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59mga
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speaker/amp matching

Now that I've purchased a new system...While I was looking for new equipment I was reminded, by a number of "experts", to be sure that the amp could drive the speakers I chose. I was given a long scientific explanation as to how to determine the speakers and amp were properly matched...certain speakers required higher wattage amps to perform properly. In layman's terms, how does a person determine what amp works best with what speaker? Does one go by the Power Handling specs that the speaker manufacturer post. (If the Power Handling specs are 50W-150W does this mean that you need an amp with a 50 watt output, minimum?)

Yiangos
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Re: speaker/amp matching

From experience? Nope,you can get away with less than half , say,one third,provided you have a small room and you don't listen to deafening volumes.Also,the kind of music you listen to,plays a big role.if you like classical music, the power demands will be different if you only listen to chamber music and different if you listen to organ.

59mga
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Re: speaker/amp matching


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From experience? Nope,you can get away with less than half , say,one third,provided you have a small room and you don't listen to deafening volumes.Also,the kind of music you listen to,plays a big role.if you like classical music, the power demands will be different if you only listen to chamber music and different if you listen to organ.

My thoughts exactly. The people who pushed the hi powered amps and the humongous speakers were the Best Buy type places. I purchased from a local, long time established, family owned, true hifi establishment. (They started selling radios back in the 1930s.) I was able to listen to the exact CD player, tuner and vinyl through the amp and speakers that I purchased. As a matter of fact I was ready to buy more expensive speakers and a bigger amp but when I went to the dealer with my CDs, to audition the equipment, the owner proved to me that I didn't need the bigger amplifier and that a less expensive pair of speakers would sound just as good. An honest businessman still exist! And he made the same statement you did, Yiangos: large amps can be a waste of power. Smaller rooms an lower volumes don't need mega watts.

Monty
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Re: speaker/amp matching

Yiangos is right. Still, there are fundamental compatability issues between amps and speakers that have to be considered. Current hungry speakers with wild phase shifts and low impedence characteristics may not be as common as easier driven speakers, but they aren't uncommon, either. Some amps simply cannot remain stable when faced with a difficult to drive speaker.

Many speaker companies have recognized the need to specify amp power requirements and list them according to room size.

An example of two well regarded components that would probably not live happily ever after would be an Arcam Solo and a pair of Thiels.

Jeff Wong
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Re: speaker/amp matching

I think people often recommend more powerful amps because one of the dangers of using an underpowered amp is that you might drive the amp into clipping more easily and the resulting distorted signal could damage your drivers. But, as long as you keep your volumes sensible, you should be all right with a lesser powered amp.

59mga
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Re: speaker/amp matching

Monty: So what you're saying is that lower impedance speakers are harder to drive thus requiring a higher wattage amp? Makes sense.

Jeff: I've owned various wattaged amps and never turned the volume up so high that distortion resulted. I just replaced a 90 watt amp and in a 20'x25' room I never turned the volume up to more than a third. With that in mind I figured a 50 watt amp turned up half way should sound good. (How scientific.) All sounds fine.

gkc
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Re: speaker/amp matching

From my understanding, it's not just impedance, but phase shift and other punishments inflicted by complex crossover networks. Also, there is a HUGE subjective factor. And complex musical signals can't really be pinned down on the impedance graphs across the spectrum -- a speaker may be kindly in the midrange and punishing at the extremes, and still sound better with a low-powered amp than a seemingly more efficient model that is more demanding when asked to resolve mids and highs. ST has often mentioned in his reviews that low-powered amps seem to sound better than high-powered ones, all other factors equal (they never are, but that's another subject), because of problems in transistor matching (solid state) and transformer design (tube amps). This matches my own experience. If you can get away with a high quality, low-powered unit, with the speakers you like, you will probably like what you hear. All other design criteria aside, simplicity usually wins the day in our pursuit, and added power means more and more complexity and more problems with heat and linearity -- which is why very high powered amps often cost more than it first seems they should. Design problems seem to multiply logrithmically as power goes up arithmetically. If you must have more power to drive your speaker of choice, then so be it...but you are gonna have to pay.

