How loud can a speaker be, will depend on how it is been designed and built. If you are talking about those cheap portable Bluetooth speakers, then I can assure you it won’t be anywhere near satisfying loud and you’ll need to be in close proximity to it too. The sound quality will most likely be bad as well. To be fair, they are mainly used for different purposes, more for casual listening, and were never about high fidelity.
Then there’s the guitar amp which sometimes people use for music playback but the sound won’t be as good as a HiFi sound system. Also, a guitar amp is designed for electric guitars and so at 3 watts of power, it can be really loud and fills a small room easily. You can check out Blackstar Electric Guitar Mini Amplifier which is a 3 Watt compact mini guitar amp.
If you are here looking for HiFi speakers that can go loud with just 3 watts per channel then keep reading. Speakers with high sensitivity ratings can go loud with very little power but before we proceed further in introducing a few speaker brands/models, we should find out more about the following, Decibels (dB), Wattage (watt), and speaker sensitivity. By having a better understanding of these 3, you will able to grasp the concept and find the right pair of HiFi speakers.
Decibels/dB is used to measure the loudness level of sound. To give you a rough idea, a whisper is roughly about 30 decibels, a typical conversation will be about 60 decibels and a running engine of a motorcycle will be somewhere in the 95 decibels region. If you take a subway train for your morning commute, maybe it will be interesting for you to know that the approaching subway train is roughly 100 decibels/dB. Do note that sounds at 60dB and below, typically would not cause you any hearing damage. At 80-85dB, there will be a possibility of hearing damage after 2 hours of exposure. So you can roughly guess the rest, the louder the sound, the higher the possibility of hearing damage at a shorter exposure time. Maybe you would like to take this opportunity and re-evaluate how loud you want to play your home audio system in the future.
Wattage / Power
I believe you already know in the world of HiFi, watts are used as a measurement of power. Every 3dB increase will require double the power/watts. For example, it takes 10 watts for a speaker to generate 90dB and for this speaker to generate 93dB it will require 20 watts of power. If you want this speaker to generate 96dB then it will require 40 watts. If it is 99dB, this speaker will require 80 watts. For this speaker to hit 102dB, you will need 160 watts! Ok, I got carried away a little but you get the picture.
Sensitivity Ratings of a Speaker
Most speaker brands/models will have the following specification where it will show the speaker’s sensitivity rating, for example, 89dB at 1 Watt/1 Meter. This means that this speaker will generate 89dB of sound with 1 watt of power within 1 meter distance from the speaker. The higher the number, the more effective the speaker is. Do note that this measurement is usually taken in a non-reflective and soundproof room, which means it may not be as effective when it is placed inside a typical home.
High Sensitivity Speakers
You will require highly efficient speakers with high sensitivity ratings, in order to hit a level of loudness without much power. For instance, Omega Speaker Systems’ Super 8 XRS, has a sensitivity rating of 98dB, and the power requirements are as little as 2 watts. Omega Speakers are considered affordable as usually very efficient speakers that have amazing sound quality are not cheap. For example, Klipsch Heritage Klipschorn Speakers, the sensitivity rating is 105dB at 1 Watt/1 Meter and it is very expensive.
If you compare it to Klipsch Heritage Series Heresy IV Floorstanding Speaker, which has a sensitivity rating of 99dB at 1 Watt/1 Meter, this Heresy IV is much cheaper. Of course, we couldn’t just compare the price difference based on the sensitivity rating, the overall design, built, craftsmanship, and speakers drivers’ quality will also influence the speaker’s price.
To sum it up
How loud can a speaker generate with just 3 watts of power, it will heavily depend on the efficiency, sensitivity, and quality of the speaker. If you were to add in a self-powered subwoofer, the speakers will be even more efficient. As the subwoofer will be taking over the role of reproducing bass at 80 Hz and below or based on the crossover frequency you have set. This will relieve your amplifier since it takes more power to produce bass.
To play safe, you should always get an amplifier that is at least capable of providing slightly more than the recommended power your speakers need. This is to give enough headroom for peaks in music/movies, if there is not enough available power during a peak, your amplifier may clip and this will damage your speakers. This is also why it is recommended to have a subwoofer in your home theater system.
I hope you have fun reading this article, and the information you required here is enough for you to make a decision on which speakers to purchase. As always, kindly remember to audition the speakers before buying and enjoy the auditioning process.