Thoughts on Cinepro amps--Just high power or good audiophile quality?

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Steve*MH, Sep 6, 2002.

  1. Steve*MH

    Steve*MH Stunt Coordinator

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    In looking at multichannel amps for both home theater and music applications, there is a relatively long list of good amps--each with its own qualities. In looking at the Cinepro line, obviously, their power ratings and parts counts such as transformer size, etc. are very impressive, along with their bridging capabilities for anywhere from a 3 to 6 channel amp for flexibility. While not crazy about the "professional" look of the Cinepro line, I have read good reviews of its power capabilities and its impact on music and movies. Home Theater mag gave the 3k6SE Gold a 97 for performance and 96 in build quality. I believe the knock on Cinepro is that it is not a good quality amp for two channel music, just a brute for home theater. It appears with some of its recent lines--3K6SE Gold, the parts quality and music capabilities are improving. Anyway, with all things being equal, should one get the Cinepro with more power compared to other high-end amps from Krell, Classe, BAT, EAD, etc? Is there a "quality" difference? Does all the extra power come at a price?
    Thanks.
     
  2. John A. Casler

    John A. Casler Second Unit

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    Hi Steve,

    I have been lucky enough to have auditioned many of the great power amps and had quite a few to play with.

    I think the Ampzilla 2000, Ayre, and Classe all are riding on the cream.

    Very few have the speakers to percieve the resolving power of those amps.

    I have ABC'd the Cinepro, CineNova and Theta on some RM40s which will resolve the inner detail that sets amps apart and they all sounded identical (maybe a slight edge going to the CineNova beleive it or not)

    The drawback with the CinePro in that comparison was the fan noise during soft passages.

    You didn't mention your speakers, but if they are "highend" (VMPS, Revel, B&W, Wilson,JMLab, Joseph Audio, etc) I would say any of the amps I mentioned would work, but if you are sitting too close to the CinePro and have good hearing, you'll have a problem with the fan.

    After all, what we are looking for here is Dynamics, top to bottom linearity, and the ability to resolve "inner detail".

    There will be those who say "soundstage, soundstage!!! The point is, the speaker set up is what produces soundstage. If somones soundstage collapses when they switch amps, then they have a phase problem.

    Anyhow, Cine,Cine,Theta, It sounds like a fun Sorority.

    All the best,

    John
     
  3. joe logston

    joe logston Stunt Coordinator

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    i heard somewhere that cinepro was going out of bussiness
     
  4. Jon Best

    Jon Best Extra

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    Cinepro has never gotten the respect they deserve, probably due to their name which implies HT and turns off many audiophiles. I have a 1K2 which I use for 2ch, I originally bought it for subs but it was way too good. I actually prefer it to just about any 2ch amp under $3000.
    I don't know if they are going out of business but since their pres died (Eric Abraham) I have noticed they seem to be in disarray and emails sent to them which used to be answered right away by Eric sometimes are never answered. I hope they are able to keep it together.
     
  5. Steve Morgan

    Steve Morgan Second Unit

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    I have to agree with John Casler. After listening to quite a few amps the ones John mentioned plus the Proceed amp 5 and 3, the Cinenova Grande for quality and price edged the others out. Check out the singnal to noise ratio. Close to the best in the industry. I previously had the Parasound 2205a which is a great amp for HT but the Grande brought so much more to my system than I thought an amp would. I have Von Schweikert Audio speakers all around. These are a very detailed type of speaker. The last 2 months I have been watching and listening to old software just to see what I had been missing[​IMG] I considered the Cinepro, it was at the top of the list but the Cinenova Grande was the winner! Besides that, I liked the Wood crate it was shipped in! Both are good amps take your time and audition. Good Luck!
    Cheers,
    Steve
     
  6. MikeAF

    MikeAF Stunt Coordinator

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    I have 2 Cinepro amps, the 1K2SE for the mains, and a 2K6III for the rest. I have a SE fan unit on the 2K and I cannot tell the fan is working. The fan noise was a knock on the older models but I cannot complain about fan noise at all with my two amps. They both deliver very clean and quiet detailed sound. I also hope they will be able to hold it together after Eric's death and keep this great company going. Just my .02 cents worth as a happy Cinepro owner.

