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Speaker wattage ratings vis-à-vis AVR rating (1 Viewer)

edee_em

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Just another question arising as I plunge deeper into this rabbit hole!

If a speaker is rated as capable of handling 20-200 watts, will it sound the same if I have an AVR feeding it 20W compared to one pumping in 150W? Asked another way, is it better to run the speakers at the higher or lower end of their stated range?
 

Clinton McClure

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Speakers are more like to be damaged by under powering them and turning up the volume, thus driving them into clipping. If an amp or receiver can provide 120w, the speaker will definitely sound better than if it was only supplied 20w.
 

JohnRice

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Complex topic with a lot of variables, but as Clinton stated, there’s no harm in more power. You might check out the HTF Podcast section. I’ve participated in two that delved into the dynamics of power and amps.
 

edee_em

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Complex topic with a lot of variables, but as Clinton stated, there’s no harm in more power. You might check out the HTF Podcast section. I’ve participated in two that delved into the dynamics of power and amps.
Complex and confusing! I've seen some people talk about amps that only output 5,10, 20W. Of course it's not powering all of the speakers, but 10W? Off to that podcast to get some insight!! Do you have a link available?
 
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ManW_TheUncool

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Complex and confusing! I've seen some people talk about amps that only output 5,10, 20W. Of course it's not powering all of the speakers, but 10W? Off to that podcast to get some insight!! Do you have a link available?

Just remember it takes ~10x the power to get ~2x as loud (as we typically perceive loudness)... so you only need 10W to get to ~1/2 the loudness that 100W would yield w/ any given speaker.

Most of the time (when the audio level is relatively low), 10W may well be all each speaker, except the subwoofer, is actually getting/needing, especially if you do actually use a (powered) subwoofer (or two) to handle the vast majority of the bass -- the bass consumes the most power...

A lot of (more traditional, often fairly expensive) class A/B amps are designed only to supply 10-20Wpc in their (best sounding) class A stages (for the typically more/most critical, perceived range)...

There's also the issue that diff speakers may be designed to sound optimally at different levels, which would of course be driven by diff power levels (and perhaps, qualities of that power)...

_Man_
 

edee_em

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The first one is HERE and the second one is HERE.
A thought came to mind listening to the first podcast (John): Is there any real value/need to go with a preamp if I am going to have a 5.1 system? My initial reaction is that there probably isn't any need to add a preamp given the main argument of having an amp is letting the amp handle the fronts (take load of AVR), and the AVR feed the surrounds only. Certainly, a 100w or a bit higher AVR should be enough to power a 5.1 setup (in most cases)?
 

ManW_TheUncool

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You most likely don't need to go for a preamp, but it's probably still good to go for an AVR w/ pre-outs in case you find that adding an external amp (at least) for the front LCR channels yields better results -- and typically, AVRs w/ pre-outs will also be better in other useful/important areas too.

100wpc (of clean power into 8-ohm load) would normally be enough for most people in moderate settings, but more (and better quality) would be better, particularly if you have good, well-setup speakers, especially if they are more demanding (or harder to drive) than average.

To quote Clint above (albeit a bit of context)...
There is no such thing as too much power.

Have you narrowed down your speaker choices? That would help you decide...

_Man_
 

edee_em

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You most likely don't need to go for a preamp, but it's probably still good to go for an AVR w/ pre-outs in case you find that adding an external amp (at least) for the front LCR channels yields better results -- and typically, AVRs w/ pre-outs will also be better in other useful/important areas too.

100wpc (of clean power into 8-ohm load) would normally be enough for most people in moderate settings, but more (and better quality) would be better, particularly if you have good, well-setup speakers, especially if they are more demanding (or harder to drive) than average.

To quote Clint above (albeit a bit of context)...


Have you narrowed down your speaker choices? That would help you decide...

_Man_
Not even close! I've actually gone down the speaker rabbit hole, as well as the AVR one, (you'd think they would intersect at some point, but they don't!). I was ready to order Elacs and then I saw Fluance, and then Monoprice, and then... and that was just on the budget side of things. Then, because of my procrastination, I've noticed all of those speakers are higher priced and closing the gaps on the Klipsch, et al brands. That kind of led me to look at the SVS line, Pinnacle, not Ultra, for price reasons. Then I thought if I'm paying $2400 CDN for SVS, why not go $300 more for the Paradigm Premiere 800F at $2700. That's $1500 better than the Elacs, etc. but there has to be something there for it to be so expensive. Then you go to some guy who's taken the speaker apart and no, there isn't really any reason to be paying so much more! At that point, you clear all your youtube history dealing with speaker reviews and step away for a while.

