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2 Ohm vs. 4 Ohm Subwoofers: Which Is the Better Choice for You?

2 Ohm vs 4 Ohm Subwoofers: Which Is the Better Choice for You? infographic

2 Ohm vs. 4 Ohm Subwoofers: Which Is the Better Choice for You?

2 Ohm vs. 4 Ohm subwoofers: which should you choose? The world of audio speakers is filled with nomenclature and specifications that don’t make much sense at first glance. When you’re reaching beyond just a simple soundbar or headphones, then your options grow exponentially. The humble subwoofer is an integral part of any surround sound or stereo setup.

You’ll have to choose between impedances for your subwoofer of choice. This directly impacts components like your amplifier and receiver when constructing a surround sound system or setting up your car audio system. Today’s guide is a deeper dive into these crucial audio components, as informed by a pro audio expert.

2 Ohm vs. 4 Ohm Subwoofers: Side-by-Side Comparison

2 Ohm Subwoofer4 Ohm Subwoofer
Impedance2 Ohms4 Ohms
SpecialtyLower resistance and impedance results in higher overall volumeHigher resistance and cleaner sound as a whole
Bass QualityLooser and louder, but more prone to total harmonic distortion when pushedCompact and tight, they don’t get nearly as loud with the same amplifier
Overall LongevityShorter lifespans, as lower resistance receives more current directly to the voice coils, resulting in more wear and tearVoice coils receive less overall power, so they can have a much longer lifespan
Power RequirementsNot necessarily increased, but uses less power for an increase in overall volumeUses more power as a whole to increase the volume across the board
Sound QualitySounds less compact and boxy, and can have a looser and more open quality to the sound.Clean and compact, sound can be a bit boxier and muffled without proper EQ settings on the receiver or playback device
Distortion-Free Bass
KICKER CompR 8-Inch Subwoofer
$74.96
  • 2-ohm impedance
  • 300 RMS power handling
  • Features two sets of brass voice-coil terminals, spring-loaded, with a satin nickel finish
  • Double-stacked magnet and a polypropylene woofer cone
  • Forced-air cooling
We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.
03/11/2024 06:32 am GMT

2 Ohm vs. 4 Ohm Subwoofers: What’s the Difference?

2 ohm vs. 4 ohm subwoofers
Subwoofers can make or break a sound system, so make sure you choose one that fits your space.

To take a closer look at these subwoofers, it does help to have a fundamental understanding of basic electric principles. High resistance doesn’t necessarily equate to higher quality, just like lower resistance isn’t going to be a catch-all for getting optimal volume levels.

There are going to be some massive differences across the board between how these subwoofers work. However, it is important to keep in mind that there are subwoofers that are capable of being used with both impedance levels, depending on the wiring of the voice coils. These can serve a more versatile purpose in a sound system.

That said, you should be fine with the same amplifier, provided you respect the power rating on the RMS levels provided by the manufacturer of both components. If this is new information, don’t worry, we’ll cover this more in-depth throughout this deep dive.

Volume

Overall volume is going to be higher with a lower impedance subwoofer, like a 2 Ohm one. You’ve got less voltage needed to reach the voice coils to raise the volume, which leads to the subwoofer getting louder. This does have some negative drawbacks, as each speaker has a sweet spot. Once you’ve breached this sweet spot, you’re going to get an increase in compression and distortion.

Higher impedance subwoofers generally are going to be quieter. It takes more power to get the speakers to a comparable volume. You’ll see this often with a 4 Ohm subwoofer. Now, on paper, this might seem like a massive dealbreaker. However, a higher-impedance subwoofer is perfectly usable.

The simple notion to keep in mind is that the lower the impedance, the higher the volume can reach. You’re going to need more dedicated power going directly to a higher impedance subwoofer, just to reach the same level of gain put out by its lower impedance counterpart.

Sound Quality

2 ohm vs. 4 ohm subwoofers
A subwoofer makes a massive difference in how you perceive and feel the bass in any audio mix.

One of the big areas where you’ll see a notable difference between these two subwoofers is going to be in the overall sound quality. Now, subwoofers aren’t particularly renowned for their frequency response. You’re looking at an overall frequency response starting somewhere around 25Hz to 40Hz and reaching up to around 120Hz to 200Hz.

Now, with a lower impedance subwoofer, the sound is going to be looser as a whole. You’re not getting a tight and accurate bass response, especially at higher volumes. This is also going to be highly dependent on factors like the speaker enclosure, the shape of the subwoofer’s speaker cone, and the voice coils inside of the device.

Higher impedance sees more control being exerted over the sound, with tighter and more compact bass response. This might not be a desirable attribute, especially if you prefer your volume to rattle the windows and rumble deep in your bones. You still have access to the same frequency response, and it is still dependent on the same factors.