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Re: speaker/amp matching

50 watts? If you want to hear any music that sounds like a live experience with IMPACT, SLAM, DYNAMICS, 50 watts barely gets things moving. Listen to the SAME speakers at the SAME levels, with more and more powerful amps. It ain't just make it play get louder, it starts to open up, better detail etc. Watts matter. Checkout out Bill Dudleston's power/ wattage explanation in the www.legacyaudio.com site under engineering section. Pull up the WHISPER instruction manual in the WHISPER area. He explains, sure, drive a pair of Whispers with low power, for some compressed lifeless music, add some watts and there is some music. Control them drivers with reserve power. Watts, there is no substitute. A 100 piece orchestra moves a lot of air...trying to move the air at home needs lotsa watts. Maybe some VanAlstine watts? 4200W is not out of teh question. Just had a co worker over, yesterday afternoon to checkout some WHISPER....First listen was the usual jaw drop, the wow, you can hear everything..He is into classical( I mentioned it can make me snooze, but he then started to explain things in the recording, details etc etc), I pulled out Holst Planets which he said he likes, he was very familar with this recording, he was duly impressed. and it wasn't the best recording of this music either. i did have to go down to teh bottom most row of the CD shelf, I knew I had some classics, I knew I had it , just don't usually listen to it, he was even impressed, I had it. He heard details he never heard before. He does also know these ain't no $500 Ckt City boxes. He can no longer listen to mass fi...he's been WHISPERED to.....

CECE
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Re: speaker/amp matching

Nope....true hi fi place? 6 inch woofers can't do it for true hi fi. Can't do it. Neither can the wrong tweeters or mids. Small speakers are for limited fidelity. For mini monitoring, like when they are 2 feet from your face.

59mga
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Re: speaker/amp matching


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ST has often mentioned in his reviews that low-powered amps seem to sound better than high-powered ones... This matches my own experience. If you can get away with a high quality, low-powered unit, with the speakers you like, you will probably like what you hear.

I once owned a 250 watt Crown amp (no where near as powerful as another writer's 4,200 watt device)and although it could produce a lot of dBs it just didn't give me the lows, mids and highs until it was turned up so loud that your ears would bleed. I agree with you, Clifton, that a low powered amp can provide all the frequency and clarity one needs/wants, when matched with the right speaker.
I know all about overdriving an amp and clipping, distortion, etc., etc. (which I'm not going to do, anyway). "simplicity", as you put it, is what I'm after...and I've found it.

59mga
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Re: speaker/amp matching


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If you want to hear any music that sounds like a live experience with IMPACT, SLAM, DYNAMICS, 50 watts barely gets things moving.

I've heard many live music performances that sounded less than impressive. Loud? Yes. But still poor sound quality. Bad engineering? Maybe. Cheap equipment? Maybe. Volume is not everything.


Quote:
Listen to the SAME speakers at the SAME levels, with more and more powerful amps. It ain't just make it play get louder, it starts to open up, better detail etc. Watts matter.

I've tried this and it seemed that the more powerful the amp the louder I had to turn it up to get the same response. I once had a Yamaha (integrated) amp with a "loudness" control. As the owners manual explained it, you turn up the volume to where where you get all the highs and lows then you adjust the "loudness" control to reduce the dB output, of the amp, and not loose your upper and lower frequency. (Isn't this what the bass and treble knobs do?) What's the point? As was explained to me, as well as read right here; well designed audiophile equipment doesn't need a lot of power or bass and treble controls to sound good. If properly designed all the frequencies will be reproduced.


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Checkout out Bill Dudleston's power/ wattage explanation...low power...add some watts...reserve power. Watts, there is no substitute...to move the air at home needs lotsa watts...4200W is not out of teh question.

I'm sure Mr. Dudleston's speakers soun great, and I know looks are of no concern, to a true audiophile, but hose Whispers look like something I saw at a garage sale back in the 80's. I'm not trying to resonate the Royal Albert Hall, I'm just trying to enjoy some music at home. Gargantuan speakers and an amp that needs a direct hook-up to the nearest power plant is not what I need. But when I want to peel the paint of my walls, shatter the windows and run the neighbors off I'll take your advice, DUP.