But then you toss in things like Andrew Jones leaving Elac (so are they out now?), Sound United being bought out, Onkyo having issues, and so on and soon and it just complicates things. Add the fact that AVR prices for anything close to 150W and 8k with pre-outs is $3-4000 CDN well I get the feeling that I'm pining for something that is just too expensive to be a part of. Oh, and I still have to buy a new TV!
 

JohnRice

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A thought came to mind listening to the first podcast (John): Is there any real value/need to go with a preamp if I am going to have a 5.1 system? My initial reaction is that there probably isn't any need to add a preamp given the main argument of having an amp is letting the amp handle the fronts (take load of AVR), and the AVR feed the surrounds only. Certainly, a 100w or a bit higher AVR should be enough to power a 5.1 setup (in most cases)?
I wouldn't recommend a preamp (in most cases) for a 5.1 system, unless you're fine spending the extra money, or find a nice used one with current features like Atmos and 4K capability. If you find a nice used one like that, then sure, add a 5 channel amp and you're good to go.

Or, for an upscaled 5.1 system, a receiver with full pre outputs and a three channel amp to spruce up the front channels can make sense. I do recommend using a three channel amp for all three front channels, rather than a two channel just for the L&R. The intro option is the Emotiva BasX A3 for $500.


Not even close! I've actually gone down the speaker rabbit hole, as well as the AVR one, (you'd think they would intersect at some point, but they don't!). I was ready to order Elacs and then I saw Fluance, and then Monoprice, and then... and that was just on the budget side of things. Then, because of my procrastination, I've noticed all of those speakers are higher priced and closing the gaps on the Klipsch, et al brands. That kind of led me to look at the SVS line, Pinnacle, not Ultra, for price reasons. Then I thought if I'm paying $2400 CDN for SVS, why not go $300 more for the Paradigm Premiere 800F at $2700. That's $1500 better than the Elacs, etc. but there has to be something there for it to be so expensive. Then you go to some guy who's taken the speaker apart and no, there isn't really any reason to be paying so much more! At that point, you clear all your youtube history dealing with speaker reviews and step away for a while.

But then you toss in things like Andrew Jones leaving Elac (so are they out now?), Sound United being bought out, Onkyo having issues, and so on and soon and it just complicates things. Add the fact that AVR prices for anything close to 150W and 8k with pre-outs is $3-4000 CDN well I get the feeling that I'm pining for something that is just too expensive to be a part of. Oh, and I still have to buy a new TV!
Don't buy Klipsch. Just don't.

Regarding Andrew Jones leaving ELAC, his designs there are rather new. The v2 and Reference versions of the Debut and UniFi don't stop being what they are just because he left. Good speakers are good speakers and they do not become outdated like most electronics. Same with the Sound United sale. Some other, more expensive brands like Anthem have been surpassing them recently, but their current stuff is the same that was available before the sale. Future models are the ones to wait and see on.

And whatever you do, just don't buy Klipsch.
 

ManW_TheUncool

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But then you toss in things like Andrew Jones leaving Elac (so are they out now?),

Why does this matter? Whatever you buy from ELAC that's designed/engineered by him won't really change... at least not at this point anyway... unless you actually read/heard something significant has already changed (whether in design or manufacturing).

Sound United being bought out, Onkyo having issues, and so on and soon and it just complicates things. Add the fact that AVR prices for anything close to 150W and 8k with pre-outs is $3-4000 CDN well I get the feeling that I'm pining for something that is just too expensive to be a part of. Oh, and I still have to buy a new TV!

Weren't you looking at Yamaha? OR maybe that was someone else. Yamaha's probably still a fine choice... although I'm not sure how much you'll need to spend for one w/ pre-outs. You don't need 8K(!) at all -- just make sure it can do 4K/HDR10+/DV at 60fps... unless you're some kinda serious gamer I guess.

IF you can afford it, Anthem seems real good (and doesn't waste any of the costs on mere bells-and-whistles). And since you're apparently in Canada, maybe Anthem makes that much more sense. I went w/ a used, ~3-yo Anthem AVM-60 prepro for ~1/2 the price of the then-just-announced AVM-70 myself (to go w/ some Emotiva amps)...

