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Please Read Objectively...


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48 replies to this topic

#1 of 49 OFFLINE   TerryHub

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Posted May 01 2004 - 12:23 PM

I posted a few days ago that I wanted to upgrade my receiver/amp/DVD player to Rotel. Some suggestions from forum members were to just upgrade the amp to Rotel and keep my current setup.

Current setup:
Sony STR-DA2ES Receiver
Sony DVP-NC685V CD/SACD/DVD Player
B&W 602s3 Mains, LCR600s3 Center, Speakercraft In-wall Surrounds

I got my hands on a Rotel RB970BX 2-channel amp 60Watts/ch. I ran several comparisons between the Sony amp and the Rotel using a wide range of music that I'm very familiar with: Sade, Fourplay, Jean-Luc Ponty, Norah Jones, Outkast, Prince, Alice in Chains, Prince, and Talking Heads. I listened to each amp for about an hour, then I began switching back and forth after a couple of select tracks.

My opinion disapointed me a little. I very much preferred the sound of the Sony amp over the Rotel. The Rotel seemed to lack detail in low mid-base range and high frequency. When listening to piano I found the Rotel to feel distant and hollow. The Sony is very detailed and the piano sounds like it's in the room with you. Many of the tracks I listened to had soft detail in the music that seemed to disappear with the Rotel. Both "sound" good, but whenn you switch back and forth, the Sony reveals details that I don't want to miss. I don't know if this is the difference between "warm" sounding amp and one that is not. I absolutely do not consider the Sony to be bright or harsh in any way. It was not only in upper frequencies that I heard the lack of detail. Sade's voice seemed to howel with the Rotel while the Sony made her voice sultry (as it really is).

I listend to both amps in 2-ch moded and with my SVS sub. Sound stage on both seemed equal to me. I'm very picky about sound stage, my speakers create a very wide and tall sound stage with great depth. If you close your eyes with any quality recording you would have a very hard time determining where the speakers are located.

I realize that everyone's tastes are very subjective. My dream of upgrading to Rotel electronics is fading fast between my findings with this amp and the hiss issues.

Does this make any sense to anyone, or do you think my findings are inconclusive for any reason. Based upon my opinion, should I look into another manufacturer's products when and if I decide to upgrade in the future?

I'm curious as to what you think...

#2 of 49 OFFLINE   Justin_D

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Posted May 01 2004 - 12:57 PM

If I were you, I would be happy. Many people dream of upgrading to Rotel, and love it more when they get it. You like your stuff more, and can back it up. This saves you money.

But....
:::Touches Terry's forehead:::

I think you may have the upgrade bug Posted Image

#3 of 49 OFFLINE   TerryHub

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Posted May 01 2004 - 01:30 PM

I know I have the bug. Ask my wife, I just can't shake it. As a pill I bi-wired my left, right, and center channel speakers two days ago. (Don't ask what I think of that.) But it did subsided the symtoms for about an hour.Posted Image

#4 of 49 OFFLINE   Chu Gai

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Posted May 01 2004 - 03:09 PM

Just how were you hooking up things?

#5 of 49 OFFLINE   TerryHub

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Posted May 01 2004 - 03:37 PM

I used the Sony's pre outs (front L&R) to the Rotel with Monster interconnects.

#6 of 49 OFFLINE   Drew_W

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Posted May 01 2004 - 04:48 PM

Very strange that you'd find that since people seem to think that Rotel and B&W go hand in hand.

But this underlines the fact that different people prefer different things. Auditioning is crucial.
I gave up on tracking my collection and actually started watching what I have.

#7 of 49 OFFLINE   Jeff

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Posted May 01 2004 - 06:57 PM

Maybe your Sony makes a better receiver than a preamp. (Or are you using a seperate Sony amp, I'm not sure from your post).

#8 of 49 OFFLINE   TerryHub

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Posted May 02 2004 - 01:20 AM

Jeff: I am using the Sony receiver internal amp.

Drew: As I said in my post both had a sound I could like, but when comparing I found one was missing things. At this point I am still considering auditioning the Rotel RSX-1056. I read somewhere on the forum that the hiss issue may be resolved on the newer units. I am just thinking that the Sony as a pre/pro isn't good with the Rotel amp.

#9 of 49 OFFLINE   Angelo.M

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Posted May 02 2004 - 01:45 AM

Quote:
I very much preferred the sound of the Sony amp over the Rotel.

Then you have your answer. Enjoy your gear as is.


