Is Onkyo 696 Power Rating Accurate?

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Evelio Lucero, Feb 4, 2002.

  1. Evelio Lucero

    Evelio Lucero Auditioning

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    I've just upgraded from a Yammy 793 to an Onkyo 696.

    One immediate difference I noted was the Onkyo's power output. The Yammy it replaced was only 80W at 8 ohms while the Onkyo was about 110W at 8 ohms. With the Yammy, the volume control at 10 o'clock position was already too loud but the Onkyo must be cranked up to about the 60 level to reach the same loudness.

    Given the higher power rating on the Onkyo, it seems that its power does not actually measure up.

    Am I missing something? Is Onkyo reckoning its power ratings differently from other brands?

    Thanks.
     
  2. Vince Maskeeper

    Vince Maskeeper Producer

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    Every manufacturer rates their output different from other brands- and they're all lies. The WPC output usually has a ton of "catches"- such as how many channels driven at the same time, what freq or tone type the test was, and THD.

    For example, as an amp reaches its max- it distorts. This is known a THD. You can push and amp to the point of serious distortion, which would result in more power but in a high % of THD.

    Now, one company might say their product will do 300 watts, but at 10% thd- while another will say 150 watts at .01% THD- and they are identical. One chose to set their limits at 10%!

    Also, you say that the new one must go to the 60 level- out of how much? Does this unit have input level for each device- some do. How are your individual channel levels in comparison to the old unit (if you run the channels higher, this would result in a lower overall volume setting).

    Keep in mind you're really supplying about 15-20 watts to your speakers RMS... even true 100 watt peaks are pretty rare-- so wattage doesn't directly equate to volume.

    Long story short: WPC rating are for the most part meaningless. The only people I've ever met touting the wattage of their system were either morons or liars.

    -Vince
     
  3. Dustin B

    Dustin B Producer

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    Here are some numbers on how power relates to volume level.

    Speakers have a sensitivity rating. This number is in dB/W/m. Which means that with one watt of power applied to the speaker, measured one meter from the speaker it will put out that many dB. To increase the volume level 3 dB requires twice the input power. To perceive a doubling of loudness takes approximately a 10dB increase (people argue that number though). So here are a couple examples of how the volume would increase with power with two different speakers. One with high sensitivity, another with low.

    96 dB/W/m speaker

    W = dB

    1 = 96

    2 = 99

    4 = 102

    8 = 105 (peak output required for reference level; if you were listening at 1m)

    16 = 108

    32 = 111

    64 = 114

    87 dB/W/m speaker

    1 = 87

    2 = 90

    4 = 93

    8 = 96

    16 = 99

    32 = 102

    64 = 105

    128 = 108

    256 = 111

    512 = 114

    What the 96 dB/W/m speaker can do with 64 watts, would require 512 watts to a 87 dB/W/m speaker.

    As you can also see, even the low sensitivty speaker reaches extremely loud levels with only 64W applied. Mind you this is at 1m. But normal listening distances are from 3-5m so those numbers shouldn't drop too much.
     
  4. John Sully

    John Sully Stunt Coordinator

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    Yes, you are missing something....

    The fact is that not all volume control tapers (the rate at which output increases with knob travel) are created equal. As TV's are shipped from the factory with contrast and brightness set way too high to get attention on a crowded showroom floor, so too are low end receivers usually shipped with a "linear" rather than logarithmic taper. This means that the volume increases much faster as you turn the knob and so the receiver seems more powerful to the naive customer.

    One other factor which may be at work here are your setup levels. Have you calibrated your system to reference levels. To do this you need a Radio Shack SPL meter and some time. Set your receiver volume to the "0" setting (my receiver runs from -70 to +14) and then enter setup mode and run the test tones. Set each channel so that it reads 75dB on the Radio Shack meter. Your system is now set so that with a Dobly Digital source two systems will play with the same loudness at identical relative volume settings (-10db will produce 65db average sound levels and 95db peaks).

    Basically these are the two factors which govern how loud a system will play at a given volume knob setting. Notice how amplifier power does not enter into the equation.

    As far as whether the power rating of the Onkyo is accurate, no it is probably not. But then neither is the power rating of the Yamaha, or any other receiver for that matter, accurate. The only way to get an accurate idea of a given receiver's power is to read test reports. Sound and Vision does a pretty good job of measuring amps as does Stereophile. As a general rule you will find that mass market products have considerably less power than is claimed by the manufacturer when all channels are driven with full range signals. This is just a fact of life causes by the compromises inherent in receiver design.
     
  5. Ryan T

    Ryan T Second Unit

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    Sound & Vision (July/August) has a test report on the 696. The "in the Lab" test says that with all five channels driven at the same time the 696 outputs 46 watts per channel at 8 ohms. It oututs 151 watts with one channel driven at 8 ohms. I hope this helps.

    Ryan
     
  6. Ryan T

    Ryan T Second Unit

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    John

    I just bought a Harman/Kardon AVR 120 and I'm pretty sure that it's power output is as rated by H/K. It is rated at 40 watts per channel into 8 ohms and the power consumetion is 590 watts. So it could easly ouput 40 watts per channel. I could not find a test report, so if anyone has one could they confirm the output of the H/K AVR120?

    Ryan
     
  7. Pamela

    Pamela Supporting Actor

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    What you're experiencing has nothing to do WPC. It is a part of Onkyo's technology. I believe they call it Optimum Volume Gain Technology. Basically, the sound is not amplified in a linear fashion, like your Yamaha. But that doesn't mean it is short changing you on your WPC. As you turn the knob up to a higher position, the sound will amplify at a much greater rate. I have two Onkyos. the 696 and the 898, and both work the same way.

    There have been many posts here about people experiencing the same thing and thinking their unit is defective. It is not. You can do a search and find a better (and more technical) explaination than mine.

    P.S. I believe Marantz operates the same way.
     
  8. Colin Dunn

    Colin Dunn Supporting Actor

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    A problem with the "linear" volume-control tapers on many receivers is that they give the illusion that you could turn the volume up much further. The truth is: You will likely run into unlistenable distortion well before the top end of the volume control's range. The practical range will be much less.

    On any piece of equipment, don't be alarmed if you have to crank the volume control a long way to get loud enough sound. As long as you can achieve enough volume without distortion, it doesn't matter what the position of the dial is.

    Ideally, reference level would be the maximum position of the volume control, and silence would be the minimum. Then everything else would fall in-between. This would give you the most fine-grained control over volume. Unfortunately, it seems few (if any) manufacturers actually do this.
     

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