• Are your speaker wire rated for outdoors?
    At the moment, all of our speaker wire is currently rated for indoor use only. Use of our speaker wire cable outdoors is not recommended and will void your Monoprice lifetime warranty.

  • Can 4 conductor speaker wire be used to connect a pair of speakers?
    Yes, you can use 4 conductor speaker wire to connect a pair of speakers that each only have 1 pair of connections. The problem with that is unless the two speakers are right next to each other (thus collapsing any hope of achieving stereo sound separation), you're going to need to cut away the outer jacket for the distance between the two speakers, which will make the setup process very inconvenient.

  • Can I use a Mono cable with a stereo coupler to go from TS to TRS?
    Unfortunately that is something you cannot do. TS will support mono, unbalanced signals. While TRS can support mono as well, they also support stereo and balanced signals. As a result the signal would ground and cause distortion. Similar to plugging a TS cable into a TRS port.

  • How to configure the jumper settings on the Speaker Volume Controllers?
    When setting up the speaker volume controls, it is important to match the impedance of your speaker system with the load rating of your amplifier. This is done by setting the jumpers on the volume control
    to compensate for the number of speakers you have in a parallel configuration and the impedance level of the speakers. If using a single pair of speakers rated at the same load level as your amplifier, you don't need to make any changes just leave the jumper in the default x1 position. However, if your speakers are of a
    different impedance level and/or you have more than one set of speakers in parallel, please refer to the following chart as a guide for setting the jumpers on the speaker volume control.

    Note that for any speakers wired in series, the overall impedance level is the sum of each speaker. So two 4 ohm speakers wired in series is the same impedance as a single 8 ohm speaker.



    System Impedance as affected by different speaker configurations:
    Here is an excerpt from an article, which does an excellent job of explaining how overall system impedance is affected by different speaker configurations, and how this affects both the power output of the amplifier and the power level applied to each speaker. It uses minimal math and simple examples to explain how to figure this all out. This can be useful when helping customers deal with the speaker selector switches and with our volume controls with impedance matching circuitry. “Speakers are not meant to be wired together in a haphazard manner. In fact, whenever you plan to connect more than two speakers to a twochannel
    amplifier – or more than four speakers to a fourchannel amp – there are a few things to consider, not the least of which is the amps ability to handle lowimpedance loads. Ignoring the basics is like playing Russian roulette with your amplifier: If youre lucky, itll drive the speakers without incident; if youre not, the amp will fry. The great thing about a multiplespeaker hookup is that once you master only two basic wiring procedures – "series" and "parallel" – the world is yours to conquer. When you know how many speakers
    youre going to use and the impedance driving capability of your amplifier, youll be able to select a wiring scheme that will deliver the best sonic and electrical results. In some cases, it may not be one procedure or the other but a combination of the two that works best.

    Speakers in Series
    The essence of series wiring is really quite simple: When speakers are connected in this fashion, load impedance increases – the more speakers, the higher the impedance. The most common reason for wanting to raise impedance is to lower acoustical output, as in the case of rearfill or centerchannel speakers. Speaker output declines because the amplifiers power output decreases as the load impedance increases. While you can connect any number of speakers in series, try to keep the total equivalentload impedance for each channel below 16 ohms, since most amps are not designed to handle higher loads. Figure 1A demonstrates how to wire a pair of speakers in series. The positive output terminal from one channel of the amplifier is wired to the positive terminal of Speaker A, and the negative terminal of Speaker A is connected to the positive terminal of Speaker B. Finally, a loop is created by wiring the negative terminal of Speaker B to the negativeoutput terminal of the same amplifier channel. The second channel is wired the same way.



    If youre wiring more than two speakers in series, you simply continue alternating the negative and positive wires between speakers. To wire four speakers in series, for example, you connect the negative terminal of Speaker B to the positive terminal of Speaker C (instead of back to the amp); the negative terminal of that speaker is then wired to the positive terminal of Speaker D, and the loop is completed by connecting the negative terminal of Speaker D to the amps negativeoutput terminal. To calculate the load impedance for the serieswired channel in Figure 1A, add up the impedances of each speaker in the chain. You can visualize the result as a single imaginary speaker (Figure 1B), whose impedance is represented by Zt. The math involves a simple equation in which Zt stands for the equivalentload impedance and Za and Zb represent the impedances of Speakers A and B, respectively:
    Equation 1: Speakers in Series
    Zt = Za + Zb
    Consider this realworld example of series wiring. Say you have a yearning for ultralow bass – the kind that loosens the weather stripping around your windows – and youre determined to install four 15inch subwoofers in your car. The amplifier youve reserved for this task delivers 100 watts x 2 into 4 ohms and is capable of driving a minimum load impedance of 4 ohms; the subs are rated at 4 ohms apiece. Assuming theres enough room in your car for these monsters, the only viable option – given the above scenario – is to wire two subs in series to each amplifier channel. Doing so raises the net, or equivalentload, impedance of each channel to 8 ohms – well within our standard 16ohm ceiling. Mathematically, you substitute 4 ohms (the impedance rating of each sub) for Za and Zb in Equation 1 and work it through as follows:
    Zt = Za + Zb
    Zt = 4 + 4
    Zt = 8 ohms
    Parallel wiring, which well discuss later, isnt advisable here because the net impedance for each channel drops below the minimumload rating of the amplifier.

