Underpowered Speaker Overpowered Amp?

Hi, just very quickly. If I use an underpowered speaker on an overpowered amp, and turn the volume up very loud, what exactly would happen? Distortion maybe? Also, would this damage the speaker (presumably)? Would this damage the amp in any way? Thanks.
 

gibbsy

Moderator
The amp is.......?
The speakers are.....?

The simple answer is that you would probably do more damage to your hearing in the first instance. Yes the speakers will get damaged if driving them to the amps maximum. You are in charge of the volume control and if you know there's a big imbalance and you damage your kit then there's only one to blame.

There is a lot of kit out there that has speakers below the maximum available from the amp that work perfectly together.
 
I have a 2.1 system, want to make it 5.1. I bought a centre speaker a while back without doing too much research. If it’s significantly underpowered, I just want to confirm that it will do no damage to my amp? And if it is crap, then I could use it temporarily without any worries.
 

gibbsy

Moderator
The more speakers you add to a receiver then the more the power is diluted and as most receivers are just quoted with two channels driven it's unlikely you'll do any damage. Figures quoted from most manufacturers when all speakers are engaged have to be taken with more than a pinch of salt.
 

Joe Fernand

Distinguished Member
AVForums Sponsor
Why would you ever want to turn the volume up ‘very loud’ - by implication you already know you are going to damage your kit or your ears.

Which amp and speakers do you have?

How large is your room?

Joe
 

noiseboy72

Distinguished Member
Speakers are killed in 3 ways.

Long term high power will eventually overheat the drivers and the voicecoils will fail.

Square waves from a clipping (underpowered) amplifier will create large transient currents as the speaker attempts to stop and start very quickly, causing the speaker to fail. The increase in distortion will often increase the amount of in band signal and this will saturate particularly the HF driver as per failure mode 1.

High volumes can cause the voice coil to leave the safety of the magnetic flux field created by the magnet. They then become just a coil of wire instead of an electromagnetic component and quickly burn out.

Matching an amplifier to a speaker in a domestic environment is not really an issue, as you need to be about a factor of 3-5 out before issues will arise. IE: running a 30w speaker on a 100w amplifier or vice versa will be absolutely fine unless you deliberately try to make it fail by running it at high distortion levels for long periods of time.

Home audio is not designed to be idiot proof. If it sounds or smells bad, turn it down! If you enjoy your ears bleeding buy a suitable high power system and if you can't recognise high distortion buy an active system that will have more protection built in and will be harder to break.
 

IWC Dopplel

Well-known Member
Assuming you turn the volume up and back off if/when you hear distortion then you won't have a problem.
 
AV Receiver: Yamaha RXV485 (Black)

Speakers: Tibo Edge 450 (Black)

Subwoofer: Cambridge Audio Aero 9 (Black)

Also, I have a subwoofer connected. Speakers are set to small and are both at 0.0db. Subwoofer is at -5.0db. Volume is half way and crossover is on max. Crossover is 80hz on amp. Currently running in straight mode, no effects. Bass boost is turned off and bass and treble are set to bypass, which is the default settings. Dolby Digital is turned on on the Sky Q box.

How loud can I realistically take these? I want to add a centre speaker and rear speakers, and eventually change my subwoofer. I obviously won’t need the amp as loud when I add more speakers, but I would imagine it would draw the same amount of power. I would run it always in 5.1 for movies, and virtual 5.1 for stereo content, when I get more speakers.

The highest I have took these speakers is 0.0db, or +10.00db on Sky, because Sky boxes output really low volume. I’m not sure if this is relevant or not, but this was playing music. I didn’t notice any distortion, and I only did it once for about 10 minutes and was very drunk!

Normally I’ll take these to -10.00db up to -20.00db. Sometimes louder if the content I’m watching is quiet, or if I’m watching Sky. So how loud is too loud? I’ve never noticed any distortion. This is all through HDMI inputs on the amp.

On my old LG system, the volume went almost twice as loud (as the LG system) when connecting through aux as oppose to optical or HDMI, but then you lose the 5.1 sound and Dolby Digital. With HDMI inputs, I usually took that to Volume 35/40 and never noticed any distortion.

Sorry for such a lengthy post, I just want my system to work as it should, and want to invest my money wisely. I want true surround sound for movies, and good sound for music. I only want one system, so I don’t mind sacrificing the music slightly for the movies. I’ve had this system since April 2019, and got the subwoofer roughly a month later. Thanks.
 
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Why would you ever want to turn the volume up ‘very loud’ - by implication you already know you are going to damage your kit or your ears.

Which amp and speakers do you have?

How large is your room?

Joe
This is the centre speaker I bought when it was on sale: Tannoy Eclipse Centre (Black)

I just wanted to know that if it’s too underpowered, can I use it temporarily without doing damage to my amp? Even if the speaker may get damaged. Or maybe this speaker will be ok? Because if it is then I would want to keep it. It’s just the wattage thing that throws me off because different companies have different guidelines when they market their products. Sorry, I’m still learning. Thanks.
 
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gibbsy

Moderator
The Tannoy will not damage the amp, nor will it be damaged itself. Apart from, perhaps, a timbre imbalance across the front soundstage there will be no problems at all running the Tannoy with the Tibos.
 

Liammonty123

Well-known Member
noiseboy72 explains everything perfectly.

Using an amp with higher peak power than the speakers can handle can result in failure, and using an amp with too low a peak power for the volume you want to listen at can cause failure. Unless you can hear audible distortion you should be good to go.
 

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