200 Watt versus 300 to 400 Watt Amplifier Comps

Currently running a 200 Watt Classe Amplifier with the Cal Labs 2500 SSP and pair of older JM Lab speakers, the Spectral 913's.

When I went from a 100 Watt Amp to the 200 Watt version I was surprised at the upgraded performance that was delivered. My question is if this system were playing CD's at a certain decibel level, and I were to go to a 300 Watt Amp and play the same selection at the same decibel level, would there be a performance increase. Is the answer the same with DVD Movie Playback??

Additionally if your speakers are rated to handle 50-200 Watts, is a 200 Watt amplifier the highest wattage amplifier one should consider?

Any and all answers will be appreciated
I'm from the "more power is better" camp. In reality, though, I've never felt I could justify the cost for a high-quality amplifier rated at more than 200 wpc.

Would I LOVE to own the 1000 wpc Boulder 2050 monoblocks? You bet! Is it in my budget? Absolutely not!

As a point of reference, I think my 200 wpc McIntosh MA-6900 drives my Vandersteen 3A Signatures about as far as they can go. Since the Mac has the power meters, I can, and do from time to time, monitor how much juice is being put out, and it RARELY draws beyond 100 watts. I've NEVER seen the meters top out at the full rated power level.

It really depends on the size of your room, desired volume, and type of source material. If you have a really big room, then I'd go with as much power as possible. At some point, though, the 913's will be your limiting factor.
It would depend on the type of music that you are listening to, the size of your room, how far your listening position is from the speakers, what the given spl is that you are using as a reference, etc... Having said that, so long as the quality remains consistent, more power will never hurt you. Given the that quality costs money, i would rather have an amp that was of slightly lower power and higher bias than higher power and lower bias. A "good" amp should remain in Class A for at least 5-6 watts ( at the very minimum and preferably more like 8 - 10 watts ) before switching over to Class B for the high power sessions. As such, it is possible to move backwards in quality as one goes up in quantity since many "reasonably priced" power amps that are quite muscular are not biased this high. Big amps with high bias typically cost a few pennies more. Sean
In my experience moving up in amp quality provides much more than volume. I don't listen any louder than I used to listen, but the level of detail and other benefits make the better amps well worth the money. I really think there are very few people who actually push their amps and speakers anywhere never their limits. One of the biggest benefit of the higher powered amp in the power reserves.

As for the issue of power handling; your speakers are rated at 200 watts continuous. An amp that is rated at 200 watts will certainly peak much higher, but for the most part you will not even begin to approach those levels in the real world. Unless of course you are a wildman.
Nrchy: driving low impedance low sensitivity loads, 200 wpc @ 8 ohms is a drop in the bucket. Since most amps do not "double down", you might end up with about 350 wpc @ 4 and 450 - 500 wpc @ 2 ohms in many cases. I do have amps that double down and are rated at 200 wpc @ 8 ohms. I also have several speakers that can take everything that they can deliver and cry for more. It is all a system by system situation and there really is no "right" answer until everything is factored in. That's why i said "so long as quality does not suffer, more power is never a bad thing" ( or something like that....) Sean
Appreciate all of the feedback so far. It would certainly appear that more is generally better, with the caveat that the longer the amp maintains itself in class a power the better. I have looked through my owners manual for the Classe 100 watt amp, (using as mono @ 200 w) and see frequency response, sensitivity,input imedence, S/N Ratio, and rated output. The only measure I have even a rudimentary grasp of is the rated output. Where/How can you determine how mamy watts any given remains in class a before swithching to B?

I wish there was an amplifier & pre-amplifier for dummies book that would explain all or at least the most critical technical jargon in layman terms!
Matt: I don't know if you are bridging the amps or running them in vertical bi-amp mode. When you bridge an amp, it effectively sees half the impedance of the speaker. As such, an 8 ohm speaker looks like a 4 ohm load. As such, an amp that runs in Class A up to 6 watts at 8 ohms is only going to run in Class A up to about 3 watts at 4 ohms. In plain English, as impedance is halved, so is the amount of Class A power that is available ( in an AB amp ). As such, the higher the bias at 8 ohms, the better off you'll be at any impedance. After all, most speakers are not very stable when it comes to impedances as they tend to vary across the frequency range.

As to what your specific amp is biased for from the factory, give them a call. You'll probably get a pretty generic answer but it will at least give you some type of an idea. Sean
Actually Sean you are right right. I guess I figured everyone's amp was like mine. Also, I did not take impedence into account. Hopefully my comments were general enough that I wasn't too wrong! Is that possible?
The wattage needed is really dependant upon a number of considerations. First, lets assume that you have chosen your speakers and you are wondering if your amp is powerful enough. If you amp has needles showing how many watts it is using at any particular time, you can use this information. McIntosh amps have a real neat setting called 'hold' which locks the needle at the peak wattage use. If it never goes too close to the amp's max, you are probably okay.

Still, the question remains, are you over-stressing the amp during just regular enjoyment?

Play your CD that has real loud and quiet music. Certain DVDs and "the 1812 Overture" come to mind. Set the volumn just a bit louder than you like. Watch the needles. If you amp is rated at 100 watts/channel and the needles almost never reach that 100-watt level, you are okay. This does not mean you could be better off with a more powerful amp, it just means that your system is not too stressed by the efficiency of the speakers and overloaded by what you want from it.

Your amp will only 'clip' (especially if it is a tube amp) if there is a mismatch. Of course, with a high end amp like McIntosh, clipping won't hurt it, ---just somewhat shorten the tube life.

Speaking of tube life, there will be a shortening of the life of you amp-tubes if you continue to run the amp at full capacity, or if you like lots of home movies where there are lots of 'loud' noises'.

In this situation, more watts is better as your amp is less stressed.

Now, do watts matter in what comes out of your speaker? Certainly. The bigger question has more to do with what I have talked about above. Inefficient speakers that stress the amp won't sound as good as you are asking too much of your amp.

I am sure some will say my analysis is too simple, but is is a 'good start'.