Jump to content

Driving your speakers with more power than they "need"


Recommended Posts

Klipsch speakers are known for high efficiency. One measly watt of input should be plenty loud for most anyone. Some of us swear by low powered SET or Class A SS amps while others feel they need at least 100 watts if not a couple of hundred. Not being an audio engineer, I don't understand what additional watts can do other than increasing SPL to ear damaging levels, and I would like to learn.

 

Part of my reason for asking is that I've started using my old Fisher x-101-b (28 wpc) instead of my 8 wpc ACA, and I've noticed some significant differences. Is it just the additional output power, or is it the fact that one is tube and the other SS? Or, is it a combination? Or, is it something else all together?

 

Educate me, please!

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

1 hour ago, 82 Cornwalls said:

How does your Marantz and Aiyima compare to the ACA and Fisher?

Good question. I loaned the Aiyima to my grandson a few months ago, so I haven't tried it for quite a while. And, I've been using the preamp section of the Marantz to feed the ACA, so that hasn't really been used as a full-on integrated for more than a year. My memory is, the sound of the Marantz and the Aiyima are not that far apart. The ACA provides more detail...just a very clear sound. I would describe the Marantz and Aiyima as more of a warm sound.

 

I've only been listening to the Fisher for a few hours. My initial impression is that it sounds very much like the ACA with a touch more warmth and a slightly more expansive sound stage. The big difference is in the bass. I described it to my brother-in-law as more controlled and powerful. Not any deeper, but definitely more robust. I have my listening space in the basement and for the first time ever, I could feel the bass coming through the floor when I went upstairs. I'm sure the Aiyima would do that, too, but I've never played it in this house so I can't compare them head to head.

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

1 hour ago, The Dude said:

I am more than likely wrong, but does it have something to do with impedance swings and the amount of power it takes to keep everything under control?

I think I've heard that tubes and Class D SS do a better job of handling impedance swings. I would like to know if that is correct and how that affects what we hear.

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Switching amps or power supply can result in a sonic difference.  For instance with a tube switching from triode mode to ultralinear will be perceived immediately due to the increase power. Bass control is easier with SS gear compared to tube gear.  This warmth or sterile terminology is not the best wording.  Some tube amps appear more warm due to distortion for the most part and suit high sensitivity speakers.  SS, better control of all frequencies for the most part. 

 

I don't compare my SS gear to the tube gear.  I like class A, class A/B, Digital and tube gear.  One is not better than the other, it's the user's implementation toward their goals.

  • Like 5
Link to comment
Share on other sites

There are a lot of things going on between SS and tube gear.  Tube gear  can't have the accuracy of SS due to the tubes and design. Tube integrated amps usually will handle 4 an 8 ohm  loads.  That can and can't be the case with SS avr, and integrated amps.  Tube amps can operate with different tube and design factors that can affect the sound.  Impedance swings should not be a major factor unless the amp / speakers are grossly mismatched.  Impedance fluctuates widely.

 

Additional watts for the most part are about bragging about a big beast when only a fly swatter is needed.  I have class D, Class A/B and tubes, I have driven my RF 7 's, Forte, Mc Intosh speaker and other with 25-1000 watt amps.  No real diff with gain adjustment in my listening levels.  

  • Like 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I think you are hearing the difference between technology AND topology. You aren't trying to drive a pair of Wilsons or Martin Logans which can have wild impedance swings. Klipsch speakers tend to have a benign impedance variance, so even the less efficient models are not hard to drive as most other speakers. A better experiment would be pitting two SS or two tube amps of different power ratings against each other on your Fortes. I tried a 150 wpc VTL and a 12 wpc Aric Audio amp on Cornwall IVs. I couldn't hear any improved dynamics or bass control with the VTL, but preferred the Aric for it's tone and imaging. Both sounded equally powerful after adjusting for any gain difference.

  • Like 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

8 hours ago, derrickdj1 said:

For instance with a tube switching from triode mode to ultralinear will be perceived immediately due to the increase power

 

This has not been my experience with amplifiers that can switch between triode and ultralinear or pentode.

Perhaps you mean gain?

 

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

23 minutes ago, 82 Cornwalls said:

 

This has not been my experience with amplifiers that can switch between triode and ultralinear or pentode.

Perhaps you mean gain?

 

 

I think this is more of a novelty than anything. Every tube amplifier I've owned that had this functionality never sounded better in triode. Yes, you get a lusher midrange, but at the expense of everything else. The only way to do triode is with a triode tube. Not a pentode.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

 

55 minutes ago, 82 Cornwalls said:

 

This has not been my experience with amplifiers that can switch between triode and ultralinear or pentode.

