Dumb question - Amp Wattage

painter24

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May 31, 2021
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Hi guys,

This maybe a dumb question, around an Integrated's Watts Per channel ratings in relation to room size.

I've been looking at exploring alternatives to Naim for a little while now, but on my travels through the Internet and looking at different brands and product lines of individual brands, ascending in wattage and price.

I was looking at the Atoll range of integrated amps from 50w up to a 120w (they go higher I believe, but that's where I stopped looking). Anyway, the question is; is there any advantage to having higher wattage, or headroom, say in a modestly sized room, with acoustic treatment, about 14 x 13ft.

In context, running a pair in 90db/8 Ohm speakers, are mine currently are.

I know the wattage isn't the whole picture, but hypothetically, if the amp had quality components, and good current output as do Naim amps, is the higher wattage useful?

Thanks for reading 😊
 

Witterings

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Sep 17, 2020
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From my experience it's quite nice to have the extra power, I noticed this recently changing from an old AV I was using as an amp with 70 wpc and went to an SMSL AO200 with supposedly 50 wpc and I did notice the difference … it just seemed to have less authority and am generally running the amp at higher levels for the same output.

My room’s not much bigger than yours, around 16x14 so very comparable and the SMSL is enough for that size, if they’d offered say an 80 or 100 wpc for a bit more money I would have chosen that instead but was after a smaller desktop system.

If you’ve got the money and your speakers will take it, certainly go for one of the bigger output ones, it's nice to have some spare headroom rather than feeling you're banging your head agaisnt the ceiling.

Just for clarities sake though it's in no way a criticism of the SMSL it's a brilliant amp and am really pleased with it.
 
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Your speakers are pretty efficient so would not require a massive amplifier to drive them to high levels in a room that size.
Having said that the amplifier you get should be good enough to driveway speakers you may happen to get in the future that may not be as efficient.
So to answer your question, no.
However I would qualify that with having an amp with sufficient wattage to drive a speaker that is less efficient would be sensible.
Atoll amps are apparently quite good but I know little about them other than they are French.....
 
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Edbostan

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Aug 5, 2021
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Hi guys,

This maybe a dumb question, around an Integrated's Watts Per channel ratings in relation to room size.

I've been looking at exploring alternatives to Naim for a little while now, but on my travels through the Internet and looking at different brands and product lines of individual brands, ascending in wattage and price.

I was looking at the Atoll range of integrated amps from 50w up to a 120w (they go higher I believe, but that's where I stopped looking). Anyway, the question is; is there any advantage to having higher wattage, or headroom, say in a modestly sized room, with acoustic treatment, about 14 x 13ft.

In context, running a pair in 90db/8 Ohm speakers, are mine currently are.

I know the wattage isn't the whole picture, but hypothetically, if the amp had quality components, and good current output as do Naim amps, is the higher wattage useful?

Thanks for reading 😊
Don't get too hung up on wattage. I know I bang on about my original Cyrus One but I was going to replace it with a 100W integrated Mosfet amplifier. The Cyrus is only 25W but it is how it uses that 25W. The 100 watter sounded muscle bound and could not match the delicacy of the Cyrus. Naturally I changed my mind and remained with Cyrus. Less is sometimes more.
 
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My 23W Sugden sound huge and muscular compared to my previous 120W Arcam amp.

Obvs this will not go to quite the same level of earsplitting volume. However, 23W is plenty enough to get uncomfortably loud on the end of my 90db efficient speakers and so ample for me in my room.

You do not need anywhere as near as many Watts as you think you do!
 

painter24

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May 31, 2021
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Thanks guys, good informative observations, much appreciated.

Just to touch on @AI ears point about future speakers ; my Q Acoustics were a stop-gap and not intended to be long term. I will eventually look for something else, probably not as sensitive(Sonus Faber eg) , so that's something I need to bear in mind.

