How to wire Four Speakers to One Amplifier

In an earlier article we looked at the issues involved in connecting multiple speakers to one amplifier. In this article we look at some of the practical ways of wiring four speakers to each amplifier (left and right) . For example, it is normal to have your main HiFi amplifier in the lounge room. It is also common to want to have some speakers in the family room, outside (patio or pool area) and in the workshop or garage.

So let’s look at the various ways of wiring at least 4 pairs of speakers to one HiFi amplifier. If you need to connect just 2 pair of speakers to a HiFi stereo amplifier (that is, 2 speakers to 1 amp), see my article on How to connect 2 speakers to 1 amplifier.

I have had many people over the years tell me it is easy to connect multiple speakers – all you have to do is wire the speakers in series. When I’ve grilled them dasiy Chainabout how they did that, they say they simply wired them as a “daisy chain”, one after the other. When questioned further, I find they have actually wired them in parallel, and have wondered why the amplifier doesn’t like it.

In the following diagrams I will only show the wiring for one side of a stereo amplifier, lets says the left side of the stereo. In reality this wiring needs to be duplicated for the right side speakers too.

Four speakers wired in parallel

This diagram shows how to wire four speakers in parallel. four speakers in parallel schema

Some people call this “daisy chain” as it connects one speaker after another, but it is really wiring them in parallel.

It is the same as wiring each speaker directly from the amplifier, like this:

four speakers in parallel at amp

Wiring speakers in parallel is not a good way of connecting three, four or more HiFi speakers as it puts too much load on the amplifier (as explained in earlier article)

Four speakers wired in series

This diagram shows how to wire four speakers in series.

four speakers in series

Again this is not a recommended way of wiring four speakers (although it will work), nor is it very practical. Apart from the hassle of having to wire from one speaker to the next, if one wire is disconnected, then all speakers will stop working. Also each speaker affects the total load seen by the amplifier which will only allow it to work up to one eighth of its potential. This is closer to a daisy chain as each speaker and corresponding single wire forms part of a daisy chain loop.

Four speakers wired in Series-Parallel

This diagram shows how to wire four speakers in series-parallel.

four speakers in series-parallelThis is a safe way of wiring four speakers (without a switch box or separate volume controls). It is a combination of series and parallel. Providing all the speakers are 8 ohms, this will work as the total impedance is also 8 ohms,

While this will technically work, it is often not practical as you need lots of wires interconnecting all the speakers and there is no control over any one speaker – they all are controlled by the amplifier volume control at the same time. This is not good if you only want music in one area of the house, and not everywhere at the same time – apparently neighbours don’t always like listening to the same music as you (through the outside speakers).

Speaker Selector Switch

The easiest and a safe way to connect 4 pairs of HiFi speakers is to use a 4 zone speaker selector switch.

4 speakers witj switch box
This is relatively simple to wire, just run a wire from the central location (lounge room) to each speaker. The box should also look after any impedance matching to prevent amplifier overload. Although the volume will be similar in all areas, at least it is possible to turn off the speakers in the areas you don’t want sound. It is normal to locate the selector switch adjacent to the amplifier. Remember to connect the lounge room speakers to one switch so they can be turned off when you only want music outside.

Speaker selector switches can use various techniques to allow Four speaker zone selectormultiple speakers to be connected to the one amplifier, namely:

  • a series resistor (around 2½ – 5 ohms) to restrict the minimum impedance of the speakers circuit to this value. This simple series resistor if often marketed as “manual impedance protection”. They are normally good for lower powered speakers, and the resistor can get hot at high volume levels. If this switch is not selected, you have no protection when running all the speakers together.
  • combining the different speakers in series and/or parallel to keep the overall impedance above 4 ohms. This is similar to the series-parallel wiring above, but it all happens in the box for you.
  • matching impedance transformers – this is the best, but it is also the most expensive.

All these methods allow multiple speakers, but at a lower volume than using just one speaker. This is logical as the signal is being shared by more than just the one speaker. To see how the power is distributed by the different types of speaker selector switches, see my Speaker Selector Switch Simulator.

If you are interested in purchasing a multiple speaker selector, here is a link to Amazon’s range of speaker selectors in USA, Canada, UK, Germany, Spain and France.

If you are interested in using a speaker selector switch, check out my summary article on speaker selector switches – it discusses the features and uses in more detail, and summarises all the units bought from Amazon through this web site. You can also download the user’s manual for most models – before you buy it.

Speaker Selector with Volume Controls

A more practical (and a little bit more expensive) way it to substitute the selector switch with a unit that also has volume controls. This allows the volume in each zone (area with a pair of speakers) to be controlled at the central location.

Some volume control units also have impedance matching. four speakers selector volume switchThis means they have a switch (normally on the back panel – but sometimes inside) which allows you to tell it you are connecting 2, 4 or 8 pairs of speakers to the one amplifier. Once this switch is set, you don’t need to worry about overloading the amplifier. Some units don’t have a switch but are set for four speakers. Impedance matching works by appearing to the amplifier as just one speaker, while it evenly splits the signal to all four speakers – in reality, each speaker only gets 1/4 of the sound that comes from the amplifier (assuming you selected x4 on the switch).

Other volume control units (read cheaper) don’t have impedance matching. These units rely on you probably not needing to run all four sets of speakers flat out at the same time. While this is not as safety assured as using impedance matching, it may suit some installations. If you only want low level music in the workshop and family room, then this will be fine. If you are having a party and want loud music outside, just make sure the workshop and lounge room are turned down – this reduces the total load and this effectively means only one or two pairs of speakers are connected to the amplifier.

