Do You Push Your Speaker System to its Limits? - AVS Forum | Home Theater Discussions And Reviews
View Poll Results: Do you push your speaker system to its limits?
Never 91 42.92%
Rarely 93 43.87%
Often 26 12.26%
I recently broke a speaker 2 0.94%
Voters: 212. You may not vote on this poll

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post #1 of 77 Old 12-16-2018, 02:40 PM - Thread Starter
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Do You Push Your Speaker System to its Limits?

When buying speakers systems, AV enthusiasts rightly spend much time examining specifications in an effort to gauge what level of performance to expect once a new system is installed. Frequency response, sensitivity and power handling, if reported accurately, help inform decisions based on the needs and wants of the buyer. These are important considerations, especially if you are the sort who likes it loud and typically pushes their speaker system to its limits.

Some audio enthusiasts have a tendency to lean heavily on the volume knob, turning it way up to get that "live" sound, or even beyond. Others treasure hearing detail, but are content to go for a low noise floor over raw peak output. It's axiomatic that larger speakers generally are more capable than smaller models (especially of a similar design) since there are unbreakable laws of physics at work. And this raises a simple question... Do you push your speaker system to its limits?

For this poll, I'd define the "limit" as audible distortion or noticeable dynamic compression resulting from exceeding the motor or excursion limits of any driver in the speaker. If what you hear is 100% clear and punchy no matter what, then you are likely not pushing its limits.

While it would be ideal if all systems had speakers and amps that were perfectly matched, this of course is not how it works. So when you do hit the limits of your system, it could manifest as clipping (not enough power) or reaching the mechanical limits of your speaker (too much power). Both situations can result in thermal failure, too. Either way, if you run into a barrier when it comes to getting more output from your system, that means you do push it to its limits.

Take the poll and share your thoughts...

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Last edited by imagic; 12-16-2018 at 02:50 PM.
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post #2 of 77 Old 12-16-2018, 02:49 PM
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when stuff is under warranty I have to...need to know my limits
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post #3 of 77 Old 12-16-2018, 02:49 PM
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No.

I over-engineer for my needs specifically to avoid it.
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post #4 of 77 Old 12-16-2018, 02:53 PM
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Rarely, but when I do there's usually alcohol involved...
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post #5 of 77 Old 12-16-2018, 03:01 PM
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I try to push it to the limits. If I hear nasty sounds, I’ll turn it back a 1/2 dB, then listen at reference or a tad above. I’m sure there’s a little cushion there to keep things safe. I’ve never blown a sub or speaker, but amp channels haven’t been so lucky.
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post #6 of 77 Old 12-16-2018, 03:06 PM
 
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No never, only "when we were young" partying and got reasonable drunk.
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post #7 of 77 Old 12-16-2018, 03:08 PM
 
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0 db happens but not often...

10-11 o clock is more often..
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post #8 of 77 Old 12-16-2018, 03:14 PM - Thread Starter
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In the 1990s, I had a system that I pushed to "near its limits" all the time and had to swap out tweeters a number of times. Seems tweeters (domes in particular) got more robust, with some later systems woofer excursion was the limiting factor.

These days the only speaker I tend to ever max out is the subwoofer, and that's rare since I always make sure I've got plenty of displacement on tap for the levels I listen at (which are moderate 90% of the time).
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post #9 of 77 Old 12-16-2018, 04:17 PM
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I have never cranked my system to 0db ever. The loudest I ever crank it to is -10db for movies and -15db for music. That probably only uses a fraction of my overall power capacity. Seriously, how can someone honestly enjoy audio at that loud of a level? And by the way, it's not like I don't enjoy content on the louder range either. The Dolby Cinema auditorium at AMC Burbank 16 in Burbank, CA is probably the loudest movie theater I have ever been to and I loved it. Plus, in my younger days, I went to a bunch of death metal concerts and lost my hearing for a good week every time.
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post #10 of 77 Old 12-16-2018, 04:25 PM
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I live in a condo. I’ve already received a noise complaint (which I deserved). I’m a huge audio guy but out of courtesy to my neighbors and to prevent me from getting kicked out, I never crank my system and I keep the subwoofer dials below the noon setting.

Stinks but I’ll turn up the knobs once I buy a house with a dedicated theater.
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post #11 of 77 Old 12-16-2018, 04:30 PM
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I voted never, although I do during setup sometimes, just to see what it sounds like.
And I did when I was younger, But these days the kids and wife won't allow it, And I just don't enjoy it that loud anymore.

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post #12 of 77 Old 12-16-2018, 04:52 PM
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I live in a condo, luckily an end unit and cool neighbors. I'm running a full 5.2.4 setup with PSA MT-110's lcr and volt 6 surrounds and atmos, along with dual PSA s3601's.
Out of respect for my neighbors I usually listen around -18 or so but occasionally I'll let it rip to ref just for a little bit to experience it.
I did the Ready Player One bomb blast at reference and it was insane. The final race in Fast and Furious also and boy did that sound great!
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post #13 of 77 Old 12-16-2018, 05:16 PM
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I would think most people on a forum like this one would vote never. I don't even really think it would take much to do some hearing damage with how easy it is to put together decent HT that could do that sort of thing these days.

