When considering speaker and amplifier power, people often try to match the power requirements of both devices. Others simply ensure that the amplifier wattage is higher than the speaker wattage. There is a lot of wrong advice on the internet about this. We will clear it up today. What is the best option?
The best option is to choose an amplifier that can deliver power equal to twice the speaker’s program/continuous power rating. For example, if your speakers are rated at 450 watts at 8 ohms will require an amplifier that can produce 900 watts as an 8 ohm load.
Why Should Your Amp Be Twice The Power Of The Speakers?
Firstly, keep in mind that music contains peaks (crest factor). This means there are momentary peaks with +3dB or +6dB. You need an amplifier that can power those peaks comfortably.
If your amplifier cannot provide clean and continuous power for those peaks, it will run into clipping. Clipping may damage your speakers by causing voice coil overheating.
The idea behind recommending an amplifier of twice the power is to make sure that a speaker never sees clipped power.
Let’s take two examples:
Speaker Watts Greater Than The Amplifier: If you connect a 50W amplifier to a 200W speaker, this will cause clipping and you may damage your speakers.
Speaker Watts Lower Than The Amplifier: If you connect a 400W amplifier to a 100W speaker, you will likely damage the suspension. You may also cause the voice coil of the speakers to bottom out.
The best option is to use a 400W amplifier with a 200W speaker. The extra 200W from the amplifier will be reserved for unclipped peaks.
Won’t I Overdrive My Speakers?
There is an idea out there that having a higher amplifier power rating will overpower your speakers. However, this is not how speakers work. Speakers are amplifier loads. This means that your speaker will demand the power it requires from the amplifier, the amplifier cannot force unnecessary power on the speakers.
This means the real danger is if your speakers are demanding power that the amplifier cannot supply. this will cause clipping. That is the real issue.
Please keep in mind that speaedanker impce is also very important. For example, you can’t just connect an 8 ohm speaker to a 4 ohm amplifier. You need to connect 2 in parallel.
What About Surround Sound Speakers?
When dealing with surround sound speakers, your amplifier will have multiple channels. You need to ensure that you match each channel power to each speaker. In other words, each amplifier channel should be rated at twice each speaker wattage.
This consideration is also important if you are connecting multiple speakers to your amplifier.
Can an Amp Be Too Powerful For Your Speakers?
In other words, if your amp produces power that your speakers can’t handle, it can result in distortion and clipping. Nevertheless, since most modern speakers have advanced safety features, you are unlikely to experience immediate permanent damage.
If the under-powering leads to abnormal movement of your speakers’ coils and cones, the amp can damage the speakers over time. The ideal way to limit that is to match your speaker wattage and amp wattage.
Do Speakers Sound Better With More Power?
Not necessarily, but a higher power supply can improve the performance of your speaker if you bear a few things in mind. Your amp should have a slightly higher wattage than your speaker for the best outcome. If you use amps that supply too much power, you might not manage distortion and clipping.
How Many Watts Is Too Much For Your Speaker?
The right amount of watts depends on your listening habits as well as your speaker’s efficiency. If your speakers are at least 90dB efficient and you like loud uncompressed music, we recommend approximately 200 watts.
At the same time, if you prefer listening to light classical and jazz and have no interest in sound that rocks your house, 50 Watts can meet your entertainment needs without any issue.
The figures we’ve provided should only serve as a rough guide. You can experiment with speakers and amps with varying impedance to find the power that best suits your requirements.
What Happens if Your Speakers Are More Powerful than Your Amps?
We’ve mentioned that you might get poor quality sound if your speakers are far less powerful than your amp.
The amp can also damage your speakers after some time. However, if your speaker wattage is much higher, the likelihood of instant permanent damage to the amp is real. Why? Using speakers with lower wattage forces the amp to try to put out twice as much (or more) electrical power than it’s been designed to do.
If you use these speakers, your home theater system will get hot quickly. The heat increases the risk of instant permanent damage.
If you’re using a modern amp or receiver and are lucky, the home theater system will go into self-protect mode. This means it will automatically shut itself off to limit the risk of incurring costly damage.
From experience, it’s pretty common for amps to burn out when they are given a higher load than required. The high-power transistors in most amps are rated for a specific amount of heat.
Sometimes, if you force your amp to handle an amount of power outside this range, they only start to degrade. The speakers and amps may continue serving you well after the system enters the self-protect mode. However, due to the impact of the heat, it won’t take a long period before they permanently stop serving your needs.
How Do You Match Speakers Wattage to Amp Wattage?
If you are still asking whether your speaker wattage should be higher than the amp’s, the direct answer is no. It can damage your amp and speaker immediately or over a given period. This means the only way you can get quality music without exposing your system to the danger of damage is to match their wattage.
How can you do this? To match your speaker to amp wattage, you should pick an amp that delivers power equal to twice the speaker’s program/power rating. For example, if your speaker has a program rating of 350 watts and a nominal impedance of 8 ohms, you should go for an amplifier that can produce as much as 700 watts into an 8-ohm load.
Please note that you need lower amp impedance. It can supply the required amount of power or slightly more, which is safe and guarantees excellent quality.
It’s also important to note that the indicated impedance is an average. So, you can only use it as a guide. That also explains why you need an amp that can deliver the adequate current regardless of the fluctuations of the power requirements.
Do More Speakers Mean Better Sound?
If you’ve matched your speaker wattage and amplifier wattage and you are not getting loud sound, you might need to consider adding more speakers.
If your home theater system is in suitable working condition, more speakers should mean better sound. To be more precise, every similar quality speaker you add to the system doubles the sound intensity. In simple terms, each of them increases the loudness by 3 decibels.
Overall, when you add more speakers, your speaker system displaces more air. In the end, this results in better loudness.
Can You Change Your Speaker Impedance?
Yes, you can increase the impedance of your speaker to avoid the risk of damage. One of the right ways to do this is to add a power resistor in series. The power resistor will handle the heat that the amp dissipates. Choose one depending on your amp’s power rating.
The impedance in series adds together. For example, if the speaker and resistor have 4 ohms each, you get 8 ohms. This can serve you well if your amp has a lower resistance.
If you need a lower-value speaker impedance, you should add a resistor in parallel. For example, if your speaker has 8-ohm, you can add a resistor with the same impedance to get 4 ohms.
Remember, higher impedance speakers require lower watts. Higher impedance amps deliver lower wattage. Please note that the opposite is also true.
You can see that your speaker wattage shouldn’t be higher than your amp’s wattage. It can lead to severe damage. However, you can add a power resistor in series to increase your speaker impedance and reduce the wattage. So, as long as you take the right precaution, speaker wattage shouldn’t hinder you from reaping the most out of your audio system.