    Power Calculations
    Whenever you connect more than one speaker to an amp channel, its important to gauge what effect the speakers will have on the amp and each driver in the chain. In other words, how much power will the amp deliver into each channel given the equivalentload impedance youve created? And how much power will each speaker in the chain receive? Answering these questions will help you to avoid costly damage to your amp and speakers. Referring back to the hypothetical subwoofer installation outlined above, we know that the amplifier in question is rated to deliver 100 watts x 2 into 4 ohms. To find out how much power each channel of this amplifier will deliver into the resulting 8ohm load, we must solve Equation 2, in which Po is power output, Pr is the amps rated power, Zr is the impedance the amps output power is rated at, and Zt is the equivalentload impedance for each channel:
    Equation 2: Calculating Output Power
    Po = Pr x (Zr / Zt)
    Plugging in the appropriate numbers, the calculation is worked through as follows:
    Po = 100 x (4 / 8)
    Po = 100 x 0.5
    Po = 50 watts
    Now that we know each amplifier channel will deliver 50 watts into an 8ohm load, we can figure out how much power will be applied to one of the subwoofers – Pa – by solving Equation 3, in which Zn stands for the rated impedance of the speaker:
    Equation 3: Power Applied to Each Driver
    Pa = Po x (Zn / Zt)
    Substituting 50 for Po, 4 for Zn, and 8 for Zt, the equation works through as follows:
    Pa = 50 x (4 / 8)
    Pa = 50 x 0.5
    Pa = 25 watts
    Since both subwoofers are rated at 4 ohms, we know that the second subwoofer (Pb) would also receive 25 watts.

    Speakers in Parallel
    Parallel wiring has the opposite effect of series wiring – load impedance drops when speakers are wired in this fashion. And the more speakers you wire in, the lower the impedance. The most common reason for wanting to lower impedance is to raise acoustical output. Speaker output increases because the amplifiers power output rises as the load impedance decreases. The number of speakers that can be connected in parallel is limited by the minimum load impedance that the amplifier is capable of driving and the powerhandling capacity of the speakers. In most cases, load impedance should be held to a minimum of 2 ohms – provided the amplifier can handle impedances that low. Figure 2A shows how to wire a pair of speakers in parallel. A wire from the positive terminal of one channel of the amp is wired to the positive terminals on speakers A and B. (The simplest way to do this is to run a wire from the amp terminal to Speaker A and then run a second wire from that terminal to Speaker B.) Then the negative terminal of the same amp channel is wired in like fashion to the negative terminals on both speakers. The second channel is wired the same way.



    If youre wiring more than two speakers in series, you simply continue alternating the negative and positive wires between speakers. To wire four speakers in series, for example, you connect the negative terminal of Speaker B to the positive terminal of Speaker C (instead of back to the amp); the negative terminal of that speaker is then wired to the positive terminal of Speaker D, and the loop is completed by connecting the negative terminal of Speaker D to the amps negativeoutput terminal. To calculate the load impedance for the serieswired channel in Figure 1A, add up the impedances of each speaker in the chain. You can visualize the result as a single imaginary speaker (Figure 1B), whose impedance is represented by Zt. The math involves a simple equation in which Zt stands for the equivalentload impedance and Za and Zb represent the impedances of Speakers A and B, respectively:
    Equation 1: Speakers in Series
    Zt = Za + Zb
    Consider this realworld example of series wiring. Say you have a yearning for ultralow bass – the kind that loosens the weather stripping around your windows – and youre determined to install four 15inch subwoofers in your car. The amplifier youve reserved for this task delivers 100 watts x 2 into 4 ohms and is capable of driving a minimum load impedance of 4 ohms; the subs are rated at 4 ohms apiece. Assuming theres enough room in your car for these monsters, the only viable option – given the above scenario – is to wire two subs in series to each amplifier channel. Doing so raises the net, or equivalentload, impedance of each channel to 8 ohms – well within our standard 16ohm ceiling. Mathematically, you substitute 4 ohms (the impedance rating of each sub) for Za and Zb in Equation 1 and work it through as follows:
    Zt = Za + Zb
    Zt = 4 + 4
    Zt = 8 ohms
    Parallel wiring, which well discuss later, isnt advisable here because the net impedance for each channel drops below the minimumload rating of the amplifier. Power Calculations Whenever you connect more than one speaker to an amp channel, its important to gauge what effect the speakers will have on the amp and each driver in the chain. In other words, how much power will the amp deliver into each channel given the equivalentload impedance youve created? And how much power will each speaker in the chain receive? Answering these questions will help you to avoid costly damage to your amp and speakers. Referring back to the hypothetical subwoofer installation outlined above, we know that the amplifier in question is rated to deliver 100 watts x 2 into 4 ohms. To find out how much power each channel of this amplifier will deliver into the resulting 8ohm load, we must solve Equation 2, in which Po is power output, Pr is the amps rated power, Zr is the impedance the amps output power is rated at, and Zt is the equivalentload impedance for each channel:
    Equation 2: Calculating Output Power
    Po = Pr x (Zr / Zt)
    Plugging in the appropriate numbers, the calculation is worked through as follows:
    Po = 100 x (4 / 8)
    Po = 100 x 0.5
    Po = 50 watts
    Now that we know each amplifier channel will deliver 50 watts into an 8ohm load, we can figure out how much power will be applied to one of the subwoofers – Pa – by solving Equation 3, in which Zn stands for the rated impedance of the speaker: Equation 3: Power Applied to Each Driver
    Pa = Po x (Zn / Zt)
    Substituting 50 for Po, 4 for Zn, and 8 for Zt, the equation works through as follows:
    Pa = 50 x (4 / 8)
    Pa = 50 x 0.5
    Pa = 25 watts
    Since both subwoofers are rated at 4 ohms, we know that the second subwoofer (Pb) would also receive 25 watts.

