Speaker Power Ratings Explained

What are speaker power ratings?

Continuous RMS, MAX and PEAK power ratings explained

When buying a speaker you’ll mainly come across “Peak”, “Max” and “RMS” power ratings. We measure a speaker’s power output in watts.

Peak – is the absolute maximum power a speaker can handle before failing.
MAX – is the maximum power a speaker can safely sustain without failing.
RMS – is the continuous power a speaker can sustain comfortably.

If a speaker exceeds its peak power rating it will fail. A failing speaker is very likely to cause potentially irreparable damage. A speaker working at its MAX power rating is unlikely to fail. However, consistently using a speaker at its maximum power increases wear and tear, making it more likely to fail over time.

Continuous Power (RMS) is the power a speaker will consistently output comfortably. Continuous power (RMS) ratings are much lower than max or peak power ratings, but they’re accurate in representing the true capability of a speaker’s power output. Realistically, you want to buy a speaker that is easily capable of handling the job you need it to do, reducing wear and tear, and ensuring the long life span of your new speaker.

Continuous power (RMS) is the most accurate power rating to use when comparing speakers (at least with known brand names).

To futher explained the three power ratings above and how they differ, read this anaolgy.

“There are two cars travelling at 70 MPH down a motorway. One car is an old Ford, the other is a brand new Ferrari. The Ford is working really hard to maintain 70 MPH, causing lots of wear and tear on the vehicle. The Ferrari, on the other hand, is cruising along at 70 MPH easily, causing minimal wear and tear. In this analogy, the Ford is working at its MAX power rating and the Ferrari is working at it’s Continuous Power Rating (RMS).”

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