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  #1  
Old 12-19-2013, 07:19 AM
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Default Sound Quality and Headroom on Amplifier

I have heard over the years, many people say that if you want good sound quality to get a more powerful amp with "headroom."

As I understand it, headroom is simply an amp that outputs more power before reaching it's distortion rating (which may be different for different manufacturers)

Hypothetically, if you have a speaker that takes 100w, and you have to decide between two amplifiers that output A) 200w @4ohm <1.0%THD OR B) 300w @4ohm <1%THD, is there any real difference if you won't be reaching those levels of wattage usage?

Now, to acheive great SQ when playing normally, and not maxing out the speakers you might be playing say... 25w normally driving the speakers. Both of these amps are going to exhibit noise in the very low wattages before leveling out at a low %THD+N and then rising again as they get closer to their rated output. So would it not then be better to get the lower rated amp?
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Old 12-19-2013, 07:50 AM
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Buy a class AB amp rated at 0.01% THD.

1% is 100 times as much distortion as 0.01% THD.
(probably still not audible.. but it's 100 times as much.. and that's fun to say)

Also, the percentage of THD the amp gives is nothing compared to your choice of source. {128kbps MP3 is CRAP compared to music from a 'mastered' CD}

start with the purity of the music you choose. If you are a 'pristine' person listening only to the best mastered CDs of the highest quality classical music, it will sound good through almost any amplifier which isn't a complete piece of shit.

If you listen to Mosh pit/Grunge music, there is so much distortion built into the music, it would be a shame to not let more in. {trust me, the 'artist' would approve}

Also, even the best of the best of the best amplifiers is only as good as the install.

so, buy a Hifonics series VII Zeus and run it to highs, you'll love it.
{and I'm sure as hell not talking about PA speakers!}


life is kind of simple when it comes to head room. if you have so much power on tap that you simply could not use it all without melting your door panel, that's just about right.

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Old 12-19-2013, 10:09 AM
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Yes, I use the highest quality files I can find, I recently purged my itunes files of anything that was lower than 320kb bitrate because my teeth involuntarily grind when listening to it. So I'm going for the SQ route in all systems and the question was geared more towards just amps.

I found this article to demonstrate what I mean. It uses the term "usable" power, to indicate how low the amplifier may play well without getting close to the noise floor. I've just been seeing manufacturer's display noise specifications at their rated power output. It is nice to see %THD+N but this also does not tell us what %THD+N is at 1-watt output.

http://www.decware.com/newsite/paper110.htm
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Old 12-20-2013, 03:36 PM
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there is so much more to an amp than specs lead on. I had 2 amps that had the same rated thd and dampening that sounded 100% different. These weren't even sq amps they were the average old Korean based stuff.
The more headroom you have the easier it is for the amplifier to drive the speakers making it more controlled and detailed.
For example, B&W makes a tweeter that will play well into 40khz for this reason. If you have an amp that does 300rms going to a 100 watt driver you just set the amp up like you would to a 300rms driver and treat the limits of the driver as your new "clip point" I was running 400rms of amp to my sundown components rated at 60rms. If you don't over power your equipment just because your amp has more left in it you won't blow equipment.
To a point over head is always better.
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Old 03-06-2014, 03:48 AM
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Headroom is a beautiful thing. The build I'm about to start on will have 1300 watts on tap for front stage. That's 650 watts going to each side of the component set I will be going with. Each side I believe is rated at 90 watts rms and my sub is rated at 400 rms and it will have 1200 on tap. My sub will have an ID 1200.1 on it and a pair of ID 700.2 amps bridged to each side up front. I have the amps so I figure why not. If it turns out to be too much I will just use a 700.2 on front and a 700.2 on sub.
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Old 03-06-2014, 05:42 AM
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I've heard many different sides of the story on "headroom" from audio people, in talking , that headroom can be detrimental sometimes. For example, an amp may have it's THD measured to 1k hz at 1 watt and show a decent rating instead of the full range 20k hz at both 1 watt AND at full rating. Additionally, if they are only measuring their values at full rating output there may be a noise floor in the amp that gets covered up at full rating output that is very prevalent at listening levels.

Has anyone here experienced that as well? Or any opinions on this?

Cheers,

Mick
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Old 03-06-2014, 05:51 PM
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The best explanation I've gotten for the fundamentals to even begin understanding what we call "headroom" is the "JL Audio School of Sound" video on YouTube. For anyone reading this who wants to know why we care about this yet this all looks like gibberish, look up that video.

If your music has a high crest factor it's going to drive a 100W RMS amplifier well past clipping on every transient peak. A 10 dB increase in the recording means the amplifier tries to increase power output by a factor of 10. A 20 dB increase in the recording means the amplifier tries to increase power output by a factor of 100. If the music is drawing an average of 10W and a 20 dB transient comes that means the power demanded to play that peak with no clipping is 1,000W. No 100W RMS amplifier will be able to do that. As the School of Sound video discusses, and likely many relevant articles, this doesn't mean we have to have 1,000W on our speakers for it to sound good. Our hearing sensitivity is another factor that can't be ignored, because it makes the real power requirements a lot lower to enjoy the music. Realistic expectations will help you enjoy your system more, at least that's the way I look at it.

Before deciding to buy a ton of power for speakers that will most of the time only use a fraction of that power, consider whether your music has a wide dynamic range. A lot of pop music today has a crest factor of around 6-7 dB. That means 100W RMS per channel is sufficient for a lot of music. In my experience this is true with standard speakers.
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Old 03-06-2014, 09:25 PM
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Default Sound Quality and Headroom on Amplifier

Here's the booklet that goes along with the JL School of Sound seminar, if anyone's planning on watching it:

https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/...dio_081211.pdf


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Old 03-06-2014, 09:49 PM
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Wow, pretty amazing video.
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Old 03-11-2014, 10:52 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AtlasMick View Post
Wow, pretty amazing video.
What video are you referring to?

Thanks
Charles
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