Speaker Selector Switch Summary

Speaker selector switches are the most common item bought from Amazon through this website (with over 200 units sold). Therefore I thought it is high time to look a little deeper at the different speaker selectors and the features available. I also present a table (or 3)  outlining the models, features, price and popularity of what readers have bought.

The main reason speaker selectors are used is to distribute sound to multiple speakers while protecting the amplifier from too much load (due to too many speakers). For a more detailed explanation of the issues regarding speaker load and impedance, see my article on connecting multiple speakers to your HiFi. For an explanation on using the various type of speaker selectors and how to wire them, see my article on wiring 4 speakers.

For a good overview on speaker impedance and how speaker selector switches help overcome the issues, watch the video (particularly the 2nd half) in Understanding Speaker Impedance.

Protecting the Amplifier with a Speaker Selector

There are two main technologies employed by a speaker selector to protect the amplifier from overloading due to a low load impedance:

  1. Series Resistor: this is used on lower cost speaker selector switches. It normally means there is a resistor (4-6 ohms) wired in series with the speakers. This gives the total circuit a minimum resistance which will protect the amplifier. However, this resistor gets hot at higher volume levels. That is why most speaker selectors using a series resistor for impedance “matching” have air vents in the chassis. Obviously there is some energy lost in these resistors as they produce the heat. Most speaker selector switches employing a series resistor have a “protection” or “impedance protection” switch. This switches the series resistor in and out of the circuit.speaker switch protection switch When you are using more than one set of speakers at the same time, the “protection” switch should be activated. When only one set of speakers are being used, or you are using impedance matching volume controls, the series resistor can be switched out to allow “direct connection” with no losses.
  2. Impedance Matching Transformer: this is used on higher power and higher cost speaker selector switches. An impedance matching transformer inside the speaker selector multiples the impedance of each speaker which effectively keeps the total impedance around the same as any of the individual speakers (providing the speakers are the same impedance as each other).  For example: a 4 zone speaker selector with an impedance matching transformer would multiple each of the 8 ohm speakers by four (making them appear as 32 ohms), and 4 lots of 32 ohm speakers in parallel makes a total impedance of 8 ohms. As one of the speaker selector promo says, they “maintain a safe operating load at the amplifier while distributing maximum power throughout your system“. There normally is not by-pass switch on a speaker selector with impedance matching transformers.

A few speaker selector switches connect the speakers in various series and parallel combinations to limit the overall impedance. These should only be used with 8 ohm speakers.

Some very budget speaker selector switches have no impedance protection what-so-ever. They are just a switch turning each speaker on or off. These are not recommended.

For a better understanding of how the different types of speaker selector switches work, see my Speaker Selector Switch Simulators. These show how each type helps with impedance, as well as how they distribute power to each speaker.

The Ins and Outs of a Speaker Selector

A speaker selector is normally known by how pairs (left and right) of speakers can be connected to it. Each pair of speakers is normally in a different room, or zone.  Hence, a speaker selector might be a 4 zone, or a 6 zone speaker switch. Sometimes they are also referred to as 4 way or 6 way.6-channel-speaker-switch This means they are capable of connecting 4 pairs or 6 pairs of speakers respectively. Be aware some manufacturers also confusingly use the word “channels” for the number of output pairs their speaker switch can connect to.

Some speaker selector switches connect to one stereo amplifier, allowing the speaker selector to connect the one amplifier to each speaker connected to it. This allows the same program (music etc) to be heard in every zone or room.

Other speaker selectors allow two different amplifiers to be connected to them. Then for each zone, you can select amplifier A or amplifier B. These speaker switches are marketed as having A/B inputs. Using two amplifiers with different programs allows each zone to select between the two programs available.

Other Features

Other features often promoted for a speaker selector are:

Volume Controls: These allow the volume of each zone to be separately controlled at the unit.

Power Handling: This states the maximum power (RMS) per channel of the amplifier that should be used with the selector.

Labels: Some manufactures supply pre-printed labels that make your installation look professional.

Speaker Selector Types

There are 4 basic types of speaker selector switches sold by Amazon through this website:

  • Simple Speaker Selector Switches: these simply switch between 2 or more sets of speakers (60% of units sold)
  • Speaker Selector Switch with volume control: As well as switching between 2 or more zones, they have separate volume control for each zone (20% of units sold)
  • Speaker Selector Switch with A/B amplifier input selection (0.5% of units sold).
  • Speaker Selector Switch with volume controls and A/B selection (20% of units sold).

How Many Zones?

Speaker selector switches are also categorized by how many zones (or channels of speakers) they can switch. Readers of this website who have purchased speaker selectors from Amazon have mostly bought 4 zone selectors, but other configurations are also useful:

  • 2 way selectors are useful when the speakers are only 4 ohms, as two sets of 4 ohm speakers is too much load for most amplifiers (13% of units sold).
  • 4 way selectors are the most popular. These can be used for 2, 3 or 4 zones (66% of units sold).
  • 5 way, 6 way, 8 way or 10 way speaker selector switches can be used to wire many speakers. With this many speakers, impedance protection is very important (21% of units sold).

