Can You Use 8 Ohm Speakers With a Car Stereo?

Written by laura dos santos
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Can You Use 8 Ohm Speakers With a Car Stereo?
(Image by Flickr.com, courtesy of Andrew Magill)

There are a few factors that determine if you can use 8 ohm speakers in a car stereo. Ohms measure electrical resistance (or impedance in the case of a speaker). It's important to provide enough resistance in order to not overwork the amplifier (in some cases the amplifier is built into the stereo itself). Pushing an amplifier too hard can cause decreased audio quality or even damage to the amp and the car.

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Types

If the car currently uses 8 ohm speakers, there will be no problem installing new 8 ohm speakers. If the current speakers are 4 ohms, the standard, it's not likely you will cause damage to the amplifier. However, you will double the resistance you will need to turn the volume up higher for it to sound the same. If the speakers are anything higher than 8 ohms you must consult the technical specifications for the amplifier or radio to determine if it is "stable" with your configuration.

Considerations

Many factory audio systems include amplifiers external to the radio itself. These systems can be more complex. Some have just one amp to power the standard 4 speakers, while others have a separate amp for each speaker. In many cases, factory setups that employ external amplifiers also employ other proprietary equipment that may prevent the owner from installing speakers that don't also come from the factory.

Considerations

Aftermarket radios and amps always include technical specifications that reveal whether or not they are stable with various speaker configurations. You should always consult the technical specification for the current system when making any changes to a system's configuration.

Expert Insight

In order to get the most out of your audio system, always make sure you are impedance matching. This involves making sure you are using speakers that are adequate for the set-up. For example, some 4-channel amplifiers are designed to operate with 2 ohms per channel, while some mono amplifiers can handle as little as 1 ohm with its single channel.

Warning

If you are unsure, consult a professional. Installing incorrect speakers or installing speakers incorrectly can result in permanent damage to the car's electrical system. Many urban and suburban areas have major retailers nearby with their own car audio departments who will usually inspect your vehicle for no charge. Most mechanics who work on electrical systems are also likely to do the same.

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