Absolutely yes. There is a point when the load on the speaker will burn it out.
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When you bridge an amp you halve its impedance rating so an amp that is stable into 1 ohm will be stable into 2 ohms bridged is the way I have always heard it described. The purpose of high power is to handle the peaks in music, a speaker rated for 50 watts might handle several hundred for a very short time. When you will get into trouble is feeding a lot of power into the speaker for an extended time.Why not go with something like the McCormick 500 which is a bridged design to begin with? It should have all the power you will ever need and if not you could add another and biamp? I have a CJ 350 and declined my friends request to try it on his Sasha, which get down below 2 ohms. The McCormick is also made by CJ and in talking to them recently they told me that the McCormick is their choice for raw power.
I appreciate your answers, Stan It makes all the sense, the only reason Im sticking with the MF200 is my dad bought it for me for christmas many years ago (We dont really do presents) and it has plenty of power and just full on shear musicallity. I doubt it can be bridged and id probably lose a bit but I want to get extremely power hungry speakers, ideally one day mezzo utopias or something awesome
The above posters are correct that you can overpower a speaker - if you hear the voice coils bottom out, which creates a smacking sound like someone hitting a metal plate with a hammer, then you've dialed in too much power and have to reduce the volume ASAP.
In my opinion, however, you should absolutely avoid powerful amplifiers for other reasons. They achieve high power by using a lot of output transistors or output tubes, which requires the use of global negative feedback to control the circuit, feedback destroying dimensionality and imparting a lifeless quality to recordings - the ear is very sensitive to the ill effects of global feedback. In addition, all of those output devices complicate the circuit, taking away subtlety and transparency. Especially with a sensitive speaker like the Legacy, it makes no sense, none, to run a high-powered amp.
Don't worry about your inabilty to run VTL MB450's - this amp is the best example of the importance of output transformers to the performance of a tube amp - the MB vintage of VTL amps used notoriously cheap output transformers and cannot drive low impedance speakers. The Wotan or Brunhilde is like having a Corvette ZR-1 with the transmission of a '65 Beetle. They were so lousy that VTL offered better transformers as a retrofit and an option. VTL didn't enter the big leagues with regard to amps until the Siegfried.
Thanks Raquel I completely agree with your statement. I happen to be using a conrad johnson MF200 amp which employs a zero feedback design.
I have definetly bottomed out my subwoofers in my home and car a couple times and have learned to stear clear of going there, Although with an underpowered amplifier wouldnt the same thing thing happen or would it just clip alot?
Bummer about the VTL's I recently heard the seigfrieds and they were awesome and I was hoping I could go older and get close to that but I guess not.
Quality before quantity . Bi amping can be hard to make work well . Many folks , including myself have spent considerable time and money setting up bi amp systems only to prefer and return to a single . I was using two Levinson 200w amps , the extra power was not overwhelming ( +3db ) , in the end I preferred a single amp .
Do you really want anything shoved at you ? An overly forward presentation may not be welcome after a while . Know matter how closely I matched things , there was always a slight slurring , it was not something you could here right away . And the dynamics that many say you gain with power was not evident , in my case anyway . As far as to much power damaging a speaker , its not the size of your amps that will damage , its unreasonable use of the volume control that may hurt things . It didn't work for me , but that dosn't mean it won't work for you . Happy listening .
I haven't heard an amp in bridge mode sound as good as it doesin its normal mode.Then there's the other minus like Stanwal brought up.An amp that could run at 4 ohms continuous,will only be capable of 8 ohms continuous,in bridged mode.As far as having to much power,its what you do with the volume control that matters.If you hear the least bit of something that is not right,back the volume down.It's real easy to blow speakers with an underpowered amp.An underpowered amp can go DC on you and feed the power supply voltage to your speakers and fry them.
You do not need to over excursion loudspeakers to cause damage to much power can cause voice coils to melt they are dam close to melting in most conventional loudspeaker designs to begin with. So doesn't take much extra to cause damage. 100 watts into most any transducer is or near causing a melt down in voice coils. Most VC use glue this can melt before metal, hot cool cycles will eventually cause a open circuit since coil is broke no connection. I have seen this damage in modern loudspeakers far more than any other type of damage except physical ie drop smash cones pushed in.
Let me ad this.I should have also said to much power can fry your speakers to.Not just to little power.Again,keeping the volume set where you don't get any distortion,or other sounds coming out of your speakers,that sound wrong when you start playing them to loud.When something starts sounding bad,back the volume down,until it sounds right.
How about this option: Get a pair of killer subs. If you use them with a high quality crossover it will alleviate a ton a strain on your amp (since bass is power hungry) and help to protect the speakers from being pushed too hard. A huge pair of REL's will give you all the bass you could ever want, protect your speakers and add hundreds of watts per channel...
To Elevick's suggestion, it's great if you are using speakers with high-order crossovers and it will certainly give you the impression of more horsepower and protect your primary speakers, but if you are running speakers with simple first-order crossovers, then using an outboard crossover is going to kill all of the benefits that first-order crossovers bring.
