How to limit amp output to prevent killing your driver? - AVS Forum | Home Theater Discussions And Reviews
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post #1 of 48 Old 03-27-2006, 09:49 PM - Thread Starter
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I can model a large box (470L) with a Dayton 15" DVC driver and get low extension with good SPL output. The problem is the cone excursion. The only way i know how to limit that is by limiting the power you feed it. In this case 180W is the max. If i feed it more (according to Unibox and WinISD at least) the driver will exceed its limits too early.

If i can't find an amp that outputs 180W, what are the options left then? If i get a bigger amp (250W for example), i risk blowing up the driver? Is there a way to limit the amp's output? Just turning down the gain on the amp would do it, or is that playing with fire? I would like to have an amp with headroom. But i'm afraid to bottom out the driver. So what is a guy to do here? Do you always have to precisely mate your amp to your solution, or are there ways around this?

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post #2 of 48 Old 03-28-2006, 08:19 AM
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most plate amps have high pass filters built in
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post #3 of 48 Old 03-28-2006, 08:29 AM
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It's a little known feature available on all amplifiers - it's called self-control... ;)

Just jerking your chain, but that is really the nuts and bolts of it for a very simple solution.

Just because there is a knob doesn't mean you should turn it.
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post #4 of 48 Old 03-28-2006, 11:03 AM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
most plate amps have high pass filters built in
Yes, but that's not what i need in this case. Excursion hits xmax somewhere between 20 Hz & 30 Hz and then goes down again, and THEN goes up and keeps going up. That last point is where i want the high pass to do its job. And even the frequency at which you want the high pass filter is dependent on the power the amp feeds into the driver. More power - higher frequency where you want the high pass to kick in. My question is about how you control the power to keep the excursion within tolerance. For example, you can hook up a 1000W amp, but it'll bottom out the driver if you let the amp go full tilt.
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it's called self-control... ;)
Well, knowing myself that's not all i want to rely on! ;) So... is it just a matter of controlling the gain? How do you know how high up to go before risking bottoming out the driver? Is there some trick / rule / formula to this? If i set the gain to 50% on a 1000W amp, does that mean it won't supply more than 500W? I don't think it works that way... i thought it is just an attenuation of the input signal, not the output..?

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post #5 of 48 Old 03-28-2006, 11:26 AM
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Adjust it until it bottoms then back it down a notch or two??

Just because there is a knob doesn't mean you should turn it.
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post #6 of 48 Old 03-28-2006, 11:29 AM
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Does your amp also have a low-subsonic filter to remove the <10hz noise that can also rob power and damage the cone?

I think I would take the 250W amp over a 180W amp... at least when the 250W amp is outputting 180W worth of sound, it would be with less distortion. One doesn't *have* to use all 250 watts, but it's nice to have that headroom.

I think the key is testing and controlling the output on the sub by: 1) calibrate the sub with the whole system, using the gain control/volume on the sub, calibration routine on your receiver (SPL meters, etc.) and 2) observing the sub-cone while increasing system volume and note where you just begin to get mechanical knocking or excessive excursion (if you even do), then back off on the system volume - and don't go there again. Make sure and play some VERY dynamic sub tones on movies, test tracks, etc. Each source material will be different (classical pop vs. action/adventure move/synthetic generated sub-hz material).

There may be a more scientific method, but the bottom line is preventing bottoming out your sub-cone and voice-coil. We haven't even touched on prolonged heat build-up...
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post #7 of 48 Old 03-28-2006, 01:47 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by docrings
Does your amp also have a low-subsonic filter to remove the <10hz noise that can also rob power and damage the cone?

I think I would take the 250W amp over a 180W amp... at least when the 250W amp is outputting 180W worth of sound, it would be with less distortion. One doesn't *have* to use all 250 watts, but it's nice to have that headroom.

I think the key is testing and controlling the output on the sub by: 1) calibrate the sub with the whole system, using the gain control/volume on the sub, calibration routine on your receiver (SPL meters, etc.) and 2) observing the sub-cone while increasing system volume and note where you just begin to get mechanical knocking or excessive excursion (if you even do), then back off on the system volume - and don't go there again. Make sure and play some VERY dynamic sub tones on movies, test tracks, etc. Each source material will be different (classical pop vs. action/adventure move/synthetic generated sub-hz material).

There may be a more scientific method, but the bottom line is preventing bottoming out your sub-cone and voice-coil. We haven't even touched on prolonged heat build-up...

