power, is that the most important factor with amps?


New member
Aug 10, 2019
not wattage as such, though i presume that's also relatively important, but power/current, the ability of an amplifier to drive the speakers sufficiently even with demanding music, to have the reserves when they are called upon, so that there is no distortion of the sound, so it's as close to the source being amplified as possible..

the less distortion there is the better the sound will be, right? it's the object of an amp, to amplify the source with as little deviation from the source as possible? so does/can a given amplifier actually alter the source? colour it if you like? or are the different sonic signatures that exist between amps directly linked to distortion due to a lack of power?

ie. a low powered amp may distort the sound more compared to a more capable, higher powered amp, and this distortion may result in muddy bass? harsher highs? compared to the truer sound of a more powerful/capable amp? is this why there are differences? it would certainly explain why some older amps (think the record spots sansui) that had lots of power compare favourably with modern amps.

anyone? ta....

plastic penguin

Well-known member
Mmmm, this could be contentious: personally I think too much is made of power and or current. Sure, if you have low impedance speakers and you play music at wall shaking levels then, YES, control is mightily important.

My Arcs are (were) only 40 watts per channel and I had years of immense pleasure, as I only play music at low to medium levels. And the DIVA range is as neutral as I've ever heard at any price. Is it coloured? yes, slightly, by my sources but I personally like it that way. If a system is absolutely neutral, and over a period of time, sound dry to me....



New member
Jul 31, 2010
I think apart from the watts/current delivery, the quality of the amp's power supply also plays a big role. For example with Naim amps, upgrading the power supply tends to improve the sound.


New member
Jan 27, 2009
Singslinger:I think apart from the watts/current delivery, the quality of the amp's power supply also plays a big role. For example with Naim amps, upgrading the power supply tends to improve the sound.

Naim devotees talk about their 'stiff' power supply; ie having amounts of large power/current in reserve giving the ability of the amp to react to large dynamic swings without strain. Hence the generally overspecce'd transformers.


An amp has a job to do, take a low level signal and amplify it. This is trickier than it sounds because it depends on the speaker load being driven. In theory, if you had speakers with a perfectly flat response and if you assume no room effects, the coloration from source material is the distortion added by the source device (eg CD player and it's output stage) plus the distortion added by the pre amp plus the distortion added by the power amp. The latter will be far worse if the amp doesn't have enough power. No design is perfect.

Have a read up about Quad, Peter Walker and his amps.

One of the difficulties in finding good kit is knowing how well it measures. There's a lot of parameters involved and there's an awful lot to measure to get a true understanding of an amp distorts a signal.

Edited to remove a nonsense statement.


Well-known member
Feb 8, 2008
It's not so much the outright power that is important, it is the ability to provide that power under all conditions. A good quality amp will be able to deliver the required power down to very low impedances, even as low as 2 ohms. The power supplies required to achieve such a feat are one of the reasons such amps are expensive.

With regard to 'colouration', any change in the sound made by any component is in fact just distortion and the differences in sound between equipment described as warmth or brightness for example are also just distortion. This is how people tailor the sound of their systems to match their taste, by picking equipment with a known quantity in how that distortion sounds.

If you add a component, including cables, and there is no noticeable effect on the sound, it could be said that that item produces no discernible distortion, or certainly not different to the component that went before it.



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