Remember to allow a volume control for the lounge room speakers so they can controlled also.

If you are interested in purchasing a multiple speaker selector with volume controls for two speakers, four speakers or more, here is a link to Amazon’s range in USA, Canada and UK.

In-Wall Volume Controls

Sometimes it is not convenient to have to go to the lounge room to control the volume of the speakers – especially if you are some distance away and the phone starts to ring. Therefore it can be useful to have a volume control in each zone (area) where there are speakers. This way, the volume for the speakers for the workshop is controlled in the workshop. The disadvantage of this is if you leave the volume control up (say for the outside speakers) and the next morning you play music without going outside – you will be entertaining the neighbours with your music in the morning as well as the night before.volume control

In-wall volume controls are similar to the volume controls mentioned above – they come with impedance matching or without impedance matching. If you are having two zones (two pairs of speakers or four speakers) then you will select the x2 on the back of the volume of the control. Similarly, if you are using 3 or 4 pairs of speakers, you will select x4.

Bear in mind that these are mostly “in-wall” controls. If you need to mount them on a solid brick or concrete wall, you will need a big mounting block, or a deep recess in the wall. The transformers on these volume controls are normally deeper than a standard mounting block for solid walls. The greater the power handling ability of the volume controls, the larger the recess required (and the more expensive the control).

Wiring these volume controls is fairly simple. Run a speaker cable (probably two, one for left side and one right side) from the amplifier to the volume control. Then run a speaker cable from the volume control to each speaker.

four speakers with volume controls

Remember to allow a volume control for the lounge room speakers so they can be controlled also.

If you need to purchase some in wall volume controls, here is a link to Amazon’s range in USA, Canada and UK. You can use this method for 2 speakers, 4 speakers or more.

Practical  Considerations in Wiring Four Speakers

The above installations will work, but they have some limitations. The biggest limitation is the volume control on the amplifier. This controls the maximum volume to all four speakers. The individual volume controls for each speaker only reduce the level coming from the amplifier – they can’t make the sound louder than what the amplifier produces. This means the amplifier volume control needs to be set at the level of maximum volume you want for any given speaker. However it is not wise to set it at full volume. You don’t want the amplifier running flat out but all the speakers turned way down (this is like revving the car engine at maximum and then only letting the clutch out a little bit) – far better to run the amplifier only to the maximum required.

The best method for setting up a system with speaker volume controls is:

  • turn all the speaker volume controls all the way up
  • gradually increase the volume control of the amplifier until the music is just louder that you would normally want it.
  • This is the position for the amplifier volume control.
  • you can now turn each speaker down a few steps to the level you want.

The above method will work fine until someone uses the remote control and changes the volume. This will happen regularly if you watch movies or TV and listen to the sound through your HiFi amplifier/speakers. One solution is to hide the remote control – but this isn’t always convenient. There is a better solution, but you may not need it.

The installations above with the speaker selector switch, or with the volume controls suit a number of situations. They are very suitable when you want the same music (from an MP3 player or media centre) available throughout the house and you don’t touch the amplifier. I have installed many of these systems in houses where the amplifier is only turned on in the morning and turned off at night. Sometimes the amplifier is installed in a ventilated cupboard so it is never seen nor touched. This allows the household to move around the house listening the same music in every room.

However if your amplifier is used while watching TV or movies and the volume is constantly being adjusted with the remote control, then the other speakers in house will also be adjusted accordingly. The easiest way to solve this problem is with a second amplifier.  This is my preferred method. Connect the line out of the main amplifier into the “slave” amplifier. This way, the program is the same in every room, but the HiFi amplifier volume can be changed as much as you like, without affecting the other speakers. The volume on the slave amplifier can be set (as outlined above) and then never touched.

four speakers with volume control

The slave amplifier can be a second hand amplifier, an old “stereo”, or a new stereo amplifier. Some HiFi (main) amplifiers have a power socket at the back to allow other equipment to be connected. If this is the case, then plug the slave amplifier in to this power socket and it will be turned on and off with the main amplifier.

In Closing…

I hope this has helped you understand how-to, and how-not-to, wire four (or more) pairs of HiFi speakers around your house. The video in the article Understanding Speaker Impedance explains how each of the different types of Speaker Selector Switches provides impedance protection or impedance matching. Also my Speaker Selector Switch Simulator provides an interactive way to see how they treat impedance and power sharing.

For a practical discussion on how to wire just 2 speakers to an amplifier (4 speakers to a stereo amp), see my article on How to connect 2 speakers to 1 amplifier.

If you need to wire more than four speakers, particularly in a commercial installation, see the article on Distributed Speaker Systems.

Keep in mind that changing the total load impedance of an amplifier will increase or decrease the power output of the amplifier. See Multiple Speakers Change Amplifier Power for more details.

Also if the speakers each have a different impedance, then there will be different power levels available to each speaker. For more detail see How Multiple Speakers Share Power. 

Many practical examples of the methods outlined above have been explored in the comments below. If you have a different situation, leave a comment below and I will endeavour to help if I can.

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252 COMMENTS

  1. Hi Geof,

    Would it normally be okay to use the R & L speaker outputs to also send audio signal to a device such as a Bluetooth transmitter.

