I think the important thing is if your speakers will play as loud as YOU want while still sounding good. I listen at levels between 70db and the low 80s, so it doesn't matter to me if my speakers fall apart at 100db. Someone who listens to rock music at concert levels will feel differently.
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Loud is good as long as it is clean, Cerwin Vega ads mid 70’s. I have grown out of the peel the paint off the wall days. My ears have survived, the Acoustic Research integrated did not, little pieces of capacitors on the ceiling, grey smoke in the room. Now days low level for most listening-but my Maggie’s can still rock. 200wpc when called upon, Digital Amplifier Company amps.
My room is a bit constrictive so I have my .7's Maggie's 4 ft from the front wall, 7 ft apart & 11 ft from my listening position. My amp puts out 450 watts @8ohms, [email protected] & 1,[email protected] and will do 65amps for 500 milliseconds. Haven't had my sound meter out lately, but guessing around 85/90 db
Never really given this any thought. I remember as a young student seeing Van Halen in Concert at NC State and could not hear correctly for the next 2 days. I told myself never again. I enjoy my Maggies at 70-80 Db depending on the music being played. Its nice to physically feel the music and still hear all the detail. For me 90-105 is loud and at this level my brain fails to process detail well, hardly the speakers fault.
With live-recorded acoustic music, an excellent audio system should be able to fool the blinded listener into believing the musician is in the room with them.
Amplified music like rock concerts present a lot of sonic variables depending on listening position, but a great audio system should be able to replicate what the front of house sound mixers can hear at the ideal position of their mixing boards...center spot about as far from the stage as the stage is wide.
Headphones won't work, because we need our skin to feel the vibrations of the music for it to be like being there at the time of the recording. High efficiency speakers with low distortion and stereo bass reinforcement powered by amplifiers with generous power reserves seems like a minimum requirement.
Studio albums are wholly different because they usually aren't trying to capture a "live" sound. They are making a piece of sonic art whose characteristics are subject to the whim of the artist and recording engineers. But sometimes they still sound great loud.
It's nice to be able to play realistically at concert levels, even when you prefer not to.
The ability to play loud is essential for me. It's not so much that I listen at crazy levels as I appreciate dynamics. The cannon in the 1812 Overture should sound (and feel) like cannon. I use my speakers to earn a living mixing music and film, but I also use my studio as a listening room and (in the old days) gatherings and listening parties. I want to hear the quiet parts quiet and the loud parts loud. And even though all my fan-equipped gear lives in isolation racks there is still some low level residual noise perceptible in the room. My JBL M2s can play quieter than the noise floor and resolve accurately down to where I can't hear them anymore. Loud is essential. Quiet is essential. Those two qualities give perspective to everything in the middle.
As I include a lot of classical in my listening, and it has far more dynamic range than rock does, I am more concerned with whether a speaker sounds realistic at quite low volumes - many do not and require a fair bit of 'knob' before they start to sound good.
Unless you can hear the 'ting' of a triangle in a quiet section as realistically as the cannon on the 1812 (or the range in much of Stravinsky, Beethoven etc.) a speaker is basically useless as an all-rounder.