This is good advice, and probably the best way to setup your sub yourself. And the most important part to remember is that you'll always want to overpower your sub rather than underpower it. It's very easy to turn down the gain on the amp and have the extra headroom, but its NOT a good idea to get an amp that barely puts out enough power and have it sending a maxed out signal to your sub. That's the best way to blow the sub.
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post #8 of 48 Old 03-29-2006, 12:37 AM
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i go along with having extra head room for a cooler running cleaner sounding amp rather than have one that's working so hard it's running hot and trying to clip.by just using the gain control properly and close listening, you should be fine. ;)
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post #9 of 48 Old 03-30-2006, 04:46 PM - Thread Starter
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Man, i'm scared by the methods you guys offer up here :D But i can't think of any other way to do it. I agree that having an amp with more headroom is a good thing. I'm just scared of killing the driver... Oh well, careful calibration like you guys suggested is what it is then i guess. Thanks!

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post #10 of 48 Old 03-31-2006, 05:34 PM
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i run an infinite baffle setup that has no low end protection other than that offered by the rolloff on the amp (adcom 545). drivers are a pair of atlas 15"...everything has been calibrated properly and i have yet to bottom those guys out...i watch movies around -10...so roughly at 75db with the subs +2db on some of my favorite movies.

even my 220L ported tempest never bottomed out, but i had to use a lot more restraint to keep from clancking that driver.
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post #11 of 48 Old 04-01-2006, 11:03 PM - Thread Starter
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How damaging is it to bottom out a driver? Seems some of you guys are ok with it bottoming out briefly while calibrating?

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post #12 of 48 Old 04-02-2006, 05:56 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gertjan
How damaging is it to bottom out a driver? Seems some of you guys are ok with it bottoming out briefly while calibrating?
if the driver is bottoming out during calibration, than chances are you are trying to calibrate to a level that is too high...assuming that we are not talking about elcheapo bluelight special subs.
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post #13 of 48 Old 04-02-2006, 08:22 AM - Thread Starter
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Well, i understand that the level is too high then and that you should back off. But if you have an amp that's more powerful than your woofer can handle, how do you prevent it from bottoming out the driver? 2 people here said that you calibrate to the loudest level, and if it starts knocking you back off. So my question is - do you even want to get to that point? How damaging is it? I'd rather avoid it altogether of course. But if the amp is more powerful, the risk of it happening is there. The only way to avoid it is to go with an amp that's not powerful enough to drive it into over-excursion, but then you're robbing yourself from headroom...

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post #14 of 48 Old 04-02-2006, 09:25 AM
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The Rythmik Audio 250w amp ($109) has a built in high pass filter set at 12hz. They have instructions on how to change the setting to another frequency, or they can do it for you before shipping for $5 extra. If you want more headroom (for $149), they have a 350w amp that has a switch to let you choose between 14hz, 20hz, and 14hz on the fly (in addition to three different damping settings). They are class a/b amps instead of the cooler running BASH or digital amps you can find, but they are good quality, and great values.

Also, I wouldn't rely on limiting amp power as your sole overexcursion protection. Once you reach max power and begin clipping, you can send spikes of high power high frequency energy to the driver. IMO, an amp that never reaches clipping is safer than one that does. I also wouldn't rely on listening for bottoming out, then backing off... you really want to avoid the bottoming in the first place. Plus, it may be easy to find those limits with music, which has more constant levels of bass, movies will be more challenging. Something like WOTW can have sudden very high excursion low frequency output even at moderate listening levels. By the time you heard it, it would be too late.
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post #15 of 48 Old 04-02-2006, 01:44 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gertjan
If i can't find an amp that outputs 180W, what are the options left then? If i get a bigger amp (250W for example), i risk blowing up the driver? Is there a way to limit the amp's output? Just turning down the gain on the amp would do it, or is that playing with fire? I would like to have an amp with headroom. But i'm afraid to bottom out the driver. So what is a guy to do here? Do you always have to precisely mate your amp to your solution, or are there ways around this?
You could get an amp with a limiter/compressor, or you could get a separate box limiter/compressor that you put between the signal and amp. This way you can set the limiter and gain control on the amp to flatten out the amp output.

You definitely do not to put too much power to the driver, I've seen these blow easy with too much power.
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post #16 of 48 Old 04-03-2006, 06:29 AM - Thread Starter
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Ugh... so the whole thing sounds like a risky proposition then. I'm trying to select an amp, but i'm not sure which one to get.

