Considering buying a 5ch Amp - moving to seperates. Please Advise!

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Justin H, Nov 22, 2002.

  1. Justin H

    Justin H Stunt Coordinator

    Joined:
    Sep 30, 2002
    Messages:
    167
    Likes Received:
    0
    Here's my story:
    My current system consists of the following:
    speakers:
    JBL N-center
    JBL N38 Mains
    JBL N26II surrounds
    possibly 2 N24's for back surrounds...but that's not all that relevant yet
    Sony WM40 polyfil'd and spiked
    TV: Panasonic 47WX52
    DVD: Panasonic RP-82
    Receiver: Denon 1803
    I've owned the Denon for about two months now and have been quite satisfied with it. It was my first real 5.1 receiver purchase and a good upgrade from my Sony DE475. The jump in clarity when I added the receiver and the matching surrounds in one shot was great. But....just as many of us do I have a hunger for more clarity and bigger volume. I can go loud, don't get me wrong, and the sub is more than enough for me so no upgrade is needed there, yet. But I still live in my parents house in a relatively small bedroom (10x18) (been 8 months at my first job out of college) so I don't need tons of power. Lately I've been eyeing audiogon and ubid for 5 channel amps just out of curiosity and have come across some good deals. Seems in the $400-$500 range I could pick up a quality used unit at 100w x 5 or thereabouts. Units like the Rotel 985, Carver AV-505 and the Sherwood 9080 (I think). I was amazed at how affordable the switch to seperates could be!
    The problem is the Denon does not have preouts. That means I would also have to sell it and pick up something for a processor that does have preouts, say the Pioneer 811? Would it be worth it to sell the Denon, buy the Pioneer new and pick up a used amp for, say $450. I'm then looking at only spending and extra $350 over the original price I paid for the Denon to switch to a very similar receiver with the same processing abilities and 5 channels of a clean 100 watt power. Sounds pretty reasonable to me, and from what I've read it should result in a considerable upgrade in sound (i.e. bigger soundstage, much fuller sound overall, really let the speakers sing).
    I'm very tempted. My plea is for advice. Would this be a worthy upgrade? Will the amp give me a noticeable difference in sound quality? Will it be overkill? (I like it loud and clear so it will be tough to convince me of this one)
    please help...[​IMG]
     
  2. Justin H

    Justin H Stunt Coordinator

    Joined:
    Sep 30, 2002
    Messages:
    167
    Likes Received:
    0
    A couple of other thoughts:

    If I run a 5 channel amp will I be able to use one the receiever's amplification channels to run a 6th speaker or will additional external amplification be necessary?

    Does anyone have any experience and/or comments on the amplifiers listed above? I've also seen an Adcom for sale..the GA-7400 I think, so tack that to the list as well.

    TIA
     
  3. Paul Clarke

    Paul Clarke Supporting Actor

    Joined:
    Jan 29, 2002
    Messages:
    998
    Likes Received:
    0
    Justin,

    It really depends. Sounds like you're doing OK with the 1803, especially in that space. Smaller spaces generally have less demands.

    To my mind, separates are always a better option but in your case I see no need to jump in just yet. If you do decide to, I would suggest going for the 811S and a power amp with something in the 125-150W range. This will be more likely to give you some noticeable improvements in the areas you mentioned. Also it would provide a measure of future-proofing and afford at least some inoculation against upgradeitis.

    I assume you are saving to move to a place of your own. You may find the strong desire to build a system more attuned to the needs of that place/space when the time comes. Since you cannot simply add in an amp on your current Denon but must rather overhaul the entire system I suggest you wait awhile. Maybe stop reading too many HTF posts on the wonders of amps. They are downright infectious and there is no known cure.

    Good Luck.
     
  4. Justin H

    Justin H Stunt Coordinator

    Joined:
    Sep 30, 2002
    Messages:
    167
    Likes Received:
    0
    I suppose more wattage could be a wiser move. If I am to go the seperates route then it should be done right. Good advice Paul, thank you. Oh and you're spot on with that last paragraph. I certainly am saving as much as I can, so would it be a wise move? No, probably not. But realizing how doable an amp could be has gotten a bit anxious. Perhaps some last minute Christmas begging is in order.

