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audio tips

Amplifier forms the centre of every stereo system.

On the one hand, all program sources are connected and managed here, on the other hand, the amplifier must process and amplify the signals of these program sources to the extent that the connected loudspeakers can be adequately driven.

The choice of the amplifier thus plays a crucial role in the quality and usability of the entire stereo system.

Howdy SEA Fans, welcome to another tip Tuesday blog post and today we would like to give you some tips on what to pay attention to when buying a stereo amplifier.

Let’s start off with the basic concepts regarding Amplifiers,

Roughly speaking, stereo amplifiers are made up of two components:
the preamplifier and the power amplifier.

Usually, these two components are combined in one device.

One speaks then one speaks of a complete amplifier.

If the modules are housed in separate independent housings, then one speaks of a pre-stage and power amplifier or of a pre / final stage combination.

Pre Amplifiers

The preamplifier is the control centre.
All program sources are connected here and their signals are processed in such a way that they are in a voltage and impedance range usable for the output stages.
In addition, the preamp includes the volume control.


Since the voltage output by the preamplifier is not sufficient to drive a loudspeaker, the preamplifier must be followed by an output stage, which increases the voltage so far that the loudspeaker can be operated properly.

Nowadays many speakers have an integrated power amplifier.

These are referred to as active speakers and can be connected directly to the preamplifier.

Integrated Amplifiers

Integrated amplifiers are a combination of pre-amplifier and power amplifier. Here you can connect the signal sources on one side. On the other hand, a power amplifier is able to drive the speakers. Since here – unlike separate Vor-Enstufen – only one device is needed and integrated amplifiers are usually cheaper than in sound and equipment comparable separate components, integrated amplifiers enjoy great popularity with the end user.

The high-level inputs

At the high-level inputs, all sources are connected, which output their signals analog.
The only exception is turntables.
The input sensitivity of the high-level inputs is 100 to 500 mV.
Make sure that your amplifier has enough high-level inputs for the program sources you are using.

High-level inputs usually have cinch sockets.
In addition to these connections, balanced XLR connections exist – predominantly in the high-end range.
The symmetrical signal transmission comes from the studio technology and is less sensitive to interference.
If the signal source also has balanced outputs, connecting via XLR makes sense, as there may be little sonic advantages.
A connection via RCA XLR adapter, however, does not make sense, because the signal is not transmitted symmetrically and therefore there are no benefits.

On older devices, it can be found sometimes even 5-pin DIN connectors.
These are phonetically equivalent to RCA plugs.
Again, it is worth using only if both source and amplifier have DIN sockets.

a) Make sure that the selected amplifier has enough high-level inputs for all the program sources that you want to operate via the analog outputs.
b) DIN or XLR inputs are only required if you have program sources that have corresponding outputs. An adaptation does not make sense.

Digital Inputs and D / A Converters

In the recent past, more and more computers or televisions serve as signal suppliers for the stereo system.
After all, many computer users have now stored their music archive on the hard drive of the computer, and the sound of the TV just better suits the big picture when played back on adult speakers.

As the sound cards of computers do not meet high demands on the sound quality in the rule, a connection of the stereo system to the home network is recommended.
Since this is a topic of its own and is also very extensive.
As an alternative to the connection to the home network offers the possibility to connect the computer (digital) via USB cable (USB in the dictionary) with the amplifier.

Also with the television sets a digital cabling is recommended, since the devices often no longer have analogue sound outputs.
Although coaxial digital connections are a little bit better than their optical counterparts, televisions, like set-top boxes, should always be connected via the optical digital inputs, as they are connected via coaxial (electrical) ) Connections can lead to ground loops.

Coaxial digital inputs, on the other hand, are used for CD drives, network players, and other digital sources that are not connected to the house antenna (whether cable, satellite or terrestrial).

In addition to optical, coaxial and USB inputs, there are still BNC, XLR and Firewire inputs, but rather have an exotic status and will not be explained in detail here.

In order to process digital signals, an amplifier – in addition to the corresponding inputs – requires a computer that can convert the digital signals into analog signals.
This calculator is called a D / A converter. Since the D / A converter has a great influence on the sound quality of the digital sources connected to the amplifier, it should be correspondingly high quality.

