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  1. #1
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    Watts what exactly is the sound quality difference?

    Can somebody please try to explain to me in non technical human language what is the difference in sound quality in regards to wattage. Assume hypothetically, I'm playing the Who on a classic rock remastered CD on the same DVD player at the same listening volume on a 200 watts receiver speaker system and a 600 watts receiver speaker system in a 20 foot (average sized) living room. For clarification, the listening volume is the same (say it was set on 5 for the 200 watt system and 2 on the 600 watt system). What will I actually hear to my ear differently-anything or will the difference in sound quality be negligible. Will the drums, vocals, guitar, or bass sound different. Will there be any more seperation, clarity, richness or warmth in the sound. I am not interested in what the difference would be hearing classical music or how somewthing is numerically different. I just want to know what the difference will be in what I'm actually hearing. Appreciate any response. Why this doesn't seem to be spelled out on any web page is beyond me.

  2. #2
    Silence of the spam Site Moderator Geoffcin's Avatar
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    Not watt you want to hear

    Quote Originally Posted by hershon
    Can somebody please try to explain to me in non technical human language what is the difference in sound quality in regards to wattage. Assume hypothetically, I'm playing the Who on a classic rock remastered CD on the same DVD player at the same listening volume on a 200 watts receiver speaker system and a 600 watts receiver speaker system in a 20 foot (average sized) living room. For clarification, the listening volume is the same (say it was set on 5 for the 200 watt system and 2 on the 600 watt system). What will I actually hear to my ear differently-anything or will the difference in sound quality be negligible. Will the drums, vocals, guitar, or bass sound different. Will there be any more seperation, clarity, richness or warmth in the sound. I am not interested in what the difference would be hearing classical music or how somewthing is numerically different. I just want to know what the difference will be in what I'm actually hearing. Appreciate any response. Why this doesn't seem to be spelled out on any web page is beyond me.

    The reason it's not spelled out is because it means nothing. Watts do not equate into sound quality, or even loudness for that matter.
    Audio;
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    To further confuse you

    Quote Originally Posted by Geoffcin
    The reason it's not spelled out is because it means nothing. Watts do not equate into sound quality, or even loudness for that matter.
    What Geoffcin says is correct. I have a 70 watt per channel Adcom amplifier that sounds better at moderate to higher volumes than my 85 watt per channel home theater receiver.. And it goes louder! Figure that out!!!

    There are some advantages to having more power. Bass frequencies are generally power hungry, musical spikes have more headroom, and there can be less distortion at louder volumes (but not necessarily). If an amp is well built and well designed though, watts won't necessarily make anything sound better.

    As far as sound quality goes, well, some of the nicest sounding amps out there have less than 20 watts per channel, some less than 10 wpc even!!! And their plenty loud enough!

    You're asking the right questions!

  4. #4
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    Who, Watt

    the quality of the amp section will probably make more of a difference than the watts. There are different ways of measuring and marketing a watt. So watt measurement should be equal, ie: 100 rms watts per channel @ 8 ohms all channels driven, 20-20,000 w/ 0.05% THD. Of course source, cables, room acoustics, speakers will also make a difference. Bass usually needs more power than the mid's. Think quality, before watts. Watts can be misleading.

  5. #5
    Silence of the spam Site Moderator Geoffcin's Avatar
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    Let's not get too carried away!

    Quote Originally Posted by kexodusc
    What Geoffcin says is correct. I have a 70 watt per channel Adcom amplifier that sounds better at moderate to higher volumes than my 85 watt per channel home theater receiver.. And it goes louder! Figure that out!!!

    There are some advantages to having more power. Bass frequencies are generally power hungry, musical spikes have more headroom, and there can be less distortion at louder volumes (but not necessarily). If an amp is well built and well designed though, watts won't necessarily make anything sound better.

    As far as sound quality goes, well, some of the nicest sounding amps out there have less than 20 watts per channel, some less than 10 wpc even!!! And their plenty loud enough!

