In summary, 6-speaker sound systems work best when connected to a 6-channel amp, but you can do it with a 4-channel one if you’re looking to save a buck or want to work with hardware that you already have on hand. However, it’s worth noting that this isn’t a recommended practice and may lead to adverse effects on your entire sound system.
That being said, let’s take a closer look at how we can connect a 4-channel amp to a 6-speaker setup and the pros and cons of utilizing the different wiring methods.
What Is an Amplifier?
As its name suggests, an amp’s function is to improve your sound system by amplifying the weaker signals in your audio input, resulting in a clearer and more powerful listening experience.
4-channel amps like the one I’ll be talking about in this guide are sometimes called stereo amplifiers and are generally built to handle 2 individual speakers, 2 speakers along with a couple of subwoofers, or 4 speakers in total.
But with a little bit of tweaking, they can go over their recommended level of output and accommodate a 6-speaker system as well.
How to Hook Up a 4-Channel Amp to a 6-Speaker System?
There are two ways to connect a 4-channel amp to 6 speakers - either through parallel connections or serial ones. No matter which method you decide on, 2 of your channels will end up handling 4 speakers, while the remaining two channels accommodate one speaker each.
To achieve a parallel connection, you’ll have to connect all of the positive wires of your speakers, and the same goes for all of the negative ones. In short, all the pluses go together, and so do the minuses. This goes on until all your speakers are connected with one another, which in this case is six speakers in total.
The parallel method is often considered the more preferred of the two because this kind of connection fundamentally works. With this type of wiring, your audio system can continue functioning even if any of the speakers were to fail.
The audio performance will also be significantly better if wired using a parallel connection. However, it’s worth mentioning that the uneven power distribution resulting from certain channels handling two speakers at a time will end up generating more heat overall. This can lead to faster degradation of your speakers or amp, especially if they are cheaper models made with lower-quality materials.
While the amount of extra heat generated isn’t too much of an issue if the volume of your sound system is kept to reasonable levels, it becomes a serious concern if you enjoy blaring your music at high volumes for extended periods of time.
Connecting your speakers via series involves linking each of them after the other in a sort of line, with the positive wire of one speaker connecting to the negative wire of the next until all speakers are linked. The main advantage of this kind of wiring is that the power is evenly distributed. There’s no additional heat created, meaning your audio system will likely last a lot longer.
On the flip side, the audio performance in a series connection takes a fairly noticeable downgrade in terms of sound quality. Because of how the wiring works, if one speaker fails, the entire sound system goes down along with it, which can definitely be a hassle.
No matter which wiring method you end up choosing, each of them has clear advantages and disadvantages that you will have to take into account.
At the end of the day, using a 6-channel amp remains the best way to get the most out of your 6-speaker system since you won’t be saddled with drawbacks like your entire sound system going down when you lose an individual speaker or your equipment heating up whenever you want to listen to music on full blast. But if you’re dead-set on connecting your 6 speakers to a 4-channel, it certainly can be done.