Top 10 Tips for Wiring your Speakers

by Andrew Bishop

Wiring a speaker or transducer can be very confusing. Words like parallel, series and phase and even series/parallel need careful consideration.

For very important reasons you must match the speaker load with your amplifier’s output impedance.

Top 10 Speaker Wiring Rules

  1. To get maximum transfer of power from your amplifier to your speakers.
  2. Your power amplifier may overheat and fail if the impedance is too low.
  3. Many prefer 8 ohm or 4 ohm as sound quality and reliability improves the higher the impedance.
  4. Never replace a transducer with a Resistor to even out the impedance as this is a fire hazard.
  5. Running a system at 2 ohm is possible but remember zero ohm is effectively driving the amplifier into a 6” nail! If in doubt, it is safer to go higher in impedance to help protect the amplifier. Pay close attention to the thickness and length of your cable as this can impact changes in the systems impedance.
  6. Never wire a speaker cabinet “Out Of Phase” unless it requires a Push-Pull/Isobaric alignment.
  7. You must use Speakon connectors for loads over 300w RMS. ¼ Jack are liable to offer a weak connection and possible fire under higher loads.
  8. Once wired check your impedance with a multi meter at the end of the cables you are intending to connect to your power amplifier before powering up. Remember all transducers vary slightly from absolute impedance shown on the specification dependent on the coil winding accuracy and build quality.
  9. Consider the loading. If all the loads are initially the same, then the power is spread equally across all loads. If you have 2 speakers wired in Series, both rated at 8 ohms, and you apply 500 Watts to the load, then the power is equally distributed among the 2 speakers - in this case, each will absorb 250 watts of power. The same is true for speakers Parallel wired.
  10. The most efficient systems dedicate 1 or 2 LF drivers to a specific task in a PA system. Typically, 15” to 21” take care of the lower frequencies whereas 12” or less take care of the mids and highs. There’s one important thing to understand, however: having 2 or 3 speakers instead of one does not double or triple the sound. It increases a few decibels (dB) for each speaker added. Doubling the power does not double the volume.

Here is a handy guide to speaker wiring configurations.

The method you choose to connect your speakers determines the impedance and overall performance. Never cut corners on amplification as a solid power amplifier is the key to overall performance, reliability, length of service and musicality.

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