Can an underpowered amp damage speakers?

I have a pair of Sonus Faber Olympica III less than 2 years old, whose tweeters have malfunctioned. The manufacturer says they’ve been overdriven by my Uniti Nova. My dealer says the power amp of my Nova has been running at too high a level for too long, degrading the signal to noise ratio thus sending too much noise to the tweeters therefore causing the damage. They recommend a more powerful amp to avoid repetition.

While I understand the balance of my chosen system does not follow the normal allocation of funds, the sound was initially very good to my ears in my listening room. My question for any experts on here is can an underpowered amp cause tweeter damage and if so will a mire powerful amp be safer”

To continue

I’m no expert but the often quoted “distortion/clipping” is the culprit seems to be controversial with many experts disputing this explanation since it is power causing the issue and a more powerful amp which avoids clipping will deliver even more power.

The speakers are being repaired under warranty so I have no major issue with the dealer, I just need to decide if further expense on a more powerful amp will solve the problem.

Distortion is known to be a potential cause of damage to a tweeter. But I think you must have been playing the Nova very loudly for that to happen. If you want to go down a separate power amp route then a few forum members have paired the Nova with a 250DR and report it is a good combination. I had a Star with a 250DR while waiting for the 222 to arrive and it was a very enjoyable listen. 250DR amps are often available secondhand which could save you some money.

10k speakers with a Nova…which is essentially a SuperNait with streaming, I’m not knocking the Nova at all but I think it’s very much out of its depth.

How large is the room?

Not really very loud at all, that’s why I was puzzled.

The room is on the larger size, about 9m x 6m. I’m not disputing the combination is unusual I’m just trying to determine how to avoid repetition.

Nova is 80 watts per channel. What power amp do they suggest you pair it with would be my question.

The 250DR is also 80 watts per channel.

When you played the Nova were you getting clipping noises?

See what your dealer suggests. The Naim Classic series amps aren’t particularly powerful. 300DR could be possibility but is only 90 watts.

New Classic 250 ia 100 watts per channel.

See what dealer suggests out of these or use alternative make.

I get clipping when playing loud and turn it down straight away when this happens.

I have 2 x 135s which are around 75 watts per channel driving Focal Sopra 2s. The speakers could use much more powerful amps in my opinion. I am mindful of sound levels and clipping.

So be honest about volumes. Were you playing it loud and getting lots of clipping. If not then I don’t see how tweeters would fail.

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Simple answer is yes, an amp with insufficient power capability for the sound level wanted most definitely can damage speakers - and that happening is more likely than using an amp capable of far higher power than the speakers can handle.

It does depend on the amp, and the speakers, but that is the general position. Essentially if the amp is driven to overload trying to play loud enough, the resultant clipping which produces higher amplitude high frequencies which can readily overload tweeters and overheat their voice coils, deforming or burning out.

But provided not pushed to distorting there should be no risk to the speakers.

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An oscillating amplifier could also burn out tweeters. What speaker cable are you using and was the amplifier noticeably warm?

Its a massive room. You must have been getting clipping to blow the tweeter. You need bigger amps for room that size to sound decent with those speakers.

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It’s a lot of room to fill even a normal volumes! The Nova will be running hard. :hot_face:

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Basically rule of thumb is you cant allow your speakers to clip. That is the warning to turn it down. I have blown speakers apart before by playing too loud.

You are driving quite demanding 4 ohm speakers with a relatively modest all in one, in a very large space, so it’s really no surprise that you have problems. I’d suggest a 222/250 at the very least.

I think he needs new 350s. They are 175 watts per channel.

A common cause of damaged speakers is switch-on surge from turning on or plugging in a source with the amp volume on and not muted, and can happen with switch off/disconnection (always ensure volume control is turned to zero or otherwise amp muted before turning sources on/off or, worse, plugging/unplugging).

Room that size needs powerful amps. Try to work with dealer on a solution.

They are suggesting the new 250. I’m genuinely seeking alternative input I know what clipping sounds like, I have a separate home studio in which I use Focal Trio Be monitors. I am confident the volume was not excessively loud using the Nova/SF system.

We run 4 ohm SFs on a 300DR in an 8x4m(?) space. Need to measure…. Speakers fire on short throw.

Gets deafening without any clipping.

I do listen to lots of thrash type metal which will certainly exercise one’s tweeters.

Above someone says “only 90w”, but it is rated 500VA on transients (SN3 and 250DR are rated 400VA).

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New 250NC will be more capable than Nova.

Agreed, interestingly the same dealer set the system up for the demo and final installation.

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