Although there is an increasing demand for stereo amplifiers with D / A converters and digital inputs, the offer is not very extensive.
But do not worry, just the fact that the amplifier, which has been painstakingly selected for a long-term selection process, does not have the necessary digital equipment, should not stop you from buying the desired device. The desired amplifier can then be easily combined with an external D / A converter.
While the digital signal sources can be accommodated at the corresponding inputs of the converter, the converter is connected via its analog outputs (RCA, XLR) to a high-level input of the amplifier.


a) In order to connect the computer or the TV to an amplifier, it requires digital inputs and a D / A converter.
b) If the desired amplifier does not have the necessary digital equipment, this can be compensated by purchasing an external D / A converter or a CD player with digital inputs.
c) Make sure that the converter can process the sound formats of all the audio files you have archived.
d) Since all sources that are to be digitally connected to the amplifier are strongly influenced by the quality of the D / A converter, this should be as high quality as possible.
e) Although the coaxial (electrical) connection is a bit better than the optical one, all sources connected to the house antenna (cable, satellite or terrestrial) should be connected to the amplifier via the optical inputs Grounding ground loops could form.

The connection of a Turntable

If a turntable is to be connected to the amplifier, a phono input is required.
One of the “normal” high-level inputs cannot be used for this purpose, because the signal from the turntable has a much lower level than the high-level signals and also needs to be equalized.

Note that there are two different types of pickups, each requiring different phono inputs.
On the one hand, there are the MM (moving magnet) systems with a comparatively high level. On the other side are the much quieter MC (moving coil) systems.
Depending on the pickup system used, the input sensitivity values are different (2 to 5 mV at the MM input or 0.1 to 0.5 mV at the MC input) and accordingly an MM phono input or an MC phono input is required.

In the analog domain, cables are known to have a particularly strong range of sound quality.
Since the voltage at a phono input can be up to 5,000 times (0.1 mV to 500 mV) lower than at a “normal” high-level input, it makes sense to make these connections with a special phono cable.

A few MC cartridges – so-called high-output MC – have enough levels to operate on an MM input.
Almost every phono input is suitable for MM systems. In contrast, MC systems can only be operated on a part of the phono inputs.

If the desired amplifier can only manage high-level signals, it is necessary to purchase an external phono preamplifier.
This too must be suitable for the type of pickup you are using.
Numerous turntables – especially in the entry level – have a built-in phono preamp and can be connected to any high-level input.

a) Turntables cannot be operated on high-level inputs, but require a special phono input. An exception are turntables with integrated phono preamplifier.
b) Make sure that the phono input is also suitable for the pickup system you are using (MM or MC).
c) If the amplifier has no phono input, it can be supplemented by an external phono preamplifier.

How expensive should an amplifier be?

The purchase price of the amplifier should be based on the speaker.
There are different opinions on how the weighting of the budget of a hi-fi system on speakers and amplifiers should ideally be distributed.
The most commonly read is that about 60-70 per cent of the budget (for speakers and amplifiers) can account for speakers.
The remaining 30-40 per cent remain for the amplifier.
Overall, the best sound result for the amount of money used should be achieved.

If you intend to purchase small high-end speakers, it may be useful to shift the weight slightly more towards the amplifier.
Even loudspeakers with high electrical demands on the amplifier – whether due to their extremely low efficiency or due to an impedance curve that approaches the short circuit – require powerful and therefore expensive amplifiers.
Again, the amplifier may be slightly more expensive in relation to the speakers.

a) The amplifier should cost about half as much as the connected speakers.
b) When operating electrically demanding speakers should be slightly more invested in the amplifier.

What should be the power of the amplifier?

The performance of the amplifier is in the eyes of many end users a crucial criterion for its quality.
But does a 100 watt amp really sound better than its colleague who only has 50 watts under the hood?

This question can be answered with no.

How much power an amplifier needs is ultimately dependent on the connected speaker.
And here, too, there is a big misunderstanding.
Often the load limit of the speaker is seen as a measure of the required amplifier power.
But this has little to do with reality.

But how should you proceed with the purchase of the amplifier to find out how much power is needed?

The amplifier should be about half the price of the speakers to which it is connected.
Now they are already halfway on the safe side.
In addition, the key criteria for which the power required by the amplifier is the efficiency of the connected speaker, as well as its impedance characteristics.