    I’m planning to transmit the audio signal from the amplifier to a set of two ac powered speakers wirelessly. How I’m planning to do that? The only option I’m left with is to wire a bluetooth transmitter with aux input to the R & L speaker outputs (due to lack of AUX/RCA output on my receiver). Will this be too much power to the bluetooth trasnmitter? Or would it be okay?

    Planning to use this set of bluetooth Transmitter and receiver:
    https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00OPVWHRY/ref=oh_aui_detailpage_o00_s00?ie=UTF8&psc=1

    Thanks alot!

    • Hi Zaid,

      The speaker level would normally be to high for the input of the blue tooth transmitter. However there is a sample solution. You need to drop the speaker level to line level. This is often done with car audio systems, so you can use one of these.

      You’ll also need to change the plugs to fit the bluetooth cable.

      Geoff

  2. Hi Geoff,
    Thanks for posting this info which is very helpful.
    I have a question which you may be able to help me with my current pre amp has two out put channels
    with separate volume controls which feed two separate power amps which I use as either quadraphonic for DVD or stereo for music .
    I am looking to upgrade the pre amp but so often they only have one output and one volume control , what suggestions do you have for connecting a new pre amp to two power amps whilst retaining separate volume control over each and the option of having four speakers on or either of the other two operating as stereo .

    Thanks
    Simon.

    • Hi Simon,

      I don’t know many products, and certainly don’t know what might be available to you.

      However I can’t see why you need two volume controlled outputs. Why can’t you use the volume controls on the amps (or do they not have them)? If you can do this, then you can easily just connect the pre-amp output to both amps.

      The other way would be to get someone to make a box with two volume controls – no electronics required. Anyone who can solder should be able to do this for you. It would cost around $10 for the parts.

      Sorry I can’t help much more,

      Geoff

  3. Hi Geoff,

    Sorry to bother you but,

    Where do the A+B outputs enter in this scenarios, are there any significant changes in the wiring and/or any other implications?

    Thanks.

    • Hi Miguel,

      A good question.

      Amplifiers that have A and B outputs do so to give you a convenient way of connecting two set of speakers. On the majority of these amps, both A and B speaker outputs are in parallel. Hence, many amps say to use 8-16 ohms speakers if using A + B, as two 8 ohms speakers in parallel will give a total load impedance of 4 ohms. If using a speaker selector switch, you would normally connect the switch to output A only, and then connect all the speakers to the switch, to allow the switch to look after the impedance. The B output would not be used.

      Hope this helps

      Geoff

  4. Hi Geoff,
    Thanks so much for posting all of this useful information! Best explanations I’ve found on the net and I really appreciate you putting it out there (I will make it a point to purchase my equipment by clicking on the links you provide). I’ve read through everything you’ve posted, but would like to ask you a couple questions before I make my purchase. My basic questions are (i) whether there are any disadvantages to connecting varying pairs of speakers (with differing specs) through a speaker selector (e.g., potential damage to speakers/amplifier or degradation of sound quality) and (ii) if not, how to adjust impedance settings when operating only a fraction of the connected speakers at any one time?

    Specifically, I have a main pair of speakers which I like to listen to unencumbered (Canton CT-80s, 4ohm). These are presently connected directly to the A terminal of my receiver (Onkyo TX-8522). But, I also have 4 other pairs of speakers (varying ohms/max watts, see below) in different rooms of the house that are connected to the B terminal of my receiver via a Sima SSW-6 speaker selector. The issue is that there are times when I want to listen to the main pair of speakers at the same time as some or all of the others, but that often results in the mains being too loud (not to mention wanting the ability to tweak the volume levels of the other pairs of speakers). So, I’ve decided to upgrade my Sima speaker selector to a new speaker selector that has volume controls. Obviously, if I connect all 5 pairs of speakers to whatever new speaker selector I choose (through either the A or B terminal on my receiver), then I can control volume as needed (as you suggest in your article). But, my concern is that for all of those times when I just want to listen to my main pair of speakers (without the others on), that it could somehow be detrimental (either to the amplifier/receiver or the speakers). I have this concern since the impedance settings on both my amplifier (which can be set for 6 or 8 ohms) and my speaker selector would presumably be set assuming all speakers were on. So, when only playing through one pair (or possibly two pairs, but not all 5 pairs) of speakers, wouldn’t the impedance settings become incorrect? In reality, most of the time, I am using only one or two sets of speakers at a time. Occasionally three, and on very rare occasions would I power four or all five pairs. Is there anything to be concerned about in this instance? If not, what setup/impedance settings would you suggest given my usage (set amp for 6 or 8 ohm)?

