Pushing the limits of hardware

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Robert Ma, Jul 31, 2001.

  1. Robert Ma

    Robert Ma Second Unit

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    How can you tell if you are pushing your hardware too much?
    I have a Carver Amp that doesn't even get warm after hours of use. I suspect that its not being pushed to its limits.
    My Marantz SR-19 gets warm and it only powers the rear speakers. I don't worry too much because the majority of the channels are pre-amped out to the carver.
    I normally watch movies at around -20 to -16 on the receiver. When I am showing it off, around -8 is when I get the, "Wow, its a movie theater!" from my viewers.
    I worry most about my Paradigm Speakers. They sound very clear at -8 but I never dare go any higher or leave it at that level for extended times. I have monitor 7's configured to large and I hear no distortion at that level but I think the carver is throughing up too 200 watts to the spearkers. More than they are rated for.
    How can I tell if its pushing it too much at that level? [​IMG] Not that I would ever listen too it that loud for extended periods.
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    Goto www.erols.com/rmahle to see my theater
     
  2. Steve_D

    Steve_D Second Unit

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    Robert,
    When things start to sound strained, that's when you are pushing them too hard. When you can hear audible clipping or woofers bottoming out, then you are pushing too hard.
    Do you have a powered sub in your system? Are your mains set to large or small?
    I think most people would be surprised how little power you are actually using on most materials. Those Paradigms average about 90 or so SPL rating. That means with 1 watt of power, sitting ~3 feet away, you are hearing 90 db, which is quite loud. For every 3 db increase, it takes a doubling of power. So 93 db = 2 watts, 96 = 4 watts, 99 = 8 watts, 102 = 16 watts, 105 = 32 watts = reference peaks except LFE. Even if you double those figures for sitting further away, you can see you are not using nearly the rated output of your amp. If you get a chance, liten to am amp with a built in watt meter, like some of the older carvers, McIntosh, etc... You'll find that unless you have real inefficient speakers the meter rarely goes above 10 even at a fairly high listening level.
    Just remember that movies and music can be very dynamic. Though you may be listening at an average level of 75db, there may be peaks that jump into the 100's, which is where your amplifiers power reserves are used. Also, better, more powerful amps typically have higher damping factors and better electronics which make a speaker perfrom better regardless of the listening level.
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  3. Robert Ma

    Robert Ma Second Unit

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    I have never heard any clipping and my sub is powered (PS-1000).
    I do set my fronts to LARGE and the center / rears to small.
    My amp is an older Carver with the built in watt meters. Yes, they rarely even move until high action scenes where they may jump up to around 1/2 to 3/4 of the meter.
    So if I don't hear any audible strain in the speakers I should be okay right? I'm pretty good at hearing when something is strained. I'd say if I went from the -8 I use to demo to -2, My paradigms wouldn't handle the bass. Is -8 too close to -2? Thats 6db under what I'd say is too much.
    I want new speakers [​IMG]
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    Goto www.erols.com/rmahle to see my theater
     
  4. Robert Ma

    Robert Ma Second Unit

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    Also, your numbers are dead on! I sit about 10-12 feet from the speaker and the meter hits 150 watt peaks when I feel its at reference.
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    Goto www.erols.com/rmahle to see my theater
     
  5. Burke Strickland

    Burke Strickland Second Unit

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    Marantz amps are notorious for running "hot". This is not a malfunction, but inherent in their design. They need a lot of ventilation because of that. I have a Marantz MA700 monoblock for my center channel, and it sits out in the open, rather than buried in a rack stack, doing double duty as a space heater. :>) (It gets "warm" whether it is just sitting quietly waiting for the show to begin or pumping out a high volume dialog shouting match with loud effects and music in the background.) :>)
    As explained in a post above, most of the time, our amps are sending very few watts to the speakers... the big numbers are usually just on transitory peaks of very short duration. And most speakers can handle instantaneous peaks above their "rated" power. It is usually only when the amp "runs out of gas" and clips/distorts badly that the speakers sustain damage from whatever the amp is sending them.
    Burke
     
  6. Steve_D

    Steve_D Second Unit

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    Robert,
    You may (?) want to upgrade your 'digms, but I would recommend an alternate course of action...setting your processor to "small" for fronts.
    It's the LFE track on movies that needs to hit 115 db, and bass movements that suck the big power, and by removing your mains of the duty of low bass you will give them better accuracy and power "back" to the amp. Also, some speakers on large and some on small leads to all kinds of compromises you can read about by searching AVSforum.
    IMHO, I'm betting 5-1 your sub is your weak link for feeling good effects in movies at reference levels. I'm sure Tom and Ron (svs subs) could set you up with a much better solution for what you are looking for than upgrading speakers.
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    [Edited last by Steve_D on July 31, 2001 at 11:55 AM]
     
  7. Brian OK

    Brian OK Supporting Actor

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    Robert,
    As Steve_D mentioned, you may want to consider setting your mains to the small setting to match the center and rears.
    I too have the Monitor 7's and have tried both small/large setting many times and have always arrived back at the small setting. Just more accurate and dynamic in my setup.
    I am running the Yam DSP-A1, and, even though it does not have the power ratings of your Carver, it is no lightweight by any means. My sub is the Def Tech 15 TL/PF (15"/325 watts).
    Let the sub do the low end work for you and you may find the small setting increases your overall dynamics.
    Good Luck,
    BOK
     
  8. Robert Ma

    Robert Ma Second Unit

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    Burke,
    Thanks for the info on marantz amps. I was worried when it was warm doing absolutley nothing. Exspecially since I preamp out the main 3 channels. Speaking of that, marantz's sr-19 is wierd when you preamp out. I guess it automatically senses when it is preamped and doesn't send data to those speaker terminals. I was worried I was preamping out and the amps were going full power with nothing drawing from them. I finally tested it with a speaker on to confirm there was no signal when its preamped. At first I thought I might have problems only preamping 3 of the 5 channels because there is no A/B on off switches but its okay.
    Steve_D + Brian,
    I am going to try setting the mon 7's to small tonight. I have tried it in the past, but not for very long. I remember feeling that the sound range didn't seem to be as good in small. The bass didn't impact me as much. It may have been that I had my cross on the sub set wrong. In fact I'm pretty sure I did because I had my cross set for a little higher then where the Mon 7's bottom was. Once I set them to small I think I need to raise the subs cross to 80. Hmm now I can't wait to get home and try it.
    My sub is pretty good since the room in small. The majority of the room is 9' wide and its about 24' long. The room is on a concreate slab and my couches shake with the explosions in movies. In fact, I recently built a platform for the back couch out of 2 x 6 and ply wood. This area is in the back of the room about 18 - 20' away from the sub and speakers. That couch now shakes like you wouldn't believe. Bass shakers are not needed here!
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    Goto www.erols.com/rmahle to see my theater
     
  9. Steve_D

    Steve_D Second Unit

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    If you are setting your speakers to small, and running a sub out RCA cord to your sub, then you should set the Sub cross as high as it can go. The Marantz bass management processing will take care of the high pass/low pass...by setting your sub crossover at 80 HZ you now have 2 crossovers messing each other up (to be real simple about it). Crank the Sub cross as high as it will go to get it out of the way.
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  10. Robert Ma

    Robert Ma Second Unit

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    Thanks Steve! Now why didn't I ever think about that! Does it work that way for Pro Logic material without the LFE channel separate? I would think it would.
     

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