Also, @Edbostan 's point about the 100w he auditioned being muscle-bound, but witout the delicacy of his 25w Cyrus; I do like to crank it up every now and again, but mostly like jazz, female vocal based music, light classucal - so, with a big beefy 100w+ amp, would I lose some of the subtlety and nuance I like in my music?
 

Gray

Well-known member
so, with a big beefy 100w+ amp, would I lose some of the subtlety and nuance I like in my music?
Not necessarily.
In Edbostan's case he found that, compared to his Cyrus, that particular 100 watter prioritised power over subtlety.
You can certainly have the desirable combination of power and subtlety from the right amp.
My 70W Cyrus suits me, even if subtle is not a description others would use to describe its sound.....it misses none of those jazz nuances that you rightly desire.
That's more to do with my speakers though - so try to demo any amp and speakers together when considering any upgrade.
 
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nopiano

Well-known member
I know the wattage isn't the whole picture, but hypothetically, if the amp had quality components, and good current output as do Naim amps, is the higher wattage useful?
No, not in itself. The current you mention is the vital measure here, however.

That identifies if the wattage will continue to increase as the impedance drops, ideally doubling as you drop from 8 ohms to 4, and then to 2. Very few amps achieve this perfectly, but if you study Hifi News or Stereophile reviews these contain lab tests of exactly this. You really need a current capability of at least 10amps. This is what means an amplifier can cope with a variety of speakers.

As you mentioned Sonus faber, you’ll see in my signature I’m using a modestly powered amplifier with mine. It is rated at 25 watts into 8 ohms and 50 watts into 4 ohms, so matches my 4ohm Sonus fabers well. (Stereophile measured 130 watts into 4ohms using a more relaxed distortion threshold)
 
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Gray

Well-known member
No, not in itself. The current you mention is the vital measure here, however.

That identifies if the wattage will continue to increase as the impedance drops, ideally doubling as you drop from 8 ohms to 4, and then to 2. Very few amps achieve this perfectly, but if you study Hifi News or Stereophile reviews these contain lab tests of exactly this. You really need a current capability of at least 10amps. This is what means an amplifier can cope with a variety of speakers.

As you mentioned Sonus faber, you’ll see in my signature I’m using a modestly powered amplifier with mine. It is rated at 25 watts into 8 ohms and 50 watts into 4 ohms, so matches my 4ohm Sonus fabers well. (Stereophile measured 130 watts into 4ohms using a more relaxed distortion threshold)
My old Harman Kardon amp had a peak current of 39 amps in a lab test.
I recently saw Audiolab boasting of 9 amps from the 6000A 🤔
(Both nominally rated at 50W if I'm not mistaken).
 

Tinman1952

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May 19, 2021
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I remember reading Ed Selley's review of the 'entry level' Musical Fidelity M2si...rated at 'only' 72 watts per channel but could swing 25 amps peak to peak. Hence it's reputation for driving speaker loads. But then MF under Michaelson always extolled the virtue of power for realistic dynamic range in music.
 

painter24

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May 31, 2021
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Thanks guys, all really valuable insights and information. 👍

So, what is the relationship, in a Class A/B amp between the toroidals and the capacitors; the capacitors as I understand it, please correct me if I'm way off, supply stored "current" and discharges it increasingly as the music dynamics increase in intensity?

And if my assumption above is correct,, the higher the storage/number of the capacitors (micro-farads?), the more efficiently and effectively the amp can deal with dynamic peaks in a piece of music?

Still not sure how the capacitors and toroidal interact though 🙄😊 I'll stop there in case I'm waaaaaayyyy off 🤔
 

nopiano

Well-known member
So, what is the relationship, in a Class A/B amp between the toroidals and the capacitors; the capacitors as I understand it, please correct me if I'm way off, supply stored "current" and discharges it increasingly as the music dynamics increase in intensity?
That’s basically it, but it’s not something to get too interested in because you’ll rarely find it quoted. The power and current output is what you need to be aware of.

