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  1. #1

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    Default Why do 4ohm speakers need a more powerful amp than 8ohm?

    I was under the impression that a 4ohm speaker made your amp MORE powerful. Now I'm being told I need a more powerful amp in order to drive my 2lsi15s, 4lsi9s and lsic. Why is that?

  2. #2

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    I was under the impression that if you had an 8ohm speaker getting 100 watts then a 4ohm speaker would get 150 to 200 watts from that same source. I'm guessing I'm wrong.

  3. #3

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    From AV101:

    "Ohm

    The measure of resistance in a circuit to the flow of an electric current. The greater the ohm value the more difficult it is for current to flow through a given circuit. Conversely, a low ohm value represents a low resistance and the easy flow of current through a circuit.

    Ohms are often used in reference to loudspeakers which have a certain level of resistance associated with them. A typical speaker may have an ohm rating (rating the speaker's resistance) of 4 to 8 ohms nominal impedance (impedance being resistance to current flow). Resistance in a speaker varies, however, from low ranges often as low as 2 or 3 ohms to high ranges as high as 30 or more ohms.

    As speaker impedance decreases, more current flows and the amplifier is called upon to output more power to the speaker. When shopping for speakers and amplifiers, make sure the amplifier is able to output power properly into the speakers' impedance. Many receivers are not able to operate properly with speakers having impedance loads of less than 8 ohms. While most separate amplifiers can handle lower impedance loads down to 4 ohms or less, some speakers present impedances of 1 or 2 ohms at their minimum requiring particularly robust and powerful amplifiers designed for such loads. Generally, most any separate amplifier will be able to properly power almost any speaker (with the few exceptions being in most cases highly-exotic, very expensive speaker designs) while receivers should be mated with speakers having nominal impedances (average impedances) of around 8 ohms."



    This article gives a pretty good description of what is happening. In other words as the resistance (OHMs) drops, the speaker is allowing more current to flow from the amp. Underpowered amps may not be able to supply the necessary current allowed by the speaker. I often use the analogy of a water hose: Given the same amount of water pressure (Power) to a small diameter hose (say 1/2 inch diameter) the flow of water (current) will come out pretty forcefully. Given the same amount of water pressure on a 4 inch diameter hose the flow of water comes out with much less force. The larger hose has created less resistance. To get the same force with less resistance you need to increase the pressure at the source. So a speaker with less resistance (lower OHMs) needs more power to operate correctly.
    Last edited by shack; 09-16-2003 at 11:44 AM.
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  4. #4

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    Don't confuse "power" with current. A lower-impedence speaker will draw more current than a higher imdepence speaker, as was stated. But the solution isn't necessarily more POWER... you need an amp that is able to deliver more current without overheating and/or leaving its safe operating range. You may, in fact, get better performance with a lower-power, yet high-current capable amplifier than you would by just getting more *power*, i.e. wattage rating.
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    One usually needs the higher output from a separate amplifier when driving low impedance speakers like the LSi line because of excessive heat build up in most receivers. Most receivers these days have built in protection devices that shut down the amplifier sections if too much heat builds up in them. Trying to drive 4 ohm speakers with most receivers will eventually result in excessive heat build up and frustrating shut-downs. One can run 4 ohm speakers with a receiver, but not reliably, and at risk of shortening the life of the receiver even if shut downs don't occur. It's especially important now that multi-channel audio is being used over 5, 6, or 7 channels. That's a heck of a load to put on most receivers. Heat is the enemy of electronics.
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    My Arcam AVR-200 reciever drives all 5 channels of my full LSi system quite well.

    There's a serious illusion that you need seperates to drive the LSis, I will disagree. You just need well made components, no matter if they are in a reciever or seperates.
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    There are receivers that can drive them, but usually costs as much as some good cheap seperates...

    I would rather take Seperates over a receiver, that is just me. After going receiver for a year or so, then going to seperates....I am not sure I could go back and live with it...
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    Originally posted by Vr3MxStyler2k3
    There are receivers that can drive them, but usually costs as much as some good cheap seperates...