The efficiency indicates how loud the sound pressure of the loudspeaker is at a distance of 1 meter when the loudspeaker is powered with a power of 1 watt.
Most speakers on the market today range around 85 dB.
If this is also the case with your speakers, you do not have to worry about the power of your amplifier, because almost every transistor amplifier is capable of driving the loudspeaker.
If the efficiency is lower, the amplifier needs more power.
Inquire whether the desired amplifier provides enough power for your speakers.
In particular, so-called Class A amplifiers often do not have enough power to properly drive low-efficiency speakers.
Tube amplifiers have – as far as the performance is concerned – a special position.
Especially with single-ended triode amplifiers, an efficiency of 85 dB is not enough. Inquire also here which efficiency your desire amplifier needs.

The impedance (measured in ohms with the Greek letter O) is frequency-dependent and varies more or less with most speakers.
The deciding factor is the lowest impedance value that the loudspeaker achieves over the entire frequency spectrum that it can reproduce.
This value is referred to below as the lower limit impedance.
The higher the lower limit impedance, the less critical it is to drive the speaker for the amplifier.
Here, values of 4 O are not critical for the vast majority of stereo amplifiers.
It becomes problematic only with a lower limit impedance of 2 O or less, in which only the fewest amplifiers remain really stable or load-stable.

When selecting the amplifier, the following applies.
At a lower limit impedance of more than 4 O, the operation of the speaker for virtually any stereo amplifier (even for tube amplifier) is not a problem.
With a lower limit impedance of less than 4 O, tube amplifiers will fail, and if less than 3 O, then you should also ask transistor amplifiers to see if the amplifier can drive your speaker properly.

a) The key factors for the power required by the amplifier are the loudspeaker’s efficiency and lower limit impedance. If both are in the common range (> 85 dB,> 4 O), practically every transistor amplifier is able to supply the loudspeakers with sufficient voltage.
b) If the efficiency and lower limit impedance are lower, it must be clarified in particular for Class A amplifiers whether the power of the amplifier is sufficient for the existing loudspeakers.
c) Depending on the circuit principle, tube amplifiers require a much higher degree of efficiency once again.


The above statements are primarily aimed at beginners.
In order to provide this target group with a high level of practical use, we absolutely wanted to avoid killing our readers with a wealth of technical expertise. Therefore, we deliberately tried to make the connections as simple as possible and to limit ourselves to essential information – just tricks and tips.

We ask you to consider this, if you, dear reader, belong to the group of “high-end audiophile specialists” and miss the necessary depth in this article you are welcome to share your tips and updates to this article as a comment below

Happy Sound Engineering

audio tips

The soundcheck is mainly about 3 basic things:

1. The band should be able to hear well on stage to feel comfortable and to play optimally,
2. The mixer should get the opportunity to fine tune all signals,
3. Mix and edit and you want to find out – especially in smaller venues – how the room interacts with the stage sound.

Howdy SEA Fans welcome to another tipTuesday blog post.

Today we are sharing some tips on how to do the sound check for a live band performance for optimal output.

First of all, thanks to our Faculty on Sound Reinforcement Nivin Sam John who assisted us in coming up with this article by sharing those valuable tips.

Here are those practical suggestions for the sound check which Nivin he gained from his live-sound experience on topics like how to bring a band soundcheck across the stage – and what is necessary besides the right technique.

What is the whole structure of Sound Check?

The exact structure of a soundcheck certainly depends to a large extent on the artist’s ideas.

If you are working with a band, with whom you have done many performances, the structure will be in place quite automatically.

In the above-mentioned case, you might have already prepared a suitable scene as a starting point, which some readjustments you can carry on.

For bands that I know well, the structure of the soundcheck may even seem a bit chaotic, as I often check out readily available signals from willing musicians without a predetermined order.

This saves a lot of time, but the overall sound blends together more like a jigsaw puzzle and this can only succeed if you know the band sound as well as the sound of the individual instruments or their place in the arrangement and frequency spectrum very well.

When working with a new artist for the first time, it will be helpful to discuss and clarify in advance what the goals of the soundcheck are, whether it makes sense to follow a certain course of action, and so on.

How to do the preparation for Sound Check?

During the preparation time, here I need to start taking in detail with the artist which will be beneficial for the sound engineering on how to prepare himself for the creative work which is about to start.

