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what difference do ohms make (8, 16, whatever)

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  • what difference do ohms make (8, 16, whatever)

    my amp has a toggle on the back to accept different types of speakers. 4ohm, 8oh, or 16ohm. the stock speaker is 8.

    makes me wonder what difference the ohm rating of a speaker makes? if you put in an 8 ohm or 16 ohm speaker, since I can accept either, what difference does it make?
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  • #2
    Tonewise, it doesn't make any difference. A 16-ohm speaker connected to a 16-ohm jack will sound the same as an 8-ohm speaker through an 8-ohm jack.

    But you do need to match the impedances carefully.

    If you have an 8-ohm cab, you should really only connect this to an 8-ohm output.
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    • #3
      Speaker and speaker cabinet impedance is measured in ohms. Most amps (with the exception of some older Marshalls), don't have problems with being hooked up to a speaker or speaker cabinet that has a higher impedance than the amp's output impedance (for example, the amp's [speaker] output impedance is listed as 8 ohms, and the speaker or speaker cabinet has an impedance of 16 ohms). BUT, amps do have a problem being hooked up to a speaker or cabinet that has a lower impedance than the back panel speaker jack lableing (or manual) specifies, due to the fact that your amp might electrically see this below specified impedance as a short circuit. Short circuits can blow output transformers in tube amps, and burn out final tranisistors and ICs in solid state amps.
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      • #4
        think about a water pump, pumping into a big tank. But this particular pump needs to maintain a fairly precise amount of pressure to work effectively. Say for the sake of the argument, it needs to pump through a 8" pipe to maintain just the right pressure. If you go to a smaller pipe there's too much back pressure, and the pump could burn up. If it pumps into a larger pipe, there's not enough back pressure, and it could "run away" and be destroyed. A lot of amplifier circuits need to pump their output into just the right amount of "back pressure", (ohms) to work efficiently and safely. Not a perfect analogy, but it's in the ballpark.


        • dannosuke427
          dannosuke427 commented
          Editing a comment

          Hey Mike,


          If it gets any clearer than that, I haven't seen it.  Thanks very much for the explanation!