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Will I tangibly benefit from adding power?

MCarden

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I recently replaced Paradigms with the Revel M106 bookshelf speakers. It’s in a large living room and the results were astonishing. So I instantly became a huge Revel fan. When I heard they were discontinuing the Performa 3 series, I also ordered new F208 towers, which have arrived and the C208, which will be shipped in May. I’m using them to replace some Klipsch Chorus IIs and a Klipsch center in my upstairs movie/audio room. It’s probably 30 feet wide and 25 feet deep. It’s powered presently by a Pioneer VSX 9040 THX with 110 watts per channel. It’s a 5.1 set up with Klipsch surrounds and a Velodyne sub. I’m wondering if I need to add a power amp, three channel (LRC) to the system and if it would be a noticeable improvement in the sound. Right now it sounds absolutely fantastic to me, but I do worry about clipping. I play classic rock, Zep to CSNY, usually fairly loud for clarity, but not to where my 64 year old ears would suffer. I’ve read so many reviews about different amps, but I’m almost more confused now than I was before. How much power would I need to add to really make the Revels come alive, for the investment to be unmistakable? Or something else? I believe they’re rated from 50 to 350 w. The audio engineer I spoke with when buying them thought 200 watts would make an improvement, but I’m having a hard time finding that for an affordable price. I’d really like to stay at or below $1000, unless that’s just impractical. Any model or critical function that you think is essential? Thanks in advance.
 
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Chrispy

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If it sounds fantastic not sure what an amp will do except perhaps get a bit louder. Takes a doubling of power to gain merely 3dB spl or that amount of headroom. If going external amp I'd get at least 200wpc, preferably 300wpc if not more.
 

kemmler3D

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Hi, Welcome to ASR!

You can use a calculator like this one to figure out how much power you need: http://www.hometheaterengineering.com/splcalculator.html

Long story short, every doubling of distance requires double the power, every +3dB requires double the power too. Sounds like your room is reasonably big, if you're far from the speakers and you want to fully avoid clipping you might need a lot of juice.

200w should get you around 102-105dB in the middle of the room if the speakers are close to the back wall. That's what I (and my neighbors) would personally call "too damn loud" but if you're listening to classic rock primarily, sometimes there are good dynamic peaks, so it might not be too much.

110w gets you around 99dB at 12 feet from the F208s, which if you listen at 85dB average (loud-ish, at the limit of what OSHA considers safe for long-term listening, a normal reference level) might not be enough for peaks.

If you are sitting further away or you like your music really loud, you might want more than 200w.

One way to settle the matter is to take some measurements with a UMIK-1 (this thing gets recommended like 40 times a day on here) or an SPL meter, and see what your actual preferred SPL is.

From there you can back out how many watts you need to sustain that and get an appropriate amount of headroom. Anywhere from 10-15dB+ peaks are considered normal, above the steady listening volume you prefer.

You can get >200w of good clean power for less than $1000 perhaps from VTV or Buckeye via Hypex or Purifi modules.

But like @Chrispy said, if you don't hear a problem, why go looking for a solution?
 
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MCarden

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Thank you kemmler3D. UMIK-1, I’ll order one.
Mainly I’ve read so many reviews where the poster added amplification and reported deeper, richer music. That’s what I’m looking for, the speakers are so astonishing they’ve increased my appetite for clarity, distinction, all the nuances that I never heard with good, but not great, speakers before. The home theater is perfectly adequate, I’m just wanting to max the stereophonic configuration. And a clipping warning kind of freaked me out. I hope that’s not what I did to the Paradigms. I appreciate your link too.
 

Chrispy

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Thank you kemmler3D. UMIK-1, I’ll order one.
Mainly I’ve read so many reviews where the poster added amplification and reported deeper, richer music. That’s what I’m looking for, the speakers are so astonishing they’ve increased my appetite for clarity, distinction, all the nuances that I never heard with good, but not great, speakers before. The home theater is perfectly adequate, I’m just wanting to max the stereophonic configuration. And a clipping warning kind of freaked me out. I hope that’s not what I did to the Paradigms. I appreciate your link too.
Yes, that is a common posting. I've not experienced that particularly with many amps and speakers over the years but I'm not expecting the amp to be magic or have capabilities it doesn't. YMMV.
 

