Series Or Parallel Speakers – Which is Better + Pros And Cons

Ever wondered why there’s a difference between series vs parallel speaker wiring? How about how it affects power, sound, and the speaker (Ohms) load your radio or amp sees?

There’s a lot more to series vs parallel speaker wiring than you may realize. I’ll explain it all here in a way anyone can understand.

Read on to find out what you need to know.

Which is better series or parallel speaker wiring?

series vs parallel speakers which is better man thinking image

Here are the main points you need to know for series vs parallel speaker wiring:

  • In nearly all cases speakers should be wired in parallel for the best results and sound.
  • There are a few cases where certain types of speakers can be used in series without hurting sound quality (or other disadvantages).
  • Before wiring speakers in parallel, it’s important to be sure you pay attention to your stereo or amplifier’s minimum Ohms rating.

The main thing to remember is that there’s a list of reasons why you don’t want to use most speakers in series – all of which I’ll explain in more detail as we go.

What sounds better parallel or series wiring?

parallel vs series speaker wiring sound quality problems diagram

When it comes to sound quality you may not be aware of it but parallel speakers maintain their sound quality while series connected speakers can have a bad or “odd” sound.

That’s because many coaxial speakers as well as 2-way or 3-way speaker cabinets or car speaker systems use speaker crossovers in their design. Speaker crossovers are used to block unwanted sound frequencies from reaching speakers that aren’t well suited for them.

For example, tweeters can’t handle low bass or midrange as it causes terrible distortion and even damage. Woofers or midrange speakers, similarly, cannot produce treble (high frequencies) well and sound poor. When combined, crossovers create a better-sounding speaker system that gets the best performance from them.

How series resistance affects crossovers

Crossovers (electrical components called capacitors and inductors) block sound based on a particular speaker load resistance in Ohms. When that speaker load is changed, something called crossover shift occurs. 

This means that the crossover frequency changes greatly, allowing unwanted sound to pass to a speaker or speakers. Knowing this you can understand why series-connected speakers can have poor sound: you’re connecting more speaker load (Ohms) than should be used.

It’s also adding extra capacitance and inductance in series and parallel that can cause some odd problems I won’t go into here. That’ll affect the sound as well.

Note that there is an exception to this and you can use some types of speakers in series without any noticeable sound quality problems. (I’ll explain more later)

Are speakers louder in series or parallel? What about power?

series vs parallel speakers power and volume explained diagram

As a general rule, parallel speakers are louder than series speakers. That’s because:

  1. Wiring speakers in series increases the total speaker impedance (Ohms) load, decreasing how much electrical current (amps) can flow. This means the amp or stereo’s power output will be lower.
  2. Series speakers receive a portion of the power delivered and won’t be driven as much as parallel speakers.

Note that this is the normal situation when you’re using speakers rated for the amp or stereo you have. It’s a different case when purposely using lower impedance speakers in order to add keep the total speaker load low.

I’ll explain what I mean below.

Does series or parallel give more power?

As I mentioned above, wiring speakers in series means (in most cases) that you will be increasing the total speaker load above that recommended for the amplifier, receiver, car amp, etc. There’s nothing harmful about having the total Ohms load be higher but it comes with a price when it comes to power.

For example, let’s say you have an amplifier with the following power specs:

  • RMS power @ 4 Ohms: 100W/channel
  • RMS power @ 2 Ohms: 200W/channel

If you were to wire two 4Ω speakers in series you’d have 4Ω + 4Ω = 8Ω total. This means that:

  • The total power output to the 8 ohm series speaker load would be only 50W maximum.
  • The total power would be divided between however many speakers you have. In this case, that’s 50W/2 = 25 watts per speaker.
  • Each 4Ω speaker would have only 1/4 of the 4 Ohm power rating (100W) available to it meaning the volume will be a few times lower also.

As you can see, wiring speakers in series decreases the total power, the power to each speaker, and also the volume to each speaker.

