Speaker Selector Switch Summary

Speaker selector switches are the most common item bought from Amazon through this website (with over 400 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).

Please note, speaker selector switches are designed for multi-room installs in a home or small low power installs (like an office or cafe). They are generally suited for low power (under 100 watts) amplifiers. They should be not be considered in a commercial install or for use with high output power amplifiers.

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 an install you need further advice on, please read the FAQs before submitting your question. Alternatively, you may find a similar install in the comments below.

Notify of
Brian (Orange County, CA)

Hi Geoff,

I recently set up our ceiling speakers with a Yamaha R-S202 2 channel receiver and Monster 4 channel speaker selector (model MSS4). For some reason only one side will work at a time. For instance, when I connect the left receiver output into the left selector input all the left outputs to the speakers work, however, when I add the right, the right does not work. If I connect just the right, all the right outputs work. Do you know why only one side works when all are connected?

Thanks
Brian

Craig Ewers (Ho Chi Minh, Vietnam)

Geoff,

A quick question. I’ve a Niles SVCC-4 hooked up to a ReVox B750 MKII amp. Speakers are Celestion Ditton 15XR (4ohm), KEF 304 (8ohm) and Dynaudio Emit M20 (8ohm). I just got my a BK Electronic XLS200 active sub. Can I simply hook it up to the spare speaker connection? I have the resistance selector set on 3/4 currently, but I noted that you said maybe it should be 2?

Thanks a bunch. Your website is oft visited by yours truly.
Craig

Aaron Denny (Atkinson, NH)

Hi Geoff, Thanks very much for all of the info. It has been very helpful. I was just about to purchase a Jamo speaker selector (JSS4-HP) or similar. I came across an older JSS-4 model and have since bought that from Ebay. Specs on the JSS4-HP say 250W peak, but I was wondering if you happen to know if the JSS-4 has the same rating. I couldn’t seem to locate a manual or documentation for it on the Jamo website. Another question I had is if you know of a selector that is can handle high power (say a 200… Read more »

Joe (Chicago, IL)

Hi Geoff, First of all, great website. The information that you presented here is super informative. I am planning on wiring a total of 8 outdoor speakers (4 zones), with each speaker being at 8 ohms, rated at 250w RMS. That being said, I am still going back and forth on picking a strong enough amp or receivers to power them all. My backyard faces a busy street which makes for a lot of background noise during the day so I need something powerful enough. Because of this, I will need a speaker selector that can handle higher outputs going… Read more »

Clive Kamichaitis (Canada)

Geoff,

Great website, thanks.

I recently purchased the Niles ssvc-4 speaker selector to run three sets of speakers. the pairs are the mains, kitchen and outdoor. I had to purchase the kitchen speakers and bought a set of what I thought were 8ohm, but when I got them they are 4ohm.

Given that the other two sets are 8ohm, can I run these using the niles selector, and if so do i choose a different setting than that described in the manual (i.e selector would be 3/4 on the impedence corrector).

Thanks for the help.

Lenny B. (NJ)

Hi, I have an amp feeding a 4 position switch box – currently radio shack but just ordered Niles). I have two sets of speakers on it and both on. One set is in bedroom, one set in bathroom. The set in bathroom has a AudioSource AE100VC Impedance Matching Volume Control on it. When I turn this volume down in the bathroom, it also turns down the bedroom. Any idea why? I have the input and output correct-

Thanks

Steve (Dallas)

Geoff, I’ve searched but can’t find the answer to this question. Can I hook up two speaker selectors to one receiver? One to Zone A and the other to Zone B? This is assuming the receiver has A/B speaker capability. I want to run 6 speakers on A and up to 3 on B. The receiver is rated 80 wpc. Also, I would never be running all 9 speakers at once.

Graham (Adelaide, Australia)

Hi Geoff I am planning to connect a sonos amp to two pairs of Krix speakers, bedroom and bathroom. One set of speakers is rated 20-100W and 6 Ohm, the other 20-100W and 8 Ohm. I am getting confused between impedence matching and impedence correcting and manual vs automatic. The Niles SSVC-2 appears to do this through manual switching but the The Pyle Home PSS4 does it automaticaly? I only need switching between two speakers so the Niles looks like doing the job but just wanted to check that it will and give me good sound in the two rooms?

Fabrício Kleber

Hello. First of all congratulations for the clarifying guides. I want to setup my Home Theather at the main room and an ambient sound with 6 pairs of 30W speakers. I`ll use the Yamaha Receiver a1050 or a850 in the main room. I don`t know if the Zone 2 channels can handle the 6 pair. If not I thing I`ll have to use the “2X6 Matrix Speaker Selector Switch Switcher Volume Level Control, 2-AMP 6-ZONE 900-Watt” with the “Pyle Home PT1100 1000-Watt Power Amplifier”. The Speaker Selector handles 900W and the amplifier has 1000W. It will be a big problem?… Read more »

brendan (liberty township, Ohio)

Geoff, I am wanting to run a Yaquin mc13 tube amp from the front speaker preouts of my HK AVR20 receiver. The receiver will accommodate my turntable, CD player and computer inputs. The Yaqin will run 2 sets of speakers both rated at 8 ohms. I will run cable from the left and right Yaqin speaker outs (the Yaqin has 8 and 4 ohm speaker outs) to the Monoprice 109995 4-Channel Speaker Selector. The 2 sets of speakers will run out from the selector box. I want to make sure the amp is not damaged while switching between speaker sets.… Read more »