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Does power(watts) affect listening ?

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SynthSmith

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Have a simple question:

How much would the wattage of the speaker/amp setup affect in music listening ?

Apart from volume, is there any advantage in buying a 100W speaker over a 80W speaker ??

Would the diaphragm of a 100W speaker move, more back & forth, than that of a 80W speaker setup ?
 

venkatcr

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How much would the wattage of the speaker/amp setup affect in music listening ?

Most speakers have a lower and upper limit in terms of their wattage. The lower number represents the minimal power needed to drive the speaker. The higher number represents the power at which the speaker will start clipping or distorting. It is not advisable to drive a speaker near it's upper power handling capacity.

Apart from volume, is there any advantage in buying a 100W speaker over a 80W speaker ??

Wattage by itself may not give the complete picture. You have to consider two other factors. One is sensitivity. This is measured in dB and represents the efficiency with which the speaker converts the power supplied to it into sound. The higher the number, the more efficient the speakers are. For example, a 3dB increase in sensitivity can produce the same amplitude of sound as doubling your amps output. Speaker sensitivity defines the quantum sound output delivered by a speaker with one watt of power input from an amplifier. Sensitivity is needed to determine the amount of power necessary to drive a speaker.

Another factor is called impedance. Impedance is measured in Ohms, and represents the amount of resistance the speakers provides to electrical current. The lower the impedance, the easier it is to drive a speaker. Impedance is also specified for a amp. Generally it is advisable to drive a 8m ohms speaker with an amp that can deliver x watts of power at 8 ohms. Many people are attracted to drive a 4 ohms speaker with an amp that is rated at, let us say, 50 watts at 8 ohms. They do this thinking that the amp will now be delivering 100 watts at 4 ohms which is the impedance of the speaker. Though in theory this is correct, the speaker will be clipped very quickly and start distorting. It is important to match the speaker and amp's impedance and wattage as close as possible.

Would the diaphragm of a 100W speaker move, more back & forth, than that of a 80W speaker setup ?

Sound is transferred by air pressure. So theoretically what you say is true. A speaker with more wattage or power should push more air. But this may not be true in terms of the movement of the diaphragm of the speaker. The air pressure is not produced by the movement of the diaphragm alone. The cabinet construction also plays a major part

Diaphragm movement depends a lot on the material used for making the diaphragm. Many speakers use silk and paper cones for easy movement of the diaphragm. But there are speaker that are made of special material such as Kevlar. These material are stiffer and thus the resistance of the speaker will be higher. Such speaker need more power, but deliver a smoother and more transparent sound.

Thus it is not just the wattage, but a combination of wattage (or power handling capacity), sensitivity, and, impedance that go to define speaker.

Cheers
 
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afj

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dont worry about watts too much. its the sound quality thats more of an issue. during normal listening you dont use more than 30w. perhaps 50 in some cases - by then its already very loud. so dont let the diff between 80w and 100w be the judge for choosing
 

gobble

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Chipamps also provide superb linearity in those kind of outputs, and so these are to be mated with high-sensitivity speakers (90dB/W or greater). Most low-bias tube amps show most of their THD+N in lower output levels (there are exceptions, but I prefer tube amps when they are operating near the top of their range), and mass-market cool running amps need to be cranked the middle of their powerband but run out of steam at the top end.

duh! Do you mean to use solid state class D amps as generic term for chipamps?
I didnt understand the following logic of why chipamps need high sensitivity speakers...

duh! Whats a low-bias tube amp?

Regards
 

BLASTO

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I think I need to reopen this thread to get more focussed info on my doubts.

My doubts are slightly different. How does the 'Wattage' value of the 'AMPLIFIER' affect listening.

For example, Lets say I drive a same set of speakers with amps C315BEE and C325BEE. Now, There is not much difference between the two amps except the continuous output power rating of 40W vs 50W. But the difference between the prices of these two amps is 7k. Is the 10W power increase justify the price increase of 7k?

On reading the above posts, I am forced to believe that there is not much difference between a 40W and 50W amp, all other parameters being same. Given that who will buy a high powered amp for non-linear high price?


Also, Let us say a speaker has a input range of 20W - 200W @8ohms. Assuming I hear the music @ sane volumes and am not going to make my doors vibrate, Can I better of go about buying a low wattage (25W) amp from a more audiophile level manufacturer than compromising for a 150W amp by a lesser quality manufacturer? What will be the difference in sound quality in that case?
In short, What is the difference between the listening experience using a 150w amp and a 30w amp @ the SAME volume level?

If output wattage of amps have such low importance (as I understand), Why are high wattage amps manufactured at all? Can't all the amps be manufactured with say 50 wps so that comparison becomes more easy?

