Peak, Program, and Continuous Power Ratings: Get a Handle on Power Handling

QSC RMX1450 pro audio amplifier

Get a Handle on Power Handling

What do we mean by power rating? The short answer is  the amount of power a loudspeaker can handle without blowing, or the amount of power an amplifier can or potentially can produce.  In order to select the proper speakers for your show, event, or venue as well as the proper amplifier to push them, there are a few terms to consider.

Continuous Power Rating

Often referred to as RMS power rating, the continuous power rating is the level of electrical power that can be introduced continuously into an audio system.   The test is administered by supplying a continuous sine wave to an audio component for an extended period of time.

Program Power Rating

Program power ratings are based on tests designed to simulate the dynamic musical responses in a performance setting.  Program power ratings are typically twice the continuous power rating.

Peak Power Rating

Peak power ratings are the highest expected momentary power level a speaker can handle before blowing.  The peak power rating refers to very short instances of power, typically transients under 20ms.  Peak power ratings are typically, but not always, twice the program power rating, and four times the continuous power rating.

Some Other Audio Terms You Should Know


Sensitivity is a measurement of the ability a speaker has to convert supplied power from an amplifier into sound waves.  The test is administered by measuring the relative volume of sound measured in Decibels using one watt of power at one meter.   Speakers with higher sensitivity ratings are much more efficient transducers.


Impedance is a measurement of the resistance the audio signal is experiencing through the audio system by way of the materials it is traveling though.   Measured in Ohms the signals power will behave differently under different impedance loads.   It is very important that you  are sure of the impedance of your speakers and closely match them to the correct power rating of your amplifier.

Staff writers at Sonic Electronix are experts in their field. In addition to a complete in-house training program, these experts typically have many years of hands-on experience in their specialty. Some come from car audio installer backgrounds, while others come with extensive retail experience.

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