    Speakers in Parallel
    Parallel wiring has the opposite effect of series wiring – load impedance drops when speakers are wired in this fashion. And the more speakers you wire in, the lower the impedance. The most common reason for wanting to lower impedance is to raise acoustical output. Speaker output increases because the amplifiers power output rises as the load impedance decreases. The number of speakers that can be connected in parallel is limited by the minimum load impedance that the amplifier is capable of driving and the powerhandling capacity of the speakers. In most cases, load impedance should be held to a minimum of 2 ohms – provided the amplifier can handle impedances that low. Figure 2A shows how to wire a pair of speakers in parallel. A wire from the positive terminal of one channel of the amp is wired to the positive terminals on speakers A and B. (The simplest way to do this is to run a wire from the amp terminal to Speaker A and then run a second wire from that terminal to Speaker B.) Then the negative terminal of the same amp channel is wired in like fashion to the negative terminals on both speakers. The second channel is wired the same way.



    Calculating the load impedance for the parallelwired channel in Figure 2A is a bit more complicated than doing so for speakers wired in series. Using Equation 4, multiply the impedances of each speaker and then divide the result by the sum of the speakers impedances. You can visualize the result as a single imaginary speaker (Figure 2B), whose impedance is represented by Zt. Zt stands for the equivalentload impedance, while Za and Zb represent the impedances of speakers A and B, respectively. Equation 4: Speakers in Parallel
    Zt = (Za x Zb) / (Za + Zb)
    Turning again to our subwoofer install, say you want even more oomph from your system. So you trade in the original amp for one that has the same 4ohm power rating (100 watts x 2) but is also 2ohm stable. Since the power output of most amps increases as impedance decreases, you could boost the amps power output and the systems bass response simply by switching to a parallel wiring scheme. Doing so would drop the net, or equivalentload, impedance for each channel to 2 ohms. Mathematically, you substitute 4 for Za and Zb in Equation 4 and work it through:
    Zt = (Za x Zb) / (Za + Zb)
    Zt = (4 x 4) / (4 + 4)
    Zt = 16 / 8
    Zt = 2 ohms
    To calculate the new amplifiers power output into 2 ohms, refer to Equation 2. Plugging in the appropriate numbers, the calculation goes as follows:
    Po = 100 x (4 / 2)
    Po = 100 x 2
    Po = 200 watts
    As you can see, by upgrading to a 2ohmstable amplifier and wiring the same four 15inch woofers in parallel – two per channel – power output jumps fourfold – from 50 watts x 2 to 200 watts x 2. Now, to find out how much power each subwoofer will receive when wired in parallel, we must use Equation 5, which is actually a scrambled version of Equation 3 (remember, well be working the equation for just one speaker (Pa)):
    Equation 5: Power Applied to Each Speaker
    Pa = Po x (Zt / Zn)
    Substituting 200 for Po, 2 for Zt, and 4 for Zn, the equation works through as follows:
    Pa = 200 x (2 / 4)
    Pa = 200 x 0.5
    Pa = 100 watts
    Since both subwoofers are rated at 4 ohms, the second one (Pb) would also receive 100 watts.

    Series/Parallel Wiring
    Now its time to combine the two wiring methods. The most common reason for wanting to do this is to increase the number of speakers you can use in your system – perhaps to achieve greater volume and/or visual effect – and still maintain an impedance load thats compatible with the systems amplifier. Any number of speakers can be linked using a series/ parallel wiring scheme, as long as you keep the total equivalentload impedance between 2 and 16 ohms. Figure 3A shows how to wire four speakers to a single channel using a typical series/parallel combination. A single wire running from the amps positive terminal runs to the positive terminals of speakers A and C. Next, the negative terminals of Speakers A and C are wired to the positive terminals of Speakers B and D, respectively. Finally, a loop is created by running a single wire from the negative terminal of the amp channel and splitting it between the negative terminals of Speakers B and D.



