Can someone please explain 'CLIPPING' to me?

Discussion in 'Speakers' started by brentSkieb, Feb 5, 2006.

  1. brentSkieb

    brentSkieb Extra

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    In looking over the reviews for a new subwoofer, I noticed there were a lot of notes regarding 'clipping'.

    Obviously,I'm not a pure 'audiophile' but I do enjoy good, quality equipment)

    Could someone explain 'clipping' to me in understandable terms?

    Is it something I need a SPL meter and Avia type dic to check for?

    Any help in regard to this would be greatly appreciated.

    Thanks in advance for any help.

    Brentskieb
     
  2. MikeNg

    MikeNg Second Unit

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    Clipping basically, is the point at which a signal becomes distorted because it is overdriven (gain is too high).

    This can occur on the pre-amp and amp section.

    With respect to subs, it's not something you'd measure with a meter, but something you look for when the sub is operating at high levels. The amplifier is essentially over-taxed and you see a warning light flicker on. This warning light is telling you that you've maxxed out the sub amp's ability to handle the signal and you should back if off a bit. Running a sub consistently at the point of clipping is bad for the sub and the amp. You should avoid this.

    Mike
     
  3. brentSkieb

    brentSkieb Extra

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    Mike,

    Thanks for the reply and informing me about 'clipping'.
    I'm in the hunt for a sub. and see this term often and just wanted to make sure I understood everything.

    I doubt very seriously anybody will be cranking their systems to the point that it taxes their sub(or anything else for that matter)
     
  4. Leo Kerr

    Leo Kerr Screenwriter

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    Clipping can occur at most any point in the signal chain. Some pro equipment is very prone to it - it's extremely easy to overdrive the input stage of an older Mackie mixer (the VLZ series, for example. Don't know about the Onyxs or whatever their new lineup is called.)

    Amplifiers can clip - that's very bad. If a speaker is clipping, that's extremely bad - 'cause a speaker clips, generally, by mechanical limits - the cone bashing into parts, stopping its movement.

    Leo
     
  5. Nhoj

    Nhoj Auditioning

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    Clipping usually applies to a power amplifier. If an amps tries to put out a tall wave form (maybe 20 to 40 volts) and the power supply doesn't have enough current to back it up, the wave form will flatten out at the level where the power ran out. Not necessarily bad for the amp, but that moment of a flattened wave form is a moment of DC as far as the speaker is concerned. At that instant, the power from the amp is converted to heat instead of movement and will in time bake the voice coil.
    Clipping on brief peaks is common in any system unless you have LOTS of power headroom. Most people don't notice it unless it's severe or sustained.
    Some amps will limit clipping by limiting the signal. The power still craps out, but the wave form gently rounds over instead of flattening, which is kinder to the speakers.
    Woofers use the most power, so it's usually a low end issue. Try the ring rumble from LOTR to see how much clipping your woof and ears can handle.
    An SPL meter would not be useful. It wouldn't know the difference.
    Hope this helps.

    Cheers,
    Nhoj
     

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