Quality speakers are a great investment for those who want to make their homes as warm and inviting as possible. However, shoppers who are looking to make an educated decision about purchasing high-tech equipment can get caught up in a web of complicated terminology that may appear like it’s meant to confuse them. Alternately, knowing just a few important keywords can make the whole process a lot easier to digest, plus it will help you select the right equipment pairing(s) to get the best performance possible within your budget. Just relax, and stick with this no-fuss guide on how to understand key factors in audio equipment like watts, ohms, and hertz. Over all of this information, be sure to trust your ears and get what sounds best to you!
Watts are used to measure electric power. Specifically, watts signify the rate at which energy is used to perform work. In regards to amplifiers, watts measure how loud they can drive speakers. While a big watt rating can mean that an amplifier can churn out booming sound, there are also a lot of variables to consider. First, an amplifier that is rated a certain number of watts may only be able to produce its maximum watts at a certain frequency, but not when it’s hooked up to several speakers. Therefore, a quality amp that is rated the same exact number of watts can perform significantly better than a cheap amp. In order to hear the volume difference between two amps, there needs to be a significant difference in wattage—usually double or more. Finally, an amplifier with more watts does not automatically improve the sound quality coming out of the speakers.
What does all of this mean? Watt ratings should be taken with a very large grain of salt. An amp with a bigger watt rating simply does not guarantee better sound. It’s the amp quality that counts, not the rating.
Ohms measure the resistance an electrical signal experiences between an amp and the speakers. The lower an ohm rating is, the less resistance—meaning that more “juice” will flow through the connection. A 100 watt amp will produce half the wattage at 4 ohms as it does at 2 ohms. This also means that how an amp is wired to the speakers is very important when it comes to sound quality.
Measuring frequency response, a hertz rating measures the range of sound that can be produced by a speaker. Most speakers claim to reproduce sounds ranging from 20 Hz to 20,000 Hz or more, but the sounds at the lower end of the spectrum can be so quiet that they are inaudible, and are much more difficult to reproduce. This is a contributing factor to why high-end studio monitors and studio speakers are as expensive as they are. Basically, the lower the hertz rating, the wider range of sound can be produced. True audiophiles will usually go for the biggest range they can get, but for home-listening purposes, there’s usually no need to go overboard.
Still have a few questions about all of this information and more? Stop into Century Stereo to peruse our impressive selection of top-notch audio equipment, and have a helpful representative walk you through all the ins and outs of power, resistance, and frequency response.