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Is there such a thing as too much power?

Discussion in 'Amps and Cabs [BG]' started by thirtyhz, Feb 27, 2008.


  1. thirtyhz

    thirtyhz Supporting Member

    Apr 5, 2001
    I'm looking to buy seperates (pre and power). There are a lot of great bass pre's out there so no problem.
    Power amps on the other hand are somehwhat generic (I know except for class, transient response etc and of course quality). BUT, it's not too hard (or expensive) to get to well over a 1000 watts bridged. At what (or watt) point is it just overkill. It seems to me that it would be better for an amp to be performing in the middle of it's range rather then one that's idling while pumping out 120 db's of sound. I know that bass requires more power then higher frequencies but for the most part you just don't see the kind of power in bass heads as you do in sperate power amps. All things being equal - cab, pre etc - there is certainly a point of overkill on power - but where?
     
  2. bongomania

    bongomania Commercial User

    Oct 17, 2005
    PDX, OR
    owner, OVNIFX and OVNILabs
    It depends on your speaker cabs and the room you're playing. If you're on a large outdoor stage on a windy day, even 2,000 W is not overkill -as long as your speakers can handle it. But if you have a 210 cab and you're playing a small room, it's another story.
     
  3. jady

    jady

    Jul 21, 2006
    Modesto, CA
    I don't even understand the question..............
     
  4. chucko58

    chucko58

    Jan 17, 2002
    Silicon Valley, CA, USA
    I paid for all my gear myself. Well, me and MasterCard.
    There's no such thing as too much power. However, there's such a thing as driving a cabinet beyond its limits. You can do it with too little power just as easily as with too much.
     
  5. Mark Reccord

    Mark Reccord Supporting Member



    No speaker was ever blown with less power than it could handle....

    :bag:
     
  6. thirtyhz

    thirtyhz Supporting Member

    Apr 5, 2001
    Understood. I haven't seen too many 2000 watt cabs around though. At that point I'd be trhough the PA anyway.

    Different tack: Looking at the performance of a power amp from 0 to 100% - what is optimal soundwise - again all things being equal. If I have a 5000w amp constanly putting out 100 watts (hypothetically) then I suspect it won't sound as good as a 500w amp doing the same thing.
     
  7. Bob Lee (QSC)

    Bob Lee (QSC) In case you missed it, I work for QSC Audio! Commercial User

    Jul 3, 2001
    Costa Mesa, Calif.
    Technical Communications Developer, QSC Audio
    In that situation, the 500-watt amp would probably be clipping on at least some of the peaks (the amount of clipping could still be minimal enough to not be audible), while the 5000-watt amp probably would not be clipping at all.
     
  8. ogrossman

    ogrossman

    May 20, 2006
    Minneapolis, MN
    In the old days some stereo amplifiers had a "loudness" button that you pushed in to boost the bass when you were listening at a low volume settings. This says to me that, at least with some amplifiers, the sound isn't as good if you run them at a low volume setting.
     
  9. Bob Lee (QSC)

    Bob Lee (QSC) In case you missed it, I work for QSC Audio! Commercial User

    Jul 3, 2001
    Costa Mesa, Calif.
    Technical Communications Developer, QSC Audio
    "Loudness" buttons boost highs and lows for low-volume settings, and they are to compensate for human hearing, not for amplifier behavior.
     
  10. thirtyhz

    thirtyhz Supporting Member

    Apr 5, 2001
    So where on a power amps performance curve (rms not peak transient?) does it operate optimally.
     
  11. Bob Lee (QSC)

    Bob Lee (QSC) In case you missed it, I work for QSC Audio! Commercial User

    Jul 3, 2001
    Costa Mesa, Calif.
    Technical Communications Developer, QSC Audio
    What is a performance curve?
     
  12. Hi.

    With SS that shouldn't be the case and isn't if the amps are of decent quality.

    With tubes it's completely different story as the sound-coloration most people seek when using tube amps comes from characteristics of the power supply, the tubes and the out-put transformer. None preferred here and in no particular order either.

    I have a somewhat annoying problem of not being able to get a good tone out of my new Fame 300 (marketing) watt all tube head as it's simply too damn loud when cranked even to moderate tubey sound.

    Too much power with SS can and will be a problem for a short while if Your bass, cables or pre decides to run amok and suddenly send an unfriendly amounts of signal to the amp that will faithfully turn that to the rail voltage on the output for example.
    That is if Your speakers can't handle the stress. Otherwise it's just an annoyance for anyone who happens to be near the speaker(s).

    So my answer would be No for SS (and Yes for tube). But as the odds are that You're not searching for a tube power amp, just buy the largest quality power amp that your wallet and speakers can handle. IMHO/IME as always.

    Regards
    Sam
     
  13. Sahm

    Sahm

    Dec 18, 2007
    Delaware, OH
    It's what I depend on to get though life!
     
  14. NKUSigEp

    NKUSigEp

    Jun 6, 2006
    Bright, IN
    I see what ya did there.

    :bag:

    No, you can't have too much power. Ever.
     
  15. Hi.

    An amp is just a finely refined power supply (and sometimes used as a such in laboratories) and there really shouldn't be any "performance curve" at all. Obviously when the amp is pushed to the limits, the frequencies that require most from the power supply might start to suffer first, but that doesn't have anything to do with what You're asking.

    Regards
    Sam
     
  16. thirtyhz

    thirtyhz Supporting Member

    Apr 5, 2001
    Thanks for the answers. So I am hearing that aside from, human hearing, wind, cabinet ratings, cabinet colloration, input variations, clipping etc - that the signal coming out of a quality SS power amp, (amplitude aside), is the same at 1% of its rated output as it is at 99% and everything in between?
     
  17. chroma601

    chroma601

    Feb 16, 2007
    Sylva, NC
    Actually, an underpowered amp driven to clipping will create square waves, which can fry a speaker just fine.
     
  18. Bob Lee (QSC)

    Bob Lee (QSC) In case you missed it, I work for QSC Audio! Commercial User

    Jul 3, 2001
    Costa Mesa, Calif.
    Technical Communications Developer, QSC Audio
    Wrong! Do a search and get ready for some reading. ;)
     
  19. chucko58

    chucko58

    Jan 17, 2002
    Silicon Valley, CA, USA
    I paid for all my gear myself. Well, me and MasterCard.
    (sigh) One of these days there will be a good explanation of why "300 watt continuous" speakers really don't like to be driven continuously at 300 watts...
     
  20. Bob Lee (QSC)

    Bob Lee (QSC) In case you missed it, I work for QSC Audio! Commercial User

    Jul 3, 2001
    Costa Mesa, Calif.
    Technical Communications Developer, QSC Audio
    There are a few things to keep in mind:
    • Every amp, like every electronic device, has noise. Better amps tend to have lower noise. Low signal voltages will be closer to the amp's noise floor than higher voltages are, so a larger portion of the output will be noise.
    • Every amp distorts when it clips, because the signal voltage can't go any higher and the amp therefore flat-tops it to some extent. Fortunately, because this distortion by definition accompanies high signal levels, the distortion tends to be well masked sonically at slight to moderate amounts of clipping.
    • Most power amps are class AB or some variant on it. All class AB amps have some crossover distortion at the output signal's zero-crossings, the transitions between positive and negative polarity. Better amps tend to have much better linearity, and therefore lower distortion. By its very nature, this type of distortion affects smaller signal voltages more than larger ones; thus, high crossover distortion is really harsh sounding.
     

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