Do WATTS make an audible difference? - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 13 Old 10-04-2012, 11:17 AM - Thread Starter
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I am looking at two different receivers(same brand) and notice the watts difference(90x7 vs 110x7) is there an audible difference between wattage? Will one be louder/sound better/cleaner than the other?
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post #2 of 13 Old 10-04-2012, 11:26 AM
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Not likely, no, unless the AVR volume is maxed out, and even then, still unlikely. Going from 64W to 128W amounts to only a 3db increase in volume which most folks just notice as a change, so 90W to 110W would result in even less of a change. Select the 110W AVR because it offers some feature you want that the 90W AVR does not offer.

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post #3 of 13 Old 10-04-2012, 02:49 PM
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Yes it does make a audible difference. I was running my polk rti12s with csi5 center and some optimus pro for surrounds. All of this off of a onkyo 805. And thats at 145 watts per chan. I just got two parasound amps that I run in bridge mode at 245 watts per rti12 and let my onkyo push the center and surrounds. And I did not think there would be a difference in sq but i was wrong. Even at low volume there is a huge difference in sq . What brand and model are the receivers are you looking at ?

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post #4 of 13 Old 10-04-2012, 03:04 PM - Thread Starter
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Looking at both Denon and Yamaha. Would be replacing a Denon AVR 2807 (which I believe is 120x7 watts) so I am concerned if I would be losing sound quality by going with a cheaper model at less watts.
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post #5 of 13 Old 10-04-2012, 05:32 PM
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For good sound quality, the first watt is the most important watt. As the power output goes to zero, look for an amp that doesn't show a lot of increase in distortion percentage.
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post #6 of 13 Old 10-04-2012, 06:44 PM
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This question seems to always be in the minds of many that buy amplified audio gear. While not an expert by any means, I have had many different setups with different power amps and receivers etc. IMHO, amps beyond the first as was stated by Tazishire above, can make a difference in sound quality and levels to the extent that speakers are relatively inefficient in generating sound waves at the same level as those recorded in the master disc, tape, LP, etc. and this creates a demand on the speaker which will draw more power from the amp in an attempt to keep up with especially dynamic music passages. In the old days we called this headroom for the amp/speaker system. Headroom as I understand it, is the "reserve" amps available to the speakers during changes in recorded volume levels. Headroom is usually a fleeting demand on the amp but lower wattage amps have less headroom for the speakers to draw on to create the louder passages.

When I buy equipment my goal is to try to match amp watts with speaker design (two way, three way, highly efficient, less efficient,), intended use (rock vs chamber music, etc) and room size and treatments (big empty room, one with lots of sound dampening, small live room, etc.); all these together have an effect on the amp/speaker system and the amount of useable amps for headroom becomes an important factor.

That said, the quality of the source, amps, switching, wires, and speakers can all play a part in the quality of the sound reproduction. A lousy receiver, preamp or amp can all create noise in the signal and more amps only make it louder (within limits). My philosophy is to by the best sound reproduction system you can afford and one with sufficient amps to meet your needs. Low watts on a great sounding amp can be far better than 400 watts on a crappy one.
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post #7 of 13 Old 10-04-2012, 10:31 PM
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In this novice's opinion, as stated above, you want to look at THN (Total Harmonic Distortion) and remember what jdsmoothie said above. Doubling your watts only produces a 3db increase in sound. So many people look at a 200 watt amp vs the 100 watt model and say "great, this will be twice as loud!" When, in fact, it will play an almost imperceptible 3db louder. Amplifier power is measured on an exponential scale, not a linear one.

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post #8 of 13 Old 10-04-2012, 11:02 PM
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Was it the Parasounds watts or lower floor noise, more dynamic range or some other confounding factor such as the quality of the pre-amp. In short, buy the best amp/avr that you can afford. Additional features such as MCACC or Auddyseey can improve the SQ more than a few watts.

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post #9 of 13 Old 10-05-2012, 06:25 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by EJ View Post

Doubling your watts only produces a 3db increase in sound.

