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Series vs. Parallel


Basster

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What affect does having your cabinet hooked up in series or parallel have on the overall sound? How about the pick-ups in series or parallel?
"I play the notes...but it is God who makes the music". J.S. Bach
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everyone should know (so if you don't, take note) that it takes an act of God to connect speaker cabinets in series. it is not practical to do it any other way.

 

for the actual drivers themselves, i haven't ever experimented with different connection schemes. this is primarily due to the fact that the total impedance of the cabinet would change with different connection schemes.

 

unless you are building your own cabinet and have a specific total impedance you want to achieve, it's kind of a moot point. you have what the manufacturer put in there, and unless you're willing to deal with the change in total impedance, there's nothing you can do about how it's connected.

 

for example:

 

a typical 4 Ohm 4x10 has 4 identical 4 Ohm drivers, which are wired in pairs of pairs. in other words driver two are wired in series with each other for a sum impedance of 8 Ohms; the other two drivers are also wired in series with each other, again for a sum impedance of 8 Ohms; and the two 8 Ohm pairs are wired parallel to each other to achieve a total impednace of 4 Ohms.

 

most cabinets are a combination of series and parallel connections, like above, such that any sonic effects due to one specific connection are likely blended with the other. these would be the most minute of sonic distinctions, too, so most people wouldn't notice anyway. and those who do, well, they do and they can worry about it. i'm sure there's a difference, but i'm also sure it's minimal at best.

 

pickups are a different situation. any pickup with more than one coil can be wired in series or parallel. both offer different sounds. i'm beginning to notice a trend that series connections tend to be smoother and deeper in sound, whereas parallel connections tend to be punchier.

 

i have not done any experimentation to verify this, so do anything but take it as Reliable Truth. the important thing to take from this is that if you can switch them, you have more options to achieve more sounds, and it's only up to you what sounds good and what you use.

 

from your questions it sounds like you really want to tweak your gear, and i recommend that. make everything you own your own. do whatever you need to do to feel like you're getting the most out of all your tools.

 

robb.

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Originally posted by robb.:

pickups are a different situation. any pickup with more than one coil can be wired in series or parallel. both offer different sounds. i'm beginning to notice a trend that series connections tend to be smoother and deeper in sound, whereas parallel connections tend to be punchier.

 

i have not done any experimentation to verify this, so do anything but take it as Reliable Truth. the important thing to take from this is that if you can switch them, you have more options to achieve more sounds, and it's only up to you what sounds good and what you use.

That definitely sounds right. I know that a p-bass humbucker is wired in series and that jazz bass pickups are wired in parallel, and I've heard from several people that the major differences in sound come from that simple change in wiring. On the new american series p and j basses from Fender, they have series/parallel switching which is supposed to be able to make a J-Bass sound like a P-Bass. The jazz is definitely punchy with midrange, and the P is definitely a deeper sound.

 

Originally posted by robb.:

from your questions it sounds like you really want to tweak your gear, and i recommend that. make everything you own your own. do whatever you need to do to feel like you're getting the most out of all your tools.

Amen, brother! It just makes them fit YOU so much better, gives you a sense of accomplishment, and makes the instruments that much more unique.

 

Andrew

unkownroadband.com - step into the unkown :-)
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Originally posted by robb.:

 

for example:

 

a typical 4 Ohm 4x10 has 4 identical 4 Ohm drivers, which are wired in pairs of pairs. in other words driver two are wired in series with each other for a sum impedance of 8 Ohms; the other two drivers are also wired in series with each other, again for a sum impedance of 8 Ohms; and the two 8 Ohm pairs are wired parallel to each other to achieve a total impednace of 4 Ohms.

I agree... the only notable exception I can think of is the Ampeg cabs that have 32-ohm drivers all wired in parallel.

 

don't forget that a lot of the characteristic thickness of a P is due its placement closer to the neck -- more fundamental towards the center of string length.
I would even venture to say the pickup placement has even more to do with the P-Bass tone than the wiring. Also, by nature, humbuckers tend to have a thicker sound than single coils.
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Originally posted by Helge Lund:

What about an 8ohm 2x10 cab?

How are they wired?

there's really no standard -- what i wrote above is purely as an example without a specific cabinet in mind.

 

for your example, we have two drivers. there are two ways to wire these two together -- in series, or in parallel. if they are in series, they have to be 4 Ohm drivers. series connections are additive, so 4 + 4 = 8. if they are parallel, they ahve to be 16 Ohm drivers. parallel connections are dividing, in a simple sense, so two equal impedances in parallel have a total impedance of half, or 16 || 16 = 8.

 

And....is it possible to rewire an 8ohm cab to a 4ohm cab?

Helge :wave:

it may be possible, but it is rarely likely. usually you have to use different drivers.

 

robb.

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Originally posted by getz76:

]I would even venture to say the pickup placement has even more to do with the P-Bass tone than the wiring.
I would have to agree with this. P/U placement is really, to my mind, a fundamental thing. It is part of the 2 or 3 basic things from which all tone derives.

 

A properly placed p/u is said to be "in the sweet spot" for a reason...

 

Peace,

 

wraub

 

I'm a lot more like I am now than I was when I got here.

 

 

 

 

 

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