Should a more powerful receiver sound louder with the same sources? - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 30 Old 02-27-2013, 11:03 AM - Thread Starter
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I guess this question should be under a special AVR category: "Stupid Questions". Nevertheless, I cant seem to get a straight answer on this, so may be the question isnt that stupid.
Should a more powerful receiver sound louder with the same sources? I had a Harman Kardon AVR 235 receiver. 50W of power. I decided to upgrade to AVR 1700. 100W power. Now, the sound has gotten quieter. In addition, the new receiver goes from -80db up till +5db as far as volume is concerned. The old one went up to +10. So, the old one sounded louder and went up to louder volume. All sources are the same. I even used the same CDs and songs to compare the sound.
So, should a m a 100W receiver actually sound louder than a 50W one?
Thanks.
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post #2 of 30 Old 02-27-2013, 11:47 AM
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Have you ran your new AVR's EQ program (EzSet/EQ)? Page 17 of your manual.

To answer your question - yes, you have twice the power, it should play louder...but, if you haven't ran the EQ program or set the speaker levels (with a SPL meter) you really have no idea what your new AVR is capable of.

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post #3 of 30 Old 02-27-2013, 12:06 PM - Thread Starter
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Thanks, Alan. Yes, I did run EzSet immediately after I hooked it up. Set up the mic and everything. The receiver adjusted everything automatically. Made some random sounds from all speakers in a sequence. EzSeq is pretty precise. My sub was set at +3 on the sub itself, so the receiver actually sensed that and set the sub output at -3 which is precisely right.
Here is what I dont understand. Why do 1700's specs say 100W if it doesnt even sound as loud as the 50W AVR 235?
Does anybody have any idea?
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post #4 of 30 Old 02-27-2013, 12:11 PM
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Since both receivers obviously have different volume control scales, how are comparing the output? At max volume or what? Or, are you thinking that -15db on the 235 should be louder than -15db on the 1700? It don't work that way....

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post #5 of 30 Old 02-27-2013, 12:14 PM
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When it comes right down to it, while doubling the power sounds like it should be a significant change, the maximum possible volume only goes up by roughly 3 dB. While you can hear this difference, it is not massive by any stretch. You don't buy the power for greater general listening volume, you buy it so that you get just a bit more headroom for dynamic peaks.

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post #6 of 30 Old 02-27-2013, 12:20 PM - Thread Starter
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Alan, thank again for the informative reply.
yes, I thought that if I had to put AVR 235's volume at -30 to listen Pink Floyd's Time at an acceptable volume, the AVR 1700 should be at -40 or -45 since it is more powerful. You are saying it doesnt work like that. So, I am missing some information. How does it work? What do I need to set on AVR 1700 to unleash the power I dont sense?
Surround sound is off
Treble and bass are at their max
What else?
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post #7 of 30 Old 02-27-2013, 12:25 PM
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You should check out some of the reviews on the AVR 1700. From the little I read Harmon Kardon uses a switching power supply in this model as opposed to the standard linear power supply. They also rate the wattage output in a very strange way. That 100 watts per channel is probably far from accurate. Go to the Audioholics article, the Harmon Kardon AVR 700 & AVR 1700 A/V Receiver Preview and it explains what I'm talking about better than I can.

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post #8 of 30 Old 02-27-2013, 12:25 PM - Thread Starter
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JD, this makes perfect sense. I thought it may be something like that.
"You don't buy the power for greater general listening volume, you buy it so that you get just a bit more headroom for dynamic peaks."
I also heard that power rating affects distortion rate (the more power, the less distortion). Is that true?
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post #9 of 30 Old 02-27-2013, 12:25 PM
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Assuming that both receivers were configured to provide 'reference' volume when set to 0dB, which is what most of those 'auto setup' routines will try to do, then there should be no difference at all between the two at 0, -5, -30 or -40. The difference would be that the old receiver would start to distort a bit sooner when peaks were reached.

Assuming that both receivers were configured to provide absolutely as much volume as they can produce when set to 0dB, then they should give exactly the same volume when the difference on the dials is 3dB. Not 10 or 15. Three.

Honestly, the difference is far smaller than the doubled power rating might seem to indicate.

