Speakers that come "alive" with more power - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 31 Old 12-22-2012, 11:33 PM - Thread Starter
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Is this pretty much a myth? I hear all the time about people saying so and so speaker needs 200 watts to come "alive" even though it has the same sensitivity as a smaller tower in the series. Is there anything to this? The only thing I can think of is maybe certain speakers lack a good soundstage or dynamics unless they're cranked which would also mean you need a huge room unless you want to blow your eardrums. Just wondering can we put this in the myth category or is there something to needing a ton of power for certain speakers to sound their best?
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post #2 of 31 Old 12-23-2012, 04:00 AM
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My Paradigm Studio 10's and Signature 2's came alive when i added a 200w amp.

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post #3 of 31 Old 12-23-2012, 07:15 AM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by CHASLS2 View Post

My Paradigm Studio 10's and Signature 2's came alive when i added a 200w amp.

But what do you mean by that and how much power were you putting through them before? I mean the difference between a 100w and 200w amp would be 3db if they were both cranked, are you saying you needed 3 more db for them to come "alive" or is it something else?
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post #4 of 31 Old 12-23-2012, 07:22 AM
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Originally Posted by aarons915 View Post

I mean the difference between a 100w and 200w amp would be 3db if they were both cranked,
If that, and it assumes that the speakers are capable of handling the extra power without the drivers reaching their excursion limits. Where power in and of itself is concerned you really can't tell much difference, if any, between less than a 4:1 difference. But if two amps have different input sensitivities that can be easily heard, even if they're both rated for the same maximum power, and that's more often than not what you hear when using different amps.

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post #5 of 31 Old 12-23-2012, 07:30 AM
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Music can often have 10dB peaks. I suppose if the extra power can better match those peaks, then I can see how some might say they have "come alive" with the extra power. But as BIll says, that presupposes the speakers are capable of handling it.
http://www.jblpro.com/pub/technote/spkpwfaq.pdf
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post #6 of 31 Old 12-23-2012, 07:38 AM
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Originally Posted by aarons915 View Post

But what do you mean by that and how much power were you putting through them before? I mean the difference between a 100w and 200w amp would be 3db if they were both cranked, are you saying you needed 3 more db for them to come "alive" or is it something else?

They were being powerd by Pioneer ELITE SC61 AVR. I'm not talking about them being louder, they just sound more bold and cleaner.

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post #7 of 31 Old 12-23-2012, 07:40 AM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Wrager View Post

Music can often have 10dB peaks. I suppose if the extra power can better match those peaks, then I can see how some might say they have "come alive" with the extra power. But as BIll says, that presupposes the speakers are capable of handling it.
http://www.jblpro.com/pub/technote/spkpwfaq.pdf

I wonder if that graph was greatly exaggerated to emphasize their point though about speaker handling and what damages them. Does an average consumption of 1W lead to peaks of around 300W? I have no idea myself but I've heard that the peaks during movies are 20db higher than reference which would require 100W of peak power if my math is correct.
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post #8 of 31 Old 12-23-2012, 08:33 AM
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I've had speakers, mostly those with high ohm-change slopes, which were picky about amps in a way not suggested by simple SPL/watts..

My B&W801's, for example, really did not sound good at even low volume off my AVR. They sounded much better when I put a more capable amp under them (didn't matter which: they've run off my McIntosh 2120 and my Yamaha P5000S).

Most of what I've owned, however, sounded just fine off an AVR at most volumes.
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post #9 of 31 Old 12-23-2012, 09:01 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CHASLS2 View Post

They were being powerd by Pioneer ELITE SC61 AVR. I'm not talking about them being louder, they just sound more bold and cleaner.

By bolder and cleaner, you could just be experiencing differences in a certain receiver or amp. Like how some think receiver: A sounds warmer than receiver: B. etc...

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Of course, I got it modified with the TK-427, which cheeks it up another, maybe, 3 or 4 quads per channel.
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post #10 of 31 Old 12-23-2012, 09:02 AM
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Originally Posted by JerryLove View Post

I've had speakers, mostly those with high ohm-change slopes, which were picky about amps in a way not suggested by simple SPL/watts..
My B&W801's, for example, really did not sound good at even low volume off my AVR. They sounded much better when I put a more capable amp under them (didn't matter which: they've run off my McIntosh 2120 and my Yamaha P5000S).
Most of what I've owned, however, sounded just fine off an AVR at most volumes.

