Can I improve my 2 channel by adding an amp?

Discussion in 'AV Receivers' started by Cagri, May 9, 2003.

  1. Cagri

    Cagri Second Unit

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    I replaced my receiver a month ago with a Denon AVR1802. I have Kef Q35.2's for my fronts. They are rated 91db, 100 watts. The movies are really fun to watch to I am totally satisfied with the sound for movies, and my 2 channel sound has improved as well. Actually, it has improved so well that I started to feel that I have to improve it more [​IMG]
    Is it possible to achieve any improvement by adding a power amp for 2 channel listening only and use the Denon for center and surrounds, or is this as good as it gets with my current speakers and receiver and CD player, which is Kenwood 200 changer dpfj3030 ? If I will get only a marginal improvement I will wait a bit longer and upgrade my front speakers or my receiver, but if it is possible to get a significant improvement in sound quality by adding an amp around $500, I would go that way. Can you please comment and suggest amps ?
     
  2. Bob McElfresh

    Bob McElfresh Producer

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    A dedicated amp will change the sound and people who do this swear they will never go back.

    However: you really want the front sound-stage to be as close to identical as possible. While you can use a SPL meter to level adjust .. the dynamics involved in amplification make me hesitate to suggest it. Your L/R speakers while sounding better, may not match your center.

    Look, this is a hobby. This includes anticipation, research, shopping around.

    Hit eBay/or other sites and find either a 5-channel amp, or 3 mono-block amps. If you dont find one, check back in a few weeks. The goal is to get equal amplification for all 3 front speakers.

    I did buy a set of 3 150 THX mono-blocks for about $400 a few years ago. So they are available.

    Good Luck.
     
  3. Arup

    Arup Stunt Coordinator

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    Especially for music, a dedicated two chanel amp makes a huge difference. Dynamics improve greatly and so does depth.
     
  4. Cagri

    Cagri Second Unit

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    Can you guys please recommend some amps to go with my speakers in my price range as I have no idea where to start from? Thanks
     
  5. Ricky T

    Ricky T Supporting Actor

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    Three good places to buy used amps are ebay, audigon, and HTF. Any of these 5 channel amps (300-500 used) would work: HK pa5800 80x5, Parasound 885 85x5, Rotel 985 100x5, HK Signature 2.1 100x5. Three used Marantz MA500 125 watt monoblocks for ~ 130 each would work too.
     
  6. Nick V

    Nick V Second Unit

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    Another suggestion would be to get a good 3 channel amp to power the front soundstage. Say an Acurus A200x3, or one of B&K's old offerings.
     
  7. Jonathan M

    Jonathan M Second Unit

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    In my opinion, adding a 2 channel amp will improve the HT side of things more than the 2-channel side as when running just in 2 channels, the Denon's power supply section will be less loaded and thus the power side of things should be fine. IMO the difference in 2 channel sound from just adding a power amp is NOT significant when compared to a speaker change, or a pre-pro change. If you are looking at an upgrade, I'd concentrate first on getting your speakers right (Placement, room treatments, actual speakers) before worrying about the amp. Do you have a sub? Are you running your speakers as small or large? These make far bigger differences than the amplification in my experience.

    Get your room and speakers sorted first before worrying about the amp is my advice.
     
  8. david stark

    david stark Second Unit

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    for my 2 cents. I use (or used rather i'm currently in the process of moving countries and upgrading so i don't have any of my lovely hi-fi equipment at the moment), what was I saying, oh yes. I have a denon AVR2802, a rega brio stereo integrated amp. For music I sue the brio only and for dvd's I use the denon for the centre speaker and 2 rears and use the pre outs from the denon into the rega so using the rega as a power amp.

    Firstly I haven't noticed any problems with having a seperate power amp for the front L/R only. For music the brio blows the denon out of the water (it cost about half as much as the denon). I have tried the denon with music (to see if I could get rid of the rega and just use the denon for everything) and it was absolutley awful with my turntable (a rega P3), it was ok with my cd player (a denon, can't remember the model), but still worse than the rega brio.

    I'm happy with my HT sound setup with the denon, but there is no way I'd use it for music. If you listen to music a lot then investing in a good integrated stereo amp will be well worth it in my opinion.

    My advice as always would be to go and find a store and demo a couple of stereo amps in your price range and see if you can tell the difference and if you think it is worth paying the money for. If they are a decent store they should be happy for you to take down your denon 1802 so you can do a back to back comparison.
     
  9. Jonathan M

    Jonathan M Second Unit

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    Just to clear things up...

    Agreed that a separate integrated amp will make more of a difference than just a using power amp. This is due to the new (likely better) pre-amp stage and the new power amp. Assuming ofcourse that the 2 channel sources are run direct to the integrated.

    Just adding a power amp via the Denon's pre-outs makes very little difference IMO. YMMV
     
  10. kevitra

    kevitra Second Unit

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    In my experience adding a 2 channel preamp (Rotel 980) made a much more noticable difference than adding a 2 channel amp (Rotel 1070) to my Denon 3802. I have a setup similar to David - a receiver for HT and my 2 channel preamp for music.
     
  11. Craig_Kg

    Craig_Kg Supporting Actor

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    I also agree with David, Johnathan M and kevitra. With your budget, a nice integrated stereo amp is probably the best way to go (unless you buy used).
     