    I would rather take Seperates over a receiver, that is just me. After going receiver for a year or so, then going to seperates....I am not sure I could go back and live with it...
    Why? I'd like to know people's reasons. I can see one reason, the ability to mix and match, but beyond that...

    More cables = more chances to get noise into the system
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    steve,
    Even though seperates require more cables, to my ears they're quuieter than a receiver.
    With seperates, you have a power transformer for each component(pre amp and amp/s). With a receiver, both sections share the same transformer.
    A lot of people think seperates are less noisy because the more delicate signals in the pre amp is seperated from the higher voltage signals in the amp.

    Maurice
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  10. #10

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    With seperates, you have a power transformer for each component(pre amp and amp/s). With a receiver, both sections share the same transformer.


    Actually, good receivers will have separate transformers with one being dedicated to amplification of the speakers and the other smaller one being dedicated to powering the digital and preamp electronics. However, separates are without a doubt more robust
    generally.

    Cheers!

    Charles

  11. #11
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    Above it was mentioned not to confuse power with current. Well, for the same load they are the same thing. A higher power amp has more curent capability... it's kind of by definition.

    AS alluded to in the 2nd post, an ideal amp would double in power as speaker impedance is halved. Sunfire is the only amp I know of that actually doubles it's 8 ohm rating at 4 ohms, but I'm sure there are others. However, due to current limitations of most designs you rarely see this in specs.

    Often you will see something like, "100 wpc into 8 ohms/ 126 wpc in to 4 ohms". This 26% increase in power is indicative of an amp with low reserve current, i.e., headroom. Even my beloved Carver M-1.5t can only boast a 33% rise (from 375 to 500 wpc).

    I believe that anemic 4 ohm ratings are why many manufacturers now list only 8 and 6 ohm ratings in their spec's. It's a point where they can hang a little closer to the theoretical curve anyway...
    More later,
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  12. #12

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    Originally posted by Tour2ma
    Above it was mentioned not to confuse power with current. Well, for the same load they are the same thing. A higher power amp has more curent capability... it's kind of by definition.
    I don't agree it is that simple for audio amplifiers driving speakers. Low-impedence speakers do not merely require any old cheap-ass high-*power* amp. You yourself mention reserve current capability and current limitations... it is always important to remember the context in which a question is posed... this context being audio amplifiers and low-impedence speakers... like I said.. I don't think it is as simple as you imply.
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  13. #13
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    b,

    Not talking "cheap-ass amps" here... this is not the car stereo forum.

    P=i^2 * R is the Equation.

    Then (P2/P1)=(i2/i1)^2/(R2/R1)
    so for the same impedance R2 = R1, (R2/R1)=1

    So we see that doubling the Power, P2 = 2*P1, delivers 1.41 (the square root of 2) times the current.

    Whether you're comparing 100 wpc to 200 wpc Adcoms, Carvers, B&K's, Outlaws or whatever, the equation holds true.

    While not all 100 wpc amps are created equal, in the class of amps above, I know of no 100 wpc amp that can equal a 200 wpc in current output. To do so the 100 wpc would have to have a full 3 dB of headroom, while the 200 wpc would have 0 dB. Neither exists to my knowledge.
    More later,
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  14. #14

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    Is there a audible benefit going with a 4ohm speaker rather than 8ohm? Assuming you can drive the 4 ohm speaker properly.
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  15. #15
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    dc,

    I know of no benefit associated with a particular impedance speaker.

    The nominal impedance rating of a speaker is the result of the drivers selected in its design... as is that speaker's "sound".
    More later,
    Tour...
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    Better to remain silent and be thought a fool, than to open your mouth and remove all doubt. - Old English Proverb

    "It's easy to get lost in price vs performance vs ego vs illusion." - doro
    "There is a certain entertainment value in ripping the occaisonal (sic) buttmunch..." - TroyD
    "Death doesn't come with a Uhaul." - Dennis Gardner

    Rebuilding Maggie 2-ch & Amazing 2-ch... Building 2-ch "wall"... Figuring out the HT

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