That's my thinking as well. Some speakers are difficult impedance loads and an amp capable of handling it will sound better even at low volumes. My speakers are easy to drive and sound identical whether I use a receiver or a separate amp.

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post #11 of 31 Old 12-23-2012, 09:04 AM
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Originally Posted by CHASLS2 View Post

They were being powerd by Pioneer ELITE SC61 AVR. I'm not talking about them being louder, they just sound more bold and cleaner.
That probably has everything to do with the quality of the amp, not the power rating.

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post #12 of 31 Old 12-23-2012, 09:12 AM
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Originally Posted by Bill Fitzmaurice View Post

That probably has everything to do with the quality of the amp, not the power rating.

Could be. It's a old Acurus A-200. The Paradigm Signature 2's are just insane speakers as it is.

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post #13 of 31 Old 12-23-2012, 09:19 AM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bill Fitzmaurice View Post

That probably has everything to do with the quality of the amp, not the power rating.

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Originally Posted by CHASLS2 View Post

They were being powerd by Pioneer ELITE SC61 AVR. I'm not talking about them being louder, they just sound more bold and cleaner.

Can anyone chime in on this? Is there a certain spec on an amp that even at the same power rating will cause it to play with more authority? I'm thinking maybe damping factor but not sure. I do know that going from a Harman Kardon with a very solid amp section to a new receiver the bass isn't quite the same. I remember my HK with an 80hz crossover with the fronts was too much bass it sounded like and I used a 100hz for my fronts and center. The new Denon I got sounds fine with an 80hz crossover though, the bass doesn't seem as pronounced I guess is how I would describe it.
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post #14 of 31 Old 12-23-2012, 09:35 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by aarons915 View Post

Can anyone chime in on this? Is there a certain spec on an amp that even at the same power rating will cause it to play with more authority? I'm thinking maybe damping factor but not sure. I do know that going from a Harman Kardon with a very solid amp section to a new receiver the bass isn't quite the same. I remember my HK with an 80hz crossover with the fronts was too much bass it sounded like and I used a 100hz for my fronts and center. The new Denon I got sounds fine with an 80hz crossover though, the bass doesn't seem as pronounced I guess is how I would describe it.

Man, wouldn't that be nice. Dynaudios are notorious for "coming alive with power", as per your OP. The rationale has always been current, not "power"; and of course, there's always the argument...whether you agree or not...of watts and watts (as in, all are not created equally).

I'm with you; it would be nice if amp specs all included damping factors (which I think are tricky), and amount of current produced...in some kind of usable number. But then that would likely shine a light on the "best" units now, wouldn't it. rolleyes.gif

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post #15 of 31 Old 12-23-2012, 09:43 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by aarons915 View Post

Is there a certain spec on an amp that even at the same power rating will cause it to play with more authority? I'm thinking maybe damping factor but not sure. I do know that going from a Harman Kardon with a very solid amp section to a new receiver the bass isn't quite the same. I remember my HK with an 80hz crossover with the fronts was too much bass it sounded like and I used a 100hz for my fronts and center. The new Denon I got sounds fine with an 80hz crossover though, the bass doesn't seem as pronounced I guess is how I would describe it.

You are close to answering your own question. The hks tend to have higher instantaneous current reserve and as such can have the more dynamic, relaxed, and musical sound. Look for high instantaneous current capacity by finding the 4 ohm rating, if there is one. If it's heading toward doubling the 8 ohm rating, you've identified this kind of engineering.

As for your original question, speakers can have distinctive personalities with regard to power. For example, a pair of otherwise acoustically-similar speakers - a pair of differing 6.5" 2-ways, for example - can favor significantly different program material and typical use depending on their relative technologies. The model emphasizing very linear magnetic motor behavior, light moving assemblies, and close electrical coupling to the amplifier can dig deeper into the finest details and therefore have you listening at lower levels, whereas the model with very high thermal capacity and higher internal mechanical control tends to need to be driven harder to sound more "comfortable" with the more dynamic material at the loud end of the scale. In this thread CDLehner mentions the Dynaudios and their preference for oodles of current.

