Thoughts on adding a power amp

Discussion in 'AV Receivers' started by grantG, Feb 21, 2005.

  1. grantG

    grantG Agent

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    I am currently running Swan speakers from a Marantz 7400 for HT usage. While I really enjoy the sound of this setup, I was thinking of trying to add something extra to the sound. I was looking to utilize the Marantz 7400 as a pre/pro, and then add a power amp. I was looking at the Outlaw 7100 or Rotel 1075. I am trying to keep the cost under $1000. Though a 3 amp setup would be just as fine vs the 7 and 5 amps setups of the Outlaw and Rotel.

    Since I am not adding a big time power amp, any thoughts on if I would notice a difference given that the Marantz is a decent mid-level receiver, or will I be getting "true" power from these amps and would notice a difference?

    Thanks for any input.
     
  2. JackS

    JackS Supporting Actor

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    Grant- I would say that adding an amp to a receiver is the best upgrade you can make. As for sound improvement, it could be anything from slight to huge depending on the pre-amp qualities of the receiver your using.
    Another plus to consider is that now you no longer wonder if you may (at times) be overdriving your receiver, so a nice piece of mind is also present with this upgrade.
    In the interest of saving a few bucks, shop for two channel instead of three channel amps or even mono-blocks and also consider used.
    Many on the forum would dissagree that ignoring the center would be positive, but in my opinion, this is the least important speaker in HT. If dialog is clear, extra power will add little if anything. Make the center and rears a future upgrade and concentrate on the two fronts for now. Good luck.
     
  3. mackie

    mackie Supporting Actor

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    Which Swans do you have? Do you use a sub? How big is your room? How loud do you like to listen? Simply adding an amplifier doesn't guarantee a major upgrade. Speaker efficiency, impedance, cross over point, room size, and listening preference all have to be considered.
     
  4. grantG

    grantG Agent

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    I have the 2.1s as mains and C3 center, HSU Stf -2 for base. The room is fairly large 20 x 25 basement but the listening area is much smaller. This is 99% utilized for HT.
     
  5. David Judah

    David Judah Screenwriter

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    It can't hurt to have a little extra oomph for the transients associated with HT and once you have the amp/s, you'll always be able to use them regardless of what other equipment you get in the future.

    I would say get at least a 3 channel though, because I think it is important to have your front soundfield remain consistent and having equal power to each channel is a part of that.

    DJ
     
  6. mackie

    mackie Supporting Actor

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    David is right - it won't hurt to have more power, but it might not add that much either.

    Try it for yourself and see what happens. Outlaw has a nice return policy, so give them a try.

    Let us know what you think once you try it. I'd be interested in hearing your thoughts.

    How does your setup sound now?
     
  7. john bourne

    john bourne Extra

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    I just added an Adcom GFA-555 200watt per channel to my basement HT and the results are incredible. I'm using it with a HK525 receiver in a very large basement HT. It makes a huge improvement as I had to push the HK to the verge of clipping to get the sound pressure levels in range and thus the sound quality suffered. Now, just sweet sweet music at a stupid volume. The biggest improvement in order was 1. clarity 2. Sound stage 3. bass (midbass as I'm crossing to sub at 60hz) 4. for lack of better term the music sounds faster or more punchy. For a 1000 bucks you can pick up some killer amps on the used market. With the size of room you're filling I'd imagine adding an amp would be a good investment IF you listen at loud volumes.
     
  8. grantG

    grantG Agent

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    The system sounds good as is but still wonderin if the amp will give it the extra boost. I guess thats why I,m not looking to spend big bucks at this time since I am not necessarily looking to play it loud. Current levels are in the -25 db range.

    I am looking used, so if it does not turn out to be a big improvement it wont be a huge expense.
     
  9. mackie

    mackie Supporting Actor

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    Adding an amp will make a difference if the speaker you're using is a difficult load to drive. 4ohm speakers, low sensitivity speakers will sound better with more amplification. Also, if you send the entire frequency range to the speaker it will make a difference too. Generally speaking, using a 8ohm bookshelf with modest sensitivity that is crossed over at 80hz, with a quality receiver, and a good sub adding an amp isn't guaranteed to improve sound.

    GrantG - keep us posted on what you see. I think you posted on the Swan website too. What did Jon say?
     
  10. John Garcia

    John Garcia Executive Producer

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    What Mackie said. An amp won't make it sound "better"; it will likely give you more detail, depth and clarity as well as let you go louder without distortion, but it won't change the basic nature of your system. If it isn't struggling, an amp probably isn't going to make a night and day difference.

    I'm using an 8300 with 4 Ohm speakers and adding monoblocks for my mains yeilded a very noticable improvement.
     
  11. grantG

    grantG Agent

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    John Garcia, I have seen some of your previous messages. Didn't you used to have a Marantz 7400? If so, why did you change? Thanks.
     