Anyway, as John above just said, it's probably not a problem buying Denon/Marantz/etc as long as they are already well-established, existing models, not still buggy/flakey w/ whatever known issues that likely need additional future remedy/support... perhaps especially if you're also not planning to buy their very latest, higher-end gear and expect/need more support... I'm guessing you'd probably be fine buying a previous year's, well-reviewed, recently discontinued model from their mid-tier for instance... and save some $ while you're at it...

_Man_
 
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sfyalek

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Just another question arising as I plunge deeper into this rabbit hole!

If a speaker is rated as capable of handling 20-200 watts, will it sound the same if I have an AVR feeding it 20W compared to one pumping in 150W? Asked another way, is it better to run the speakers at the higher or lower end of their stated range?
edee, I try to explain this in plain English. Speakers are winded with copper coils and magnets. When the amp. sends the current "Juice" to the coil, it generates electrical flux. The reaction with the magnets generate the magnetic field to move the speaker. If you remove the grille of the speaker, you can see the speaker moving. When a speaker say it can handle 20-200W, it is the manufacturer's warranty but not necessary to provide the good sound. The speaker manufacturers normally list the percentage of THD for your reference. The performance of the speaker is not linear because of the impedance and distortion. When you run the speakers on both extreme ends, the distortion is noticeable.

Clinton and John are right. There are so many factors affect the pairing of your system. Of course, large amplifier is a safe guard but $$$$.

For pairing a system, you need to consider your room size, type of music or movies, the sound level you want to get, the sensitivity of the speakers, the quality of the cables and the length of the cables, the cross overs of your system, the characters of the sound you like.

Don't forget the AV Receiver also have distortion too.
 

edee_em

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Why does this matter? Whatever you buy from ELAC that's designed/engineered by him won't really change... at least not at this point anyway... unless you actually read/heard something significant has already changed (whether in design or manufacturing).



Weren't you looking at Yamaha? OR maybe that was someone else. Yamaha's probably still a fine choice... although I'm not sure how much you'll need to spend for one w/ pre-outs. You don't need 8K(!) at all -- just make sure it can do 4K/HDR10+/DV at 60fps... unless you're some kinda serious gamer I guess.

IF you can afford it, Anthem seems real good (and doesn't waste any of the costs on mere bells-and-whistles). And since you're apparently in Canada, maybe Anthem makes that much more sense. I went w/ a used, ~3-yo Anthem AVM-60 prepro for ~1/2 the price of the then-just-announced AVM-70 myself (to go w/ some Emotiva amps)...

Anyway, as John above just said, it's probably not a problem buying Denon/Marantz/etc as long as they are already well-established, existing models, not still buggy/flakey w/ whatever known issues that likely need additional future remedy/support... perhaps especially if you're also not planning to buy their very latest, higher-end gear and expect/need more support... I'm guessing you'd probably be fine buying a previous year's, well-reviewed, recently discontinued model from their mid-tier for instance... and save some $ while you're at it...

_Man_
My issue with Jones leaving is that once the bin empties of parts designed by him (figuratively, not literally) then what? I'm sure his contract allowed Elac to own some of his intellectual property but how much did he get to retain, once he's gone. I haven't heard anything specifically. It's just that all we heard about how good the Elacs are, was all about Jones' hand in the design. You didn't read or watch anything about Elac without Jones' name coming up. For example, does anyone still buy the Pioneers designed by Jones that were all the rage? Do people only see the Pioneer name and move on? I don't know the answer to that but it raises questions in my mind. Also, why did he leave? Is there change coming that he couldn't support? You know; all that good stuff!!

I have Yamaha currently, but it only has 4k at 30hz or something inadequate like that and it is underpowered. The new Yamahas, to my understanding, are showing some issues this year requiring some updates that are coming or out already but there are some negatives about them. Will probably wait on them a bit to sort things out. What's a gamer? Just kidding, no I don't play games.

I think I might revisit the home theatre setup link to get some AVR and speaker suggestions once I firm up my budget.
 

edee_em

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Just came across another issue. Was listening to a Youtuber explaining why he was selling his Brand XYZ speakers which he believed he was going to have for the long stretch. Turns out there are better speakers out there. That's fine. All kinds of different speakers out there for different people. What gets me, though, is that these were recommended by him and others, less than a year ago, and now he's selling them because there's better out there. Not that the better speakers are new to market. They've been out just as long if not longer. It seems that he just got caught up with what is out there and the XYZ speaker wasn't the end-all and be-all he thought it was. OK. Fine. But what of all those who listened to his recommendation? Buyer beware and move on, right?