    The best way to understand the electrical implications of this wiring scheme is to conceptualize it in three stages, as represented by Figures 3A, 3B, and 3C. First, draw the entire wiring scheme for one channel on paper, following Figure 3A. Next, simplify the diagram by replacing each pair of serieswired speakers – A/B and C/D – with an imaginary equivalent speaker, as shown in Figure 3B. Well call these "combined" drivers Zab and Zcd. Now, reduce these speakers to a single, equivalent driver and call it Zt (Figure 3C). In a nutshell, we have reduced a relatively complex fourspeaker system down to one imaginary driver, which represents the total load impedance created by wiring four speakers in a series/parallel combination.
    Calculating the load impedance of the series/parallelwired channel in Figure 3A is a threestep process. First use Equation 1 (Zt = Za + Zb) to find the equivalentload impedance of Speakers A and B, which are wired in series. Then repeat the process for speakers C and D, changing the variables in Equation 1 (Zt = Zc + Zd). Finally, to find a single, total equivalentload impedance for the "combined" speakers Zab and Zcd, substitute new variables into Equation 4 [Zt = (Za x Zb) / (Za + Zb) becomes Zt = (Zab x Zcd) / (Zab + Zcd)]. To work through this series of equations, well take our hypothetical subwoofer installation yet another step further. Say the four subwoofers wired in parallel to your new 2ohm amplifier are no longer good enough. So you buy four more subs – thats a total of eight. Just to show that it can be done, you decide to stick with the same 2ohmstable amplifier, which is rated at 100 watts x 2 into 4 ohms; the new subs are also rated at 4 ohms apiece. Now what? You could wire four speakers in series to each channel, but this would yield a 16ohm
    load. Another option is to wire four speakers in parallel to each channel, but this would yield a dangerously low 1ohm load. The only practical option, therefore, is to combine the two wiring methods in accordance with Figure 3A. First, you connect two subwoofers in series and then wire that pair in parallel to a second pair, which is also connected in series. Follow the same procedure for the other channel. The first step in determining the total equivalentload impedance for each channel is to plug the appropriate impedance values into Equation 1 and work it through for each serieswired speaker pair, A/B and C/D. Plug in the values for speakers A and B and solve Equation 1 as follows:
    Zt = Za + Zb
    Zt = 4 + 4
    Zt = 8ohms
    Then repeat the calculation using speakers C and D. Since each of the speakers is rated at 4 ohms, the equivalentload impedance for each serieswired speaker pair is 8 ohms. Redraw the circuit diagram and replace speakers A and B with Zab to represent the new equivalentload impedance. Do the same for speakers C and D to create Zcd. The result should be a onechannel diagram that resembles Figure 3B, with the label "8 ohms" in place of Zab and Zcd. The next step is to find the total equivalentload
    impedance of the channel by plugging the new 8ohm values for Zab and Zcd into Equation 4, as follows:
    Zt = (Zab x Zcd) / (Zab + Zcd)
    Zt = (8 x 8) / (8 + 8)
    Zt = 64 / 16
    Zt = 4 ohms
    Sketch a new onechannel diagram showing the total equivalentload impedance. The drawing should look likeFigure3C, with the label "4 ohms" in place of Zt. Now we know that four speakers connected to one amplifier channel with series/parallel wiring creates a 4ohm load. Since the amplifier is rated to deliver 100 watts x 2 into a 4ohm load, we know that each channel will receive 100 watts. To verify this, we can plug the appropriate numbers into Equation 2 and work it through as follows:
    Po = Pr x (Zr / Zt)
    Po = 100 x (4 / 4)
    Po = 100 x 1
    Po = 100 watts
    As anticipated, each amplifier channel will pump out 100 watts. To find out how much power each serieswired speaker pair (equivalentload speakers Zab and Zcd) will receive, plug in the appropriate numbers and solve Equation 5. We use this equation because Zab and Zcd are parallelwired to one another. Working with Zab, substitute 100 for Po, 4 for Zt, and 8 for Zab. The calculation goes as follows:
    Pab = Po x (Zt / Zab)
    Pab = 100 x (4 / 8)
    Pab = 100 x 0.5
    Pab = 50 watts
    The math for Zcd is identical, since both speakers are rated at 4 ohms, so Zab and Zcd each receive 50 watts of power.But Zab and Zcd are imaginary drivers, each of which represents a serieswired
    speaker pair. To figure out how much power each real speaker will receive, work through Equation 3, substituting 50 for Po (the amplifiers output power into Zab and Zcd), 4 for Zn (the speakers rated
    impedance), and 8 for Zt (the equivalent impedance of Zab and Zcd). The calculation goes as follows:
    Pn = Po x (Zn / Zt)
    Pn = 50 x (4 / 8)
    Pa = 50 x 0.5
    Pa = 25 watts
    Technically, you need to repeat this process for each driver – B, C, and D – but since each driver in our example is rated at 4 ohms, youll get the same results. 

