Receiver vs. separate amplifier question

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Ariel, Feb 28, 2002.

  1. Ariel

    Ariel Stunt Coordinator

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    Majority of what i read is there is a significant improvement in sound especially in the bass department if a separate amp is used to drive speakers. My question is what if the speakers are set to small (plus an active sub & receiver crossover @ 80hz), will there still be a big improvement in sound? receiver is the denon 3802.
     
  2. Bob Marker

    Bob Marker Stunt Coordinator

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    Seems to me that there would be less need for an external amp with the setting you describe since the subwoofer amp would be providing power for (most of) the mid - lower bass. Guess I'm in the minority, but, based on the amps I have experience with, I'm not convinced that external power amps provide any audible improvement in sound quality. Just my opinion.
     
  3. Kevin. W

    Kevin. W Screenwriter

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    The Denon 3802 is a nice piece of hardware and I would suggest that you beg/borrow/do not steal and amp and try it out before you make the jump. I had a 1801 that I hooked a Rotel RMB-1066 to and can honestly say the difference between the two was night and day when powering the front stage. Also taking the load of the Denon's Amp seemed to bring the rears alive. I could hear detail that I never heard before. Just my opinion.

    Kevin
     
  4. Terrell

    Terrell Producer

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    A quality external amp would make a big improvement over any receiver, especially over lower priced receivers, but it just comes down to a number of factors and whether you want to spend the extra money. Bob makes a good point that your system is already biamped, because of the sub amp driving the low bass. But only you can decide if an extra amp is worth it to you.
     
  5. RAF

    RAF Lead Actor

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    Good question and another one of those that probably is best served with a "it depends" answer. In my particular case I decided to replace the front amps in my Denon 5700 with Marantz MA700 monoblocks (L/C/R to keep the front soundstage even) and I noticed a difference. This is particularly relevant to your question because (a) The 5700 is a high end Denon receiver and (b) My THX M&K 150 speakers cross over at 80Hz as per THX specs.

    There are, I believe, two major factors in why I'm experiencing better (more open) sound. In the first place, as others have said, the use of external amps, each with its own power supply (a topic worth discussing completely on its own) frees up the receiver from having to work as hard. It comes as no surprise that one of the compromises necessary to pack so much into a single receiver "box" is to skimp a bit on the separation of the duties that you get in separates. Otherwise, if you used, say, separate power supplies for each stage in a receiver the resulting box would be bigger than your HT! And a single component of the receiver providing multiple functions usually leads to slightly compromised sound.

    Secondly, and much more important in my case I believe, is the fact that my speakers are of the 4 ohm impedance variety. Although the 5700 does a good job with 4 ohm speakers (even though Denon hedges a bit on this by stating in the manual to use 6-16 ohm speakers) there is no question that an amp works harder when more current is being drawn. (The 5700 has some protection circuitry which will shut the unit down if there's too big a current draw - although I never ran into this problem in the two years I ran the 5700 full throttle, so to speak.) Separate amps usually translate into more efficient operation.

    That said, you might or might not notice any difference in the sound. If you never run the volume at high levels, or if your speakers are very efficient then your current receiver might handle anything you throw at it and installing external amps might disappoint you since the sonic improvement might be hard to hear. This is something that can only be answered on an individual basis, taking into consideration everything that has been discussed here.

    And one final factor in all this (and the reason I still would have kept my monoblocks if the improvement was only marginal) involves my decision to start the transition from a receiver to separates. The Monoblocks were the first step in my upgrade path of choice. A new pre/pro (in my case the Outlaw 950) is the next step (with the 5700 only supplying power to the 4 surround channels - not very demanding). Finally, I'll replace the 5700 entirely with some more amplification (still to be determined, but probably done soon now that I'm convinced my new pre/pro is much better than my receiver.)
     
  6. Ariel

    Ariel Stunt Coordinator

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    thanks for the replies. i just needed more opinions from those who went to this configuration as from my experience, i usually don't notice the difference on just one or two listening sessions and on a few materials only. i will be upgrading my onkyo575 and i was caught up in the "separate pre-pro+amp vs. receiver as pre-pro+amp" decision. i am leaning on the receiver+amp as i can save more money and i can have the option of buying the external amp later.
     

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