When thinking about a home audio system, one of the most relevant issues is choosing the suitable amplifier for already purchased speakers or vice versa. This matching amplifier to speakers guide will help you thoroughly understand the issue and avoid difficulties when choosing.
If you are not willing to purchase an existing set of speakers and an amplifier, or you already have one of these components, then the question of compatibility will undoubtedly be weighty for you. But, unfortunately, in the specification of the devices, you will not always find necessary compatibility data.
How to find the best compatible equipment, how not to spoil the devices when connecting and using them, how to achieve the maximum performance of the entire audio system – you will get all the answers to these questions below.
Do I need to match AMP and speakers?
This is an actual question for everyone who comes to a store with musical equipment or chooses it online for the first time. You should know that it is almost impossible to find completely incompatible components with each other. Modern home audio components can work with any other components without significant problems.
Even the risk of damage to components that are not quite suitable for each other will be minimal. Unless you intend to keep the maximum volume all the time, certainly.
It all depends on what you want from your audio system. If it is about high-quality sound and high performance, you need to match speaker to amp or amp to speaker.
If you think there is a precise definition for the compatibility of audio components, then this is not entirely true. But we will consider all the main points for choosing suitable devices further.
How to choose amplifier or receiver for speakers
Regardless of whether you will buy a set of equipment or you already have one of the sets, the device compatibility rules will help you with the choice.
In this section, we have prepared basic recommendations for you on selecting perfectly matching audio components. To find out how to match speakers to receivers, just follow these four steps.
Step 1. Impedance matching of speakers and amplifier
Impedance is probably the leading indicator that you should take into account when choosing devices for an audio system.
All speakers have impedance. Usually, in modern models, it is 4-8 ohms. However, you can also find speakers with a non-standard 16-Ohm impedance.
Why is this indicator so important? The main point you should be familiar with is that the devices with lower impedance than the amp supports can overload it. Even if overloaded, your equipment is unlikely to break down because the amplifier should simply turn off in this case. But the risk is definitely not worth it.
When it comes to purchasing 4-Ohm speakers, this information becomes especially relevant. In truth, such speakers provide the highest sound quality, and you need to be especially careful when selecting an amp because not all will fit. However, for 6-8-Ohm speakers – almost any model of these devices will be good.
Step 2. Matching the power ratings of amplifier and speakers
When analyzing the power of these two devices, you should first think about keeping the same performance in mind. There are a few methods for describing the nominal power. The most popular ones are:
- RMS (or continuous) power
- Peak (dynamic or music) power.
RMS power is the best indicator when considering recommended amplifier power for speakers. This metric describes the actual power of the amp under specified load and frequency conditions. This means that it most accurately displays the amplifier’s power under current operating conditions.
Peak power shows the maximum power value at a particular moment. And although manufacturers love to brag about this value, this indicator should not be taken into account because such a moment usually lasts only a couple of seconds.
Your loudspeakers should have the same power per channel rating as to your amplifier. This is the condition under which you get the desired result. Look at the specification for each device, if you see a match, you can safely take them. They will work great when paired.
An amp that is too powerful or, on the contrary, not powerful enough will not do much harm to your speakers. It’s just that you probably won’t get the sound you want. With insufficient amplifier power, you will get an insufficient volume level, and with high power, it will not be used to its full.
Should speaker wattage be higher than AMP?
In most cases, the opposite choice is correct. If the receiver is going to be a little more powerful than the speakers, this will give you the best performance. This will allow the amplifier to deliver full power to the speakers and easily handle loud peaks in the music.
Can amplifiers damage speakers?
If you use an insufficiently powerful amplifier, there is a risk of damage to your speakers. In this case, the volume level may not be enough, and you will have to increase it to the maximum. And long-term operation in this mode can have negative consequences for the speakers.
Also, you shouldn’t use a powerful receiver with significantly less powerful speakers at high volume levels. It also threatens with negative consequences.
Read more about the power rating of audio devices here.
Step 3. Room size matters
The place is of great importance, but your preferences matter even more. The louder the sound you’d like to get is, the more powerful equipment you should have. Here, it’s better to start from personal needs, goals, desires, etc.
You can start by measuring the sound pressure level in a room. To do this, you need a special device, but you can at least roughly understand the direction in which you should move when choosing equipment. Also, it is possible to use standard THX reference levels. However, many users consider them to be quite loud for most homes.
So, let’s imagine that you have come up with the desired volume, what’s next? The next step is to select an amp that can ensure that very sound. If the room is really large, or you plan to make the most of the sound of your music devices, consider amps over 200 watts. In other cases, weaker models are acceptable.
Speaker selection is also essential. A robust system is preferable for large rooms or for high-ceiling spaces, small satellite options are not enough. Their volume will be low, and if you increase it, you can damage them.
The ideal choice, in this situation, is larger speakers with a little less power than a receiver has. Such a system will show its best side.
An equally crucial question is how to place the equipment. No matter how big or small the room is, you can always get the perfect sound. Just remember to place the speakers correctly, don’t put them too far away from you, and don’t hide them behind your TV. If necessary, you can use special stands.
Step 4. Matching the price of AMP and speakers
This is a great way to select these music devices for those who don’t want to dig into device specs.
The essence of this method is that you should choose the equipment in one price category. Well, you can spend a little more on the speakers if you have free funds.
If your amp costs over $2000, it is rather unwise to look for speakers worth $100. Otherwise, the amp will only use its potential 10-15%.
And if you buy an amplifier worth $1000 and the speakers of the exact cost, that’s another story. Or the cost of the amplifier will be about $500, and the set of speakers is $1000. Then this equipment will show its best side.
We sincerely hope that this 4-step guide will help you find the truly optimal set of components for your home audio system.
Finally, we will summarize once again the essential tips and tricks:
- Compare only the same power ratings – either average or peak. Otherwise, it won’t make any sense.
- The power rating of the receiver should be slightly higher than that of the speakers. This rule works in 99% of the situations.
- 50-100 watts per channel (RMS) are enough for good sound in most small spaces.
- Price matching is a good solution for the choice of devices. Components in the same price range will operate together well.
- Keep the amp volume knob down when turning on the system. This will save your speakers from damage.
- Try not to exceed the volume level over 75%. If such indicators are not enough, purchasing more efficient equipment is better than spoiling the existing one.
It is also worth noting that choosing components from the same manufacturer will always be a good decision. In this case, you should not worry about their consistency because the manufacturer has already done this work.