Thanks,
 

spirovious

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Watts can affect SQ with same spk.
I took audition of Norge2060(80w) & 1000(100w) with my Tany F1 & found that 1000 gave better sound than 2060 ,may be due to wattage of 1000 is100w.

though my spk can match with 20 to 50w amp,100w sound was pleasant.
 

marsilians

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You are asking a lot of questions which I will try to answers in generic terms:

All that the wattage is saying is how much power the amp can deliver when asked to do so by the speaker. The metric is very misleading due to how manufacturers tend to report them.

I think I need to reopen this thread to get more focussed info on my doubts.

My doubts are slightly different. How does the 'Wattage' value of the 'AMPLIFIER' affect listening.

For the most part its not much as most efficient (8 ohm impedence speakers) are very easy to drive and will hardly test the limits of the amp. The closest analogy is the odometers in our cars. Even though the one may have the max speed of 120 km/hr vs. 160 km/hr, the limits will hardly be tested when everyone is driving at 20 km/hr.

WRT to the NAD amps, people are saying there is not much difference because these typically are not stressed to hear even though theoretically there should be a difference between them.

Reason people buy higher powered amps is that there are certain parts during audio when the amp will be stressed to its limits (also called peak power). During these times, it is easier for a higher power amp to handle than a lower powered ones. Mind you these are rare occurances but they do occur. Going back to my analogy above, if you end up driving at 100 km/hr then the more powerful car can easily achieve this than the latter.


For example, Lets say I drive a same set of speakers with amps C315BEE and C325BEE. Now, There is not much difference between the two amps except the continuous output power rating of 40W vs 50W. But the difference between the prices of these two amps is 7k. Is the 10W power increase justify the price increase of 7k?

On reading the above posts, I am forced to believe that there is not much difference between a 40W and 50W amp, all other parameters being same. Given that who will buy a high powered amp for non-linear high price?


Also, Let us say a speaker has a input range of 20W - 200W @8ohms. Assuming I hear the music @ sane volumes and am not going to make my doors vibrate, Can I better of go about buying a low wattage (25W) amp from a more audiophile level manufacturer than compromising for a 150W amp by a lesser quality manufacturer? What will be the difference in sound quality in that case?
In short, What is the difference between the listening experience using a 150w amp and a 30w amp @ the SAME volume level?

If output wattage of amps have such low importance (as I understand), Why are high wattage amps manufactured at all? Can't all the amps be manufactured with say 50 wps so that comparison becomes more easy?

Thanks,
 

Asit

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Hi Blasto,

You have asked, I think, some very relevant questions. I also do have very similar questions in my mind and of late have bored people to death by asking very similar questions in my very long amp thread.

I can try to explain my current level of understanding at this point.

Let's first clarify one thing: the 40 Watts or 50 Watts that you are talking about in your post are what is called the rms power continuously deliverable at a given speaker load (usually given for 8 Ohms). However, the continuously deliverable rms rating is NOT the maximum power that the amp is capable of delivering. A well-constructed amp may be able deliver for a very short time period an amount of power much much higher than that power rating. This is very important for music reproduction, because in music there are quieter periods, and then there are sudden bursts of energy. Because of this the above mentioned power-reserves, called dynamic headroom, are a must.

The other aspect is the amount of power that the amp can deliver for different speaker-loads. As the music flows, it involves different frequency components at different times. The speaker impedances change with frequency. That actually means that the amp sees the speakers as loads where the impedance is changing continuously with time. Now from the Physics formula relating power, voltage and impedance you would discover that as the load-impedance is lowered the power requirement is higher if you keep the voltage fixed. So you see, as the music is being played, the amp is doing a tremendously non-trivial job of delivering an expected level of power to a load where the impedance is continuously changing.

That's why more than the speaker sensitivity, its impedance as a a function of frequency (this in general depends also on the power) is an important aspect. On the amplifier side, some of the things to look for is the available power as the impedance changes and also as the frequency changes.

Now you can guess what would be the ideal situation. For the speaker, the ideal situation should be the impedance completely independent of frequency (at least within the relevant range of 20 - 20KHz). This is usually called the flat response because an impedance vs frequency plot would look perfectly parallel to the frequency-axis of the plot.

The ideal amp (at least with respect to the things we are discussing here) would be one which would exactly compensate for a reduction of speaker-impedance. For example, a 50 wpc@8 Ohm amp would become a 100 wpc@4 Ohm or a 200 wpc@2 Ohms or 400 Watts@1 Ohm. BTW, this does not usually happen for low-priced amps.

Also, ideally, at a given speaker impedance, the amp should deliver power independently of the frequency.

