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How Often do Amplifiers Clip?

Wes

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Someone must have done research into the liklihood that an amp starts to clip...
 

Willem

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Anaemic tube amps clip a lot, others less, the more powerful they are. Now this sounds a little too smart, but yes the issue is real. The problem is that the relation between power and sound level is not linear. Use a not very efficient speaker in a largish room playing dynamic symphonic repertoire, and an amplifier that had seemed perfectly adequate suddenly is not any longer, and not by a wide margin.
Some time ago there was thread here on how much amplifier power one needs.
 
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solderdude

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Someone must have done research into the liklihood that an amp starts to clip...

They clip when they either reach their maximum output voltage or maximum output current.
Factors are: max output voltage and current (power), efficiency of the used transducers, desired SPL, room size, listening distance.

Just make sure you have an abundance of available power and you will never have to fear clipping.

Peak power meters can make this visible.
 

RayDunzl

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Someone must have done research into the liklihood that an amp starts to clip...

My main amps?

0% probability.
 
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Wes

Wes

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They clip when they either reach their maximum output voltage or maximum output current.
Factors are: max output voltage and current (power), efficiency of the used transducers, desired SPL, room size, listening distance.

Just make sure you have an abundance of available power and you will never have to fear clipping.

Peak power meters can make this visible.

Understood, but not my question.

Pick a commonly used amp (or receiver) - not audiophile, just something that is common in a stereo system...

How often does it clip?

assume box speakers, avg. living room
 

Blumlein 88

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Your question really isn't answerable in a general way. You'd have to be rather specific.

I will say if you learn to hear marginal clipping, I find many people listen at least sometimes to amps that are clipping on a regular basis. I've always tried to learn where clipping is and make sure it doesn't/can't happen with good gain-staging.

I once had some very inefficient Acoustat Two speakers, and for a time used a McIntosh 752 amp with Power Guard. Power Guard was an optically coupled circuit that indicated clipping if you exceeded .5% distortion. I would sometimes light the clipping indicator playing rock at the loudest I ever listened. Of course listening at super loud levels isn't in the cards with electrostats. The 752 was rated at 75 wpc 20-20khz THD of .02% or less 8 ohms. I've seen testing of them and they were actually more like 90 wpc for 8 ohms at that spec of -78 db THD.

Another example Pass Aleph 3. Single ended mosfet with 30 wpc at 8 ohms, and 60 into 4 ohms and lower. Absolute max current of 8 amps. On some Quad ESL63 speakers which aren't current hogs, it was fine at moderate levels, but could be clipped. With Mirage M3si speakers or any ported speaker the current limiting made it sound awful. It was severely limited by the low current capability. Even small Radio Shack LX-5 speakers with a port just wrung the amp dry and it sounded bad. Some moderately sized sealed box speakers were pretty good if you minded the volume a bit. Even the inefficient LS35a speakers could sound fine with the amp being a sealed box. Most surprising was how well they played Maggie MG2 speakers.
 
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Wes

Wes

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Maybe I didn't put the OP well.

I'd like to know if any manfs. (or others) have ever assessed the amount of clipping by amps owned by consumers.

e.g. you monitor 100 amps in people's homes.... OR...

you setup idealized lab envs. similar to the avg. home - now in the '70s or whenever and see if those amps are likely to clip
 

solderdude

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I'd like to know if any manfs. (or others) have ever assessed the amount of clipping by amps owned by consumers.

No manufacturer can ever asses or research that because of the variables involved. They just make amps that can provide a certain amount of power in certain impedances and sell that. They don't care if someone clips them or not. It is the buyers responsibility how loud they play and what they connect to it.
One can buy amplifiers ranging from a few Watt to kiloWatts.
All will clip when over-driven.

When (and how) that happens depends on driver efficiency, how loud one turns up the volume and how much power the amp can deliver and how big the room/listening distance is.
Its a combination of these things.
Those with high efficiency speakers (horns for instance) in a normal sized living room with a 60W amp may never clip their amps.
Those with inefficient speakers and 2x 30W stereo system may well clip their amps when playing loud now and then.

As long as one never plays loud the amp may never clip.

You'll know when the sound becomes 'dirtier' something (transducer and/or amp) is leaving their linear range and thus either clips or compresses (soft-clips)
 
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Sir Sanders Zingmore

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In the dim past I owned some quite efficient horn speakers - they were rated at 96dB.
Just for fun, I connected a CRO across the speaker terminals when music was playing. My amp, rated at 50w into 8 ohms, was clipping when I turned up the music. At levels that were “loud” to my ears but not louder than the loudest I ever listened, I could see the waveform on the CRO running into a brick wall.
I can’t remember the timescale on the CRO but it wasn’t lasting long but it was certainly visible and was happening often.

My takeout was that you need more power than you probably think you do in order to avoid clipping.
 

JohnYang1997

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How often do amplifiers clip is like saying how often do people turn 18 yo. Every amplifier has the potential to clip but it's almost either clip or doesn't clip in certain setup. It's like whether a person is an adult or not. Finding how often amplifiers clip shows nothing meaningful.

Instead, what's a typical setup that doesn't clip is probably a better question. How loud you want, how efficient is the speaker, how far are you from the speaker, how big the room are also important when considering.

Or else you want to ask in what percentage of amplifiers on the market can drive xxx speakers to xxx level without clipping. That means a different thing.
 

RayDunzl

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solderdude

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Basically when your amps are clipping you need moaarr powerrrr.
And not a factor 2 but rather a factor 10 or so.

When you clip your 40W amp you will also clip your 60W or 75W amp but are far less likely to clip a 300W amp.
40 to 60 Watt is just 1.8dB louder... not gonna ensure you don't clip the amp.
Even 40 to 75W is merely 2.7dB louder so probably still clips but just happens a fraction louder.
 

RayDunzl

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Basically when your amps are clipping you need moaarr powerrrr.
And not a factor 2 but rather a factor 10 or so.

https://www.audiosciencereview.com/...er-power-is-required.10781/page-3#post-302061

1587540644340.png
 

solderdude

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Well amps that are rated 200W PMPO will probably be clipping like crazy at normal listening levels. :D

Ray's amps certainly aren't that... they would be around 3000W PMPO (4 Ohm)
 

RayDunzl

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