Can a power amp be too powerful?

December 21, 2018
 by Paul McGowan

3 comments on “Can a power amp be too powerful?”

  1. Paul has, on numerous occasions, mentioned that a amplifier sounds better when it is not stressed. It follows from this that a large amplifier should be able to create impressive and realistic levels without the sound becoming ragged.

    Let’s assume that the amplifier output should not reach the power rails, so that the output waveform is clipped. There is a possible argument for increasing headroom so that clipping is avoided.

    I guess my follow-up question is this: Why not design an amplifier that works correctly, and sounds good, all the way up to the power rails? Is there any rule that says an amplifier has to have a sweet spot?

  2. I have some Dynaudio BM6 active nearfield monitors. They have an indicator light that illuminates when the amplifier output approaches the power supply rails. It’s surprisingly easy to get these indicators to illuminate, particularly when the rest of the family is out of the house. In this case, it seems that 100 W is not enough for the most basic measure of headroom.

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