(An analogy might be like knowing the bore and stroke of a car engine’s cylinders, and the pressure of the turbocharger. But all you need is the power and torque output. )
 

painter24

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May 31, 2021
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Bit of an update; what partly instigated the OP was my snooping around other amp brands, with a view to de-Naimifying my Hifi life. I wanted something at least equal to my XS2, and something that retained decent dynamics and detail at lower volumes. Which in part got me thinking about watts, and current etc.

Anyway, I hadn't checked in with my local dealer, Doug Brady in Warrington, for a while, so thought I'd pop along virtually to see if they had anything new. They stock mostly British brands if you're not familiar with them, and started out across The Water from me, over in Liverpool I think in the 60s (don't quote me on this) , moved to Warrington in the late 80s or early 90s I believe. Great guys, total HiFi heads, very accommodating.

Anyway, since my last visit, they have started stocking Atoll 😲.......and were happy to take my XS2 in part-ex against an Atoll IN200. its being delivered on Friday.

I was shocked to see Atoll there to be honest, they do seem to be quite discerning in what brands and lines they stock. I hope that's a positive sign for the Atoll 🤞

I can't make it over there anytime soon, so my XS2 is making the opposite journey.

I posted a while back about wanting to explore other amp brands, and after bouncing about the Internet, reading lots of good things by reviewers and regular owners of Atoll amps, seeing them in Doug Brady's virtual shop window, felt like it had to be🙄😊

So, I'll find out on Friday if Atoll are the great bang for buck they have been said to be.

Thanks again for all the insights guys 👍
 
Bit of an update; what partly instigated the OP was my snooping around other amp brands, with a view to de-Naimifying my Hifi life. I wanted something at least equal to my XS2, and something that retained decent dynamics and detail at lower volumes. Which in part got me thinking about watts, and current etc.

Anyway, I hadn't checked in with my local dealer, Doug Brady in Warrington, for a while, so thought I'd pop along virtually to see if they had anything new. They stock mostly British brands if you're not familiar with them, and started out across The Water from me, over in Liverpool I think in the 60s (don't quote me on this) , moved to Warrington in the late 80s or early 90s I believe. Great guys, total HiFi heads, very accommodating.

Anyway, since my last visit, they have started stocking Atoll 😲.......and were happy to take my XS2 in part-ex against an Atoll IN200. its being delivered on Friday.

I was shocked to see Atoll there to be honest, they do seem to be quite discerning in what brands and lines they stock. I hope that's a positive sign for the Atoll 🤞

I can't make it over there anytime soon, so my XS2 is making the opposite journey.

I posted a while back about wanting to explore other amp brands, and after bouncing about the Internet, reading lots of good things by reviewers and regular owners of Atoll amps, seeing them in Doug Brady's virtual shop window, felt like it had to be🙄😊

So, I'll find out on Friday if Atoll are the great bang for buck they have been said to be.

Thanks again for all the insights guys 👍
let us know about the Atoll..... Just because it's French doesn't make it bad...... :)
 
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painter24

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May 31, 2021
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let us know about the Atoll..... Just because it's French doesn't make it bad...... :)
I will do. I have slight trepidation, but I am optimistic. I feel like Naim has been a crutch since coming back to HiFi; a crutch I feel I need to ditch, put on my big boy pants and explore other brands 😊
 

Remco77

Active member
Aug 16, 2021
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Hi guys,

This maybe a dumb question, around an Integrated's Watts Per channel ratings in relation to room size.

I've been looking at exploring alternatives to Naim for a little while now, but on my travels through the Internet and looking at different brands and product lines of individual brands, ascending in wattage and price.

I was looking at the Atoll range of integrated amps from 50w up to a 120w (they go higher I believe, but that's where I stopped looking). Anyway, the question is; is there any advantage to having higher wattage, or headroom, say in a modestly sized room, with acoustic treatment, about 14 x 13ft.

In context, running a pair in 90db/8 Ohm speakers, are mine currently are.

I know the wattage isn't the whole picture, but hypothetically, if the amp had quality components, and good current output as do Naim amps, is the higher wattage useful?

