8 ohm speaker hooked up to 4 ohm post ?


I read that a gentleman switched his speaker wires from the 8ohm speaker post on his Amp to the 4ohm post, and enjoyed a healthy change in the dynamics of his music. I don't know what ohms his speakers run on, but I have an 8ohm pair of Meadowlark Shearwaters. I would like to try this, but am afraid it could harm the speakers and/or Amp. Can someone out there tell me [for sure] what will happen?
cliff56
It would not damage anything. However, it's usually the 8ohm tap that's the optimum performer, i.e. (contrary to common logic) the 4ohm driving 8 ohm spkrs does not sound as good. BTW, I assume you have a tube amp>,?
An 8 ohm speaker hooked up to the 4 ohm post will draw half the rated power of the amp, and so poses no danger. It may have better damping factor though, and so better cone control. You will only get half the volume at the same input level.

A 4 ohm speaker hooked up to 8 ohm tap will draw twice the rated power, and could overload the amp, potentially destroying it.

John C.
Not every speaker maker measures their speakers the same way... with the same measuring equipment... or in similar rooms... I don’t think. Nor do I believe every maker uses or has anechoic chambers. Not all have the resources to do so either. Botique speaker makers can and do, still produce very good units however.

Therefore, one seldom knows what's what unless you go by Stereophile's measurements... and John doesn't measure every speaker set ever made.

If you aren't prone to pushing the volume knob all the way to the right, trying another set of output taps shouldn't pose much of any issue.

Given my lead in statement here, it would seem one should try other output taps if there is any doubt what ever, and try what’s available on their tube amps, to see what is best for their situation. Without so doing, mistakes could well be made... and or wholesale changes could ensue too... eg., swapping out amps, speakers, etc.

Two examples:
BW 9NT 90-91db, 8 ohm nominal. Why do these units usually require higher powered amps with such attractive numbers being presented by the manufacturer? I once owned both the 7NT & 9NT and both had similar specs… both responded best to amps which had loads of power available… eg., BK220 Ref, Krell KAV 250. I used other amps under 200 wpc with far less positive results. I quit trying amps once the Krell was on board.

Silverline Sonata IIIs... reportedly 93 db @ 8 ohms... not dropping below 6 or 7.
Sorry but I must disagree with those specs too, by virtue of practical applications.

I thought it was due to my mono block tube amps for a little while, but then began to drive other speakers on hand whose specs were verified by the manufacturers and practical use.

, I don't know for sure about the impedances of any speaker as I’ve never measured them, but the ‘easy’ to run Sonatas work best off the 4 ohm taps IMO. There was no loss of dynamics, no real change in loudness, but they sounded thin and edgy on the higher taps... little if any bass and no body worth mentioning.... like they were somewhat starved for power. This assessment is not inclined to a listening preference at all. Simply a matter of fact.

With a couple solid state amps, which have no such choice of out put taps, they play fine, and only the differences between ss and tubes are then realized. The thinness and tilted up sound was gone.

Additionally, I've connected the tube monos to other 8 ohm speakers I have on hand, and I've discovered no such issues. Put them onto the appropriate taps and all is well.

Consequently I feel the amps are doing fine using either output tap accordingly to the presented load.

The only speakers I own which differ from these steps are my sonata IIIs which act far more like 4 ohm speakers than 8 ohm speakers under real world situations.

One other note many have already noticed I’m sure, is that in regard to speakers, the more drivers a loudspeaker system has the more likely they will be of lower impedance.

Tonight, just to reconfirm, I'll reconfigure the Sonatas onto the 8 ohm taps and get back here with the results.

Until some consistency in how speakers are to be measured, amongst loudspeaker makers becomes evident, and no one embelishes the numbers perhaps, I feel the end user should find out for themselves which output is best suited to their given situation. Albeit some consistency in the manufacturing portion too.

BTW, there are any number of opinions on many manufacturers’ products consistency with regard to this “cottage industry at it’s finest”, routinely and that sole item may account for such apparent exceptions.
Hotsauce's comments are correct if the volume control setting is identical for the two different configurations. However, it will not be, because the listener presumably will adjust it to reflect the lower output voltage on the 4 ohm taps and the higher output voltage on the 8 ohm taps.

Also, keep in mind that speakers are probably damaged more often by underpowered amplifiers than by overpowered amplifiers. The clipped waveform that can result from an underpowered amplifier being driven hard contains high frequency spectral components not present in the original music waveform, which the speaker's crossover will route to the tweeter, not uncommonly resulting in damage to it. The chances of something like that happening would be increased by connecting an 8 ohm speaker to the 4 ohm tap, because the reduction in volume may tempt the listener to increase the volume control setting such that musical peaks exceed the voltage swing that the 4 ohm tap is capable of.

