Speaker Sensitivity?

Discussion in 'Beginners, General Questions' started by craig_curtis, Dec 30, 2003.

  1. craig_curtis

    craig_curtis Stunt Coordinator

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    Hi everyone! First post here on HTF although I've been a lurker for a while now...

    Here's my question: How can I tell if my speakers have a good sensitivity? I have a Denon 1803 receiver (80W per channel). I love the sound, but was concerned about the lower power output. Its for a pretty small room, and the sales guy said that it should be ok with some higher sensitivity speakers...

    Current setup is this:
    Denon 1803 rec.
    Paradigm Titan front speakers
    Paradigm CC-170 center channel
    Bose (ICK!) speakers for surrounds (thought they sounded ok until I listened to better speakers)
    Merak rear center (hand me down speaker)
    JBL PB10 sub

    eventually going to replace the bose with the Titans, and get something in same line for the front mains, and get another cc-170 for rear center.

    Or should I get something better for fronts and front center that have higher sensitivity?

    thanks!
     
  2. craig_curtis

    craig_curtis Stunt Coordinator

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    OH, almost forgot.. this is used for about 95% home theater, with only a little bit for music. The theater is in the basement...
     
  3. Garrett Lundy

    Garrett Lundy Producer

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    Lets see... Speaker sensetivity is db at 1watt. Power usage is on a sliding scale that every three db. after the 1 watt rating is double the power.

    Paradigm Titan. Listed at 89db sensitive.

    1 89
    2 92
    4 95
    8 98
    16 101
    32 104
    64 107
    128 110

    Thus we can determine that a Titan being driven by your Denon could achive between 107 and 110 decibles with a 1000hert tone. The cc-170 is listed at 90db. sensitive, so you can expect one more db.

    To upgrade you would need a 128 watt/channel receiver, and to go 3db louder still, you would need a 256watt/channel receiver.....

    even then your receiver might fry your speakers....

    PS: 89 or 90 decible sensitivity is fairly efficient. I wouldn't loose sleep trying to find a more efficient speaker.
     
  4. craig_curtis

    craig_curtis Stunt Coordinator

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    cool thanks.. so does that mean that the dolby digital standard (i read somewhere on here) of 105 decibles would be near the max volume of the receiver? does room size matter?
     
  5. Garrett Lundy

    Garrett Lundy Producer

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    Based on the earlier chart, to reach Dolby Digital's predetrmined 105db's from the five primary speakers should require between 32 and 63 watts per channel. So your 80watts/channel Denon receiver should have sufficient power to drive those speakes to refrence volume.

    BUT.

    The aformentioned sensitivity levels (89 titan/ 90 cc-170),which are taken from the paradigm webpage, are based only on one measurment: a 1khrtz tone at 2 meters in a "normal" listening enviroment.
    No one can be 100% on what exactly a "normal" listening enviroment is. But in general, the smaller the room, the easier it is to reach refrence.
    ALSO your speaker will play any other tone at slightly different volume due to the nature of a speaker (This can be seen in a wavey-line chart used in most speaker reviews). This means that while the speaker may be playing 105 decibles at 1khrtz, it may actually be playing 108db at 20khrt, or 85db at 20hrtz (This would be a steep drop-off common with bookshelf speakers). This effect is interpreted by the "+/- 3db 70-20,000 hrtz" you'll see in most any speaker add. ie: within 3 decibles, this speaker will play the same volume from 70 hertz to 20,000 hertz.

    Hope I didn't confuse you even more[​IMG]
     
  6. John Garcia

    John Garcia Executive Producer

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    Anything over about 89dB sensitivity is pretty efficient. Room size is a BIG factor, but even in a fairly large room, you shouldn't have a problem. I had Minis and a CC370 with Titan surrounds and a CC170 rear center in a 14x25x10 room with a Marantz SR6200 and it was more than enough.

    You might consider stepping up to the Focus for mains, but another pair of Titans will do well also, if you want to stick with the Peformance Line. I would recommend looking at Minis and a CC370 for the front stage and moving the Titans to the rears though. (I'm using v3 Titans still in my setup).
     
  7. craig_curtis

    craig_curtis Stunt Coordinator

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    thanks guys that helps alot... i think i'll move the titans to the rear and dump the Bose, and look for something bigger in the front...

    and that does help alot for the sensitivity explanation. I just wanted to make sure that i'm not losing alot of power from the speakers. Of course i have no idea how the bose are since they won't list the specs...
     

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