    Here are the details on my equipment:
    -Onkyo TX-8522 Receiver with A and B stereo outs (rated output power 100W min per channel w 8 ohm loads) [Manual states when the speaker impedance is 4 or 6 ohms, set the speaker impedance setting on the receiver to 6 ohms]
    -5 pairs of speakers (mixed ohms):
    –1 pair Canton CT-80 (4 Ohm/100-150 watt max)
    –2 pairs Infinity RS-2001 (6 Ohm/75watt max)
    –1 pair OWI 703i (8 ohm/100 watt max, or switch to 70 volt with 2.5, 5, 10, or 15 watt settings)
    –1 pair Realistic Minimus-7 (8 ohm/ 40 watt max)

    I’m deciding between the following two speaker selectors from your list:
    –JEC TC-905B 2 x 5 speaker selector switch (https://www.amazon.com/Speaker-Selector-Switcher-Control-Commercial/dp/B003UPIHF2/ref=sr_1_1?s=electronics&ie=UTF8&qid=1481126750&sr=1-1&keywords=2×5+speaker+selector+switch+switcher+volume+control+commercial+grade)

    –Pyle PSPVC6 (https://www.amazon.com/Pyle-PSPVC6-6-Channel-Speaker-Selector/dp/B0013CC3M2/ref=sr_1_1?s=electronics&ie=UTF8&qid=1481132889&sr=1-1&keywords=pyle+6+volume+control)

    The JEC is more feature rich (larger wire size and A/B input capability), but I’m unsure of brand/quality. Is there one that you would suggest given my planned usage? Thank you so much for your time!!!

    • Hi Michael,

      Both of the switches you mention will work, and should not damage your speakers or amplifier. The question is, will they take too much power from your speakers when using just one or two sets of speakers?

      The JEC one says it uses impedance matching transformers, but it does not seem to have a multiplier as others do. One can only assume it is set for 6 speakers. If you were to buy a switch that has a multiplier switch (the Niles SSVC6 for example) then you would be able to reduce the multiplier and increase the power when using only two or 3 speakers. Keep in mind that when any one volume control is turned down just one notch, then it is the same as doubling the multiplier, so you may well be able to keep the multiplier on x2. You can play with this on the third of my Speaker selector simulators.

      The Pyle is a simpler design, and uses a series resistor to set the minimum impedance when using multiple speakers. The good news about this is you can bypass the resistor when using only you main speaker set. This can be demonstrated in the second speaker switch simulator.

      Most speaker switches are a variation of these two. Either type will technically work, and in both cases I would set the amp to 6 ohms (for 4 ohm operation).

      Most amps cope fine if the impedance is above the recommend ohms, but do not like having an impedance below the minimum. However, the higher the impedance, the lower the maximum power output of the amp. This will not be an issue in most domestic installs as there is rarely a time when an amp is running flat out anyhow. Some amp’s protection circuit will cut in if the amp is asked to run at higher power levels into a high impedance load. For this reason you should always have at least one volume control on the switcher near full volume.

      Hope this helps a bit more
      Geoff

  5. Hi Geoff!
    Your website has been pivotal to my education, great stuff!

    I’m looking to set up a 6 “zone” system in my almost-done-house. All zones will have 2 speakers, except one zone with 4 speakers(If possible). I will never have all zones on at the same time, maybe 4 at most.
    So far, Im thinking an AV receiver for 5.1 with an extra “zone 2″ with power to a 6 way speaker selector. From the selector to in-wall volume, then finally to 8 ohm 6.5” speaker. Am I close at all?

    Now for questions…
    -I would like to be able to switch off zones at the selector that are not needed, whilst having volume control in the room. Do I buy a selector with resistor, and impedance matching in the wall volume? Or impedance matching in both? what is the best solution here?

    -For the zone with 4 speakers, would I series parallel them to trick the receiver into thinking its just 2?

    -If it turns out I need impedance matching in the selector, I cant find out with out volume controls. Would that interfere with the volume controls in the walls?

    Thanks for any help you can provide.

    • Hi Sterling,
      I’m pleased the site has been helpful for you.

      Your setup concept is basically fine. The exception is you only need 1 impedance correction device (as a second will take even more power from the speakers). Since you are using impedance matching wall volume controls, you don’t need any impedance matching in the switch. So the easiest (and cheapest) way to go would be to use a basic 6 way speaker selector switch with series resistors, and don’t select the protection – that is, keep the resistors out of the circuit. This way all you are using is the switches. Just need to make sure the switch can cope with the power of your amplifier.

      Now the fun part. Let’s say all your speakers are 8 ohms. If you use the x2 on the volume controls. then each speaker looks like 16 ohms. If you only have any four on (at full volume) at once, then the total impedance will be 4 ohms, which hopefully your amp will cope with. If it doesn’t, just make sure one of the volume controls is turned down at least one notch. Your can play with this on the third of my speaker selector switch simulators.

      Now to extend this a bit more. For the room with four speakers, each pair wired in parallel will have a total impedance of 4 ohms. So simply put that volume control at x4 – and voila, that now looks like 16 ohms too. Alternatively, you could leave the volume control at x2 and wire the speakers in series, but this takes more thinking.

      My other comment is a suggestion for the room with four speakers, is to connect the diagonal speakers together. That way, wherever you are in the room, you will be between a left and right speaker.

      hope this helps,

      Geoff

  6. Great article.

    I have a bose acoustimas 10 system from 2010 and have set it in another area of my house not as my main home theater. for my main home theatre i have 2 X Pyle Home PDIC80 300W 8 inch Two Way In Ceiling Speaker System i also have a typical 5.1 sony amp and now i have no way to send input to the bose system,

    do i need a new amp of 9 channels?? ! or another solution like electronic selector ?

    can you please help?

    • Hi George,

      There are a couple of solutions I can think of.

      You could by a 7.1 system. Most of these allow two of the channels to be used as a “zone 2” set up. This would allow you to drive two of the channels and the sub on the Bose. Alternatively you could use 2 zone speaker selector switch connected to the L and R of the Sony to drive both sets of fronts. You could also use a separate (2nd hand) amp to drive the Bose – connected to the tape out of the Sony.

