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Old 2nd April 2012, 12:10 AM   #1
fakeout is offline fakeout  Canada
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Arrow number of watts

I want to ask a sort of an out-of-the-field question. Do you find the amount of power of a pair of speakers (driven by an amp to match the power of the speakers) influence the sound? I went to a number of stores once and when I listened to mini systems with 20 to 40 watts, I had the impression the voice quality was more natural. When I listened to anything over 50 watts per channel, I started to have the impression voice quality was less and less natural. And the bass on 120 watt per channel speakers (or higher) had an annoying punch to it that sounded like slapping a baby times 50. Is this the reality or more the fact that I don't have a subwoofer type of system?
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Old 2nd April 2012, 12:26 AM   #2
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i was under the impression this was amplifier distortion and then doppler type cone distortion when the excursion of the cone gets larger? its why i'm trying to use ultra high efficiency cones with very low power amps with tiny THD's giving high volume for very low driver excursion. one of the big reasons why i am going full range over low efficiency multiway systems outside of phase errors and stuff like that.
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Old 2nd April 2012, 01:22 AM   #3
mp9 is offline mp9  United States
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I have to say i like the sound of 1.5watts from 45 triodes driving my speakers.
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Old 2nd April 2012, 01:35 AM   #4
zman01 is offline zman01  Bangladesh
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Fakeout,

Great observation and follow up question - one that's been bothering me for some time, though not directly correlated to watts. I'm finding systems with more low end thump or thud a bit distracting nowadays. Over the weekend a friend came over with his 2.1 system and my listening impressions were rather similar to you. Vocal/voices tended to sound deeper (perhaps a bit unnaturally), and even with genres like electronic dance music the heavy bass felt annoying over time... more thud than music or ambiance. Movie trailers played scary loud... but even there some of the musicality of the background score was lost. The bass had weight and kick, but lacked detail/texture. Drums, percussion sounded unnaturally big and weighty - or is it my wimpy listening habits?

One obvious answer is that the system's limitation - poorly designed systems, that have commercial appeal to many - ooohhh so much bass - must be really powerful! (trust me, lot of folks seem to love loudness and impact only). There is also the matter of all the negative stuff like distortion creeping in after a certain SPL and muddying things up.

I am also curious about the psychoacoustics part - that even with a very high grade system, how much the brain can usually focus/process at a time? How does our hearing work at different volume levels?

Last edited by zman01; 2nd April 2012 at 01:43 AM.
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Old 2nd April 2012, 02:51 AM   #5
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You must have been auditioning consumer audio equipment, not HI-FI equipment. Well, on afterthought, maybe not. Every time I go to an audio show, I hear the same sound. Big boomy bass with lots of punch, no mids, screeching highs. All but a few setups have the same bloaty, warm and fuzzy sound. It is so predominant that it must be the standard the these people are trying to achieve. It is also the antithesis of what you normally hear from a single-driver or at least wide-range driver setup. So many single-driver speakers have thin bass, shouty mids and no highs. High fidelity is somewhere in between.

But this has absolutely nothing to do with the power rating of the amp or the speaker. Typically, if you want to get the true dynamic range out of a speaker, you need something like 10x the speakers rated (RMS) power. That will give you ~10dB of headroom. Yes, you can get a comfortable average SPL lever with 1.5w/ch, if you have 100dB/w/ch speakers and little dynamics in the music, but most of us have more like 90dB/w/ch speakers and and to get anywhere near 20dB of headroom and 80dB SPL at the listening chair takes 50-100w/ch. Someone who cares can do the math and provide the real numbers. FWIW, I use 90dB/w/ch speakers and 50w/ch.

Bob
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