    The Denon purchase is biting me in the leg now. The additional step does make the process that much more complicated.

    thoughts still welcome, of course...

    If the move to seperates is to be made is it wiser to save and go with newer/more powerful equipment as opposed to used units as a temporary solution?
     
  5. Paul Clarke

    Paul Clarke Supporting Actor

    Joined:
    Jan 29, 2002
    Messages:
    998
    Likes Received:
    0
    Hi Justin,

    Sorry I missed the other post. Yes, you could run the 6th speaker (say, with the 811S) off of the receiver while powering the other channels from the amp.

    Believe me, I know what this is like. You've got the bug and Christmas is coming...so why not? And in truth there's no reason not to...just do it wisely. Get enough power to make a difference and find a pre/pro that you can live with for the duration.

    Lastly, I think the initial move to separates is actually more safely made through the used market. Amps are generally very reliable and many last for decades without a single problem. Going used allows you to discover areas that may grow in importance (like the 1803 lack of pre-outs) without having to make a huge investment.
     
  6. Brian Treinen

    Brian Treinen Stunt Coordinator

    Joined:
    Aug 10, 1999
    Messages:
    135
    Likes Received:
    0
    Justin,

    It took me about 2 months after getting my 3802 and reading too many "separates" threads here before I got the itch! I ended up finding a great deal on a Sherwood 9080 ($440 shipped) and couldn't pass it up. WOW is all I can say. The 3802 is very good, but adding the amp was like listening in color now as opposed to black and white. Fuller, better low end and more dynamic. Does where you bought the receiver have an upgrade policy? Maybe you could trade it for something with pre-outs. Otherwise, I'm sure you could find a decent receiver for not too much more than you could sell yours for. In my mind used is the way to go, especially for something like amps - what's gonna happen to one? Overuse?!? They are great bargains used and I still keep an eye at audiogon just for grins. Another option would be try and find a 5x85wpc Paragon amp (going for really cheap on Ubid not too long ago) which should set you back less right now than a 125 or > wpc amp yet still yeild good benefits. You could very easily get rid of the parasound later and pick up something in the 125wpc range.

    Also, yes, you can use the receiever to power surrounds. I'm using the Denon to run the side and rear surrounds and have the Sherwood powering the Left Right Center and two patio speakers on zone two. All you have to do is run the pre-outs to the amp for those channels you want it to power and then run the speakers for the surrounds from the receiver.

    Good luck!
     
  7. Justin H

    Justin H Stunt Coordinator

    Joined:
    Sep 30, 2002
    Messages:
    167
    Likes Received:
    0
    Another convincing argument, thanks Brian. I've been eyeing that very Sherwood on audiogn myself. There is one going for around 500. There is also a Carver AV-505 going for 450 obo which I could most likely obtain in person. That is proving very tempting as I could probably strike a deal around 400 and save the shipping.

    The receiver is certainly the biggest hurdle right now. I've been watching ebay for a 3802 and they seem go for nothing less than $650, a bit out of my price range. I'll have to check with the dealer on an upgrade policy though I doubt I will have any luck. The Pioneer 811s is high in the running considering I could obtain one for less than the Denon. Pouring the savings into the amplifier makes the financial situation more attractive, but the overall work load more cumbersome. Decisions!
     
  8. Philip Hamm

    Philip Hamm Lead Actor

    Joined:
    Jan 23, 1999
    Messages:
    6,873
    Likes Received:
    2
     
  9. Rob Rodier

    Rob Rodier Supporting Actor

    Joined:
    Jul 11, 2002
    Messages:
    538
    Likes Received:
    0
    If you are really serious about sound I would consider trading your denon for a model with pre-outs and then going with a hgher quailty 2 ch amp. I have found many of the budget multichannel amps to have similar shortcomings to their integrated counterparts. 5 channels of amplification is a lot to have in one box, drawing from one toroid, etc,etc,etc. You could do a used 2ch acurus, chiro, or rotel etc for around $350 and get a taste of the high end. Then worry about upgrading the other channels down the road.

