RMS – WATTS – Peak – Continuous Power!
What do they all mean? Today we are going to quickly tackle this question and in the process equip you with enough knowledge to purchase the right speakers for your home theater setup.
First lets look at the terms, then we will tackle what you should be concerned with.
WATTS – This is the rating of how much amplification power a speaker can handle or a receiver or amplifier can produce. This is the number we are going to try and match, but which one? The WATT rating of equipment is stated in many confusing ways. The three main uses are Peak, Continuous Power, and RMS. Let’s look at those three and figure out which to use in our decision making process.
Peak WATTS – This is the maximum amount of amplification power a speaker can receive before damage or destruction occurs. (Well obviously we don’t want that to happen so we shouldn’t use this in our decision.)
Continuous Power – This describes the amount of power a speaker can handle for extended periods of time without causing damage. This one sounds promising! Only problem, this rating is usually buried deep in a manual and not easily visible on product packaging. So this rating standard may not be the best to use.
RMS – Stands for Root Mean Squared (there you go your GEEKY WORD for the day to impress your friends.) This method of measurement is the industry standard. It is basically the average power a speaker should be operated at. It is also usually plastered all over product packaging and is the preferred method of matching equipment to speakers for professionals.
So with that in mind you should never match the RMS WATTS of a receiver or amplifier directly to the Peak WATTS of a speaker (damage will ensue!) What you should do is match the RMS WATTS of the speaker equal to or greater than the RMS output of your receiver/amplifier.
speaker RMS (50 W) – amplifier RMS (100 W) – BAD IDEA!
speaker RMS (100 W) – amplifier RMS (50 W) – GOOD!
speaker RMS (50 W) – amplifier RMS (50 W) – GOOD!
Good Luck! Next Time we will discuss Frequency Response and what that means!