What Does the Decibel Rating (dB) Mean on a Speaker?

Speakers come in a wide variety of sizes and shapes, but what really sets them apart is how good they sound and how loud they can be. Having a really nice looking speaker that doesn’t have the power to fill a given space with clear, vibrant audio can be a disappointing thing. For this reason, it’s important to look at multiple factors when making your speaker purchase.

For example, what is the decibel rating of that speaker? The decibel rating is a direct indication of how loud the speakers can be. For example, a speaker with 90 dB/1 means that at 1 watt of power, the sound produced by the speaker at a distance of 1 meter is 90 dB. This is pretty loud, especially when you consider that normal human speech is roughly 65-70 dB.

So, why doesn’t a 100 w amplifier blow the windows off your home when you crank it up? There’s a significant loss of volume gain as the wattage increases. In fact, it takes double the wattage to drive a speaker to a 3 dB increase. If at one watt the speaker operates at 95 dB, it will operate at 97 dB at two watts, 100 dB at four, 103 dB at eight, 106 dB at 16, and so on and so forth.

What Does the Decibel Rating (dB) Mean on a Speaker?It’s because of this that the original dB rating of a speaker matters so much more than the power of an amplifier driving it. You don’t want to drive so much power into a speaker as to blow it out, and you don’t want to drive much less as to fall short of the potential of the equipment. This is one of the main reasons you want to pick your speakers before your amplifier when setting up a proper audio system.

Over all, there is much to consider when purchasing audio equipment. Above all else, make sure that what you choose is designed to sound great at the volume where you expect to have it set for the space you want to fill. Going overboard is a common mistake for first-time audio equipment buyers as they have the idea in mind that bigger is always better. On the contrary, it isn’t the size that matters.

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Ryan Matthew Pierson has worked as a broadcaster, writer, and producer for media outlets ranging from local radio stations to internationally syndicated programs. His experience includes every aspect of media production. He has over a decade of experience in terrestrial radio, Internet multimedia, and commercial video production.