Obviously, there are many many other aspects for the amp (and also for the speakers), especially with respect to distortions. The THD rating given as an amp spec. is also very misleading. Two amps having the same THD can have very different distortion patterns. In addition, distortions in lower harmonics are generally considered better. Also odd and even harmonics make a difference. To top it all, all these can change at different power.

So after all this mumbo jumbo, what is the conclusion? What we common people should do?

To answer one of your questions, yes, a 50 Wpc@8 Ohms amp should be enough for all kinds of listening at home, even for large rooms and at deafening volumes (look at my table in a recent post in my amp thread), provided the amp is close to having the ideal characteristics as described above and also having enough dynamic headroom to accommodate a sudden 15db or so (at a max, even good recordings usually do not have this kind of dynamic range) volume increase.

Obviously in the budget segment, you do not often find an amp of 50 wpc@8 Ohm to have even close to the nice characteristics described above. But this discussion should be a pointer to a few things. For example you would notice that in the market there are some 50 wpc amps at less than 20K and some other 50 wpc amp at 40 or 50 K. There are even 25 wpc amp at close to a lakh. Obviously some of the price difference can be due to business-related economics, but in general there IS a difference.

At least for SS (solid state) amps, that's why people want to make sure that at least some of the ideal characteristics are somewhat approached by buying an amp having a power rating much higher than the actual requirement.

So, if all the ideal characteristics are met including the one for dynamic headroom, there should not be any difference of sound between the 40 wpc Nad 515 and 50 wpc Nad 525 producing the same volume at the same speaker-set (assuming the two amps are 'voiced' the same way). Now based on the above discussion, you know that there is enough reason to believe that there can be many other significant differences between the two amps which can make a real difference in the sound produced by the two amps.
 

BLASTO

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Watts can affect SQ with same spk.
I took audition of Norge2060(80w) & 1000(100w) with my Tany F1 & found that 1000 gave better sound than 2060 ,may be due to wattage of 1000 is100w.

though my spk can match with 20 to 50w amp,100w sound was pleasant.


<Off Topic>
Norge 1000 is a 125 wpc amp I think.
 

BLASTO

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I also do have very similar questions in my mind and of late have bored people to death by asking very similar questions in my very long amp thread.

Hi Asit,

Your post in this thread and the whole of the other thread in 'amplifier' section is great to say the least.. :clapping:

My only issue is the 'Title' of your thread does not do justice to the contents and people tend to miss it all together..

I for one, did not see your thread though it had the answers right in front of my eyes..

'amp-upgrade-canton-speakers-feasibility-study' is not the title which will interest people who do not own canton speakers.

Can you please change the title to something more revealing of the contents in order to further help the forum members? That would be great.. :)

Thanks a lot.
 

flanker.r

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Wattage ratings on speakers are pretty much meaningless. As long as you have the 'Soft clipping' circuit built into you and can detect distortion, pretty much any speaker can be driven by any amp without causing damage.
 

Asit

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Thanks Blasto, for the encouraging and kind words. There are a lot of wrong notion among people about amps. Yes, in my amp thread there is plenty of discussion about many many aspects of audio amplifiers and also some on speakers that many members can benefit from. However, it has become so long that even for me now it is quite difficult to find some information from a certain post.

I do not know if it's even possible to change the name of a thread. Mr. Moderator, if he is reading this, may have some idea. I would not mind to change it to something that will be a better indicator of the discussion there.
 

venkatcr

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Another factor is called impedance. Impedance is measured in Ohms, and represents the amount of resistance the speakers provides to electrical current. The lower the impedance, the easier it is to drive a speaker. Impedance is also specified for a amp.

Folks, it look as if I made a mistake here. Through impedance means resistance, lower impedance speakers are more difficult to drive. Our friend Flanker, was kind enough to point out my error. I quote his explanation below:

Flanker said:
As mentioned impedance and resistance, although they share the same unit of ohms, are completely different phenomenon. Impedance belongs to the AC domain only and is a function of frequency. So it even erroneous when manufacturers say their speaker is 4 ohms. It is impossible to make a speaker that is linear and has 4 ohms along 20-20k range. Also when we put a multimeter between speaker terminals what we measure is only resistance and not impedance (as MMs have only a battery which is DC)

However for practical purposes let us consider impedance = resistance at a particular frequency.

Also, Ohm's law being v=IR and on rearrangement R=v/I, we see that as the value of R increases, 'I' (or current) would drop proportionately. We infer hence that as impedance increases, lesser current is required. Lesser current translates to easier load on power supply of the amp and amps like this condition. As impedance drops, current increases which is additional load on the amp's power supply (PS). Amps like high impedance speakers.

