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Thread: understanding watts vs volume

  1. #1

    understanding watts vs volume

    I'm looking at the specs for 2 different speakers here, as follows

    Yamaha DXR10 MKII - 1100w - 132db - €619

    Yamaha DBR10 - 700w - 129db - €399


    I appreciate that wattage is not always a good indicator of loudness, but in this case they are all the same brand so i imagine the build quality and efficiency is similar across the different models

    so, my questions.

    am I going to notice much difference between the volumes here? I believe every 3db is technically twice the volume right? so, the top one is twice as loud as the bottom one? or is this just theoretical, but in reality the difference would not seem like all that much for a speaker that is twice the price
    Iv used the lower one and its loud for its size, I have to say

    or is it a case, i basically wouldn't have to turn the volume up so much, so the speaker might last longer? does that even matter with pro speakers?

    oh and one more question
    Yamaha DXR15 MkII - 1100W - 134db - €929

    how is this 15" one able to hit higher volumes using the same wattage as the smaller 10" one? i would have imagined that the smaller one would be able to get louder given the same wattage because its smaller, less work for the watts to do ?
    Last edited by DJ Matt; 05-12-2022 at 08:11 AM.

  2. #2
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    Quote Originally Posted by DJ Matt View Post
    am I going to notice much difference between the volumes here? I believe every 3db is technically twice the volume right?
    No 10dB is twice as loud.. 3dB is considered to be the minimum useful difference... smaller differences can be heard but aren't louder by any meaningful amount.

    Quote Originally Posted by DJ Matt View Post
    or is it a case, i basically wouldn't have to turn the volume up so much, so the speaker might last longer? does that even matter with pro speakers?
    Yes and yes that matters. It's always good to have a little bit of unused headroom available in a speaker system, everything sounds better and lasts longer. A DXR will have drivers with a higher power rating than a DBR.. that is part of what makes the DXR more expensive and that makes the DXR a more robust product.

    Quote Originally Posted by DJ Matt View Post
    oh and one more question
    Yamaha DXR15 MkII - 1100W - 134db - €929 how is this 15" one able to hit higher volumes using the same wattage as the smaller 10" one? i would have imagined that the smaller one would be able to get louder given the same wattage because its smaller, less work for the watts to do?
    Air is not a very dense medium so larger speaker drivers are naturally more efficient at converting electrical energy into acoustic energy. You will see this trend across all brands and product lines.. the largest model is always capable of the highest SPL.
    Paul O'Brien
    Old Tech Guy
    www.Techott.com

  3. #3
    If you took a course in acoustical engineering you'd soon find out that watts are meaningless. What matters is voltage swing, impedance load, frequency response, speaker sensitivity and driver excursion capability. The problem is that in the lower price ranges no manufacturers provide this information. Even reviews by and large don't get into these specs, because most reviewers have no engineering background. About the only thing you can be more or less sure of is that a more expensive speaker will usually work better than a less expensive speaker.
    Bill Fitzmaurice
    Bill Fitzmaurice Loudspeaker Design
    www.billfitzmaurice.info/forum

  4. #4
    Wattage ratings of powered speakers are usually the power ratings of the amplifiers that are on-board. It doesn't tell you anything about the driver or the cabinet design, which have a large effect on how much output you will get. Just looking at the wattage rating doesn't tell you much.. and even if it did, you can't easily compare them because one brand might be giving you a peak rating, the other a continuous rating.. and if it's a peak rating, then for how long can it sustain that? Amps vary greatly.

    The Max SPL numbers, in this case 132dB vs 135dB, tell you more about how much output the speaker will produce.. it takes into account the amp power, the sensitivity and xmax of the driver, and the cabinet design.. and IN THEORY if you were to put a measurement setup 1 meter in front of the speaker, and measure its capabilities, that number is the max you could hit without unreasonable distortion. In theory. The thing about powered speakers is that you're buying a system and at the end of the day you only care about what comes out of the speaker, not how they did it.. and whether the manufacturer chose a slightly less efficient driver and used more power, or a more efficient one with less power.. that's their choice.. what you care about is the results. But knowing their amp rating can be useful if you want to reckon whether the max spl number is at all reasonable....

    In this case, yes, 3dB increase in power indicates a doubling of power.. so a 3dB increase from 700W would be 1400W.. the difference between the subs is 700 to 1100.. which is only a 2dB difference.. so where does the extra output come from?? It's the different driver and enclosure that perform better because they're larger (and possibly just a better engineered driver). In this case the manufacturers claim of 3dB greater output from the larger speaker seems reasonable because of the combination of higher power and larger driver/box.
    Last edited by light-o-matic; 05-12-2022 at 05:11 PM.

  5. #5
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    Great stuff there Light except for one thing... there are no "subs" involved with this thread.
    Paul O'Brien
    Old Tech Guy
    www.Techott.com

  6. #6
    LOL oops.. my brain went back to the discussion we were having the other day.. I'll edit my comment.

  7. #7
    But ya know looks can be deceiving... Last night I was out at a concert and they had an L-Acoustics system throughout the venue, which was very nice sounding as usual. Well, out in the lobby was something I had not seen before.. the L-Acoustics Syva system, this consisted of a single small line source cabinet that's designed to sit on top of a matching dual-12 bass unit.. and driven from an L-Accoustics amp with built-in processing for the system. (Conveniently, the rack driving the lobby system was out in plain sight so I could check out their gear)

    Well, it sounded good.. really good.. so I was intrigued, and thought I would check out the specs and such.....
    MAX SPL 137 dB, with 140 degrees horizontal....

    Wow, far higher output than I expected.
    Turns out there are 6 x 5 inch mids in there.. and 3 x hf drivers.. just very elegantly packaged.

    A pair of these little things that I could (by myself) easily pack in the rear of a compact SUV, outperform my beloved old EAW dual-15's that I can't lift into the back of a van without help... Of course they are expensive, and you need the L-Acoustics amp to get them to meet specs.. but wow.. we've come a long way...

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