    Just a suggestion.

    good luck
    -rob
     
  10. KeithR

    KeithR Second Unit

    Joined:
    Mar 26, 2001
    Messages:
    258
    Likes Received:
    0
    A speaker upgrade would do more for you than an amp upgrade imho.

    Good luck!
     
  11. Dan Driscoll

    Dan Driscoll Supporting Actor

    Joined:
    Aug 1, 2000
    Messages:
    937
    Likes Received:
    2
    Justin,

    I'm normally an advocate of seperates, but in your case I'd recommend sitting tight. Given your space and that you would have to swap the otherwise perfectly serviceable Denon, I'm not sure you would hear an improvement.
     
  12. Greg_R

    Greg_R Screenwriter

    Joined:
    Apr 9, 2000
    Messages:
    1,996
    Likes Received:
    0
    Location:
    Portland, OR
    Real Name:
    Greg
    I'd vote for a speaker upgrade as well. Consider selling the Sony sub and get a sub in the $600-700 range (SVS, Hsu, etc.). The improvement will be significant. Another option would be to upgrade the JBL mains to S series.
     
  13. Justin H

    Justin H Stunt Coordinator

    Joined:
    Sep 30, 2002
    Messages:
    167
    Likes Received:
    0
    Thanks for the responses.
    I've considered upgrading the speakers myself. The temporary conclusion I've come to is that if I were to pour any money into a speaker upgrade it might as well be a full step up to, say, a complete Paradigm or PSB setup. I plan on making that my next significant HT investment ( in a year or two). So to spend money on a "mediocre" upgrade, that is to say not a completely new system, doesn't seem wise. But I could be wrong. I certainly value the experience on these boards so please keep the advice coming.
    How about if I were to upgrade the L/C/R to the Studio line. Would that be worthwhile? Do you think this would be a wiser investment than a 2 channel amp to drive the N38's, or a 5 channel?
    I've also been considering an SVS 25-31 PCi, but I think that may be overkill. I am still living at home and upgrading to a bigger, louder, and heavier sub is something I think is best left to the next couple years when I have my own residence. My ears seems to be more sensitive to overall clarity. I can tell that I am missing out on some sonic nuances from the main channels. I know they could be driven harder, and I'm almost positive I would appreciate the benefit. But, again, maybe this is also something that could be achieved with a better set of mains. As someone else so nicely put it, it is the difference between listening in black and white and color...and, unfortunately, my ears aren't colorblind...or something to that effect.
    [​IMG]
     
  14. Wayne Ernst

    Wayne Ernst Cinematographer

    Joined:
    Feb 24, 2002
    Messages:
    2,588
    Likes Received:
    0
    Like the others have indicated, you may/may not experience the whole benefit of upgrading right now. I spent about an hour this morning over at a local audio store listening to an 1803 while watching the Dave Mattehews Band DVD. The room had to be 14' x 25' x 8' and the volume was set at about -10. I was impressed with the manner in which the 1803 handled a room of this size and the volume was at a very good listening level - with a little room to spare.
     
  15. Rob Rodier

    Rob Rodier Supporting Actor

    Joined:
    Jul 11, 2002
    Messages:
    538
    Likes Received:
    0
    When I was in HS I bought a Acurus A150 and ran it off of the pre-outs from my existing Sherwood receiver. The room was small, but the diffrence was dramatic. A good two channel amp will make a big difference. I was using a $500msrp pair of Jamo speakers.

    My experience

    -rob
     
  16. Shane Martin

    Shane Martin Producer

    Joined:
    Sep 26, 1999
    Messages:
    6,017
    Likes Received:
    0
    I would suggest a speaker upgrade myself as well. I would move past the lowfi(imho) JBL's and move up to a more sofisticated speaker like a PSB, Paradigm Studio etc.
     
