Choosing the Correct Speakers for a Receiver
Of all the decisions involved in planning a home theater system, the choice of speakers may seem like one of the most straightforward.
However, matching the appropriate speakers to a receiver isn’t as simple as it appears. Certain specifications, such as speaker watts and speaker power ratings, need to be considered in order to optimize the system’s performance.
Impedance, which is the property of a speaker that restricts electrical flow through it, is measured in ohms: 4, 6 and 8 are typical values. Lower levels of impedance force the speaker to place a greater demand on an amplifier, so it’s important to make sure to match up the impedance of both the speakers and the amplifier.
If a 6-ohm speaker were connected with an 8-ohm amplifier, the speakers would place more stress on the amplifier than it could necessarily handle. Most home theater receivers have 6/8 ohms power handling because most home thetaer speaker range form 6- 8 ohms. This basically means the receiver knows the difference between a very powerful floorstanding speaker and a surround sound speaker.
The measurement of speaker watts is usually represented by a figure known as RMS: root means square. These speaker power ratings tell users how much continuous power a speaker can handle without problems.
If a peak power rating is given for a speaker, it indicates how much power can be handled by a speaker before distortion occurs. Certain types of signals can push a speaker to its limits even if the levels are below the stated power rating.
Speaker power ratings are sometimes vague: If a measurement of speaker watts is listed for a device, it may not be clear whether the rating refers to continuous power or peak power. Consumers who need further clarification about speaker power ratings should ask a salesperson for more information about the device.
When choosing the right speakers for an amplifier, it’s safe to give them about 10 percent more power than they were built to handle. Speakers can handle these fluctuations in power, and consumers will get a better audio experience when the amplifier doesn’t have to work as hard to max out the speakers.
In addition to specifications regarding speaker watts and impedance, many speakers also have sensitivity ratings, which quantify the device’s ability to translate power from an amplifier into actual sound.
Sensitivity ratings are measured in decibels, or dB; a higher rating indicates a more efficient speaker. Most speakers have a rating between 87 and 93 dB.
Audio formats like Dolby True HD are placing unprecedented demands on speakers. In order to maximize the potential of these formats, it’s important to have the right home theater components in place.
Specifications like speaker power ratings and speaker watts should be kept in mind when selecting speakers for a home theater. Matching the right speakers to the amplifier or A/V receiver that’s driving these formats can give home theater enthusiasts the best performance for their investment.
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