Watt – What does this value mean?

The capital “W” on speaker data sheets gives us a quick way to compare speaker performance. In fact, for many people, watts is the first important metric when choosing a new speaker. But watt does it really mean?

It is important to know that the wattage value primarily tells you how much electrical power the speaker can handle in total. This is then called “rms”. Interestingly, only a fraction of about 2% of this power is converted into effective sound conversion, while much of the remaining power results in thermal energy.
In addition, the stroke and the membrane area of the woofer also play a role and limit how many watts can be processed by a loudspeaker. On average, 20W of power in the low frequency range is already too much and, with a small amplifier turned up to the max, can cause the individual components to reach their limits.

Even a 50W amplifier, if turned up to full power and thus producing the corresponding distortion, can burn off the tweeter of a 500W loudspeaker. When choosing your own audio hardware, it is therefore all the more important to ensure that the power handling capacity of the selected speakers matches the power of the chosen amplifier. So you can design and enjoy your personalised audio system to the fullest and without risk.