Maybe you’re trying to save some money by using one amplifier for your audio setup instead of separate amps for the speakers and sub. Or you’re just curious to know if speakers and a sub can share the same amplifier. Whatever the reason, is it possible to use one amp for a speaker and subwoofer?
You can wire speakers and a subwoofer to the same amplifier, provided the amplifier is a multi-channel amplifier. This is because multi-channel amps have more than one amplification device fused into their housing. This makes it capable of driving a speaker and a subwoofer at the same time.
Which Amps Can Be Wired To Speakers and Subs?
You can wire speakers and subs to an amp if the amp is multi-channel. This is because multi-channel amps are capable of powering multiple speaker arrangements.
A typical example of a multi-channel amp is a stereo amp. Stereo amps are basically two separate amps that have been put together in the same case. One amp powers the left channel or speaker, and the other powers the right channel or speaker. Due to this, they can be wired to a speaker and a sub.
Apart from the stereo amps, there are 3-channel, 4-channel, and 5-channel amps that can drive speakers and subs at the same time. Three-channel amps can handle a pair of speakers and a sub adequately, while 4-channel and 5-channel amps can drive extra more speakers. In most cases, these multiple-channel amps are designed to have a dedicated sub-output channel.
One of the commonest multi-channel amps is the home theater amp. This amp is designed to have multiple channels. These multiple channels allow you to connect subs and speakers to them.
That is why home theaters can support many surround sound systems and a sub. However, these connections are made to separate outputs.
You should understand that, technically, amps with multiple channels have more than one amplification device inside the casing. That is why you can connect multiple speakers and subs to that “single” amp.
What to Consider When Wiring Speakers and Sub to a Single Amp
When wiring speakers and sub to the same amp, you need to ensure that the amp is capable of driving everything connected to it without the amp giving way. To do this, you need to look out for the minimum impedance rating of the amplifier. But what exactly is impedance?
The impedance rating of an amplifier is the measure of the opposition to the flow of current from the amp to speakers and subs connected to it.
Most HiFi amps have a minimum speaker impedance of 4 ohms. Amplifiers with higher impedance will deliver relatively lower currents to speakers, while those with low impedance will deliver higher currents to speakers.
Knowing this gives you an idea about the total speaker load that is bearable by the amp.
To keep things simple for you, you should connect speakers with higher impedance to amplifiers with low impedance. This will ensure that the speakers do not exert a lot of pressure on the amp by drawing too much current from it.
You should also bear in mind that connecting speakers and subs that exert an accumulated excess load on the amp can lead to overheating of your amp. In extreme cases, your amp can blow up.
Do Subs Need to Match Speakers?
If you have been wondering whether your subs need to match your speakers, you are not alone. This is because I have interacted with quite a number of people who have also battled with thoughts of whether to match the brand of their speakers with their sub.
The truth is no; you do not need to match subwoofer brands to speakers when setting up your sound system. This is because, as long as their sensitivity ratings and dynamic ranges are similar, your amp will be able to drive them. Thus, you need to take note of these when setting up your speakers and subs.
That notwithstanding, most experts do not advise that you mix different speakers and subwoofer brands in a sound system. They state that a speaker system made up entirely of components by one brand designed to work together is guaranteed to always work perfectly, leaving you with perfect sound.
Thus they recommend that you stay within the same series and brand when selecting speakers and subs.
This ensures that the speakers in your system have similar output capabilities above their crossover point. In addition to this, having a matched system ensures that a reasonably consistent timbre is maintained between the different speakers.
Finally, with this, you do not need to spend time learning about the different speakers and their qualities, dynamic ranges, and sensitivities.
The main reason why most people match or mix speaker brands is that they aim to create the best possible sound out of their speaker system.
However, some people opt to match or mix their subs and speakers purely due to aesthetics. One thing you should bear in mind is that every speaker brand has its specialty.
Some brands produce better speakers than others. In the same way, others produce much better subs. Thus, the brand that produces your speakers may not necessarily produce great subs.
Due to this, for most people, their preferred subwoofer brand may be different from their preferred speakers. For such people, mixing speakers and subwoofer brands is a way of assembling the very best components for your sound system.
Another advantage of using different brands for your sound system is that you may save money and time, particularly if you have old speakers and subs available that are in good condition.
To end it all, there is nothing wrong with mixing or matching speakers and subwoofer brands as long as their sensitivity ratings and dynamic ranges are the same.
However, if you are unsure about what to do, you can seek advice from a sound system or home theater expert. With this, you will be certain about making the right long-term decision.
Should I have a Separate Amp for Speakers and Subs?
No, you do not need a separate amp for your speakers and subs every time. This is because there are amps that are capable of driving both speakers and subs simultaneously.
As we’ve already talked about, these amps are known as multi-channel amps. You do not need separate amps for your speakers and subs when you use multi-channel amps. If you have read this article from the beginning, you know what multi-channel amps are and their capabilities.
Even though a single multi-channel amp can power your speaker and sub, you can decide to have separate amps for your speakers and subs if you want to create a more powerful sound system.
This is because powering your speakers and sub with a single amp will limit the maximum sound pressure you can reach.
For most periods, you will only produce a sound that is at a moderate level when a single amp is driving all your speakers and sub. Therefore, if you desire your sub to produce bass that pounds really hard, you may need to get a separate amp for your sub.
That notwithstanding, when you have only a single amp in your sound system, you will still end up with a balanced bass and sound that is relatively powerful enough.
To end it all, for most people, you do not need a separate amp for your speakers and subs. However, if you want to create a very powerful sound system, you might have to get a separate amp for your speakers and subs.
In summary, you can connect speakers and subs to the same amp unit if the amp is designed to have multiple channels in it. These amps contain more than one amplification device, which makes them capable of powering multiple speakers and a sub.
Thus, you do not need separate amps to drive your speakers and subs when you have a multi-channel amp.