Cases where series speaker wiring doesn’t have less volume

It is possible to purposely wire speakers in series to get the same power output from a stereo or amp. Taking our same example from above, we could do this:

  • We can wire two 2Ω speakers in series for a total of 4Ω.
  • The amp would still deliver up to its rated power at 4 Ohms (100W).
  • The power to each speaker would be 1/2 of that, or 50W each.
  • Each speaker will have 3 decibels (dB) lower volume than one 4Ω, but since they’re in series the volume would be the same as one speaker. 
Note: Speaker volume doesn’t add together like Ohms or other things. Doubling the power to a speaker (or using two speakers in series with 1/2 the power each of a single speaker) doesn’t double it – it increases it by 3dB due to how our hearing works.

That means two 50W speakers in series will have the same volume as a single speaker of the same impedance w/ 100W power.

Speaker Ohms for parallel vs series wiring

series vs parallel speaker ohms diagram

The important thing to understand about wiring speakers in series or parallel is the total speaker load (Ohms) must be equal to or higher than the minimum Ohms rating of the amp or stereo.

That’s because using multiple speakers in a way that drops the total Ohms (impedance, or resistance to the flow of electrical current in other words) will cause excessive current that can permanently damage an amp, receiver, or stereo. The electronics used in audio equipment has a limit that it can’t exceed.

Here are the basic rules to follow:

  • When speakers are connected in parallel the Ohms load divides by the number of speakers.
  • When connected in series the speaker Ohms add together.
  • It’s ok to use a higher total speaker Ohms load but not lower.

What type of speakers sound ok with series wiring?

diagram with examples of speakers that are ok to use in series for sound quality

There are some speakers you wire in series without sound quality problems. These are:

  • Single-cone midrange or single cone full range speakers (see the examples shown above) that don’t use a tweeter with crossover attached
  • Some horn tweeters (piezo tweeters, for example)
  • Subwoofers & woofers

These types don’t have crossover components that will affect the sound.

Although it’s true that speaker voice coils have some inductance due to their wound wire, it’s not much, and wiring these types of speakers in series works pretty well. However, be aware that any time you wire speakers in series both the total power delivered and power to each speaker will be lower because you’re changing the speaker load.

When wiring speakers in series the power and volume loss is a compromise you have to live with.

That being said, it’s still useful for different sound projects like a simple ceiling speaker setup, making a speaker array design, and some other unique designs. Also for amplifiers, receivers, or home stereos with lots of power available it’s less noticeable since they can make up the difference a bit.

Using regular speakers in series

You can also use regular single speakers such as tweeters or mids with a custom crossover designed for them. There are a few situations where this is handy or even necessary but it’s critical to do the math and use the correct crossover components since the total speaker Ohms load will be higher.

Wiring speakers in parallel vs series – pros and cons

series vs parallel speakers pros cons section image

There are a few pros and cons I’ll summarize for you here, as while parallel speakers are generally the best choice sometimes series has advantages.

Parallel speaker pros & cons:

PROS:
  • Best for maximum power and volume
  • Best sound quality for most speakers
  • If one fails, others will still have sound
CONS:
  • Not always possible due to the Ohms load
  • Harder to add extra speakers (min. Ohms required)
  • May require more amp channels etc.

Series speaker pros & cons:

PROS:
  • Higher series speaker Ohms safe for stereos & amps
  • Easy to hook up
  • Cheap, simple solution for ceiling speakers, speaker arrays, etc.
CONS:
  • Lower power & volume
  • Bad sound quality for 2-way or similar speakers
  • Lose sound to all speakers with a single failure point

One thing to bear in mind is that when a connection is lost with series speakers, all speakers lose sound since they’re no path for the electrical current to flow unlike parallel speakers.

Additionally, if series speakers are spaced apart it can be a bit of a hassle to connect them to each other.

More great speaker articles

There’s plenty more to read and learn! Check out some of my other helpful articles:

Your comments are welcome!

  1. I have amplifier which rated 2x1800w 8ohm
    2x2600w 4 ohm

    no rated power for 2 ohm written..is this means the amplifier can only support 4ohm and 8 ohm speaker connection?