Also, getting back to power generally, you ideally want an amp with a lower continuous power rating (darTZeel, Ayre, the new Rowland 625) as I explained above, but also an amp with a very stiff power supply that can deliver huge amounts of instantaneous power. Such amps, such as the big Naim amp and the CAT JL1 monos, seemingly have the power of a 500 watt Krell, but without the drawbacks.
A person is in far more danger in using a low to medium powered amp that clips a lot and at high volume can definitely damage tweeters and sometimes other drivers. I have rarely seen high powered amps kill drivers, unless the power handling capacity of the speakers are not up to the job. Basically, don't buy an amp with more than the power capacity of the speaker, or at least keep the volume knob under control. Or, if you have very high powered amplification, buy speakers with high current and power capacity.
I have had a fair amount of experience trying to achieve my ideal sound using a pair of Legacy Focus (original speakers) so I will share my findings so far. Originally I had them powered with an Aloia Inductive Power amplifier that is rated at only 30 WPC into 8 ohms but tested at more like 120 into 4 ohms. It was good but not great. I didnt feel the speakers had the kind of current they needed and dynamics and bass control were lacking.
So then I sold the expensive Aloia unit and bought a Harmon Kardon Citation 7.1 four channel amp. Bridged it into 2 channels and ran it that way into the 4 ohm Focus speakers with a single speaker cable pair to each speaker. The 7.1 claims 2 x 450 WPC into 8 ohms and does not state a 4 ohm rating while bridged. Then I found out why. I was advised that the bidged amps are basically seeing 2 ohm loads against each half of the bridged amps and that this could be a problem. I had run the speakers this way for maybe 5-7 years at least with never an issue. The power from the Citation was awesome and so was the bass control etc. I loved it.
So to play it safe I then unbridged the amplifier and ran it in 4 channel mode which yields 4 x 240 WPC into the 4 ohm load but instantly I could tell I had lost a lot of dynamic range. At that point I was of course bi amping and bi wiring with 2 sets of stereo pair wires running to each speaker. I had DH labs silver and one other mid-Fi speaker copper wire and even tried changing wire around etc to no avail. I was not happy but left them that way for another year or so.
Then just recently I bought a used Legacy High Current Stereo Amp that claims 250 WPC into 2 channels at 8 ohms. First I ran it full range into the Focus single wired. I noted that the mid to high range (sweeter smoother) was better to me than running the 7.1 amplifier alone in 2 or 4 channel mode. But the bass was gone. No control or dynamics in the low end. I traded wires around a few times and swapped the amp back and forth between it and the 7.1 and still was not able to get a combo that worked for me.
The next step was to run both amps into the Focus biwired. First I put the Legacy amp on the bottom end with the Citation 7.1 up top still in 4 channel mode (to avoid the 2 ohm load problem mentioned earlier) but of course only using 2 channels of the amp. So then I had the Legacy amp running into the bottom half of the legacys at 4 ohms pushing unknown wattage due to the 4 ohm, with the Citation up top delivering 240wpc to the top half X 2. I didnt like that at all. The Citation was harsh up top no matter which wire pair I used and the Legacy was still very SOFT on the bottom octaves. I didnt like that at all.
Then I switched and put the citation 7.1 on the woofers (still in 4 channel mode) with the Legacy amp up top. That was way better but the bass was still not where it was in the beginning. Again I switched speaker wires etc. Still the bass was soft and lacking power and control.
Finally I then put the Citation back in bridged mode with 2 channels feeding into the Focus woofers and the Legacy amp up top. That to me was the best I had heard yet. I was running the DH labs silver wires on top and some big heavy copper stranded wires (cant remember the brand) on bottom and there I seem to have everything. Dynamics, sweet top end, good sound stage etc and now I can loaf along with the volume knob safely below reference levels and enjoy anything at any volume level I care to listen at. The problem of course is that I am back to having the 7.1 amp in 2 channel mode into a 4 ohm speaker with each bridged half amp seeing 2 ohms (or less)
But I figure on the positive side I am not pushing either amp very hard at all despite having 600-700+ watts rated feeding into each cabinet but I doubt I am anywhere near using all of that. So in my case even with the highly efficient Focus speakers I find with more power from high current SS amps is where I get the best sound.
Now I am waiting on an electrician to come wire in two dedicated 20 amp circuits with 12 g wire . Coda (maker of the Legacy amp) tells me that a good AC circuit makes a big difference in the amp output so if I gain some noticeable headroom I may be able to put the Citation back into 4 channel mode and start the experimenting all over again.
I just found out that everything in the system including the 61 DLP TV was being fed off one 15a circuit including all the other gear such as CD,DVD, AV receiver, Direct TV box, and the Citation amp. So hopefully with some real AC power coming I will see some headroom restored to the dynamics. I have noticed dimming of lights when playing at high volume but I have never tripped a circuit.
More updates after the long new years weekend I hope.