Not real impressed with Sunfire Cinema Grand Signature Series II amplifier

Discussion in 'AV Receivers' started by MikeJN, Apr 29, 2003.

  1. MikeJN

    MikeJN Extra

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    I need some help here. I am new to the separates world of pre amps and amps so I could use some help.

    I have a Yamaha RXV 3200 receiver which is the second from the top of the line as far as Yamaha receivers go. It outputs 120 watts per channel RMS times six channels.

    I am wanting to go the separates route and get a nice amp and use the Yamaha for the Pre/Pro for now as it is a good processor and I need to save up until the next unpaged.

    I was able to demo a Sunfire Cinema Grand Signature series II in my house against the Yamaha. The Sunfire is rated at 425 watts per channel times 5. Now don't get me wrong I am not trying to down any particular product, I just need some input as to weather I should go a different route.

    I was expecting a big improvement as the Sunfire retails for about $4000. I did not hear that much improvement. I do have to say that at very loud levels like 100db It was cleaner and more detailed, but at normal levels of about 80 db I did not hear much difference between the two. Not enough to justify the investment.

    I used an SPL meter and the DTS dvd of the Eagles, Hell freezes over which I think is very well done. I played both at the same levels and like I said at high levels like 100db the sunfire was much cleaner and detailed but I will not be listening that high very often, but I do want the headroom to be able to get great clear high volume when I want it .

    My question is what other amplifiers do people use that can really shine over my Yamaha receiver ? Am I expecting too much ? It seems that either I have a very nice amp in the Yamaha already or the Sunfire is not all I hoped it to be.

    At 400 watts per channel and $4000 I would expect a very big improvement and I just don't hear it.

    Can anyone explain this or recommend what other equipment I should look into ? I would also consider something used from audiogon if it really made an improvement.

    Thanks in advance for any help you can offer. By the way I will be running Rocket 750's all around which are 6ohm and about 89 sensitivity.

    MIKE
     
  2. JackS

    JackS Supporting Actor

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    Mike- I would agree 4K is too much unless you have a specific need for this amount of power. To be fair to the Sunfire or any other amp you decide to try, the test should be with two channel sources in analog vise digital. HFO on DVD sounds good on any HT receiver and isn't a valid comparison. Analyse again using a few of your favorite CD's or LP's and if your still considering an amp for power with your receiver, there's no need to spend this amount of money. There's too many nice amps new or used that will fulfill the need for much less .
     
  3. Arup

    Arup Stunt Coordinator

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    Have you checked out Yamaha's MX-1 power amp? Seems like you like the Yamaha sound so you might give this one a try.
     
  4. Ricky T

    Ricky T Supporting Actor

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    Mike,

    Quite possible at your listening levels of ~ 80db, you are not using alot of watts..maybe even less than 50 RMS....thus, you would not be *hearing* the extra power.
     
  5. Lynn Little

    Lynn Little Stunt Coordinator

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    Mike, I used to have a Yamaha 992 (80w X 5 channels). It drove my mains (Nautilus 804s) pretty good. Then I bought a Bryston 4B ST to drive the mains.

    All of a sudden, it was like I had a new pair of speakers! Much better bass, cleaner highs, etc, etc, at ALL volumes, not just high volumes. Now you have to take into account that certain amps are known to sound good with certain speakers. Krell, Classe and Bryston are reputed to sound good with Nautilus speakers, for instance.

    I'm not cutting down the Sunfire amp, but I'd recommend trying at least one other brand. You might want to try a 3 channel amp, BTW. Most of your demands are for the center first, then mains, then surrounds...
     
  6. Chu Gai

    Chu Gai Lead Actor

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    Seeing as you're likely not pushing the Yamaha to begin with, and quite possibly won't, then why would you expect the addition of another amp, short of tubes, to have provided any audible benefit or diffrence?
    Under situations where the Yamaha may become 'taxed' with regards to providing clean power, then yes, I'd expect a more powerful amp, anyone really, to improve matters.
     
  7. RichardHOS

    RichardHOS Second Unit

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    Chu is correct. 80db level is likely using only a watt (literally) of power from your receiver - perhaps a couple (literally) with some music with high dynamic range. At those low levels, practically all well designed solid state class A or AB amps will sound identical. That includes your Yamaha receiver as well as Krell and Mark Levinson gear.