    Reply
    • Actually, as long as peak values are below maximum for output stage parts inside amplifier, you can safely use 2 or less ohms connection. To simplify things out, I will give a theoretical example for one channel only: amplifier at 1800 W / 8 ohm (by Ohm’s law) gives roughly 120 V on the output terminals with 15 A current flow through wires and speakers. On the 4 ohm load, by Ohm’s law amplifier gives roughly 102 V and 25.5 A. We’ll stick to the bigger amperage here. So as long as peak current is not more than 25.5 A, (let’s round it to 25 A) you can safely use any impedance, including 2 ohm, or even 1 ohm! So to speak, you can get maximum load of 1250 W at 2 ohms (or preferably less) without any damage to your amplifier. Manufacturers just don’t want you to mess with too low impedance, because parts inside amplifier have their physical limitations, especially output transistors. Output stages of amplifier have very low internal impedance (rated in milliohms). The power supply is designed to deliver a stable and precisely designed voltage value to the output stage of the amplifier. The only limiter here is low speaker’s impedance which increases current flow through output stage of the amplifier. The bad thing can be a underrated speakers whose windings can overheat and cause a short circuit to the amplifier’s output. But that’s the moment when protection / overload should kick in and protect amplifier from damage. I hope that’s make some clarification about all this “problem”.

      Reply
      • Hello “Tulip.” While I appreciate you contributing a comment, that’s really bad advice. We don’t know the ratings and most of all, typically the component limits cannot handle the current output stress. Output transistors have limits and manufacturers aren’t going to spend a lot of money for components with higher ratings in most cases.

        I’ve installed enough home and car stereo equipment to see what happens when the impedance is too low and quite a few times it led to burned out and permanently dead amplifiers, despite what other people claimed would happen.

        Having built my own car amplifier (along with many power-type electronic designs) and a vacuum tube amplifier I’m familiar with component ratings, power supplies, and some other topics.

        Not all amplifiers have a self-protection circuit to that extent, or it doesn’t work well, or by the time the output components reach their limit, it’s too late. I’ve seen all those scenarios play out and it’s unfortunate. In a “perfect world”, yes, this would not happen, but the real world is different.

        > The power supply is designed to deliver a stable and precisely designed voltage value to the output stage of the amplifier.

        I’ll say it’s more of an “it depends” type thing. It can be true for regulated power supplies but many don’t use a regulated supply – especially car amps. The voltage will change with the supply voltage somewhat (ex., 12V vs 13.8V the output voltage will be different). There tend to be tolerances and the voltages at various points in the design can vary from the schematic/rail labels.

        Power supplies also tend to sag (the voltage will fall some) at the upper limit of the output capacity.

        In more expensive designs they’re certainly likely to be better but for common budget or mid-priced amps, I’m not at all surprised then they’re several volts below the supposed rail voltages for example.

        There are some scenarios where a person can use their amplifier or stereo outside of the rating design specs, but that’s just not a good idea for most people. In my opinion it would be irresponsible for me to allow that type of recommendation to go undisputed.

        Best regards.

        Reply
        • Hi Marty,

          Thanks for reply. With all due respect, I will not expand this too much. I am doing repairs for living, and seen many examples that you claim about burned output stages – and you’re right!
          I just tried to explain that in this example power amplifier designed for 2600 W / 4 ohm would have no issues with combined 1250 W / 2 ohm speakers. Simply because output can handle that current. To be on a really safe side, 15 A per channel (450 W) will be “smooth for that amplifier.
          Totally different thing is irresponsible user who puts beyond the limits and fries the output.

          Best regards.

          Reply
          • Hi there my friend. Thanks for your respectful and friendly reply. There’s probably a slight misunderstanding somewhere in between the two of us and our comments. No problem, that happens; after all, it’s really hard to get our thoughts across the perfect way with just some text comments on a website.

            I speak from experience, having gone through some drama with girls because of misunderstood text messages! ;)

            I appreciate your comment and that makes a lot of sense. Sorry if I had the wrong idea from your previous comment. You’re right though.

            I’m an engineer but have a LOT of respect for anyone who does repairs for a living. It takes some really good skills to troubleshoot and fix things – especially electronics. Been there, done that, and it wasn’t easy.

            I appreciate your response and I tip my hat to you. Have a great week! :)

  2. Hi, i want to connect 2 set of book shelf @ 8 oms ( 4 speakers ) in parallel connection in a 2 channel power amp support 2 to 8oms. Is it ok to connect and safe , please correct.

    Reply
    • Yes, you could use 2 speakers in parallel on each channel (4 ohms total per channel) since your amp can handle that Ohms load.