    Crossovers
    Virtually all multispeaker installations use at least one passive crossover. Weve ignored crossovers up to this point because they have a nasty habit of confounding things. There are two key points to remember when passive crossovers are introduced into the picture: First, the crossover must be matched  impedancewise and, when a custom network is involved, in the values of its capacitors and inductors – to the equivalentload impedance of the drivers. Secondly, the impedance of an amplifier channel that employs passive crossovers can be calculated only for a specific frequency that falls within the crossovers passband. Passive crossovers affect the load impedance "seen" by the amplifier, but the effect varies from frequency to frequency. For frequencies that fall within the crossovers passband, the crossovers impedance
    is very low – for practical purposes, zero. This means that you can forget about the crossover when dealing with frequencies within its passband. For all other frequencies, the crossovers impedance rises, and the farther the frequency falls outside of the passband, the higher the crossovers impedance. Returning once again to our subwoofer saga, say youve grown tired of your eight subs and now want to design a system that focuses on sound quality – not quantity. So you design a speaker system modeled on the one laid out in Figure 4 (one channel shown). The system comprises two 10inch woofers, pairs of front and rear 5inch
    midranges, and pairs of front and rear softdome tweeters. All of the speakers are rated at 8 ohms and are wired in parallel – except the subs, which are wired in parallel but have a 4ohm rating. A lowpass
    crossover sends signals below 100 Hz to the woofers, a bandpass crossover allows the midranges to play between 100 and 6,000 Hz, and the highpass crossover sends signals above 6,000 Hz to the tweeters.


    Since its impossible to come up with a single loadimpedance (Zt) figure for the above channel configuration (since impedance varies with frequency), well examine what happens to the load at three different frequencies – 50, 500, and 10,000 Hz. The first step in answering this question is to simplify the circuit layout by replacing the two parallelwired midranges in each channel with a single imaginary speaker that has an equivalent impedance of 4 ohms. (4 ohms is established by plugging the 8ohm rating of each speaker into Equation 4)
    Zt = (8 x 8) / (4 + 4)
    Zt = 64 / 8
    Zt = 4
    Do the same for the tweeters. Next, sketch a circuit for each of the three frequencies in question. To determine the equivalentload impedance at 50 Hz, delete the lowpass crossover from the original drawing, since 50 Hz is within the passband of that device. 50 Hz falls outside of the passband for the bandpass
    and highpass crossovers, however, so eliminate the midranges and tweeters from the diagram. What you wind up with is a single 4ohm woofer with a positive and negative lead running to it. It follows, then, that the amplifier will see an equivalentload impedance (Zt) of 4 ohms at 50 Hz. Since 500 Hz is within the passband of the midrange crossover, begin the 500Hz sketch by excluding the crossover. This isnt the case for the lowand highpass crossovers, however, so eliminate the woofer and tweeters from the original circuit diagram and redraw the circuit as a single imaginary midrange speaker with an equivalentload impedance of 4 ohms. All of this boils down to the fact that the power amplifier will see a total equivalentload impedance (Zt) of 4 ohms at 500 Hz. Begin the 10,000Hz drawing by eliminating the woofer and midranges, since this frequency falls outside of the passband for the lowand bandpass crossovers. Next, redraw the circuit as a single
    imaginary tweeter with an equivalentload impedance of 4 ohms. The bottom line: The amplifier will see a total equivalentload impedance (Zt) of 4 ohms at 10,000 Hz. The consistent 4ohm findings in these exercises indicate that impedance will remain fairly constant – at about 4 ohms – throughout the musical spectrum. 

    Pulling It All Together
    By now, you should have a pretty good feel for the fundamentals of multispeaker wiring (or a bad headache).
    When designing a system on your own, dont forget the minimumload impedance rating of the amp you plan to use. If the manufacturer rates it at 2 ohms, leave it at that – dont bother creating a 1ohm load unless youre fascinated by pyrotechnics. And note that the amp in systems incorporating lowimpedance loads tends to lose its ability to control or "dampen" unwanted speakercone movement. The result is bass thats "muddy" or distorted. Reliability also is a concern. Car amplifiers tend to be only about 50percent efficient, which means that half of all the power they use is converted into heat. In other words, as power output increases, so does the amplifiers operating temperature; if the amp gets too hot, it may shut down. And when it comes to claims of lowimpedance stability, keep in mind that how long the amplifier can sustain output into a lowimpedance load is very important. If an amp is rated to deliver 150 watts x 2 into 2 ohms but does so for only 5 minutes before its thermalprotection circuit kicks in, it wont be of much use. A concern regarding speaker impedance involves mixing speakers with different impedance ratings. Avoid doing this, because drivers with different impedances will "see" different amounts of power. And last but not least, pay attention to polarity while youre wiring up your masterpiece. Make sure each driver is correctly wired – positive amp terminal to positive speaker terminal, and so on – or cancellation problems will conspire to drive you nuts. All of this may sound like an awful lot of trouble to go through just to wire a few speakers to your amplifier. And having just digested such a large chunk of information, its natural that you would feel that
    way. But once you hit that garage and begin tinkering into the latenight hours, youll find solace in knowing that even the most complex wiring schemes can be reduced to a simple sketch. Who knows, if you work extra hard at it you may just break my record for connecting the most drivers – thirtytwo – to a single amplifier.”

    RMS vs Maximum Power:
    Sometimes customers want to know the RMS wattage ratings for speakers or amplifiers when we only have the maximum rating, or vice versa. This is easy to calculate as long as we know one or the other.
    RMS = Maximum * .707
    Maximum = RMS / .707
    For example, speakers with 80 watts/channel maximum will have an RMS watts/channel of 56.56, which is rounded to 57.