That said, as long as you exercise reasonable caution with the volume setting you are very unlikely to damage anything either way. But given the impedance curve of the particular speaker, which goes below 8 ohms only briefly, and stays well above it at many frequencies, I would expect the 8 ohm tap to provide best results.

Regards,
-- Al
It won't hurt a thing..... try it.... they may sound better.
Adding to my previous post, if you connect a true 8 ohm or so speaker to the 4 ohm taps, you will be increasing the impedance seen in the plate circuits of the output tubes (on the primary side of the output transformer). That will not harm anything, but will tend to move the operating point of the tubes away from what the designer intended.

Most "8 ohm speakers" have actual impedances which are lower at most frequencies than yours, and also dip well below 8 ohms at many frequencies. Given that your speakers are atypical in that respect, I would not generalize too readily from the positive results others have sometimes reported when they connected to the 4 ohm taps.

Regards,
-- Al
I have a similar question to the OP. When I called the dealer of Prima L. last year to buy the PL2 model, the dealer told me to connect my previous 8 ohm speakers (Totem Sttaf) to the 4 ohm taps! He told me the speakers will sound better!? I did not ask why, and until now, I still don't know why!
06-16-09: Blindjim
Silverline Sonata IIIs... reportedly 93 db @ 8 ohms... not dropping below 6 or 7. Sorry but I must disagree with those specs too, by virtue of practical applications.

With a couple solid state amps, which have no such choice of out put taps, they play fine, and only the differences between ss and tubes are then realized. The thinness and tilted up sound was gone.

I know we have had some heated discussions on this topic, but based on your comments here, it appears as though you have duplicated the results of using solid state amps on the Sonata III that I was describing, e.g. the lack of a "tilted up" sound and thinness.

It's been some time, but I recall Alan telling me in an email that the speakers dipped to 5 ohms, and Ralph Karsten suggesting to me based on his examination of the design that the Sonata III likely dip between 4 and 5 ohms. I wish I had saved those emails, but I didn't.
Hi Tvad
Hope all is well with you and your’s.

Thought you’d chime in sooner… I’m also glad I took some added time to edit and clarify my thoughts with regard to this experiment which was long over due.

The following may surprise you as much as it did me.

Well…. I did as I said I would with my tube amps and Sonata IIIs… reverting to the 8 ohm taps.

There are differences to be sure. Though not necessarily those I projected via past experiences. Briefly…

…I got the Dodds just a week or two after receiving the Sonata IIIs brand new from Silverline out in Northern California. Initially I had on hand a BAT VK 60, a borrowed Rotel 1080, and my trusty dusty Sony HT 444es receiver for power plants.

I had not yet adopted fully the “hell, just try it attitude” I have today, with respect to checking out the various output taps on tube amps or just other things in general. Consequently, I used only the #8 on the VK60. I completely ignored the 6 & 4 ohm outputs.

I sold the VK 60 to a friend shortly there after. At the near same time a friend who had owned likewise Dodds and speakers .with similar specs to the Sonatas told me that maybe I should try the 4 ohm taps with my speakers.

The Sonata IIIs had around 150 – 200 hours of break in on them. No more. Likely less.

They sounded ok to me and better than other speakers I’ve owned in the past at similar run in times, but not as full as I would have liked them to be. So I switched over to the 4’s. Bingo. All was well.

I’m also the sort that maintains, “if you like what you’re getting, keep doing what you’re doing.” So I did. ‘til now.

In the interim, of course, the Sonatas fully ran themselves in.

Then today I made the switch back to the 8’s again.

Listening after about six hours of operation, in a word the differences in the sound between both taps is… “more” if the higher taps are in play.

My fears had been that I’d be returning to the thinner, tipped up sound I had experienced prior to the speakers being fully broken in. such was not the case however. By contrast, the overall sound was somewhat less richly displayed yet it remained natural and involving. Quicker. More lively though not altered timberally speaking. Svelte, robust, and palpable.

Continuing to listen with familiar tracks the additional resolution, detail, and ambient retrieval was markedly improved. This welcome addition overshadowed my previous experience with warm and richly revealed cues as the sound presented became more inviting. The presentation inundated me with more musical truth thereby creating a more realistic setting in front of me.

Sure enough, some loss of big and thick occurred. So too was there some loss of dark and unrealized. The replacements did however outshine that experience simply by conveying far greater musical and venue oriented statements which offered up a more inviting scenario overall. I sat there mesmerized as all this took place about me. I kept waiting for the edgy strident, and brittle behavior to return, and finally just got tired of waiting for it. It was then I succumbed to this new system sound.

Naturally this obvious transformation once adjusted to, was more than welcome. Had it come at the expense of tonal encumbrances, brittleness, etching or glare, it would not have been well received, trust me on that part.