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post #10 of 30 Old 02-27-2013, 12:28 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by grigorianvlad View Post

Alan, thank again for the informative reply.
yes, I thought that if I had to put AVR 235's volume at -30 to listen Pink Floyd's Time at an acceptable volume, the AVR 1700 should be at -40 or -45 since it is more powerful. You are saying it doesnt work like that. So, I am missing some information. How does it work? What do I need to set on AVR 1700 to unleash the power I dont sense?
Surround sound is off
Treble and bass are at their max
What else?

Ummm...turn up the volume. biggrin.gif

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Originally Posted by JD in NJ View Post

Assuming that both receivers were configured to provide 'reference' volume when set to 0dB, which is what most of those 'auto setup' routines will try to do, then there should be no difference at all between the two at 0, -5, -30 or -40. The difference would be that the old receiver would start to distort a bit sooner when peaks were reached.

Assuming that both receivers were configured to provide absolutely as much volume as they can produce when set to 0dB, then they should give exactly the same volume when the difference on the dials is 3dB. Not 10 or 15. Three.

Honestly, the difference is far smaller than the doubled power rating might seem to indicate.

What he said.

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post #11 of 30 Old 02-27-2013, 12:29 PM - Thread Starter
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Fantastic, DJ. You answered my question while I was typing it. This is an amazing community of experts. I am glad I've joined. Thanks to all - DJ and Alan.
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post #12 of 30 Old 02-27-2013, 12:35 PM
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You're welcome, and welcome to the forum!

Oh...and that's JD. wink.gif

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post #13 of 30 Old 02-27-2013, 12:38 PM
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Oh, and even though you spelled it wrong - please don't use that word again, it's offensive to me and probably many others. Thanks.

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post #14 of 30 Old 02-27-2013, 01:40 PM
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The AVR 235 is actually more powerful than you think. It's 65W x2 and 50W x7 all channels driven. HK receivers during that time period were known to have more power than their published specs. They were high current amps that could even handle 4 ohm loads.

The HK 1700 is a new receiver with a different type switching power supply and the whole receiver is much lighter. I think it weighs less than 13 lbs whereas the AVR 235 is around 28lbs. I haven't seen any published test bench specs on the AVR 1700 yet. Maybe they're out there by now but I really haven't been looking either.

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post #15 of 30 Old 02-27-2013, 02:32 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by grigorianvlad View Post

JD, this makes perfect sense. I thought it may be something like that.
"You don't buy the power for greater general listening volume, you buy it so that you get just a bit more headroom for dynamic peaks."
I also heard that power rating affects distortion rate (the more power, the less distortion). Is that true?

Most likely the more powerful amp will have lower distortion at any output level within the less powerful amp's "clean" output range. But it may be worse at its rated output level than the lesser-powered amp at its rated output level.

Amplifier power is technically quoted as X watts with Y percent distortion into Z impedance. A solid state amp will make different amounts of power into different impedances. Commonly, an amp's noise+distortion versus power "curve" is a very low flat line from low power to some point semiclose to the rated power, where there's a "knee" and distortion starts to rise relatively rapidly. Whether you choose to say the rated power is at .1 percent distortion on that curve or 1 percent distortion might make a big difference. For example this amp http://www.stereophile.com/content/lamm-m12-reference-monoblock-power-amplifier-measurements, when "biased for 1 to 6 ohms" is at .1 percent right around 25 watts, and 1 percent at just under 100 watts. The "usual" thought is one percent or less harmonic distortion is going to be inaudible.

So it's a little weird, and different amps may behave differently (Steroephile has tested a couple lately that seem to me to have an unusual rise in distortion in the middle of their power band) but GENERALLY, a 200 watt amp putting out 20 watts will have lower distortino than a 100 watt amp putting out 20 watts. Same at 100 watts. By 200 watts (assuming the 100 watt rated amp can get there at all) the 100 watt amp's distortion will be huge as a percentage figure and very audible (even to a guitar player, although my reading suggests that guitar players will say a tube guitar amp operating at 10 percent distortion is "clean" - context matters). Theoretically then, although I am much enamored of the vanishingly low THD and intermodulation distortion that the recente Bryston amps exhibit within their rated power, I could purchase a much cheaper amp rated at twice the power and likely get THD and IM right into the Bryston's range AT THE POWER LEVEL that is the Bryston's max.
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post #16 of 30 Old 02-27-2013, 04:40 PM - Thread Starter
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Alan, it was not my intention to offend anybody. Sorry. I replaced the word. You are right, it is inappropriate.
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post #17 of 30 Old 02-27-2013, 04:48 PM
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Right on buddy, no worries.

