How Many Watts Is Good for Speakers?

how many watts is good for speakers

Are you curious to discover what wattage is typical for different high-quality speakers and fill your surroundings with sound?  Great!

In this article, you’ll learn everything there is to know about the watts you need for your speakers, including:

  • Average wattage by the type of good speakers
  • How do we know what a good speaker is
  • Does higher wattage means better speakers
  • How wattage relates to volume

Most good speakers range from 10 watts to 1000 watts peak. The benefit of greater wattage is the possible volume boost and more solid tone quality and coverage at lower volumes.

Good outdoor speakers will usually have around 80 watts. For computer speakers, look for 10 to 25 watts. Party speakers will have around 250W, and high-quality Bluetooth speakers will most likely be between 40 to 60 watts. A solid soundbar will have about 150 watts, boat speakers will have around 200W, and PA speakers 600W.

If you’re looking for the wattage of speakers and subwoofers, you will usually find two numbers for the power handling number: RMS (root mean square) and “peak.”

Mean power, or root mean square (RMS) power handling, points to how much continuous power the unit can run. The peak power handling rate relates to the highest power level that the speaker can handle in short bursts.

For instance, a speaker with a 40W RMS number but a peak rating of 80W indicates that the speaker can efficiently run with 40 watts of continuous power, with sporadic bursts of up to 80W.

Average Wattage in Good Speakers

This is the average wattage in different types of good speakers. It covers the wattage sum if more than one speaker is in a setup (e.g., computer speakers).

Type of speaker Wattage sum (peak) Recommended speaker
Outdoor speakers 80 watts JBL Xtreme 3
Computer speakers 10 – 25 watts Bose Companion 2 Series III
Party speakers 250+ watts PRORECK Party 15 Portable 15-Inch
Bluetooth speakers 40 – 60 watts W-KING 50W
Soundbar 120 watts Polk Audio React Sound Bar
PA speakers 600+ watts Electro-Voice ZLX-12BT 12″ 1000W

See how loud specific speakers are by wattage that we tested for home and outdoor use.

Outdoor speakers

The best outdoor speakers have to resist the elements and produce strong bass, sound treble, and full midrange with sufficient power to be heard over the wind and crowd noise. They’re usually around 40 – 100 watts.

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I placed a pair of 100W Atrium 6 hanging off a Sonos Amp on my backyard remodeling and added an Atrium Sub100 with a SWA500. It sounded marvelous and had been running great for nearly three years, but it broke suddenly.

Now I have a 100W JBL Xtreme 3 (link to Amazon) that is tiny enough not to dominate my landscape and large enough to deliver full sound. While it doesn’t produce much bass, it produces more low-end than other outdoor Bluetooth speakers of similar size – worth every cent for hanging outside, backyard barbeques, hot tubs, etc.

Computer speakers

I have been using Bose speakers for years. I have Companion 2 Series III (around 22W wattage sum), and it’s one of the best purchases I’ve made during my lifetime.

I bought a second pair, a Y splitter, and four speakers connected to my computer via the headphone jack. I can turn the volume up, and it feels like we’re in a club. Or play some soothing jazz or 90’s hits at low decibels and enjoy the surround sound and excellent acoustics.

Their customer assistance is good as well. My son ended up breaking one of the speaker cones. I reached customer support to explain my repair possibilities. They just gave me a replacement speaker free of charge.

Party speakers

240-watt JBL Partybox 200 (Amazon link) is, without a doubt, the best value-per-money party speaker on the market.

My friend bought this one last year, and because of Bluetooth, he takes it to parks when we go drinking with the crew. He pulls it up at his backyard and indoor parties and also has it as hand luggage when traveling by plane.

He thought about buying 2xMotion Boom (Paired in TWS), which has perfect bass and reach, but JBLs now seems like a much better choice!

Does Higher Wattage Mean Better Speakers?

Wattage has very little to do with speaker quality – especially these days when the wattage numbers listed by the speaker companies are essentially straight-up lies to convince uneducated buyers that the higher the listed wattage, the better the speaker.

While the number of watts doesn’t indicate the sound quality or possible lifespan of a speaker, it shouldn’t be overlooked, and it can come in handy when you’re looking to buy a suitable amplifier.

Do watts matter in speakers? Find out in my linked article.