    You're asking the right questions!
    While I enjoy the sound of a low powered SET amp, they do have some caviates about using them, and with which speakers. On the other hand, if it's well made, even a 50 watt SS amp can change your idea about how much power you need to drive your speakers. With that being said, I have heard rumors about how good your speakers can sound when you hook them up to amps like the Musical Fidelity KW series. Of course no many of us have 100k to spend on amps, but you can see where I'm getting at; All things being equal MORE power is better!

    What we really should be talking about is; What makes an amp "good" regardless of power, and where does the law of diminshing returns take hold.
    Audio;
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  6. #6
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    Good point Geoffcin...I wasn't implying that less power is better, certainly not the case, I was trying suggest that the difference between a good 50 watt amp, and a good 100 watt amp isn't necessarily as much as you'd think...definitely NOT double the sound quality. Not even double the volume.

    In fact, I'd probably take a 40 watt Arcam integrated amplifier over a 125 watt Marantz or Yamaha stereo receiver anyday.

  7. #7
    Silence of the spam Site Moderator Geoffcin's Avatar
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    Agree!

    Quote Originally Posted by kexodusc
    Good point Geoffcin...I wasn't implying that less power is better, certainly not the case, I was trying suggest that the difference between a good 50 watt amp, and a good 100 watt amp isn't necessarily as much as you'd think...definitely NOT double the sound quality. Not even double the volume.

    In fact, I'd probably take a 40 watt Arcam integrated amplifier over a 125 watt Marantz or Yamaha stereo receiver anyday.
    Yes, it's almost scary to compare a reciever with an intergrated, or seperate amp, of the same or even LOWER power. It leads you to think that the specs are useless to discribe sound quality, or even POWER?! Which in my view they are. This is at the heart of the posted question, and there's no easy answer for him.
    Audio;
    Ming Da MC34-AB 75wpc
    PS Audio Classic 250. 500wpc into 4 ohms.
    PS Audio 4.5 preamp,
    Marantz 6170 TT Shure M97e cart.
    Arcam Alpha 9 CD.- 24 bit dCS Ring DAC.
    Magnepan 3.6r speakers Oak/black,

  8. #8
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    Smile Having ample power is very important.

    At typical average listening levels, speaker is probably demanding between 1-5 watts of RMS power (depending on the sensitivity of speakers). So even 10 watt amplifier seem to get as loud as 100 watt amplifier.

    What set these two amplifiers apart is not how loud can they get, but rather how can they deliver momentary musics "peak" passages (that can reach up to 200 watt) at low distortion levels (i.e, THD%, S/N). So the more [reserve*] power your amplifier have, then it is better equipped to handle music power bursts.

    *Reserve power is sometimes refer to as Dynamic Headroom of amplifier. So an amplifier with DH of 3 dB can [momentary] deliver twice its continuos [RMS] power.

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    Smokey Thanks but speak English not Gobblygook

    I appreciate most of the responses here but most of them such as yours are not in plain simple English, nothing personal. What exactly will I hear in my ears differently if I'm playing a CD by a classic rock band like the who that feature guitar, bass, drums, lead vocals & backing vocals? Will there be more warmth, more clarity in the sound, more seperation, etc. - what exactly will I hear differently on a 600 watt system then a 200 watts system. Terms like peak passage low distortion level,lower db's, don't mean anything to me. I'm talking about hearing human differences not mathmatical technical differences.

    Again I'm playing stuff at a loud but not too loud comfortable level in a normal size living room in an apartment. I don't hear any distortion at the level I play stuff at my 200 watts system. I would be playing the volume at the same loudness if I had a 600 watts system.

    Thanks, I'm not trying to be mean or sarcastic as I do appreciate feedback but most of what I'm getting is not helpful as its not in plain simple English.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by kexodusc
    What Geoffcin says is correct. I have a 70 watt per channel Adcom amplifier that sounds better at moderate to higher volumes than my 85 watt per channel home theater receiver.. And it goes louder! Figure that out!!!

    !