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post #18 of 30 Old 02-27-2013, 04:50 PM - Thread Starter
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So, if I am hearing everyone correctly, power rating is not indicative of how loud an amplifier is. If so, why do people say "this amp is enough for a small office, but if you want to fill your large living room you will need one with double the power"? This has nothing to do with distortion. It is specifically describing power, the level of how loud the amp is.
Moreover, if I decide to buy a McIntosh 1000W amps (not that I can even remotely afford them) they will produce the same decibel level as my 100W Harman Kardon? I dont think so.
Let me know what you think.
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post #19 of 30 Old 02-27-2013, 04:55 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by grigorianvlad View Post

...why do people say "this amp is enough for a small office, but if you want to fill your large living room you will need one with double the power"...

Because they have no idea what they're talking about.
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Moreover, if I decide to buy a McIntosh 1000W amps (not that I can even remotely afford them) they will produce the same decibel level as my 100W Harman Kardon? I dont think so.

It's a fact, whether or not you believe it makes no difference.

The 1000w amp will have heaps more headroom and most likely less distortion, but at a given master volume setting, and with the same speakers, both amps will provide the same db level at the MLP if calibrated correctly.

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post #20 of 30 Old 02-27-2013, 05:33 PM - Thread Starter
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This is unbelievable (not in the sense "I dont believe you", but in "you are blowing my mind")!
Allright, so power isn't directly related to loudness. Still, some gear produces more decibels than other - from the same source. What is that component that allows one receiver produce enough volume to fill only a small office and another to make a large home theater or a discotheque or a gymnasium shake? There are amplifiers that do that. How are they different? How do you know - by looking at their specs - that they will produce enough decibels, since wattage is irrelevant.
This is really good stuff I am learning here. I appreciate your sharing.
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post #21 of 30 Old 02-27-2013, 05:47 PM
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I had the AVR 1700 as well but returned it a few days after I bought it. My Marantz SR 4001 had more jam. I went with the NAD T748 rated at 40w x 7 and it stomps all over my old Marantz and the AVR 1700 with relative ease


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post #22 of 30 Old 02-27-2013, 06:04 PM - Thread Starter
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Only 2 HDMI in the Marantz? No network radio?
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post #23 of 30 Old 02-27-2013, 06:14 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by grigorianvlad View Post

This is unbelievable (not in the sense "I dont believe you", but in "you are blowing my mind")!
Allright, so power isn't directly related to loudness. Still, some gear produces more decibels than other - from the same source. What is that component that allows one receiver produce enough volume to fill only a small office and another to make a large home theater or a discotheque or a gymnasium shake? There are amplifiers that do that. How are they different? How do you know - by looking at their specs - that they will produce enough decibels, since wattage is irrelevant.
This is really good stuff I am learning here. I appreciate your sharing.

i think you are missing the point. as long as the speakers can stay linear and not start compressing, doubling the power adds three decibels (about one notch louder). So probably doubling power is not enough to cover a much larger room, ASSUMING that you are using all the power in the less powerful amp. Speakers respond to the power they receive - louder with more power, quieter with less power. Sometimes you set the volume control lower. Less power. Some parts of a movie are quieter. Less power. WIth normal speakers you aren't using much power to get pretty dang loud. At any given sound level in your room, whatever amp you have has to be puting out the same power, or the volume level would be different. In my room at my listening level with -15 from reference being typical loudest, I'm using something like 20 watts max, and a watt or a watt and a half during dialog . . . . The same would be true whether my amp could make 50 watts or 200 watts.

