Understanding RMS & PMPO audio wattage claims

Here at BuyCleverStuff, we hope to help address some of the problems and give answers to ceiling speaker questions such as this to help your search for ceiling speaker systems.

"What does it sound like?"

"How loud are those speakers?"

"What is the volume like compared to those other ones I've looked at?"

If we had a pound for every time someone emailed or called us asking those questions, we’d give up selling audio systems and retire to the Bahamas. Don’t panic – we won’t though. Not yet anyway.

When it comes to audio power and speaker quality, it can be a very difficult thing to try and explain over an email, across the telephone and even more problematic to explain in a YouTube video – as you still won’t “hear” the quality of sound as you’re listening through your own device’s speakers.

  • PMPO versus RMS

Two initialisms you may have seen as you've gone about researching ceiling speakers and their audio quality – but what do they stand for?

PMPO = Peak Music Power Output / Peak Momentary Power Output

RMS = Root Mean Square

So what do they actually mean?

Let’s start with PMPO – quite simply it means very little.

In fact, it’s usually a marketing ploy to make the product sound fantastic, which for a microcosm of a second it is, but we hazard a guess you’d prefer your audio to sound fantastic over a much longer period of time.

PMPO is exactly what it is, a peak output in one hit – think of it when you have volume turned up to the maximum without realising and you have no other alternative but to turn it down. That’s PMPO in perspective.

It looks a great number to have on the box and on the description, often stated as being anything from five to ten times (depending entirely on how the company’s marketing department work out their own random formula to make it sound as impressive as possible) the actual RMS figure, but it will not continuously run at that output over a longer period of time. If it did, chances are you’d be left with a broken speaker very quickly; in short, don’t believe the hype of PMPO.

RMS, however, plots a number of different points on the same wave form to give a more accurate and realistic reading of power handling when it comes to your ceiling speakers.

This is more continuous and based over a longer period of time, rather than a wildly based and unreliable figure to base things on when it comes to the power - and reliability - of your speakers.

At BuyCleverStuff we will always endeavour to give you the RMS and not PMPO of our available ceiling speakers.

Giving our customers the best advice and guidance is something we always strive to do which is why hope to develop in the very near future, a more comprehensive method and comparison of our range of ceiling speakers on offer beyond RMS so you consider what your future ceiling speaker system purchase will be with confidence.

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