How powerful does receiver need to be?

Discussion in 'AV Receivers' started by Steve Matulich, Mar 29, 2004.

  1. Steve Matulich

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    Most tower speakers are rated requiring a minimum of 150w & often far exceed this.

    Most receivers start at around 70 wpc & go up to around 130 wpc.

    If you have main speakers in your HTS which have a required power consumption of up to 200 watts then how powerful should the receiver be?

    Is having an entry level receiver (ie 70 wpc) power a 200 watt speaker going to do it justice or should you be looking at something around the 110 wpc level?

    My main speakers are rated at 200 watts yet my receiver is only 70 wpc (Denon 1603) - would upgrading to a more powerful receiver be worth the dollar outlay?
     
  2. Robert Todd

    Robert Todd Agent

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    Are you sure your speakers aren't rated as 200w CAPABLE.
    Speakers rated at 200w do not REQUIRE 200w to operate properly, but are CAPABLE of handling this power level. Such ratings are for guidance anyway and are not absolute.
    Your receiver, rated at 70w is capable of exceeding this level in the dynamics of music reproduction. If you have no problem with distortion at high volumes, then you probably don't need more power. You can't have too much power, as a more powerful amp. will play more cleanly at high volume and will be less likely to damage your speakers than a less powerful amp. at an equivalent level.
    However, most people get more power than they really need.
     
  3. Steve Matulich

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    You are correct - I worded my question incorrctly.

    But your comment about people having AVRs which have power surplus to their requirements - why would anyone buy a 130 wpc receiver costing triple or even quadruple the price of a 70 wpc receiver if the difference in sound quality was minimal?

    Why would I upgrade to the Denon 3803 (AU$2600) from the Denon 1603 (AU$800) - that's around AU$1800 more.

    Is it worth the money for a relatively small improvement?
     
  4. John Garcia

    John Garcia Executive Producer

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    The difference in sound quality is NOT minimal, that's why. You apparently need to audition first, and hear the difference between the 3803 and 1603 with the same speakers for yourself. You may find the 2803/4 to be sufficient for what you need. What speakers you are driving and how large your room is are significant factors in how much power you need to fill that room with adequate levels with minimal distortion.

    What Robert is saying is that a smaller amp that is struggling at 75% of it's capability is going to run out of power when there is a large action sequence and you suddenly need a lot of power - a more powerful amp running at 50% of it's capability has that extra power available (headroom) to handle these dynamic peaks. At the same time, during average listening, a more powerful amp should also help the system retain more of the subtle detail of what is being played back because it is not working as hard to do it's job (it's not as simple as that, but you get the idea).
     
  5. Steve Matulich

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    Cheers guys, really appreciate all this.

    This is my first HTS so the receiver was an entry level - I have already upgraded my main speakers so the next step is to upgrade the receiver & get something with more punch.

    Denon, Marantz, Yamaha, Onkyo, NAD, H.K. are some of the more popular brands for serious listeners we have here in Oz but I appreciate there are many more.

    In my opinion I think most people on this site, including myself, don't trust their own ears to get the best system.
    We seem to want someone to say "this is the best speaker & this is the best receiver" & most would be quite happy with that without even listening to it.

    I love my DVDs & music but more so DVDs so with a system consisting of the following Mirage FRx series speakers:
    * Mains - FRx9 (200 watts capable with built in 100 watt 8 inch active woofer)
    * Centre - FRxC (100 watts)
    * Rears - FRx1 (100 watts)
    * Subwoofer - Aaron sub240 (200 watts, 2 x 10 inch woofers)
    What AVRs (brand & model) would you recommend I audition for an upgrade to get some serious quality sound?

    Thanks again for your advice, totally appreciated!
     
  6. Robert Todd

    Robert Todd Agent

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    Not trusting your own ears is THE MOST FOOLISH THING YOU CAN DO!!! Use these forums to get recommendations, find the brands that are available, and then GO LISTEN FOR YOURSELF. Ignore what people say about sound quality because personal preference is sooo subjective. Go listen to as many of the brands you mention that is reasonable for you under similar circumstances if possible (usually it isn't) Play with them and see which one feels best to YOU from an ergonomic standpoint and decide which one most pleases you. WARNING... the people who haunt these boards are loonies (present company included) who spend waaay too much time obsessing about all of this. If you aren't careful, someone,(maybe someone like me!) will convince you to spend an inordinate amount of money! Think about how much time you will spend using your equipment and prioritize accordingly.
     
  7. Joe D

    Joe D Supporting Actor

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    One reason why people choose higher end receievers rather than lower end isn't because of the power section, it's because of the features that the higher end receivers offer that the other models don't.

    I bought a Denon 3803 thru 6ave.com during the great sale, and one of the big selling points of this receiver to me was teh ability to convert composite and S-video signals to component video, which allows me to run the majority of the video signals to my TV through only one set of cords. Another reason why I went with the 3803 over the 2803 was because of the 192 kHz / 24 big DACs, as opposed to the 96 kHz ones found on the 2803.

    I probably will rarely use the 110 Watts x 7 found on the 3803, but it's there if I ever need it. It's more of a matter of buying the nicest equipment you can afford versus what you actually need.