In theory, you're right, but people who have done actual measurements rarely see it work that simply. The issue is doubling the power of a receiver does not mean a speaker will convert all of this to sound. Some of the power goes to heat and other things. So, on paper, in a 100% efficient system, doubling the power equals a 3DB increase, but since nothing is 100% efficient, in reality this never happens.
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post #10 of 13 Old 10-05-2012, 07:20 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by KidHorn View Post

In theory, you're right, but people who have done actual measurements rarely see it work that simply. The issue is doubling the power of a receiver does not mean a speaker will convert all of this to sound. Some of the power goes to heat and other things. So, on paper, in a 100% efficient system, doubling the power equals a 3DB increase, but since nothing is 100% efficient, in reality this never happens.

Not sure regarding the perfection of your above but we all can agree that the 3dB standard is the accepted standard of the home AVR set as we don't all have or know how to use test scopes. My take, the 3dB standard is just that, a generalized standard we all can work from, just like when buying a loan the buyer of the loan has two numbers to work with. The first number is the actual mortgage or loan rate and the second number, the APR, is a simplified way of telling the loan purchaser what all the fees work out to when amortized over the life of the loan. Other examples would be the lab sensitivity rating of a speaker or the stated power output of a receiver when compared to real world use of measurements in an open room at four meters or all channels driven to 1% THD. In the case of my speakers, although rated a 100dB 1w/1m, a more realistic rating would be 86dB 1w/4m and although my AVR is rated at 100w, when five channels are driven to 1% THD, the output is more like 89w.


In my above, I'm agreeing with you as I compare the world of the ideal (lab measurements) vs measurements one can expect to obtain in real world settings; our home theater room, at the main listening position, Audyssey has been run and the AVR volume control set to 0dB. Please pass the popcorn.

Last night's real world movie choice was a cable box provided, DD movie soundtrack: "The Debt." An excellent (although typically slow at times) 60's, cold war style movie set in 1965 East/West Berlin, juxtapositioned on top of the present day lives of four personalities. A solid movie of intrigue, deserving a five out of five popcorn bag rating.

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post #11 of 13 Old 10-05-2012, 09:14 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by KidHorn View Post

In theory, you're right, but people who have done actual measurements rarely see it work that simply. The issue is doubling the power of a receiver does not mean a speaker will convert all of this to sound. Some of the power goes to heat and other things. So, on paper, in a 100% efficient system, doubling the power equals a 3DB increase, but since nothing is 100% efficient, in reality this never happens.

Well, speakers are terribly inefficient and the vast majority of the power they receive goes to heat not sound, starting with the first .0001 watt. But the idea that increased power may not be fully realized as output can be true if you're getting past the speaker's ability to respond linearly (ie it is compressing) and of course speakers' distortion increases as they get louder, which may limit ultimate SPL. But doubling power from 1 watt to 2 watts will give you a 3 dB increase. So, with most speakers, will doubling from 20 to 40 watts. Whether doubling from 50 to 100, or from 100 to 200 watts will yield a 3 dB increase begins to become speaker dependent.
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post #12 of 13 Old 10-05-2012, 11:36 AM
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I gave inefficiency as one variable, but in reality there are many more. Measurements have shown that doubling power can produce gains over 6db and sometimes close to 0. The gains also tend to vary based on frequency. Alot has to do with specific speaker placement and room acoustics. In a real room, it's much more common to see a gain plot that's all over the place as opposed to a nice 3 DB gain. Higher volumes and smaller rooms tend to be more likley to produce unexpected results.

Think of it like trying to predict wave height in a pool caused by turning on the faucet. You may expect the wave height to double by doubling the flow into the pool. That may be true for smooth flows, but if you crank up the spigot and have a very small pool, the wave height will be all over the place.
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post #13 of 13 Old 10-05-2012, 11:44 AM
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Could you link one of those studies showing 0 or 6 dB change with a 3 dB power increase? Is that near max ratings (amp and/or speaker) or down at 1 or 10 W?

One significant factor: Our hearing is not flat and linear with frequency, so how much louder a 3 dB increase sounds is somewhat frequency-dependent.

Another: Speaker impedance is not flat with frequency, and a dip or peak may change the output SPL if the amp can't handle the impedance change.

One other factor: The raw power ratings do not tell the whole story. I have several AVRs and amps around the house. Some produce full power, or close enough, no matter what. One drops from ~100 W in stereo to ~30 W with all channels driven. Replacing that AVR with a different one did make a difference depending upon the speakers I was driving.

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