Purpose of power handling in the specs?

So I’ve never quite understood this:  What is the point of manufacturers listing power handling in the specs?

I ask this because I’m now listening to a 89dB efficient speaker, rated to handle between 50-200 watts of power, with a 7 watt 300b integrated.  Logic would tell me that even with the volume maxed out I should get almost no volume from the speakers.

Can someone please enlighten me as to the purpose of the power handling specs?





Your logic isn’t very mathematically based! :)

Let’s start at the beginning. 89 dB means you get 89 dB with just 1 watt 1 meter away. 

At 7 Watts your gain is about 8.4 dB, or about 97 dB at 1 watt 1 meter away. That’s quite noticeable output. :)

You can use this calculator:


What nigel is trying to say is that there is a conspiracy going on within the speaker/amplifier industry which involves the requirement for DOUBLE the power just to get an extra 3db of level. Yet if you want double the power you dont pay double the money you pay exponentially more. Shocking isnt it. 

They likely assume the worst case - no room reflections, no second speaker and at least 2m distance (-6dB).  That makes 83dB/1W at 2m.  50W will get you +17dB making it 100dB at 2m and that's what they likely target.  As for the higher spec of 200W it is maximum that speaker can take without damage.

In your situation you will likely get +3dB from the second speaker and +3dB from room reflections equal to 89dB/1W at 2m (2m cost you -6dB).  7W will get you +8.4dB resulting in 96.4dB/7W at 2m - not bad.

Maybe part tradition and part guidance. I have typically run speakers with twice the power their rating recommended. Not going for loud but impactful.


I think the guidance is to give a very uninformed consumer something to hang their hat on. So, as an uniformed consumer you buy a cheap $200 amp with 20 wpc and try to make these power guzzling towers sound good… they have given guidance that this was not going to turn out well.


Informed audio folks generally ignore most all of the published stuff… or at least look for anything odd… then look at efficiency and listen to what they sound like. I don;t think I payed attention to power handling in any speaker I have bought in 40 years at least.



You answered your own question. It's how much power the speakers can handle.

rated to handle between 50-200 watts of power

@erik_squires   cool calculator thanks.  So my 96dB speakers that claim they can handle 600 watts input (I'm driving with less than a watt) will generate 124dB at one meter....

Indeed shocking.


Important to note that speaker makers are usually a little optimistic with their measurements, but they should be from anechoic (no echo) testing.  In room performance will vary, but the power to volume ratios (dB) will remain constant.  3dB more power = 3dB louder until compression sets in.

There was a quote, I think by Art Dudley, " Why do you want 200 more watts if the. first 5 sound like crap"   or close to that. 

Be careful, tweeters and midranges get burnt out quick from under powering.


   Watch the vol knob, and listen for breakup in the highs and minds. 

Don’t take much to fry a tweeter or mid coil  



My speakers are rated at a measly 250 rms Peak I believe, and are powered by 650-700 watt rms monos at 8 ohms,

the open airy, non fatiguing sound is from the massive headroom, and the amps barely or. Not strained at all during playback. 

I love this, which is why for crescendos and heavy double bass, or just a orchestra balls out section, you need the headroom, and the amps ability to produce the watts needed to not clip or strain. The baby bunny fart amps to me are worthless, I’m mostly rock,blues, rock, metal, some acoustic, when volume is needed you will need the amp to produce ample power, current to not clip the music. 

even a Normal mid volume playback will need 200-250 watts at a minimum to reproduce the music at peaks.

auditioned lots of the flea fart amps, none come even close to producing the power needed.