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Weighing upgrade decisions Amp vs Sub (1 Viewer)

Salvador

Second Unit
Joined
Dec 4, 2001
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431
I've had my Denon 3802 and Studio 20's for about 4-5 months now and i'm finally getting to like it. It's time to search for an amp to compliment my Sutdio 20's and hopefully help it reach its full potential.

After reading numerous posts about people getting excellent results after adding a new amp to their system, i've been intrigued ever since. I had a chance to connect my system to a Sunfire Cinema Grand amp (thanks Miles) and noticed that it did improve the sound but not by a whole lot. More impact and little bit more coherence in the imaging department were the improvements I noticed. Keep in mind that we only listened to it for around 10-20 mins. I think that wasn't enough time to fully evaluate the difference that the amp made so i'm still keeping the door open for a separate amp.

To fully evaluate an amp the best situation for me would be to home audition one. I've already called a couple of dealers around the GTA and so far only Brack will allow me to home audition their amps (Rotel 1070 & Bryston 3B). They would allow me to take home one amp on a Saturday of any week but i have to return it the following Monday. I do have to pay for the amp in full but i'll get a full refund when i take it back as long as there are no nicks or scratches. Kromer Radio only had integrated Cambridge amps available and they said that if i want to audition an Anthem amp, they'll have to order it and when they order something they treat it as good as sold. Kennedy HiFi didn't allow me to home audition any of their amps. It's a shame though that one guy in that store ruins the whole home theater experience for me since he is just such an elitist bastard prick even on when you talk to him nicely on the phone. Audio-One said that they only let customers who they 'know' home audition their stuff. Now i've been there at least 5 times but i haven't bought anything there yet so i guess they don't 'know' me. If anyone could mention any other dealers who are willing to home audition amps then that will be greatly appreciated.

This is the list of amps i would like to home audition:

Bryston 3B-ST

Rotel RB-1070

Rotel RB-1080

Anthem MCA-20

Parasound 1000A

Parasound 1500A

Odyssey Stratos

Obviously it would be more difficult to get a hold of the Odyssey Stratos. It’s another highly regarded internet only product that according to many people would be worth the risk. If anyone within the GTA is willing to let me check out his/her Odyssey amp then I would be forever grateful. Lending an Odyssey amp to a virtual stranger would of course be too much to ask so I’ll just bring my stuff in your house and we could evaluate it within your home.

What I’m aiming to achieve here is to find out whether adding an amp would be the next logical upgrade for me. I use my home theater system primarily for music and at the moment and I think a lot of people would agree that an SVS 16-46CS+ sub would offer me the greatest improvement. But if I encounter an amp that:

Greatly improves the bass response of my 20’s

Considerably opens up the imaging and soundstage of my 20’s

and most of all, add that intangible factor that makes you smile like a silly fool when you listen to music

then I will seriously reconsider shifting my funds into purchasing an amp instead of a sub.
 

Steve Zimmerman

Second Unit
Joined
Dec 6, 2001
Messages
347
An SVS 16-46 CS+ subwoofer is going to offer WAY WAY more improvement to your system than a dedicated amp will. Not only will you experience bass like you never have before, but by setting your speakers to small and sending low bass to the subwoofer you'll also relieve your receiver from having to work so hard and you'll get improved sound above the crossover as a result.

Get the amp sometime down the road, but IMO you'd be crazy to buy an amp before buying a sub.

--Steve
 

Mike Veroukis

Second Unit
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May 8, 2001
Messages
455
Location
Canada
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Michael
If you're willing to move your gear why not just bring it into one of the shops that retail the stuff and try it there. They might even have the same units there, just a matter of hooking it up. Since what you're looking for is a relative differrence between your current receiver and your receiver + power amp, the location shouldn't be a huge factor.

Btw, do you have your speakers set to large or small? If you listen mostly to music then a sub MIGHT not be your best bet. A good power amp and a pair of Studio100s would improve your sound quality a lot more (for music). Of course 100s aren't cheap, so you might want to consider the 60s or even 40s and move your 20s to the rear/surrounds. These bigger 2 1/2 way speakers will beaf up your bottom end as well as increase imaging and the power amp will increase over-all sound quality. Not the cheapest way to improve sound quality but if you're interested mostly in music it's something worth considering.

If however you're big into movies (especially action movies) a sub should be first on your list.

- Mike
 

Salvador

Second Unit
Joined
Dec 4, 2001
Messages
431
Get the amp sometime down the road, but IMO you'd be crazy to buy an amp before buying a sub.
As i said in my first post, i'm pretty much thinking along those lines but i am giving an amp a chance to trounce a sub upgrade. I still haven't had a chance to fully evaluate a separate amp so i cannot definately say that getting a sub is the way to go for me. It all depends on what i will enjoy more, different strokes for different folks sort of thing. But eventually somewhere down the road i'll get an amp and a sub in my home theater system.

