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Old 05-06-2012, 12:58 AM   #1
johnqflorida

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Head unit built in amp power - Kenwood, Clarion, Alpine, Pioneer, or JVC

Although I've had my moments in years past installing a proper setup with a higher end head unit, separate amp, subwoofer, and component speakers, I currently have a car I'm probably not keeping much longer, and what I'm looking for is a head unit, and possibly a lower price set of component speakers with efficiency ratings on the higher end of the scale.

I also realize they all potentially have the same chips in them for their amplifier stage, but on the chance they aren't, which brand's built in amp (current generation of models) has the most power?

I believe the Kenwoods rate themselves 22 watts RMS, 50 peak, JVC is 20 RMS 45 peak, Pioneers rate themselves at 14 watts RMS, and I forget all the rest. The question is, based on real world usage, does anyone have insight on which has the truest power output, and the most?

Thanks in advance!
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Old 05-06-2012, 03:34 AM   #2
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There isn't any real world difference. The difference between 20wrms and 14wrms is ~33% or just over 1db.
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Old 05-06-2012, 04:10 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jimi77 View Post
There isn't any real world difference. The difference between 20wrms and 14wrms is ~33% or just over 1db.
...and 1db is diddly squat- the human ear needs a difference of 3db to notice an increase in volume, and to net a 3db increase it takes a doubling of power. 20 watts is one barely noticeable increment higher than 10db, and to net the next 3db you would need 40 watts- another 3db requires 80 watts, and another 3db yet again will require 160 watts and so on.

Manufacturers most likely don't share amplifier stages, and even if there were some common parts the circuits supporting them are likely to be different. Most head units labelled as having 50 watts per channel do not, and even the most "powerful" internal amplification will not compare to a real and proper external amplifier.
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Old 05-06-2012, 11:49 AM   #4
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Thanks for the answers. The reason for the question is, Does one brand or another perhaps have a reputation for producing higher current ouput or cleaner peak power?

Those kinds of differences exist with component amplifiers, so it's possible somewhat similar differences happen with head unit amps too? (I though head unit amplifiers pretty much were on a chip nowadays, and one or two of the chips were market leaders, meaning most head units really did have the same amplifiers after all)?

And are the RMS ratings reasonably well regulated nowadays, or are manufacturers still able to take liberties? (I guess I'm showing my age... back in the Equalizer/Power Booster days, power ratings meant nothing...
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Old 05-06-2012, 02:04 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by johnqflorida View Post
Thanks for the answers. The reason for the question is, Does one brand or another perhaps have a reputation for producing higher current ouput or cleaner peak power?

Those kinds of differences exist with component amplifiers, so it's possible somewhat similar differences happen with head unit amps too? (I though head unit amplifiers pretty much were on a chip nowadays, and one or two of the chips were market leaders, meaning most head units really did have the same amplifiers after all)?

And are the RMS ratings reasonably well regulated nowadays, or are manufacturers still able to take liberties? (I guess I'm showing my age... back in the Equalizer/Power Booster days, power ratings meant nothing...
You never want to rely on "peak" power- assuredly it will not be clean, it will contain all sorts of distortion at full clipping where peak power occurs...if you are using the head unit to power aftermarket speakers that require more power to get moving than the stock paper-coned ones, clipping will set in at about half to 3/4 volume.

Many sites selling head units list that "peak" or "max" power- Crutchfield usually lists RMS power (the difference between brands will be miniscule) and if searched via Google will yield data going back several years.
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Old 05-06-2012, 03:19 PM   #6
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A little more information from reading elsewhere: Most (not every single one, but most) list themselves as CEA-2006 compliant, which is a voluntary sort of program for the manufacturers, so the ratings are reasonably accurate for the RMS ratings.

My asking was motivated by whether there were any hidden traits that don't make it into the specifications on the box: Stability into 2 ohms, actual peak power, etc.

