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i need to understand what is headroom

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by thehangingmist, Feb 25, 2008.

  1. i encountered this term "headroom" :confused:
    i searched around Google and the forums here, it has been answered before but i didn't really understand on reading through last two threads on the same topic.
    i need to know what is headroom and how is it different from volume? how and why one can/does one get more or less headroom?
  2. bongomania

    bongomania Commercial User

    Oct 17, 2005
    PDX, OR
    owner, OVNIFX and OVNILabs
    Headroom is how much more power is available than you are using at any one moment. If your signal is actually causing your amp to push out its maximum wattage, then you have run out of headroom, and various kinds of distortion will result.

    Many people don't realize that their amp is not constantly producing the amount of wattage written on the front panel or in the spec sheet- but really it only produces power relative to the signal being sent in.
  3. Rickett Customs

    Rickett Customs

    Jul 30, 2007
    Southern Maryland
    Luthier: Rickett Customs...........www.rickettcustomguitars.com
    Can be stated simply:

    The amount of additional signal above the nominal input level that can be sent into or out of an electronic device before clipping distortion occurs.

    The amount of dynamic range between the normal operating level and the maximum output level, which is usually the onset of clipping.


    The difference between nominal operating level and peak clipping in an audio system. For example, a mixer operating with a nominal line level of +4dBu and a maximum output level of +22dBu has 18dB of headroom. Plenty of room for surprise peaks.

  4. Yeah they've both pretty much answered it (albeit in varying levels of technical jargon). You pretty much want as much headroom as possible so you can drive your amp without distorting like they said, but you wanna make sure your rig isn't so powerful your not actually driving your speakers and amp sufficiently, if you don't drive them you won't get a full sound out of them and it'll sound naff. You'd probably have to be using a Wembley arena powered setup in a pub before that happened to any major extent though.
  5. thanks! guess i got it
  6. Mcrelly


    Jun 16, 2003
    Minnesota, USA
    I posted on your other thread about max volume... I don't think you've maxed your volume...YET. when you get distortion coming out of the speaker with a clean signal going into the amp THEN you've run out of head room for your situation.

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