Now whether you can directly compare different' manufacturers' power ratings to each other is a whole other question. In the somewhat unusual case I cited above, a manufacturer who lists power at .1 percent distortion would call it a 25 watt amp. A manufacturer who lists power at 1 percent distortion would call it a 100 watt amp. WHile that amp is unusual there are details about the way power is specified that make numbers not directly comprarable.

so JD's point above is if amp A never has audible distortion when you listen as loud as you ever want to, amp b, even if it has ten times the power, will still be delivering the same power, and no louder, when you listen as loud as you ever want to.
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post #24 of 30 Old 02-27-2013, 06:49 PM - Thread Starter
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Thanks, guys.
I am glad I asked the question. It turns out my previous understanding of amp power was predicated on BS.
So, I am assuming there is no way to tell by looking at bare specs in a manual if a receiver is loud enough for certain room? My thinking was I had a 50W HK receiver and it was more than enough for a 500 sq feet room, therefore for a 1000 sq feet I will probably need 100W. This turns out to be flawed thinking as they will both produce the same sound (more or less) but with a different rate of distortion. The best way to really compare them is to hook them up and give them hell.
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post #25 of 30 Old 02-27-2013, 07:50 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by grigorianvlad View Post

Only 2 HDMI in the Marantz? No network radio?

The Marantz SR4001 is a 2007 model, no networking and only 2 HDMI inputs. I bought one for $50 about a year ago from a guy who buys stuff from estate sales. Its a nice solid receiver.

Gave it to my dad at Christmas along with a Panny BD player as he previously only had a DVR. So 2 HDMI inputs are fine. The Panny BD player has internet streaming with Netflix, Amazon Prime, Pandora, etc so he's got everything he needs.

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post #26 of 30 Old 02-27-2013, 07:56 PM
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When purchasing a receiver I look for bench tests if all possible not only do I want something that can hit close to 100wpc with low distortion I want to know what it does at 4ohms because most speakers very the impedance through the frequency range and fall to 4ohm and lower somewhere around 150Hz and lower.
Crossing your speakers over at 80Hz will certainly lighten the load on your AVR besides letting the sub do the job it was better at than your mains and surrounds.
As was mentioned you have to double the power to get a 3db increase and if I am not mistaken you will have to go 10db to make it sound twice as loud.
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post #27 of 30 Old 02-27-2013, 08:19 PM
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The next thing to think about is speaker sensitivity, which can easily run from around 84 dB to 99 dB at one watt input at one meter distance. Note that sometimes 4 ohm speakers are rated with the volts that would yield one watt with an eight ohm load. That really means the 4 ohm speaker is specified at two watts and at one meter.

anechoically, like outside, SPL drops 6 dB every time you double distance. In room the drop is apparently less, maybe 3 dB but I haven't seen anything that convinces me what number to use.

If you have two 8 ohm speakers, one with 85 dB sensitivity and one with 98 dB sensitivity, the less sensitive speaker needs twenty times the power to be equally loud as the more sensitive one. Speaker sensitivity can make a much bigger difference in loudness than amp power.
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post #28 of 30 Old 02-27-2013, 08:47 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by grigorianvlad View Post

Thanks, guys.
I am glad I asked the question. It turns out my previous understanding of amp power was predicated on BS.
So, I am assuming there is no way to tell by looking at bare specs in a manual if a receiver is loud enough for certain room? My thinking was I had a 50W HK receiver and it was more than enough for a 500 sq feet room, therefore for a 1000 sq feet I will probably need 100W. This turns out to be flawed thinking as they will both produce the same sound (more or less) but with a different rate of distortion. The best way to really compare them is to hook them up and give them hell.

Modern receivers, as far as hardware goes, are on a pretty level playing field these days. The only thing you need to pay attention to are the features - specifically, the room EQ features. Generally, the better the room EQ, and the more inputs/outputs, the more expensive the receiver.

As you now realize, it's not the receiver and/or amp that really controls how loud your system can go - it's the speakers...and to some extent, the room.

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post #29 of 30 Old 02-28-2013, 07:41 AM - Thread Starter
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Yes, Marantz has always been the Aston Martin of receivers. Such a beauty. They look like they are from the next century. Such an eye candy. I bet it was about $800 in 2007? $50 you paid for it back then certainly was a good deal.
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post #30 of 30 Old 02-28-2013, 08:39 AM - Thread Starter
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Thank you Alan P, oztech, JHAz, afrogt, Owterspace, JD in NJ and Angler55. Lets consider this thread closed. I have another question on crossover functions, but it obviously belongs to a new thread.
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