How to break into separates.....

Discussion in 'AV Receivers' started by Mark Danner, Sep 14, 2004.

  1. Mark Danner

    Mark Danner Stunt Coordinator

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    I am interested in getting an amp for my system. I have a Denon 3802 receiver, B&W 603's, LCR 600, and 601's for the rear surrounds. I dont want to decimate the bank account on this so I have been poking around e-bay. I am considering either a 2 channel or 3 channel amp. What is the general rule of thumb on this? Should all 3 front speakers be powered by the amp? Or is it acceptable to get a 2 channel for the mains and run everything else off of the receiver? Usage is about 70% movies and 30% music. I enjoy listening to music in stereo however the wife likes using all 5 channels (she doesnt use it for music very often though). The room is approx 15x20.

    I have narrowed it down to basically 2 amps. Either a B&K 125.2/.3 or Rotel RB 1070/1080. Of course I would also consider the B&K reference series if I can get a good price. I think they may be a little overkill for my system though.

    One last thing. I dont really like music through all 5 channels because I seem to lose some low end. I assume thats because the amp in my receiver cant push all 5 speakers that hard. Would adding any of the amps I mentioned dramatically change that?
     
  2. John Garcia

    John Garcia Executive Producer

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    No, you are not losing sound becasue the amp can't keep up (it may be a factor), it's just that the processing makes it sound this way. The same thing happens with my Marantz 8300, and I am using monoblocks (180w @ 4Ohms) for my mains. To me PLII does a better job than "all channel stereo", but I still don't use that either - 99.9% of the time I listen in stereo.

    In a perfect world, you would have the same amplification for the three fronts. Could you get away with just the front two with an amp different from your mains? Yes, but there may be a slight difference in sound from them compared to the center, though it should not be a show stopper.
     
  3. Mark Danner

    Mark Danner Stunt Coordinator

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    Do you guys think that the B&K ST 125.3 would be a good fit with my current setup?? Any other 3 channel amps that I should check out in the $1000 and under category? Looking at B&K, for the extra $100-$150 I might as well spring for the 3rd channel.
     
  4. Charlie C

    Charlie C Stunt Coordinator

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    How to break into separates..........
    sell the denon and add what $ you have saved for the amps. this will surely be enough to get a good pre/pro/amp setup.

    ps what is your sub?
     
  5. Brian OK

    Brian OK Supporting Actor

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    FWIW,

    Here was my upgrade path to separates from a Yamaha DSP-A1 (not a bad amp section at all, as many have attested, and so do I). And the DSP-A1 was not bad at all in terms of processing, less the DSP funky stuff which I never listened to)

    First step was to buy (and in my mind/ears the most important step)a new pre/pro. I bought a clean, used EAD Ovation+. Cost $1800. Sold the Yammie for cash.

    Second was to sell three IRD MB-100 Monoblock amps (and a Marantz MA6100 spare from the closet) and buy two clean, used Classe CA150(W) two channel stereo amps for the L,R,C speakers. The center has a dedicated CA150. Bought both Classe amps for $850.ea off Audiogon. Took a few months, but patience prevailed after checking Agon 3+ times daily. Kept two IRD MB-100 block for the surrounds.

    Third was to sell my Paradigm Studio Ref 40's and Ref CC Center speaker. Sold at very good price and went out and bought two Von Schweikert VR-1's for surrounds and three Von Schweikert LCR-15's for front trio.

    An upgrade, you bet. The Classe amps are powerful yet smooth as silk. But the key is the pre/pro in my mind. It really is the magic to my ears. The amps add to the mix of course, but the pre is key.

    My move to Von Schweikert was to get into soft dome tweeters and the smoother presentation vs the Digms.

    Just a personal preference, as your speaker are excellent.

    my.02

    good luck,

    BOK
     
  6. mackie

    mackie Supporting Actor

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    Take a look at outlaw audio. They make good amps at great prices, and they have a 30 in home trial period. I think the 100w 7 channel amp is around $900. You can get three of their 200w monoblock amps for under $1,000 too. Outlaw amps are well regarded.
     
  7. PeterK

    PeterK Supporting Actor

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    Just a terminology question, monoblock means a single ouput amp correct?
     
  8. Mark Danner

    Mark Danner Stunt Coordinator

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    No sub yet. I have my mind set on a SVS PB2-ISD. I held off on the sub just because I live in a townhome and have a neighbor on one side of me.......some new people just moved in and we hear their tv all of the time and we have good walls that dont allow normal sounds through. So now me and my wife are like "screw them, time for a sub." I will get the sub first and then save up for an amp. I just got a Mits 52" DLP tv so funds are low. I figured that I would wait on a pre/pro until they start releasing ones with HDMI inputs.
     
  9. John Garcia

    John Garcia Executive Producer

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    Yes. An amp with a single channel, so all of the power from it's power supply is dedicated to that one channel.
     
  10. Robbie R

    Robbie R Stunt Coordinator

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    Mark

    I am in the same position you are in, and I have the exact same speaker set-up. (DM603,DM601,LCR600) I am powering my speakers with a Rotel RSX-1065, but am looking to get into separates and use my rotel as a pre/pro.

    My plan was to buy a used Bryston 3B 2-channel amp for the fronts, but I was worried about not having the same amplification for the center channel. Now I am thinking about a 3-channel amp or monoblocks.

    The price of the Outlaw equipment is temping but I don't know much about their products......
     
  11. mackie

    mackie Supporting Actor

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    Outlaw products have been reviewed by numerous magazines. Go to their web site to read a few. All of the ones I've read have been favorable, so that's why I chose to buy their amps. There've been a lot of inconclusive discussions about the effects an amp makes on sound. Some say the more expensive products like Bryston are better while others say any properly working amp, with the same output and with a flat frequency response will sound the same. Of course this is overly simplified. The outlaw amps have been favorably reviewed and have good specs. The customer service is fist rate and they have a generous return policy. If you pay shipping for their products, they'll pay the return shipping if you don't want them.
     
  12. Robbie R

    Robbie R Stunt Coordinator

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    Thanks Mackie


    I checked out their site yesterday. Those 200 watt mono-blocks sure look interesting. You can't beat that price..
     
  13. Drew_W

    Drew_W Screenwriter

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    You probably can because they ship UPS to Canada. Bad news.

    I really don't see a problem with running a 2-channel amp for the front L/R pair though. Yes the centre will be run off different amplification, but it shouldn't be a HUGE difference...you can (and should) recalibrate to match the levels when you get the amp in, of course. Your receiver will also function much better if it doesn't have to exhaust its power supply on the main L/R.
     
  14. chung_sotheby

    chung_sotheby Supporting Actor

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    If you are 70% music, Outlaw is a great place to start. Very affordable, great quality, and great customer service. It could only help for you to see if seperates are really what you are looking for, especially with the money back refund. Keep your Denon for the moment, and do a comparison between it and the Outlaw setup, and you can even do a head to head of the Outlaw and Denon pre sections, to determine if a leap into seperates will be worth it for you. A lot of the times, the preamp section of a setup will influence the overall sound more that the amp section. The way I like to see it is that the preamp will influence more of the signature of the sound, while the amp will influence the effect of the sound. Hope this helped
     
  15. Dan Hitchman

    Dan Hitchman Cinematographer

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    Try Parasound's Halo line of amps. They are supposedly "da bomb" and have a warm, inviting sound (without sounding dark like B&K amps and have a lot of detail) and not a huge sticker price that would go extremely well with your B&W speakers. IMHO that B&W model range (which I've auditioned myself) needs a slightly warmer amp to negate a bit of the zippiness in the top end.
     

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