    Mike
     
  7. Craig Woodhall

    Craig Woodhall Supporting Actor

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    I love my Cinepro amps.. I have dealt with them for years and with Eric Abrhams, he was a great guy to deal with. I was shocked to hear he passed away. Anyone care to enlighten me with what happened to him? I really hope Cinepro will keep it together as I think they are a great company with a great product.

    Craig
     
  8. John Kotches

    John Kotches Cinematographer

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    Craig,

    I will send you private information on Erics passing.

    And earlier reports on the Series III fans as being substantially quiter are dead on. I can hear the fan when the amp powers up for about two seconds, and that's it. My listening position is approximately 6ft from the amplifier, and with nothing on, after some loud multi-channel playback, the fan is inaudible.

    I agree that Cinepro is terribly underrated -- they have neither the cosmetic appeal, nor the name cachet that other brands do.

    I've had the pleasure of comparing my 3K6, Series III to the BAT VK-6200 (about 2x the price), and it was very, very difficult to tell any difference between them.

    Regards,
     
  9. Craig Woodhall

    Craig Woodhall Supporting Actor

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    thanks for the info, John.
     
  10. Steve*MH

    Steve*MH Stunt Coordinator

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    John,

    Can you hear the fan even when putting your ear very close to the 3k6III?
    Do you have any experience with the Gold edition 3K6SEIII?
    It is price at $7500, but is supposed to have 24k Gold circuit boards and fully balanced design. Curious to see how it would perform up against the BAT VK-6200 at nearly $10,000 which has gotten some amazing reviews as of late.
    Any specifics as to how the BAT VK-6200 and 3K6III compare?
    Are they similar in performance for two channel music and "audiophile" tests in contrast to home theater which is where I would imagine the Cinepro would excel?
    Can we expect any reviews in Widescreen Review of the Cinepro 3K6III series or the BAT VK-6200 in the near future?
    Thanks.
     
  11. John Kotches

    John Kotches Cinematographer

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    Steve,
    To answer your questions:
     
  12. Steve*MH

    Steve*MH Stunt Coordinator

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    Thanks for the reply. I do believe the Cinepros are quality amps and their specs seem to show that --just tough because they do not get much respect from the audio world because of their professional look and their reputation as powerhouse home theater amps with little actual sound quality for music. I believe this has probably changed with the Series III line in particular. The other assumption with amplifiers is that the more weight, the better amp. In comparing the 200lb VK-6200 and the Cinepro at well less than 100lbs, many would say that is a build quality issue and that the Cinepros do not compare in parts and build quality compared to the other high-end companies such as BAT. In your opinion how does the Cinepro 3K6III build quality as far as parts, etc. compare to other top-flight companies? That was why the fan was a big issue as that is an amplifier taboo nowadays to include any kind of fan on an amplifier, but if the fan is extremely quiet, it should not be an issue I would imagine.

    Also, I am very interested in the fact that many have stated the Cinepro 3K6III series both standard and gold are fully balanced designs. Does this mean they are fully balanced input to output differential designs or that just the output or input stage is fully balanced. I know some higher tier amplifiers advertise the two amplifiers bridged for each channel for balanced differential design (EAD, Theta, etc.) Does this include the 3K6III series?
    Thanks for any info.
     
  13. Dave Moritz

    Dave Moritz Producer
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    I will be looking into the Cinepro amp soon. Just as soon as I decide on if I am getting the Pioneer 49TX, B&K 307, Sunfire GT3 or Denon 5803 to replace my Yamaha RV-X995[​IMG] . I am looking at Parasound, Cinenova and maybe Adcom? But I definatly am interested in the Cinepro's as well. I have seen nothing but great reveiws on them so far. I think the would be a great amp for surround sound and SACD. Now if I could just find a dealer for Cinepro here in the So Cal area of Los Angeles, lol.
     