According to WinISD & Unibox, in my DIY sub design the driver (SoundSplinter RL-p15) hits max excursion right around 16Hz. (This is with 500W fed into it. Not sure if that's 500W into each voice coil or total, trying to find that out now.) So i'd want to roll off amp output at that point, regardless of which amp i buy...?

It sounds like i need some sort of high-pass filter, either built-in or external, to keep from killing the driver..?

The RythmikAudio amps sound nice. Do they have enough ooomph to a dual voice coil like the RL-p15 though? I modeled driving it with 500W, so i'm not so sure i can use their amp then.

I am also looking at getting a Buttkicker LFE kit at some point, and since the amp in that is powerful, i'm researching using that amp to drive both the Buttkicker and the sub. Others seem to have done it successfully. My concern though would be that the amp would keep sending too much power into the driver below 16Hz. What are your thoughts?

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post #17 of 48 Old 04-03-2006, 10:47 AM
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I wouldn't use the buttkicker amp to drive the sub... you'd need to high-pass the output to protect your sub, which would essentially be castrating the buttkickers. In effect, you'd be cutting out the buttkickes at the point where you need them most: where the sub is no longer capable of providing enough output at low frequencies.

As need4speed pointed out, most sub amps have a high pass filter built in to them to protect the driver. The Rythmik amps have the advantage of being able to adjust the frequency. The Buttkicker amp doesn't have high pass protection applicable for subs (if it has high pass filtering, it's at an extremely low frequency... < 5hz).

I'm a bit confused... earlier your max excursion power limit was 180w... how did we get to 500 (or 500x2 :eek: )?
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post #18 of 48 Old 04-03-2006, 10:56 AM - Thread Starter
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Darin - I'm sorry for the confusion. The 180W was when i designed with the Dayton 15" DVC driver. I have since then been convinced that the SoundSplinter RL-p15 driver is of a higher quality and worth the investment. That driver is the one that i modeled at 500W.

I do understand the conflict between the Buttkicker and the sub driver, and so one amp isn't going to cut it probably. That's too bad, was hoping to solve it all at once :)

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post #19 of 48 Old 04-03-2006, 10:58 AM
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Didn't realize you wanted to run the Kickers off the same amp. Darin has a good point.

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post #20 of 48 Old 04-03-2006, 01:52 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jack Gilvey
Didn't realize you wanted to run the Kickers off the same amp. Darin has a good point.
I'm sorry i didn't make that clear. I think my little "dream" of doing it that way is indeed just that :)

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post #21 of 48 Old 04-03-2006, 02:18 PM - Thread Starter
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Somebody pointed out these as a possible solution. It starts @ 20Hz and has a 12dB / octave drop-off. Is that enough / too much? What do you think?

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post #22 of 48 Old 04-04-2006, 06:20 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gertjan
Somebody pointed out these as a possible solution. It starts @ 20Hz and has a 12dB / octave drop-off. Is that enough / too much? What do you think?
Those are meant for car stereo applications and must be impedance matched to perform at the proper frequency with the correct roll off. I was just like you. I built my sub with a Dayton DVC 15 and a Behringer EP2500. The driver stopped working after less than 24 hours of use. Open voice coils. Parts Express refunded the price of the driver (Good People!) and I purchased a SS RL-p15. I also built an active 17 Hz hi pass filter to protect the driver. It worked just fine! But it didn't sound right. When I took the filter out, the sub sounded better. I had been warned about phase errors by using this filter before I built it and didn't think I would hear that much of a difference, but I did. The RL-p15 is rated at approx 700 watts and I am feeding 1300! It has never bottomed out. I have also calibrated my system so that the pre/pro reads 00 db when the SPL meter reads 85 db SPL on each individual speaker and sub. I was worried at first that something like WotW would hurt the sub, but in daily use I have found no cause for concern and I do occassionally turn it up and hit 106 db SPL in the room. The RL-p15 is built like a tank. So with a combination of a robust driver and reasonable throttle on the gain, you should not worry too much.
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post #23 of 48 Old 04-04-2006, 06:32 AM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by chasw98
The RL-p15 is built like a tank. So with a combination of a robust driver and reasonable throttle on the gain, you should not worry too much.
So you're running it without any high-pass filtering now? That makes me feel a little more at ease :) How big is your enclosure again and what is the alignment? Mine is going to end up being a little over 12cu ft, so that may make matters slightly worse in my scenario. When you model yours in WinISD or Unibox, when is it predicted to bottom out?

