big amp w/ small speakers: dangerous? - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 12 Old 07-08-2002, 08:36 AM - Thread Starter
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Is it unsafe to hook up a powerful amplifer to small speakers? My surround speakers are small. I want to get a new receiver which has a 170 wpc amp.

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post #2 of 12 Old 07-08-2002, 09:49 AM
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Heres a very general answer as I know not the speakers you are speaking of...

I would MUCH RATHER have more power than I think I might use than too little!

It really depends on how efficient your speakers are and if the 170 wpc is a "true 170". Some of the numbers games manufacturers use to get the specs they want are pretty bad. Read the fine print was the 170 all channels driven with a full spectrum signal or 170 with 1 channel driven at a very narrow band signal (and at what level of distortion).

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post #3 of 12 Old 07-08-2002, 10:28 AM
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An under-powered amplifier will clip during peak demand. This type of distortion can easily damage a speaker. With high power amps the speaker will only be damaged if it draws more power than it can handle (unlikely with a quality product).

FWIW, I've run Paradigm speakers off a Crown K2 (800x2) w/o any problems.
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post #4 of 12 Old 07-08-2002, 10:38 AM
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As long as you do not try to attain 'theater level' volumes (not knowing what speakers you have) you should be okay. If you hear the speakers start to sound distorted or nasty, back off the volume.
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post #5 of 12 Old 07-08-2002, 11:18 AM - Thread Starter
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Someone told me that I risk damaging the amp, not the speakers.

Ben R.
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post #6 of 12 Old 07-08-2002, 12:51 PM
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One of the only ways speakers (if they are working correctly and no crossed wires) will damage amplifiers is if they have to low impendance. Showing your amp a 2ohm load will cause it to overheat.

Small speakers on a large amp is like driving a Porsche in a parking lot. You know the potential is there...you just can't utalize all that power.
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post #7 of 12 Old 07-09-2002, 12:20 PM
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Quote:
Originally posted by benrub
Is it unsafe to hook up a powerful amplifer to small speakers? My surround speakers are small. I want to get a new receiver which has a 170 wpc amp.
As Greg already mentioned, the opposite is much much more dangerous. 99% of speaker damage (usually in the form of a blown tweeter) is from an underpowered amp being driven too hard into clipping.

If I wanted to blow speakers (no matter what the model), I'd get the smallest wimpiest amp possible, not the largest.

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post #8 of 12 Old 07-12-2002, 02:44 PM
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You can use fuses inline with small speakers - I've been doing it for years. I prefer the glass tube style fast-blow electronic instrument fuses, the kind with a single strand of wire inside, and automotive-style inline fuse holders. If you see the wire pulsing red hot, back off the volume a little. (There's no audible sound degradation.)

On the other hand, if you believe that speaker wires must be huge diameter, multi-filar braided cables made from oxgen-free copper or silver, well forget I ever said anything. (I hate religious discussions.)

To size the fuse, take the square root of (speaker power rating in watts / speaker impedance in ohms), and pick the next smaller available fuse. Also known as Watt's Law.

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post #9 of 12 Old 07-13-2002, 06:18 AM
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Many many moons ago, my first 'real' speakers back in my formative years were Magnepan MMG's - they use the same type of fast blow fuses in line with the tweaters as they're a very hard load to drive for most 'regular' grade amps. Since all I could afford at the time was a Harman Kardon integradted amp, I blew my share of fuses!

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post #10 of 12 Old 07-15-2002, 09:53 PM
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It is true that too little power USUALLY damages most speakers in the form of clipping & then tweeter burn out. However, if your largest speaker/driver is too small for the amount/level of bass signal your amp is capable of providing, the excursion limit of the driver could be reached quickly. If you have a crossover (to a sub or something) restricting bass signals to small speakers, you're pretty safe.
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post #11 of 12 Old 07-16-2002, 09:46 AM
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Quote:
Originally posted by kal
If I wanted to blow speakers (no matter what the model), I'd get the smallest wimpiest amp possible, not the largest.

Kal
Gulp....actually, then you couldn't blow the spkeakers...even the cliiped signal wouldn't be enough power to do thermal damage (which is the only way drivers are damaged from playback).

The problem arrises when you drive a 100w amp into clipping, powering 150 watt speakers. Then the cliped signal could provide enough heat to possible damage the speaker.
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post #12 of 12 Old 07-21-2002, 05:45 AM
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I use PSB stratus mini speakers for my rear channel but my amp is a California Audio Labs MCA 2500 that delivers a true 500 watts a channel into 8 ohms. I've never had a problem. However, I'm sure that if I turned the volume to the maximum the drivers of the mini's would be headed for space :D. But there is no sane reason for me to do that. You should not have a problem.

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