Watts, RMS and the volume of a stereo system

When looking at stereos lots of customers ask us what wattage are the speakers for a particular system. However wattage isn’t always the best guide. For standard listening when viewing speakers RMS output is usually a better guide to go by, although this isn’t necessarily the real standard that should be used!

Denver stereo


What is wattage in relation to speakers?

The wattage of speakers is the total power rating the speaker can handle for a short duration in one hit … this is the input power to the speakers. A good quality set of “75 Watt” speakers may however give better volume and audio quality than a lower quality “100 Watt” set! This is frequently referred to as the peak power or peak wattage of a speaker.

What is RMS power?

RMS power from speakers is what a set of speakers can handle on average over a period of time or for continuous use rather than in a very short space of time as seen with peak power (or this is what RMS power is commonly used to demonstrate at least).

Which to use?

Generally the RMS wattage of a speaker is a better measurement to use as this gives you the average maximum power input that can be used for a set of speakers.

Set of speakers

Is it that a higher RMS or wattage is best for my stereo or speaker choice?

A higher power capacity can give you a good indication of whether a set of speakers are higher or lower quality. However you need to take in to account what you are using the speakers or the stereo for. A high set of powerful speakers may operate most effectively at a higher volume as they are designed for this. If you want to listen at lower volumes on a day to day basis then maybe a high power rating isn’t what you want but is in fact completely the opposite to what is required!

Do get in touch and let the 3wisemonkeys if you need any more information or tips!

The 3wisemonkeys team

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