Lets talk about power and reference levels

mantis
mantis Posts: 16,997
Hello everyone,
What level do you usually listen at? It could be music or TV/ Movies. Over the last few year or probably more, I notice I never ever crank up to Reference levels.

Over the years I have had countless power amps in my system with 120-300 watts per channel and yet never cranking it up and flexing all that power. I usually have very efficient speakers and even when I owned more hard to drive 4 ohm load 86 db speakers and had 300 watts per channel, I never needed to crank it up to the point where I was even touching the amount of power under my command.

So for me and my needs, I don't see any reason to have a wasteful amount of power at my command. With the current speaker package I have now and the other considered speaker packages I'm designing, I'm gonna go with less power than I usually do.

But I have a safety net, Pre outs and clean preamp sections of these wonderful current model AVR's on the market. Especially Denon and Marantz which have been rated excellent output voltage to drive any power amps one might want to add at any time.

So with that in mind, what do you think of your system you currently own? It's ability to drive your speakers to the levels you enjoy listening at? Do you have extreme amount of head room you never use? Over the years I decided to remove power amps from myself system , moving away from separates due to these needs in my room with my speakers and the levels I enjoy listening to.

My Last AVR had 130 watts by 9 and retained around 105-110 watts all channels driven. I never flexed that amount of muscle and honestly in numbers, not really impressive . It's like having a lower HP car to me. I feel some kind of way with that but really I need to get past the numbers and spec a proper power rating that will work and not worry about having all this head room that I'll never use.
Dan
My personal quest is to save to world of bad audio, one thread at a time.
«1

Comments

  • mantis
    mantis Posts: 16,997
    What you described as wasteful amounts of power are actually necessary for peak transients and other short term demands of the speakers. I find having the extra power even at low volumes makes a big difference in the clarity and overall presentation of the sound.
    I completely agree with what you said but now the big question is , how much power is required to meet that need? Is it 25 watts? 50-100-300 etc etc etc. What does it take in your system, in your room with your speakers to achieve this goal?

    Dan
    My personal quest is to save to world of bad audio, one thread at a time.
  • audioluvr
    audioluvr Posts: 5,396
    And 50 amp reserve minimum
    Gustard X26 Pro DAC
    Belles 21A Pre modded with Mundorf Supreme caps
    B&K M200 Sonata monoblocks refreshed and upgraded
    Polk SDA 1C's modded / 1000Va Dreadnaught
    Wireworld Silver Eclipse IC's and speaker cables
    Harman Kardon T65C w/Grado Gold. (Don't laugh. It sounds great!)


    There is about a 5% genetic difference between apes and men …but that difference is the difference between throwing your own poo when you are annoyed …and Einstein, Shakespeare and Miss January. by Dr. Sardonicus
  • VR3
    VR3 Posts: 27,900
    It's all about that current man, allll about that current
    - Not Tom ::::::: Any system can play Diana Krall. Only the best can play Limp Bizkit.
  • motorstereo
    motorstereo Posts: 2,032
    We have a cold snap coming this weekend so I temporarily hooked up my tube integrated for a little extra heat in the listening room and giving the ss amps a rest. It's quite a change in the presentation I'm used to going from 1200wpc monos to a 45wpc integrated. Yes the low powered tube gear is nice to change things up but I must agree with VR3 "it's all about the current". yn4pdddbx0u6.jpg


  • heiney9
    heiney9 Posts: 25,017
    edited February 2023
    My 30 wpc - Pass Aleph 30 singled ended class A amp is all I've needed to play at several notches above normal listening. I love class A operation. Never an issue with the SDA 1C's.

    The Legend L600's do eat up a bit more power to play at the same level and for the first time, playing very loud, I can hear the strain of the amp starting to hit a wall, but the level I hear the amp straining is very loud, louder than one should listen and louder than I can listen for more than a song or two.

    Single ended Class A, clips softer and if you are a seasoned listener gives a lot more warning when you're reaching the limit.

    I do have a smaller living room and sit a foot or so closer than most probably do. So the Aleph has served me well. It was one of the last runs of Aleph 30's with a production date of November 2003. It's almost 20 years old and I'm ready for something along the same lines only improved and upgraded. Pass Labs XA-25.

    The new XA25 offers great sound at slightly lower power, without frills, at a lower price. It embodies new components and innovative circuits coupled with the best elements of the previous generation.

