Hi cacophony and hiradi,
Welcome to the RWA forum!
In general, the Signature 16 is happy with a wide variety of speakers (it is fine with 4-ohms, and small dips below that at all audio frequencies). The trick is, if you want to play fairly loud with its power rating, then you either:
- Go with more sensitive speakers (i.e. those that produce higher SPL's with lower amounts of power)
- Use speakers that sound great for near-field listening (e.g. Harbeth's excel with this, so even though their models
have sensitivity ratings around 83, 84, 85dB - if you are listening near-field at around 5 to 7 feet from them, you will be
able to play at louder levels than you might think). The closer you are to the speaker, the louder the volume. Every foot you move away, the
more power you need to get an equivalent loudness level.
With all this being said, we have customers running such a wide variety of speakers with their Signature 15 / 16s.
Questions that I usually ask when someone wants to know if the pairing will be good:
- Sensitivity / load of your speakers?
- How big is your room?
- How far to you sit from your speakers?
- How loud do you like to listen? (I know, this is all relative because "my loud" and "your loud" might be
different, but I'm trying to get an idea. If you say, "I'm in a small apartment and can't play too loud," or
"I like to crank it up and feel the music" - I then have a pretty good idea
- What genres of music do you listen to?
- Is your room more on the sound-reflective or sound-absorptive side?
Answers to these questions help get an idea if 16wpc into 8-ohm / 32wpc into 4 ohm is enough, or if something like
the Signature 57 would be better.
Our customers are often surprised by just how well the Signature 16 does, and they find that it acts more powerful than the rating
But NEVER, NEVER confuse the volume control setting (e.g. 9 o'clock, 2 o'clock) with power (watts). Having an amp that gets loud sooner on the volume control does NOT necessarily mean it is more powerful! It means it has a higher GAIN setting. You can have two integrated amps - one rated at 10wpc, and the other at 500wpc, and the 10wpc amp could make your speakers play louder at the 9 o'clock setting on the volume dial than the 500wpc amp. Really! This does NOT mean the 10wpc amp is more powerful. It means that it has more gain at that volume control setting. But at some point on the dial, the 10wpc will start to clip (distort), and the 500wpc amp will be able to play far louder than that with without distorting. Make sense?
Hope this helps, and sorry if this is information overload!