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Basic Question

 

Anonymous
I have a retail store with 8 ceiling mounted speakers, each rated @ 20 Watts. The existing amplifier used with these speakers is a 2-channel type with 4 ohm output impedence. I dont remember the wattage of the amp but I think it is around 150W (this is just a guess). And the wires connecting my speakers to the amp are shieled RCA type. The shortest one is around 30 feet in length, while the longest is around 100 feet in length.

I get horrible sound from my speakers. I dont know what the problem is. I am wondering if the speakers were connected incorrectly (i.e. perhaps the amp does not see a matching 4 ohm impedence), or maybe the amp is broken (it is at least 5-10 years old), or maybe the wires are presenting to much resistance?

Anyway, I am assuming it would be much easier for me to buy a new amp which has at least 8 output channels @ 20W each. Where can I find such a box at a reasonable price?
 

G-Man
You could buy a new amp. However, you are presuming that the problem is the amp you have. You may just have speakers that play poorly even if well amplified on a 5 foot speaker wire.

I would first use the amplifier you have and connect it to a couple of the speakers on a shorter than 10 foot wire run. If that sounds good try this on all the speakers with no more than a 10 foot wire run. If everything sounds good than you need thicker wire for your longer runs.

If the speakers don't sound good on short runs, borrow someone elses amp and play the speakers on the short run and regular long runs. If this helps, the amp is the problem. It is either malfunctioning or not powerful enough. However, if you speakers still sound bad with short wire runs on someone elses good amp, than you need to buy good new speakers.

Afterall, there is no point in buying a new amp if it doesn't address your problem. You may still need thicker wire and/or new speakers.
 

Hawk
What you have is a "commercial installation" which is probably putting out mono sound into 8 different speakers. Running all of those speakers off of a two channel amp is the source of much of your problem. However, this may not be an application for home audio equipment. I would suggest you contact a local dealer who specializes in commercial sound systems to get some recommendations. (I learned alot about this stuff when I redid my church's sound system a few years back). I did a little checking and found one commercial amp that might work well for you, but is only four channel, so you may need to get a pair of them, but at this price you may find buying two to be very reasonable. Check this out:

http://www.partsexpress.com/pe/showdetl.cfm?&User_ID=15929654&St=6674&St2=-49358802&St3=82527925&DS_ID=3&Product_ID=5436&DID=7

I would also browse the other amps available at Part Express, perhaps call them for recommendations.

Eight channels is a tough buy right now. I am aware of 6 and 12 channel amps. Perhaps you could buy a six channel amp and use your current amp to drive the remaining two amps.

There are some other amps meant to drive six separate channels that are fairly widely available. This is what is called "distributed audio amplifiers" and are primarily meant for applications where you run a pair of stereo leads to the bedroom, the kitchen and the living room so that you can have stereo sound throughout the house. But they should work in your situation as well. Check out the Marantz ZS5300 amplifier from accessories4less.com. It is 60 wpc x 6 channels and they have it for $599.99. My only reservation is that I don't know what kind of a speaker load can it handle. You will need something that will handle a 4 ohm load from the speakers. Alternatively, look into an NAD CI 9060, which is 6 x 80W and which I know handles 4 ohm loads. Call Kiefs (check their website for the phone # at www.kiefs.com) and speak to Ed. He can give you a price on the NAD. NAD also has a 12 channel amp, the CI 9120, which is 12 x 80W, which you may wish to price, as well. The NAD will be a bit more expensive, but it will give much better sound.

Good luck.
 

G-Man
In my living room I used to have a 2 channel OCM/Belles amp (maybe 100 or 150 watts) that had connected to it a Niles speaker switcher. I had zero problems playing a pair of PSB Stratus Gold i's in the living room, a pair of ProAc Response 2's in the den, a pair of ceiling speakers in my sunroom, and a pair of bookshelf Polk's in my kitchen ---all simultaneously.

This was a good set-up for parties, when I wanted the music to be piped simultaneously and fairly seemlessly to these areas. It was also good when I wanted to sit and read in the sunroom and hear music, while clicking the sound off in the living room and maybe leaving it on in the kitchen.

I was always able to get as good a sound as possible from the ceiling speakers--given their inherent sonic limitations. And there was plenty of power to play them simultaneously and as loud as anyone would want. I had the good fortune of having the sunroom, den, and kitchen pre-wired with their own speaker wires and attenuators (volume controls) on the wall. This permitted anyone to adjust the volume locally.

So what I am saying is--it may be difficult to assess without testing the causation of your sonic unhappiness.

It may be the amp, the wires, the way the speaker wires are hooked up to the amp, or the speakers are of poor quality--or they are inappropriate for the system. Might even be a combination of these things.
 

Anonymous
i have a bunch of small speakers from old jamboxes and would like to know what it would take to hook them up to my home stereo. can someone tell me what the factors are in determining if a speaker can be plugged into a reciever, what can be done to split channels and how to control wattage and other factors that would enable one to hook up any given speaker to any given system?

thanks
 

G-Man
How many speakers are a bunch? And what impedance are they: 4, 6, or 8 ohms, or a very rare 2 ohm or so impedance meant for mostly attached mini systems by low-powered mini system amps? People here need to know this info to accurately assess what to do.

Are the speakers any good? Or you just want some kind of sound. Are you trying to connect them in the same room, or spread to different rooms?
 

Anonymous
Thanks G-Man,

I'm really thinking of something that i can add to as i go, using speakers of different quality and impedance. I'm thinking of doing this so I can have speakers throughout different rooms. I am completely ignorant about how to match up speakers with a stereo. I was hoping to be able to hook up these detachable jambox speakers to my home stereo. The speakers are all different, so what I was hoping to find out was some sort of formula or a way to control the signal going to a speaker so it will not damage the speaker. If anyone knows a good reference on this sort of thing, I would love to read it as well.
 

G-Man
A good way to do muti-room speaker installations is wiring the speakers in each room to its own separate attenuator (volume control). This accomplishes two things--1) you don't have to go running to your central amplifier or receiver to adjust your volume, but you do it from the room you are listening in. 2) You don't have to worry about destroying speakers because you adjust the sound below the point where the speakers distort. Obviously, if you continue to play the speakers while they are distorting--damage can happen.

You can contact Niles and they can tell you how to do a multi-room hook-up and which of their components to buy.
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