    Degeneration, “the other form of feedback”, has been eliminated. The output stage consists of a single pair of 800 watt new generation output transistors operating push-pull Class A. The result is faster, lower distortion, lower noise, higher damping and larger Class A operating envelope into low impedance loudspeakers, all in a simple 3 stage circuit with total of three pair of push-pull gain transistors.


    I've spent quite a bit on audio and some other unforeseen expenses in 2022, so the amp may have to wait.......I'm not sure I can wait....lol. If I take a peek on HiFi Shark and find a good deal, I may just do it. I just missed one by a day...lol

    H9
    "Appreciation of audio is a completely subjective human experience. Measurements can provide a measure of insight, but are no substitute for human judgment. Why are we looking to reduce a subjective experience to objective criteria anyway? The subtleties of music and audio reproduction are for those who appreciate it. Differentiation by numbers is for those who do not".--Nelson Pass Pass Labs XA25 | EE Avant Pre | EE Mini Max Supreme DAC | MIT Shotgun S1 | Pangea AC14SE MKII | Legend L600 | BlueSound Node 3 - Tubes add soul!
  • invalid
    invalid Posts: 1,247
    What is needed isn't always watts per channel, but an overbuilt power supply. I can't say I've ever seen an AVR with an overbuilt power supply, maybe one exists, but few and far between.
  • heiney9
    heiney9 Posts: 25,017
    B & K used to make a decent AVR w/a robust power supply. But not what I would call "overbuilt". There isn't room in an AVR for overbuilt.....lol

    H9
    "Appreciation of audio is a completely subjective human experience. Measurements can provide a measure of insight, but are no substitute for human judgment. Why are we looking to reduce a subjective experience to objective criteria anyway? The subtleties of music and audio reproduction are for those who appreciate it. Differentiation by numbers is for those who do not".--Nelson Pass Pass Labs XA25 | EE Avant Pre | EE Mini Max Supreme DAC | MIT Shotgun S1 | Pangea AC14SE MKII | Legend L600 | BlueSound Node 3 - Tubes add soul!
  • mantis
    mantis Posts: 16,997
    heiney9 wrote: »
    B & K used to make a decent AVR w/a robust power supply. But not what I would call "overbuilt". There isn't room in an AVR for overbuilt.....lol

    H9
    Beyond strange you decided to mention B&K. I was just thinking about them, sad they went out of bussiness and wishing if they where in business today, I would still be using them.
    2 thinks about them that stick out for me. 1 they had a pure hard wired zone 2 output speaker level. You moved the internal Surround back channels to the zone 2 outputs on the main board. No electric switch to move the channels or matrix like todays stuff. They also had notch filters that allowed you to help with room correction. Game changer stuff back in the day. Not to mention the amp section was actually separates as all as the Preamp side, it just shared the same chassis. Purely class act there.
    I still have a few B&k units in my basement for me to look at when I want.

    Dan
    My personal quest is to save to world of bad audio, one thread at a time.
  • bcwsrt
    bcwsrt Posts: 1,491
    edited February 2023
    I need an education ... what is the definition of "reference levels?" With a decibel app (Decibel X) the RTA 15TLs hit a sweet spot where the bass comes on perfectly at around 85dB, peak. 95dB becomes borderline too loud, though it does depend on the type of music. I have never yet felt like (or heard any indication that) the 100wpc Rogue Cronus is running out of muscle, though. Or, even my previous 125wpc Denon DRA-1025RA solid state, for that matter.

    This is from my listening position around 7 - 7 1/2 feet away from the speakers.

    I think my limit is my ears, not my equipment.
    Brian

    One-owner Polk Audio RTA 15TL speakers refreshed w/ Sonicap, Vishay/Mills and Cardas components by "pitdogg2," "xschop" billet tweeter plates and BH5 | Stereo REL Acoustics T/5x subwoofers w/ Bassline Blue cables | Rogue Audio Cronus Magnum III integrated tube amp | Technics SL-1210G turntable w/ Ortofon 2M Black LVB 250 MM cart | Sony CDP-508ESD CD player (as a transport) | LampizatOr Baltic 4 tube DAC | Nordost & DH Labs cables/interconnects | APC H15 Power Conditioner | GIK Acoustics room treatments | Degritter RCM
  • VR3
    VR3 Posts: 27,900
    Go to your local iMax atmos theater and be prepared to be audibly assaulted at reference level, aka, 120db peaks for the duration of the movie
    - Not Tom ::::::: Any system can play Diana Krall. Only the best can play Limp Bizkit.
  • pitdogg2
    pitdogg2 Posts: 24,366
    VR3 wrote: »
    Go to your local iMax atmos theater and be prepared to be audibly assaulted at reference level, aka, 120db peaks for the duration of the movie