I was hoping to hear from some fellow torontonians about their experiences on home auditioning amps. So far only brack and bay bloor radio will allow me to bring home one of their amps and return it for a full refund.

thanks by the way for the replies
 

Arthur S

Senior HTF Member
Joined
Jul 2, 1999
Messages
2,571
Some room treatments and a hefty subwoofer will blow away a big amp. Something that can flap your pants bottoms at 20Hz will not be subtle.

Also amps sound different. Finding the one that would sound the best is tough, as you know. Not much fun moving big subs, though the SVS and HSU are not as heavy as something like a Velodyne HGS-18.

After adding a 450 watt per channel amp to my Nakamichi receiver the amp was a slight improvement but subtle. In fact, I will probably hang on the the big amp to power a couple SVS subs when the time is right.

Artie
 

Salvador

Second Unit
Joined
Dec 4, 2001
Messages
431
After adding a 450 watt per channel amp to my Nakamichi receiver the amp was a slight improvement but subtle
That's the exact sitatuation that will make me forego getting an amp. Arthur, what were you using to power your speakers before the amp upgrade? And what speakers are you using?
 

Brian R

Stunt Coordinator
Joined
Sep 13, 2000
Messages
64
From my limited personal experience, the improvements you noticed with the Sunfire will be typical of adding an amp. All the amps you have listed are quality amps, though they may sound a little different from one another I would expect similar results with all of them.

About 2 months ago I added a Rotel RB980BX, which is similar to the RB1070, to my Denon AVR3300. My speakers are Pinnacle Classic Gold Towers. I noticed an improvement in imaging and a slight improvement in bass response. However, I was rather disappointed, considering the excellent results I also read about others getting on this forum. I was expecting a night and day difference and it just didn't happen. I feel the limited improvements were certainly worth the price I paid for the Rotel. But had I paid $600 or whatever the RB1070 is going for and experienced the same results, I definitely would have returned it.

Last week I added a SVS 20-39CS that I am currently powering it with an old Sony 80 watt receiver. All I can say is Wow! This is without a doubt the single best upgrade I've made. I smile like a silly fool every time I turn on my system now.

Since your dealer is willing to let you try the Rotel and the Bryston, do it. If you're not blown away by the improvements take them back and get the SVS.
 

Arthur S

Senior HTF Member
Joined
Jul 2, 1999
Messages
2,571
Salvador

I was using the internal amps in my Nakamichi AV-1 receiver. I was fortunate to be able to have 3 receivers home at once and the Nakamichi was the most natural sounding.

There was nothing at all lacking with the sound of the Nak. But after years of looking at big ass amps, I caved in when I got a $2,800 Citation 7.1 amp for less than $900. The 7.1's for sale now go for $900 or more, so I figure I can get my money out of it if I wanted to sell it.

I am using KEF Q70's for my mains. Very efficient.

High power is only needed for relatively inefficient speakers in a situation where you are going to boost the bass.

Some years ago I had a pair of speakers that came with an equalizer, mainly for the bass. Those speakers definitely needed a huge amp, but only because of the heavy bass boost from the equalizer. Now that most of us have a subwoofer, the need for high power is drastically reduced.

And a receiver like the Denon 4802 can do justice to most speakers.

I have been following Tom Vodhanel who learned that most subs will compress the lowest bass. Although I have not heard the SVS subs or had a Velodyne HGS-18 in my system, I can readily believe that subs that can do 105 db at 20 Hz can produce a dramatic difference.

My sub did an average of 106 db from 25-50 Hz but can't touch 20 Hz. But with remote control volume and a delivered price of $378, it has been by far the best upgrade I ever made. This is my first sub and I had no idea what I was missing.

Artie
 

Sean D

Stunt Coordinator
Joined
Sep 3, 2001
Messages
181
I'd go for the SVS. At the time I bought mine it was definately the most significant upgrade I had made between it and my external amp. You will notice a major improvement in the clarity ofyour speakers with clean bass.

My 2 cents
 

Greg_R

Screenwriter
Joined
Apr 9, 2000
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1,996
Location
Portland, OR
Real Name
Greg
- Considerably opens up the imaging and soundstage of my 20’s
Play around with your speaker placement and acoustic treatments. Are the tweeters of your speakers at ear level? How far apart are the speakers and how far away are you sitting? Is there anything large between the speakers? How far are your speakers from the wall? Are they toed in? Are your speakers placed along the long or short wall of the room?
 

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