      If you really need 5.1 in the other area, then it might be easiest (and cheaper) to buy another 5.1 system.

      Does this help?

      Geoff

  7. What if of the four speakers two are eight ohms, and the other two are 6. The amplifier is Technics with a speaker load impedance of 4 to 16 ohms?

    • Hi Michael,
      I’m not sure if you have four speakers in total (2 on each amp), or 4 four on each am p (8 in total).

      If your have four speakers in total, then the 8 ohms and 6 ohm on each amp gives the amp a total load impedance of 3.4 ohms which is bit low for the amp – if it is at full power. If you only use the amp at low levels then it will be OK.

      If you have 8 speakers, 4 on each channel, then you’ll need a speaker selector switch with some impedance protection.

      Geoff

      • Hi Geoff

        Love the site, and thanks for the help, I actually have various sets of speakers, including Bose 150 watt 8 ohms and JBL 150 watt 4 ohms. What is the best way to connect these to the same amp having two speakers on each amp?

        • Hi again,

          The safest way would be to connect them in series. If you need to switch one pair on/off, then a simple series/parallel 2 zone speaker selector would be the way to go.

          If you want then both one at the same time, then simple connect them in series as explained in my connecting 2 speakers article.

          hope this helps

          Geoff

          • Thanks very much for the answer and your time, the amp I mentioned I have since found, comes with two extra amps, so in fact has four amps and a control switch to turn two off.

            Thanks again

            Michael

            • That’s good Michael.

              Just make sure it has four amps and not just two outputs on each of the two amps. Many HiFi amps only have two amps (left and right), but allow up to two sets of speakers to be connected as Speaker A and B. Problem is, they only connect the two sets of speakers in parallel. Hence the normal warning to use speakers with 8-16 ohms impedance when using A+B. However if your amp has four amps, then you are all set.

              Geoff

              Geoff

  8. Hi Geoff,

    Your website has excellent information and I have been enjoying reading through it.

    I do still have a couple of questions regarding a basic multi-room audio setup I am attempting to install in my house.

    Would the below setup work?

    -Pyle PFA400U Audio Amplifier http://www.pyleaudio.com/sku/PFA400U/100-Watt-Class-T-Hi-Fi-Audio-Amplifier-with-USB-Flash-and-SD-Memory-Card-Readers—AC-Adapter-included

    -Pyle 8-Channel Speaker Selector http://www.pyleaudio.com/sku/PSS8/8-Channel-High-Power-Stereo-Speaker-Selector

    -Pyle PDIC80 Speakers, 7 pairs http://www.pyleaudio.com/sku/pdic80

    I would connect a Chromecast Audio to the Amplifier using an RCA to 3.5mm cable plugged into the input on the amplifier.

    I would also probably use volume control knobs in each zone between the speaker selector and speakers.

    I am a complete amateur when it comes to this type of equipment. I appreciate your help and guidance.

    Thanks!

    • Hi Jonathon,

      I’m pleased you have found the web site useful.

      Unfortunately the manuals on the gear you have selected as far less useful.

      The amplifier is interesting. It says it an output power of 100 watts. However it also says it only draws 2 amps at 14 volts input. As the power drawn is only 28 watts (2 x 14), I don’t believe the amp is able to produce 100 watts output, unless they have invented a way to produce an output 4 times as much as the input. If they have, I’ll buy their shares!

      Similarly, the instructions for the switch are very vague. They don’t mention how or when to use the “protection” switch.

      Most speakers are rated at 4 or 8 ohms. however these speakers are rated at 4-8 ohms. Makes one want to think they are not too particular.

      Having said all that, it could work. It is just that there may not be much power to drive 7 sets of speakers at once – it will depend on how loud you want it.

      Also if you are going to use a volume control in each room, you don’t really need the speaker switch. If you use impedance matching volume controls, they will look after the impedance issue for you (set them at x4 or x8). A number of readers use this to make multiple connections at the amplifier – which is a lot cheaper than the speaker selector switch.

      Hope this helps some

      Geoff

  9. geoff: Thank you for your excellent article. Like others, I am sure I’m being repetitive and could likely figure it out from others’ comments, but given the expense of the equipment, if you don’t mind opining ….

    I am in new construction in which the builder has run wire for 10 in-ceiling speakers (2 each in five different rooms). Each of the five rooms also has a gang-box for a in-wall volume controller (which I have purchased). My volume controllers have 4-16 ohm impedance matching. The builder ran all the wires to the basement utility room and I have a bundle of ten wires hanging from the wall.

    I intend to buy a wireless streaming amplifier (max output power of 90 W + 90 W (6 ohms, 1 kHz, 0.9% THD, 1-ch driven)). Based on your diagrams above, I assume I just insert five of the wires into the R speaker and 5 wires into the L? Similar to the parallel diagram (which I know is bad!). I don’t need a speaker selector in between?

    Thanks in advance

    • Hi David,

      You are correct. If you use impedance matching volume controls you don’t need a speaker selector. The volume controls should have a switch or links on the back which say x1, x2, x4 and x8. If you set these to x4 you should be fine. This is because the volume control will multiply the impedance of each speaker by a factor of 4. So if your speakers are 8 ohms each, they will appear to be 32 ohms each to the amp. 5 x 32 ohms in parallel gives a total load impedance of 6.2 ohms which is fine. Also this is when the setting of each volume control is at full volume, when you turn it down a notch it halves the power and doubles the impedance, so that is even better for the amp.