DVDdoug

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Mainly I’ve read so many reviews where the poster added amplification and reported deeper, richer music.
Only if you USE those Watts. If you are hitting 100W on the peaks now and you switch to a 1000W amplifier but still hitting 100W on the peaks there will be no difference. You'll just have unused headroom... And it will be easier for your kids/grandkids or drunk friends to fry your speakers! :D

The audio world is filled with nonsense and the "audiophile community" with even more nonsense. This is one of the few scientific, rational, audio related websites. ;)

I'd recommend turning it up a bit louder than you usually go. If it still sounds clean there's nothing to worry about.
 

kemmler3D

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I’ve read so many reviews where the poster added amplification and reported deeper, richer music. That’s what I’m looking for, the speakers are so astonishing they’ve increased my appetite for clarity, distinction, all the nuances that I never heard with good, but not great, speakers before.
If you are running out of power then IMO you'll hear more depth and richness, mostly due to increased excursion for your woofers, i.e. more and less distorted bass.

If you're not running out of power, you may still hear more depth and richness due to placebo effect and a distinct lightness in your wallet. ;)

I think it's reasonable to make sure you can cleanly hit the peaks you want to hit, but when it comes to amps, more is not necessarily more. You only need what you need.

The UMIK is also useful because it lets you measure the frequency response in your room and apply EQ, which does make a big difference. Lots of tutorials on here about how to use UMIK and DSP to do room correction. :)
 
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MCarden

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So I guess this means my current setup can generate 104 dB to my prime location? I got the SPL meter and it’s showing my max comfort level is up to but not really over 90 dB. If that’s all correct then I should be good to go… and find another have to have $1000 toy. Thanks!

(I’m not quite sure what the 20.4 dB gain from amp means)
IMG_4159.png
 
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kemmler3D

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So I guess this means my current setup can generate 104 dB to my prime location? I got the SPL meter and it’s showing my max comfort level is up to but not really over 90 dB. If that’s all correct then I should be good to go… and find another have to have $1000 toy. Thanks!

(I’m not quite sure what the 20.4 dB gain from amp means)
View attachment 356196
You're probably fine, but I will play devil's advocate a little on that - if your steady-state comfort level is 90dB and no higher, then 104dB maximum is probably right on the money for typical peaks. However, at 104dB you're clipping, so the peaks won't be "clean". So if you truly want to justify more watts, you can... barely.

I would say if you've got $1000 to put toward sound quality, your best bet is the UMIK and maybe a MiniDSP or other unit to do EQ, and/or acoustic treatment. Most members here will tell you the same. You can get a lot of mileage out of evening out the bass response in-room, which is almost never better than +/- 10dB from 200hz to 20hz without correction.
 

Chrispy

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Was also wondering if the 90dB was an average or peak reading as well as what weighting. Then again sometimes you just have to buy the amp for yourself :) BTDT.
 

Grandzoltar

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There are some variables that spl calculator doesn't account for. At what frequency is that 104.1 db with 110watts achieved. Does it account for the impedance dips hard phase angles. For instance Revel f208 dip to 3.4 ohms the amount of wattage in those areas at those frequencies are going to take more juice. Reviewed pioneer products on this site have had hard times with 4 ohm speakers.
 

Grandzoltar

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A nc502mp amp should have enough gain for the output voltage of your current avr. Purifi and higher model hypex amps need more input voltage then what your avr can output cleanly.
 
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MCarden

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You're probably fine, but I will play devil's advocate a little on that - if your steady-state comfort level is 90dB and no higher, then 104dB maximum is probably right on the money for typical peaks. However, at 104dB you're clipping, so the peaks won't be "clean". So if you truly want to justify more watts, you can... barely.

