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Don McPhee

Klipschorn -What is a safe minimum wattage requirement

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I've been trying to find out what is a safe minimum wattage requirement for Khorns. From dealers to end users to Klipsch themselves,

the answers are all over the map. I know they are a very efficient speaker and under normal  listening probably use a 1/2 watt of power. One rep. of 

Klipsch said the Khorns contrary to what I have heard are/were not made to pair with tube amps in particular and sound just as good with solid state (again contrary to what the majority says) and that I need 50-80 watts of power for good headroom.

I thought that 10-12w would be plenty and give plenty of headroom.

 

Any help would be appreciated

 

Don

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Zero is a safe minimum but it produces very very little sound:) My take on it is it depends on how loud your average listening level is and how far above that average are the peaks of your source material. And average to peak level is another whole big can of worms. Live music can have huge dynamic range, recorded music not so much. Sorry I could not be more help, I'm sure others will tell you exactly what you need.

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I have a small listening room about 12' x 10' in size.  I use a pair of flea amps (about 3.5 watts/channel) with the Klipschorns and they are loud.  I generally listen to vocal jazz, rock and classical.

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The word 'Safe' is kind of confusing... are you asking what is the minimal wattage you should consider getting in order to be satisfied? 

No one here can answer that for you... but as low as 2 or 3 watts can be plenty for some.

I don't think ANYONE ever said Klispchorns were made to be paired with tube amps... they just happen to excell with tube amps because of their effiency and ability to accurately portray some amplifiers unique characteristics. Heritage sounds great with solid state amplification. 

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2 hours ago, Don McPhee said:

I've been trying to find out what is a safe minimum wattage requirement for Khorns. From dealers to end users to Klipsch themselves,

the answers are all over the map. I know they are a very efficient speaker and under normal  listening probably use a 1/2 watt of power. One rep. of 

Klipsch said the Khorns contrary to what I have heard are/were not made to pair with tube amps in particular and sound just as good with solid state (again contrary to what the majority says) and that I need 50-80 watts of power for good headroom.

I thought that 10-12w would be plenty and give plenty of headroom.

 

Any help would be appreciated

 

Don

 

It depends on:

  • Room size (volume in cubic feet)
  • How far away you sit
  • How loud you like it
  • Where the room lies on the liveness spectrum
  • Whether you want natural and full dynamic range -- with a Klipschorn you probably do.

Don't go by the sensitivity rating of the Klipschorn -- that is at 1 meter (39.37 inches) away. 

 

With my Klipschorns, in my room (about 4,250 cu. ft.), at my distance (about 13 ft.), at Film Industry Reference Level (very brief peaks at 105 dB, with a medium level for music -- not really an average, but a level that subjectively sounds "medium" -- of 85 dB with 20 dB headroom for peaks), in a treated room (wall to wall carpet, couch, bookshelves, some absorbers, some difussors), with realistic  dynamic range, I need about 8 watts per channel, for just a moment at a time, to get those 105 B peaks at my 13 foot distance.  But, you want to make sure your amplifier does not  clipp, so some people get amplifiers that are 2 times the power needed, just in case, or to allow for bass boost, or drunken party guests, kids, etc.  So that would bring us to 16 watts per channel.  I have 150 watt per channel amplifiers (NAD), so I feel relatively secure.  I once got up to 25 watts per channel (Fanfare for the Common Man -- timpani, bass drum, tam-tam), which would be a little less than 110 dB for the loudest peaks in my room. 

 

I generally set movie volume at the level at which the dialog sounds natural.  That ends up at about 5 to 7 dB below Film Industry Reference.  For movies with good or interesting music (Amadeus, The Music Lovers, Ben-Hur (1959), The Hours, Taxi Driver, Vertigo, Kundun, Fantasia, Mishima etc.) that usually is about the same SPL, but for the sequences featuring things like the Tchaikovsky piano concerto, or Don Giovanni, or Night on Bald Mountain, the setting may sneak up to Reference level, or beyond.