Yiangos
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Re: speaker/amp matching

Mike,not sure what you're trying say here.Everyone says whatever he wants to sell his equipment. I believe what matters most,other than quality of course,is not raw power but current delivery.I have an old Nad 3020b(30-35 watt) that blows the socks off an Accuphase p-300 (150 watts) just because of that. I strongly believe unless you have some really innefficient or low impedance loudspeakers or a hugh room,65 watt rms in a good quality amp are quite enough. I am not saying this a rule but i believe they are enough.

59mga
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Re: speaker/amp matching


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...65 watt rms in a good quality amp are quite enough.

My point exactly, Yiangos. I don't need mega watts of power and 200 dB of sound to enjoy my music. Just give me a sound that is clean, clear and has range.

bwkendall
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Re: speaker/amp matching

There are some, well, very interesting claims being made in this thread. Some of them have me scratching my head so I will stick with what I know.

Your amplification needs have much to do with your listening preferences (volume) and your speakers. One can easily make a case for a high-current 50 wpc channel delivering all the high end sound one can possibly hope for....with the right speakers. I agree with the earlier comment about current output, you have to have enough amperage to handle dynamic swings in the music.

Personally, I like having more power than that because I listen at what I call moderate listening levels. I find that I get more detail and emotion from whatever I am listening to if I have enough juice behind it. My wife, on the other hand, who is a newly inducted `phile, has never met a watt she didn't like or want to use. I find that rather annoying sometimes.

At the end of the day it is all about auditioning equipment, paying less attention to the stated specs (because so many manufacturers misstate theirs, some are embellished, some are sandbagging), and then carefully matching your components.

[I scratch my head again.] So I can't be hearing hi-fi from my Totem Forest speakers because they only have 6" drivers in them? Okay, I'll just muddle along as best I can.

CECE
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Re: speaker/amp matching

We ain't talking Crown super reliable pro beat to crap, abused rugged keeps on going in 90+ outside arena never fails rugged watts...used by many who's pay check relys on it's Reliabilty and rugedness and moving air by the trainload driving some pro EV or QSC or EAW flying cabinets, no not them..I is talking sonic excellence, super reliable, rubbed, run forever, great sounding sonic masterpieces from Vanalstine...not Pioneer, not sony, not JVC....4200 going to 4800W soon after one more Omegastar EX rebuild arrives...Watts there is no substitute...best live sound in a long long long time, house of blues chicago...sho' nuff after I heard my friend Matt Oree WIN in chicago, I made mention at the time, damn this place sounds good...Flying EV with a few 18" woofer cabinets...In Installation Contractor magazine, HOB chicago dudes who did the systems received awards for excellent sound....it was good, not loud but clear, full of SLAM, IMPACT Clear, resolved it was great!!!10's of thousnads of watts to fill the space, WATTS, no substitute....ain't no arena ever been filled with great sound with 50Watts....impossible..remeber Beatles at Shea stadium? A few portable amps, and no sound...that event was one of teh reasons the stuff used today was created....the 3 layer set up behind the band in front of teh band, some band monitors so they can hear themselves, the control board at front of house.....I've also heard so terrible sound from that type of setup, locally Stone Pony blows, starland ballroom is OK, but also too loud, boomy, not as bad as Stone Pony with WHOMPPIG bloated booming annoying one not bass, horrible sound, HOB Chicago the best, tight, resolved clear, with Slam..HOB Atlantic city also very good, too bad the artists I seen that nite where a bore fest, and a major name with some great recordings..live, he sucked...he needs to stay in teh studio...Tweeter Center Camden..LOUD is not the word, Kenny Wayne shepperd, man can he play!!! had to be at the limit of death, beyond 128dB unbearable. pnc Holmdel, very variable, depends who is on stage, ...sometimes over cooked, other times mud, too shrill, sometimes very good, no place was using 50W.. StarlandBallroom sayreville, 32,000 CROWN watts from their website that place can be very good, or too bassys, crystal clear or too loud, watts per square foot, I would beleive I am above them...it's a full size place, not extreme, not small...Crown amps are everywhere as are QSC. Watts, lots are needed, when needed, usually few are called but like air bags in a car, it's nice to know when needed they will respond....VanAlstine/Hafler OmegaStarEX rebuilds could easily be used in pro venues with super reliable, all day use...and I would bet money they would sound better than the Crowns or QSC, Crowns are actually cheaper as are QSC, due to their mass production mfg. Haflers stock are also all over. anyone take an SPL meter to a LIVE un amplified concert of over 100 pieces? there sure is some dynamics and loud going on...they is moving some air!!! To do that with speakers needs WATTS.

