Discussion in 'AV Receivers & Amplifiers' started by Howard0000, Jan 12, 2004.
What is it? Could someone explain it to me?
When a power amplifier is pushed to or above its rated power output the distortion level increases rapidly (from <.08% to 1.5% or more), and the electrical wave form it produces changes radically. This is called clipping.
This phenomenon has the potential to instantly damage or destroy a speaker and crossover network, as well as the amplifier itself.
Most power amps have protection circuitry that will shut the amplifier down before it can damage itself, in addition to warning lights to show that the amp is being driven too hard.
Can this occur in "standard" amps (integrated, 5 ch like mine, etc) or just power amps?
The reason I'm asking is that I've never actually found a description of what it is, only read about it damaging speakers, etc. I had a bit of a play earlier and was playing the beginning of Gladiator at an admittedly insanely loud level (in my room anyway!). It was at level 47 on my amp which is a little over reference level. I could hear no distortion and it sounded absolutely stunning, I'm just worried I'll kill something one day!
So what does clipping sound like?
Yes, all amps with a power section.
When clipping the sound will get less musical, the image will collapse etc.
For peace of mind check to see if your amp has a protection circuit, if you do blow a speaker the drive units are usually quite cheap and easy to replace. I have had to replace a few over the years
Basically clipping occurs when the relevant section of an amp runs out of voltage or current,and the top of the music waveform is quite literally clipped...this results in large levels of high frequency harmonics being produced,as the waveform now approximates a square wave.
It's the high level of high frequency harmonics that damages your speakers,and usually it's the tweeters that get damaged.
It's most likely to happen when a relatively low powered amp is driven hard into inefficient speakers,so if the amp/speaker match is sensible,then clipping should be unlikely at most levels.
if it does begin to occur,it's generally obvious as a gradual hardening of the sound as the amp begins to run out of grunt,followed by a pretty awful deterioration once the clipping point is reached.
Thanks for the advice guys. I'll know what to listen out for now!
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