      A number of people use a connecting block like this to make connections and re-connections easy.

      hope this helps

      Geoff

  10. Great article, I wonder if you’d be able to assist?! I have a sonos amp that’s powering two speakers in my bedroom and two speakers in my en-suite. I have a 2 zone selector switch that has on/off for each zone. When doing some renovating I added an in-wall impedance matching volume control to the en-suite speakers because I don’t always want the music playing in there, and want it a bit louder if I’m in the shower. I thought this would let me control the volume of just those speakers, but have found that when I change the volume, both sets of speakers change. Is there a way I can change it, or something I can buy, that will allow the functionality I’m after?

    Thanks in advance!

    • Hi John,

      The speaker switch you keeps the impedance from going too low by wiring both sets of speakers in series when you have them both connected. When in series, what ever happens to one happens to both, hence the volume changes on both.

      I think the simplest way to fix this would be to get another volume control and connect the bedroom speakers to it. Then don’t use the speaker selector switch. If you set both volume controls to x2 on the back, this will look after you impedance matching for you.

      Keep in mind, that the volume controls only turn the volume down. They cannot make it louder in one room (they don’t amplify the signal). But they can make one room relatively louder by turning the other room down, which is what you want, but it means a volume control on the bedroom speakers. The bedroom volume control doesn’t need to be mounted in a wall, it can sit next to the Sonos amp, or you could make a nice little box to mount it in which could sit under the amp.

      hope this helps

      Geoff

  11. Hi Geoff

    Thanks for the great articles. I’d appreciate your advice on the following (I’m sorry it has already been answered) but I just want to clarify before actually going ahead and buying the products. I want to install ceiling speakers in a room. The ceiling speakers I have chosen are stereo speakers (i.e. each individual speaker functions as stereo speaker). I will install 2 of these in the room. This will be wired to a 2 channel class D amp.

    The type of speaker I am going for will be something like this:

    http://www.richersounds.com/product/installation-speakers/monitor-audio/ct165-t2/moni-audio-ct165-t2

    The amp I will be using will be something similar to:

    https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B00LHB3KYE/ref=pd_lpo_sbs_dp_ss_2?pf_rd_p=569136327&pf_rd_s=lpo-top-stripe&pf_rd_t=201&pf_rd_i=B005ZTKL14&pf_rd_m=A3P5ROKL5A1OLE&pf_rd_r=90X2B6THJSAN6K9KFMBF

    I will not be needing an inline volume controls etc. What would you recommend as the best way to 2 speakers speakers to the amplifier (given each speaker is a stereo unit so has essentially 4 connections to and from (two +ve (let/right) and two -ve (left/right)? Would this be the same as wiring 4 sets of speakers to a 2 channel amp? If so which of your methods would you suggest considering this is a single room set up?

    Thanks!
    Niko

    • Hi Niko,

      As far was each amplifier (left and right) is concerned, you are only connecting two speakers to it.

      The amp you mention has little in the way of real specifications, so we can only assume it will work down to 4 ohms. If this is the case, and you speakers are 8 ohms each, you can wire them in parallel, and the total load impedance on each amp will be 4 ohms – all should be fine. If your speakers are 6 ohms (which the specifications sort of hint at), then you should wire each pair in series. That is, the left of one speaker should in series with the left of the second speaker. The same for the right pair. This will give a total load impedance of 12 ohms, which the amp will work fine with, just not to its maximum power.

      hope this helps

      Geoff

  12. Hi Geoff
    Can a Marshall DSL 40C (40W all tube) handle two Celestion Vintage 30’s (16ohm 60W a piece)in a ext. cab? Second question, can the same amp handle a cab with four Vintage 30’s (16ohm 240W) without damaging the amp?

    • Hi Stephen,

      Tube amps don’t adhere to the principles of solid state hifi amps – quite the opposite. The important thing with tube amps it not to run them with no load or a very high load impedance, but I’m not an expert on tube amps.

      The internal speaker of the 40C is 16 ohms. To run two 16 ohm speakers in parallel in another cab would give a total impedance of 8 ohms, which it should be fine with the amp (if you are not running the internal speaker at the same time).

      To run an ext cab with four 16 ohms speakers, I suggest running in parallel two sets of 2 speakers in series. This series/parallel combination will result in a total load impedance of 16 ohms – the same as the internal speaker.

      Keep in mind that adding extra speakers doesn’t mean you add extra volume. In fact with four speakers, each speaker gets one quarter of the total power.

      hope this helps

      Geoff

  13. Hi Geoff,

    Thanks for the article, I found it very interesting. I am currently having issues where my receiver is wanting to shut itself off. Even though it dose it sometimes when Zone 2 is powered off, I removed my Zone 2 speakers and it has quit doing it. Below is my current setup, do you see any issues?

    -Denon AVRX-3000 Receiver
    -Zone 1: Main zone that is running 5.1 setup in my living room.
    -Zone 2: Multi-room audio setup that is running to a 4 channel speaker selector (http://www.monoprice.com/product?c_id=109&cp_id=10903&cs_id=1090305&p_id=9995&seq=1&format=2). Each channel off the speakers selector is ran to a volume control knob (http://www.monoprice.com/product?p_id=8243) that is setup on x4 to keep the impedance matching at 8 ohms. Each volume knob is ran to a pair of 8 ohm speakers (http://www.monoprice.com/product?p_id=4103).