 

Some people claim that an excellent tube amplifier will provide up to 6 times the peak power of a solid state amp of the same power rating.  Others say that's bull puckey.  I've gotten great sound from solid state and tubes.  Among tube amps, old 40 watt McIntoshes were fine, as were 40 watt Dynacos.  In solid state, my old 80 watt per channel Luxman was great and very "tube like," and my 150 watt per channel NADs are fine.  The Yamaha I have on one surround channel sounds a bit "harder."  I borrowed an 80 w.p.c. Marantz for a short while, long ago, and it was as hard as nails (i.e. "harsh").  Their current models are a lot better, as were their legendary tube amps of the 1950s when Saul Marantz was running the place.  Solid State sounded pretty bad for its first 10 years, or so (a guess).  Part of this was because of undetected TIM distortion.

 

Beware false or misleading specs.  You want amps rated at 20 to 20K Hz, all channels operating, at 8 Ohms, at low THD, at full rated power.  IM distortion can sound worse than THD, and you might want to take a look at TIM distortion.  Parasound tends to list all of these -- another great brand to consider.

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Posted (edited)

Let me clarify with specifics....I am asking..How small of an amp can I use and still have plenty of headroom without clipping or distortion.

My Room is 15x27...8ft ceilings with carpeting however I will be changing flooring to laminate or vinyl planks. I listen to mostly 70-80's rock and some newer rock and a bit of blues. My listening level is upper/moderate and at times I like to crank it but still leave the paint on the walls. Speakers will sit approx. 15 ft apart and Listening area 14-15 feet from each speaker.

I have had a Primaluna Dialogue Integrated HP most recently with Goldenear Tritons. For the Khorns I have been considering a Scott 299C which I own but needs to go in for servicing and repair......Im really thinking of going this route first and see how everything unravels..Maybe I have a diamond in the rough????...Also looking at a Leben CS-300SX which is rated at 12w per. Ch. and Luxman SQ-Ni50 at 10w per Ch and Line Magnetic 211 ia which can switch between Ultralinear and Triode. 32 wpc Ultralinear and 15 wpc Triode. I guess I should consider solid state though I do love the warmth and beautiful midrange of el34 and el84....Any suggestions in the solid state arena under $3K?


Cheers


Don

Edited by Don McPhee

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i have a 2 watt 45amp and a 300b 8 watt amp.  i never use the 300b because e 2 watts seems to be enough. the only reason I question it is because I read forums and they tell me I need more power. 

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5 hours ago, Schu said:

 

I don't think ANYONE ever said Klispchorns were made to be paired with tube amps... 

I'll say it. Since they were designed and produced before the era of solid state.

QED.

 

But this does not mean that they cannot sound "most excellent" with solid state amps.

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3 hours ago, Don McPhee said:

Let me clarify with specifics....I am asking..How small of an amp can I use and still have plenty of headroom without clipping or distortion.

My Room is 15x27...8ft ceilings with carpeting however I will be changing flooring to laminate or vinyl planks. I listen to mostly 70-80's rock and some newer rock and a bit of blues. My listening level is upper/moderate and at times I like to crank it but still leave the paint on the walls.  Speakers will sit approx. 15 ft apart and Listening area 14-15 feet from each speaker.

I have had a Primaluna Dialogue Integrated HP most recently with Goldenear Tritons. For the Khorns I have been considering a Scott 299C which I own but needs to go in for servicing and repair......Im really thinking of going this route first and see how everything unravels..Maybe I have a diamond in the rough????...Also looking at a Leben CS-300SX which is rated at 12w per. Ch. and Luxman SQ-Ni50 at 10w per Ch and Line Magnetic 211 ia which can switch between Ultralinear and Triode. 32 wpc Ultralinear and 15 wpc Triode. I guess I should consider solid state though I do love the warmth and beautiful midrange of el34 and el84....Any suggestions in the solid state arena under $3K?