Thanks for reading 😊
Dear Painter24,

That's not a dumb question.

A heavier amp can be better (I would say most of the times an amp can never be too heavy/strong)
Every amp has it's own sound/character and it also depends how well your speakers partner to your amp.
My experience is that a good/stable amp with lower wpc can sound much better then one with much higher output.
There isn't a strict rule for room size and amp watts.
Improvements can be made but there are many factors involved(room acoustics,location speakers etc)
For example: a 10 Watts tube amp can blow you away and an "average" 80 Watts claas A/B integrated amp can sound quite soft.
I've heard many amp 's and speakers,the best sounding I've listen to where not the the ones with the highest outputs.
With kind regards,Remco
 
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nopiano

Well-known member
I will do. I have slight trepidation, but I am optimistic. I feel like Naim has been a crutch since coming back to HiFi; a crutch I feel I need to ditch, put on my big boy pants and explore other brands 😊
Fascinating. I knew nothing about them, and having told you how hard it is to find specs on transformers and capacitors, that’s exactly what Atoll do! It looks like a very decent bit of kit, and as you say, if DB stocks it I‘m sure it’s good.

Please let us know how it works out.
 
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painter24

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May 31, 2021
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Fascinating. I knew nothing about them, and having told you how hard it is to find specs on transformers and capacitors, that’s exactly what Atoll do! It looks like a very decent bit of kit, and as you say, if DB stocks it I‘m sure it’s good.

Please let us know how it works out.
I will for sure.

One aspect that intrigues me is the true dual mono. I had a bi-amped Olive Naim set-up in the 90s which for me at that time in my mid 20s just blew me away. I wouldn't be interested in this kind of system now, it's Integrated's all the way from here on in 😊
 

painter24

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May 31, 2021
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Quick update: my Atoll IN200 Signature arrived this morning. Took it from the DPD guy and felt something tear in my left arm.

Managed to get the box on the floor before dropping it 🙄. Took my shirt off to check, which was difficult with one good arm, anyway, my left bicep is about 6 inches further up my arm from where it used to live, and has obviously ripped free from its moorings 😂.

Unperturbed and determined to get the Atoll safely in place, I unpacked and put it on my rack. Not easy with a gammy arm, 😉

Not a good start, or omen for the Atoll 🤔.

Anyway, it's plugged in and running (about hour and a half so far) ; early days yet, but I can hear the benefit of that dual mono configuration, really nice separation and clarity.

It's missing a bit of low end at the moment compared to the Nait XS2, but from other reviews I've read, this will develop apparently as time goes on. What is there though is nice and tight/controlled.

Mids are promising, and highs are a tad unrefined at the moment, but again time will tell.

Impressions compared with the Nait so far though, considering its only been powered up since around midday is a far more open, spacious presentation; makes the Nait sound a little constipated now to be honest.

I'm going to leave it running with Radio Paradise for the rest of the day while I fill my face with pain killers and have a nap. 😴

I work from home anyway, but I've had to bail out, can't keep my left arm raised on to my desk. So, even if the Atoll doesn't settle in nicely, it's highly recommended to rip your bicep off and get some time off work 🙄😁

I'll keep you updated. Thanks guys 😊
 

Ivabigun

Active member
Mar 5, 2022
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Hi guys,

This maybe a dumb question, around an Integrated's Watts Per channel ratings in relation to room size.

I've been looking at exploring alternatives to Naim for a little while now, but on my travels through the Internet and looking at different brands and product lines of individual brands, ascending in wattage and price.

I was looking at the Atoll range of integrated amps from 50w up to a 120w (they go higher I believe, but that's where I stopped looking). Anyway, the question is; is there any advantage to having higher wattage, or headroom, say in a modestly sized room, with acoustic treatment, about 14 x 13ft.

In context, running a pair in 90db/8 Ohm speakers, are mine currently are.