  12. Cagri

    Cagri Second Unit

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    Thanks all for your input.
    JonathanM, I have a modified sawm40 and run the fronts small. I guess I have the best placement for the fronts, so I think I don't have any room for improvement there....The sub, after the mods anyway, is very well blended with the mains.

    If I get an integrated, do I hook the audio source to the integrated and use the front L/R preouts of the Denon for HT ? So the integrated amp will work as a power amp in HT and the receiver will be out for music, is thi correct?

    kevitra, are you using your receiver as a power amp for your music with your Rotel 980 for your pre?
     
  13. kevitra

    kevitra Second Unit

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  14. RobCar

    RobCar Stunt Coordinator

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    Another (free) suggestion is to adjust your front speakers for music. I moved mine a mere two feet to the left and the right, and I can't tell you how much better it sounds for 2-channel music.
     
  15. AndrewA

    AndrewA Stunt Coordinator

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    Add my $.02 on the side of more power with amps. I own Paradigm's studio 100's and the corresponding center and surrounds. I just added Outlaw's M200 monoblocks for my Mains and I'm completely blown away by the extra power, both for 2-channel music and HT usage. I'm adding 5 more once the check book can handle it. I'm using a Denon 3802 till I can also afford the Anthem pre-pro.
     
  16. Chu Gai

    Chu Gai Lead Actor

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    Can you improve it with outboard amplification....that's such a difficult question to answer without considering the size of the room, your listening volumes, and as RobCar so succintly put...investigating speaker placement. To that I'd also add consideration of your room/speaker interactions. Those are a pretty efficient and rather amplifier friendly set of speakers.
    Now one could recommend books on acoustics to read up on but a lot of people just don't want to get into things that deep although they'd like the positive results that can come from it. You could visit various high end places not so much to buy speakers, but to observe how they set up their rooms. Often some strategically placed carpeting (if you don't have any) or hangings on the walls to deal with things like first order reflections combined with finding a better location for your speakers (moving them past your TV, toeing them in a little, ensuring that the tweeters are at ear level, etc.) goes a long way to improving your listening pleasure. Using software and a microphone can be beneficial in determining if you've got some room resonances that need to be tamed either with wall or corner treatments and/or judicious equalization.
    Lots of us have significant others that have things to say about where we can or can't put our speakers. Regretfully, they need to be consulted to find out how much room we have to play around with things.
    Understand, I'm not necessarily advocating against additional amplification, but you might get more mileage out of working and improving your overall environment.
    Just a thought [​IMG]
     
  17. Bob McElfresh

    Bob McElfresh Producer

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  18. Cagri

    Cagri Second Unit

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    Chu, thanks a lot for sharing your thoughts. I guess I have done everything I could with speaker placement and room treatment. It isn't the best what could have been done I'm sure, but beyond this there's the WAF[​IMG] Actually I live in an apartment, the room is quiet large with an opening on one side but I have never felt the need to turn the volume more than -15 on the Denon. What I'm trying to get is; if I can for $500; deeper sound, wider soundstage and more dynamics especially at moderate volume levels... The Denon is rated at 80 watts p/c and I assume it delivers something close to that in stereo. I don't know to if I need more power to get what I want, or even a lower rated dedicated power/integrated amp can do the trick?

    Bob, I know that there are many better subs than the Sony, but I really am very happy with my HT sound. I am not very critical about HT anyways...And I know if I replace the sub, my quest for better stereo sound (this time with the new sub)will continue so I want to spend the limited funds for music only [​IMG]

    I was searching yesterday and saw some good reviews about Cambridge Audio P500 power amp 55 watts x 2, unfortunately not bridgeable. Its power is lower than the Denon but it is dirt cheap... With C500, its pre, do you think it would do any good over the Denon or be a waste?
     
  19. Chu Gai

    Chu Gai Lead Actor

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    The dreaded WAF combined with male sensitivity training by way of "Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus" in an androgenously driven society severely compromise practical matters!!
    I still think it pays to ask your wife to define how much leeway you've got with your system placement then work within those confines. Acoustical treatments for 1st order reflections can be done in a variety of ways. If Martha ran a special she'd be giving us guys a break. Until she does I'm pushing for prison time! However you could alter the soundstage by ensuring that the speakers are out in front of the TV and moving them apart or closer. Consider where you do most of your listening. Rig up a laser pointer on the speakers and look at angling them so that the light crosses a couple of feet behind your head.
    There are dirt cheap bargains and dirt cheap wastes of time. I think the P500 falls in the latter category. There are used bargains in that $500 price range that provide more power if it turns out that there are clipping issues.
    Bob's suggestion of a different sub bears serious merit. Used SVS's, Hsu's, etc. are out there and they really are quite good and would improve your deeper sound. It ain't always about HT you know!
    Another thought which will have an effect on your perception of sound is the addition of a device like the Behringer Ultra-Q where you can insert it into your audio chain and dial in so to speak the amount of tube sound you want. Available at your local Guitar Center (look in the Yellow Pages) in the mid 100's. Return policy is excellent if you don't like it.
     
  20. Robb Roy

    Robb Roy Supporting Actor

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    Cagri,

    I have a Denon 3802 with a Parasound 200 watt per channel amp powering my main speakers. While it did make an improvement, it's really only audible at very high volumes. I don't mind since it's just a slow evolution to separates.

    When I upgraded my subwoofer, however, there as a huge improvement. I upgraded the sub for HT, not 2 channel, but was really surprised to find how much it improved music. I guess you could call this another recommendation for a sub, not an amp.

    -Robb
     

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