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  1. #1
    Forum Regular Registered Member pitbosskev's Avatar
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    Is More watts better?

    Can someone give light on my question? I have a Harman Kardon avr-230 which I believe is rated at 50 or 55 watts in stereo. I am looking to buy a used Citation 22 power amp rated at 200 watts (I think). Will this make a significant differnce in sound and what kind of differences will it make? Is it worth the extra money? I have Paradigm monitor 9's as fronts.

    Thanks.
    Last edited by pitbosskev; 03-07-2006 at 09:47 AM.

  2. #2
    RGA
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    No more watts is not better. More watts can be louder. If you have a 50 watt amplifier and all else being equal, an amp rated at 100 watts will be 3 decibals louder. 3db is barely audible.

    To get twice as loud, to the ear, of a 50 watt amp you would need a 500 watt amp. And this would only happen if the speaker was capable of taking 500 watts. Most speakers can only take 50 - 200 watts.

    In my experience low powered amps sound the best. The longest running amplifier in history is the Sugden A21a which is a Single Ended (SE) solid state amplifier rated at 25 watts per channel pure class A into 8 ohms -- and is not high current. It's one of the best sounding amplifiers for sane money going - which is why it's been selling since 1968.

    I have yet to hear an amplifier above 100 watts that I would want to own.

  3. #3
    VIP Member Smokey's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by pitbosskev
    Is More watts better?
    Short answer to that question is yes.

    Alot of people associate more wattage with being louder which is not the case alt all. More
    wattage usually mean better Dynamic Headroom and lower distortion. Loud momentary music passages (such as beating of drum) can reach as high as 200-300 watts. And if amp doesn’t have that much power in reserve (Dynamic Headroom), then result would be higher distortion (THD to be more specific) and lower quality sound.

    So higher power is always welcome.

  4. #4
    Loving This kexodusc's Avatar
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    It really all depends...if your listening habbits are such that you would never take advantage of having 100 watts or more, then having 100 watts or more is useless to you.
    I have not found that more powerful amps sound better than less powerful amps when both amps are used within their design limitations. As you get to the extreme limit of the smaller amp, it will start to distort and lose it's sound quality. Often, larger amps have higher quality components than other amps, so sometimes that gets confused with simply having "more watts".
    I have found with 84 dB sensitive speakers or better, 60 watt amps are more than enough for me.
    My speakers are 88 and 90 dB though, so I need even less power to hit very loud average levels.
    RGA is very right, a lot of speakers and listeners really don't need more than a few watts to sound great. A lot of factors to consider.

  5. #5
    Forum Regular Florian's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Smokey
    Short answer to that question is yes.

    Alot of people associate more wattage with being louder which is not the case alt all. More
    wattage usually mean better Dynamic Headroom and lower distortion. Loud momentary music passages (such as beating of drum) can reach as high as 200-300 watts. And if amp doesn’t have that much power in reserve (Dynamic Headroom), then result would be higher distortion (THD to be more specific) and lower quality sound.

    So higher power is always welcome.
    I know of very little normal speakers can produce the whole dynamic range in the first place, but i would also add that you need control, lots of current, a purely stable amp and a high damping factor.

    -Flo

    PS: RGA, i can hear .5db differences and 3db is a lot. Espc. when a box sits in the corners and gets different room gain from the corners.
    Lots of music but not enough time for it all

  6. #6
    RGA
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    Quote Originally Posted by Smokey
    Short answer to that question is yes.

    Alot of people associate more wattage with being louder which is not the case alt all. More
    wattage usually mean better Dynamic Headroom and lower distortion. Loud momentary music passages (such as beating of drum) can reach as high as 200-300 watts. And if amp doesn’t have that much power in reserve (Dynamic Headroom), then result would be higher distortion (THD to be more specific) and lower quality sound.

    So higher power is always welcome.
    Sorry but this is incorrect - at least partially. What I left out is the function of the speaker. If you own 80db senstive speakers then I would agree that you would need very high wattage amplifiers to get them going. However, there is no need to buy such speakers since you can get easy to drive speakers.