  • In­-Wall/In­-Ceiling Speaker Buyers Guide

    There are many reasons why you may choose to go with in-wall or in-ceiling speakers. The first and most obvious reason would be that they have a zero footprint on living space and can easily blend into any home decor. That, in and of itself, is typically reason enough for most looking for a new system. While there are those who claim, as true audiophiles, that in-wall/ceiling speakers are inferior when compared to a traditional large box speaker. Those who care about the appearance of their home and don't necessarily have a large spare room to use as a dedicated home theater will easily be able to appreciate the fact that in-wall/ceiling speakers can turn any room into a home theater without taking up living space during those times when your living/family room need to serve other functions. 
    Also, you will gain no less enjoyment from a well laid out home theater using good quality in-wall speakers like the ones you will find at Monoprice. For pure listening enjoyment of movie sound tracks in a home theater or ambient music in a whole house sound systems, in-wall and in-ceiling speakers will fit your needs perfectly.

    The hardest part, though, will be deciding what will fit your needs best. 


    Size:
    As it is for any speaker, the bigger the room, the bigger the speakers you should get. There is no set rule for what size you need for a given amount of space. Basically, speakers work by moving air. The larger the room, the more volume of air that needs to be moved to achieve a certain audio volume. Using bigger speakers will provide a fuller sound and give better extension on the low end. While it would not hurt to have speakers that are too large for a given room, having ones that are too small will mean the speakers will struggle more at higher volumes, making the audio sound thin. 

    Monoprice sells a variety of sized in-wall and in-ceiling speakers ranging from 5.25" to 8 inches. The size generally denotes the diameter of the largest cone on the speaker (the woofer) and not the overall diameter of the speaker itself. The actual overall speaker size is generally much larger. Beyond the woofers diameter is the surrounds, the frame and the bezel of the speaker. So a 5.25" round in-ceiling speaker for example, will have an actual diameter more like 8 inches or more.


    When looking at the specs of a in-wall or in-ceiling speaker, you will generally find two set of dimensions in addition to the speakers "size" noted above. There are the overall dimensions and the cut-out dimensions. The overall dimensions are the edge to edge dimensions of the whole speaker. In the case of the round in-ceilings, they are the outer diameter of the entire speaker and in the case of rectangular in-walls, they are the height and width. The cut-out dimensions represent the size of the hole that you will need to cut into the wall in order to install the speaker. This dimension is general just an inch or two smaller than the overall dimension. The front of the speaker, once installed, will overlap the cut-out hole with the outer bezel of the speaker face. Before cutting any holes, it is important to make sure you are cutting out the proper measurements. Our speakers each come with templates to make this job easier.


    As mentioned earlier, there is no set rule for which size would be best other than bigger is generally better. But since sometimes space maybe limited on the surface you want to mount to and you may not want overkill, here is a simple guide. 5.25" are good for small bedrooms and dens. 6.5" would fit nicely in most small or mid-sized living rooms like you might find in a condo. Anything larger, go with an 8".


    Speaker Shape and Configurations:

    You may have noticed that In-wall speakers tend to be rectangular and In-ceiling speakers tend to be round. I'm not sure if there is a true reason for this other than things in the ceiling like lighting and smoke detectors are often round and things on the walls like windows and picture frames tend to be rectangular so speakers designers just wanted to remain aesthetically consistent. One practical difference between an in-ceiling and in-wall speaker however, is that while walls generally have a depth of only 3.5" behind the drywall due to the use of 2"x4" in their construction, ceilings, usually have much more space behind them. Therefore, in-wall speakers will generally not have a mounting depth of more than 3 inches and place their drivers side by side. The coaxial configuration of round in-ceiling speakers are not as limited by depth requirements and take up more space behind the drivers to allow a flush mounted front. So the stacked rounds which require more depth won't generally fit into a sidewall. 






    Speaker Construction:
    Many exotic materials can be used in the construction of speaker cones. Traditionally, paper has been used because it is lightweight, economical and flexible. However, paper is susceptible to moisture and mildew which can form easily in many rooms in the home. Monoprice speakers are made with the same exotic, high quality materials you see in many high end speakers including polypropylene, Kevlar, and glass composite.
     

    Polypropylene is a thermoplastic polymer. Next to paper, it is probably one of the most popular materials used for speaker driver construction. It offers many benefits over paper however, including a being extremely light weight while being resistant to moisture and mildew. On the sonic front, it is a softer material and although not quite as precise as more rigid materials like Kevlar is less prone to sonic breakup distortion at the crossover points. Because of its natural tendency to dampen breakup at the frequency extremes you get a smoother transition at the crossover. This results in a mellower and less tinny sound than you would normally get from other types of speakers.
    Polypropylene
     
    Kevlar is a synthetic fiber. It is the same material used to make bullet-proof vests for the military. Kevlar cones are light weight yet extremely rigid providing very precise audio with minimal distortion normally caused by cone flex. Our Kevlar speakers are matched with an equally precise silk membrane dome tweeter made of titanium fiber thread and a high quality crossover network to ensure high fidelity and low distortion. The lower distortion levels allow the speaker to be driven harder and handle higher peak power levels. The main benefit our Kevlar speakers are the clarity and fidelity at which they produce audio.
    Kevlar
     
