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Does Watts Equal Loudness

Speaker 101

Wattage Vs Sound Pressure Level

Are you looking for the loudest affordable speaker you can buy? If so don’t make the number one mistake almost every individual does. Seems like more and more companies are taking advantage of customers ignorance. The marketing strategy is to promote the max wattage the speaker can out put. This is because it looks more attractive then the RMS (Root Mean Square or continuous power). Typically we see a

speaker with 1200 Watts we think big number louder sound. This simply is not the case. So are companies getting over on customers. Well if you educate yourself the answer is no. But if not I’ll let you decide

What is SPL or Sound Pressure Level? SPL is the speaker sensitivity rating. Meaning if a speaker has. 90 dB (decibel) SPL it can create 90 decibels with 1 wattage of power measured 1 meter from the speaker. The general rule is that, to increase speaker sound output by 3 dB, the amplifier power must double. To play at 93 dB SPL, a speaker rated at 90 dB SPL 1 watt/1meter would need 2 watts of power to play at 93dB SPL ( 2 watts/1 meter @ 90 SPL = 93 SPL). To sum it up the importance of sensitivity rating is widely overlooked. If a speaker is rated at 83 dB SPL, 1W/1M, then to reach a peak of 104 dB SPL the speaker would need an amplifier capable of prod in excess of 125 watts per channel. But a speaker rated at 98 dB SPL 1W/1M, to reach the same SPL of 104 dB would require only 4 watts.

So is wattage important? To a certain degree. How many watts does it take to sound twice as loud? It takes 10dB to sound twice as loud. If you have two amps one 10 watts and the other 20 watts it will be an increase of 3dB. So yes it will be louder but remember it takes 10dB to double sound. To put everything together when looking for a speaker don’t get caught up in the advertising of big number wattage. Always look for then SPL and max wattage. The larger the number of SPL times wattage the louder the speaker will be. A speaker that has 90 SPL to 100 watts will be louder then a speaker that has 80 SPL to 120 watts.

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