Damping factor or watts?

Hi all,

Which is more important? High damping factor or high wattage? I was reading about how a high damping factor would be better in controlling the excursions of the speaker drivers but to have a amp with high wattage and damping factor would be astronomically expensive.

So in our imperfect world, which is more important? It seems like the amps with a high damping factor are mainly Class D or ICEpower amps (are they both the same?).

My speaker is a Magnepan MMG and is currently partnered to a pair of Denon POA-6600A monoblocks that are 260W/ 8 ohms. I have read some Audiogon citizens driving their Maggies with amps that have high damping factor to excellent results. Wondering if that should be the direction to go....

Your advise would be greatly appreciated!

Atmasphere- I've based my belief in my understanding of electro-magnetic fuction and Newtonian physics. Inertia= When a body is in motion, it tends to stay in motion unless acted upon by an outside force. Yes- the music signal from the amp is driving the speaker(electro-magnetically). While this speaker is going through the motions of reproducing sound, it's mass is also trying to continue to move in the last direction(large transient) it was told to go by the amp(inertia). Of course- the higher the mass, the greater the inertia. The amp's ability to counteract this tendancy determines how faithfully the signal is reproduced. The effects of back EMF(and, perhaps, quantum physics) not withstanding- Is there something flawed, or mythological to this? If I am wrong(unlike some), I like to be corrected. Truth is more important to me than holding stubbornly on to a misconception. Please- enlighten me.
Rodman99999, I'll take you up on your bet. My house up against your farm. Here goes:

The speakers used were 92 dB efficient two-ways.

The woofer in the RMAF '06 room had a moving mass of 79 grams; Fs = 40 Hz; Qes = .35; Qms = 11.69, and Vas = 77 liters.

The speaker in the RMAF '07 room had two woofers, each with a moving mass of 41 grams [combined moving mass of 82 grams]; Fs = 31 Hz; Qes = .32; Qms = 4.35; and Vas = 121 liters [combined Vas of 242 liters]. This speaker is a bipolar, so the efficiency is 3 dB lower than the combined T/S parameters would indicate.

I am the speaker designer (thanks for asking!). The amplifier was an Atma-Sphere S-30.

So tell me.... just where is my new farm located??


Not exactly INefficient though, are they? So tell me: Were you, by any chance, using any kind of auto-xformer between the OTLs and your speakers? Gotta keep digging for factors here before I give up any ground!
Rodman99999, on just about every speaker that I can think of, the suspension gets stretched as the speaker diaphragm moves away from the resting point. Furthermore, the speakers that have the most back EMF, i.e. the ones that are the most reactive, tend to be high efficiency designs, not low efficiency. In most high efficiency designs, the speaker is usually moving less, not more, due to the nature of the design.

The back EMF of such speakers is often the reason that amplifiers with large amounts of feedback (and often higher 'damping factors') usually sound more shrill on these speakers, as the back EMF becomes an unintended part of the feedback signal.

This is probably not what you would have initially thought. I know it was not for me! It turns out to get highly reactive speakers to calm down, you need an amp without feedback, i.e. low damping factor. In fact what you start to get about this is that the damping factor is for the most part irrelevant, whereas the amount of loop feedback is (the less the better).

So anyway, the issue of stopping the mass of the speaker is almost non-existant, unless you intend to amplify non-linear /non-musical signals. An example of that might be a linear motor in a disk drive. Damping in a situation like that would be quite important as the driving signal is not a function. But for audio, the amplifier is always sending the speaker a signal (power), and this power is always moving the cone incrementally in a new place.

To be otherwise suggests that the signal is not a function (which it has to be by definition). Like I mentioned before, the amp does not push the speaker to full excursion and then 'let go'. Since the signal is a function the cone is literally under power all the way back to zero and then beyond.

When I started this business I believed in damping and a lot of other things that I later found to be made up. I was fortunate though that I had enough exposure to the right classes in college and had read enough texts from the 'old days' that I was encouraged to look past the 'company line' to see what was really up. Turns out there have been two design paradigms in conflict in audio for a long time:


And I definitely subscribe to one and not the other, just like everyone else in audio :)
I don't know anything about the technical stuff, I do know that my speakers need low damping to sound their best 9they are almost universally used with tube amps), preferably around 10, much higher and the bass sounds choked, with pther speakers you need high[er] damping or the bass sounds loose and out of control -- so I imagine the answer depends very much on your speakers and how they are designed.