    Even most regular theater (non iMax) is abusive loud to my ears.
  • bcwsrt
    bcwsrt Posts: 1,491
    That's a very succinct and vivid explanation. Thanks, VR3. Seems I'm all good then. lol
    Brian

    One-owner Polk Audio RTA 15TL speakers refreshed w/ Sonicap, Vishay/Mills and Cardas components by "pitdogg2," "xschop" billet tweeter plates and BH5 | Stereo REL Acoustics T/5x subwoofers w/ Bassline Blue cables | Rogue Audio Cronus Magnum III integrated tube amp | Technics SL-1210G turntable w/ Ortofon 2M Black LVB 250 MM cart | Sony CDP-508ESD CD player (as a transport) | LampizatOr Baltic 4 tube DAC | Nordost & DH Labs cables/interconnects | APC H15 Power Conditioner | GIK Acoustics room treatments | Degritter RCM
  • What a great post.

    Have a couple of high power amps. Went from single stereo to bi-amping. Did not notice any difference. But, it sure is nice to have the horsepower when the frosty beverages are flowing.

    Finally purchased an SPL Meter to see what level I was actually listening at.
    Was very surprised... it wasn't what I thought.
    I keep the tunes at the level my wife is ok with without running her out of the room. Found out with the meter it's between 62-75db.

    Me being me I had to know what level I like, when she's outta the room.
    Very nice level for the music is right at 79-82db dependent on the songs. Wow, very surprised.
    But, when the frosty's are going down nicely I start to push the volume.
    Have found that 90db is plenty. Really thought I was at the 100db level... Nope. Found out with the meter that's really friggin loud!

    Having enough current for Polk speakers is where it's at. Same with Infinity's.
    Really doesn't matter whether you're pushing 50w a channel to whatever.
  • nooshinjohn
    nooshinjohn Posts: 24,928
    50 on a 0 to 100 scale is my norm for two channel, and 65 is reference, but can vary a bit depending on music type and source.
    The Gear... Carver "Statement" Mono-blocks, Arcam AVR20, Oppo UDP-203 4K Blu-ray player, Sony XBR70x850B 4k, Polk Audio Legend L800 with height modules, L400 Center Channel Polk audio AB800 "in-wall" surrounds. Marantz MM7025 stereo amp. Simaudio Moon 680d DSD

    “When once a Republic is corrupted, there is no possibility of remedying any of the growing evils but by removing the corruption and restoring its lost principles; every other correction is either useless or a new evil.”— Thomas Jefferson
  • daddyjt
    daddyjt Posts: 2,290
    Abundant power will allow you to play the music much louder, before the urge to turn it down kicks in. It’s the distortion (clipping) that is grating to the ears and signals your brain that it’s “too loud”. Heavy power reserves (headroom) helps avoid distortion and clipping, and makes listening at much higher levels not only pleasant, but sometimes down right exciting. However, the risk of hearing damage remains, whether the prolonged high decibels are music or distortion…
    "Conservative Libertarians love the country, progressive leftists love the government." - Andrew Wilkow


    “Human beings are born with different capacities. If they are free, they are not equal. And if they are equal, they are not free.”
    ― Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn

  • TennMan
    TennMan Posts: 1,260
    edited February 2023
    I have a SPL meter. I usually listen to TV and movies at 65-75 for my 3 channel setup, depending on the source. About 80db seems to be the sweet spot for 2 channel music for my 2BTLs to get the best SDA. I use a Marantz AVR with pre-outs to my Adcom 555 amp. I'm happy with that setup and see no reason to change.