The more salient issue for my current question though is this point he raised: He didn't like the bottom end of speaker XYZ and said it needed more power to wake up the bass. Well how in the world am I, Joe Blow, sitting in my kitchen watching speaker reviews, going to know that, unless the guy tells me that (and before he decides they're no good, not after)? And why didn't he just buy an amp to pump it up?

But that led me to the thinking that a lot of you have mentioned here and that is buy an AVR with preouts to allow an amp to be added but start with an AVR that has more power than less. That way, if a speaker needs to be pushed, it will be pushed, and if it's not, I can add an amp. Would be nice to have the AVR at $2000+ be a solution rather than a problem, though.

And that leads to another question. I understand that AVRs are rated at 2 channels driven which means a 150W AVR may only be 90-100W or less (don't know the math, only the principle) when all channels are driven. My question, is that for each channel if the channel is not being used? As an example, if I buy a 7.1 AVR but only run a 5.1 system out of it, so 2 channels are not being run, does that affect or change the power decrease? Put another way, if running a 150W AVR in 7.1 decreases output to 90/100W, will running it in 5.1 only decrease the output to say 100/110 at each channel?
 

JohnRice

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Oh...DUDE!

You are going to drive yourself crazy. So, you came across someone who bought speakers a year ago believing they were the best available, only to discover they aren't? I'd wager money on the brand. Anyway, there are speakers which cost more for a pair than most houses. Yeah, $700,000 and maybe more. The Focal Grande Utopia. Wilson Audio had a limited model where you could only audition them in (the late) David Wilson's house. There are always better speakers.

Andrew Jones is not taking his ELAC designs with him. Those stay with ELAC and they will still be better than most (almost all) speakers in their price range next week as well as five years from now. Probably ten years from now. Yes, his Pioneer designs are still an excellent value, in their very low price range.

I've had my L&R speakers for almost 30 years, and they are still better than 98% of what's available today. Yeah, I was fortunate (with a lot of work) to have chosen one of the all-time great speakers, but the point is, it's still difficult to find a reason to replace them. Especially since I added the dual SB-16 Ultra Subwoofers last year, which completely fixed the one real liability in the system. I would like new ones that are capable of greater output, but how expensive will that be, and will I lose anything I love about the Thiels I have now? A couple Legacy models are very tempting. Either the Focus SEs that @John Dirk has, or the Signatures. In either case, it'll be a huge chunk of cash. So, is it worth it? In any case, there are still better speakers.
 

ManW_TheUncool

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Many, including myself, have been down that road before... but as John alludes, don't let all that drive you crazy and choose something (very) good w/in your budget (perhaps w/ some plausible avenue for eventual upgrade, if you want that) and be content.

Again, if you feel uncertain enough, many good, reputable dealers offer good return policies. Both ELAC and SVS direct sales do AFAIK -- and SVS covers return shipping while ELAC probably does not... although I found ELAC customer service to be excellent and accommodating (and very willing/happy to go above-and-beyond). I guess you could go w/ SVS first (since they cover return shipping), and then only try ELAC if SVS doesn't satisfy (and you're ready to return them)...

But as John pointed out, there will always be better speakers... even if you buy something costing more than most houses... but obviously, the law of diminishing returns apply... Don't let speaker/gear envy/lust drive you nuts as usual...

And both John and I have at least had some (or a lot) of experience w/ substantially (or even much) higher-end gear than what you're probably looking to get and are very satisfied w/ the ELACs, especially in their price range... but yeah, we're not just driving them w/ an AVR, so there's that... not that you really have to spend a ton to add an Emotiva amp for the front LCR though (even though you may need to spend somewhat more on an AVR w/ pre-outs)...

Didn't you mention you settled on a pretty good stereo system back in the 90's that kept you happy/satisfied for a long time? How did you arrive at that? And how did you not go nuts worrying about what could be better how, etc? Other than there possibly being more local places to audition gear (at least around good size cities) back then, there's far less good info/understanding and good, low budget options AFAIK.

Yeah, gear generally cost (very) substantially more (at face value) than they did back in the 90's, but not all, particularly the lower end, are when adjusted for inflation, etc (and what one could actually afford now compared to the 90's)...

