The whole peak vs. continuous power thing is a sticky wicket (I’ve wanted to say that all day long) as there are so many variables to consider, even trying to describe the pitfalls of relying on the measurements is a pitfall unto itself. However there are a few rules you should keep in mind whenever you’re trying to decipher amplifier power ratings from electronics manufacturers, and specifically power ratings from Japanese consumer electronics companies.

The whole peak versus continuous wattage rating Shtick has gone on so long that most people don’t even give it a second thought. Rightfully so because by now with as much stretching of the truth, ok who am I kidding, lying that’s gone on surround the idea, that’s about all it’s worth.

Listen I’ve got a 15 year old amplifier nominally rated at 50 watts that would devour all but the very best of the current 130 watt plus surround receivers. Simply put a lot of companies, maybe even most companies exaggerate their continuous wattage ratings so badly that we’ve all shifted into a kind of well if 12 = 10, 14 must equal 12 mentality when even that isn’t very telling of what these ratings are actually capable of telling us.

Here’s a good rule to go by, in the face of a bunch of statistics fabricated by one-upsmanship minded corporations. If you can play your system at a “normal” volume without your speakers sounding strained then you’re probably fine with the amplifier you have. However, if you ever hear what sounds like distortion at even a medium-loud volume you should immediately turn the volume down and likewise consider a new amplifier.

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    This post was written by Bryan Greenway

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