too much power to speakers - AVS Forum | Home Theater Discussions And Reviews
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post #1 of 29 Old 03-24-2020, 01:46 PM - Thread Starter
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too much power to speakers

Hi all, lets say I have speakers that can handle 150 watts RMS and i'm sending it 200 watts RMS. how would I know that? would it sound distorted?
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post #2 of 29 Old 03-24-2020, 02:39 PM
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The actual amount of power is relative to the listening level you are at. Unless you have the amp cranked to max, you are not using 200 Watts.

If the speakers are rated for 150 Watts, even that rating is usually for specified amount of time.

200 Watts is barely more power than 150 Watts. You have to double power to get a 3 dB level increase.

If you push level to high and the speaker can't handle the power, it may blow a driver (probably a tweeter first).

Distortion is usually caused by amp clipping when asked to play louder than they can handle (not enough watts).

If you play distorted audio (square waves) too long, voice coils can overheat and be damaged.
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post #3 of 29 Old 03-24-2020, 02:48 PM
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You can never have too much power.
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post #4 of 29 Old 03-24-2020, 03:54 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by velocci View Post
Hi all, lets say I have speakers that can handle 150 watts RMS and i'm sending it 200 watts RMS. how would I know that? would it sound distorted?

As mentioned before, 50 watts is not much. Send it 500 too much and watch the cones jump!



Distortion normally is the result of running out of power. However, over-driving a speaker will make it distort but for different reasons. Bottoming (exceeding maximum excursion) out the woofers and mids versus the over driven amp that is sending a nasty clipped signal. End of the day they probably sound similar, but for different reasons. If it sounds bad, its probably doing bad things and you should back off.

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post #5 of 29 Old 03-25-2020, 04:34 AM
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Amplifier wattage ratings aren’t fixed, like you have with say, a light bulb. So just because the amp has a 200 watt rating that doesn’t mean you’re sending that much to the speakers. Any amplifier can put out anywhere between zero watts (with the volume control all the way down) and full rated power. You can have a 5000 watt amp, but if you never move the volume control past the 10% setting, your speakers will never see 5000 watts.

Make sense?

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post #6 of 29 Old 03-25-2020, 04:57 AM
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It is much easier to damage a speaker by using an amplifier with inadequate power(clips) than by using one that can exceed the speakers' ratings(doesn't clip) if you use the speaker to play at high volume levels. This is why many companies rate their speakers at X amount of power with 3db of amplifier headroom(2X the power).
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post #7 of 29 Old 03-25-2020, 05:04 AM
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Yes, from everything I have learned from the folks at AV, you will much more likely damage a speaker by having an underpowered Amp and then try to listen too loud.
You can pretty easily hear when a speaker hit the early distortion phase, starts to sound strained and then you just back off. Most reasonable sensitive speaker 85 dB and up, will still get pretty loud with most reasonable powered amps. If you like really loud, getting a very sensitive speaker is a must (92 dB and up).

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post #8 of 29 Old 03-25-2020, 05:53 AM - Thread Starter
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Thanks guys, I understand everything you are saying and know that it is unlikely i would be sending 200 watts to my speakers. but I was just curious to know what it would sound like if hypothetically a speaker was receiving 100 watts over its limit. so it sounds similar to clipping/distortion?

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post #9 of 29 Old 03-25-2020, 07:29 AM
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What amplifier are you using and what is your listening volume?
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post #10 of 29 Old 03-25-2020, 07:47 AM
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Amplifiers don't "push" power to speakers... speakers "draw" power from an amp as needed to reproduce the signal. The amount of power is dictated by the voltage on the output of the amplifier dictated by the input signal.

Put another way, as others have said, you literally can't have too much power... it only gets used when you turn up the volume. if you are listening to background music levels (say 60-65 db) using the receiver's built in amp, then switch to 1000 watt per channel amps, it takes the same power to get the same output. the gain structure might be different and require turning down the volume.

Think about it... if too much power was an issue, people would be talking all the time around here about how their new big amps were too loud, and they couldn't listen quietly anymore because they have too much power to listen at low volume levels...