    Do you see any issues with this setup that may be causing too much drain on the receiver or do you think it should be fine?

    Thanks for your help!

    Josh

    • Hi Josh,

      I’ve seen this happen a number of times. These amps will turn off if they think they do not have a speaker load, as well as if they think they have an overload.

      By having your volume controls on x4, the amp is only seeing 8 ohms x 4, that is 32 ohms. And that is only if the volume control is a full volume. Every click off full level it effectively multiplying it by another factor of 2.

      My advice is to set every volume control to x2, and make sure the button on the speaker selector is pressed in, so it is in single speaker mode. With this set up, if you have all your volume controls turned up full, then the amp is seeing 4 lots of 16 ohm speakers which is 4 ohms, which it should be happy with. Turn the volume controls down and impedance goes up even higher.

      Then set the maximum volume on Zone 2 by following this procedure:

      * turn all the speaker volume controls all the way up
      * gradually increase the zone 2 volume until the music is just louder that you would normally want it.
      * This is the position for the zone 2 volume control.
      * you can now turn each speaker down a few steps to the level you want.

      This should allow the amp to think it is working into a reasonable speaker load.

      hope this helps

      Geoff

  14. Question: Can the speaker A and Speaker B outputs from an A/V receiver be combined into the only input on a 4 speaker switch box? I am thinking I would get more power into the switch box in this configuration.

    Thanks

    Joe

    • Hi Joe,
      The simple answer is no. The power from the amp is internally connected to both the A and B speaker terminals. It is the same signal on both. By connecting speakers to both you would split the signal, so there is no advantage what-so-ever, except you get to have more wire laying around.

      Geoff

  15. Hi Geoff,

    Thanks for your article – very helpful start to give some background on how to set up a speaker system. I recently purchased a house that has in ceiling speakers installed on the first and second floor of the house. There are a total of 9 individual speakers (6 on the first floor and 3 on the second floor). Unfortunately though, the previous owner did not leave a receiver so now I am trying to figure this out on my own. The speakers in the ceiling are Pyle PDIC60 with 4-8 OHM and 250W Peak Power.

    My ultimate goal would be to have the 6 first floor speakers on one zone and the 3 second floor speakers on a separate zone. I currently have a receiver with A/B zone capability, however there are only hook ups for 2 speakers per zone. Based on the above article, it seems my best bet is to purchase speaker selector switch to hook up the speakers within each of the two “zones” then connect the switches individually to zone A and zone B on the receiver. Can you confirm this would be the best way to go about this?

    Thanks for your help.
    Matt

    • Hi Matt,
      I think you almost have it right.

      Don’t forget that your current amp is probably a stereo amp, which means it has two amplifiers in it, one for the left and one for the right channel. Therefore for the first floor, you will have 3 speakers on each amp. On the ground floor, one amp (say the left) will have two speakers and the right will have just one.

      I assume there are no volume controls on the wall in each room. Therefore you will need a speaker selector switch with impedance protection.

      There are two main options:
      1) you can use a 2 zone switch, and have one output zone for upstairs and the other for downstairs.
      2) alternatively, you could use a 6 or 10 way switch and have individual control over each room.

      Either way, the input to the switch will be connected to the left and right A channel only on the amp, not the A and B as you suggest.

      hope this helps

      Geoff

  16. Hi Geoff, you may have answered this question already so sorry in advance if this is a repeat question…

    I have a Onkyo TX-2500 MKII and I have 3 speakers. 2 bookshelf R & L speakers and one center speaker. I understand this model can’t support a true “center” speaker and that’s OK with me. For now, I just want all 3 speakers to play when plugged up. I have the 2 bookshelf R & L speakers hooked up on channel A and the “center” speaker hooked up on channel B. When I put it on channel A, the 2 bookshelf R & L speakers works. When I put it on channel B, the “center” speaker works. When I put it on channel A + B, only the right bookshelf speaker works with the “center” speaker. The left bookshelf speaker does not work when set on A+B. All channel works perfectly fine when they’re set to play by itself but they do not power all 3 speakers when they’re set to work together.

    I hope that makes sense. Please let me know your thoughts. Thanks!

    • Hi Kong,
      It seems that your amp puts the speakers in series when you select A and B. Since you have the right speaker on A right and the center speaker on B right, when you select A and B, the right and center speaker are connected in series and both work, however there is nothing to go in series with the left speaker, hence it doesn’t work.

      I can’t think of a simple or cheap way of making the center speaker work at the same time as the L and R without reducing the volume in one of them.

      Geoff

  17. Hi Geoff,
    I am really a none to all these wirings. Currently my house is under renovation,I need to purchase wirings but do not know which to purchase.
    I do have a Sony Dvd home theatre system DAV-DZ290K,
    Onkyo AV Receiver TX-SR507 and a set of Pure Acoustics EX750P speakers.
    Please kindly assist me.
    Thank you.

    • Hi Annie,

      You have the makings of two separate surround sound systems.

      For each system you should probably run a speaker cable from the front (where the main amp will be) to where you want the surround sound speakers.

