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Driving your speakers with more power than they "need"

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As much as I appreciate the measurements, waves and graphs and science behind good engineering, I am much more subjective in my approach. Does this (placement/separation/transparency/sound stage) sound good to me? What's important for me to hear and feel may be very different from an engineer or reviewer or someone else on this forum. Fine by me! I just love talking and reading and learning about this, and hearing what others have to say.

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6 hours ago, Khornukopia said:

Music is very dynamic, so it is good to have more amplifier power than your average requirements.


Some (recorded) music is very dynamic, so how much more do I need if 1/4 watt average?

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For me with classical and jazz I would go from .025w to 0.25w (@ average) to 2.5w (maybe a little more). All approximate of course, with a few extra watts on top (@7w max power) because you don't want to be at the system limit all the time.

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Posted (edited)
On 4/19/2024 at 8:52 AM, CWelsh said:

I do hear what your saying and understand about headroom, peaks vs. continuous, and clipping. All good points. All correct within context. When I'm using the example of an 8 wpc amplifier, my context includes a Klipsch Forte III with 99 dB effeciency. That 99 dB is LOUD by pretty much any standard...loud enough to damage your ears with extended exposure. So, let's say there is a peak in the source material that needs to be twice as loud. That means the amp has to deliver a whopping 2 watts to the speaker. Twice as loud again, 4 watts. Twice as loud again, 8 watts. Now we have to worry about clipping, but we are at 111 dB. And, unless I'm mistaken, an amplifier that can deliver 100 watts will still only deliver 8 watts to achieve that 111 dB. Of course, if we were driving a speaker with 80 dB efficiency, it would be an entirely different context and way more power would be required.


Still, how loud the speakers can get is not really the question. Do those additional unused watts (thanks @82 Cornwalls) contribute anything to the overall quality of the sound, or does the output capability strictly affect volume. I'm leaning to the idea that it is only SPL and other factors like current, topology, etc. are responsible for other aspects of the overall "sound".



85dB is louder than most realize.

Twice the power nets a 3dB volume increase. 10X power increase nets twice the volume. 

For most, the smallest increase they can hear is a 3dB increase in volume.


One caution for extended high volume listening that can cause a vicious cycle: over time the drivers’ voice coils heat up. As a result, their impedances increase resulting in compression & volume reduction. The unknowing listener reaches for the volume knob…


my 2 cents 


Edited by gp4Jesus
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