Perhaps you mean gain?

 

Yes, the gain in switching produces more output from the amp and first perceptions are the the increases in volume/gain may be       laperceived as better but, longer listening ends with fatigue due to the Hi's im many cases.  Ultralinear delivers more power and promises no more. Tubes that are meant for pentode or beam triode will  work well in most systems.  All the ultralinear amp that I read and know about have more power in ultrilinear mode. The power tube is used entirely different than in tirode mode. The KT 88 pair can produce nearly 100 watts even pushing low ohm speakers..

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Increases in gain don't equate to more power. This just means that the amp can be driven to clipping sooner or later depending on the output voltage of the source. Amps that are designed as a push/pull amp usually don't sound as good when switched to triode. Most manufacturers will agree. This just gives the owner more flexibility. Then again, as in most things audio, this is subjective. You may like a pentode amp better when switched into triode. My take is different.

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Lot's of interesting comments and information here, but it isn't answering the question that is bugging me. I'll ask a different way...

 

It supposedly takes 1 watt of power from the amplifier to drive my Forte IIIs to an SPL of 98 dB at one meter on axis. A 8 wpc ACA has more than enough power to do that and a 28 wpc Fisher is not going to require more than that same 1 watt to achieve the same SPL. Someone please correct me if this is not true, but it seems to be a law of physics.

 

If this is correct, the question is, what is(are) the benefit(s) of the additional output power of higher output amp?

 

I'm not asking with the ulterior motive of suggesting no benefits exist. In fact, in my response to 82 Cornwalls above, I'm saying I can hear differences that I think of as beneficial...things I don't hear from the ACA at the same SPL. My desire is to understand why. Obviously, it is not all about SPL. Maybe the differences boil down to topology and the output power potential has nothing to do with it, but posts from others supporting the use of higher output amps suggests that is not the case.

 

I'm still curious.

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I think you've got a good handle on it. Speakers that are easy to drive and present a benign load don't usually benefit from more watts. Now when I say "easy to drive", I don't mean speakers with less than 95 db sensitivity. I mean speakers like the Heritage series and comparable ones. 

 

I still maintain what you are hearing is that you prefer the sound of the more powerful amp, and not because it's more powerful. Because it just sounds better. This may be for several reasons.

 

1) You like the sound of tubes over transistors

 

2) The Fisher has better parts and a better circuit design

 

3) The Fisher has a more robust power supply

 

Or some combination of all of the above. But I don't think output power is what you are hearing.

 

 

  • Like 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

3 hours ago, Shakeydeal said:

 

I think this is more of a novelty than anything. Every tube amplifier I've owned that had this functionality never sounded better in triode. Yes, you get a lusher midrange, but at the expense of everything else. The only way to do triode is with a triode tube. Not a pentode.

 

The real problem I see is the difficulty designing for both modes since finer tuning is different for triode and ultralinear, it takes more than just a simple switch between the tube and OPTs.

 

FWIW I had a Line Magnetic LM216IA that I preferred in triode.

At my listening levels in my system there was no difference between 22 watts and 38.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

You will notice a fuller sound, deeper bass, superior clarity, and dynamics you have never heard before. Out goes thin, bright sound when you have a good, solid, high-end amplifier that delivers high current and high power. It has nothing to do with loudness; it has to do with superior control and power reserve, like cruising at 80 miles on a highway with a V12 engine versus a 4-cylinder car.
 

  • Like 3
Link to comment
Share on other sites

7 hours ago, Shakeydeal said:

A better experiment would be pitting two SS or two tube amps of different power ratings against each other on your Fortes.

I would go as far as saying 2 of the same manufactures, with the same topology, etc.  For example, Parasound HCA-750 versus Parasound HCA-1000.

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

4 hours ago, CWelsh said:

1 watt of power from the amplifier to drive my Forte IIIs to an SPL of 98 dB at one meter on axis.

Does it drive all frequencies at equal SPL for a whole duration or just in spurts.  I think duty cycle on a welder or air compressor? 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

2 hours ago, John Chi-town said:

You will notice a fuller sound, deeper bass, superior clarity, and dynamics you have never heard before. Out goes thin, bright sound when you have a good, solid, high-end amplifier that delivers high current and high power. It has nothing to do with loudness; it has to do with superior control and power reserve, like cruising at 80 miles on a highway with a V12 engine versus a 4-cylinder car.
 

 

Sounds like the OP is only going 40 and at that speed no difference.

 

What if you had a V24 doing 80, is that better than a V12?

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.
Note: Your post will require moderator approval before it will be visible.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

×
×
  • Create New...