How much power do I need?

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It’s a great question when it comes to pairing amplifiers and speakers. One that’s often asked, though rarely understood.

Most reasonably efficient loudspeakers can be driven from a wimpy SET amp to reasonable levels if you’re ok with distortion. And, you probably are, since SET amps distort in a most graceful manner. But is it the right way to drive a set of speakers?

Starving a loudspeaker’s not a good thing to do, even if you’re willing to tolerate euphonic tube distortion. Pairing it with an amp capable of delivering more than it needs is the proper course. I’d sooner connect a Stellar M700 monoblock with a pair of bookshelves than to starve them for power.

The constant misconception is that maximum amp power needs to be matched with speakers—a formula that works in one direction, not the other.

Think of the amp like a car. Too little engine power and it’s straining to keep up with demand. More power than it needs mandates nothing more than a gentle touch on the gas pedal.

When it comes to amps and speakers, more is better.