Audio help needed

Okay, can of worms time.

I want to buy new speakers for my home entertainment system. I am not an audiophile, and am not too fussy on sound quality, but I do want it to sound decent. I have a Yamaha RX-V596 5.1 receiver, which apparently has 100 watts per channel. This has served me well so far and I plan to keep it for years to come.

It’s currently driving two front floor tower speakers that were hand built by a friend of my brother’s. I have no idea what sort of specs they have, but they’re big and sound pretty good to my ears. They deliver all the bass, because I don’t have a subwoofer. They also deliver the centre channel (split up to the sides by the receiver), since I also don’t have a centre speaker. The size is the main reason to get rid of them – my wife is basically calling shenanigans and wants to reclaim some space. The receiver also drives two small rear speakers, which are relics of the record player I had when I was a teenager. I have absolutely no idea of impedances or powers or anything about the system.

This mish-mash of a system has worked well enough for ten or more years, and sounds perfectly okay as far as I’m concerned. But I figure maybe if I upgrade to a matched 5.1 system with centre and subwoofer, things might be better. I hope to spend $1000 or under. This option caught my eye, for example. The thing is, this says the front speakers are 300 watts.

Now, is a receiver supplying 100 watts per channel hooked up to 300 watt speakers: (a) perfectly okay, (b) sub-optimal, but not a disaster, or (c) OHMYGOD!!! DON’T DO IT! IT’LL CATCH FIRE!!! Should I be looking for speakers exactly 100 watts each? Or speakers up to 100 watts but no more? Or speakers at least 100 watts? Or does it not really matter?

This won’t cement my decision on this particular option, but knowing the answer will inform my search.

4 Responses to “Audio help needed”

  1. Tom West says:

    I don’t the exact answer to your questions, but those figures sound like PMPO (“peak”) poswer output, which is a meaningless used to make speakers sound awesome. The real number you want is the RMS (“average”) power output.
    I *think* that hooking up speakers with a higher wattage than your amplifier will result in them just being quieter than they could be.

  2. Hops Splurt says:

    I checked the specs on the Yamaha link you gave and OMG! This thing blasts 100 W of RMS power on Each Channel!

    In a decent audio setup speakers must be able to at least handle the power supplied by the amplifier. If the rating of the speakers is lower, you run the risk of destroying your speakers. You might not have problems with normal use, as most of the sound (music, film soundtrack, etc) is a lot quieter than maximum power (just 3dB less only uses half the power), but if you crank up the sound on a Michael Bay movie, your speakers are doomed. I strongly suspect your dinky rear speakers have lasted this long because you have so far been modest with the “reduce the internal organs to a paste” temptation.

    On the other hand, buying speakers with a rating that is a lot higher than 100 W will just be a waste of money. The extra power-handling capability of the speakers will never be used.

    In short: get a set of 5 speakers (2 front, 2 rear, 1 centre) each rated at 100W RMS or slightly over. For simplicity an impedance of 8 ohms is nice.

    If I read the specs right there is no power supplied to the sub-woofer. This will be because sub-woofers nowadays has a built-in amplifier (“active” sub-woofer), and the amp simply sends an audio signal to the sub-woofer (4V/1.2k ohms).

    BTW your current speakers do not supply *all* the base, because the amplifier cuts off everything below 90 Hz. Those lower frequencies are intended to be handled by the sub-woofer. Boy, will you be in for a big surprise when you get one :-P

  3. Thanks for the tips. And yeah, I knew the very lowest frequencies were cut off. :-)

  4. Chris Robertson says:

    If you are not afraid of the speakers arriving as a pile of parts, I would recommend (though hearsay, not experience) a products from They have a package deal ( that just fits your budget. Fellow (to you) Austrailian, Daniel Rutter of has reviewed the speakers from the kit ( as well as a different (larger) sub woofer (

    Whether you decide to go with a kit from LSK or not, read the two reviews I have linked if you can find the time. There’s a lot of good, sensible information in there.

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