How does adding separate amps improve sound?

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by James Zos, Feb 19, 2002.

  1. James Zos

    James Zos Supporting Actor

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    As a newbie, I'm curious. I have added separates for my front left and right speakers, and it seems to have improved the sound overall, but not enough for me to really go "Wow." Now I'm not sure if I should go ahead and get an amp for my center channel. It seems like most people who have separate amps have them for all three of the front speakers, if not more.

    Some questions:

    How does adding amps improve the overall sound?

    People talk about taking a "load" off the receiver--would adding one more amp make that much difference?

    I read one post where someone was talking about separate amps improving the "noise floor" of the receiver. What does that mean, exactly?

    Thanks for helping me make sense of all this...
     
  2. Thomas_Berg

    Thomas_Berg Screenwriter

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    it's not so much taking a load off the receiver as it is just providing cleaner power, and more of it. the amps in the receiver aren't nearly as good as most separate amps you buy. it's just like adding a headphone amp instead of just using the crappy amp in your receiver-- more clean power.
     
  3. James Zos

    James Zos Supporting Actor

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    Does it make sense then to buy amps that are rated LESS than the amps in your receiver, in terms of watts? I bought IRD MB-100s (same as nOrh Le Amps), even though they are rated at 100 watts, where as my Denon 3802 is rated at 120 (I think, maybe it is 110). Was that a bonehead move?
     
  4. AjayM

    AjayM Screenwriter

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    Probably not. People are so hung up on watts it's amazing, it's so much more important to match the speakers up with the amp you are running. I have a set of very effecient speakers at home, and I could move from 100 watts to 40 watts and never notice a difference, because the speakers are at their limits around 40 watts, so any more than that is just wasted (and would create some true ear-bleeding levels anyways).

    Now if you have a set of speakers that aren't effecient, then more watts is better (and I'm talking about speakers rated in the low 80db range). But that's more the exception than the rule.

    Also, the 100watt amps you bought probably do have more power than your Denon reciever since recievers are generally over-rated. But I haven't seen any test data on the 3802 to see if it's better or more on the average of the way recievers are rated.

    Andrew
     
  5. JaleelK

    JaleelK Second Unit

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    As a newbie, I'm curious. I have added separates for my front left and right speakers, and it seems to have improved the sound overall, but not enough for me to really go "Wow." Now I'm not sure if I should go ahead and get an amp for my center channel. It seems like most people who have separate amps have them for all three of the front speakers, if not more.

    Some questions:

    How does adding amps improve the overall sound?

    People talk about taking a "load" off the receiver--would adding one more amp make that much difference?

    I read one post where someone was talking about separate amps improving the "noise floor" of the receiver. What does that mean, exactly?

    Thanks for helping me make sense of all this...
     
  6. AjayM

    AjayM Screenwriter

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  7. James Zos

    James Zos Supporting Actor

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    Thanks everyone for responding!

    I have Klipsch RB-5 bookshelves, which Klipsch rates at 96dB @ 1watt/1meter. Which I guess would mean it shouldn't take much to power them.

    I have one last question: In trying to balance my speakers, I've had to drop the dbl for the center -3 to match with the front left and right. I've read that you don't want to up the individual speaker settings because that puts too much of a load on your receiver. But if I'm running monoblocks for the fronts, does it matter if I put them at, say +3, instead of dropping the center to -3? They're doing the work, not the receiver, right? Or does it tax the receiver somehow?

    The reason I ask is because I seem to prefer the individual settings up, rather than down (Though since this is simply a matter of raising or lowering the volume, I guess it is merely psychological?)
     
  8. Andrew Pratt

    Andrew Pratt Producer

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    James the important thing is to ballence all the speakers. Forget about putting an extra load on the reciever etc its not nearly as important as having a uniform soundfield. Also given that your speakers are so effiecent many of the benefits of adding external amps are minimized but you might still hear differences based on the design of the amp and the fact the amps aren't located near noisey electronics like the tuner etc. Now thats not to say adding amps in your case is unjustified but IMO you might be better off spending that money on sources vs amps etc.
     
  9. JaleelK

    JaleelK Second Unit

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    We should add a little disclaimer to that. The above opinion is based not on personal experience or anything like that, it's based on something Jaleel read on the internet.

     
  10. JaleelK

    JaleelK Second Unit

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    Dont pay any attention to Jaleel. I think he is just a cheesy salesman for Yorx Sound. Adding separate amplifiers not only gives you more power but also more definition, tighter bass (due to the higher current capability and lower output impedance) and better soundstaging. Even if a separate amplifier is rated slightly lower it delivers more current and its the amperes that move the woofers, not the watts. So an ATI 1505 rated at 150 W/channel will sound more dynamic and powerful than a 5800 rated at 170W/channel.

