Speakers haven’t changed much in the past 20 years. They have, however, been paired with a slew of receivers. To match your speaker components with today’s leading receiver options, you’ll need to understand a few things. While matching speakers with an amplifier is easy, a few barriers can get in the way of an optimum speaker-to-receiver connection.
Below, we’re covering the specifications, subwoofer options and tech requirements for creating a home theater system—straight from leading receiver options.
Matching the Subwoofer, Speakers and Receiver
Fortunately, it isn’t hard to match all three. A lot of modern amplifiers and AV receivers, alike, have thermal fuses and protection circuits. They can be shut down, in the event of an overload. You can, however, purchase the wrong amplifier for your speakers.
Most receivers and amplifiers are compatible with today’s leading speaker options. You should, however, study the specifications first. To match your speakers with a quality amplifier and receiver setup, you’ll need to know about impedance.
Impedance is a speaker’s resistance. This number is reflected by a speaker’s specifications. Usually, it’ll be between four and eight ohms. Most amplifiers support the many speakers available, but a few won’t match in ohms. A speaker set with low impedance—such as four ohms—can strain your amplifier and receiver power supply. Make sure your receiver can handle a low impedance, if this is the case.
Are You Buying New Speakers?
If you’re buying new speakers—or a new subwoofer—you’ll need to make sure your receiver can handle them. Because high-definition audio formats, such as in HD DVD and Blu-ray, are available, new speakers may not be able to handle a receiver’s maximum audio.
A speaker set’s sensitivity rating is measured in decibels, or dB. This measurement refers to a speaker set’s ability to turn an amplifier’s power into sound. If a speaker set has a high dB rating, it’s more efficient. Any speaker system between 87 and 93 dB is typical. Any speaker set above 90 dB is very good.
So, you should purchase speakers with a high dB rating, as it’ll accommodate for your current setup. It’s worthwhile to remember your receiver’s impedance, too. If you’re connecting six-ohm speakers into an eight-ohm amplifier, you’ll put far more “load” on an amp than it’s capable of handling. If this happens, the amp will overheat, shut down or even burn out.
What Happens if a Speaker Set is Underpowered or Overpowered?
As stated above, a mismatch in power can, unfortunately, result in a burnout. That said, having a low-power speaker set can result in lost sound quality. Every speaker set has a power handling specification. This specification is measured in watts, and it’s represented in a RMS—root means square—format. This number will tell you how much power a speaker set can handle. Ideally, you should choose a speaker setup with a high RMS rating.
Meanwhile, a speaker’s PMPO—or its peak music power output—is its absolute limit, operationally. If a speaker system surpasses this number, it’s at risk of serious damage. While this rating isn’t used often, you should still pay attention to it. If this limit is exceeded by the receiver’s power, the speaker set could be damaged.
How Should You Match Speakers with an Amplifier?
When matching your amplifier with new speakers, make sure your speakers are powered with a little more than they can handle. By a little, we mean about 10 percent. In doing so, you’ll make sure the amp doesn’t need to work too hard to drive the speaker set at full capacity. It results in a rich, dynamic sound. Don’t worry: Your speakers are designed to handle power level fluctuations. A little juice, here and there, won’t cause much trouble.
What About Future Additions?
Understandably, you’ll probably want to install new speakers. It’s a good idea to keep your receiver and amplifier consistent, as they’re more expensive to replace. You should, however, purchase speakers with high-rated watts per channel.
The best-case scenario is one where an amplifier’s watts per channel matches the speaker set’s watts per channel. If the rated power handling matches, new channels won’t overload it. You might want to buy a center channel speaker, rear surround sound speakers and similar additions. If your system can power a high wattage, you won’t need to worry about future overloads.
At the end of the day, specifications like a speaker set’s power ratings, as well as speaker watts, should be kept in mind. By matching the right receiver with the right speakers, you can ensure a quality performance. You can also maximize your investment. Nobody wants to burn out their speakers, and nobody wants to create an underwhelming sound. Shop around, and opt for high power ratings if possible. Remember: Your speakers might be useful now, but you’ll be making upgrades in the future. In most cases, higher ratings are worth the minor price increase.