    High watt amps and separates also tend to generate noise not lessen it. This has always been an advantage of integrated amps over separates or pseudo hybrids like my amp. Drum beats do not hit 200-300 watts or a watt number. Most all "good" amps have significant reserves to reach loud peaks. The only advantage to high watt amps is volume capability. It takes 10 times the power to get a perceived doubling of the volume to the human ear. Thus a 100 watt amplifier will make a speaker that can handle 100 watts twice as loud as a 10 watt amp. On the other hand if you run a 100 watt amp on an 83db sensitive speaker and I run a 10 watt amp on a 95db senstive speaker (all else being equal) then my system will play louder than yours and have more headroom than yours.

    High watt amps tend to require more aliasing or fixing of the signal in order for the amplifier to work properly - high power high damping factor = high negative feedback. It typically makes the graph look prettier but hardly does anything good for the sound. UHF technical advisor Paul Bergman wrote about damping factor in UHF's "The World of High Fidelity" and suggested that amps with damping factors above 40 are 'generally' best avoided. In the end it comes down to experience - I have heard more systems that have huge power power amplifiers such as Krell, YBA, Classe,Bryston etc monoblocks with speakers of not the greatest efficiency such as those from ML, HALES, Gershman Acoustics, Legacy, Wilson, PMC, etc. I have heard fewer systems of high efficiency and low powered Class A amplifiers. These carefully matched systems all have seemed to have more dynamic headroom (less compression) and some can play at significantly higher levels. It has been said that while this is true such speakers are often much bigger and offer less bass repsonse -- but that can be shown to be untrue!

    The advantage of some of these speakers of course is that you the customer get far more choice -- you can use an 8 watt amp or an 80 watt amp or an 800 watt amp. And if volume level matters look for a speaker that is high efficient, and can handle a lot of watts. And such speakers also are more able to let you the customer hear the difference in sound quality of the amplifiers at good drive levels. a low watt amp will fizzle out on tough speakers but on easy to drive speakers you can compare a Krell and a SET and and neither will be running out of steam -- then you can hear what the actual amplifiers sound like.

    By the way I had loads of fun with PMC and Bryston like set-ups as well - excellent build, powerful sound - but don't give up on the "polar opposite" kind of set-ups. A fellow in town here has gone to 98db sensitive speakers and 8 watt amps from having owned massive SS gear and gigantic speakers designed by Mark Levinson with subwoofers . His system will play more than loud enough for most people. The big Bryston PMC ultimately will play a bit louder but the sacrifice in subtleties and the introduction of fatigue is not a trade that I would make.

  7. #7
    Forum Regular Florian's Avatar
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    However, there is no need to buy such speakers since you can get easy to drive speakers.
    So what do i do when efficent speakers like the AN's make me throw up and curl up in the corner? What you write is complete bogus! My friend has the AN's Conquest and the Kondo in for review and both generate tons of noise and hiss. Yes, they sound good but have no balls (except the Kondo..of course) and you cant drive any of the top speakers with them.

    There are amps out there that easily compare and have tons of power to play with also, the Silver King, Sphinx PJ16, Acousticplan and Silvaweld OTL's.

    then you can hear what the actual amplifiers sound like.
    Not if you have driver coloration, time delay erros, room coloration etc. Some amps need to be driven hot and the Krell KRS wont do **** on a 12Ohm impedance.

    Like i said.....advertising bogus!

    -Flo
    Lots of music but not enough time for it all

  8. #8
    Forum Regular Registered Member PAT.P's Avatar
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    So whats the answer guys?Most of my HT speakers are 91db to 94db In average room 2.83 V,1m. Im going to add a power amp to drive my fronts from pre-out of receiver.Im using A/Bspeakers at same time .The amp is 300 watts at 4ohms both channel driven.How loud do you think its going to be

  9. #9
    Forum Regular Florian's Avatar
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    It will never be anywhere close to 300watts and we dont know the damping factor or the impedance responce of your speakers ;-)

    Bottom line: Try it out and see if you like it, if you dont then junk it and buy a different one and if you like it.....well thats simple!