Cheers


Don

 

You could always get the Scott 299C repaired and try it.  Is it a good, honest 40 watt "RMS" (not quite the appropriate term, but widely used)?   If so, it should be fine, if it sounds fine.  

 

Klipsch says that Khorns tend to sound best with a ceiling that is at least 8.5 feet high.  Heyser agrees, but just says "a thick rug and a high ceiling."  The reason given, IIRC, is that you don't want the tweeter sound that bounces off either floor or ceiling to reach your ears before the midrange and bass sound get there.  The easiest solution is to put a few scatter rugs on the floor where the tweeter sound would bounce off the floor and into your ears (i.e., a first reflection point), and put an attractive or unobtrusive absorber on the ceiling where the tweeter sound would bounce off of it.

 

The Klipschorn, back in the day, was rated at 104 dB (not 105) at 1 watt at 1 meter (54 dB EIA).  Consumer Reports magazine rated speakers with that EIA as needing 0.9 watt "to make a loud sound in a 2,500 cu. ft. room."   Using the same standard, they rated Acoustic Research and KLH acoustic suspension speakers as needing 22 times the power (20 watts) to produce the same SPL.   So the word got around that the Khorn, the JBL D130, etc needed "less than 1 watt."  That would true if the listener was content with about 98 dB.  Your room is almost as large as mine, and you sit a bit farther away.   But 40 good honest watts would be fine, IMO.  I'd say liking to crank it at times, but leaving the paint on the walls, might be about 105 dB, which would take about 15 watts in your room, with plenty of headroom, at your distance.

 

You might have a diamond in the rough.  I hope you do.

 

 

 

 

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3 hours ago, garyrc said:

The reason given, IIRC, is that you don't want the tweeter sound that bounces off either floor or ceiling to reach your ears before the midrange and bass sound get there. 

 

Well, there's really no way that could happen in any event (before - apart from the fact it will always occur sans active crossovers with proper delays established).

 

As to the topic of this thread I've got no opinion other than that the only unsafe amplifier would be one too powerful which is used too powerfully.  Who'd care if a 5 watt amp was overdriven?  Other than perhaps the degraded sound quality there'd surely be no harm to any of the drivers or other components in the cabinet.  Even 30 watts overdriven would be fine if you could stand the volume it would produce inside a residential structure, I'd think.

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12 hours ago, Don McPhee said:

I've been trying to find out what is a safe minimum wattage requirement for Khorns. From dealers to end users to Klipsch themselves,

the answers are all over the map. I know they are a very efficient speaker and under normal  listening probably use a 1/2 watt of power. One rep. of 

Klipsch said the Khorns contrary to what I have heard are/were not made to pair with tube amps in particular and sound just as good with solid state (again contrary to what the majority says) and that I need 50-80 watts of power for good headroom.

I thought that 10-12w would be plenty and give plenty of headroom.

 

Any help would be appreciated

 

Don

 

The minimum wattage requirements are measured with your ears. 

 

I use 3 systems, but only 1 gets regular/daily use;  2 are all-tubed including PreAmps, Tuners and Amps (MC60's and VRD's supply the oomph at 60W) and 1 All Solid State system with big ole heavy mofo amps (Krell at 1000W).  Each system will blow the roof off the house with crisp clean sound either using Khorns or Cornwalls or Industrial Heresys'. Corns are my favorites with Tubes, but it's all good.

 

Don't worry about the little stuff,  get your gear in ship shape and enjoy - simple.

 

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7 hours ago, guf said:

i have a 2 watt 45amp and a 300b 8 watt amp.  i never use the 300b because e 2 watts seems to be enough. the only reason I question it is because I read forums and they tell me I need more power. 

 

I can't help but ask if you are well pleased with your equipment's performance and the way it reproduces a musical recording to your ears, what does it matter what anyone says on a forum?

