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Which receiver for which speakers (1 Viewer)

Jun 8, 2002
Is there a 'rule of thumb' when it comes to selecting how much amplifier power will be required to adequately drive a given set of speakers? One set of speakers I have looked at recommends between 20 and 150 watts of power, but most home theater receivers that I’ve looked at push 50 – 80 watts; which just seems a little weak. Are the speakers I’m looking at too big or the receiver too small; or is this normal/acceptable?

Because I live within walking distance of a Circuit City I have looked at several Polk speakers, and HK and Onkyo receivers. Any thoughts?

Selden Ball

Second Unit
Mar 1, 2001
Real Name
It's better to have a more powerful amplifier than a weaker one. When you try to get a high sound pressure level (loud volume) from a weak receiver, it'll start to "clip." The output voltage of the amplifier stops abruptly when it hits the maximum voltage the power supply can supply. This can be disasterous for the speakers: clipping puts a lot of energy into high frequencies, overheating the tweeters in your speakers and potentially burning them out.

In other words, if you can't yet afford the higher powered amplifiers, you should be auditioning high-efficiency speakers -- the ones that have sensitivity ratings over 90dB. Every 3dB increase in sensitivity (also called efficiency) is equal to doubling the power of the amplifier.

Klipsh (and other speakers based on horn designs) tend to be quite efficient, more than the traditional "dome" speakers. They have a quite distinctive sound, however, which may or may not be to your liking.

I hope this helps a little.

Patrick vdb

Jun 5, 2002
Normally the manufacturor recommends a minimum power-output (the 20Watts) which is necessary to drive the speaker at an acceptable level. The maximum power-output is normally what the speaker can handle at max. (note that this is rated not as peak-power but as continueously. Peak-power is normally much much higher). So when you connect a 80Watt amp to speakers rated 20-180Watt this will surely work. However (as mentioned above) more power will always result in a better driving of the speaker resulting in a better sound-quality. If you want the speaker to fully perform you'll need a more powerfull amp to connect.

When you connect a 80Watt amp then mind the volume and don't drive the amp to it's max. Clipping is indeed more dangerous for speakers then a higher power output as rated or recommended.

Best regards


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