    -Flo
    Lots of music but not enough time for it all

  10. #10
    RGA
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    Quote Originally Posted by PAT.P
    So whats the answer guys?Most of my HT speakers are 91db to 94db In average room 2.83 V,1m. Im going to add a power amp to drive my fronts from pre-out of receiver.Im using A/Bspeakers at same time .The amp is 300 watts at 4ohms both channel driven.How loud do you think its going to be
    When i added a Bryston 120 watt power amp to my 95 db sensitive top of the line Wharfedales everything improved - tighter bass punchy sound cleaner and tighter and less sluggish. This was actually a 5 watt downgrade because I had the top of the line Pioneer Elite Receiver rated at 125 watts RMS and distortion figures that rivalled the Bryston.

    It's not about the watts and it's not strictly about the sensitivity rating. Plenty of speakers at 93db sensitivity and are not the least bit friendly to low powered amps. SET amps like stable loads - nothing wrong with a 4 ohm load if it doesn't dip and rise too much. My speakers are rated as 6 ohms but never dip under 5. If I remember correctly the 2.83V, 1m spec needs to be subtracted by 3db to be the same as the 1 watt 1 meter spec (not 100% sure so check on that). Remember for every 3db gain you need twice the amplifier power.

    Florian - I'd be curious as to the Serial numbers of both the Kondo and the Conquests. The Conquests and Kageki amplifiers as well as all of the other AN amps that I have heard and the one I own and everyone else I know who has ever heard any of them hear absolutely no noise with any of these amplifiers - there may be a faulty connection and your friend should definitely have a repair outlet fix the issue.

  11. #11
    Forum Regular Florian's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by RGA

    Florian - I'd be curious as to the Serial numbers of both the Kondo and the Conquests. The Conquests and Kageki amplifiers as well as all of the other AN amps that I have heard and the one I own and everyone else I know who has ever heard any of them hear absolutely no noise with any of these amplifiers - there may be a faulty connection and your friend should definitely have a repair outlet fix the issue.
    No problem, the review will be published soon and all will be shown there. There are quite a view articles that compared the original Kondo to the new version from Peter where he added more feedback to get a quieter background and it took all the magic out. So far on CD's its below the expectiations but is a killer in the analog realm. All testes on Acoustats, Apogees and of course no wooden coffins to actually hear what the amp does ;-)

    -Flo
    Lots of music but not enough time for it all

  12. #12
    Loving This kexodusc's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by RGA
    It's not about the watts and it's not strictly about the sensitivity rating. Plenty of speakers at 93db sensitivity and are not the least bit friendly to low powered amps. SET amps like stable loads - nothing wrong with a 4 ohm load if it doesn't dip and rise too much. My speakers are rated as 6 ohms but never dip under 5. If I remember correctly the 2.83V, 1m spec needs to be subtracted by 3db to be the same as the 1 watt 1 meter spec (not 100% sure so check on that). Remember for every 3db gain you need twice the amplifier power.
    Nah, the 2.83 V is just used because 2.83 V into 8 ohms is 1 watt. But almost all speakers that use the 2.83 V number for sensitivity will have lower "real" sensitivity if measured with 1 watt fed into them. You do subtract 3 dB if your speakers are 4 ohm, because that'd be the same as running 2 watts into 4 ohms (sort of).

    Many efficiency/sensitivity numbers I've seen on speakers aren't done in anechoic conditions, and use room gain to jack that number up a a bit. That ticks me off. I see this with $300 or cheaper speakers that boast 90 or 91 dB efficiency. It's often a few dB's less. Not a big deal, but I think a stricter standard needs to be enforced.

  13. #13
    Loving This kexodusc's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Florian
    PS: RGA, i can hear .5db differences and 3db is a lot. Espc. when a box sits in the corners and gets different room gain from the corners.
    You are a freakin' cyborg Flo.
    Most of us normal humans can only barely hear 1 dB changes with statistical significance. The average healthy ear doesn't even do much better with 3 dB differences.

    Funny story - I can notice a +1 dB increase in my room with concentration when I increase the volume. In my last hearing test I could only accurately identify +3 dB increases that the technician controlled better than 90% of the time. 2 dB I was 50/50, and was honestly guessing. That 3 dB is the standard used for hearing. If you can do that, you have an average healthy ear.

    I don't find +3 dB in my room to be much of a difference really, noticeable, but I think that's the minimum increment I would change volume by if someone asked me to turn it up or down.