#10 of 49 OFFLINE   Chu Gai

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Posted May 02 2004 - 10:38 AM

That you didn't notice an improvement is no big surprise. Let's look at the facts objectively.
A receiver that does 100 wpc (give or take a bit) being run in stereo mode.
Speakers that are 8 ohm and not considered a problem to drive. They're also reasonably sensitive.
A Rotel amp that is 60 wpc.
You probably ran the evaluations without level matching. Level matching in this case does not mean using the Shack SPL meter, but it means running a test tone through your system and ensuring that the voltages going to the speaker in both scenarios is the same.

Since the Rotel (about 10 yo, no?) has less power than the Sony, under level matched conditions I'd expect essentially no difference. Further since you likely didn't level match in this way, it would be reasonable to assume that the Rotel does not have the capability of playing as loud as your Sony. Simply these level differences are sufficient to account for some of your observations. You didn't say whether or not there was any processing going on which could further cloud the comparisons.
There's no reason to think that a change in amps will result in an alteration of the soundstage. Given a fixed listening position, your soundstage is a function of the recording, the speakers, and their interaction with the room. Now if the volumes are significantly different, then people often interpret that in ways other than saying that one was louder. Words like soundstage, presence, localization, depth, etc. will be used in an attempt to explain the differences. This is a result of our ear's non-linearity to the various frequencies which are a function of SPL...Fletcher Munsun curve and all that.
If you've got a hiss, then that's another issue entirely.

#11 of 49 OFFLINE   Kevin Alexander

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Posted May 02 2004 - 11:20 AM

Quote:
I don't know if this is the difference between "warm" sounding amp and one that is not.
Yes, that is the difference! You have just made an important discovery that will serve you well for many years to come. And what is that???...Trust your ears as to what sounds best. I, like you, discovered that I don't like the "warm", rolled off highs put out by amps such as Rotel, HK, NAD, and Parasound.

Some might consider it offensive that you would like the sound of Sony ES amps over the sexy, non-mass market high end Rotel gear; but trust me, if it sounds good to you, stick w/ it. You will run into alot of Sony haters - some disguised, and some who make no attempt to disguise themselves, but Sony ES amps have a nice lively and detailed quality to them. Other non-warm, non-harsh amps that put out a live, revealing and detailed sound w/o being harsh is Acurus, Adcom, Aragon, Anthem, Outlaw, and Bryston.
"What does God want with a Starship?" - Captain Kirk from Star Trek V: The Final Frontier.

"For the first few minutes of the film, I had accidently listened to the Dolby Digital track." - Ron Epstein (HTF)

#12 of 49 OFFLINE   TerryHub

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Posted May 02 2004 - 11:41 AM

That is an interesting point of view Chu, but I did level match with test tones. The adjustment between the two was only 1.5db @ 75db for reference level (my preference). Besides, I believe that some of the CDs I used had a greater differnce in volume than the to amps by themselves. The speakers were not driven hard for my testing; I do not enjoy loud music. At these volumes I wouldn't think the power rating differences 60 wpc vs. 100 wpc had anything to do with the differnce in sonic quality that I heard.

Any processing from the Sony receiver would not be relevant in this case. The Sony's amp was getting the same signal as the Rotel amp.

I believe that the comparison I did was pretty solid. I had people comment that I would get little to no improvement with a Rotel amp of any power rating to comments that I would get a sizable difference. I wanted to know for myself and this was my chance (or a chance).

I suppose the fact that the amp is in fact around 10 years old (only mfg by Rotel in 1994) could factor on the bad side of the amp. The guy who owns it claims he purchased it new about 3 years ago. I don't know if he is full of crap or not.

It was very clear to me that I did not like the sound of THIS amp over the Sony receiver amp. I was really asking if anyone else familiar with Rotel could tell me if my findings were not consistant with others opinions (ie. is this amp bad, or Rotel was not good then, or ?). At least at a minimum I now know that amps can make a relatively big change is sound quality.

Thanks for your comments...

#13 of 49 OFFLINE   TerryHub

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Posted May 02 2004 - 12:10 PM

Kevin:

Thanks for the post! That was exactly what I was looking for. When I am ready to upgrade I will look into the companies that you suggested. I just hope your correct in your statement that is the difference in a "warm" sounding amp and one that is not. If it is true, then "warm" is definately not for me.

#14 of 49 OFFLINE   gregD

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Posted May 02 2004 - 12:58 PM

I did level match with test tones
You clearly know what you're doing... trust those ears... and that comes from a Rotel fan.

Chu brought up level matching because relatively few people go to that trouble... I don't (but then I don't go through power amps much either)... Ill bet that fewer than 10% of the enthusiasts on this forum do.