    I doubt you will like th eanswer
    mtrycrafts

  11. #11
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    Exclamation hearing problems

    Quote Originally Posted by hershon
    What exactly will I hear in my ears differently if I'm playing a CD by a classic rock band like the who that feature guitar, bass, drums, lead vocals & backing vocals? Will there be more warmth, more clarity in the sound, more seperation, etc. - what exactly will I hear differently on a 600 watt system then a 200 watts system. Terms like peak passage low distortion level,lower db's, don't mean anything to me. I'm talking about hearing human differences not mathmatical technical differences.
    Sometimes technical explanations are necessary, when many people's perception of hearing are quite different from one another (what sounds one way to someone sounds completely different to another)... I'll admit I'm having trouble of defining something in "human" terms without the technical ones.

    From your point of view, I will say there's too much technicality involved trying to explain how a 600 watt system sounds different to a 200 watt one, you MUST consider the other factors plain and simple... Perhaps you could visit an audio dealer and listen for yourself. You'll get REAL results, not what someone might tell you.

    Although, my ears do LOVE the sound of tubes if that helps any (fuller, warmer, and sound better with bass [bass compression is it? ahh, too technical])... It could be a mental thing, how your mind perceives the way you hear things perhaps, and have nothing to do with the equipment whatsoever!! Too psychological for me...

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by hershon
    Can somebody please try to explain to me in non technical human language what is the difference in sound quality in regards to wattage. Assume hypothetically, I'm playing the Who on a classic rock remastered CD on the same DVD player at the same listening volume on a 200 watts receiver speaker system and a 600 watts receiver speaker system in a 20 foot (average sized) living room. For clarification, the listening volume is the same (say it was set on 5 for the 200 watt system and 2 on the 600 watt system). What will I actually hear to my ear differently-anything or will the difference in sound quality be negligible. Will the drums, vocals, guitar, or bass sound different. Will there be any more seperation, clarity, richness or warmth in the sound. I am not interested in what the difference would be hearing classical music or how somewthing is numerically different. I just want to know what the difference will be in what I'm actually hearing. Appreciate any response. Why this doesn't seem to be spelled out on any web page is beyond me.

    Watts are just power rated into a certain load at certain THD, FR band, etc.
    Modern, well designed components are transparent.
    Different speakers will need different amount of power to drive them to the desired loudness levels.
    Volume control position will tell you nothing.
    mtrycrafts

  13. #13
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    Appreciate you making the attempt to anser this. If watts apparently is not going to make the difference in hearing the sound a classic CD on a home movie system, can somebody tell me what is? Any systems you'd recommend for under $600 with or without a DVD player/receiver? If so what will be the difference between what I'm hearing in this system then on my Koss C-220 200 watts system? Is the moral of this thread going to be, do not buy a system online or on EBAY without actually listening to it first? Thanks

  14. #14
    Loving This kexodusc's Avatar
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    Hey mtrycraft

    Quote Originally Posted by mtrycraft
    I doubt you will like th eanswer
    Don't worry about hurting my feelings...actually if you've got the answer , I'd love to hear it. Thanks.

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    Quote Originally Posted by hershon
    Appreciate you making the attempt to anser this. If watts apparently is not going to make the difference in hearing the sound a classic CD on a home movie system, can somebody tell me what is? Any systems you'd recommend for under $600 with or without a DVD player/receiver? If so what will be the difference between what I'm hearing in this system then on my Koss C-220 200 watts system? Is the moral of this thread going to be, do not buy a system online or on EBAY without actually listening to it first? Thanks

    I am not sure if I can answere all your concerns.
    Speakers, room acoustics and the recording itself it the most critical part of playback. If a speaker is sensitive, that is it playes loud with 1 watts of power as measured by standard protocol, you will need less power. If it is not sensitive, you will need much more. To double the perceived loudenss you need 10 times the power, a logarithmic scale.

    What setup do you have now? What is it you dislike about it? If it is the speakers that you dislike, you need to actually listen to them, more the merrier

    But remember, that listening room will sound different from yours at home. Your acoustic memory to remember one listeing room to another is very poor and unreliable. You may want to try to take one home that you are serious about.
    mtrycrafts

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by kexodusc
    Don't worry about hurting my feelings...actually if you've got the answer , I'd love to hear it. Thanks.
    OK

    I have a 70 watt per channel Adcom amplifier that sounds better at moderate to higher volumes than my 85 watt per channel home theater receiver..