If possible, I’ll do a line check right after setup and mike, even with an assistant to make sure all the channels are working, and maybe even roughly whistle the monitors by extracting feedback-prone frequencies from the corresponding channels.

If necessary at all, this can only be done in detail anyway, when microphones and levels are fixed.

After that, I usually take a little break in consultation with the artist to prepare myself for the creative work that is now beginning.

A small break after all the technical and organizational arrangements often works wonders for the effectiveness and productivity.

If I have not found any time for this before, then after this break I usually adjust the sum EQ based on some reference songs.

Often, I use a 31-band EQ for this, and, if available, I prepare some tapes that might prove particularly difficult or helpful in the parametric Mains EQ.

In order to access them quickly later on, I usually prepare them only on the basis of the frequencies and slopes and leave all gains on 0. Often I use the reference songs just to check whether the Main Outs possibly left and swapped right. A surprisingly common phenomenon.

For relaxed communication with the artists in the state, I prefer to use a talkback microphone.

How to address the Musician in the stage?

It is not an issue for the sound engineer if he or she has been closely associated with the band members for a long time, because the sound engineers know their specific preferences.

In case of those band that I do not know yet, I like to write down the names of the musicians on the digital or analog scribble strip.

For example, I find it easier to soundcheck when I address the musician by his name than with his function in the band.

People usually appreciate being perceived as people and individuals.

Especially since it also leads to fewer confusions.
Musicians also like to express monitor requests by mentioning the name of the corresponding musician instead of the instrument.

Since I think it’s just convenient to have the names directly on the desk – especially at events with several artists.

Even if I have not seen the band for a long time and unfortunately forgot the names again, I have them ready when I load the band scene.

I find it more practical.

How to setup Stage Sound?

A band will first set their stage sound – so this does not have to happen during the sound check.

Especially in smaller venues, it is often true: The better the band already hears on stage without PA and monitors, the more familiar the situation seems to them and the more balanced the whole thing sounds then also forward.

The smaller the room, the higher the proportion of the stage sound in the overall sound, and this must be considered.

Many more seasoned bands make these corrections themselves and already know how and how loud they want to sound on stage, inexperienced artists may need to ask you to adjust the volume of the amps down or up and the like.

As mentioned elsewhere, a simple account of the overall sound’s effect on the audience often helps.

The smaller the room, the more importance comes to the sound that emerges on the stage.

Since even small bass amps often produce sufficient levels to create a disturbing roar in the room at certain frequencies, it is particularly worthwhile to use Bassamp’s frequently integrated graphics or parametric equalizer to search for suitable resonance frequencies in order to attenuate them , If the stage allows it, changing the location can also make a big difference.

Experienced musicians may take such measures automatically, but I have often found that this improves the transparency and perceptibility of the bass, even at low stage volumes, and the musician is grateful for some support. In a similar way, this can of course also applies to guitar amps or monitors.

Should the Sound Check Start with the Drums?

Many soundchecks begin with the drums.

From my experience, this often means that in the end, the headroom is no longer enough for all other instruments.

Personally, I often start the soundcheck with the quietest instruments and voices and then build the mix around it.

It seems advantageous to me that you can at least coarsely and for all good audible already a suitable balance for the monitors screw together, which then only has to be adjusted in volume as soon as the whole band starts.

In addition, it builds up the mix around the possibly most important elements around, and probably represents them even better.

Which Sound Check Procedure to follow?

The soundcheck itself starts with the usual leveling of the channels, etc.

I usually try to have as many microphones as possible already open – as this significantly affects the overall sound and so, for example, feedback problems become apparent more quickly and can be fixed.

I find it important to have a quick, intuitive sound setting for the individual channels so that I do not get lost in too much sound screwing and possibly lose perspective.

If there are some difficulties with instruments (drums resonances or similar) then a little bit of detailing is obviously worthwhile. In the same way, you should also dare to try different microphone positions, etc., but overall I try to prepare all channels as fast as possible so that the band can play a few songs.

Usually, after the soundcheck with the whole band, there is still the possibility to go over some instruments, which might sound even better, with the respective The ability to do a soundcheck very quickly helps.

We hope that the topic we discussed above has been a matter of interest as well as a piece of valuable information on how to perform the sound check for a band to receive optimal output.

What do you think? Write us in the comments!

Happy Sound Engineering !!!