Lastly, I had another conversation this week with a reviewer who, like me, has preferred smaller amplifiers for their alive, natural sound over the same brand's large amplifiers. Big amps may conceal their apparently louder personality behind lower dynamic contrasts - behind a less open, less transparent overall character. This is another influence on the system's overall dynamic character, perhaps in ways be inversely related to where you'd like to be.

Some combinations can really transcend the limits of boxes connected to boxes with wire - some start making real music in your space and others leave you finding what I think you just have. The only to uncover them is to experiment...

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post #16 of 31 Old 12-23-2012, 09:23 PM
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Originally Posted by Jon Lane View Post

Lastly, I had another conversation this week with a reviewer who, like me, has preferred smaller amplifiers for their alive, natural sound over the same brand's large amplifiers. Big amps may conceal their apparently louder personality behind lower dynamic contrasts - behind a less open, less transparent overall character.

Interesting. Can you be more specific? Some examples would be nice.

... The only to uncover them is to experiment.

Well, for me it is more like wishful thinking smile.gif
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post #17 of 31 Old 12-24-2012, 08:10 AM
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I have some Magnepan's. They're the poster child of speakers that supposedly need a lot of power to sound good. My personal experience is they sound good no matter how much power they receive. I think a lot depends on the particular room setup they're in. For example, sound can come directly from the speakers and can be reflected. It may be you have to hit a certain db level in order to detect reflections and this makes it appear the speaker suddenly expanded its soundstage at a given level.
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post #18 of 31 Old 12-24-2012, 08:34 AM
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I dont know if its the software or audyssey or the power but ive got some bose 10.2 towers that sound tons better on my onkyo 809 than on my onkyo 608 in 2.0 and 2.1 with music.

After putting in tons of hours in my shop and house im very dissapointed in the infinity c336 primuss towers and also polk 70 series 2 speakers compared to these bose towers. They just dont compare at all!

Been looking into upgrading my front two speakers yet again for good 2.0 music and have been considering the large GOLDENEAR Tritonsspeakers but am afraid of being dissapointed.
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post #19 of 31 Old 12-24-2012, 09:11 AM
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Originally Posted by lolosuzuki View Post

I dont know if its the software or audyssey or the power but ive got some bose 10.2 towers that sound tons better on my onkyo 809 than on my onkyo 608 in 2.0 and 2.1 with music.
After putting in tons of hours in my shop and house im very dissapointed in the infinity c336 primuss towers and also polk 70 series 2 speakers compared to these bose towers. They just dont compare at all!
Been looking into upgrading my front two speakers yet again for good 2.0 music and have been considering the large GOLDENEAR Tritonsspeakers but am afraid of being dissapointed.

You're comparing american made speakers that sold for over $1,200 years ago to cheaply made chinese speakers that currently sell for $300. Of course, the Bose will sound better.
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post #20 of 31 Old 12-24-2012, 09:37 AM
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You're comparing american made speakers that sold for over $1,200 years ago to cheaply made chinese speakers that currently sell for $300. Of course, the Bose will sound better.

American made and $1200 dollars or not, Bose has never used quality components. I'd rather own a pair of cheaply made Chinese speakers.

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Of course, I got it modified with the TK-427, which cheeks it up another, maybe, 3 or 4 quads per channel.
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post #21 of 31 Old 12-24-2012, 09:52 AM
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Usually, when speakers are characterized by saying they "come alive when more power is applied", that usually means they sound like ass when played at a low or moderate levels. In other words, it's just a lame excuse. Reminds me of the "sure these speakers sound bad now but wait till you break them in" line of BS. Also, volume can be used to try to mask a bad sound. This is why when A/Bing speakers you have to make sure the levels are matched because a louder speaker may appear to sound better when it really does not.

I'm glad I don't have to push my speakers to higher levels in order to make them sound nice. Good speakers should sound good when played at any level.
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post #22 of 31 Old 12-24-2012, 10:11 AM
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Originally Posted by Dave1027 View Post

Usually, when speakers are characterized by saying they "come alive when more power is applied", that usually means they sound like ass when played at a low or moderate levels. In other words, it's just a lame excuse. Reminds me of the "sure these speakers sound bad now but wait till you break them in" line of BS. Also, volume can be used to try to mask a bad sound. This is why when A/Bing speakers you have to make sure the levels are matched because a louder speaker may appear to sound better when it really does not.
I'm glad I don't have to push my speakers to higher levels in order to make them sound nice. Good speakers should sound good when played at any level.

