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Old 05-27-2005
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Proper amp gain setting how-to

I've got a great how-to for properly setting amp gains, but I'm not sure what the best wat to post it is. It is a Word file, so I suppose I could cut and paste it in one really long post. Mods- how should I go about it?
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Old 05-27-2005
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Just post it and those of us with "how-to" editing experience will make suggestions if we think you need them. I'd go ahead and cut and paste it here and then work on editing it until it's easy to follow.

Put section headers in bold, use extra spaces between lines to separate things where it helps, etc. I think that's a great idea and I say: Just Do It!
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Old 05-27-2005
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Proper amplifier gain setting


Here's how you do it:

DISCONNECT SPEAKERS!

Set head unit volume to 3/4 of maximum. 3/4 is a general guideline, some play higher without distorting, and some do not. Turn off all eqs/presets in the head unit.

P = Power in watts
I = Current in amperes
R = Resistance in ohms (effectively the nominal impedance)
V = Potential in volts (Voltage)

Knowns:
Resistance (nominal impedance of your speakers, 2-ohm, 4-ohm, etc.)
Power (desired wattage)

Unknowns:
Voltage (we will measure this)
Current

Formulas:
P = I*V (formula for power)
V = I*R (Ohm's law)

So after a little substitution to get Voltage in terms of power and resistance we get

V = square root (P*R)

So, for example, say you have a 4 ohm load presented to a 200 (RMS) watt amp.

V = square root (200*4) = 28.3 volts

This means you should increase the gain until you read 28.3 volts AC on the speaker outputs of your amplifier.

As a source, use a sine wave recorded at 0db at a frequency within the range you intend to amplify. You can get a test CD relatively inexpensively at most car audio shops, or from Parts Express (www.parts-express.com).
Additionally, you could use a scope to actually check if the signal is clipping, but I'm not going to get into that here as I doubt very few people have access to that type of equipment.

Put your sine wave cd in your player, and put it on repeat. Be sure all head unit EQs are off or set to flat and turn volume to approximately 3/4, and also be sure the gains and Bass Boost (if applicable) are turned all the way down. Put one lead of the dmm (digital multimeter) on the positive terminal of your amp and the other lead on the negative for the same channel. Your meter should be set to AC voltage. Remember ac voltage x ac voltage / speaker impedance=watts. So if your getting 50volts ac @ 4 ohms your amp is producing 625 watts. 50*50=2500/4=625. This little trick will get you in the ballpark on setting gains without having to invest in an oscilloscope and keep your subs from getting to much dc voltage in the voice coil, which always equals fried subwoofer.

This will work for all frequencies, but is easiest to do with subwoofers. Be sure to play the proper sine wave frequency, usually about 40Hz to approximately 250Hz depending on woofer size. Setting the gain for higher frequencies is a little more difficult because you need to know what frequencies your speakers are capable of handling and what frequencies they play at. Those numbers will change for coaxials vs. separates, and bi-amping or not.

Remember to test the internal resistance of your meter prior to measuring your amp. Touch the positive and negative lead from your dmm together and add that number to the total number you get from measuring your amp.
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Old 05-28-2005
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That makes it a little more complicated than it really is
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Old 05-28-2005
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Not necessarily. It's possible to do it differently, but his method provides what is basically a "calibration" of the system. Rather elegant and I don't fnd it complicated at all. It's both a how-to and a "white paper" on audio electrical ppwer signals. I'll go over it to nit-pick later, but overall I like it.
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Old 05-28-2005
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Thanks John!
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Old 05-28-2005
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From an installers standpoint just take a bass test cd and play with the gains til you the sound your looking for or in my case til the customer gets what their looking for.
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Old 05-28-2005
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That is the way most people do set their gains. Most people that add subs to their stereo system are generally looking for big boom. The shop I worked in catered to high end stereo. The majority of our customers paid for a top shelf system, so that is what we gave them. When you have a sound system that is adjusted, equalized, properly amped, it is a whole different experience than just adding a couple subwoofers and rattling some license plates. This how-to is not something everyone has to do. If you are happy with the sound that is all that matters. I posted this so people looking to get the best performance from their amplifiers could do so. You may not like the sound after following this, but there is only one way to find out.
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Old 05-28-2005
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wordddddd................
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