Originally Posted by JaremyP
Is there any concern driving Silver in-wall LCR and surrounds (rated for 150 watt input) with 200 watt per channel amps like the Emotiva XPA-5? Or is this actually desirable to give the amps breathing room with those speakers? Thanks!
Your question is the most commonly asked question I've fielded since my early days in this business in the 1970s. The answer isn't simple, there are no guarantees, and you have to use common sense. I've dealt with customers' blown speakers for many years, and it happens with low-powered receivers as well as with big power amps. Speakers are blown when the owner is doing an animated demonstration (showing off), in a party situation, or maybe just while "seeing what this baby will do." You can't get greedy with playback level, and you have to pay attention to the warning signs, which are very subtle. If peaks sound even slightly compressed, turn it down a bit. If the speakers start to sound a bit harsh and sloppy, turn it down. Distortion has to reach around 10% to be really noticeable, and that's too late many times. And it only takes one mistake to damage drivers. Also, extended listening at fairly high levels can damage drivers because the voicecoils can't dissipate heat fast enough.
Amplifier clipping produces a jagged waveform which produces heat in the voicecoils and crossovers. Heat is what blows speakers. The delicate voicecoil wires act like fuses, and they burn. Overpowering a speaker will also generate heat and blow drivers. One of the biggest causes of blown speakers is dealers and/or consumers "under-spec'ing" amps and speakers. You may be on a budget, but you want your system to play louder than it can play...which is physically impossible. Upgrade front speakers, subwoofers, and amplifiers when you can, and you are unlikely to encounter catastrophic failures, which always happen when you have a roomful of guests. It's embarrassing, as you don the "Shroud of Shame."
As a car enthusiast, I've seen people make the same mistakes with turbo or supercharged engines. There's a level at which you are not damaging the engine, but most aftermarket enthusiasts go beyond that level and grenade their motors. They run a few degrees too much ignition timing advance to get a few more horsepower, or they turn the boost up from a safe level to a dangerous level to get 20-30 more horsepower. Both of these moves tend to cause detonation or pre-ignition, which is instant death to a boosted engine, unless you run 100 octane race fuel on the street. (I used to.) It's the same with speakers. "It sounded so good at a high volume that I just thought I'd turn it up a bit louder!"
I've also seen industry giants (no names mentioned here) who have destroyed speakers while testing or calibrating a system, either with pink noise at reference level (ouch) or a frequency sweep at high level. If you want to blow a tweeter, do a HF frequency sweep at high volume. Guh-hed.
If a speaker blows, 99% of the time it's user error. Even recently, a very nice customer told me they thought they had a weak tweeter and that's why it blew. Of course, it was a center channel tweeter; the one that takes the most abuse in a system. Once in a great while an amplifier passes DC and blows a speaker, but that won't happen in a system with LCRs where the front speakers (and surrounds) are high-passed. DC (0 Hz) will not make it to an LCR used with a crossover. The bottom line is, if a speaker blows, it's almost always because someone pushed the envelope a bit too far.
While in retail, I had a wealthy customer bring in a pair of speakers. I could smell the burnt carbon (resistors) before he put them on the counter. He was a bit miffed that these expensive satellites had stopped working, and under "reasonable" circumstances. I asked the fellow what he was doing when they blew, and he told me he had them outside while he was doing yardwork. I asked him what kind of yardwork, and he replied "I was 100' from the house, cutting small trees with a chainsaw."
Of course, I have NEVER blown a speaker. Or a car engine.