    [/quote]

    I would agree with what you are saying if you told me you reached such conclusion about defintion and soundstage improvements by comparing your separate amp with amps in receiver in a double blind level matched test.

    Have you tested both the ATI amp and the amps in the 5800 in a Doubel Blind level matched test ? If so, explain to me how it was conducted, I will take your answer and forward it to some experts on scientific listening test and let them examine your methods to see in you conducted a proper scientific DBT.
     
  11. Alex F.

    Alex F. Second Unit

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    James:

    You're doing no harm by increasing the output-level adjustment several db. It's fine to increase or decrease channel levels as needed to properly calibrate the system. (I might be slightly concerned for various technical reasons if you said you were increasing a channel by 10-12 db or so.)

    Also, as others have warned, nobody pays any attention to Jaleel here. He's just one of those internet annoyances who knows everything about nothing (and nothing about everything).

    Happy listening!
     
  12. AjayM

    AjayM Screenwriter

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  13. KeithH

    KeithH Lead Actor

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    If one has speakers that are particularly difficult to drive (i.e., low sensitivity), then a standard receiver may not provide enough clean power to push them and allow you to realize the speakers' full potential. The best thing to do is try adding separate amps and see if doing so improves the sound quality rather than dismissing the idea on paper. (I am being general here in how to do this because the idea can be applied to home-theater systems in a variety of ways as well as to stereo systems.)

    In my main stereo system, I am using Totem Arro floorstanding speakers with a sensitivity rating of 85.5 dB. I had been using an NAD C 370 stereo integrated amp that is rated by NAD at 120W x 2 into 8 ohms (the actual power is probably considerably higher because NAD is known to be conservative). I was very happy with the sound quality using the C 370, but just this weekend, I biamped the C 370 with the NAD C 270 power amp (also 120W x 2 into 8 ohms). The sound improved dramatically upon addition of the C 270. The soundstage is wider, the bass is clearer, and there is a greater sense of ambience and detail. Everything is better now. Based on my observation, I would recommend anyone try the addition of separate amps (again, I am being general), but your results may vary depending on the equipment you are using.
     
  14. Alex F.

    Alex F. Second Unit

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    Ajay and Other HTFers:

    Please don't let you-know-who get to you. I, too, find it difficult to ignore the dopey comments, but let's not fall victim to his attempts to get this thread off James' topic.

    Take care!
     
  15. Shane Martin

    Shane Martin Producer

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    Does every Jaleel induced thread have to be a flame thread?

    This is getting quite old.

    Anyway I've yet to hear a seperate amp sound worse than a Receiver or equal to a receiver at all. This goes for even Klipsch speakers which are 102 db efficient.

    I use my ears unlike some folks /shrug.
     
  16. george king

    george king Supporting Actor

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    Marc,

    I agree with you to a point. However, just because Perception is involved does not mean that it cannot be scientific. Although this is a common belief, it is not accuration. Perception has a long and science based history. The relations between stimulus input and perception are largely orderly, and can be described mathematically. Where people generally go wrong is assuming that stimulus input maps linearly to perception, and this just is not the case. One needs to use the appropriate methods, and in this case, the DBT is not the appropriate method.

    Just my 2 cents.
     
  17. george king

    george king Supporting Actor

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    Mark,
    It is certainly true that the response is verbal, and there is no way of knowing if someone is telling the truth, but that is always true in human interactions [​IMG]. I was making, an admittedly unstated assumption that may be wrong, that people are honest during these types of tests.
     
  18. Mark Austin

    Mark Austin Supporting Actor

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  19. AjayM

    AjayM Screenwriter

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  20. Brian Corr

    Brian Corr Supporting Actor

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    James,

    I had (until yesterday) a denon 5700 (140x5) powering M&K 150's (4 ohm).

    2 weeks ago, I tried out a parasound HCA-1000 (120x2) using the denon as a pre-amp. (only listened to 2 channel audio since only the front 2 speakers were running off the amp)

    The difference was quite noticeable. Even with matched volume levels, there was so much more clarity and definition to the sound. I heard sounds in the midrange that I had not noticed before. The bass from the 150's also had more punch.

    Leaving the volume at the same position on the denon resulted in higher output with the parasound hooked up. Even when lowering the level to match the level of the Denon by itself, the improvement in the sound was noticeable. I think the improvement would be less dramatic on strictly HT, but on music, the improvement is more noticeable.
     

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