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afie

Help me go round in circles!

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Hi,

 

So currently I have nothing setup, but have narrowed down on speakers and am looking for what avr/power amp/dac are required to make work everything I desire.

 

Id like to be able to have a 2ch setup for a main tv/kitchen/living area, with speakers to play:

- music currently on a hard drive (internal and external);

- tv/movies through streaming apps like Netflix through a Fetch box or a Xbox1 or a Chromecast;

- streaming apps/Youtube through casting from an iphone.

 

Sound quality of music is the priority, but I do find it much easier to hear spoken words on tv with separate speakers.

 

I have been looking at Ascension speakers from Adelaide and talked to the guy there last year.  The likely model will be around 150 wrms at 8 ohms. I will call him again to discuss, but if I remember correctly from what he recommended last time, an AVR to drive such speakers is expensive relative to the speakers just to offer extra channels that I don't need. Would a suitable alternative be a 2ch power amp plus a second device to hand all the digital inputs?

 

Emotiva BASX A-300 or AMC: 2N100MKII-2 are both 150w 8ohm power amps for about $800, but an AVR that can do 150w at 8 ohms are about $5k - what am I missing here? Ive looked into this several times over the last year and I feel like I am just going round in circles.

 

Any help would be appreciated. Cheers.

 

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If music sound quality is a priority then a stereo amp will generally out perform an AVR amp. I personally don't bother with AVR amps.

 

If $5k is your budget that you mentioned for the AVR, you could easily split this and get a vastly superior DAC from Giesler Audio and a stereo integrated amp. 

 

By stereo amp I assume you mean an integrated amp rather than a power amp which also requires a separate pre amp. 

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There are lots of previous posts on avr vs stereo amp choices and issues.

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1 hour ago, afie said:

Would a suitable alternative be a 2ch power amp plus a second device to hand all the digital inputs?

Yes, you could do that...  but an integrated amplifier would be simpler - a one box solution that would provide great two channel audio quality and handle inputs from a number of sources (including TV potentially)

An integrated amp is made up of a power amp and a built in preamp.

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What do mean by  "I do find it much easier to hear spoken words on tv with separate speakers"?

Are you referring to centre channel speaker?, 3.0 or 3.1 system?

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35 minutes ago, DrSK said:

If music sound quality is a priority then a stereo amp will generally out perform an AVR amp. I personally don't bother with AVR amps.

 

If $5k is your budget that you mentioned for the AVR, you could easily split this and get a vastly superior DAC from Giesler Audio and a stereo integrated amp. 

 

By stereo amp I assume you mean an integrated amp rather than a power amp which also requires a separate pre amp. 

Sorry, $5k looks to be the cost of an AVR that is comparable to a $800 power amp - my budget is $1000 (and may have to go second hand to achieve this).

 

The AMC and Emotiva I listed look to be just power amps. So I would need a pre-amp to handle all the inputs, but the cheaper ones starting at $500 dont have hmdi. A new pre-amp plus power amp is going to cost too much, I was hoping I could just add a DAC to a power amp?

 

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35 minutes ago, Al.M said:

There are lots of previous posts on avr vs stereo amp choices and issues.

Yes, and reading them its easier to see Beginners go round in circles. I struggle to see what motivated you to post such a useless response - a waste of energy only surpassed by me responding to you.

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Don't worry about the power too much, sometimes 80w integrated has more power than 150w in AVR - it's complicated. 

As example Marantz PM 8006 integrated vs Marantz 6014 AVR - same price. 

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34 minutes ago, DrTobiasFunke said:

Yes, you could do that...  but an integrated amplifier would be simpler - a one box solution that would provide great two channel audio quality and handle inputs from a number of sources (including TV potentially)

An integrated amp is made up of a power amp and a built in preamp.

Thanks - do you recommend anything in particular? I can't find an integrated amp with enough power for less than $1500 retail - what could I look for as second hand that would suit?

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Hello @afie,

 

I was in the same boat as you not so long ago. I purchased a second hand, vintage Yamaha CA-1000iii integrated from Japan for around $1000 delivered (make sure you understand the cost of delivery before buying, mine was $500 - as much as the amp cost). It is an integrated amplifier from the late 70's with an excellent amount of wpc @8ohms and a really fantastic quality sound. I now have it set up with a DAC which allows me to play lossless audio files and streaming (Tidal Master currently). It runs through some KEF LS50s and sounds really nice to me.

 

If you are up for a challenge then I can recommend looking at vintage gear, Accuphase, Sansui and Yamaha can be phenomally good and if you search hard and intelligently enough, you can find a great unit, as I had the luck to.

 

The older amps, as long as they are not VFET, seem to be almost infinitely serviceable too, so you can generally fix any issues you may have with them moving forward.

 

A full service (re-cap) on mine runs around $300. I believe you would have to spend thousands for an equivalent price of equipment today.

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4 minutes ago, Irek said:

Don't worry about the power too much, sometimes 80w integrated has more power than 150w in AVR - it's complicated. 

As example Marantz PM 8006 integrated vs Marantz 6014 AVR - same price. 

I remember a feature called HT passthrough that the more expensive AVRs have so that you can use a more powerful amplifier but still retain the inputs of an AVR. Would the power amplifiers I listed work in such an arrangement or would they need a pre-amp as well?