    Glass composite is similar to polypropylene but with tiny glass granuals suspended in the material giving it greater tensile strength. This puts it between regular polypropylene cones and Kevlar cones, providing a balance between sonic clarity and smooth crossover transitions.
    Glass composite




    Frequency Response:
    Another factor to consider is the frequency response of the speakers. The range of human hearing typically go from 20hz on the low end, up to 20,000hz on the high end. While most small speakers will have no problem with the highs, they generally are not capable of recreating the extreme low end rumble you find on many movie sound tracks. That is why it is important to realize that no in-wall speaker system by itself is generally sufficient for a dedicated home theater. It's important to have a good powered subwoofer to handle all the Low Frequency Effects (LFE) to go with your in-wall speakers. You will find that most speakers, though they may state that they can extend down to 50hz, also have a roll off at the low end. This is where, though the speaker can maintain a frequency at a certain volume, you will find that it will roll off to a volume of zero as the frequency decreases. So a small speaker will probably have a more realistic bottom frequency of about 120hz and then decrease in volume until it actually cuts out at 50hz. For this reason it is good to have a powered sub that can blend into the smaller speakers'

    One problem however, is when you pair small speakers with large subs is a frequency hole you end up with because the subs upper limits are not quite able to reach the smaller speakers bottom limits. This is a common problem with many Sub Sat systems. You may have heard people complain that a particular system was all high and lows with nothing in between. If you are building a system in a larger room that requires more volume to fill the space with sound, you might consider using some of Monoprice's passive in-wall subwoofers. Unlike true powered subs, the in-wall subs are actually more like bridge speakers that help to fill in the sonic gap between a powered sub and the other smaller system. In this type of setup, the powered sub will take care of the non-directional extreme lows. The in-wall subs reproduce the mid to upper bass and the standard in-walls will reproduce the mids and highs.

    Other Factors:
    Other factors to consider in speaker selection include impedance, power handling capacity and sensitivity.
    Impedance is the measure of the load the speakers place on the amplifier. If you have a lower impedance, you need more power to drive the speakers at the same volume. Most home theater receivers are rated to 6 or 8 ohms. It's important to remember, however, that the load is not generally one constant level. That is as the volume of a recording increases and decreases, the load will vary dynamically. Also, lower frequency sounds place a greater load on a system then higher frequencies. So, a dramatic explosion in a movie will put much greater load on a system then the ambient noise of birds chirping and wind blowing in a quiet outdoor scene. Still, it's probably best to stay within 2 ohms of the receiver's impedance rating when selecting your speakers and not have any two sets of speakers within your system have a rated difference of greater than 2 ohms.

    The same principles of dynamics applies to power handling capacity. Power output will fluctuate with the material being played. However, with most receivers today, you will find that the power ratings tend to be greatly exaggerated. Many brand name receivers typically have power ratings of over 100 watts per channel. But, you may have noticed that some high end systems will have lower power ratings. A side by side comparison will generally show that the system with the higher power rating is not necessarily louder than the other. This is because with many of the consumer grade products with exaggerated power handling ratings, power is measured in terms of short peaks, whereas the system with the lower rating is measured dynamically over a broad range. In any case, unless you are blasting your system at full volume constantly, you will generally not be hitting the maximum power rating very often. 
    Sensitivity is a measure of how much power is required to produce a certain amount of volume. Speakers with higher sensitivity ratings will play louder at a certain power level than a speaker with a lower rating.


  • What are the benefits of Banana Plugs?
    Banana plugs offer solid connection and convenience. When trying to wire speaker cables into the back of a reciever in a cabinet or other tight space, banana plugs offer the convenience of connecting the bare wire out in the open and simply plugging them in the appropriate post. This also prevents cross termination of stray strands that can overload the system. Additionally, the gold plating on the plugs offers corrosion resistance. Corrosion (oxydation) can impede signal transfer and can potentially damage the terminals on your equipment. So banana plugs offer convenience, safety and equipment protection. Copper is a better conductor of electricity than gold but is much more susceptible to corrosion.

  • What are the specifications of our 12AWG Speaker Wire?
    Cable Type: Loud Speaker cable Conduit: High Purity, Oxygen-free Copper Gauge: 12 AWG Strand Count: 87 wires Strand Size: 0.2mm OD Twist Type: Multi-twist, rope lay Cross Sectional Area: 3.0mm Sq. Outer dimensions of PVC Jacket: 5.40 x 10.80mm

  • What gauge of speaker wire should I get?
    Different people will have their own opinions about what gauge is proper for what length. The quality of the equipment can also play a factor. The following is a general guide for picking gauges for certain lengths.

