Wiring multiple tweeters can be challenging, especially if it’s your first time handling an audio system setup. During the process, you may consult the internet and come across different blogs that suggest series, parallel, and series-parallel connection methods. So does wiring your speakers in a series work?
You can wire tweeters in series by connecting your speakers to an amplifier using a single wire. However, series wiring increases load impedance and reduces acoustical output. Also, ensure the impedance doesn’t exceed 16 Ohms to prevent damaging the amp.
Read on for more information on speaker impedance, how to connect tweeters using different approaches, and the pros and cons of wiring them in series or parallel.
The Basics: Speaker Impedance and Power Handling
Before describing the main methods of wiring tweeters, series, parallel, and series-parallel connections let’s review some basics.
A tweeter’s ohm rating usually indicates its AC impedance, which depends on the input signal’s frequency. Most speakers are rated 4, 8, and 16 ohms, which allows for flexibility in matching the equivalent impedance of connected speakers to your amplifier’s output impedance, maximizing power transfer while protecting the amplifier.
Why Does Impedance Matter?
As a rule of thumb, having an amplifier with a smaller output impedance than your speakers’ ensures a bulk of the amp’s voltage is supplied to your tweeters and not to its own output impedance, delivering better sound quality.
Amplifiers running lower impedances have a poor slew rate and are ineffective at cone control, reducing sound quality.
What Are the Different Wiring Options?
Like most electrical installations, you can connect tweeters in series, parallel, or series-parallel. Here’s a brief description of each of these connection methods:
How To Complete a Series Wiring
You can connect two or more tweeters in series by joining the amplifier and the speakers using a single cable.
Suppose you have four speakers, A, B, C, and D, and an amplifier. In that case, you can wire the voice coils in series by connecting the positive terminal of A to the amplifier’s positive terminal.
After that, connect the negative terminal of A to the positive connection of B. Proceed by connecting the positive terminal of B with the negative end of C, then the negative terminal of C with the positive terminal of D. Finally, connect the negative terminal of D to the negative terminal of the amp.
This video demonstrates how to wire speakers in series and parallel:
When connected in series, your speakers produce total impedance equal to the sum of their individual impedance. For example, if you connect four 4 ohm speakers in series, the amp would have a total load impedance of 16 ohms (4 + 4 + 4 + 4).
Therefore, the essence of wiring tweeters in series is to increase the load impedance, which will minimize acoustical output while increasing your amp’s power output. However, doing that doesn’t mean you’ll get your amp’s maximum power.
Tip: It’s critical to ensure the total load impedance is at most 16 Ohms since most amps cannot handle higher loads.
How To Complete Parallel Wiring
Alternatively, you can wire two or more tweeters in parallel using several wires, which is the easiest and most preferred method of connecting speakers in domestic and commercial installs. Connecting tweeters in parallel are quick and easy, as you wire the amp’s positive terminal to each speaker’s positive terminal, then wire the negative terminal to each speaker’s negative terminal.
Like series wiring, parallel connection affects load impedance. Notably, if you have four 4 ohm speakers as in the previous case, then the total load impedance would be 4 divided by 4, or 1 ohm.
Caveat: If you connect speakers in parallel, ensure the total load impedance exceeds your amps minimum requirement.
What About Series-Parallel Wiring?
You may need to combine series and parallel wiring to get a given level of impedance in some cases. For better results, your tweeters should have the same impedance, and the number of voice coils should be even.
If you use four speakers with the same impedance in series-parallel wiring, you’ll get a total impedance equal to that of a single speaker. To connect four tweeters in series-parallel, you need to connect each pair in series then wire each group of speakers in parallel with the remaining pair.
To wire your speakers in series-parallel, proceed as follows:
- Connect the negative terminal of A to the positive of B
- Connect the positive terminal of A to the positive of C
- Connect the negative terminal of B to the negative of D
- Connect the negative terminal of C to the positive of D
The Pros and Cons of Series and Parallel Wiring
What’s the difference between series and parallel wiring, and which way is better? Here are some of the pros and cons of each way.
Series Connection Pros and Cons
Wiring your tweeters in series comes with advantages and disadvantages. Here’s a breakdown of each of these:
- Cooler amp: A series connection increases overall resistance, which enables your amp to run cool and efficiently without overheating quickly.
- Easy to set up: A series circuit is easy to make, thanks to its simple and easy-to-understand design.
- “All-or-nothing” operation: A series connection works such that if one of your tweeters fails, the entire system fails, which is due to the circuit breaking at the point of failure.
- Greater resistance: The more the tweeters in a series connection, the higher the resistance. Resistance, which refers to the forces that oppose the flow of current, can convert some of the electrical energy to heat, especially if the voltage is high, which makes wires hot and can cause a fire or explosion if there’s a flammable substance near your setup.
Tip: To prevent your wires from heating or exploding, it’s advisable to use resistors. Here are some of the best options on the market:
- REXQualis Resistor Kit: Comes with over 50 commonly used resistors rated 100, 200, 1,000, and 10,000 ohms. Highly versatile and can work on various electrical installments and appliances. It’s also easy to use, thanks to the neat labeling.
- EDGELEC ohm Resistor: Features a metal film for excellent noise suppression, resistance to extreme temperature and moisture, and increased durability and is designed for multiple applications, including electrical experiments.
- Elegoo 17 Values Resistor Kit: This assortment features resistors with unmatched temperature stability, low noise, and a color code for easy usage.
Parallel Connection Pro and Cons
Here are the pros and cons of wiring your speakers in parallel:
- Equal voltage requirement: Each unit will get the same amount of voltage.
- Continuity: The tweeters continue to function well even if one stops working.
- Flexibility: You can easily connect or disconnect tweeters, depending on your preferences and needs.
- More expensive: A parallel connection requires more wires than series wiring, increasing setup costs.
- Loading: As indicated earlier, parallel wiring comes with lower load impedance, which can hurt sound quality in some instances. For example, if you have an electric guitar with high impedance and connect it to a low impedance setup, the resulting voltage will be low, causing it to produce weak, dull, and unclear sound.
You can wire tweeter speakers using different methods, including in series. To connect your tweeters in series, ensure the negative terminal of the first one is connected to your amp’s negative, the first speaker’s positive is connected to the second one’s negative, the third tweeter’s negative to the fourth one’s positive, and so on, ensuring that the positive terminal of the last speaker is connected to the amp’s positive end.
However, it’s critical to note that the entire connection would fail if one of the tweeters gets damaged, so you might want to consider alternative methods.