      The power will be divided evenly between the speakers.

      Reply
  3. Hi! I have an ipod hifi that lack treble and wanted to add jbl 750T tweeters in series with the mid range. Ipod hifi mid have 8ohms and the jbl 3ohms. The jbl has a crossover. Is it ok to connect the crossover in series without adding anything to the original mid speakers?

    Reply
    • Hi, what you’re wanting to do really isn’t a good idea for several reasons:

      – Tweeters should be connected in parallel with a midrange or woofer speaker, not in series.
      – For an 8 ohm system, the tweeters should be 8 ohms as well. However, you can add a 4 ohm resistor in series so the stereo will see an 8 ohm tweeter in that case. The tweeter output will be reduced by 3dB. (Not a problem if the tweeter’s output is already higher than the mid/woofer speaker).
      – A 2-way crossover is what you need (ideally) for the best sound.

      Best regards.

      Reply
  4. I was wanting to know if I have a mono block amp capable of 1 ohm at 2000 watts rms then run 4 dual 4 ohm voice coils to it I would run 2 channels of 2 voice coils each side of my amp but each coil is really 2 so there 4 ohm I would wire the coils parallel then parallel them again to one side of the output on my amp that would be 2ohm then repeat that same way for the other side and then we’re the amp has two 2 ohm loads in parallel it would see 1 ohm because in fact wise I have 4 all running in parallel so that would be lined up an the amp is only seeing 1 load and then the coils are 500 watts rms each multiply that by 4 is 2000 on my amp I think I’m gonna be over a little on my rms the amp has around 2500 rms but my subs are 1500 peak and amp is around 3500 peak so I think I’m gonna be ok there it’s hard to find any thing that match’s up perfect even name brand components there all mixed up but I think if you don’t go higher on you amp that your speakers will blow so keeping the rms and ohms load really close and all in all with 6000 watts peak on my subs and going no we’re near 4000 from my amp I shouldn’t blow them even though I’ll be keeping about 125 watts more rms on them than is needed the e got a 1000 watt area there that I’m only cutting in to a 1/8 of so what is your exact though in what up with my thinking ?

    Reply
    • Hi, I’d like to try and help you but I can’t read all of that. If you could please just break it down into paragraphs/sentences and try to simplify it a bit. I would appreciate it.

      You can reach me via my Contact page (see menu) or my email listed there. Best regards.

      Reply
  5. Hi, I would like to set up 8 outdoor speakers and wire then up in parallel to a single or multiple amps (I am ready to buy what’s needed). The specs of each speaker is impedance: 8ohms and power handling:60W RMS or 120W max. Frequency response is 90hz to 20khz sensitivity: 85db transformer: 8ohm – 0 – 40w – 20w – 10w – 5w…..I seriously would sooooo very much appreciate your help and I’m willing to pay you for advice. I’m open to any Amp you suggest (would love it to be smart amp so I can stream music from my phone) and can use your affiliate code if needed. Thank you.

    Reply
  6. Hi. I would like to build my own 4X10” bass speaker cabinet. My combo amp runs at 450 watts at 4 Ohms. Without extension it runs at a load of 8 Ohms.

    To run my power at 4 Ohms my cabinet needs to be 8 Ohms.

    Not really having electrical building experience, my question is:
    What is your recommendation for connecting the 4 speakers for the Ohm load to run at 4 Ohms between combo amp and 4X10 speaker cabinet?

    Reply
    • Hi, I’m not clear on exactly what you’re wanting to do, but if you have two 8 ohm speakers per cabinet you’ll wire them in parallel if you’d like a 4 ohm load. It depends on what type of speakers you are working with.

      Best regards.

      Reply
  7. If I have 2 dvc 1500 w rms subs, and I wore them down to 1 ohm, what size amp do I need? 3000w rms? And is it between to go over in amp power? Or go under so not to blow the speakers? If I’m not pushing them at max it shouldn’t matter correct?

    Would it be better to run them off of 2 amps at 2ohm? Then the amps would need to be 1500 @2ohm (=3000w@ 1omh?)?
    I think I’ve confused myself again! Lol plz help

    Right now I am only using 1 tan on an old crunch 1000w 1ohm stable amp.. probably wired at 2 ohms.. so really only pulling 500 I think? Am I damaging my speaker?