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post #24 of 48 Old 04-04-2006, 06:55 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gertjan
So you're running it without any high-pass filtering now? That makes me feel a little more at ease :) How big is your enclosure again and what is the alignment? Mine is going to end up being a little over 12cu ft, so that may make matters slightly worse in my scenario. When you model yours in WinISD or Unibox, when is it predicted to bottom out?
You can go to http://www.cwitt.com/ and click on the home theater stuff link and read about my sub building experience. You can also read about it here with all the plots and measurements http://www.htguide.com/forum/showthread.php4?t=17629. My sub is approx 9 cu ft IIRC. Mine is tuned for 17 Hz. To be honest, I don't know when it is predicted to bottom out, I have forgotten, but it goes pretty deep. :D
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post #25 of 48 Old 04-04-2006, 01:46 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gertjan

If i can't find an amp that outputs 180W, what are the options left then? If i get a bigger amp (250W for example), i risk blowing up the driver? Is there a way to limit the amp's output? Just turning down the gain on the amp would do it, or is that playing with fire? I would like to have an amp with headroom. But i'm afraid to bottom out the driver. So what is a guy to do here? Do you always have to precisely mate your amp to your solution, or are there ways around this?
Use a high-pass filter below the port tune for ported sub-woofers.

If excursion limits are still a problem you can model driver excursion buy running a fraction of its input through low-pass and notch filters. Feed that circuit output into a peak detector. Apply the peak detector output to a VCA. This will give you full-output at higher frequencies where amplifier power is the limiting factor, full bass extension at lower output levels, and compression when you attempt to exceed the driver limits.

KLH developed a sub-woofer control circuit that applied a high-pass filter with poles set based on the current input to allow the maximum bass extension without exceeding mechanical limits.
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post #26 of 48 Old 04-04-2006, 06:12 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Drew Eckhardt
Use a low-pass filter below the port tune for ported sub-woofers.

If excursion limits are still a problem you can model driver excursion buy running a fraction of its input through low-pass and notch filters. Feed that circuit output into a peak detector. Apply the peak detector output to a VCA. This will give you full-output at higher frequencies where amplifier power is the limiting factor, full bass extension at lower output levels, and compression when you attempt to exceed the driver limits.

KLH developed a sub-woofer control circuit that applied a high-pass filter with poles set based on the current input to allow the maximum bass extension without exceeding mechanical limits.
i think you meant to say high pass...a low pass wouldnt do much good there :)
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post #27 of 48 Old 04-05-2006, 10:23 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by need4speed
i think you meant to say high pass...a low pass wouldnt do much good there :)
Right! Sometimes my brain-finger interface gets scrambled.
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post #28 of 48 Old 04-06-2006, 11:10 AM - Thread Starter
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Would this be something suitable to use? http://www.artproaudio.com/products_...&type=82&show= I may be able to get one for cheap, and it has the built-in adjustable HP filter, so... I just don't like adding another component to the signal chain :(

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post #29 of 48 Old 04-06-2006, 11:54 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gertjan
Would this be something suitable to use? http://www.artproaudio.com/products_...&type=82&show= I may be able to get one for cheap, and it has the built-in adjustable HP filter, so... I just don't like adding another component to the signal chain :(
thats a graphic eq...you dont want one of those for a sub since you can't adjust the bandwidth with it.

But while we are on the topic...the Rane PE-17 has both high and low pass filters plus 5 parametric bands...its what i use to eq my IB..I dont use the low/high pass filters...but you could if you wanted to.

or just make yourself a cheap HPF ... in the DIY gallery thread i show the one i whipped up...

https://www.avsforum.com/forum/showt...&&#post7161848

cost less than 20.00 to make only took a few min.
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post #30 of 48 Old 04-06-2006, 01:13 PM - Thread Starter
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need4speed - That ART EQ has an adjustable high-pass filter built in. I would not use the EQ part of it (got my BFD for that) just simply use it for the HP filter part. Does that change your opinion on it?

I'll take a look at that DIY way of doing it. Does it operate on the signal going into the amp or the signal coming out of the amp? Do you have an opinion on which is better? What are drawbacks to using something like this?

Thanks!

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