With my setup I'd be curious to see what would happen if I did crank mine as loud as it could go, just to see and hear what would happen lol. But I think I would at first, leave my home, and then crank up the volume with my remote from somewhat of a distance. And then depending on how loud it had gotten, maybe see how far away I could be and still be able to hear it, and then mute it and go back inside and check out the damage I guess.
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post #14 of 77 Old 12-16-2018, 06:33 PM
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My room and ears would all give up well before the equipment.
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post #15 of 77 Old 12-16-2018, 06:39 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by imagic View Post
In the 1990s, I had a system that I pushed to "near its limits" all the time and had to swap out tweeters a number of times. Seems tweeters (domes in particular) got more robust, with some later systems woofer excursion was the limiting factor.

These days the only speaker I tend to ever max out is the subwoofer, and that's rare since I always make sure I've got plenty of displacement on tap for the levels I listen at (which are moderate 90% of the time).
Yup. I don't think I max out my speakers, I think I max out my ears first. However, I know I max out my subwoofers, but I don't notice it. The protection circuitry kicks in, and I guess I don't notice the compression. Whenever I can afford it, I plan to buy two more Rythmik F18, and make my own F28s.

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post #16 of 77 Old 12-16-2018, 06:44 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jerry Bruckheimer Fan View Post
I have never cranked my system to 0db ever. The loudest I ever crank it to is -10db for movies and -15db for music. That probably only uses a fraction of my overall power capacity. Seriously, how can someone honestly enjoy audio at that loud of a level? And by the way, it's not like I don't enjoy content on the louder range either. The Dolby Cinema auditorium at AMC Burbank 16 in Burbank, CA is probably the loudest movie theater I have ever been to and I loved it. Plus, in my younger days, I went to a bunch of death metal concerts and lost my hearing for a good week every time.
I do at times. Depends on the music and my mood. I've been listening to music since I was single digits old in the Seventies, and have on and off since. I'm sure I've damaged my hearing, but I still am able to enjoy listening to music loudly, doing it right now. Listening to Simon & Garfunkel with peaks in the nineties.

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post #17 of 77 Old 12-16-2018, 06:45 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by GalvatronType_R View Post
I live in a condo. I’ve already received a noise complaint (which I deserved). I’m a huge audio guy but out of courtesy to my neighbors and to prevent me from getting kicked out, I never crank my system and I keep the subwoofer dials below the noon setting.

Stinks but I’ll turn up the knobs once I buy a house with a dedicated theater.
I love having a basement that is almost completely underground.
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post #18 of 77 Old 12-16-2018, 07:34 PM
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Often. But hey that my job! lol.
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post #19 of 77 Old 12-16-2018, 08:12 PM
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I chose 'rarely' but that's due to circumstance (apartment dweller currently) and my system is capable of playing extremely loud clean that I seldom actually need to take them near their limits. Each L/R during testing was capable of >120dB above 60Hz reasonably cleanly.

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post #20 of 77 Old 12-16-2018, 08:53 PM
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I would say occasionally. More than rarely, but not as much as often.

Cause it sounds so damn good, but I don't want to destroy my hearing.


Edit: reread and by this statement, I would have to say almost never.
Quote:
For this poll, I'd define the "limit" as audible distortion or noticeable dynamic compression resulting from exceeding the motor or excursion limits of any driver in the speaker. If what you hear is 100% clear and punchy no matter what, then you are likely not pushing its limits.
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post #21 of 77 Old 12-16-2018, 09:07 PM
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I voted rarely.

The last time I went beyond the limits was last week while playing Ready Player One. I have the surrounds running full range and to this point have never experienced distortion from the surrounds. Well on that movie I did in the form of port pops...guess I need subs for the surrounds.

There are a couple movies where I experience port pops from the mains, the one I remember is Iron Man 2, the opening sequence and in the same movie the Iron Patriot fly by at the air force base.

That being said I'd like speaker upgrades but for the rare instances (maybe 5 times a year) where I push beyond the limits it's extravagant at the moment, maybe I can upgrade in a few years, louder mains, rotate the current mains to the surrounds, add rear subs, use the current surrounds for front overheads.

I was experiencing more limit pushing with a 60Hz xover point but switching to 80Hz resolved most over limit situations.

Edit: Yep, I like what @Shadowed said about hearing damage, which is another reason to simply turn it down a bit.

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post #22 of 77 Old 12-16-2018, 09:58 PM
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I did regularly in my younger years when lots of alcohol and other party favors were a weekend specialty. I had Cerwin Vega's and HK amp. Those speakers could get so darn loud that you could hear the music clearly half a block away. Un fortunately, my amp blew out twice due to the abuse. Nowadays I rarely turn it up past -35 on the dial, though I might go up a little when I'm in the mood for Pink Floyd. Any louder is uncomfortable and not very enjoyable to listen to. At least not while sitting in my recliner with a beer in my hand trying relax.

