Single Vs. Dual Voice Coil Subwoofers

Nathan Rizzuti Profile image

Written By:

Updated October 26, 2022

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.

KEY TAKEAWAYS:

  • The voice coil is the speaker’s part that transfers the electric current to the speaker cone, turning electromagnetic energy into mechanical energy.
  • Single voice coil subs have one possible wiring configuration and are usually cheaper than dual coil options.
  • Dual voice coil subs have multiple wiring options, allowing users to configure them to various impedance ratings.
  • A dual voice coil may be set up in series, parallel, or independent/bridged wiring scenes.

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.

Dual Voice vs Single Voice Subwoofer

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.

Insider Tip

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.

Wiring Options

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.

Warning

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.

Sound Quality

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.

Affordability

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)

Dual Voice Coil vs Single FAQs

How do I know my speaker's Ohm impedance?

Impedance loads should be stated clearly on the speaker's label. However, if in doubt, contact the manufacturer.

What is the difference between coils in parallel and series wiring?

Series wiring means one possible path for a current to flow through, while parallel wirings create two or more directions. The advantage of a series pattern is that it's an easy way to set up multiple speakers to one amp. Alternatively, parallel wiring optimizes the amp's power, giving more volume.

Does the size of the wire in a voice coil matter?

The voice coil wire's diameter (or gauge) dramatically affects the maximum output. The larger the wire, the more power is transferred from the amplifier to the speaker.
Nathan Rizzuti Profile image