Although I don't recommend connecting a 4 channel amp to 6 speakers, it is possible to make it work with a few tweaks. To be clear: the way to ensure the best sound quality and volume along with keeping your system safe is to always connect a 6-way amp to 6 units, or a 4-way amp to 4 units.
But if you're only working with a 4 amp and you have 6 units, this article is a good way to help you produce sound from all of your speaker units.
We'll go over two methods of how you can connect your units to your amp. We'll also touch on the advantages and disadvantages of each technique.
Now before we get into how to connect your units, let's talk about why it is not a good idea to do it.
Let's get started.
Connecting 6 units to a 4 amp can cause an increase in the ohm load of the arrangement. This increase occurs because the amp is lesser than the number of channels available to you. If you don't have a 6 on 6, or 4 on 4 system, please make sure you read to the end of this article to know what to expect when you’re connecting a mismatched amp channel and audio units system.
The increase in ohm load can cause your amp to heat up. Most amplifiers can handle the presence of more ohm speakers than the number of channels, but the way in which they’re connected come with their own share of advantages and disadvantages.
Playing your sound on a high volume for an extended period of time could cause damage to your system from the resultant heat. Your head unit can only handle a certain amount of load, especially with heavy speakers.
Types of Arrangements
The most common ways to connect ohm speakers to your amp are:
Both these arrangements have different pros and cons, such as volume level, sound quality, duration, and heat produced in the process. Some tradeoffs are to expected when you’re connecting 4 amp channels to 6 speakers.
Let's discuss each of the advantages and disadvantages of both of these methods.
Wiring a 4 Channel Amp to 6 Speakers in Parallel
This arrangement involves using two separate wires connecting each speaker back to the amp. To accommodate all 6 speaker units with the 4 channels, you will have to use channel 1 and 2 to connect two speakers each, while channels 3 and 4 will be connected to one speaker each.
Single channels per unit can operate smoothly with no issues. But the arrangement of 2 units per channel will put some stress on the amplifier.
While channels 3 and 4 will perform smoothly, channels 1 and 2 will negatively affect your head unit. There will be more ohms per channel on 1 and 2, and the difference in power will wreak havoc on your system if left on full volume for a long period of time. The parameters for these units are different on the first two channels than on channels 3 and 4.
If the best sound quality is the most important aspect of why you need to use your speakers, there are some ways in which you can play your music while also protecting your equipment.
One way to avoid damage is not to blast your speakers for too long. It will heat up and devastate the speaker and the amp. Prolonged exposure to this heat will ruin your equipment. Therefore, make sure you unplug the amp or play the system on a lower volume before the damage occurs.
Advantages and Disadvantages of Speakers in Parallel
The parallel configuration is a popular way to connect your sound units. But as mentioned above, this arrangement comes with its share of setbacks.
The most significant advantage of parallel wiring is the resultant sound quality. You can experience the full capacity of your sound system when your speakers are connected in this configuration. Plus, the audio quality will be much better compared to the series configuration, which employs a more load sharing based approach to the connection.
The power rating per channel on this system will be more, which means the parallel wiring will create more heat in the process. When the amp is performing at peak power, the two output channels will make the system hot because of the resultant load on the head unit.
In other words, by playing your audio on full blast for an extended period, you'll slowly damage your amp. This damage will likely be irreversible, which is why it is not suggested for long term audio requirements.
Here's the deal:
When it comes to the best quality for a short period of time, the parallel arrangement is the best way to go.
Wiring a 4 Channel Amp to 6 speakers in Series
You can connect your speakers to your amp by wiring in a series. Series wiring is using one wire to go from each speaker to the next. This means that the load on the head unit will not be unevenly distributed within all the 4 channels, unlike the arrangement we mentioned in the parallel wiring configuration.
Series wiring does not cause as much stress on the amp, as series wiring ensures that your system is safe by distributing the load evenly between each amp channel and audio unit.
The range, volume, and quality of the series arrangement are relatively substandard when compared to parallel wiring. However, the channel head unit will have a much better advantage when it comes to this system. Even if you have heavy speakers or range speakers, you can connect them in a series arrangement and play music for extended periods because of the even distribution of load among the channels.
Advantages and Disadvantages of Speakers in Series
The power you get by connecting your units in a series channel gives you certain advantages and disadvantages—the series arrangement prioritizes durability over quality. This means that even if you might suffer a noticeable downgrade in sound quality, your overall system will be healthier.
Wiring in series is the safest way to connect your 4 channel amp to 6 speakers.
Series wiring ensures that your system has a way to stay safe even though the number of sound units connected to it is the same. In a parallel wiring system, the load is unevenly distributed between all the 4 channels. In a series wiring system, the load is evenly distributed, resulting in no extra heat and subsequent damage to your amplifier.
However, series wiring does come with certain tradeoffs as compared to parallel wiring. Because of the linear connecting method employed in this situation, the speakers cannot be used to their full potential. This means that both the volume and the sound quality that you gain from your speakers will be nowhere as good as that you will obtain from a parallel wiring system.
Here's the deal:
Your quality will suffer. Because the wires connect in a series, the RMS per speaker will suffer, therefore, causing the quality to drop.
That is to say:
If you prefer longevity over quality, wire your speakers in series. If you want the best quality of sound and the loudest volume for a relatively shorter time, wire your speakers in parallel.
The Bottom Line
Connecting your sound units to your amp when the number of channels is less than the number of units is not always a good idea, as you will have to make some sacrifices along the way.
However, it is possible, and if you don’t have the resources for a matched amplifier channel and speaker unit number, you can do it if you keep certain things in mind.
You will have to deal with a few tradeoffs no matter which way you connect them. It's best if you go for 6 on 6 or 4 on 4 options. But if you cannot get these resources for some reason, connecting 6 on 4 is not a bad option if you’re willing to live with some tradeoffs.
In this article, we spoke about the different ways you can connect your units to your amplifier. We learned about the pros and cons of both of these methods. You can check out more about this by watching this video on connecting your amp to your units.
We learned that parallel wiring gives you an excellent sound quality but lacks durability. We also learned the series wiring option is durable but won’t give you the best sound quality.
If you enjoyed this piece and want to learn more about similar topics, please feel free to check out our other articles. We hope you have a pleasant music experience!