    0-25ft - 18AWG
    25-50ft - 16AWG
    50-75ft - 14AWG
    75 & up - 12AWG

  • What is the difference between 2 Conductor Vs. 4 Conductor Speaker Wire?
    The 4 conductor wire is for biwiring and biamping speakers. The Standard speaker has two connections for accepting wire, while these have 4, one for positive and negative like regular speakers, and two others for the highs and lows, or for certain ranges of frequencies. Biamping is more functional then biwiring. The basic idea being more wires is that the more conductors, the less signals traveling on a single wire, which means less cross talk.

  • What is the difference between Kevlar vs. Polypropylene speakers?
    Basically, Kevlar is more precise, but polypropylene is more mellow and forgiving. A good recording will sound better with Kevlar, but a poor recording will actually sound better on polypropylene because it will cover up the weakness of the recording.

  • What is the difference between open and closed screw banana plugs?
    The Open Screw type has the benefit of being a little more versatile. The side entry option means it can accommodate thicker gauges of wire or bundles of more than one conduit. It can also piggy back other connectors while terminating bare wire at the same time. The Closed Screw type has the benefit of providing a cleaner finish. Because there is no hole in the side, there are no exposed strands of wires. This also reduces the changes of shorting across terminals.

  • What is the difference between Passive and Active Subwoofers?
    The difference between passive and active subwoofers is that passive subwoofer depends on an external amplifier, while an active subwoofer contains a built-in amplifier. The passive subwoofer is generally a better bet if you’re going to be using it in a small room, where space is a concern and where you don’t need a more powerful sound. The passive subwoofer is usually smaller and less bulky than the active subwoofer, although it produces a less intense sound. Also related to space issues, passive subwoofers can be an advantageous choice when you’re going to be installing the subwoofer in a restricted, fixed area where it will be difficult to shift the subwoofer around in the future. If you plug the passive subwoofer into an external amplifier, you can still reposition the amplifier in the future to improve sound. However despite all the advantages of passive subwoofers, however, active subwoofers still tend to be the more popular choice. They produce a deeper, more impactful sound, and don’t require the purchase or use of any extra components or parts.

  • What is the difference between the 5-1/4 Inches Kevlar 2-Way In-Wall Speakers (Pair) - 50W Nominal, 100W Max (PID 4099) and the 5-1/4 Inches 3-Way High Power In-Wall Speaker (Pair)? (PID 7606 )
    The difference between PID# 4099 and PID# 7606 is that PID# 4099 is a 2 way speaker,. PID# 7606 is a three-way speaker, so it offers more directionality. It is also a high powered speaker, It features a adjustable Crossover switch allows you to match the speakers to the sonic characteristics of your listening environment and the location in which you place them. With a Maximum Of 120W Amplifier power the Power Capacity ensures that these drivers won't be overdriven or easily blown out. Both are Kevlar, Kevlar cones are light weight yet extremely rigid providing very precise audio with minimal distortion normally caused by cone flex. Our kevlar speakers are matched with an equally precise silk membrane dome tweeter made of titanium fiber thread and a high quality crossover network to ensure high fidelity and low distortion. The lower distortion levels allow the speaker to be driven harder and handle higher peak power levels. The main benefit our Kevlar speakers are the clarity and fidelity at which they produce audio.

  • Why do I need an Amplifier and how do I know which is best for me?
    It’s often used for in audio for speakers, guitars, or other equipment. A majority of home theater speakers are not powered, therefore an amplifier is used to power them. If you are using an A/V receiver, it will have an amplifier built into it. When choosing an amplifier or A/V receiver some factors to consider include impedance, power handling capacity and sensitivity.

    Impedance is the measure of the load the speakers place on the amplifier. If you have lower impedance, you need more power to drive the speakers at the same volume. Most home theater receivers are rated to 6 or 8 ohms. It's important to remember, however, that the load is not generally one constant level. That is as the volume of a recording increase and decreases, the load will vary dynamically.

    Also, lower frequency sounds place a greater load on a system then higher frequencies. So, a dramatic explosion in a movie will put much greater load on a system then the ambient noise of birds chirping and wind blowing in a quiet outdoor scene. Still, it's probably best to stay within 2 ohms of the receiver's impedance rating when selecting your speakers and not have any two sets of speakers within your system have a rated difference of greater than 2 ohms.

    When you're matching a Amp to a speaker, a good rule of thumb is to pick an amplifier that can deliver power equal to twice the speaker's continuous IEC power rating. This means a speaker with a "nominal impedance" of 8 ohms and a continuous IEC power rating of 350 watts will require an amplifier that can produce 700 watts into an 8-ohm load. For a stereo pair of speakers, the amplifier should be rated at 700 watts per channel into 8 ohms.

  • Does a higher strand count in speaker cables provide better audio quality?
    There is a lot of spin placed on wires and cables to justify one type or another. The main reason for this is to justify an over inflated price. Fact is, stranding provides flexibility. Solid wire conductors can deliver high audio quality and arguably better run lengths, but would be more brittle and tend to break. One break and you lose connectivity. Stranded cables would be more flexible and a break in one or more lines will not cut the signal flow. But, it doesn't magically improve audio performance. Audio quality is influenced more by the quality of the copper. That is better milled, high purity copper will have lower signal resistance and less fluctuation in density which will lead to better signal integrity and more pure audio. All our speaker wires are milled from high quality, oxygen free copper.