59mga
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Re: speaker/amp matching


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One can easily make a case for a high-current 50 wpc channel delivering all the high end sound one can possibly hope for....with the right speakers. I agree with the earlier comment about current output, you have to have enough amperage to handle dynamic swings in the music.

Exactly. This is why I purchased a high current, class A amp and matching speakers. I had spent many hours auditioning a variety of speaker/amp combinations until coming up with a mix that pleased me.


Quote:
Personally, I like having more power than that because I listen at what I call moderate listening levels. I find that I get more detail and emotion from whatever I am listening to if I have enough juice behind it.

No argument here...this is what it is all about...getting the sound you want.


Quote:
So I can't be hearing hi-fi from my Totem Forest speakers because they only have 6" drivers in them? Okay, I'll just muddle along as best I can.

A friend of mine was an engineer for Polk, in their early years, and he explained to me that when a bass speaker gets too large in diameter the distortion factor increases greatley. That by coupling several 6" or 8" speakers together you get the same surface area, to move air, while eliminating the distortion. So enjoy those Totem Forests!

CECE
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Re: speaker/amp matching

Polk being mass fi, ckt city customers,..Bill d at Legacy says otherwise....checkout the Legacyaudio website under engineering all kinds of information about the reality of speakers. Realitys of wires etc. Actually the distrtion goes way down on properly designed drivers. Less excursion, less distortion, i recently had a co worker over to chekcout some WHISPER, his first observation after being given teh WOW factor with some house shuddering bass, was, those woofers ain't even moving!!! As teh house shudders with true deeeep bass. Less cone motion less distortion, a Legacy hall mark. Legacy also dispelled the myths of multiple drivers causing all kinds of phase, this and that problems. If you are gonna have multiple woof drivers why use mid range drivers as woofers, as in 6" drivers? Might as well put in some 12" or 15" or even 18" woofers and move some air, and not make them move more than necessary. Less distorion. better sound. 6" drivers are not woofers...Heard any BLOSE lately?

bwkendall
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Re: speaker/amp matching

Well if it makes you happy, I used to be a Legacy owner. I also had an 800 square foot listening room.

Heard any Totems lately?

Happy Damn Friday, all. I'm off to AZ to pick up the MIL.

59mga
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Re: speaker/amp matching

Can't argue with you about Polk going "mass fi"...that's why my friend left the company. I remeber the speakers from the '70s that had huge woofers made of, what must have been, recycled newspaper. I know technology and materials have improved greatly, since that time. Yes, I have heard some true hi fi speakers with 12", and larger, woofers that sound excellent. I have also listened to speakers with the, previously mentioned, 6" and 8" multiple speaker design for bass response. These are not midrange speakers being used as woofers. The materials are different as well as the physical configuration of the cone itself. Hey, if it sounds good to me that's all that matters. Blose...aren't they the folks who make those headphones used on airliners?

steve44
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Re: speaker/amp matching

Speaker amp matching is a function of both the compatable sonic attributes of the amp and speaker enhancing each other as well as whether the amplifier's electrical output characteristics can deliver adequate current and power reserves to the speaker load.

59mga
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Re: speaker/amp matching


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Speaker amp matching is a function of both the compatable sonic attributes of the amp and speaker enhancing each other as well as whether the amplifier's electrical output characteristics can deliver adequate current and power reserves to the speaker load.

Yes, you are absolutely right. And an important factor I found out in my search was, personal preference. A specific brand of speaker was recommended, by the distributor, as a match for the amp that I had purchased. Yes, that speaker did sound good, but the dealer recommended a speaker that had the same specs but sounded different. I listened to several speakers and bought what sounded good to me. (And, yes, they did match the specs of the speakers that the distributor recomended.)

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