How Many Watts Does a Stereo Use: The Meaningless Quantity of Speaker Wattage

Have you ever been asked how many watts your speakers have? This is a common question that even those with some understanding of audio equipment tend to ask. However, the truth is that watts are only meaningful when it comes to power amplifiers, telling us how much power the amplifier can actually deliver into a standardized load of either 8 ohms, 4 ohms, or sometimes 6 ohms. Loudspeakers, on the other hand, are not purely resistive loads in 99% of cases out there, which affects the actual power delivery from an amplifier. Thus, watts are a meaningless quantity when it comes to speaker wattage.

When someone asks how many watts your speakers have, what they really should be asking is how many watts your amplifier has. This is a meaningful quantity that can actually dictate the performance of your sound system. While it’s always better to slightly overpower a speaker than underpower it to ensure the maximum power rating allowable, the wattage of the speaker itself has nothing to do with how loud or impressive a speaker can be.

The maximum power rating allowable is where wattage or speaker power rating wattage becomes useful. In this case, you want to be careful and make sure to not overpower the speaker beyond the maximum power rating allowable. However, it’s important to note that even in this case, the wattage of the speaker still has nothing to do with how loud or impressive it might be.

So, the next time someone asks you how many watts your speakers have, don’t be fooled by the meaningless quantity. Instead, educate them on the meaningful quantity of amplifier wattage. If you have any other audio-related pet peeves, leave them in the comments below, and we might cover them in a future post.