Nowadays, whenever you’re buying a new car or upgrading your vehicle’s sound equipment, it’s common to hear salespeople highlight 2-ohm 6×9 speakers as a selling point.
2-ohm speakers come with less electrical resistance, the spiel goes, and will therefore allow you to listen to music, podcasts, and other types of entertainment at a much higher volume.
Is this claim true? Yes, but it’s marked with a giant unaddressed asterisk: loudness is only half the picture.
Should You Pick 2-Ohm 6×9 Speakers?
If blasting your favorite tunes as loud as mechanically possible is your chief concern, then yes, 2-ohm speakers are the way to go.
If, on the other hand, you care about quality even a little bit, then you may want to consider a different option.
An “ohm” is not a type of speaker but a unit of measurement. What is it measuring, you ask? Electrical resistance, or, to borrow from electrical engineering lingo, “impedance.”
In super-duper-ultra-mega-oversimplified terms, the impedance principle boils down to this one key fact: the lower a speaker’s ohm rating, the more efficiently the audio signals it receives can pass through it.
Superior audio channeling might sound like a good thing, and it is—as far as volume goes. As mentioned, though, there’s a flipside to the ohm dynamic, which is this: the lower a speaker’s ohm rating, the poorer its overall quality.
Lower-ohm speakers, then, offer more volume, while higher-ohm speakers offer a better listening experience.
There’s a fairly straightforward explanation for this effect. The less impedance a speaker has, the more easily it accepts input signals and the less work the amplifier has to do. However, one consequence of increased speaker power is a reduction in the depth and clarity of your source audio.
As such, taking advantage of 2-ohm speakers’ higher volume threshold can make what you’re listening to sound thin, fuzzy, and washed out. What’s the point of cranking your jams if they sound worse and worse the more you turn them up?
Are High-Ohm Speakers Better?
Again, it depends on your preferences, sensibilities, and the specifics of your audio setup.
8-ohm speakers may be “better” in the sense that they produce crisp, clean audio output, but they’re only as good as your amplifier. Diverting power away from your speakers may take some of the strain off of them, but it puts it directly on your amplifier or receiver. If they’re not up to the task, they could churn out lackluster sound or even wind up damaged.
The music you listen to can also be a factor. Some instruments, vocal ranges, and effects can alter a speaker’s impedance in real-time, often driving it down as the pitch or frequency goes up. (The strident shrilling of a flute, for instance, will typically have less trouble “getting through” the necessary electrical audio pathways than the low rumble of a bass guitar.)
Lower-ohm speakers aren’t generally as good at smoothing out outlier frequencies as higher-ohm speakers are, which means they won’t be able to prevent certain types of sounds from dominating others.
What’s a Good Middle Ground for Audiophiles?
If you’re searching for speakers that will provide plenty of rip-roaring volume without compromising quality, products in the standard 4-6-ohm range will be your best bet.
Luckily, the majority of high-end and specialty speakers are fine-tuned to channel sound at 4 or 6 ohms. And, contrary to popular belief, these don’t have to cost an arm and a leg. There are many excellent economical options out there, such as Kicker’s 43DSC69304 D-Series and the Fosgate R169X3 Prime from Rockford.
8-ohm speakers are also a fine choice, so long as your receiver or amplifier has power rating high enough to handle the heftier load.
So should you pick 2-ohm 6×9 speakers for your car? It’s at least worth weighing.
There’s nothing wrong with 2-ohm 6×9 speakers compared to higher-om units—most listeners probably couldn’t even tell the difference, and it’s even possible that they might perform better for your particular needs and preferences.
That said, to get the most out of both your equipment, we recommend finding a set of speakers that strikes the right balance between intensity, integrity, and electrical efficiency.
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