  17. CollinMorphew

    CollinMorphew Stunt Coordinator

    Joined:
    Aug 26, 2002
    Messages:
    67
    Likes Received:
    0
    You may want to to listen to the JBL's before suggesting a move past "low fi"--especially the studio series and especially before suggesting the PSB's and Paradigm's as a more sophisticated jump. And even moreso when pairing them with any seperate amplification. The nicest thing about JBL's Studio is the quality and performance you get paired with the stigma associated with a mass market speaker. This is just a basic business fact--a lot of supply on the JBL side since Harmon is such a huge company brings the prices down. Smaller companies that have more expensive products doesn't neccessarily equate to better--even less of an equation when you are saying that there is a major step up in these speakers. And the N series are very nice in what they are providing to the consumer.

     
  18. Justin H

    Justin H Stunt Coordinator

    Joined:
    Sep 30, 2002
    Messages:
    167
    Likes Received:
    0
    Your rambling is appreciated Collin, don't worry. I've been tooling around Audiogon for some 2 channel amps. Products like the Acurus A150 have caught my eye, but it seems to be a pretty old product and difficult to find.

    I could use some suggestions for good 2 channel amps that I could find used for around $400, maybe a little less. How about a 3 channel to power the whole front sound stage? I've only seen a few out there, like the 200x3 Aucurus for example.

    I've looked into exchanging the Denon for the Pioneer and I believe it can be done relatively easily, so the idea of a quality 2 channel seems to be my direction of choice right now. This way I can always re-sell the amp and pick up a 5 channel in the future if I feel the need or add two more 2 channel amps. I think this would result in the best future-proofing as well.
     
  19. kevitra

    kevitra Second Unit

    Joined:
    Apr 24, 2002
    Messages:
    364
    Likes Received:
    0
    I'd also go with the speaker upgrade (L and R). They won't match the rest of your system, but for 2 channel music there will be a very noticable improvement.

    I personally don't have matching surrounds and don't care. Unless you are big into multi-channel music I don't see the fuss.

    Rotel has some great 2 channel amps. I highly recommend them.
     
  20. CollinMorphew

    CollinMorphew Stunt Coordinator

    Joined:
    Aug 26, 2002
    Messages:
    67
    Likes Received:
    0
    Like Rob said, I'm kind of shying away from multi-channel amps--unless space is a concern and/or if money is a concern. 400 bucks for a 2 channel amp should get you quite a bit. I still look at your room size and think any amp will be a step up. I run Adcom amps on my Studio series--I like them a lot. I also liked the Parasound and Rotel amps. I didn't like the Denon amps quite as much. I haven't heard Acurus but I would like to with what I've heard. The Sherwood that was mentioned looks really nice to me. It seems to be inexpensive since it's not quite as well known as some others. So, you could keep looking at the Acurus or 1) You could get a Parasound 855 that is 85 watts per channel and would fit in your budget. 2) You could do some searches on the Rotel--I'm at work so I don't have model numbers handy. 3) You could get one Adcom GFA-555 for the mains--it is a monster but timeless for the amount of power and clarity and it's bridgeable if you ever want to run it to a big sub in the future. 4) You could get 2 Adcom GFA-545 for the mains, center and Sony. This is the configuration I have set up. At some point, I may jump the amp wattage up but not right now. Amps always seem opposite than receivers on power output so I wouldn't get overly hung up on the power rate--their 100w per channel seems so conservative compared to a receivers 100w per channel (even if you run one channel--it's never that 100w with more channels driven). The power does you no good if it's not clear. So, if you change out the Denon for the Pioneer and use its pre-outs, add 1 amp for the mains or maybe 2 for the mains, center and sub you would have what you were looking for. Plus, the sound will exceed what you have now and you really are in a good position for the future. The 811 is 7.1 and covers all the latest formats--it will work as a great pre/pro. Pop in the amp/amps and wire the rest to the back of the 811. I can almost guarantee (not quite George Zimmer here) you will think you upgraded your whole system--receiver and speakers when, in actuality, you cross graded your receiver and added components that improve your speakers overall performance while ensuring that you have multiple upgrade paths over the next couple of years and that upgrade path will not be as expensive as one might think.

    I hope all this helps and I hope it makes sense. Maybe someone will come on here that knows more than me--it shouldn't be too hard to find someone that qualifies.
     

Share This Page