That said, a higher impedance subwoofer is going to be easier to tame, especially if you’re looking to acoustically treat the room.

Power Requirements

A lower-impedance subwoofer is going to make it easier to draw the correct amount of power. The lower resistance in contrast with the nominal output rating of your amplifier is going to mate quite well. Ideally, you shouldn’t require any sort of additional components when looking at a setup using a 2 Ohm subwoofer.

Now, this gets further complicated when looking at a higher-impedance subwoofer. A 4 Ohm subwoofer might have the same requirements for power, but the way it obtains that power is going to be a different matter entirely. Power ratings for amplifiers operate off of root mean square, or the RMS. This is an average power rating taken in roughly 3-second windows.

You might have to reach for additional components or an amplifier with a higher power rating. Monoblocks or dedicated power sources are common components to pair alongside a higher-impedance subwoofer. This might not be desirable, especially if you have limited outlets in your viewing area.

Longevity

The overall longevity of your subwoofer is going to also depend on the impedance of the unit. A low-impedance subwoofer, like a 2 Ohm one, will have more wear and tear as a whole throughout its lifespan. Now, this isn’t necessarily a detriment. If you’re looking for a speaker that gets loud with minimal effort, then the lower-impedance one is going to be a fine choice.

Longevity is the name of the game when it comes to high-impedance subwoofers. You’re going to have a significantly increased lifespan when using one. As previously discussed, it takes more power to even get the speaker to the same relative volume.

If you’re more conservative with your listening habits, then you could get far more time out of your subwoofer.

Popular Car Subwoofer
Skar Audio D4 10" 1500 Watt Car Subwoofer
  • Dual 4 Ohm 10-inch competition grade car subwoofer
  • Peak power of 1500 Watts
  • Features a massive double stack magnet
  • Competition-grade paper cone stitched to high-roll foam surround
  • Advanced airflow cooling design
We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.

2 Ohm vs. 4 Ohm Subwoofers: 5 Must-Know Facts

  • Lower-impedance subwoofers can get louder as a whole.
  • 2 Ohm subwoofers have issues with distortion at higher volume settings.
  • 2 Ohm subwoofers can have more openness to the sound.
  • 4 Ohm subwoofers use less power and might require a dedicated power source to get enough current to the voice coils.
  • 4 Ohm subwoofers have an overall tighter bass response and are less prone to distortion.

2 Ohm vs. 4 Ohm Subwoofers: Which One is Better? Which One Should You Choose?

So, which of these subwoofers is going to be the better fit for your needs? In all honesty, this is going to come down entirely to preference. Personally speaking, I generally aim for higher-impedance speakers, especially when running audio monitoring for any sort of work. I run a 4 Ohm subwoofer alongside a set of studio-grade stereo speakers for my music listening.

You might prefer the ability to drive the speakers harder with less power. Make sure you learn the capabilities of your components before actually deciding on purchases. This should help curtail any additional component needs and get you the sound you want.

  1. KICKER CompR 8-Inch Subwoofer
    $74.96
    • 2-ohm impedance
    • 300 RMS power handling
    • Features two sets of brass voice-coil terminals, spring-loaded, with a satin nickel finish
    • Double-stacked magnet and a polypropylene woofer cone
    • Forced-air cooling
    Buy Now

    We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.

    03/11/2024 06:32 am GMT
  2. Skar Audio D4 10" 1500 Watt Car Subwoofer
    • Dual 4 Ohm 10-inch competition grade car subwoofer
    • Peak power of 1500 Watts
    • Features a massive double stack magnet
    • Competition-grade paper cone stitched to high-roll foam surround
    • Advanced airflow cooling design
    Buy Now on Amazon

    We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.

Frequently Asked Questions

Are all audio components measuring power with RMS?

Typically, yes, you’re looking for a nominal average power rating. You’ll see this with power supply units on computers as well. Electricity functions as a waveform, and you want to have ideal average levels for your components.

Is a subwoofer integral to a sound system?

That is going to depend on the frequency response and voicing of your speakers. Most surround sound speakers aren’t going to have support for lower sub frequencies, so a subwoofer on the LFE channel is going to be a huge help. If you’re running larger stereo speakers, you might not need a subwoofer depending on their ratings.

Will EQing a playback device benefit speakers?

Yes, is the short and simple answer. Speakers are all built differently, and they have unique characteristics depending on the enclosure and shape of the speaker cone. As such, equalizing the playback source can aid with shaping the sound and eliminating nastier resonance build-up.

Is low or high impedance better for speakers?

That honestly is going to come down to preference. I have a higher-impedance subwoofer because I got a decent deal on it. Just make sure you pick something that fits your needs and budget before worrying in-depth about what you’re missing out on.

Do I need an amplifier for a subwoofer?

It depends on your sound system. Some subwoofers come with power supplies.

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