

Monitor how long you’re listening to subwoofers. Speakers with lower frequencies are likelier to cause hearing damage.

Volume Output

Always remember that a speaker with less resistance has a greater volume output. With more electric current a speaker handles, you’ll get a louder sound. So, for the power-hungry, a 4-Ohm output impedance is the correct route.

Affordability

It’s typical that the lower the Ohm load, the more it will cost. So an 8-Ohm subwoofer will be cheaper. Additionally, you can buy a less powerful amp, which saves additional money.

STAT: There are three main Ohm ratings with speakers: 4-Ohm, 8-Ohm, and 16-Ohm. (source)

8-Ohm Subwoofer vs 4-Ohm FAQs

How do I tell an amp's impedance rating?

To find this, check the user manual or the unit's label. However, if you can't find it there, you can use a special meter that measures amplifier impedances.

Can you use speakers with different Ohms?

Ultimately, this depends on how you wire the speaker and your amp's impedance rating. But in many cases, it's possible to set up systems with varying Ohm loads.

Are 2-Ohm speakers good?

2-Ohm drivers usually come in speakers producing lower frequencies, like subwoofers. These are suitable from a volume standpoint and are used in high-powered situations.
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