I know the wattage isn't the whole picture, but hypothetically, if the amp had quality components, and good current output as do Naim amps, is the higher wattage useful?

Thanks for reading 😊
I would say over gun the power and look for clean high current sources , this gives you a future proof system when changing speakers and the like , I use pre / power combo's with multiple speakers and subs , when you don't need so much sound you simply don't have to have them all running at once , increase / decrease dynamic power to suit the need / mood .
 

painter24

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May 31, 2021
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It looks very nice. I've been drawn to Atoll amps ever since I got my Triangle Esprit Titus speakers. Triangle are also French and apparently marry very well with Atoll amps.
Thanks for the heads-up; the Concept 40's were a stop-gap buy. Never considered Triangle previously, but will now, when I start that search again. I'll do a bit research on the various models 👍
 

robdmarsh

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Jun 28, 2015
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If you haven't heard Triangle you're in for a treat. The tweeter in the Esprit range is a magical thing. It sounds like nothing else I've heard on any speaker under £1k (disclaimer: I haven't heard all speakers, who has) but they really are special to my ears. Unfortunately, stock is very erratic. Richer Sounds have started carrying them but you never see any in their stores, I think their customers don't step outside B&W, Dali and Monitor Audio. This makes them very hard to audition. Places like Premium Sound do home trials and have very good 30 day return policies with no penalties, so that's one way to go.
 
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painter24

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May 31, 2021
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Hi guys,

Just thought I'd give a quick update on the Atoll IN200 Signature.

I've had it since a week last Friday, after it caused a snapped tendon in my left arm, 2 visits to hospital, an x-ray, MRI scan and a week off work. Actually, the Atoll didn't cause my injury; my very own stupidity did. I should have paid more attention to those Manual Handling courses at work 😊.

Anyway, this was a blind buy with only reviews and the odd sound clip on YT (not really helpful).

Initially, the bass was a little lacking in heft as I mentioned in an earlier post, but what was there was very well controlled. This has now come on a long way since first listens; plenty of weight in bass now, and still controlled. Compared to the Nait XS2, the Atoll has a much better control over bass - for example, the "Hey Now" track by London Grammar, when the bass/kick drum comes in was a LF soup with no definition. Other tracks and music I listen to had similar impressions. With the Atoll, it is refined, individual kick drum hits nad bass notes are there, and clear. I'm not a bass maniac at all, but I do like it to be present and legible, with a modest amount of thump. (I've turned off my REL for now, just to get a good idea of what the Atoll is doing)

As for everything else, I was a tad concerned/worried at first, as there seemed to be a lack of lower mids; this made vocals really stand out, but could sound a tad sterile for my taste. Again, this has equalised a little now, and I'm growing used to it.

Highs are nice and detailed, no harshness, detailed, airy, great, no problems.

Overall, I really like the presentation; I prefer it over the XS2 - just more engaging (to my taste), projects a little further in to the room. Probably need to play around with speaker positioning again, but wanted to get some solid first impressions and contrast to the XS2 before changing anything else. I have just pulled out the Naim, and plugged in the Atoll - nothing else has been altered at all.

To my mind the XS2 has a little more warmth than the Atoll, which I didn't take to straight away, but has grown on me. My preference has changed gradually to like a more neutral presentation (NJC Reference DAC, I'm looking at you ☺) and the Atoll has moved my system more in this direction.

I will definitely be keeping the Atoll; it keeps surprising me. Familiar tracks, can still show me something new on the Atoll, that I had not noticed prior. I feel like the Atoll is playing music for me, not at me, which is how I grew to think of the XS2.

It's not perfect by any stretch (what is!?); those mids/lower highs are a tad brighter than the XS2, maybe due to the lower mids being a tad light, but the pros far outweigh the cons. Eventually, I will reactivate Roon back in to the chain and play with the DSP functions to try and up the lower mids without changing the sound too much.

So for a first proper foray outside of Naim land, I'm pleased I made the jump. Thumbs up for the Atoll 👍🙂

Thank guys
 

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