    Reply
    • Hi there. Unfortunately I couldn’t really understand your questions the way you wrote your comment. Generally speaking, you’ll want to wire the subs in a way they match the lowest total Ohms supported by your amplifier in order to get the full power it can deliver.

      I can’t really understand your questions so I’ll have to be general in my reply. Best regards. ?

      Reply
      • Autocorrect messed me up! Lol. I guess what I’m asking is, w/ 2 dual voice coil subs/ wired down to 1 ohm, 1500watts rms each, should I shoot for perfect 3000 watt rms amp? Or if I had to go lean on 1 should I go with less watts coming from my amp? Or can I go over on power any?

        And will running my subs with way less power than that do damage to the amp or the sub itself? Like 500watts for a 1500w sub. (It’s crazy because it already hits so loud, I forgot it was wired 2ohm)
        I hope that makes more sense? I’m just having trouble matching my subs to an amp.

        Reply
        • Hi, well unless they’re extremely expensive/high-end subwoofers, they’re not going to handle 1500 watts. That sounds like the exaggerated “peak” or “max” power used for advertising. Go by the continuous or RMS ratings, which is usually a few hundred watts at the most.

          You want enough power to drive them sufficiently but it depends on what you’re after. As a good rule of thumb, the same total power from an amp (or more, you don’t have to use all the amp’s power) as the total the subs can handle.

          It doesn’t ordinarily harm an amp if the power is lower than what speakers can handle, but it’s possible to drive an amp into clipping which in some cases can damage speakers.

          You’ll need to know the correct power rating of the speakers in order to match it to an amp properly.

          Reply
          • Thanks! And yes, I just went and looked at the data sheet for my bd drives.. they’re 600w nominal. Thanks Marty, that DID answer my question about power requirements. I forgot about clipping. I think the amp I have now would actually work.. I’m gonna try it out.. thanks again!

  8. Marty, I’m just dropping a comment to thank you for the excellent article on speakers. It was so informative and very well written so that a layman can understand it. Cheers!

    Reply
  9. I have two Community CSX-60B sub cabs and two Community CSX-57 three ways all at 4 ohms. I wanna connect them in series. The subs have a crossover is can use to connect the three ways. Will this still equal the total ohms to 8?
    Thanks!

    Reply
    • Hi, based on what I see in the documentation I believe you’d use the high-pass output on the CSX-60B, therefore they’d be in parallel & 4 ohms. The crossovers will maintain a 4 ohm load at the amp.

      I couldn’t find much detail about the connections but that appears to be right when I read the product sheets for the CSX60-S2 which is what I’m going by, so pardon me if I’m mistaken there.

      Reply
  10. making a 3 way hifi speaker tower with 15 wat 8ohm tweeter + 50 watt 8ohm woofer for low + 10 watt speaker for mid with 4ohm= Total impedence and require amplifier power ?? for one channel in stereo
    all are in perellel

    Reply
    • Hi in this case (assuming you’re using a typical 3-way crossover) the impedance will be a bit odd. Essentially it will be 4 ohms or higher. It will depend on the frequency, but basically you’ll want a 4 ohm capable amp or receiver.

      Side note: The 4 ohm and 8 ohm speakers will not be matched properly and will develop volume at different rates when the power is increased because they’re different impedances. If you’re intending to use a 4 ohm midrange instead of 8 ohms you’ll also need a custom crossover.

      Reply
  11. Hi there

    I’m after some advice in regards to component speakers (alpine spg-17cs) that have a crossover box(power in and then feed to woofer and tweeter)

    I wish to wire them in parallel 2 to each channel. I’m aware that if I had two single speakers at 4ohms that would give me a 2ohm load but would the ohms be different with the components and crossover as that would be 4 speakers with two crossover boxes.

    Thanks
    Jon

    Reply
  12. Hi,
    I have four 8 ohm speakers to connect to an amp. If I connect them in series I’m looking at 32 ohms and in parallel 2 ohms. Could I connect 2 in series which would give me a 16 ohm pair and then connect the 2 pairs in parallel to get 4 ohms? It looks like it would be (8ohms+8ohms)/(8ohms/2)=4ohms. Is this correct?
    Thanks

    Reply

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