Anyway, there are lots of reasons to get better/bigger amps, but not really for the things most around here get them for... (caveat: I'm excluding the DIY sub guys from that discussion... different beast altogether)
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post #11 of 29 Old 03-25-2020, 08:19 AM - Thread Starter
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i'm just asking in general, no specific amps or speakers. Ok yes speakers pull power. ok lets say I have speakers that can handle 150 watts RMS and I have an amp that is 500 watts RMS into 2 channels. I'm watching a movie that has very long loud scenes like Midway, 13 Hours, etc (ie: during the attack scenes). but don't worry about the examples, just lets say i'm watching something and its loud action for a long time. I keep turning up the volume higher and higher and higher until the speakers are tryin to pull 150 watts. Then i keep turning up the volume higher. the speakers are pulling 200 watts. I keep turning up the volume higher and the speakers are pulling 250 watts. yes I know i'm going to blow out my ear drums. But i'm talking hypothetically here. the speakers are pulling more power than they can handle but the amp is working with no issues. other than really fricken loud volume, what would I hear that would indicate the speakers are pulling way more power than they can handle? Sorry if this is a dumb question, but i'm just curious.

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post #12 of 29 Old 03-25-2020, 08:39 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by velocci View Post
i'm just asking in general, no specific amps or speakers. Ok yes speakers pull power. ok lets say I have speakers that can handle 150 watts RMS and I have an amp that is 500 watts RMS into 2 channels. I'm watching a movie that has very long loud scenes like Midway, 13 Hours, etc (ie: during the attack scenes). but don't worry about the examples, just lets say i'm watching something and its loud action for a long time. I keep turning up the volume higher and higher and higher until the speakers are tryin to pull 150 watts. Then i keep turning up the volume higher. the speakers are pulling 200 watts. I keep turning up the volume higher and the speakers are pulling 250 watts. yes I know i'm going to blow out my ear drums. But i'm talking hypothetically here. the speakers are pulling more power than they can handle but the amp is working with no issues. other than really fricken loud volume, what would I hear that would indicate the speakers are pulling way more power than they can handle? Sorry if this is a dumb question, but i'm just curious.
Gotcha...

short answer... depends...

as others have pretty much stated, distortion...

how that manifests depends on the drivers mostly... do they have shorting rings, how is the coil designed, etc. you may hear mechanical noises first, or harsh/weird sounds... generally, it will start to sound "less good", lol indicating distortion.

Generalizations in place, having more power on tap in the amp means you'll hear signal compression and/or mechanical distortion from the speaker components as you turn up the speaker since you'll be hitting physical limits of the drivers. OTOH, if the amp can't supply enough power for the requested signal level... you'll have clipping of the output signal to the speaker and that will sound a lot harsher, and tend to fry things like voice coils, etc. too little power available is generally much worse than the other way around...

but this is all generalization, and many exceptions, etc... but you don't typically hear folks "blowing" speakers because of too much power available... That said, even at really loud levels that would drive you out of the room, you aren't using more than a couple watts per channel (subwoofer excluded).

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post #13 of 29 Old 03-25-2020, 08:51 AM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by jcr159 View Post
even at really loud levels that would drive you out of the room, you aren't using more than a couple watts per channel (subwoofer excluded).
if that's true, when why do people buy external amps rather than just using an AVR?

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post #14 of 29 Old 03-25-2020, 09:10 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by velocci View Post
if that's true, when why do people buy external amps rather than just using an AVR?
there are legit reasons... low impedence speakers like planar magnetic, or other hard to drive designs. there are low efficiency designs that need much higher power to hit the volume needed at the listening position.

once you get further away that about 12 feet, you may need more power to hit reference volume as well.

also, if you believe in the 2 channel, no subs camp, you will need a ton of power for everything below 100 Hz or so as well. But because of science and how sound works, I'm in the camp of using subs to cover that region which have their own amps... that takes the load off the receiver.

Now... if you have very high efficiency speakers you may want separate amps to lower the noise floor otherwise the highly efficient speakers will play background hiss loud enough you can hear it from your seat!

The real reason though for most is that they want them. Many will tell you they sound better, etc., but that isn't something I personally buy into. For those that do, they will never be convinced that there isn't a difference, and I believe that they believe it. For those in the camp that competently designed amp #1 and #2 measure the same, therefore sound the same, they won't be convinced either... pick your poison, but upgrading amps or receivers is one of the worst investments to improve the sound in your space... adding multiple subs vs. 1 or none, properly measuring and integrating them, properly treating the room with absorbsion/diffusion, then upgrading speakers are all better investments first. then if you can't cleanly hit the output target (there are calculators for that and very few listen near reference all the time), then maybe look at an amp...

They do look nice though...

