Speaker Impedance and Tone

Q: "Can the same model speakers of different impedance ratings sound different?"

A: While it's possible for an 8 ohm and 16 ohm speaker of the same model to have varying tone, most players probably won't be able to tell the difference. To better answer this question, we need to take a look at what contributes to the impedance of a speaker and its affect on sound. Everything else being equal, the key difference between an 8 ohm and 16 ohm speaker of the same model comes down to the voice-coil wire size as well as the number of wire turns in the magnetic gap. The type of wire used by manufacturers for their speakers will differ based on the sought after impedance. The coil and number of windings not only determines the impedance of the speaker, but also factors in the SPL level and frequency response as well.

Compared with an 8 ohm speaker of the same model, a 16 ohm speaker will require a smaller, lighter voice coil along with an increased number of wire turns. This increased number of windings in a 16 ohm speaker has the potential to slightly increase the frequency response and SPL due to higher inductance. However, the possible increase in weight of the coil – due to the increased number of windings – may offset any potential change in frequency and sensitivity. So while it’s possible for two of the same model speakers to have a different response and sound, it will usually be negligible at best. If there is a difference, 16 ohm speakers are generally thought of as sounding slightly brighter.


Your Turn to Sound Off!

Have you ever noticed any tonal difference between 8 ohm and 16 ohm speakers of the same model?

Sound off in the comment section below!


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