    Unless you did a controlled comparison of these two amps, your perception is unreliable at best.


    And it goes louder! Figure that out!!!

    Same.

    There are some advantages to having more power. Bass frequencies are generally power hungry, musical spikes have more headroom, and there can be less distortion at louder volumes (but not necessarily). If an amp is well built and well designed though, watts won't necessarily make anything sound better.

    Your last sentence is correct
    You need a sub

    As far as sound quality goes, well, some of the nicest sounding amps out there have less than 20 watts per channel, some less than 10 wpc even!!! And their plenty loud enough!

    All relative to what you consider nice and what is loud enough. But that also depends on the speaker sensitivity
    mtrycrafts

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    Mtrycraft, speakers

    My immediate concern on my Koss C-220 (200 watts home theater) is that about 80% of the reviews on Amazon are negative and they say the sound is tinny and the bass is subpar. It's Ok to me in that the DVD's sound OK in surround sound and their is good seperation and stereo sound when I play classic rock CD's, however, it doesn't sound as warm as the CD's I play in my bedroom on a simple two satellite 6 watts each , 1 22 watt subwoofer speaker system (Altec Lansing ACS- these are computer speakers but they sound better than any speakers I've ever had and use them as speakers for my regular stereo system) attached to a Technics SL-PD687 CD player (the subwoofer controls the volume and you don't need to EQ it). These speakers use to be $150 now you can get them on EBAY for $40 and if nothing else they're the best computer speakers I've ever heard, so good I use them as my main stereo speakers as well.

    Anyway, I'm trying to see if its worth my while to upgrade my home theater system to something listing for $600 or less that will make my regular CD's sound even better than the stereo unit I have in my bedroom that's 44 watts total. Albeit I was in Best Buy and when I put on a Who CD on a Yamaha 600 watts system, the sound was not significantly better than my Koss C-220 200 watts system, albeit the room accoustics/ambience were different.

    Any comments, recommendation would be appreciated as I'm always looking to improve myself if I can afford it.


    Quote Originally Posted by mtrycraft
    I am not sure if I can answere all your concerns.
    Speakers, room acoustics and the recording itself it the most critical part of playback. If a speaker is sensitive, that is it playes loud with 1 watts of power as measured by standard protocol, you will need less power. If it is not sensitive, you will need much more. To double the perceived loudenss you need 10 times the power, a logarithmic scale.

    What setup do you have now? What is it you dislike about it? If it is the speakers that you dislike, you need to actually listen to them, more the merrier

    But remember, that listening room will sound different from yours at home. Your acoustic memory to remember one listeing room to another is very poor and unreliable. You may want to try to take one home that you are serious about.

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by hershon
    My immediate concern on my Koss C-220 (200 watts home theater) is that about 80% of the reviews on Amazon are negative and they say the sound is tinny and the bass is subpar. It's Ok to me in that the DVD's sound OK in surround sound and their is good seperation and stereo sound when I play classic rock CD's, however, it doesn't sound as warm as the CD's I play in my bedroom on a simple two satellite 6 watts each , 1 22 watt subwoofer speaker system (Altec Lansing ACS- these are computer speakers but they sound better than any speakers I've ever had and use them as speakers for my regular stereo system) attached to a Technics SL-PD687 CD player (the subwoofer controls the volume and you don't need to EQ it). These speakers use to be $150 now you can get them on EBAY for $40 and if nothing else they're the best computer speakers I've ever heard, so good I use them as my main stereo speakers as well.

    Anyway, I'm trying to see if its worth my while to upgrade my home theater system to something listing for $600 or less that will make my regular CD's sound even better than the stereo unit I have in my bedroom that's 44 watts total. Albeit I was in Best Buy and when I put on a Who CD on a Yamaha 600 watts system, the sound was not significantly better than my Koss C-220 200 watts system, albeit the room accoustics/ambience were different.