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post #15 of 29 Old 03-25-2020, 09:38 AM - Thread Starter
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thanks for your input. but I hear tons of youtubers raving about how much better their HT sounds after they install an external amp along with their AVR as opposed to just the AVR. You're saying they are all BSing or its some sort of placebo effect?

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post #16 of 29 Old 03-25-2020, 09:48 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by velocci View Post
thanks for your input. but I hear tons of youtubers raving about how much better their HT sounds after they install an external amp along with their AVR as opposed to just the AVR. You're saying they are all BSing or its some sort of placebo effect?
Onkyo rates your AVR as : 160 W/Ch (6 Ω, 1 kHz, 1% THD, 1 Channel Driven, IEC);175 W/Ch (6 Ω, 1 kHz, 1 Channel Driven, JEITA)
The "1 channel" designation says each speaker is getting somewhat less when watching a move, or even in stereo mode. https://www.eu.onkyo.com/en/products...46-124318.html
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post #17 of 29 Old 03-25-2020, 09:50 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by velocci View Post
thanks for your input. but I hear tons of youtubers raving about how much better their HT sounds after they install an external amp along with their AVR as opposed to just the AVR. You're saying they are all BSing or its some sort of placebo effect?
I’d say it like this... the mind is a funny thing... FMRI/lie detector would show most truly hear a difference. That doesn’t actually mean there is one... 😏

The rest I would say is... well... youtubers being youtubers overreacting for clickbait.

To my previous post, in some cases.. edge cases, there might be a difference. Night and day it shouldn’t be though. Audioholics does a pretty good job testing and reporting on receivers and amps that should help put your mind at ease.

But if you believe that cables and cable risers will “unveil” your sound... you’ll likely hear a difference between amps and receivers.

And that’s ok if ya do! I’m not here to tell anyone that their experience isn’t valid... it doesn’t make it science, but it is a valid experience nonetheless!

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post #18 of 29 Old 03-25-2020, 09:52 AM
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Originally Posted by cathodeRay View Post
Onkyo rates your AVR as : 160 W/Ch (6 Ω, 1 kHz, 1% THD, 1 Channel Driven, IEC);175 W/Ch (6 Ω, 1 kHz, 1 Channel Driven, JEITA)
The "1 channel" designation says each speaker is getting somewhat less when watching a move, or even in stereo mode. https://www.eu.onkyo.com/en/products...46-124318.html
Check out audioholics, they typically measure their review receivers across all channels and frequencies and report the actual power and distortion measurements. They are great measurements actually.

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post #19 of 29 Old 03-25-2020, 11:28 AM - Thread Starter
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back onto the original topic, let me give you a realistic example. Lets say I buy the Monoprise Monolith X7 amp and put it in my basement along with all my other equipment (see signature for my basement HT equipment). If I'm watching an action scene at reference level, do you think all my 7 speakers can handle it?

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post #20 of 29 Old 03-25-2020, 01:14 PM
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You can use a speaker/dB estimator like this to get some idea
http://myhometheater.homestead.com/splcalculator.html

Not sure I would trust the Polk RTI3s to play reference levels, unless you sit really close...However, if those speakers could were drawing even 30 watts each, it would be stupid loud in your room.

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post #21 of 29 Old 03-25-2020, 01:28 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by velocci View Post
back onto the original topic, let me give you a realistic example. Lets say I buy the Monoprise Monolith X7 amp and put it in my basement along with all my other equipment (see signature for my basement HT equipment). If I'm watching an action scene at reference level, do you think all my 7 speakers can handle it?
Well, that's a pretty good receiver, and those speakers are 97 db efficient... so at 12 ft with no room gain (open field), 85 watts will deliver 105 db sustained. THX reference spec calls for 85db sustained with momentary peak to 105. You have more than enough headroom there. (for reference, at a Cavs game, sitting directly on axis to the upper deck speaker arrays, you get about 108 db as I measured. It is super painful and requires musician earplugs... concert level loud)

Based on some quick assumptions typical for receivers, you should be able to deliver about 350 watts continuous with low distortion on your receiver all channels driven... I guess if you like to listen to all channel stereo concert music at rock concert levels you might benefit a little bit from the amp to handle higher than 105 db peaks, but with those speakers, you won't notice a thing...

other than the beautiful look of the Monolith... and that effect might convince you that you hear a difference too...