 

The following tables list the speaker selector switches bought from Amazon through this website. I’ve added as much helpful information as possible including:

  • the supplier/seller
  • the model number and/or description of the product
  • the maximum RMS power (watts) the unit can handle from each channel of the amplifier(s) connected to the selector switch.
  • the average price of each product bought from Amazon
  • the percentage of sales of each item in its class (2, 4 or 5+ zones) through this website
  • a description of the impedance protection method used, warnings and features
  • a link to download the manual, if I’ve been able to locate one
  • a link to each item on Amazon – click on each picture to go to that item on Amazon for further information.

If you don’t see the link pictures, please turn off any add blocker you may have installed on your browser

Summary of 2 way Speaker Selector Purchases

BrandItemWatts/
Channel
Average
Price
% soldComments
Link to item on Amazon
Monoprice108231
2 channel A/B speaker selector with Volume
50$62.6631%Uses Impedance matching volume controls
Monoprice Speaker Selector Manual (with volume)


NilesSSVC-2
speaker selector with volume
100$117.0023%Uses Impedance matching transformer
Niles SSVC Manual

OSDSSVC2
2 zone A/B with volume
50$88.604%Uses Impedance matching volume controls
OSD SSVC Manual

YIS2 pair speaker selector switch
50$28.9531%No information on impedance protection
Keen-EyeA/b a B A+b
Stereo speaker switcher combiner
10$17.508%No information on impedance protection

 

Summary of 4 way Speaker Selector Purchases

BrandItemWatts/
Channel
Average
Price
% soldComments
Link to item on Amazon
Simple Speaker Selector Switches
Monoprice109995
4 channel Speaker selector
70$26.8827%Uses 5 ohm Series Resistor
Monoprice 9995 Manual

PylePSS4
4 Channel Switch
100$30.5315%Uses Series Resistor
Pyle PSS Manual

Part ExpressSS4
4 zone Switch
70$36.6510%Uses 5 ohm Series Resistor
Parts Express SS4, SS6, SS8 Manual

Radio ShackFour Way Switch50$14.365%Uses series - parallel switching. Not recommended to use with 4 ohm speakers
Radio Shack Speaker Selector Manual

NilesSS-4
Speaker selector
100$69.963%Uses 2.5 ohm Series Resistor
72 Labels supplied
Niles SS speaker selector Manual


OSDISS4
4 Zone Speaker selector
70$48.772%Uses Series Resistor
OSD ISS Speaker Selector Manual

Wired HomeSS4
Speaker Selector
70$29.902%Uses 5 Ohm Series Resistor
Wired Home SS speaker selector Manual


NilesHPS-4
High Power Speaker selector
250$140.951%Uses 2.5 ohm resistor
72 Labels supplied
Niles High Power selector Manual

SimaSSW4
4 Speaker Selector
100$38.941%Uses 3 ohm series resistor
Labels supplied
Sima SSW Speaker Selector Manual

JamoJSS4-HP
Speaker selector
175$49.991%High Power
Monster CableSS4
Multi-Speaker selector
150$99.991%Uses series resistor
Monstor Cable Mulit-Speaker Selector Manual

RussoundSS-4.2
Speaker selector
100$59.951%Uses series resistor (switch at rear)
Russound SS Speaker Selector Manual
Speaker Selector Switches with Volume Controls
PylePSPVC4
4 Zone with volume control
100$115.9913%Uses Impedance matching transformer, for use with 8 Ohm speakers
Pyle PSPVC Speaker Selector Manual

NilesSSVC-4
4 Channel with Volume
100$204.357%Uses Impedance Matching Transformer
Includes 72 labels
Niles SSVC Manual

Speaker Selector Switches with A/B Inputs and Volume Controls
Monoprice108232
4 Channel A/B with Volume
100$83.078%No information on impedance protection
Includes labels

Specialty AV600 watt 4 Zone A/B with Volume200$169.954%Uses high power rating impedance matching transformer

 

Summary of 5+ way Speaker Selector Purchases

BrandItemWatts/
Channel
Average
Price
% soldComments
Link to item on Amazon
Simple Speaker Selector Switches
PylePSS6
6 Channel Switch
100$39.2926%Uses Series Resistor
Pyle PSS Manual

PylePSS8
8 Channel Switch
100$47.7016%Uses Series Resistor
Pyle PSS8 Speaker Selector Manual

Dayton AudioSS6
Speaker Switch
70$47.722%Uses 5 ohm Series Resistor
Currently not available
SimaSSW-6
6 zone selector
50$41.242%Uses Series Resistor.
Includes lables
Sima SSW Speaker Selector Manual

Speaker Selector Switches with Volume Controls
NilesSSVC-6
6 Channel with Volume
100$239.0016%Uses Impedance Matching Transformer
Includes 72 labels
Niles SSVC Manual

