Originally Posted by Heinrich S
Thank you! That explanation makes complete sense. Probably is semantics in a way, but your explanation just clicked for me. Thanks again and thanks to all who have tried to help me better understand this. So basically if you have a speaker with a power handling of 500 watts then you could use a 20 watt amp and you won't blow anything provided you are within the clean rated power of the amp.
As soon as you clip you exceed the clean power output and then you can potentially damage the tweeter and/or woofer. I assume clipping of the AC waveform generates more high frequency harmonics which explains why tweeters are so vulnerable when amplifier clipping takes place. Woofers need more punishment before damage can occur.
Am I on the right track? Thanks.
harmonics are, by definition and in practice, integer multiples of a sound. So harmonics are always higher in frequency than the input. Of course with multiple simultaneous sounds, all of which have their own natrual harmonics (how you can tell a violin from a trombone - - the harmonics of the sound) you've got higher harmonics generating their own higher harmonics.
FWIW, "clipping" is an elusive term. EVERY amplifier is rated for power at some degree of distortion, whether it is 1 percent or one tenth of a percent. Few would say an amp running at 1 percent distortion is "clipping" even though its output contains ten times the distortion used for its power rating. Likely few sould say an amp is clipping (or at least clipping in an injurious way) just because its THD rises above 1%. ANd it's entirely unlikely that an amp at 2% distortion is risking drivers unless you were on the very edge of their capability already and run them loud (probably with highly compressed material so they don't get a second to cool off) for quite a while. It might be possible to "hear" 1% distortion with the right test tones, but I've seen reviewers "relax" their testing standards to 3% when assessing the output power of tube amps.
Both the woofer and the tweeter will be damaged by receiving, over a significant period of time, more power than they are designed to handle. They get hot and can fail. Woofers typically have higehr power handling capacity, so more power is needed to damage them, but IDK that it is different on a percentage basis (and doubtless varies from driver to driver, from driver-in-a-box to same-dirver -in-a-different-box, and according to the frequency content of the material being fed to the driver. FWIW you can also kill a driver by hitting it with a short burst that is far enough above its power handling to cause over-excursion, where the voice coil moves so far it pulls things out of whack. Immediate speaker death.