No tilting up of harmonic quality took place. Strings revealed both picks and bow activities upon the string itself, with more ease and without subtracting from the notes being played. Vocalists head movements about the mike, and their breaths became synonymous with their expressive content. Dog house bass tones were yet more practical and resolved possessing greater immediacy and range. Hartman and Prysocks’ baritones remained baritone. Symbols gained more shimmer. Banjos got pluckier. Mandolins sweetened up. Raw boned wailings from the likes of Johnny Lang, Dr John, Wilson Pickett, and the inimitable Joe Cocker, made me transcendentally revisit some of their past concerts.

More so too was the space between musical objects. This added ‘air’ enhanced the whole of each exhibit. Sometimes only marginally, most often though, by far more. The expanse of the stage did not bloat or swell however… merely it became starkly ‘intuitive’. Each time with regards to the track info of course, the notion of how much of the “they are here” or “you are there” being represented, was enhanced.

I was mystified, a little upset, and pleased, all at the same time, or quite close to each other so it seemed simultaneous.
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Given the precautionary accounts listed herein, I’m quite glad of two things, I don’t listen at paint peeling levels any longer, thus perhaps saving both my speakers and amps, and I’m still open enough to take my own advice and that of others to try something else.

So I’ll stick to my earlier words, and add this, “Make sure the speakers are fully run in and then some, to more accurately discern what ever the sonic distinctions might be. lol

THEN, ‘try both sets of taps for yourself.’ And If prudent volume control is your position on listening levels, no harm will come to your gear I suspect. There will be dissimilarity most likely in the sound and presentation though from one tap to another.

Al’s post make good sense too, about plate voltage & load, for adding life to the gear, so there’s that as well.

BTW…. I’m currently enamored with this ‘change’ so I’ll be sticking to the higher imp output taps on my mono blocks for a while… and make sure speakers are fully run in and then some in the future, before I go fiddling about with impedance matching scenarios... and/or switching in and out amps or other gear.

Simply amazing…. Huh Tvad?

Thanks very much for your thread, the exp, and other's help here.

Good lluck to you Cliff56 .
Given that your speakers are atypical in that respect, I
would not generalize too readily from the positive results others have
sometimes reported when they connected to the 4 ohm taps.

Regards,
-- Al
Almarg (Answers)

That's an excellent answer.

Most speakers that "sound better" ('cause it's all subjective) on 4
ohm taps have impedances at certain frequencies that approach, or are
below, 4 ohms. Therefore, the 4 ohm taps provide better tonal balance.

However, if like Al stated, your 8 ohm speakers have a benign impedance
curve that doesn't vary much below 8 ohms, then using 4 ohm taps will
probably not be of significant benefit.

Since there are no absolutes when it comes to personal preferences, the
suggestion to try both taps and choose the one you like is on target.

Tvad said
“…it appears as though you have duplicated the results of using solid state amps on the Sonata III that I was describing, e.g. the lack of a "tilted up" sound and thinness.”

Blindjim said
To me, It appears they just got completely broken in, given my above notes… and weren’t when I made the switch to lower imp output taps which would not support them quite as well.

Tvad said
“It's been some time, but I recall Alan telling me in an email that the speakers dipped to 5 ohms, “

Blindjim said
I heard him say to me, ‘six, on the phone and posted it as such’.

Tvad said
“… and Ralph Karsten suggesting to me based on his examination of the design that the Sonata III likely dip between 4 and 5 ohms. I wish I had saved those emails, but I didn't.”

Blindjim said…
Tvad… did you send your Sonata IIIs to Ralph for a look see? Or did he collect a pair locally to look into first hand?

I wish you had saved his measurements of the Sonata IIIs, were any taken during that particular ‘examination’. Hey… Maybe Ralph saved those measurements himself! Otherwise, as much as I do indeed respect Ralph C. input and experience, I guess some actual numbers would carry more weight on this topic, than would projections. I sure would have been interested enough to have both our pairs measured in fact… or find out just how the measuring should take place.

BTW... Didn’t you have some issues surrounding the demo units you purchased, not being actual demonstrators, or something? I know mine were brand new… and maybe later models. Maybe you should have gotten the other new piano black pair he had on hand at the time I got mine instead…

Honestly, I ddon’t know. I also gotta surmise such disparity between similar pairs of Sonata IIIs are more than just a listening preference thingy. Either it was that or my thoughts on manufacturing consistency might have some validity.

For some time I’ve been more slated towards a bit more syrupy sounding system because my hearing is sensitive to any brightness, harshness, grain, etc., causing me fatigue readily. Also, I simply did not believe other owners saying they needed as much as 400 hrs. to be fully run in…. I do now know they need more than 150 > 200.