  14. John Kotches

    John Kotches Cinematographer

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    Steve,
    I'm just going to start referring to the different 3K6s as STD and SE to save some time typing, ok?
    The SE does use better grade parts than the STD unit, as well as all the other tweaks. That gains you an inaudible 2dB of SNR (122dB to 124dB) and more power supply capacitance, which gives you a little more dynamic power. That's about it.
    The circuit is balanced input to output on both the STD and SE, but am not certain on the 2K6. Knowing Eric, it probably was the same basic circuit, with appropriate differences in capacitance, output transistors, power transformers etc, etc to get the desired output.
    The VK-6200 chassis alone weighs 80lbs, with each module adding about 20lbs. Much of the amp module weight is in the dedicated transformer, it's really 6 monoblock amplifiers in a single "convenient" chassis. Better get a couple of friends if you want to change from 5 to 6 channels, there are 83 screws and you have to literally swing the front panel down to insert and/or replace a module. It is not for the faint of heart -- heck for the price, insist your dealer come do the job himself. Unusually for BAT, this is their first amplifier which isn't balanced input to output.
    Weight alone doesn't make build quality, and you will find the parts in the STD not quite as good as the BAT, but the SE is comparable to the BAT.
    As far as fans being "taboo", the waste heat has to be dealt with somehow.
    You can do that with an 80 lb (empty) chassis that's enormous, yet still has lots of perforations which allow for airflow around the amplifier modules coupled with heatsinks on the amplifier output transistors. That would be BAT.
    You can do it with tons of external heatsinking fans (surface area), which also adds drastically to the size and weight of the case. Many manufacturers use this option.
    Or you can use forced air cooling, which is what Cinepro chooses to do.
    I think the weakness with the Cinepro amps we haven't really touched on (it is very slight)... the shared transformer. At absolute peak output, it will limit the output of all channels driven simultaneously. But realistically speaking, at > 600w/channel of sustained output you're either talking monumentally insensitive speakers, a cavernous space or a combination of the above. At this point the BAT would already have run out of power.
    Everytime I hear amplification that's better than the STD (3K6, Series III), it's marginal and it seems to be twice the price for comparable output power (if comparable output power is even available). The BAT is marginally better. A pair of bridged Bel Canto eVo 6s is marginally better. Both are twice the price.
    I have a review sample in that sounds marginally better than the Cinepro. For 5 channels of amplification? About twice the price, with a little bit more than half the available output power.
    Are you seeing a pattern here? [​IMG]
    In the end, it will come back to your personal value equation. We are talking about modest gains for anywhere from 60-100% more in terms of $$$$ spent. You have to decide if that gain is worth the substantial expenditure. Then again my "slight gain" could be your "enormous difference" It's something I cannot decide for you.
    Hope this helps.
    Regards,
     
  15. Steve*MH

    Steve*MH Stunt Coordinator

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    Thanks for the great, informative reply. I am amazed to hear that the Cinepro 3K6III series is actually differentially balanced input to output(two amps bridged per channel) with all that power besides. And the ability to bridge channels which I was told can not happen with a differentially balanced input to output amplifier. That feature has always been one I have looked out for as being the sign of a well-engineered, low distortion amplifier.
    The other feature that I have looked for is the separate transformer per channel for a "true monoblock" design as you mentioned with the BAT. Although there has been some debate on which is better as some say all channels will never be pushed to their limits at the same time so sharing makes more sense. Any thoughts on which is actually better when push comes to shove as far as an amplifier feature with multichannel music and future formats in mind--shared or each having own transformer--for most amplifiers?

    Also, can you share which review amplifier you currently have as being marginally better than the 3K6III at nearly twice the price?

    With the Cinepro 3K6IIISE Gold edition level of parts, etc., how would you rank it with the best multichannel amplifiers out there? What in your opinion are the top five multichannel amplifiers out there regardless of price?

    Thanks again for your expert opinions.
     
  16. John Kotches

    John Kotches Cinematographer

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    Steve,

    I can't comment on the top 5, there are some multi-channel amplifiers that I haven't spent time with personally that are in all likelihood great candidates, like the Theta Dreadnaught, Ayre V-5 and the Jeff Rowland MC-6.

    Best I've had/heard in my system in no particular order:
    BAT VK-6200, Cinepro 3K6 Series III SE Gold, Cinepro 3K6 Series III, Bel Canto eVo 6 and the review amp I have in.

    I cannot share information on the review product until the review is submitted.

    There is no right/wrong with dedicated vs. shared transformers.

    Plus side for dedicated: You can be absolutely certain if the wall has the available current you can deliver the rated power.

    Plus side for shared: Provided sufficient capacitance and output devices, you can actually exceed rated channel output for short periods for one or more channels.

    The downsides are the inverse for each.

    Regards,
     

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