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Thread: How loud can I go?

  1. #1
    Join Date: Dec 2014

    Location: England Sheffield and/or Nottingham

    Posts: 149
    I'm David.

    Default How loud can I go?

    How loud can I go?
    Normally listen at nine o clock and maybe go up to 11 or even 12 if I want it really loud and the neighbours are out and take 12 as being the limit to avoid damaging speakers
    But with AV amps how does this relate as they just display -dbs on a linear scale
    I have three AV amps set up with speakers as listed below all just used Stereo, the JPW sub takes the Stereo inputs from amp and then these go onto mini monitors
    With the Sony and Teac -50db Yamaha -36db is loud but comfortable and just about neighbour annoying if listening to something loud, most of the time I listen to classical but do listen to some old indie metal or techno stuff every so often
    So how do I know what -dbs on these av amps that are sensible loud volumes avoiding possible speaker damage ?

    Sony STR-DB795 QS
    Dennon SC M50
    Mordaunt-Short MS20i Pearl

    Teac AG H550
    JPW Mini Monitors

    Yamaha RX-V459 DAB
    JPW Sub and Mini Monitors

  2. #2
    Join Date: Apr 2012

    Location: Southall, West London

    Posts: 35,274
    I'm Geoff.


    That's like asking 'how long is a piece of string?' You won't know how loud your speakers can go until you blow them up!

    You can often (I won't say usually) hear when a speaker is straining, as the bass driver will be reaching the limit of its cone travel and start distorting. But not always. It can just melt its voice coil without warning. Even more likely with mid and treble drivers, you'll get no warning before they pop!

  3. #3
    Join Date: Mar 2017

    Location: Seaford UK

    Posts: 642
    I'm Dennis.


    I wouldn't take any notice of vu type meters on an amplifier.

    Maplin sells a decent SPL meter and that is at least useful for in room measurement.

    The efficiency of, and maximum power I/P which your speakers specify, are crucial to, and define, the maximum spl you can obtain from them.

    Lastly, as an old gitte with damaged hearing, I would advise care in the spls you listen to; 80dB for extended periods can damage hearing.

    In about '96 I measured 113dB at 30 feet from my ATC SCM 100As, (this is crazy), and most sound engineers have seriously damaged hearing. I max now at 85dB, and only on peaks, on odd occasions.
    Although LF and HF are heard more easily at higher levels, it is much more sensible to improve the equipment to get more penetration into the recording.
    Do not risk HF loss and also hyperacusis.

  4. #4
    Join Date: Dec 2014

    Location: England Sheffield and/or Nottingham

    Posts: 149
    I'm David.


    Quote Originally Posted by Pharos View Post
    Maplin sells a decent SPL meter and that is at least useful for in room measurement.
    Yes I should get a SPL meter

    Spent my teens going to as many gigs as I could afford, that was in the eighties PAs were loud and guitar amps played so loud feedback was the norm, have slight tinnitus these days and cant here above 14khz. The tinnitus gets worse after I have been turning the stereo up.

    Did melt the tweeter magnets of a pair of little Wharfedales I had, only work out what was wrong when I took them apart, the magnets appeared to of been bonded on somehow.

  5. #5
    Join Date: Apr 2008

    Location: Warrington

    Posts: 2,928
    I'm Neil.


    It's also crossover dependent. For example, a super-gentle 1st order crossover on the Tweeters is more likely to result in them blowing at higher volumes whereas 2nd, 3rd or 4th order crossovers have steeper slopes (less of the signal reaching them). My Royd RR3s use "modified 1st order" crossovers, and if I played these at party volumes it'd only be a matter of time before the tweeters went, especially as the datasheet recommends that 2nd order crossovers minimum are used.
    Mana Acoustics Racks / Bright Star IsoNodes Decoupling >> Custom Silent Media Server >> Halide Bridge USB (with AQVOX USB power) >> Pedja Rogic's Audial Model S DAC + Pioneer PL-71 turntable / Vista Audio phono-1 mk II / Denon PCL-5 headshell / Reson Reca >> LFD DLS >> LFD PA2M (SE) >> Royd RR3s.

  6. #6
    Join Date: Aug 2009

    Location: Staffordshire, England

    Posts: 20,746
    I'm Martin.


    How 'loud' it sounds depends on how much distortion is present on the signal. So with a really powerful amp and very capable speakers you will deafen yourself before you ever think that you need to be turning it down.

    Position of the volume control on the amp is irrelevant. Most amps will be at full out put around half way round in any case. the dB scale on some amps is also meaningless since you don't know what their reference is and even if you did it will differ from one amp to another.

    Most domestic home cinema amps will start clipping way before that, so it will sound bad and most people will turn it down at that point anyway. There is always an exception like a pal of mine who would whack his system up into severe distortion for entire listening sessions. He now has tinnitus as a result. But you do have to be pretty daft to do that. It won't happen by accident unless your amps have some very serious reserves of clean power.

    Current Lash Up:

    Technics SL1200P CD Player * NVA P90SA passive pre / Krell KSA50S Power amp * JM Lab Electra 926 loudspeakers *

    'The best I advice I ever received was to always remember that no-one else has any idea what they are doing either.'

  7. #7
    Join Date: Oct 2012

    Location: NE England

    Posts: 4,175
    I'm Jez.


    There is no way of doing it other than using an oscilloscope to check for clipping (or in rare cases some amps have a clipping indicator).

    Volume control position is completely irrelevant as is any sort of display on the amp. A SPL meter is also useless for this.

    The most common problem is tweeters blowing and this is usually because the amp is not powerful enough for the volumes being used and is clipping. This causes ultrasonic distortion at a power level which will blow the tweeter. At such high frequency all this distortion is fed to solely the tweeter and a tweeter on it's own will usually only handle say 10W even if the speaker says "200W power handling" on the back. This is why a clipping indicator can be useful.

    The other speaker blowing issue is the more intuitive "too much power". This can blow any drive unit but bass drivers are the most likely. As pointed out by others above, there is not much you can do beyond common sense and having bit of "mechanical sympathy" by listening out for a speaker under distress, "end stops" being hit by woofer excursion etc...

    It is generally far safer to use an amp rated at say 200W into a speaker rated for 50W than to use an amp of 20W into a speaker rated at 200W. Yes this is counter intuitive... but correct.

    An add-on clipping indicator is not particularly difficult or expensive to make but the problem is it must be adjusted for a particular amp which needs test gear...

  8. #8
    Join Date: Jan 2009

    Location: Sheffield - UK

    Posts: 5,981
    I'm Mark.


    It's entirely as AE writes above.

    100% Analogue

  9. #9
    Join Date: Mar 2017

    Location: Seaford UK

    Posts: 642
    I'm Dennis.


    I disagree with AE about the sound pressure level meter, quite apart from ear protection.

    If you have a specification of maximum spl for a speaker, its use can be a guide, but I agree with what as has been said above; if a speaker is able to produce a high spl without distorting, it is hard for the ear to determine.

  10. #10
    Join Date: Jul 2011

    Location: Northamptonish

    Posts: 1,593
    I'm Peter.


    Quote Originally Posted by Arkless Electronics View Post
    The most common problem is tweeters blowing ...
    You should know, Jez Have you got them fixed, sorry, replaced yet?
    Ping Pong Aficionado

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