Watts! How many do we need?

Got a new amp. Accuphase P-4600. It’s great. I love it. 
150 watts into 8 ohms, 300 watts into 4 ohms and it has meters so I can see wattage. Have them set on freeze so I can see the highest wattage during the session.

My Harbeth speakers are not very efficient. Around 86db. Their impedance is an even 6 ohms dipping no lower than 5.8 ohms. 

Playing HiRes dynamic classical recordings  ( Tchaikovsky , Mahler) at room filling volumes I have yet to exceed 1watt.. 

Amps today offer a lot of watts some going to 600 even 1200 watts. Even if you have inefficient speakers with an impedance that dips down to 2 ohms do we need all this wattage or should we be focusing on current instead? 


The Sanders paper is very interesting.  But one should remember a couple of things:

1) He's talking about ESL speakers in the main;

2) I think he exaggerates the frequency and extent of clipping in an appropriately matched system.

I would venture to suggest, at the risk of possible ridicule, that an audiophile in 1950 with a pair of Klipsch Cornwalls and a 15 wpc Wliiamson amp would rarely have encountered clipping and was probably enjoying a better musical experience than a lot of the power-eating systems available today.  In modern terms, I'll also stick my neck out and suggest that an audiophile with a pair of Vandersteen 1Cs and a well-restored Eico HF-87 will find a good deal of musical contentment with that arrangement, with far fewer headaches and travails than an amateur attempting to joust with walls of drivers and 600 wpc. ;-)

As a counter-argument to Sanders, I enjoyed this interview with amp designer Justin Weber, who essentially maintains that most audiophiles need *less* power than they think.  He also offers a very amusing and (IMO) very pertinent discussion about single-ended amplifiers:


@dogearedaudio   You are correct that Sanders is speaking about ESL for the  most part.  I listened to your attached file.  Very interesting.  I would suggest you could start at the 25 min mark as he doesn't really get into the meat of the subject before that.  Incredibly knowledgeable guy.  Kind of funny how many of the amps his own company produces are in the 50 - 100 watt range when 5 watts is sufficient for 95% of speakers and 99% of listening rooms (I think I got that right).  Anyway, a good listen for sure.  I liked his comment that we should all start by choosing our speakers first and then work backwards to the right amp.  Maybe that's why I liked the Sanders paper as I am running very large panel speakers.  Cheers. 


Also consider clipping for tubes and SS is very different. (I'm running SS now but owned 3 tube amps and use a tube DAC now so I'm not trying to pick a side here)

Part of the reason we like tubes, is the distortion, which increases as they get overdriven, and is obviously part of the design/intent in tube guitar amps. 

It's Jazz Sunday in our house today, and something else I thought of as I play both analogue and digital albums, is the wide variation of recording levels. It's nice to have (virtually) unlimited reserves of clean power for those lower level recordings.

Lastly, I don't understand this.

with far fewer headaches and travails than an amateur attempting to joust with walls of drivers and 600 wpc

You don't need walls of drivers and the only jousting with 600wpc is financial/spouse approval.

I don't think you need that many watts to drive most speakers.  I was using a 10 watt class A amp to drive a pair of Super Tablettes (86 db I think) in a 13x14 listening room with zero issues.  So then I thought, "What the hell!" and put in my 2A3 integrated amp.  Still no issues and the speakers sound great.

Maybe my musical choice isn't demanding?  I normally don't listen above 85db or so in volume.

In the past I would have been afraid to try this combo in fear I might damage something.  But I guess as I get older I take all the experts' advice as they really are...an opinion.  And you know what they say about opinions.

This combo works for me.