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post #22 of 29 Old 03-25-2020, 01:35 PM
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I could not get the pictures to post, but I included the link at the bottom. Good information on amps in the link

Legacy Audio
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Amplifiers for the Future of High Performance Audio
Legacy Audio is proud to announce the future of amplification: the new i·V high performance Amplifier Series. Available in 2, 5, 7 and 8 channel configurations, this new amplifier technology provides unprecedented power in a cool running package. Ideal for two channel and the emerging needs of the highest level Atmos surround sound systems.


With up to 660 Watts into 4 ohms for the 7 channel i·V7 and 1,000 Watts into 4 ohms for the stereo i·V2, you may wonder…

Why do I need more power?
It is a common misunderstanding that overpowering a speaker will damage it. On the contrary, under powering can damage a speaker and will result in a loss of sound quality due to clipping.

Here is a piece of music as measured with the Legacy i·V2 amplifier- notice the vertical peaks are present because the amplifier provides extra power for the peaks of transients:



As the dynamic peaks in music place demands on an amplifier, if the amplifier doesn't have enough peak power on hand to keep up, the transients in your music are being cut off.

Here is the same piece of music with another amplifier that doesn't provide enough extra power. Notice the transient peaks are cut off and you are not hearing everything in your music or the full potential of your speakers:



Many speakers, including Legacy speakers, while designed to work well with small powered amplifiers, will truly realize the fullest performance potential with more power.

The Legacy i·V High Performance Amplifier Series. No Limits.


A higher powered amplifier doesn’t mean you have to listen at loud levels, it works similar to a high performance car. Having more power on hand is like picking a car with V6 or V8 engine. All things being equal in these cars, they will both get you up to 60 mph. The experience of driving these cars is much different, though- as you push down on the gas pedal, the V8 will respond much more quickly. While this comparison is between two different technologies, a car is a helpful analogy that many are familiar with. In addition to hitting the performance ceiling of the V6 faster, you will also be limited by its potential- it’s always best to have the power on hand to maximize the performance of your speakers.

How do you get so much power?
Each i·V series utilizes ICEedge®, the latest in amplifier technology, which has been in development for 7 years. This technology allowed Legacy to design the i·V amplifier with exceptional power, very high current (i) and voltage (V) for stability into low impedances with a peak output current capability of 38A. They also achieve incredibly low distortion (the iV2, for example, is only 0.005% THD while putting out 1,000 watts per channel.)

The front facing meter on the all aluminum chassis encloses this highly efficient, cool running technology that allows the amplifier to pull very little power from the wall, and produce incredibly low heat. The 2, 5, 7 and 8 channel configurations futureproof you and allow the i·V series to expand as your Atmos system grows.

While the Legacy Powerbloc amplifiers provide the best performance at their price point ($1,800 for the Powerbloc2) the i·V series provides the best performance possible, period.
After over 30 years designing world class high performance speakers for audiophiles and professionals alike, we are proud to introduce an amplifier worth waiting for. The amplifier with the power and performance to bring out all of the details in your music- the Legacy i·V series.

https://legacyaudio.com/backstage/perspective/

Available Late Fall 2019

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post #23 of 29 Old 03-25-2020, 02:37 PM
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38 amps? You'd have to re-do your entire electrical system.

It's a VIRTUAL channel unless stated otherwise.
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post #24 of 29 Old 03-25-2020, 03:23 PM
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Originally Posted by velocci View Post
i'm just asking in general, no specific amps or speakers. Ok yes speakers pull power. ok lets say I have speakers that can handle 150 watts RMS and I have an amp that is 500 watts RMS into 2 channels. I'm watching a movie that has very long loud scenes like Midway, 13 Hours, etc (ie: during the attack scenes). but don't worry about the examples, just lets say i'm watching something and its loud action for a long time. I keep turning up the volume higher and higher and higher until the speakers are tryin to pull 150 watts. Then i keep turning up the volume higher. the speakers are pulling 200 watts. I keep turning up the volume higher and the speakers are pulling 250 watts. yes I know i'm going to blow out my ear drums. But i'm talking hypothetically here. the speakers are pulling more power than they can handle but the amp is working with no issues. other than really fricken loud volume, what would I hear that would indicate the speakers are pulling way more power than they can handle? Sorry if this is a dumb question, but i'm just curious.
Smelling burnt electronic components is a pretty good sign that you did some damage.
TL;DR answer: You will hear distortion, then you will hear very little at all.
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post #25 of 29 Old 03-25-2020, 05:02 PM
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Originally Posted by RayGuy View Post
38 amps? You'd have to re-do your entire electrical system.
I have one of theses amps. Incredible how much difference it made between it and my ATI Signature series 6005 at 300 per channel. Yes 38 amps its capable. Also can run 220 to it if you like. I only have a dedicated 120 volt 20 amp circuit to mine .