  14. #14
    Forum Regular Registered Member PAT.P's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Florian
    It will never be anywhere close to 300watts and we dont know the damping factor or the impedance responce of your speakers ;-)

    Bottom line: Try it out and see if you like it, if you dont then junk it and buy a different one and if you like it.....well thats simple!

    -Flo
    Damping factor>100 at 1khz,S/N ratio 100db.Nominal Impedance of speakers is 6 ohms.This amp detect auto from 2ohms( 480 w) both channel to 8ohms (205w)If I see it help I'll use it ,if I see it does'nt I'll try others.Lots of reading to do on spec on amps (gains,distortion,ect) its a new ball game.Thanks

  15. #15
    Forum Regular Registered Member pitbosskev's Avatar
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    Thanks all for the help and info.
    Kevin

  16. #16
    RGA
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    Quote Originally Posted by Florian
    No problem, the review will be published soon and all will be shown there. There are quite a view articles that compared the original Kondo to the new version from Peter where he added more feedback to get a quieter background and it took all the magic out. So far on CD's its below the expectiations but is a killer in the analog realm. All testes on Acoustats, Apogees and of course no wooden coffins to actually hear what the amp does ;-)

    -Flo
    Published where - which magazine? Peter has both Ongaku amps - Everyone so far that has heard both said the AN UK version is better. There is no negative feedback - Peter uses far better transformers which reduces background noise -- the prototype of the UK Ongaku was not quiet in the noise department as Martin Colloms noted in his recent review in Hi-Fi News -- nevertheless it was noted that it would be in the running for world's best amp -- and that version was not even fixed up. These amps and Kondo's were not designed for panels -- Kondo hated panels which is why he made "coffins" and showed with his "coffins" or other companies' "coffins."

  17. #17
    VIP Member Smokey's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by RGA
    Sorry but this is incorrect - at least partially. What I left out is the function of the speaker. If you own 80db senstive speakers then I would agree that you would need very high wattage amplifiers to get them going.
    I agree that speaker sensitivity does matter as to how much power needed, but it should not be the main factor. Today's high dynamic sources such as CD, DVD, DVD-A or HD audio require for the amp to have plenty of reserve power to accurately amplify the signal regardless of speaker used. And I don't believe 8 or 10 watt amp will cut it even if high sensitivity speakers are used.

    High watt amps and separates also tend to generate noise not lessen it. This has always been an advantage of integrated amps over separates or pseudo hybrids like my amp.
    How did you come to that conclusion?

    High quality amps and separate tend to keep channels (and their power supply) separated to avoid interchannel noise and distortion. And they use better shielding and methods to keep RF/EMI noise from effecting the components. So IMO amps are better equipped to combat noise than hybrid/integrated amps
    Last edited by Smokey; 03-08-2006 at 02:09 PM.

  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by RGA
    Published where - which magazine? Peter has both Ongaku amps - Everyone so far that has heard both said the AN UK version is better.
    Hmmm...and who will these people be? The only person I am aware of so far to have said this publicly is Peter Qvortrup himself and what else do you expect him to say
    It's a listening test, you do not need to see it to listen to it!

  19. #19
    Color me gone... Resident Loser's Avatar
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    Pitboss, if you're still out there...

    Quote Originally Posted by pitbosskev
    Can someone give light on my question? I have a Harman Kardon avr-230 which I believe is rated at 50 or 55 watts in stereo. I am looking to buy a used Citation 22 power amp rated at 200 watts (I think). Will this make a significant differnce in sound and what kind of differences will it make? Is it worth the extra money? I have Paradigm monitor 9's as fronts.

    Thanks.
    ...I'd buy the Citation...I have a Citation 19 (100Wpc@ 8 Ohms/ 200wpc@ 4Ohms) purchased in the mid-80s (as I recall) and it has served me well over the years...wide bandwidth and high current output...According to the owners manual, a pdf. @ the HK site, the 22 is of a like breed, check it out here:

    http://manuals.harman.com/HK/Owner%2...22-24%20om.pdf

    While specs aren't everything, they're a good objective place to start...

    jimHJJ(...feel free to ignore all the subjective, anecdotal claptrap and background noise contained in this thread...)
    Last edited by Resident Loser; 03-09-2006 at 06:00 AM.
    Hello, I'm a misanthrope...don't ask me why, just take a good look around.

