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Maximum wattage from a plate amp? (1 Viewer)

David Lorenzo

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Dec 12, 2002
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I'm putting this question here because the amp will be for a DIY sub.

In order to get the maximum power from an amp would both the gain on the preamp and the gain on the amp need to be turned all the way up? I was curious about the 1000 watt digital amp that Kyle will be stocking shortly. It is rated at 10% THD at 1200w and .1% THD at 1000w. I was wondering if it was possible to set the amp so that it never outputs more than 1000 watts so that the distortion is never high. Is this accomplished by simply not turning the gain on the amp up to high? Thanks.
 

Andrew Pierce

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May 22, 2002
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With a sufficiently strong input, an amp can clip well before the knob reaches 11. Output is a function of input as well as gain. In fact, unless you have a particularly weak line level, you probably shouldn't come near to maxing out your volume dial. I would set your volume where your SPL meter and a copy of Avia tells you to, and if you need to turn the amp all the way to the top to reach that level, you may want to upgrade the amp.
 

Dave Milne

Supporting Actor
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Jul 2, 2001
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In order to get the maximum power from an amp would both the gain on the preamp and the gain on the amp need to be turned all the way up?
No. It depends on the signal amplitude of the source. I suppose it's theoretically possible to set the gains (on the preamp and/or sub amp) so that the sub stays below 1KW ---if you knew precisely what the maximum output from the source was. This, however, is the WRONG way to set sub levels.

You should set your sub level to match the levels of the rest of your system. Otherwise, the sound will be either thin or boomy. Most AV preamps have test tones or white noise to help you do this accurately... especially if you have a sound level meter ($40 from Radio Shack).

If, after proper calibration, the sub clips, distorts, or bottoms out on the loudest passages... you need more power and/or a beefier sub.

What you've described is called a "limiter". Higher-end AV receivers and preamps have this function. And someone probably makes an outboard limiter (these are common in pro sound gear), I'm just not aware of one.
 

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