      The front right and left, and the centre speaker can probably be wired directly to the amplifier without having to install cables in the walls.

      hope this helps

      Geoff

  18. Hi Geoff.
    I currently have a set of outdoor polk atrium 45 speakers powered off of a 90W sony 2channel amp. The speakers run through a Niles WVC100E Weatherproof volume control (with impedance mag). The area is too large for just the two speakers and I am considering purchasing another pair of outdoor speakers. Is it possible to connect them to the same Niles volume control or to the output wires from it? Or would a second pair require a second volume control and distribution hub like (Niles VCS HUB8 Volume Control Speaker Distribution Hub). Or should I just get a better set of speakers?

    • Hi Bob,
      You don’t need a second volume control, although if you did, you would obviously have greater control over the volume of the second set of speakers.

      To use the one volume control (VC) you have now, you can connect to the output terminals or to each of the existing speakers. Then behind the cover of the your exiting VC there is a little slide switch. It should currently be set at x1. You need to set this to x2 when running two sets of speakers. Although if both sets of speakers are 8 ohms, and you don’t run any other speakers, then you could keep it at x1.

      Running more speakers with less power each gives a more even coverage than running fewer speakers at higher levels, as this way requires the level close to the speakers to be much louder.

      hope this helps

      Geoff

  19. Hi Geoff,

    I’m installing speakers for background music at a local restaurant. I purchased a Onkyo TX-8160 Network Stereo Receiver. (2) channel – 80 watts per channel. Link Below:

    http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B012J1DKQS?redirect=true&ref_=pe_151050_167288770_em_1p_0_ti

    I am going to install a total of (20) 70v speakers (10 speakers per channel). Each speaker is set at 5 watts and 8 ohms. So it would be 50 watts on each channel set at 8 ohms.

    Speakers: http://www.mcmelectronics.com/product/50-14080

    Location Breakdown: Dining Room (10 Speakers) for a total of 10 Speakers on Channel One.

    Outside Patio (6 Speakers) / Meeting Room (4 Speakers) for a total of 10 speakers.

    So essentially 3-different zones (Patio, Meeting Room, Dining Room)

    Initially I wired the dining room in parallel but had very little volume. Tried to wire in series last night and had no volume. It was late (1:30am )so maybe incorrectly wired the speakers?

    QUESTIONS:

    1: Will the Onkyo receiver drive the 70v speakers? There is no 70v speaker terminal on back of the receiver.

    2: What s the best way to wire the speakers? Let’s talk about the dining room. I have 5 speakers in a column for the left channel and anther 5 adjacent for the right channel.

    Maybe a diagram would help.

    Thank you in advance …. Ron

    • Hi Ron,

      If you haven’t already done so, I recommend reading the article on distributed speaker systems

      Fortunately you have speakers which can be used in a distributed speaker system. The switch on each speaker selects either 8 ohms (like a normal speaker) or a wattage for when connected to a 70 volt amplifier. Selecting 5 watts for each speaker is good. 10 of them makes up 50 watts, that is less than the recommended 80% capacity of your amp, so all is good.

      However your amplifier is not 70 volts. Hence when you connected the speakers correctly in parallel, you only got a low volume. You need to either get a 70 volts amp, or make the Onkyo into a 70 volt amp. You can add a transformer (or two) like this . This will take the 8 ohm output of the amplifier and drive the speakers at 70 volt level. You will need one for each amp (right and left).

      Normally in distributed speaker systems you don’t worry about stereo. This is based on the fact that no one in the room is sitting exactly equidistant between both channels to hear the “stereo”. What you are after is simply some background music to create atmosphere until you get enough people in the room that they create their own atmosphere.

      Using a 70 volt system is a great way to go for a restaurant (or any where you need multiple speakers), you just didn’t have the right amp for it.

      hope this helps,

      Geoff

  20. Hello Geoff, your blogs are excellent guide to newbies like me.

    But i have a very basic question (probably a stupid one too). i purchased a local assembled amplifier and 3 Cieling speaker (which has a transformer mounted on it). Here is the exact pictures of the speaker:

    http://www.ebay.in/itm/Gemco-8-Ceiling-Speaker-Top-Quality-Reasonable-Price-Series-Wiring-Option-/171106363859?hash=item27d6bbe9d3:g:YK0AAOxyVX1RvCsl . i think these speakers are 4W and 8 Ohms.

    The amplifier is here : http://www.ebay.in/itm/Gahnex-30w-amplifier-best-suitable-for-4-Ceiling-Speakers-and-Box-Speakers-/171111731424?

    I want to connect speakers in ‘series’ to the amp, thanks to your guide, i know that part. but where do i connect the other side of the cable on amp ? As you see in the picture, there are many connection ports like COM, 4ohms, 8Ohms, 16o, and 100 V.. Where do i connect the cable which goes to transformers on speakers.

    Please guide me.

    Regards

    Mike

    • Hi Mike,

      Both the speakers and the amp are designed as 100 volt speakers. For more info on this type of a system see my article on distributed speaker systems.

      The good news about these systems is you don’t need to worry impedances. All the speakers can be wired in parallel. At the amp end, connect to the com and 100 volt terminals. At the speaker end, connect to the common and 3 watt terminals of the first speaker and then the same on the other speakers.

      simple eh?

      Geoff

      • Hello Geoff,
        thanks for your guidance, that was a CLEAR one.

        Now on the speaker side, though i see COM and 3W marked, but i couldn’t recognize which cable goes where on speaker (there is no marks where these cables goes to) . further tracing, i found the black color goes to area marked with ‘COM’ and red color to area marked with ‘3W’.
        When googled i didnt get a clear answer, but are these cable usually connected this way ? from your experience.
        Regards

        Mike

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