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  20. #20
    RGA
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    Quote Originally Posted by Smokey
    I agree that speaker sensitivity does matter as to how much power needed, but it should not be the main factor. Today's high dynamic sources such as CD, DVD, DVD-A or HD audio require for the amp to have plenty of reserve power to accurately amplify the signal regardless of speaker used. And I don't believe 8 or 10 watt amp will cut it even if high sensitivity speakers are used.



    How did you come to that conclusion?

    High quality amps and separate tend to keep channels (and their power supply) separated to avoid interchannel noise and distortion. And they use better shielding and methods to keep RF/EMI noise from effecting the components. So IMO amps are better equipped to combat noise than hybrid/integrated amps
    Cabling is kept shorter in integrated amplifiers - talking good integrated amplifiers not the ones most people hear -- You are welcom to come to my place and hear watt 10 watts is capable of doing with modestly sensitive speakers. Some people would like to argue my speakers are only 89,5 db sensitive rather than the the 93db in corner measurement -- so if we take the 89,5db rating that illustrates even more so what 10 watts is capable of doing.

  21. #21
    RGA
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    Quote Originally Posted by theaudiohobby
    Hmmm...and who will these people be? The only person I am aware of so far to have said this publicly is Peter Qvortrup himself and what else do you expect him to say
    Well he also said you could go to his home and hear it for yourself - but you're far too much of a coward to try.

    Not everyone posts on forums buddy and several people in Victoria and Nanaimo I have met as owners -- who have flown to England went to Peter's house and heard the systems. You see these are people with money who have heard the best systems in the world and owned them and have discussed with designers like Mark Levinson. When they spend this much money on an Audio Note system they want to hear the flagship and then determine how close they want to get to it. And when you drop close to half a million dollars a plane ticket to England is less than the tax on the interconnect cable.

    You are welcome to come here and I shall introduce these people to you but I am not posting their names because I was requested not to - especially with the rampant home invasions on the rise.

  22. #22
    Forum Regular Florian's Avatar
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    Well of course you know that i think that Audio Note speakers are pure junk and you will never ever convince me or any of the other thousands ultra high end people different BUT RGA is right in one regards. 10 or 18 watts is more then enough! The VS 18 Watt DB300's (voted best amp on the planet 3 times) on the Apogees and you can get them in the 90db range with them. Of course you need a lot more to get the max SPL of a 118db but for most good speakers 18 watt is quite enough.

    -Flo
    Lots of music but not enough time for it all

  23. #23
    Loving This kexodusc's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Florian
    Well of course you know that i think that Audio Note speakers are pure junk and you will never ever convince me or any of the other thousands ultra high end people different
    -Flo
    Hey Flo,

    You aren't, by chance, a diplomat?

  24. #24
    Forum Regular Florian's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by kexodusc
    Hey Flo,

    You aren't, by chance, a diplomat?
    Hehe, nope but i have thought about it
    Lots of music but not enough time for it all

  25. #25
    Suspended markw's Avatar
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    RGA, this is just TOO funny.

    Quote Originally Posted by RGA
    Well he also said you could go to his home and hear it for yourself - but you're far too much of a coward to try.

    Not everyone posts on forums buddy and several people in Victoria and Nanaimo I have met as owners -- who have flown to England went to Peter's house and heard the systems. You see these are people with money who have heard the best systems in the world and owned them and have discussed with designers like Mark Levinson. When they spend this much money on an Audio Note system they want to hear the flagship and then determine how close they want to get to it. And when you drop close to half a million dollars a plane ticket to England is less than the tax on the interconnect cable.

    You are welcome to come here and I shall introduce these people to you but I am not posting their names because I was requested not to - especially with the rampant home invasions on the rise.
    Lots of bluff and bravado but nothing of substance.

    You assume that peole want to be bothered to take a trip to meet you and your friends because they don't post on these forums?

    Half a million dollars for a plane ticket?

    You're afraid that by mentioning your friends names their homes will be broken into? I guess only thieves read these forums, eh? ...or could it be that they don't want to be publicly assocated with you?

    Thanks for my daily laugh.

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