    It's not just about the WPC. I think the amp's damping factor has a lot to do with how well the amp can control the drivers.
    • SDA 2BTL · Sonicaps · Mills resistors · RDO-198s · New gaskets · H-nuts · Erse inductors · BH5 · Dynamat
    • Crossover upgrades by westmassguy
    • Marantz 1504 AVR (front speaker pre-outs to Adcom 555)
    • Adcom GFA-555 amp · Upgrades & speaker protection added by OldmanSRS
    • Pioneer DV-610AV DVD/CD player
    • SDA CRS+ · Hidden away in the closet
  • invalid
    invalid Posts: 1,247
    @skipshot12 when bi- amping are you using a line level crossover or just the passive crossover in the speakers? It makes a huge difference.
  • motorstereo
    motorstereo Posts: 2,032
    edited February 2023
    In my case the shoe in tube amp didn't quite make it to the cold snap which is due to start tomorrow. 45-65 wpc trying to drive 1.2tls just is not a good combination. Cold room be damned; I'm back to 200 amps of current after a very brief vacation.
  • invalid
    invalid Posts: 1,247
    I wonder how long the tubes would last driving the 1.2TL's? There is a guy running 800 and 400 watt monoblock tube amps in an active bi-amp driving apogee full range speakers, he says it sounds better than all the high current solid state amps he's had. Just imagine retubing that, over 140 power tubes.
  • invalid wrote: »
    @skipshot12 when bi- amping are you using a line level crossover or just the passive crossover in the speakers? It makes a huge difference.

    Passive.

    If one goes to active does that mean you get rid of the speaker’s crossovers?
  • invalid
    invalid Posts: 1,247
    Yes, you use a crossover before the amplifiers, it is complicated and if you are using SDA speakers it's probably not possible.
  • Oh yea, didn’t think about the sda part.
    That may be a no go.
  • Mine are the gen 3 sda srs blade/blade.
  • mantis
    mantis Posts: 16,997
    So since I have been going down this path of how much power , I tried out 2 lower power AVR's than I would ever consider for myself. A Sony and Denon model with lower power outputs.

    The Sony was a bit thin but did a ok job powering my speaker package, only using 5 channel instead of 7 and for normal TV watching , some movie watching, it did a just fine job. Didn't sound bad or impressive but did it's job.

    The Denon rated at 105 per channel I think was a bit cleaner and clearer. Not night and day but noticeable in the center channel. I think the center channel is a touch cleaner. Dynamics and sheer output power needed in my room, this was a toss up. Both AVR's had enough power to drive my speakers to the levels we listen to.

    lurox6g80rgp.jpeg
    zanqss4y9p7m.jpeg
    Dan
    My personal quest is to save to world of bad audio, one thread at a time.
  • mhardy6647
    mhardy6647 Posts: 32,790
    edited February 2023
    Watt umm, I mean, What is it about "105 watts per channel" and audio receivers -- especially A/V receivers?

    I mean, it's not really something new...

    3679yxm1vsbm.png
    source: https://www.hifiengine.com/hfe_downloads/index.php?mcintosh/mcintosh_mc2100_en.pdf

    I mean, 105 watts is a whole 0.21 dB more than 100 watts, so there is that.

    But... it seems like the danged things are always 105 watts per channel...
    except, of course, when they're 110 watts per channel. :#

    deqg2bw6k7o5.png

    OK, I'm finished. Carry on.
    :#


  • mantis
    mantis Posts: 16,997
    105 watts in a AVR is what it comes out to be. I don't find anything wrong with that. That's the power output that's that power output.
    105 watts seems to be a good amount of power, at least in my room and in many rooms I have setup 105 watts AVR's in.
    Dan
    My personal quest is to save to world of bad audio, one thread at a time.
  • motorstereo
    motorstereo Posts: 2,032
    mhardy6647 wrote: »
    Watt umm, I mean, What is it about "105 watts per channel" and audio receivers -- especially A/V receivers?

    I mean, it's not really something new...

    3679yxm1vsbm.png
    source: https://www.hifiengine.com/hfe_downloads/index.php?mcintosh/mcintosh_mc2100_en.pdf

    I mean, 105 watts is a whole 0.21 dB more than 100 watts, so there is that.

    But... it seems like the danged things are always 105 watts per channel...
    except, of course, when they're 110 watts per channel. :#

    deqg2bw6k7o5.png

    OK, I'm finished. Carry on.
    :#


    I had a pair of 2100's here a while back. So strapped or bridged they would give a blistering 210 wpc if my math is correct. I'm thinking that's also a 3db increase in sound level over a single 2100?
  • kevhed72
    kevhed72 Posts: 4,928
    We have a cold snap coming this weekend so I temporarily hooked up my tube integrated for a little extra heat in the listening room and giving the ss amps a rest. It's quite a change in the presentation I'm used to going from 1200wpc monos to a 45wpc integrated. Yes the low powered tube gear is nice to change things up but I must agree with VR3 "it's all about the current". yn4pdddbx0u6.jpg

    Nice rig. What are the things on top of the amps, and it that a TV in the back?