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Can you have too much power?

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by Yamarc, Jan 26, 2006.

  1. Yamarc

    Yamarc Gold Supporting Member

    Jun 25, 2002
    Northville, MI
    Is there such a thing as too much power? Everyone knows the problems with underpowering a cab, but can you overpower one too?

    For example, say 1000 wats into a 350 watt cabinet...
    (Think a Crest CA9 bridged into an Epifani UL112)

    How do you keep from blowing the speaker? How much power is needed to have good transients that jump out when you need them to?

    How much IS too much?
  2. Horny Toad

    Horny Toad Guest

    Mar 4, 2005
    Crest CA9 bridged is about 2000 watts into 4 ohms. It isn't so much the number of watts, it's what you do with them. Sure, you can run 2000 watts into a 350 watt cab, but you need to use common sense and listen to what your cab is doing. If it starts running into trouble, believe me, it'll let you know. :D

  3. Having lots of power is never a bad thing.

    Say if i was pushing a 300 watt head into a 700 watt cab, id have to drive the head hard to get those cones moving thus the head will clip. If you've got something very powerful on the other hand, you won't have to turn the volume up much to get a loud sound with out stressing the head.
  4. billfitzmaurice

    billfitzmaurice Commercial User

    Sep 15, 2004
    New Hampshire
    Owner, Bill Fitzmaurice Loudspeaker Design
    It's very rare when a speaker won't fart out at much more than half power below a low A in any event, so you'll usually have plenty of warning before there's much danger of blowing it.
  5. i believe i drive my avatar 210 cab too hard, probably. i don't plan on changing my ways. i'm just a rebel like that.
  6. Mcrelly


    Jun 16, 2003
    Minnesota, USA
    I think the rule of thumb that many of the high power guys agree on (oh boy am I out on a limb!) add up the power handling of your cabs, double that number and that should be the OPTIMUM wattage.

    an experienced player can utilize almost any wattage from 50w into a 12" up to several kilowatts into a 12" or 10', pick your speaker size.
  7. Okay, let's say you have a 2x10" cabinet that is rated for 400W, and you follow this 2X recommendation and use an 800W amp. So, you decide, "I'm going to play my 7-string bass tuned to low F# and pound on that low F# string".

    What do you think is going to happen?

    After buying some new woofers, perhaps you will think again.....

    There are many variables at work here, all of which make a "rule of thumb" a gross over-simplification.

    One point worth noting is that ported cabinets do not handle their full rated power below the cabinet's tuning frequency. A 400W rated ported cabinet tuned to 50Hz will not handle 400W at 20 Hz, 30 Hz, or 40 Hz, let alone 800W.

    Headroom is great. However, excess power can damage a speaker, especially at low frequencies. As always, moderation is key. Listen for speaker distress and back off when necessary.
  8. billfitzmaurice

    billfitzmaurice Commercial User

    Sep 15, 2004
    New Hampshire
    Owner, Bill Fitzmaurice Loudspeaker Design
    The don't handle their full power above fs either, at least not cleanly. It's not unusual for a driver to be xmax limited at no more than 20% of rated power in the first half-octave above the tuning frequency.
  9. Dragonlord

    Dragonlord Rocks Around The Glocks

    Aug 30, 2000
    Greece, Europe
    OK then
  10. adept_inept


    Jan 9, 2006
    well, what about avatar.all of their cabs are rated EXTREMELY high.

    i only put 250 wattsinto my210kappapr.rated at 1000 WATTS

    is that ok?
  11. chucko58


    Jan 17, 2002
    Silicon Valley, CA, USA
    I paid for all my gear myself. Well, me and MasterCard.
    Your choice, if you like the sound and don't mind replacing the speakers every so often.
  12. Fuzzbass

    Fuzzbass P5 with overdrive Gold Supporting Member

    It's OK in that your speakers should be safe.

    The main problem with that rig is that it might not have the headroom to compete with really loud guitars and drums. But the worst that should happen if you crank it way up is that it'll sound like poo.
  13. This is wrong.

    Assuming that the 250W amp can produce double its rated power when clipped, it still only produces a maximum of 500W, which is half of the rated power of the cabinet.

    Clipping a 250W amp may hurt the tweeter in such a cabinet, but is unlikely to damage the woofers.
  14. joegeezer


    Mar 9, 2005
    Northern Wisconsin
    Avatar Club#12 Eden Club Lucky# 13--USA Peavey Club#37 Carvin Club#5
    Upon reading the specs on a Selenium speaker a while back, I had my eyes opened to the fact that they recommend running their speakers with an amp that produces twice the RMS rating of the speaker, for headroom purposes, to stay away from the dreaded clipping.
  15. Mcrelly


    Jun 16, 2003
    Minnesota, USA
    I said "experienced" players I did not mean stupid ones...:rolleyes:
  16. Dkerwood


    Aug 5, 2005
    I thought amp clipping was one of the biggest dangers to a speaker... which is why it's "better" to over power than under power a speaker.
  17. Yamarc

    Yamarc Gold Supporting Member

    Jun 25, 2002
    Northville, MI
    So, how much is too much? Is there a limit or a guideline to follow other than trial and error? (Which seems like it would be a pretty costly process)
  18. Fuzzbass

    Fuzzbass P5 with overdrive Gold Supporting Member

    That misconception is still very common today. I believed it too, until I started reading the TalkBass amp forum. :) Again, the biggest danger to your woofers is too much power, not clipping.
  19. Dkerwood


    Aug 5, 2005
    Does this apply to all speakers, or just bass speakers?
  20. Thanks for this information.

    Seems to me facts like this are often overlooked in simplistic "take the cabinet's rms rating and double the amp power" rule-of-thumb suggestions.

    If the average ported cabinet cannot take more than 20% of its rated power in the low end fundamentals, what is happening when users put double the rated power into the cabinet?