Would an Amp improve my system?

Discussion in 'AV Receivers' started by Kevin*Harley, May 28, 2003.

  1. Kevin*Harley

    Kevin*Harley Stunt Coordinator

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    When I put together my HT the focus was more on movies than music (60/40). Since completed I’m watching and enjoying movies more than ever but find myself engaged in music greater than 70% of the time. Currently I’m using older satellite speakers for surrounds and had the intention to buy matching rears in July as a Bday present to myself. My surrounds sound fine (for the moment) and I’m considering spending the money to upgrade my 2-channel music instead.

    Could I improve my fronts running them with more power? If so, what do I look for in an amplifier? / What should I plan on spending? / Brands to look at?

    Current system:

    Denon 3803
    MA Silver S8’s (Mains)
    Velodyne HGS15II (Sub)
    Sony CDP-CX153 (CD) – this might be a weak link worth improving
     
  2. DonnyD

    DonnyD Screenwriter

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    I certainly believe that adding a two channel amp to give the mains more juice will improve EVERYTHING.....
    But warning.......... upgraditis gets expensive.LOL
    Actually, I added an Aragon 2 channel (200wpc) to a Yam RXV-1 and was really pleased with what it did for the HT as well as 2 channel operation.
    I do reccommend at least doubling your wattage to get noticable results.
     
  3. Craig Morris

    Craig Morris Stunt Coordinator

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    Kevin,
    Although I haven't tried a 2-channel amp in my receiver-based system, I did end up buying a new CD player. If you are using a digital connection to your Denon, and wish to continue doing so, I wouldn't bother with the CD upgrade. However, if you're willing to buy a nice CD player and hook it up using the player's analog outputs, I think you'd be amazed at how much difference the source can make. I was blown away when I replaced my Sony changer with a Linn. I'd suggest the NAD 521i or 541i for your system.
    For two-channel amps, perhaps a Rotel 1080, or an Anthem MCA 20 would be suitable for your system.
    Good luck!
     
  4. Paul Clarke

    Paul Clarke Supporting Actor

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    Kevin,

    I agree with Donny. I switched out a Parasound 855A ([email protected] Ohms, [email protected] Ohms, [email protected] Ohms) amp for a Chiro C-300 ([email protected] Ohms, [email protected] Ohms, [email protected] Ohms) and can certainly appreciate the difference. I run an H/K 510 as pre/pro and was using 4 channels of the 855A for the mains and the 5th for the center. My speakers are 6 Ohm all around and the power profile of the Chiro does them great justice...more detail, greater low level resolution, etc. in both Music and HT. My frontstage is now more crisp, more powerful and very happy.
     
  5. Mark Dickerson

    Mark Dickerson Stunt Coordinator

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    Kevin:

    What is it that you don't like about your current system for music. Do you not like the sound? Can you help us help you by explaining what about the sound you don't like. I ask because it makes no sense to spend a bunch of bucks to try something and it doesn't address your problem, but like many of the other participants on this forum (read[​IMG]anatics), we all appreciate good sound and want everyone who wants to to share in our joy.

    A couple of observations: You have very bright sounding speakers that are very efficient (91 db @ 1 watt/meter) combined with what I consider a bright receiver. Not a combination that I would have chosen (I did this once with an earlier system that I had and found it fatiguing to listen to). Don't get me wrong--both are very, very good products, but some combinations aren't the best combinations, even if the parts are each very good. Furthermore, more power would probably NOT make that much of a difference as you are already pushing 150 wpc into the 6 ohm load of the MA S8s. Try a warmer amp or receiver, such as NAD or Harman/Kardon, or look into a seperate amp that has a warm sound (I love Parasound, but it can be pricey). Actually, come to think of it, if your only problem is the sound of the music, you could get a Parasound Halo A23 (2 channel) for just your stereo fronts, still using the 3803 as your pre/pro and its internal amps to cover your other channels.

    As you surmised, I also think your Sony is also part of the problem. Again, you have a product that I think produces a bright sound out of its analog audio section (on top of the amp and the speakers). Here, I would suggest an NAD CD player, which have a really fine audio section that is detailed, yet not too bright either, IMHO.

    I would try to change the CD player first and see if that improves you music. If that isn't satisfying, move on to the amp. The surround speakers are the least of your concerns right now.


    Good luck.
     
  6. Craig_Kg

    Craig_Kg Supporting Actor

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    Ignore the wattage - a good amp is not necessarily one with mega power rating although if it will double down (or come close) with 4 ohm loads from the 8 ohm rating, then that is worth looking for.

    I'd get a good integrated amp (or preamp + poweramp if it's in your budget) so your 2 channel doesn't get handled by the receiver (their preamp sections can be poor for analog sources). Then you can make a fairer assessment of your CD player (BTW how does its analog outputs sound in direct mode vs the receiver DACs)?
     
  7. Kevin*Harley

    Kevin*Harley Stunt Coordinator

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    4 months ago I had a Sony receiver my parents bought me in high school (17+ years ago) and recently put myself through a crash course in audio researching my initial purchase (receiver/speakers/sub). My knowledge and audio vocabulary is extremely limited so have patience with my ignorance and laundry list of question.

     
  8. Arthur S

    Arthur S Cinematographer

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    Kevin

    My experience in going from about 100 watts to over 400 watts for my mains was that the difference was very subtle. Then again, with a powered sub, I don't need the extra wattage for bass.

    Carver used to make amps that had a guage on the front showing how much power the amp was delivering. Bottom line? Only when I turned up the bass on the pre-amp did the needle begin to go anywhere near the midway mark. There is some lag with such a meter but it proved that bass calls for power.

    Going back even further, I had a pair of the original Bose 901's. Because they were made with 9 identical 3.5 inch cones, the speakers came with an equalizer that boosted the bass by about 20 db. The equalizer also had a switch for those who did not have 200 watts per channel. At the time I was using a 45 watt per channel receiver. With the equalizer set for full bass, the harmonic distortion was very easy to hear with bass source material. So I ended up using the low power switch to minimize the harmonic distortion. That is where I first learned that it is the bass that calls for high power.

    But as I said, with powered subs, the situation has changed drastically.

    If you still want to go with a new amp for your mains, remember that each amp will have its own unique sonic signature, this one might have a bit more bass, that one more "slam" the next one sounded more natural with non-amplifed instruments.

    There is no way to talk your way through which amp would sound the best to you. The only way would be to have all the contenders at home and swap them in and out till you decided on your favorite. No one amp has a monopoly on all the best traits in one package.

    At this point, I think I would start looking into room treatments or something that can compensate for the different types of speaker and their position in your room. Pioneer seems to be leading the industry with its MCAAA equalization, but others are seeing the value of room equalization, like B&K.

    Artie
     
  9. Craig_Kg

    Craig_Kg Supporting Actor

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