    Any comments, recommendation would be appreciated as I'm always looking to improve myself if I can afford it.

    I wouldn't expect a difference in amps from what you have, that C220, and in store stuff.
    You are trying to compare a 6 watt amp to the C220, on computer speakers? It is that 6 watt amp and the speaker combination.
    I would not sell that C220 as it can be useful. Better speakers?
    mtrycrafts

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    Think: High fidelity and not Watts.

    I sure don't mean to be a snotty audio kinda guy, 'cuz I'm not. I got no real idea of what you are lookin' for...exactly. Watts? Can't give you any raves about the Koss HT box set-up or about your Altec computer sound. They are probably..."cute". But, not much more than that. Moon and Townsend would have never listened to their tracks on that stuff.

    You need some audio listening experience which you are not really gonna get---with what you got. Here m'boy we are talking HIGH FIDELITY and I got a feeling you ain't never really HEARD it. You will know it the second you hear it...it will knock your socks off. Probably it ain't at the big box stores, but it is out there.

    Watts? There are watts and then there are watts. So many variables for the ear. If your Koss was upgraded to 600 watts, there would probably not be a huge difference. You could, for example compare audibly the 200 watts on your Koss HT to....say 200 watts from a Krell or a Levinson amp. A Koss HT watt and a Levinson watt are going to be quite different. One would infer that because of the very different and audible sound. Because we are talking QUALITY. They will definitely sound much different---like from a different planet. Speakers? They are going to make a big difference too.

    Forget all about your watts questions....its not really answerable because of variables. Instead, start learning about all the really great equipment out there--- which ain't at Best Buy and Circuit City. Go out and find some audio stores near you or 200 miles away and go and listen. If you are looking for great sound, then you have alot to learn and ain't nothing wrong with learning new things. Tons of experienced and savy guys on this board. Takes a little time. First thing you gotta do---is listen to some high end gear and feel the music. Think high fidelity first and watts...second. Watts alone, are for the ignorant. Like old PT Barnum said, " For the suckers." Either start to learn or be a comfy potato with you box set. Best thing---go out and listen to some great equipment by manufacturers you may never have heard of. Feel the music. Cheerio.

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    jackz4000 then what home theater or stereo set up do you recommend

    Appreciate your comments but I don't have the time or patience to make 200 mile journeys, etc. To save some time, and I'm not being sarcastic here, are their any home theater or stereo setups listing under $600 that you would recommend so I could then "journey" to some local stores and check out their sound to see if I notice a difference and want to buy. If you say, that there is nothing in that price range you'd recommend, fine, I'm not going to spend $600 or over no matter what the improvement, its not worth it to me. But anyway, any recommendations would be welcome.

  21. #21
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    Please don't take offense to these comments, but this is how it is:

    1) If you don't have the time and patience to do some intense listening tests, then you're not dedicated enough to hear a difference in a high quality setup and a crappy setup. As you said (and I quote) "It's not worth it to me." So don't worry about it.

    2) If you ARE looking for the best sound quality, $600 won't do it. Lots of folks here have more than that invested just in cables!

    3) To answer your question in plain English, watts has NOTHING to do with sound quality. Zip. Zero. Zilch. Nada.

    Keep in mind that power ratings (watts) on equipment found at Walmart/BestBuy/CircuitCity are very misleading which is why I can take a good 50 watt amp bought from real store and blow a 600 watt amp from Walmart/Bestbuy/CircuitCity off the planet.

  22. #22
    Forum Regular gonefishin's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by hershon
    Appreciate your comments but I don't have the time or patience to make 200 mile journeys, etc. To save some time, and I'm not being sarcastic here, are their any home theater or stereo setups listing under $600 that you would recommend so I could then "journey" to some local stores and check out their sound to see if I notice a difference and want to buy. If you say, that there is nothing in that price range you'd recommend, fine, I'm not going to spend $600 or over no matter what the improvement, its not worth it to me. But anyway, any recommendations would be welcome.


