I couldn't vote because none of the options are correct IMO.
So I'll just explain what I do...
After everything is equalized (that is critical because of boosting and cutting), I select a 0-db 16bit PCM sinewave in the middle of the bandpass (and with the speakers disconnected), I set the output level until I clip the inputs on my DCX (and amps that have input meters).
This is the max the pre-amp should be driven to.
(FYI: Black Hawk Down - F Irene or WOTW - Pod scene, and DTS intros works good as well for DD/DTS Master Audio signal checking.)
I then adjust the gain knobs on the amps until the output is just below clipping.
Again, this is the max the amp should be driven to.
I then turn the amps down and connect the speakers.
I drive the speakers to maximum excursion (usually 10-15hz ULF signals).
Again, this is the max the speakers can handle.
Never exceed those three values. Unless you like playing a hot & risky game of Russian Roulette.
[If the speakers can handle more than the amps can, they buy bigger amps or just live with it being under powered.]
I've never seen this NOT work; I mean, you'd have to be doing something pretty crazy to the signals/devices for this method to fail.
Obviously an o-scope/distortion detector would be even better still. Squarewave bad
Now... whether you like how this will sound as a result, it's an entirely different ball of wax. Some like their signals really hot and compressed with dynamic EQ's and limiters. Nothing wrong with that per-se. How do you like YOUR goldilocks porridge?
The goal is to get all the speakers to max excursion/SPL at the same time, or all the electronics into clipping; whichever comes first.
This maximizes the drive signal to the speakers in a unmolested/pure way. Because nobody likes molested nuts, or roasted nuts for that matter. hehe Edited by BassThatHz - 2/17/13 at 7:11pm