Amp search

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Kevin Parker, Sep 4, 2002.

  1. Kevin Parker

    Kevin Parker Stunt Coordinator

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    Hi guys,
    I want to add a 5 ch amp to my home theater to improve sound for both music and theater, The problem is that I know nothing about amps so I need your expert advice.
    I would like to spend $500 on used gear(cant afford new one)
    so what are some good brands or models to consider? I came across with following brands after reading reviews which I can buy used in my budget.

    Acurus
    Anthem
    Carver
    Parasound
    Quad
    Nad
    Rotel

    I will use this amp with pioneer 811s and infinity interlude center, front and surrounds.

    one more question, whats the difference b/w integrated and power amp? and which one I required?

    I will be really grateful if you guys share your knowledge.
     
  2. Kevin Parker

    Kevin Parker Stunt Coordinator

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    bump
     
  3. Arthur S

    Arthur S Cinematographer

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    Kevin

    Integrated amps have the preamp built in. This would include source switching, tone controls, balance control, and all the other controls.

    Power amps usually have an on-off switch and not much more. They are designed to be used with a preamp. In your case your 811S will be your preamp.

    As to used $500 power amps. Seems to me Quad is hard to come by. As far as the others, in my experience no one amp has all the best sound quality. So which ever you choose will be a compromise in some way. But since you are not likely to be able to compare them in your home, you won't know the difference.

    I like to buy amps by the pound. The heavier the better, except Carver/Sunfire. These amps deliver very high power. All other things being equal, if you can find a 5 channel Carver in good shape, you should be happy with it.

    Artie
     
  4. Kevin Parker

    Kevin Parker Stunt Coordinator

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    thanx arthur for replying, How about parasound and nad? I heard they are pretty good for the price.
     
  5. Jay H

    Jay H Producer

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    Jay
    Parasound is a quality brand, I've used them before and they provided a good value. When John Curl was there, he was sometimes active on some of the audio forums on the net, he was involved with the design of many of the older Parasound units you can find used these days.

    Check the hardware for sale/trade, there is a guy who is selling an Acurus A125 for $700 shipped.. He might have a sale pending but that's a pretty good buy on a $1500 amp new. [edit-the amp has just sold!]

    Anthem is also a very good budget minded amp maker, they have a new line of MCA20/30/50 that is over your budget but perhaps in a bit one could find used reasonably. They have a power switch but also a trigger and an auto-on feature. The problem here would be finding one for $500 though.

    Jay
     
  6. Arthur S

    Arthur S Cinematographer

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    Kevin

    Parasound and NAD are good amps. If you are not going to buy Carver/Sunfire, I would go with the heaviest amp you can afford. There is wisdom in the saying about buying amps by the pound. Heavier usually means beefier internal parts and a heavy duty chasis. You don't want an amp with a flimsy top cover cause that implies that corners were cut.

    Artie
     
  7. Angelo_Petralba

    Angelo_Petralba Second Unit

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    Amps I found for Around 500.00 On the net.
    Parasound HCA-855A - 85 Watts X 5 - ~$400.00-425.00 Shipped
    Sherwood Newcastle - 120 Watts X 5 - ~$500-600 Shipped
    Check
    AUDIOGON for some REALLY great deals!
    Angelo
     
  8. itai

    itai Stunt Coordinator

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    the rotel 1075 is a good, sub 1k new sub.
     
  9. Paul Clarke

    Paul Clarke Supporting Actor

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    I agree with Arthur on this in large part. The same rule generally applies to any component supplying power, even receivers.

    Something that puzzles me however:

    the Acurus 125x5 Specifications---

    -Five Channels
    -125 Watts into 8 ohms & 150 Watts into 4 ohms
    -20Hz to 20kHz Frequency Response
    -ab Power Class
    -110 db SN Ratio
    -0.06 Percent THD
    -Input Sensitivity - 1.1 volts for full output
    -Input Impedance - 20K ohms
    -42 lbs
    -17" x 14" x 6.75"

    the Parasound 855A Specifications:

    -Five channels
    -85 Watts into 8 Ohms & 125 Watts into 4 Ohms
    -20Hz to 20 kHz Frequency Response
    -AB Power Class
    -115 dB SN Ratio
    -0.03 Percent THD
    -1.2 volts for full output
    -Input Impedance - 33K Ohms
    -41 lbs
    -17" x 16" x 5.25"

    Now these are extremely similar amps. The power differential is due in part to the output at each specific THD level. But it is hard to imagine a [email protected] differential in just .03% THD separation.

    So, is Parasound seriously underrating it's amps...is Acurus overstating it's power...or neither? Any thoughts?
     
  10. Kevin Parker

    Kevin Parker Stunt Coordinator

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    guys thank you very much, after little researching I came across with following list (in order of preference)

    Parasound HCA-855A/1205
    Carver A-705x/av-405/
    Rotel RB-985 THX/1075
    Acurus A125x5
    Sherwood Newcastle AM9080
    Marantz MM9000
    Adcom 7500/GFA-7400

    what you guys think? are they in the right order?
    and you guys think that any of these improve pioneer 811s's thin sound?
     