Truly, there’s nothing in the sound now which is errant. It is a whole new gball game though. In fact it’s one I figured to quit chasing. You know the one… high resolution, yet still exceptionally musical. Usually one trades off to either side of that coin trying to reach that fine line. Although I may not be dead on it now, I’m closer to it than ever before. It ain’t hi fi-ish either… and it sure ain’t bad! I do still regret taking this long getting around to trying this simple switch.

Now I can gladly forgoe thinking about another set of mono blocks or speakers... for a good long while.
Blindjim, when you wrote:
With a couple solid state amps, which have no such
choice of out put taps, they play fine, and only the differences between ss and
tubes are then realized. The thinness and tilted up sound was gone.

I understood your statement to mean your observation of a lack of thinness
and tilted up sound was a result of using a couple of solid state amps.

Apparently, I misunderstood your comment, so my initial reply to you in this
thread has no relevance to your situation.

Sorry Tvad... I jumped well ahead in the time line of ownership making that statement and did not indicate it.

Now... would you mind answering the questions I asked of you? I've already answered all of yours.
Blindjim, I mistakenly thought there was new ground to cover, and that's why
I posted in this thread. Since I misinterpreted your earlier statement, thereby
making my initial post irrelevant, I see no purpose in revisiting old
discussion.

My mistake. No worries.
TVAD
New or old, notwithstandibng, you introduced some questions and claims... I thought some added light should be shone upon them.

Anyhow... I was just curious on those two items I asked you about as I must have missed those explanations somehow. Somewhere.

especially how someone could examine something without seeing or testing it.

it's cool... I'll just chalk it up to some inconsistency in production. each of our results with the Sonata's having differed so greatly.

Otherwise the higher taps in use now would have yeilded far less positive results than they have.

be well.
06-17-09: Blindjim
...especially how someone could examine something without seeing or testing
it.

This question should be directed to Ralph Karsten.
tvad

nope.

You brought it up and apparently have sufficient info which if valid should be disclosed or not mentioned at all.

Oh... is it supposed to be a secret? Sorry. I didn't think about that till now and should have as evasive as you've been here regarding the subject. ..

My bad.
Blindjim, your question is in reference to Ralph's comment to me about the
impedance curve of the Sonata III, yes?

For full explanation of how he came to his conclusion about what he suspects
is the Sonata III's minimum impedance, he would need to chime in here. He
did not describe to me the method of how he determined this, and
therefore I cannot answer your question.

Ralph shared only his opinion with me based on what he saw on the Silverline
website about the speaker's design, and what he knew already of the drivers
utilized. Apparently, he is familiar with Silverline speakers, and has recommended them in the past for use with his OTL amplifiers, although Silverline Audio is no longer on his
speaker manufacturer list
. I believe he still recommends certain Silverline models due to their more benign impedance curves than the Sonata III, but I do not know which models.

I have emailed Ralph with a link to this thread. Perhaps, he'll share how he
came to his conclusion.

Hope that helps.
Tvad
10-4. yes. Exactly.

Tanks
OK- here's how I did it: I googled the Sonata III and did a lot of reading and combined that with experiences our customers had with the speakers.

I suspect that the break-in discussion in this thread is very real. When the woofer is new and the suspension is stiff, it will resist efforts to move is to a greater degree than after the suspension has loosened up. I have experienced this before on the Snell B, which needed to be broken in for several weeks on transistor gear before tubes would sound right/could be used on them (no bass otherwise).

I suspect this phenomena is occurring with the Sonata III as well. The reason we took them off our very abbreviated list is that a customer sold his amps when they did not drive his Silverlines. In the old days any of the Silverlines were easily driven by any of our amps (in fact we showed with Alan at CES), but now-days it seems like the Silverlines are being built for transistors, which dominate the market. That way you can sell more speakers, although IMO/IME they will never sound as good.
Atmasphere

Many thanks for being so forth coming with both, the how and the why of your investigations/insights on the Sonatas. Were it only so that more high end audio makers were so involved, and responsive to the fold.

Perhaps, my now quite extended use, with both SS and tubes driving them alternatively during different applications, (HT & 2 CH) has accounted for their now greater ease and control in conjunction with the EL34 monos.

What ever the reasoning, and your remarks do seem to add up regarding their initial ‘stiffness’, the current ‘loosened up’ ’results I've heard from them now that they’re on the higher output taps, are more than enjoyable and a definite increase in obvious performance.

This switch was tantamount to integrating another component altogether!
I would like to thank many of you for your input. I switched from the 8ohm posts to the 4ohm posts for a few days and listened to the music. I did have to turn up the volume a little to get the same level of sound. The Bass was tighter, the midrange lost some bloom, and the highs seemed a little rolled off. there was'nt any BIG changes though. I was surprised, but there seemed to be a little more detail in the music. I like my tube sound though,the mid bloom and high air you know, so I've switched it back to the 8ohm posts. Still listening for a better sound...