Question from the title is one of the most common ones that any sound consumer will, sooner or later, ask. Whether you are a hormone-driven teenager, an audiophile with hypersensitive eardrums, or just an average Joe, you will crave to get the maximum pleasure out of your sound system.
So, what do the Watts do for You in that respect?
Watts represent an amplifier’s power output and the maximum power your speakers can handle without breaking or distorting the sound. You can’t just hook up a 100W
The main features of every
This feature shows the sound pressure level in decibels (dB), and it is vital in figuring out how much power you will need to get to optimum sound volume. This feature is also known as SPL. The most common
More sensitive speakers require less power to reach the same volume level. This influence of sensitivity to the power requirements becomes more apparent when you know that, for every 3dB increase in SPL, you need to double the input power. For example, if your speakers have a sensitivity of 80 dB, that means 2W of power will give you 83 dB. 4W will produce 86 dB, 8W equals 89 dB, and so on. To reach 101 dB of volume, you will need the input of 128 W, which is a pretty hefty amount of power. On the other hand, if you get very sensitive speakers with, let’s say, a rating of 100 dB, you will get 103 dB with only 2W of power.
When you are shopping for the speakers, you will regularly find Watts, either expressed as RMS values or PEAK values.
RMS stands for Root Mean Square and represents the amount of power a
PEAK stands for the highest possible power a
When buying and comparing speakers, you should always pay more attention to the RMS number because it says how much power that
Some manufacturers, like Klipsch, will publish both power values – RMS and PEAK (Klipsch RP-280F specs)
How loud should your speakers be?
The answer to this question is very subjective because we all have different perceptions of sound and distinct thresholds. Still, anything above 85 dB is considered loud. Here are some known sound levels for comparison:
At this point, you need to figure out how and where you will use your speakers. If you plan to install them indoors, then you should be just fine with levels up to 105 dB to fully enjoy those loud sound effects. On the other hand, if you plan to cover bigger, open-space areas with some crowd, you will need a rock concert kind of loudness (120+ dB).
This difference in max required volume is because it drops over distance. For every meter of the distance, you will lose 6 dB of SPL. So, it is something you need to take into account as well.
How will all those watts, dBs, and distance work in practice?
Let’s say you have a room 15x20ft and you want to put your speakers on the narrow side to cover the whole room.
That means you will need speakers that can reach 105 dB at full volume. Now, let’s take three speakers with different SPL and PEAK power ratings as an example.
Speakerwith SPL 80 dB, RMS 16W, and PEAK of 60W
Much greater sensitivity means you will get a significantly louder sound for the same wattage. In this case, 112 dB regularly or 118 dB on peaks. At the end of the room, that would go down to 82 dB and 88 dB at peaks.
In this example, only
The answer to how many watts you need depends on the space you need to cover, on the
If possible, before buying any specific speakers, we recommend trying them in the store.
Looking up the reviews is also a good alternative if you are shopping online. An impression of sound quality is very subjective, and experience may vary depending on your preferences.