  11. Paul Clarke

    Paul Clarke Supporting Actor

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    Go for the 855 if money's tight. If not, step up to the 1205. If you like warm sound you will like the Para's. The contrast with the 811S amps will be easy to appreciate.

    Personal Note:

    I always thought of H/K as warm but whenever I A/B the sound from my 510 amps vs the 855, the 855 is a good bit warmer still. Both pieces have similar power ratings but this is what I found when making a direct comparison. The 510 on it's own has a more delicate delivery. This accurately conveys details like voice quavering and other similar sounds of decay and transience with a slightly greater degree of fineness. But the 510/855, which provides more brute force and power, more than compensates for any perceived loss in subtlety. The soundstage is larger, imaging is even sweeter, off-axis is much improved and the Music projects with far greater air and presence overall.

    Everything in life is a trade-off.

    P.S. And of course, the positive effect on HT is very appreciable.
     
  12. Kevin Parker

    Kevin Parker Stunt Coordinator

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    I am wondering now that which amps are bright and warm? parasounds are warm, but what about carver, rotel and acurus?
    my set up is bright (both speakers and receiver, infinity, 811s) so I think its wise to match with warm amp.

    can someone please tell me about warmness and brightness of particular models?
     
  13. Arthur S

    Arthur S Cinematographer

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    Kevin

    Carver is generally considered warm.

    I checked some reviews, just using Google and I found a very favorable review by John Johnson of the 705. He reviews for Secrets of Home Theater and High Fidelity.

    Carver will give you a warm sound with a lot of power.

    Artie
     
  14. Rick Guynn

    Rick Guynn Second Unit

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    Paul, I was actually reading over on the Acurus forum today and one of Mondial reps posted a couple of interesting things about the A125x5. :
    http://216.37.9.58/cgi-bin/ubb/postd...5&topic=000051
    and
    http://216.37.9.58/ubb/Forum25/HTML/000029.html
    He said 1) That the 4ohm rating should actually be 175 watts and 2) If you are using the amp in 2 channel mode, the left and right mains will actually do 200 watts into 8 ohms.
    Another interesting thing is that someone noted that the weights of the A125x5 and A200x5 are nearly identical. To this he replied that the only difference in the two is the transformer (which is why the A125 can do 200 watts in 2 channel mode), and that the weight difference between the two transformers was very small.
    While the weight of an amp *can* be an indicator, I wouldn't let it decide the amp. For instance, you noted the weight similarities between the Acurus and the Parasound despite their different ratings; the Carver 705x, which is rated the same as the Acurus also weighs roughly the same.
    Anyway, just some thoughts...
    RG
     
  15. Paul Clarke

    Paul Clarke Supporting Actor

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    Rick,

    Thanks for the info. Now I'm really curious about the 855.
    It has a 1kVa Toroid transformer with a 68,000uF capacitance. Acurus uses 1 power supply for all channels while Parasound uses independent supplies for each channel.

    I think all amp makers seriously underrate their amps, especially in the lower end models.
     
  16. Phil Mays

    Phil Mays Second Unit

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    Sorry to complicate the matter....How about an AMC 150WPC x 5 channels?
     
  17. Rick Guynn

    Rick Guynn Second Unit

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    Yeah, I get to wondering about these specs too. After more reading on the Acurus forum, I find info stating that the capacitance for both the A125x5 *and* the A200x5 is *only* 46,000 mfd. And yet they get really good comments from all that have owned them.

    This leads me to believe one of 3 things: a)Acurus designed for either smaller or shorter transients, b) the Acurus design is efficient enough to need smaller capacitance or, c) the Acurus wil run out of steam quickly on dynamic tracks.

    I have never read anyone saying (c). Most things I have read about them talk about how 'dynamic' and 'tight' the sound is with them, so I am not inclined to go with (a). The only thing I am left with is to believe (b). Given that another of the very common concepts is how cool Acurus amps run, even under heavy load, this tends to reinforce (b).

    I think these concepts apply to all amps, not just Acurus. This leads me to further believe that many amps with the same power ratings that are significantly 'heavier' and with gads more capacitance are using less efficient (power-wise) designs.

    Now, having said that, it may be necessary to use less efficient designs to achieve the designer's aural goals, and that's fine. But it indicates that you can't always judge an amp by a few of it's specs. That is consternating as not everyone can audition a ton of amps and look to the specs to help them.

    Oh well, I've rambled enough for a while...

    RG
     
  18. Joe Wilmore

    Joe Wilmore Stunt Coordinator

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    In this price range, the HK 2.1 siganture, and the Carver 705 are the best performers.
     
  19. Kevin Parker

    Kevin Parker Stunt Coordinator

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    what bout adcom? are they bright sounding amps?
     
  20. Rob Bruce

    Rob Bruce Agent

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    Just to add my $.02.....

    I use a quad 405 (100W x2 @8ohm, [email protected]) at home in my living room, and let me tell you, I love this amp. You can generally find them on ebay for a couple hundred. I'm actually thinking about picking up another to run my sub. And weight, yeah these things weigh their fair share.

    Hope this sheds some light on things, even if it's just my view on my amp.
     

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