    At higher volumes, your receiver is probably running into higher distortion or perhaps even mild for clipping. That is where a more powerful amplifier could help. IMO, $4000 for a multichannel amp is unecessary. Another very powerful alternative is the Rotel RB1095 (200x5) which goes for roughly $2000 new and ~$1500 on audiogon.
     
  8. Chu Gai

    Chu Gai Lead Actor

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    maybe tis better to save up the money and continue to add to it until such time that you consider making a significant move which may involve speakers and full separates. not exciting I know but the extra cash will provide you with options galore when you move or contemplate an HT room with all the bells and whistles.
     
  9. kevitra

    kevitra Second Unit

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    In my experience, a new preamp will make a much larger difference in the sound than an amp.

    Get a decent amplifier (Rotel, Parasound), sell your Yamaha and get a 'real' preamp (Rotel, Parasound). You can get a Rotel 1066 for $1400, and a used Rotel 985MKII for $500. I'd bet you would find this to be a decent upgrade.
     
  10. Al B. C

    Al B. C Supporting Actor

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    I'm using a Sunfire Cinema Grand and it drives my N802's with absolutely no sweat whatsoever. [​IMG]
     
  11. gregD

    gregD Second Unit

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    And speakers will make an even larger difference.

    If you've got $4k to play with, and you're looking to improve sound, speakers should be considered... if you're happy with your speakers, then - as suggested above - look at pre-pros, and don't go nuts with the power amp.

    You might consider adding a separate audio-only preamp with HT bypass, in an attempt to improve sound quality to the mains... if you do any serious 2-ch music listening.
     
  12. Shane Martin

    Shane Martin Producer

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    What speakers are you using?
     
  13. Kevin C Brown

    Kevin C Brown Producer

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    I'll put this here just because it might be relevant. Audio Critic did a review of a Sunfire amp a while ago. One of the things I distinctly remember, was that even though the reviewer was obviously impressed with the technology that was used by the amp, he was distinctly disappointed at the parts quality used inside. There were also problems with flat freq response. If this thread stays alive for a couple days, I'll dig up the exact details...
     
  14. MikeJN

    MikeJN Extra

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    Thanks jacks,

    I will try the demo just using a good CD. What pre/pro and amps new or used would you recomend ?
     
  15. MikeJN

    MikeJN Extra

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    Thanks Arup,

    Actually I would like a warmer sound than the Yamaha. My room has tile floors so I don't want anything too harsh. I'm just using my yamaha as the pre/pro as I do not have any other pre/pro yet to use with the Sunfire.
     
  16. MikeJN

    MikeJN Extra

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    Thanks to all of you for your suggestions,

    I would like to reply to a few of you. I will just use this post to do it as I can not figure out how to edit insert like on other forums.

    Lynn Olan Little : Are you using the yamaha 992 as the pre/pro with the bryston ?


    Chu : I am new to separates so I was expecting the amp to really enhance the sound quality at all volumes not just up at 90 or 100db. I now understand that the amp really kicks in at the high levels. I am wondering though if I could get a hold of a good preamp how much better it will sound at all volumes than the Yamaha ? Any suggestions ? I don't have to keep the Sunfire if I could find another good maybe used setup for around $3000. I will be getting Onix Rockets 750's in front and rear (6ohm) and Rocket 200 center channel (4ohm).

    Al B.C. : What preamp are you using with your Sunfie Cinema Grand ?

    Shane : As said above I will be using onix rockets 750's front and rear and Rocket 200 center channel.

    Thanks again everybody. MIKE
     
  17. MikeJN

    MikeJN Extra

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    I forgot to ask,

    Have any of you used or heard Outlaw Audio 950 pre and 755 amp ?

    If so how do they compare to other high end brands ?

    Thanks, MIKE
     
  18. Chu Gai

    Chu Gai Lead Actor

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    You've already identified a primary source of your problem...the floors which are contributing to the harshness you perceive. Some localized carpeting seems in order to me along with probable improvements in the speaker placements.
     
  19. Lynn Little

    Lynn Little Stunt Coordinator

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    Mike, I sold the 992 a few years ago. I'm currently using a Pioneer Elite VSX-45TX as a pre/pro for the Bryston...
     
  20. Al B. C

    Al B. C Supporting Actor

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    I'm using a Sunfire TG II.

    Right now I'm listening to one of the new Peter Gabriel SACD's.

    It's a beautiful thing! [​IMG]
     

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