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11 hours ago, garyrc said:

...

Some people claim that an excellent tube amplifier will provide up to 6 times the peak power of a solid state amp of the same power rating.  Others say that's bull puckey. 

...

The WAY that tubes and solid state amplifier circuit elements handle the peaks of electrical power are quite different, and generally speaking tubes are less "damaged" with each peak of power beyond the specs than solid state (transistors, etc.)  and of course SOUND different as well when the peaks occur. Hence the "warm" sound of a tube amp.

John Kuthe...

 

 

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My K-Horns are in a 12 x 17 foot room. I can run a Decware EL-84 amp putting out 1.8 watts and reach loud listening levels with no problem. I also have a 60 watt/channel Latino ST-120 amp that I have used. My preferred amp is my Dennis Had Hot-Rod single ended amp that puts out 6 to 8 watts per channel, depending on which output tubes. The only real difference is how much I have to turn up the volume knob on the preamp. None of them ever have to go over half way. Most of your listening will be using the first watt of any amp. I would concentrate more on the quality of that first watt, not the quantity of overall watts.

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I have used my La Scalas with 8 watt tube amps, 8 watt Class A amp, and 125 to 140 watt Class AB SS amps.  Usually they have been in larger rooms around 17 x 21.  I listen to jazz, blues, classic rock and a.little heavy metal.  I will recommend a Class AB amp capable of 50 wpc using the old FTC rating procedure and one that has a high Class A bias, say 5 watts. I think I can readily hit 20 watts/ch playing my air guitar on "Sweet Jane".  🤣

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The high midrange impedance of the older Khorns makes a difficult match for some tube amps.  Those amps frequency response varies because of the impedance variation.

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9 hours ago, polizzio said:

 

I can't help but ask if you are well pleased with your equipment's performance and the way it reproduces a musical recording to your ears, what does it matter what anyone says on a forum?

I have to say yes. But sometimes I questioning if it’s”right” or the best it can be.  I have been doing lots of experimenting and realizing that I listen comfortably 75-80 average dbs. Less than 8 feet away. I have been pushing it to see if I can listen louder and what my amps are capable of. I also have a powered sub. All of my amps I can average between 85-90 and it’s too loud. On another forum some amp builder is telling me it’s because of distortion not loudness. My best experiences, most engaging, are when I’m listening at lower volumes, and really present with the music. Not when i’m Peaking out at concert volumes. 

 

 

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4 hours ago, guf said:

I have to say yes. But sometimes I questioning if it’s”right” or the best it can be.  I have been doing lots of experimenting and realizing that I listen comfortably 75-80 average dbs. Less than 8 feet away. I have been pushing it to see if I can listen louder and what my amps are capable of. I also have a powered sub. All of my amps I can average between 85-90 and it’s too loud. On another forum some amp builder is telling me it’s because of distortion not loudness. My best experiences, most engaging, are when I’m listening at lower volumes, and really present with the music. Not when i’m Peaking out at concert volumes. 

 

 

 

I'm with you. I have started to listen to my music at a lower volume. I actually watched a movie last night without the sub and it was pretty good. I'm down to using the sub for blu ray movies only, for serious shake, rattle, and roll. But I'm beginning to question this strategy. Time will tell. Plus I need to take better care of my hearing, I'm 61 and have considerable loss already.

 

If you are happy with ur system's performance at lower levels then enjoy it and be happy I say.

 

 

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Think any "minimum" is fine ... just "follow" your ears.  Do not have any Khorns, but just needed to comment (sorry :D )

Just got a set of CF-3's ... recommended power is 250wpc.  Tried them with a Marantz 1060 (30wpc) and they sounded excellent. But ... switched to a Kenwood Basic M2 amp (at 250wpc) and do think they sound more refined/detailed now.  Had the same experience with my KPT-904's ... went from 52wpc to 400wpc; and again, not too much difference, but better detail. :) 

Cheers, Emile

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