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post #26 of 29 Old 03-26-2020, 07:26 AM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Elihawk View Post
You can use a speaker/dB estimator like this to get some idea
http://myhometheater.homestead.com/splcalculator.html

Not sure I would trust the Polk RTI3s to play reference levels, unless you sit really close...However, if those speakers could were drawing even 30 watts each, it would be stupid loud in your room.
that's a good calculator. but how do I know how many watts my AVR is putting out? I can tell you my AVR is 105 watts at 8ohm, 2-20k, 2ch driven, but I have 7 speakers and who knows what the movie i'm watching is demanding my speakers to do. plus, i'm not talking about my polks, i'm referring to my klipsch in my basement.

Family Room: Onkyo TX-NR 646 AVR, Polk Audio RtiA3 fronts, Polk Audio CSiA4 center, BIC America F12 sub, Polk Audio RC-65i rears
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post #27 of 29 Old 03-26-2020, 07:28 AM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by jcr159 View Post
you should be able to deliver about 350 watts continuous with low distortion on your receiver all channels driven...
on my denon AVR? it only does 105 watts per 2ch driven and i'm using 7 speakers. and they say klipsch overates their spl by 4-5db. so my speakers are more like 92db

Family Room: Onkyo TX-NR 646 AVR, Polk Audio RtiA3 fronts, Polk Audio CSiA4 center, BIC America F12 sub, Polk Audio RC-65i rears
Basement: Denon AVR-X3400 AVR, Klipsch RP280f fronts, RP450c center, SVS PB-2000 sub, Polk Audio RC-85i rears & surrounds
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Last edited by velocci; 03-26-2020 at 07:32 AM.
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post #28 of 29 Old 03-26-2020, 07:30 AM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by sigpig View Post
Smelling burnt electronic components is a pretty good sign that you did some damage.
TL;DR answer: You will hear distortion, then you will hear very little at all.
thanks

Family Room: Onkyo TX-NR 646 AVR, Polk Audio RtiA3 fronts, Polk Audio CSiA4 center, BIC America F12 sub, Polk Audio RC-65i rears
Basement: Denon AVR-X3400 AVR, Klipsch RP280f fronts, RP450c center, SVS PB-2000 sub, Polk Audio RC-85i rears & surrounds
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post #29 of 29 Old 03-26-2020, 08:33 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by velocci View Post
on my denon AVR? it only does 105 watts per 2ch driven and i'm using 7 speakers. and they say klipsch overates their spl by 4-5db. so my speakers are more like 92db
https://www.audioholics.com/av-recei...1/measurements

3300 uses the same amp section as the 3400. The 3400 review starts by saying it is the same except for some feature adds: https://www.audioholics.com/av-recei...ws/denonx3400h

I was incorrect, their testing shows 88w/channel 5 channels driven continuously = 440 W

regardless, you may be overspec'd a bit on the Klipsh, but there's enough power on tap to hit roughly speaking reference level CONTINUOUSLY at 12 ft. that's waaaaayyyy louder than you need or listen at. if you say otherwise, you lie, or listen with OSHA approved hearing protection. or you run a lawn mower in your theater while you listen and need to get over that noise floor.

my points are the following... for your usage (i'm making assumptions about your listening environment that you haven't commented on like listening distances), you don't need and amp, no would you notice a difference.

does that mean you shouldn't purchase an amp? That's your call.
will you be happy with the purchase of an external amp? Yep, probably. but not because anything is "better", but because of expectation bias likely.

If you don't agree with my assumptions, or just want to buy an amp... do it... you won't be unsatisfied. but just know that you don't need it.

Case in point, my theater build i'm currently working on will put me 10 ft away from some sierra 2's behind an AT screen, and surrounds will be likely only a couple feet away... but i'm likely getting an amp to set up atmos because i'll need an extra 2 channels anyway... I could just get 2 more channels from a cheap PE amp, but i'll likely go with a 3 or 5 channel and power the front with it. Will it sound better? nope... but it won't sound worse, and it will look fancy...
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