    I'm sure you'll get varying answers on this...but it really seems like a good way to get "into" this hobby. Buy a lower budget system so you can start enjoy music today, then...as time and money permits...explore what more expensive systems may sound like. If you like it...you may decide to get into this hobby a little more. But in the mean time...you spend a relatively low amount of money for an audio system. Great idea!

    Sounds like this approach may suit you well.


    What system should you get?

    For $600.00 investment in an audio system...and after reading the approach you would like to have.


    I would go to a couple stores in your area. If this is BestBuy, Circuit City, Tweeter and one mo and pop audio store...that would be great.

    I would only go with two channel right now...to get the maximum out of your $600.00.

    If you can, use a CD or DVD player you already own...this will allow you to get the maximum out of your $600.00

    Do you have any current speaker wire or interconnects? If so, what awg (wire gauge) are they? If they're sufficient, use what you have...or buy some lower priced stuff for your new system. This will allow you to get the maximum out of you $600.00.

    Now, go to the stores above and pick out an amp/speaker combo that you think sounds good. That's it! Don't worry about what others (me included) think you should or shouldn't buy. Get yourself a speaker/amp combo that you like. If it has bloated bass...who gives a hoot! If it's got a recessed midrange...who gives a hoot! Get a system that has the sound you like, and start enjoy your music and your system. As time progresses you can then decide if this hobby is for you. Then you can drive to different places listening to different systems...paying attention to what your preferences are shaping into. But do this as a progression...and you'll know that you have never made a bad move. Because every system you've bought was purchased because you enjoy it, even if the last system you buy is the first.

    Also know that there may be several path you can take to achieve the same goal. Take advice from all of these posts and find a path that suits you and your needs. I doubt any one of us will have a totally correct answer for you. So use the bits ya like from each


    most of all...have fun
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    enjoy the music!

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    Silence of the spam Site Moderator Geoffcin's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by hershon
    Appreciate your comments but I don't have the time or patience to make 200 mile journeys, etc. To save some time, and I'm not being sarcastic here, are their any home theater or stereo setups listing under $600 that you would recommend so I could then "journey" to some local stores and check out their sound to see if I notice a difference and want to buy. If you say, that there is nothing in that price range you'd recommend, fine, I'm not going to spend $600 or over no matter what the improvement, its not worth it to me. But anyway, any recommendations would be welcome.
    OK, I got you; You want to spend on the order of $600 and want to know if it's going to sound better than what you have now. The anser is YES, and I can reccomend soemthing for you. Your going to have to take my word on it, as your not going to be aboe to listen to it in a store. My reccomendation is the Cambridge Soundworks Movieworks 5.1. While I don't have the sattilite speakers in this setup, I do have a CSW 12s sub, and it cranks out bass. Here's a link;

    http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll...tem=3090103749

    If you like the sound of your computer speakers just wait till you here these!
    Audio;
    Ming Da MC34-AB 75wpc
    PS Audio Classic 250. 500wpc into 4 ohms.
    PS Audio 4.5 preamp,
    Marantz 6170 TT Shure M97e cart.
    Arcam Alpha 9 CD.- 24 bit dCS Ring DAC.
    Magnepan 3.6r speakers Oak/black,

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    Geoffcin Some questions on Cambridge

    Thanks for the link which I went to. A few questions for you. I play my system in an average size living room in an apartment complex, therefore it is imperative that I do not have a "booming" bass that causes vibrations and annoys neighbors- personally I do not like the bass to be prominent and/or overbearing, just prefer it being subtle so I can hear bass guitar notes blending in with the rest of the sound. They say in the link that this is "room shaking bass". Won't this then by innapropriate for listening in an apartment especially for someone like me who does not want to be overpowered by bass? Also, in regards to speakers, if my receiver plays 220 watts or so, and other speakers are say 100 watts each speaker, won't those speakers be innappropriate for a 220 watt reciever?

  25. #25
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    Read through this thread again...your receiver will in no way, now how ever produce 220 watts per channel of real power. It will be more like 20-30 watts, so a 100 watt speaker will be fine.

    And that sales link saying 'room shaking bass' is like McDonalds saying "we use only the best ingredients." In other words...yeah right!

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