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CEA Plans Powered-Sub Test Standards

The Consumer Electronics Association (CEA) Audio Systems Committee plans to vote in early March on a proposal to add powered subwoofers to the association’s amplifier power-rating standards.

The powered-sub standards would include test conditions and procedures, including how to determine maximum sound pressure levels.

CEA last updated its home audio power-measurement standards in December 2001, when testing and rating requirements were extended to include multichannel home amplifiers for the first time, not just two-channel stereo amps.

Last year, a working group also debated whether to develop power-rating specs specifically for home theater in a box (HTiB) systems and TV speakers but declined to move on the issues, said Dave Wilson, CEA’s engineering and standards director.

Although CEA’s existing multichannel amp standard already applies to HTiBs, he explained, proposals were raised to develop special test procedures for HTiBs to take into account the variety of speakers and varying speaker impedances appearing in HTiBs. The group’s consensus, he said, was that such procedures would be too complicated, and that “if you put too many variables in it, it becomes meaningless.” Members felt the standard should not become “a laundry list of things to test.”

The proposal could come up again for consideration, he added.

As for a TV-amplifier standard, Wilson noted, working-group members are employed mainly by companies that make only audio equipment, so they didn’t feel they had the expertise to set standards for TVs.

In a related effort, the working group is working with Japan’s electronics trade association to harmonize amplifier-rating standards. The Japan trade association was developing its standards when it approached CEA to harmonize its proposal with the U.S. standards. There are differences, Wilson said, “but they don’t appear to be big.”