    I will take a similar approach when I buy an SVS subwoofer, sure I would be more than happy with the PCI models, but I am going with a PC+ in case just in case.
     
  8. CurtisC

    CurtisC Second Unit

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    70 watts from one company is 120 watts from another,its not watts its who made em'.
     
  9. Rob Kramer

    Rob Kramer Second Unit

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    Actually, the 3803 is only 110W at 2 channels. When going to 5 channels, the measured power output drops to 50W. At 7 channels, you will probably lose another 10 or 15W.

    This is true for most receivers. There are some exceptions though (HK for one).


    50W is not exactly stellar if you have power-hungry speakers. I know this because I am in the same boat. My 100W Onkyo 800 also drops to 50 at 5 channels, and my B&W speakers (with those kevlar drivers) likes the juice. Im currently supplimenting the 800 with a separate 100W 2-channel amp.


    Oh yeah, first post. Hey!
     
  10. Steve Matulich

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    So let me get this straight.
    If I fork out AU$2700 on a top line AVR (yes, that's how much we pay for a Denon 3803 in Australia) I'm not going to get 110w x 7?

    Is it just me or are AVRs way, way over-priced?

    If an AVR which is 6 x 90w (Denon 1804) costs approx AU$1200 then why do we pay AU$2700 for 7 x 110w (Denon 3803)?

    Where's the extra AU$1500 going - an extra 20w + some added 'bells'n'whistles'?

    Look, I appreciate the 3803 is a superior AVR to the 1804, but is it over twice as good?

    If the BMW 325i is worth AU$60000 how many 530i models do you think BMW would sell if they flogged it for AU$135000?
    Not bloody many!
     
  11. Brian OK

    Brian OK Supporting Actor

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    Curtis,

    I like that....... it's whose watts (the manufacturer), not how many. So true.
     
  12. Paul S

    Paul S Stunt Coordinator

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    70 WPC should be more than sufficient for most systems if your speakers are reasonably efficient and you are using a powered subwoofer. (the subwoofer will take a considerable load off of your receiver) If your system sounds good now why mess with it??? Actually you will not notice all that much increase in amp power from a 70 to a 100 wpc unit, especially if you are playing at moderate levels.
     
  13. Dean Wette

    Dean Wette Stunt Coordinator

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    Another thing to consider is that different companies have different ways of rating power.

    Some will say XXX WPC, but that may mean with one or two channels driven. Then when driving all 5/7 channels simultaneously, you really may get less power.

    So if someone says 70 WPC, make sure they mean all channels driven, and not just one or two. If the manufacturer doesn't say so specifically, assume the worst, in which case the 70 WPC could be really more like 50 WPC (give or take) when all channels are driven. And when comparing a 70 WPC rated amp to a 100 WPC rated amp, make sure that's what you are really comparing.

    The more expensive amps not only have more power, but the amps share less componentry as well. This gives them more power, but generally better quality sound reproduction as well.


    As an example, the new Arcam AVR300 (at $2K) is rated:
    120 WPC in stereo (2 channels driven), 4 or 8 ohms
    100 WPC all channels driven (7 channels), 4 or 8 ohms

    I use Dynaudio speakers rated variously for 150-210 W power handling at 4 Ohms in a room measuring 14 x 22 x 8.5. A 7x100 WPC amp will drive these at very loud volume without clipping and still leave room for dynamic bursts from actions scenes, etc (good thing I'm in a house).

    Dean
     
  14. Shane Martin

    Shane Martin Producer

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    Any of these will probably do the trick. The NAD will have more power than the others but they will cost more. A 7 channel NAD receiver will run you $1700 US but they offer lower end ones with 5 and 6 channels for less.

    The others are going to focus on features rather than their amp section. The HK is a mix of the 2 but they have some QC issues that bug me.

    Another thing to consider is the speakers' sensitivity and ohm ratings. I don't remember the Mirage's being all too difficult to drive but I wouldn't trust a sub $600US receiver to drive them to decent levels.
     
  15. Dave Milne

    Dave Milne Supporting Actor

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    Don't underestimate this! A speaker with 85db/1w sensitivity will require 10 times the power to play at the same level as one with 95dB/1w sensitivity.

    I usually shoot for 110dB at one meter, each speaker. This provides 105 dB in-room (reference level) with multiple speakers, even with a fairly large, dead room.
    So that means 100 watts per channel with 90dB speakers or 250 watts per channel with 86 dB speakers.

    My current system has five power amps delivering 400 watts per channel to seven 91dB speakers and 1200 watts to two large 93 dB subwoofers. I do still see clipping lights on occasion - but only with concert videos at Stentorian levels (reference level or a bit above :b - I don't do this often, for sake of hearing) or loud "crash and boom" scenes (Pearl Harbor, Blackhawk Down, etc) at -2dB to -3dB below reference.
     
  16. JohnDG

    JohnDG Stunt Coordinator

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  17. Rob Kramer

    Rob Kramer Second Unit

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    (cant post urls)

    w homecinemachoice dot com
    goto hardware reviews.
     

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