_Man_

PS: You don't fancy yourself one of those folks w/ "golden ears", right? ;):D
 
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edee_em

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Many, including myself, have been down that road before... but as John alludes, don't let all that drive you crazy and choose something (very) good w/in your budget (perhaps w/ some plausible avenue for eventual upgrade, if you want that) and be content.

Again, if you feel uncertain enough, many good, reputable dealers offer good return policies. Both ELAC and SVS direct sales do AFAIK -- and SVS covers return shipping while ELAC probably does not... although I found ELAC customer service to be excellent and accommodating (and very willing/happy to go above-and-beyond). I guess you could go w/ SVS first (since they cover return shipping), and then only try ELAC if SVS doesn't satisfy (and you're ready to return them)...

But as John pointed out, there will always be better speakers... even if you buy something costing more than most houses... but obviously, the law of diminishing returns apply... Don't let speaker/gear envy/lust drive you nuts as usual...

And both John and I have at least had some (or a lot) of experience w/ substantially (or even much) higher-end gear than what you're probably looking to get and are very satisfied w/ the ELACs, especially in their price range... but yeah, we're not just driving them w/ an AVR, so there's that... not that you really have to spend a ton to add an Emotiva amp for the front LCR though (even though you may need to spend somewhat more on an AVR w/ pre-outs)...

Didn't you mention you settled on a pretty good stereo system back in the 90's that kept you happy/satisfied for a long time? How did you arrive at that? And how did you not go nuts worrying about what could be better how, etc? Other than there possibly being more local places to audition gear (at least around good size cities) back then, there's far less good info/understanding and good, low budget options AFAIK.
I have a pair of Altec Lansing 96 that I heard in the store. The main difference is that I was just buying a 2-channel back then, with them about 8-9 feet away and didn't need to worry about everything else we have to worry about today with home theatre.

And, these days, AV stores are so "boutiquish" (those that are still around) and carry a few brands or models or formats. A very popular electronics store up here is named as an Elac retailer but they only show the bookshelf speakers on their website. I guess they may be able to bring in others (centres, floorstanders, etc) but then you're not hearing them. Online lays out every speaker in the world for us, doesn't it? Lot to wade through which makes being confident in your decision a bit hard.
Yeah, gear generally cost (very) substantially more (at face value) than they did back in the 90's, but not all, particularly the lower end, are when adjusted for inflation, etc (and what one could actually afford now compared to the 90's)...

_Man_

PS: You don't fancy yourself one of those folks w/ "golden ears", right? ;):D
No, no golden ears here although I just had my hearing checked last week and the audiologist told me I had excellent hearing. My ENT doc has referred to my ears as golden, but that's because he was able to buy a stake in a gold mine with my visitation fees! :emoji_money_mouth::emoji_money_mouth:

I know I've laid down a lot that makes me look a bit koo-koo but I'm really just trying to a) learn and b) avoid making a mistake that's going to cost me even more. Case in point, my current AVR. Thought I was futureproofing with 4K compatibility but it is only at 30hz. Trash bin bound.

However, I do get the point that there will always be better. Time to set a budget and go from there. Thanks for the ear (golden or otherwise) guys!
 

Clinton McClure

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There’s no harm in asking questions. With the exception of my ELAC Atmos speakers that I bought last year, all the other speakers in my HT are 20+ year old 1st generation Paradigms, including my sub. I didn’t pay an arm and a leg for them and they sounded great to my ears way back then. (They sure sounded better than the more expensive Klipsch.) I’m now running them with a Denon S750H receiver and they still sound as awesome today as they did back then. Some day, I would like to go separates but I can’t afford it right now. Point being is that you don’t have to drive yourself nuts and spend a king’s ransom to have a great HT. Do a little homework but don’t spin out over it.
 

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In either case, it'll be a huge chunk of cash. So, is it worth it? In any case, there are still better speakers.
I don't know that I can think of a better use for a "chunk of cash." :cool:

@edee_em - I've owned several SVS speaker models over the years [still have their bookshelves as rear surrounds] and have personally auditioned the Elac Debut series. While SVS makes one of the best families of subs money can buy, I'd have to give the edge to Elac where speakers are concerned. Not saying SVS speakers aren't decent, I just felt the Elacs offered much better imaging for about the same money.
 

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