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The number of watts only indicates how much power a speaker can be forced under certain conditions before it breaks.

Let’s take a 50-watt speaker, for example. This means that it can handle or process 50 watts of power. In practice, this means that a 50W speaker can often take more than 50 watts.

Efficiency, design, quality of components, and straight-up truthful numbers have more to do with the quality of a speaker than wattage.

So How Do We Know the Speaker Is Good?

The highest-quality speakers recreate sound very precisely. That said, they don’t distort the sound by adjusting it. Ideally, you hear a sound – a saxophone loop, a dialogue, a clap – as it was meant by whoever recorded it. Sadly, no speaker is flawless, but the best ones come incredibly close.

In theory, you can estimate how truly a speaker reproduces sound.

  • Total Harmonic Distortion: TDH measures how accurately speakers interpret what is on a disc or hard drive into sound. The flatter the figure, the less distortion, so lower quantities are better. Usually, rates between 0.05% and 0.08% THD mean a quality “pure” system, but any number below 0.1% THD is excellent.
  • Speaker Impedance: This figure shows you how much current a speaker will draw. Eight ohms is typical. Four ohms is excellent but usually a lot more pricey. If you buy four-ohm speakers, you will need a high-end amplifier to get the most out of them.
  • Headroom: This number is a measure of what speakers can deliver in short bursts. A prominent headroom figure is essential if you have a home cinema system and want to get a surprise from the blasts in action movies.

Every speaker delivers specific frequencies that are louder or softer than others. Believing that your ultimate goal is authentic audio reproduction, the minor variation in loudness between frequencies – in other words, the flatter the frequency response graph is – the greater the speaker quality. In a frequency response graph, you need to see a flat line instead of a line with peaks and valleys.

But sometimes, you cannot define how speakers will sound based purely on the specs. As I said before, manufacturers are incredibly deceptive. They will provide false specifications about their merchandise, hoping customers will see that theirs has the highest decibel or watts, or whatever. In actuality, the given specifications are not the best way to decide about any product.

How Does Wattage Relate to Volume (Loudness)?

Your buddy, cousin, acquaintance, or even your mom bragging about their new speakers could sound familiar to you. There are loads of times when I’ve caught them saying: “My new sound system is off the charts bro, it has 500 watts of power!” 

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This shows that many people believe that more power means more volume, but really, it’s not that simple. Sure, a 1,000-watt sound system is louder than a 20-watt unit but surely not 50 times as loud. As a matter of fact, seldom an 800-watt speaker can provide more volume than a 1,000-watt one.

While power in watts (W) is a measure of electrical power, a decibel (dB) is a measure of loudness.

Even though more wattage doesn’t directly mean more volume, wattage does relate to volume (loudness) through sensitivity. Sensitivity is the amount a speaker can produce with a single watt of power at a 1-meter distance (in a non-reflective, soundproof room), measured in decibels (dB).

The amount of volume generated is termed the sound pressure level or SPL. SPL is given in terms of decibels (dB).

In most cases, the amount will lie between 84 and 92 dB, with the general rule being that the more sensitive a speaker is, the less power it requires to put out the louder volume. 

So, what’s implied if a speaker has a sensitivity of 84 dB SPL?

It means that the sound unit with 1 watt of power measured 1 meter from the speaker can produce a sound pressure level of 84 decibels.

In shorthand, “84 dB SPL 1W/1M”.

And that’s how wattage relates to loudness.

The correlation between watts and decibels

No matter how sensitive your speaker is, there’s a general rule in practice if you want to increase decibel output by enhancing the power of your amplifier.

The rule of thumb is: Increasing speaker sound output by 3 decibels demands you to double the power of the amplifier.

Consider a speaker rated at 84 dB (always recognize that SPL is graded based on 1 W of power and 1 meter from the sound unit).

The practice is that to increase by 3 dB’s, you must double the watts.

To generate an extra 3 dBs to reach 87 dB, the amplifier’s power must expand 2 watts.

But to increase by another 3 dB to 90 dB, the power must double from 2 watts to 4 watts.

And an increase to 93 dB dictates the wattage to double again to 8 watts.

Tray Fiddy

Tray has come to terms with the fact he will probably never be a famous DJ.... but that hasn't stopped him from mixing and researching audio equipment. Tray has over 12 years of experience DJing at home and events.

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