I would say if you've got $1000 to put toward sound quality, your best bet is the UMIK and maybe a MiniDSP or other unit to do EQ, and/or acoustic treatment. Most members here will tell you the same. You can get a lot of mileage out of evening out the bass response in-room, which is almost never better than +/- 10dB from 200hz to 20hz without correction.
Very interesting read on them. I was previously unfamiliar and will look hard at that option.
 
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MCarden

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There are some variables that spl calculator doesn't account for. At what frequency is that 104.1 db with 110watts achieved. Does it account for the impedance dips hard phase angles. For instance Revel f208 dip to 3.4 ohms the amount of wattage in those areas at those frequencies are going to take more juice. Reviewed pioneer products on this site have had hard times with 4 ohm speakers.
I’m not quite following, these Revel Performa3 are all 8 ohm, aren’t they?
 

kemmler3D

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I was previously unfamiliar and will look hard at that option.
Cool! There's a lot on here about how to do room correction, you can spend as little as $200 or so, and of course in audio there is no ceiling. :)

IME it's actually surprising how much fixing the bass improves your overall perception of sound quality, and I am coming from a pretty long history of messing with DSP. It's definitely one of the most cost-effective sound quality upgrades you can do, as a practical matter.

If you somehow find yourself with more than $1K to throw at it, especially since you have a surround setup, you can look into Dirac ART.

This is a step or two beyond EQ and uses the extra speakers in your room to cancel out unwanted room modes. Fancy and fairly cutting edge stuff at the consumer level, but the processors that do it are not cheap. Those that have heard it say nice things about it.

It's qualitatively different than EQ because it actually gets rid of the extra acoustic energy "in flight" as it were, so it acts more like room treatment, hence ART = Active Room Treatment.
 

kemmler3D

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I’m not quite following, these Revel Performa3 are all 8 ohm, aren’t they?
Every speaker has an "nominal impedance" (8 ohm) but that's just sort of the average. They all also have an "impedance curve" which tells you the impedance at each frequency. Generally you want to know the minimum impedance as that's where the speaker demands the most power.

Your speakers dip a little below 4, so basically they act like 8 ohm speakers for the most part, but if you're playing notes at the 4-ohm frequency, they will be demanding twice as much juice to produce the same SPL.

Knowing what the impedance curve looks like can give you more insight on whether you actually need a bigger amp or not. So if you want to play 114 dB specifically at that 4-ohm frequency, you actually need 2x more watts.

Some speakers will be nominal 4ohm but go down to 2 or even less at some frequencies. For those ones, you really need to see the curves and check on your amp, because many amps are not happy with very low impedances.
 
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MCarden

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Cool! There's a lot on here about how to do room correction, you can spend as little as $200 or so, and of course in audio there is no ceiling. :)

IME it's actually surprising how much fixing the bass improves your overall perception of sound quality, and I am coming from a pretty long history of messing with DSP. It's definitely one of the most cost-effective sound quality upgrades you can do, as a practical matter.

If you somehow find yourself with more than $1K to throw at it, especially since you have a surround setup, you can look into Dirac ART.

This is a step or two beyond EQ and uses the extra speakers in your room to cancel out unwanted room modes. Fancy and fairly cutting edge stuff at the consumer level, but the processors that do it are not cheap. Those that have heard it say nice things about it.

It's qualitatively different than EQ because it actually gets rid of the extra acoustic energy "in flight" as it were, so it acts more like room treatment, hence ART = Active Room Treatment.
Bad ass. Thanks.
 
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MCarden

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That's just a nominal impedance rating based on an average of sorts. Impedance varies with frequency. For your 208s look at this https://www.stereophile.com/content/revel-performa3-f208-loudspeaker-measurements
I understood about half, but got the jist of it. Thank you all for explaining it in layman’s terms to me.
A nc502mp amp should have enough gain for the output voltage of your current avr. Purifi and higher model hypex amps need more input voltage than what your avr can output cleanly.
I wish they had a 3 channel for all my fronts. I suppose I could use a 4 if I pair them with the M106s later.
 
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