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post #23 of 77 Old 12-17-2018, 04:48 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by imagic View Post
In the 1990s, I had a system that I pushed to "near its limits" all the time and had to swap out tweeters a number of times. Seems tweeters (domes in particular) got more robust, with some later systems woofer excursion was the limiting factor.

These days the only speaker I tend to ever max out is the subwoofer, and that's rare since I always make sure I've got plenty of displacement on tap for the levels I listen at (which are moderate 90% of the time).

99% sure that you were blowing up your tweeters because they were being fed a signal with too much low frequency. Your crossover was not good enough or it was set up incorrectly.
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post #24 of 77 Old 12-17-2018, 05:06 AM
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I don't know what c...p other people have, but my 5 channel parasound and my subwoofer deliver (in European terms 5x 350 watts sinus & 300 watts sinus) that my ears and my neighbours' ears go out, before my system goes out. My 20 years old's T+A TB 160 are easily capable of handling these powers. Last time I blew out a speaker was in or around 1983.
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post #25 of 77 Old 12-17-2018, 05:19 AM
 
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Isn't the room suffering at high volumes anyway?

I think it's relative to the setup also.
Some amps go to 11

Some music is nice on abit volume. I see Pink Floyd is meantioned, I agree.

Lots of dynamic bass and detailed.. It's fun, and sounds good at abit high volumes.

I think it's fun 10 or 11 o'clock on the volume knob.. But living in a family with neighbors... I tend to get the living room for myself late at night.

I then play quiet music, jazz, acoustic, chamber, singer songwriter...

But when I'm home alone... It's fun to play some rock or consert at moderate high volumes.


It's not like before, when we had a big Nad amp and infinity... Wow the Nad can play at full volume without clipping?!!!?
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post #26 of 77 Old 12-17-2018, 05:46 AM
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I prefer to keep my hearing functional for a while longer.
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post #27 of 77 Old 12-17-2018, 06:27 AM
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I've been very bad lately after I subscribeb to Tidal and started plowing through the electronica genre. The ELS panels keep going to where I need to get out of the room, but I worry about the woofers. I have a spare pair just in case. And if I do for too long then the amp does it's thermal shut down thing.

I know, I know, it's not good that my ears ring for a while afterwards. Plus, pity this geezer neighborhood. I've asked them several times if they can hear anything and they say no. (my room is buried in the center of my basement so nothing gets out)

If someone comments about the genre, I'll just tell them that its my substitute for Metamucil ...... that it keeps me regular !!!!

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post #28 of 77 Old 12-17-2018, 06:51 AM
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When I had B&W 801F's and Dunlavy SC-V's, I could achieve levels that would cause hearing damage before the amp clipped or the speakers would distort. I pushed the Bryston 4B SST amp to see where it would clip a few times, very uncomfortable SPL. Now I have Revel F208's and a Bryston 3B SST2. I did the same experiment with the same results. I value my hearing and do not exceed levels that are comfortable to my ears. My systems have always been capable of SPL's beyond what is safe and doesn't cause pain.

Because I was a recording and live sound mixing engineer for a living, I was in situations with large scale PA systems that I had to push past my comfort level. I used earplugs when necessary.

Early in my career, I was put in a situation with a system that was under powered and not large enough for the venue. It was not capable of producing the SPL necessary for the event. I pushed it to the point of audible distortion but then quickly dropped the level down. It was too late, the power amps were located off stage and were literally smoking when I went to check on them. It was a learning experience for sure.
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post #29 of 77 Old 12-17-2018, 06:55 AM
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I voted often. Because i do it always when i could. But those times are rare.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jerry Bruckheimer Fan View Post
Seriously, how can someone honestly enjoy audio at that loud of a level?
I do. That's why i build a system, otherwise lesser systems do just fine and i saved $$$.
Hearing? I'm sure i lost a little bit. Hearing will be gone anyway when you get older.
Also if you married and have children, they wont let you. So enjoy while you can.

if someone listens audio at that loud there is always someone pull you to real world. There is always a baby,old people, someone sick or someone just working or trying to sleep.

It sounds so damn good and this what i like but honesly i dont do really often because i live in a apartment.
But when i'm alone and my neighboors on vacation simply listen at very high volumes. Movie or music.

If I hear disortions or clipping, I’ll turn it back a a little bit to get a clean sound.

Also pushing limits realy depends what is the system. If you listen on crappy speakers pushing limits of this type speaker doesnt harm our hearing because it cant get that lout. Just nasty sound. But a good system can very loud before its limits and still sound detailed with lots of dynamics.

I'm blown 3 speakers and 2 amps in the past. Of course i'm more carefully now and do know how the things work.

Now mostly my movie watching is late night. When i watch someting at midnight or later. I dont power my subwoofers because there is no way disturbing someone. When its to late i listen at very low volumes or just use headphones.
My to do list contains a sound isolation when i do my next upgrade.
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post #30 of 77 Old 12-17-2018, 07:15 AM
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There's no way I could be in the same room with my systems at "max capacity."
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