Amplifiers

This advice could save you £££s

Amplifier power

Matching speakers and amplifiers is important, it’s one of the trickier interfaces affected by several electrical factors such as impedance and power demands.

It’s usually better to aim for the higher end of the manufacturer’s recommended amplifier power. Speakers are more easily damaged by a low-powered solid-state amplifier that is struggling than by being over-driven. A small amp driven into overload produces a lot of high frequency distortion that is likely to burn out a tweeter. By contrast small valve amps under heavy load just fade gracefully! The sound stage will shrink and music will lose its dynamics – basically boring.

Speaker impedance is important here, not just the average but also the minimum because that’s a potential black hole for power. Sensitivity matters too – be cautious if it’s much below 89dB/W. For music to be lively, not just loud, you need “headroom” so that the amplifier can respond instantly to sudden peaks. Liken it to two cars, one with a 1200cc engine and one with 3000cc. Both will do 80mph but the bigger engine has the reserves to respond instantly.

Without that “acceleration” music will sound undynamic and dull.

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