Theater SolutionsTS6DV
6 Zone with volume control
300$120.992%Has 2 inputs but only able to select one input at a time. No individual input switch for each zone.
Speaker Selector Switches with A/B Inputs only
OSDDSM8
8 zone switch with A/B inputs
70$94.992%Uses series resistor


JamoJSS6-HP
Speaker Selector
175$59.992%Uses series resistor


Speaker Selector Switches with A/B Inputs and Volume Controls
Specialty AV2 x 5 Zone
with A/B and Volume
100$209.959%Uses high power impedance matching transformer
Monoprice108230
Speaker Switch
100$37.589%Uses Series Resistor

Specialty AV2 x 6 Zone
with A/B and Volume
300$159.955%Uses heavy duty impedance matching transformer
PylePSPVC6
6 Channel Speaker Selector
50$153.995%No Information on impedance protection
Pyle PSPVC Speaker Selector Manual

Specialty AV10 Zone/pair
with A/B and volume
500$259.952%Uses heavy duty impedance matching transformer
Theater SolutionsTS6DV
Dual Source selector
300$122.722%No Information on impedance protection
Labels Included

Use the above summary information as a guide only. There are also many other models of speaker selector switches available.

If you have details to add to the above summary please share them as a comment below and I will include them for the benefit of others.

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58 COMMENTS

  1. Hello, what a great, informative website.

    Question. I have three sets of speakers I’d like to run through a speaker selector switch. My stereo receiver is 80 watts per channel into 8 ohms. Two of the speaker sets are at 6 ohms up to 80 watts. The third set, which is in another room, is at 8 ohms up to 80 watts. Can I use one of these safely, given the different speakers? Will the volume levels be high enough to fill the rooms? Or am I better off investing in a new receiver that can handle all three sets? Was looking at this model.
    Thanks!

    • Hi Michael,

      Your scenario is fairly typical for a home. 80 watts would normally be more then sufficient for a typical domestic install. Of course this will depend on how loud you like your music.

      Each speaker pair may have a slightly different sensitivity, which means one pair of speakers may be softer or louder then the others, but the volume controls on the switch will compensate for that.

      Should be good to go

      Geoff

  2. Hello Geoff,

    Quick question in regards to speaker switches/in-wall volume controls.

    I have 6 pairs of speakers (8 ohm) connected to two 4 port speaker switches (Quest QLS4.1 100 Watt Speaker Switch) which are then connected to a stereo receiver/amp (8 ohms).

    I plan to connect 6 in-wall volume controls in which each volume control will separately control each pair of speakers in each of my 6 rooms.

    Do I set the jumper to x1 on each volume control as each volume control is controlling one set of speakers or do I set each jumper to x8? or ? and do I turn “protection” on or off on the speaker selector selector?

    Thanks!

    • Hi,

      I suggest you use the selector switch as a means on connecting all the speakers only, this means turning the protection off on both of them. The reason being, you will use the Volume Controls (VCs) for impedance protection.

      I suggest on the VCs you use x4. The reason being, this will make each set of speakers look like 32 ohms to the amp (4 x 8 ohms). In most homes it is very rare to have all 6 zones turned up full at the same time. Normally four zones or less are likely to be at full volume at any one time. Therefore, you effectively have 4 lots of 32 ohm speakers in parallel. Lo and behold, this gives a total impedance of 8 ohms – perfect for your amp.

      hope this helps

      Geoff

  3. Dear Geoff

    Best regard.

    Could you please help me?

    I have a sonnet connet amp with the following specs:

    https://sonos.custhelp.com/app/answers/detail/a_id/269/~/connecting-speakers-to-a-connect%3Aamp

    Additionally I have 4 yamaha ns-iw360c speakers with an impedance of 6 ohms.

    https://static.bhphotovideo.com/lit_files/90402.pdf

    How can I connect them or what can I use to have two stereo zones? (Example: kitchen and dining room) with this amplifier and these speakers.

    That is, how can I connect 4 6 ohms impedance speakers to an amplifier with this feature? “The CONNECT: AMP can support between 4 and 16 ohm loads, so if you’re wiring four speakers, they should be wired in parallel and the attached speakers should be 8 ohms.”

    It is not necessary to activate or deactivate any of the zones, ie they can always sound at the same time.

    Do the parallel, serial or speaker selector connections decrease the sound quality?

    Thank you very much for your help.

    I stay tuned.

    • Hi Sebastian,

      First up, thanks for the details and the links, that helps a lot.

      The main issue is if you connect two 6 ohms speakers in parallel, then the total load resistance will be just 3 ohms – below the 4 ohms the amp is designed for.

      One solution would be to use a speaker selector switch, however since you don’t require zone switching this isn’t really required.

      I suggest you simply run each pair in series. This will give a total load impedance of 12 ohms for each amp, which is within the amp’s range of 4-16 ohms. A simple way to do this is shown here:Two speakers in series

      For more info, see the article on connecting 2 speakers.

      Hope this helps,

      Geoff

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