Anyway, thanks for all the answers... If anyone has personal experience with any, feel free to chime in! (It's an unusual request, because most people ignore the built-in amps if they care enough about real fidelity
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Old 05-06-2012, 03:40 PM   #7
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Kenwood Excelon KDc-x579. I've personally owned this HU, it had a nice sound, and I believe it was 22wrmsx4.
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Old 05-06-2012, 08:28 PM   #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by basicxj View Post
...and 1db is diddly squat- the human ear needs a difference of 3db to notice an increase in volume, and to net a 3db increase it takes a doubling of power. 20 watts is one barely noticeable increment higher than 10db, and to net the next 3db you would need 40 watts- another 3db requires 80 watts, and another 3db yet again will require 160 watts and so on.

Manufacturers most likely don't share amplifier stages, and even if there were some common parts the circuits supporting them are likely to be different. Most head units labelled as having 50 watts per channel do not, and even the most "powerful" internal amplification will not compare to a real and proper external amplifier.
No it doesn't 3db is perceived as 2x louder..
You can hear a 1db difference..
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Old 05-07-2012, 03:25 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bassfreak View Post
No it doesn't 3db is perceived as 2x louder..
You can hear a 1db difference..
Perhaps you have superhuman hearing...

http://www.gcaudio.com/resources/howtos/loudness.html

To quote:

Perceptions of Increases in Decibel Level

Imperceptible Change 1dB

Barely Perceptible Change 3dB

Clearly Noticeable Change 5dB

About Twice as Loud 10dB

About Four Times as Loud 20dB
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Old 05-07-2012, 11:02 AM   #10
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The measurement system is used because we proceive a change..
1bd is enough to be heard..
Don't believe me turn your volume from 15 to 16..
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Old 05-07-2012, 11:03 AM   #11
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Btw if you ever hear a system at 147 and 150 it sounds a hell of a lot louder..
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Old 05-07-2012, 05:49 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bassfreak View Post
The measurement system is used because we proceive a change..
1bd is enough to be heard..
Don't believe me turn your volume from 15 to 16..
Here's the thing- typical head unit volume increases are not in 1db increments. Let's take an Alpine- 0 would be 0db, but the thing tops out at 35 (certainly not 35db)...Pioneers range from 0 to 60, also not in 1db increments. Every head unit I've ever installed is capable of exceeding 100db, yet I've never seen one that has a volume knob that goes up to "100" on the dial.
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Old 05-08-2012, 02:41 AM   #13
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Your not going to get 3db from 15 to 16..
It depends on a few circumstances but generally you will get close to 1bd than 3..
As for the 0 bit to 35 it depends on how linear the output is..
If it was 3db you would get 1 watt then 2 watts then 4 watts than 12 watts then 24 that's only on 5 your already exceeding the internal amps output..
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Old 05-08-2012, 03:35 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by basicxj View Post
Perhaps you have superhuman hearing...

http://www.gcaudio.com/resources/howtos/loudness.html

To quote:

Perceptions of Increases in Decibel Level

Imperceptible Change 1dB

Barely Perceptible Change 3dB

Clearly Noticeable Change 5dB

About Twice as Loud 10dB

About Four Times as Loud 20dB
That's one version. Alot of sources will say 1db is "barely perceptible" and 3db is "clearly noticable."

As for the OP's question, I'm not aware of any brand or HU that provide more clean output from the internal amp. That said, the vast majority of us on here are using amps, so we may not be the best group to answer this particular question.
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Old 05-08-2012, 05:15 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by basicxj View Post
Perhaps you have superhuman hearing...

http://www.gcaudio.com/resources/howtos/loudness.html

To quote:

Perceptions of Increases in Decibel Level

Imperceptible Change 1dB

Barely Perceptible Change 3dB

Clearly Noticeable Change 5dB

About Twice as Loud 10dB

About Four Times as Loud 20dB

Wow, a chart.

I can assure you, you are dead wrong here. After testing on the Termlab, Linear X, and Audiocontrol for many years a person can EASILY detect 1 dB.

I've argued JND here for many years.
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