  12. John Garcia

    John Garcia Executive Producer

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    I had a 6200. When I moved to 4 Ohm speakers, the 6200 wasn't going to be enough to drive them adequately, that's the main reason why I upgraded. I found the monoblocks used cheap and figured I could try it out. I was surprised at the improvement they made to be honest. It didn't change the way they sounded, they just sounded a lot more clear.
     
  13. mackie

    mackie Supporting Actor

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    Let me throw in my experience with adding an external amp as food for thought. I use a Denon 3803 receiver with Paradigm Studios v.3 for speakers. The Front L&R speakers are 40s, the center is the 470, and the rears are 20s.

    After reading many posts about adding external amplification I decided to add two outlaw M200 monoblocks for increased performance to my front two speakers. To my surprise, adding the M200s did very little to change the quality of the sound. I have to play it very loudly at levels I don't like to hear any real improvement.

    The dealer I bought the speakers from said that I'd get a more noticeable change if I spent the same money somewhere else such as a better CD/DVD player.

    Funny thing, I did notice a difference when I swapped out an old Yamaha 795 with the Denon on the Klipsch speakers I was using at the time. The bass was much better defined.

    I'm eagerly awaiting a new pair of swan speaker to be delivered in the next day or two. I've got a Denon stereo receiver with a strong power supply to drive the 4.1s, but for kicks I'll throw the M200s in the mix to see what happens. I expect the M200s to make a difference with the floor standing speakers receiving the full signal.

    I kept the M200s instead of sending them back because you really can't have too much power and it's nice to have the amps around. I just like to caution people about the idea that adding a separate amp is the best upgrade you can make. Sometimes it ain't so.

    Sorry about the long rant...
     
  14. Will.MA

    Will.MA Stunt Coordinator

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    Adding an outboard amplifier to my HT receiver in a listening area of approximately 200 ft2 was dramatic. Movie playback is much fuller and subtle details are heard without straining to discern them. The amount of information is always abundant without the need for heightened (loud) sound levels. Also, I don't even need my subwoofer anymore. Using it is generally overkill. My old center channel sounded like a full-range speaker for the first time since I've owned it. My mains (and surrounds) sound like the large towers they are for once. I'm not saying my experience would be typical for everyone, but I don't have difficult speakers to drive nor a large room and the difference is easily perceived at any listening level. With exception to the front projector, of the gear I own adding an outboard amp was the best investment made in terms of price to performance.

    IMO, with all other things being ideal, I think adding extra power to the center channel gives a system the ability to multiplex many demanding sounds simultaneously to the center while keeping each piece of information succinct and uncompromised. My experience has been that the less dominant sounds suffer at the hands of the louder material when there's less power to the center. That same piece replayed with more power results in everything being heard. Loud sounds are still loud without crowding out the little pieces that share the scene.

    If you have the wherewithall to pull it off, I'd say go for an outboard amp grantG. Barring some bizarre set of circumstances, it can only improve your enjoyment, especially if you feel your system is missing something (as I did).

    Receiver: Yamaha HTR-5790, now used as pre/pro
    Amplifier: Cinepro 2k5 mkII
    Mains & Surrounds: AR S-40
    Center: was Optimum cs-5 (full-range comment about it), now M&K S150 THX
     
  15. MikeDuke

    MikeDuke Stunt Coordinator

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    An amp will make a difference. When I had my dennon 3300, way back then, I thought it was good sound. It was. But then I started to think, is there more out there. Bad idea [​IMG]. When I heard high end systems I started to say, I want that. Well the first step was to get an amp. You said that you do not want to play it loud. An external amp will allow you to do that. You will hear details at lower levels. Just adding one Bryston 5b-ST to setup made a world of difference. It wasn't just the power, although it was there, it was the detail and sound quality. I started to hear voices and effects that were not clear before. Now my system looks like this
    1. Krell Showcase preamp
    2. 1 Bryston 4b-ST for L/R
    3. 1 Bryston 5b-ST for Center and surround
    4. 1 pair JM labs 927Be for L/R (Limited run of 500 pair with beryllium tweeter)
    5. 1 JM Labs CC-901 Center channel
    6. 2 Polk RT-3 surround speakers
    7. 1 JM labs SW900 Subwoofer
    8. 1 Monster power HTPS-7000
    9. 1 Monster power AVS-2000
    10. Cables by Transparent Audio
    11. Pioneer DV-47ai DVD player
    12. Sony 34XBR800
    Bryston is just one choice. At audiogon there are a number of them around $1000. Some a bit more and just a few a bit less. Good luck.
     
  16. Kevin. W

    Kevin. W Screenwriter

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    Grant, if you don't want to break the bank take a look at www.saturdayaudio.com They have the NAD S250(refurbished 5x125w) for $849 with 1yr warranty. Pick it up on a credit card that extendeds the warranty or pick up an extended warranty and you've got an excellent amp for under $1k. I've got a Pio 56Txi/NAD S250 powering my Paradigm Studio(v3) 40/CC570/ADP470 setup.

    Kevin
     

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