With or without level matching, it's all about patience and clear thinking when system-matching... trust those ears.

Just wait til you upgrade the speakers. Posted Image

#15 of 49 OFFLINE   Chu Gai

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Posted May 02 2004 - 01:16 PM

Well like I said Terry, you need to use a VOM and measure the voltages at the terminals. I don't know about the Rotel you used (I'm assuming, as you are, that it meets its original design specs) but hopefully there'd be a gain adustment that you could use to match the Sony's output.
On other notes, I don't know about the size of your room and whether or not you'd benefit from additional power but as I stated earlier, you've got amp friendly speakers and the only scenario I can envision where 'maybe' you'd benefit, would be in an HT environment where offloading some of the responsibilities from the Sony (L, R, Center) might be beneficial but again this all depends on what you're listening/watching coupled with the volumes at the seating position. Now it may just be that the Rotel is straining and you're hearing or experiencing the effects of that. You could, if there's a local place that'll lend you a unit to demo, try a more powerful amp and see if that results in any improvement.

#16 of 49 OFFLINE   DanaA

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Posted May 02 2004 - 01:21 PM

Agreed that you should be happy. More money in your pocketbook to save for other gear or whatever. Even if this flies in the face of what others, including myself, generally prefer, it is your ears that count. If the internal Sony amp provides the sound you like, then it is the way to go for you. I'd just sit back and enjoy.

#17 of 49 OFFLINE   Shiu

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Posted May 02 2004 - 02:03 PM

In my first attempt to make use of my powerful 2 channel separates (an old Adcom pair) to improve the SQ of my H.T. sytem, I connected the 4ES pre-outs to the Adcom's GFP-565 pre-amp. For whatever reasons I did not find the set up sound any better. Recently, I decided to give up my 2 channel system for a while and connected the 4ES pre-outs directly to the Adcom GFA-555 power amp. This time the improvement is quite noticeable if I listen at a louder level, say, with the volume at -33 dB or higher. The improvement is good enough that I am in no hurry to take the Adcom away from the Sony. I am not familiar with the Rotel RB970BX but if it is rated for only 60W per channel, it is probably an older model entry level amp, right? I don't think it is unreasonable to assume that the 2ES could beat a few (not all) older model entry level amp. If you are serious about improving the sound quality of your mains, you should not give up on getting an amp, just make sure you get one that can out perform your 2ES. I would think that most 100W per channel power amp from Adcom, NAD, Marantz, HK, and yes Rotel, will do it.

I also do not find the Sony ES receivers "bright", at least no brighter than the sound I heard in live concerts. Sony has sold a lot of receivers and there are probably many people who don't like them because of bad experience in the past. I am happy with my current Sony/Adcom combination but I will eventually replace the Sony with a Denon, just to try something different, besides, I am tempted by the new feautures such as the PLIIx, HDCD, auto room EQ setup etc. Regardless, my Adcom will likely become a permanent amp for the front channels. I am going to have to buy something like a Bryston 2B for my Stereo system.

#18 of 49 OFFLINE   Angelo.M

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Posted May 03 2004 - 02:45 AM

Quote:
I had people comment that I would get little to no improvement with a Rotel amp of any power rating to comments that I would get a sizable difference.


Which goes to show how useless these opinions are.

Trust your ears. Rock on... Posted Image


#19 of 49 OFFLINE   BruceD

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Posted May 03 2004 - 08:29 AM

Quote:
Quoted by Shiu
In my first attempt to make use of my powerful 2 channel separates (an old Adcom pair) to improve the SQ of my H.T. sytem, I connected the 4ES pre-outs to the Adcom's GFP-565 pre-amp. For whatever reasons I did not find the set up sound any better.

Did you use the 2-channel preamp as the central hub? i.e. connecting it like indicated below?

__________________________________________________ _________

1) CD player (or DVD player analog out) L&R output --> Adcom's GFP-565 pre-amp's L&R CD input

2) 4ES receiver's L&R 5.1 outputs -->Adcom's GFP-565 pre-amp's L&R AUX (or HT bypass) input

3) Turntable L&R output --> Adcom's GFP-565 pre-amp's L&R phono input

4) GFP-565 pre-amp L&R outputs --> Adcom GFA-555 power amp

________________

This way when comparing the SQ of 2 channel music, you could switch the GFP-565 pre-amp's inputs between the analog output of the player and the digital output of the player through the 4ES.

#20 of 49 OFFLINE   Shiu

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Posted May 03 2004 - 11:12 PM

Bruce, no I did not. I would like to try it but too busy at the moment. Thanks.


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