Well...I'm not disagreeing; I don't have a dog in this fight...and I'm not "technical" enough to back-up any particular POV with science. But let's take my own (former) brand for example...the aforementioned Dynaudio. Two of the reasons I've heard that a) they need extensive break-in (not sure how big a believer I am in all that), and b) that they need some oomph, some power/current to sound their best are...a) their drivers (which they manufacture themselves, of course) are fairly stiff, and b) the driver excursion...or whatever you call the amount of travel...is fairly deep.

Again, no science to prove such a thing...but that makes, at least, common sense to me. Here's what I do know...what my ears tell me, anyway: Dyns...especially the stand-mount monitors...produce much more bass than you would think them capable. They are really bass-champs, with their smaller speakers AFAIC. Two...they sound fantastic LOUD, and are almost impossible to over-driver/drive to "break-up". I guess my point is...I agree with Dave, ideally...you'd want a speaker that sounds good at a lower volume; but what if the trade-off it doesn't sound as good at higher volumes? Then I guess you've got to pick your poison.

Sure...you could get a speaker that sounds equally great at both; but then that would be perfect, and good luck with that, lol. For example...I now have Harbeths. Amazing speakers...for what they do well. But they certainly don't Rock the house like my old Dyns. frown.gif

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post #23 of 31 Old 12-24-2012, 10:53 AM
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Originally Posted by MrEastSide View Post

American made and $1200 dollars or not, Bose has never used quality components. I'd rather own a pair of cheaply made Chinese speakers.

Bose has a bad rep now, but 20+ years ago, they were considered good speakers.
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post #24 of 31 Old 12-24-2012, 11:09 AM
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Originally Posted by KidHorn View Post

Bose has a bad rep now, but 20+ years ago, they were considered good speakers.

They're still "considered" good speakers. I have a buddy, that just bought a million-dollar house. He's an accomplished, educated man...but knows little about hi-fi and HT. He elicited my help, and it's a good thing; I swear he was about to buy some 5-figure Bose package, from the house-builders.

He only came to me, because he was like "I know Bose is the best...but I'm not sure I want to spend so much", lol. This very board, is filled with "can anything beat Bose..." threads. I swear...I hope half of them are just jokes/trolls; but I don't put it past the vast majority of the public.

I'm not trying to be elitist; most people just don't care, and that's their prerogative. But please; Bose never was actually good, were they?

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post #25 of 31 Old 12-24-2012, 11:49 AM
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I know about bose reputation but these are not typical bose speakers. They arent of the highest quality imho either but they sound much better than the speakers i tried to replace them with and they are in perfect mechanical condition after 25 years.

At first i thought the Infinity speakers sounded better but it didnt take long to realize that they dont...
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post #26 of 31 Old 12-24-2012, 02:07 PM
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Bose never was actually good, were they?
Not really. The 901 came out when I was in college. We knocked it off using $7.95 Radio Shack FE-103 drivers. Our knock-off sounded better.

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post #27 of 31 Old 12-24-2012, 02:54 PM
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Originally Posted by lolosuzuki View Post

After putting in tons of hours in my shop and house im very dissapointed in the infinity c336 primuss towers and also polk 70 series 2 speakers compared to these bose towers. They just dont compare at all!

What's a "c336"?
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post #28 of 31 Old 12-24-2012, 03:02 PM
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Originally Posted by JerryLove View Post

What's a "c336"?

That would be the Infinity Classia C336

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post #29 of 31 Old 12-24-2012, 04:00 PM
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What's a "c336"?

I meant p363 primuss

Would love to audition the classia for grins though.
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post #30 of 31 Old 12-24-2012, 07:16 PM
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I think the saying is just that, a cliche some listeners come up with because they notice a difference in loudness due to a sensitivity difference.

Assuming you are not impinging on the amplifier's maximum output, assuming the amplifier amplifies linearly, and assuming the speaker system "transduces" linearly, there should be no audible difference between a lower powered amplifier and a higher powered amplifier.
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