Further proof is that when amps are connected to headphones, even at very high volumes, they barely run hot. This is because headphones are high impedance devices and amps like them.

Another observation you might have made is that in car audio, the impedance of speakers are usually 2 Ohms. Car amps run really hot compared to our home audio ones inspite of the fact that, in most cases - home and car, the voltage is 12v. This is because they are powering low impedance speakers and draw huge currents - car batteries are designed to handle upto 600 amps of current (which incidentally is the starting current required to crank a stationary engine). The biggest fuses we have at home are not more than 15 amps. Yes, this comes at a cost but car audiophiles are prepared to spend more than us and take more risks. I once had a customer who wanted me to fit a 1 farad capacitor to his car audio PS. 1 farad? I was scared to even touch it - it can easily fry you if it discharges and can burn up his car. He was not aware of the amount of energy stored in 1 farad - lucky for him. I would never drive his car. 1 farad is a mini explosive.

Flanker, I am obliged to you for the correction.

Cheers
 

thevortex

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Wattage ratings on speakers are pretty much meaningless. As long as you have the 'Soft clipping' circuit built into you and can detect distortion, pretty much any speaker can be driven by any amp without causing damage.

Flanker - let me ask you one thing. I seem to recall reading somewhere that soft clipping as a feature tends to blunt the dynamism just a little. Is that true? I am speaking with specific reference to NAD amps which have this built in.
 

flanker.r

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Flanker - let me ask you one thing. I seem to recall reading somewhere that soft clipping as a feature tends to blunt the dynamism just a little. Is that true? I am speaking with specific reference to NAD amps which have this built in.

it is true vortex. Infact having any additional circuitry in signal path caps dynamic range. Not just soft clipping- rumble filters, infrasonic filters, tone controls, mpx filters, bass enhancement, etc corrupt the signal path to various degrees.

What I meant by 'soft clipping' here is that the circuit needs to be built into our ears. If we detect distortion the best solution is to turn down the volume. This is the best safety device built into any amp!
 

gobble

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I use the NAD 325 and I keep the soft clipping off because I never crank the volume more than 11O'Clock. At close to max volumes, I hear a very compressed dynamic range with or without S.C and I guess this is true with any amp at close to max volumes. But thats because an amp already pushing the quieter passages of the music at close to its max continuous power rating has no more power reserves to scale to the louder passages.

I think the correct thing to do is buy an amp with lots of reserve power even if you never listen loud. This way the amp can scale for the microsecond peaks in volume and still drive the speakers well at low to moderate volumes.

Regards
 

gobble

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@gobble: don't forget that above 85-87dB, your ears start compressing the incoming sound pressures as well, to protect the inner ear and the tympanic bones. Dynamic range distortion (as a result of poor amplification) is only valid for average listening levels of up to 75dB (peaks of 80-85dB), above that it's guesswork. It may also be your ears (it may not be, but it's important to know the reason).

Cool, I didn't know that. So now I need to begin worrying about "upgrading" myself besides my audio ICs and gear. :)

Nice to know :eek:hyeah:

Cheers
 

thevortex

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it is true vortex. Infact having any additional circuitry in signal path caps dynamic range. Not just soft clipping- rumble filters, infrasonic filters, tone controls, mpx filters, bass enhancement, etc corrupt the signal path to various degrees.

What I meant by 'soft clipping' here is that the circuit needs to be built into our ears. If we detect distortion the best solution is to turn down the volume. This is the best safety device built into any amp!

Thanks Flanker. The thing is I am getting a NAD C372 soon and these are going to be paired with EPOS M12.2's. The NAD is pretty powerful at 150W where the EPOS's are not rated for that power. Their maximum power handling is 120W. For that reason I thought that soft clipping might be useful in my setup. Any thoughts?

I am not a person who pushes the system very loud normally. So, I think it ought to be OK. But still would like to double check to make sure that the speakers are not damaged due to being paired with a powerful amp.
 

dinyaar

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Thanks Flanker. The thing is I am getting a NAD C372 soon and these are going to be paired with EPOS M12.2's. The NAD is pretty powerful at 150W where the EPOS's are not rated for that power. Their maximum power handling is 120W. For that reason I thought that soft clipping might be useful in my setup. Any thoughts?

I am not a person who pushes the system very loud normally. So, I think it ought to be OK. But still would like to double check to make sure that the speakers are not damaged due to being paired with a powerful amp.

Hi thevortex,

NOTHING WILL HAPPEN just play the music at the SPL u are comfortable with. U will 'hear' trouble approaching before anything happens to your speakers whether u keep that soft clipping engaged or off.
Rgds
 
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