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For consumers to know they are getting the best speaker for their home theatre system, they should understand the device their buying down to the wire. For example, when selecting the best subwoofer, one part that has a significant impact on the overall sound is the voice coil. There are two main options when considering speaker voice coils, and below we’ll compare single vs dual voice coil subwoofers and why it matters within the world of subwoofers.
There are plenty more specs to know about before dishing out the dough for a new speaker, and we’ve got articles aplenty to help you learn about them. For those wanting to know more about speaker size, you can read our comparison of 12-inch vs 15-inch subwoofers. And regarding speaker sound direction, we have another explaining front-firing vs down-firing subwoofers.
Before explaining the key difference between the two options, it’s first essential to understand the purpose and function of a voice coil. The voice coil is a literal coil of wire wrapped around a tube that uses electricity to create the magnetic field, controlling the speaker to move and generate the air pressure that produces sound.
For those hooking up a subwoofer to a home theatre system, try placing the sub in multiple positions throughout the room. Depending on the position, you may be able to optimize the bass sound.
The voice coil is one of the most critical parts of a speaker. So, concerning the topic at hand, the only real difference between single and dual voice coil subwoofers is that the single coil uses one piece of wire wrapped around the cylinder and connects to one set of terminals. On the other hand, the dual voice coil subs use two wires that connect to two sets of terminals.
As you might deduce, these different wiring schemes can affect the wiring possibilities and, as a result, how the speaker sounds.
Another major factor affecting the subwoofer quality is how the enclosure is sealed. For more on this, check out our guide elaborating on the differences between sealed vs ported subwoofers.
The most significant difference between the single and dual coil is the number of wiring combinations. While a single voice coil has only one possible wiring configuration, dual voice coil woofers may be configured in parallel, series, or independent wiring schemes.
Various wiring setups allow users to further advantage of an amplifier’s power output. It also allows users to set up multiple subwoofers to a multichannel amplifier.
Finally, dual voice coils have two positive and negative terminals, meaning each voice coil can be connected to a separate amplifier channel. This method is called independent or bridged wiring, providing more power. However, the bridged method requires a higher impedance level, meaning users must be aware of the compatibility between their speaker and amplifier power levels.
Whenever wiring subwoofers — series or parallel — ensure that the impedance loads between the speakers and amp are compatible, those who fail to do this might experience permanent equipment damage.
All things equal, there’s no difference in performance, power, or sound quality between dual and single-voice coil speakers. However, the dual voice coil design provides more impedance options, meaning you have greater flexibility on how to hook them up.
Ultimately, the option to wire subs in series, parallel, or independently means you are more likely to achieve the desired sound output.
It isn’t easy to calculate the price difference, given that the voice coil is not a huge factor in the overall price. However, single-coil speakers are typically slightly less expensive because they are cheaper to make.
STAT: A 12-16 gauge wire is recommended for subwoofer speakers. However, for smaller speakers, most sound experts recommend 18 gauge wire. (source)