Do people use more powerful integrated amps in HT passthrough to an AVR - whats the point of Marrantz offering such similar units?

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3 minutes ago, Harts said:

Hello @afie,

 

I was in the same boat as you not so long ago. I purchased a second hand, vintage Yamaha CA-1000iii integrated from Japan for around $1000 delivered (make sure you understand the cost of delivery before buying, mine was $500 - as much as the amp cost). It is an integrated amplifier from the late 70's with an excellent amount of wpc @8ohms and a really fantastic quality sound. I now have it set up with a DAC which allows me to play lossless audio files and streaming (Tidal Master currently). It runs through some KEF LS50s and sounds really nice to me.

 

If you are up for a challenge then I can recommend looking at vintage gear, Accuphase, Sansui and Yamaha can be phenomally good and if you search hard and intelligently enough, you can find a great unit, as I had the luck to.

 

The older amps, as long as they are not VFET, seem to be almost infinitely serviceable too, so you can generally fix any issues you may have with them moving forward.

 

A full service (re-cap) on mine runs around $300. I believe you would have to spend thousands for an equivalent price of equipment today.

I have a 1983 Denon something 800 that does 2ch 40w 8 ohms, and was serviced five years ago, but I assume it wont be powerful enough?

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3 minutes ago, afie said:

I remember a feature called HT passthrough that the more expensive AVRs have so that you can use a more powerful amplifier but still retain the inputs of an AVR. Would the power amplifiers I listed work in such an arrangement or would they need a pre-amp as well?

Do people use more powerful integrated amps in HT passthrough to an AVR - whats the point of Marrantz offering such similar units?

They are not similar, only the price is similar. The stereo integrated has very limited number of features, only 2ch power amp and only 70W into 8 ohm but for music it's much better. It's only example of how the power numbers are not quite honest. 

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29 minutes ago, afie said:

Sorry, $5k looks to be the cost of an AVR that is comparable to a $800 power amp - my budget is $1000 (and may have to go second hand to achieve this).

 

The AMC and Emotiva I listed look to be just power amps. So I would need a pre-amp to handle all the inputs, but the cheaper ones starting at $500 dont have hmdi. A new pre-amp plus power amp is going to cost too much, I was hoping I could just add a DAC to a power amp?

 

Some DACs can drive a power amp. Although you'll lose functionality and risk start up at full volume if something gets reset as the volume control is digital. You will also get a quality drop with a digital volume control except at max volume. Although it may not be that noticeable in the 70% plus range and can certainly be a stop gap. 

 

I'd definitely take the advice here on second hand. I have myself on power amps and integrateds. 

 

I'd avoid HDMI and use optical or coax out of the TV or player. For music out of a player especially, HDMI seems to drop quality in my experience. 

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Posted (edited)

I think the power you need from an amp really only depends on the speakers you intend to use, some are efficient and won't need a powerful amp.

 

You mentioned 150wrms @8ohms in your first post, that is pretty decent power handling afaik. My speakers are also not efficient, which is why I looked to vintage gear. I got quite a powerful, quality amp for relatively little money to drive my speakers, I wasn't looking to over capitalise, like you.

 

I am somewhat of a novice, there are other, more knowledgeable users here that can advise better. Nonetheless, in a similar situation to you, my vintage experience has been successful.

Edited by Harts

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Posted (edited)
14 minutes ago, afie said:

I remember a feature called HT passthrough that the more expensive AVRs have so that you can use a more powerful amplifier but still retain the inputs of an AVR. Would the power amplifiers I listed work in such an arrangement or would they need a pre-amp as well?

Do people use more powerful integrated amps in HT passthrough to an AVR - whats the point of Marrantz offering such similar units?

In my experience, avoid AVRs going near the signal if your priority is music. And same advice again if you want movies, TV etc in 2 channel.

 

You can spend $3k on a new AVR and be worse off for 2 channel than a good 1980s $300 integrated amp. And for $1000 second hand you'd be laughing. 

 

Excellent DACs are any of the Kleins. Version III you'd need the toslink version. I and II had this and USB I believe. 

Edited by DrSK

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What about Emotiva PT-100 Pre-Amp, D/A + Emotiva BASX A-300? 

USB for PC (HDD)

coax, optical for TV 

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9 hours ago, afie said:

I have a 1983 Denon something 800 that does 2ch 40w 8 ohms, and was serviced five years ago, but I assume it wont be powerful enough?

Try the Denon, you have nothing to lose and it should drive the speakers at least reasonably well. You don't actually need a 150w amp to drive speakers that are rated to handle 150w.

 

If you find the Denon doesn't cut the mustard, you then also have something of a reference point.

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Posted (edited)
12 hours ago, afie said:

I have a 1983 Denon something 800 that does 2ch 40w 8 ohms, and was serviced five years ago, but I assume it wont be powerful enough?

All things being equal the difference between 40W and 150W is only 6dB. 

 

In practice a good 40W amp can sound better than a 150W amp. Depends more on other things like delivery of current and a whole load of other factors.

 

You'd be surprised how often people listen to music at 0.5W to 10W volume settings. Our ears are in no way linear to Watts.

 

The speaker Watt rating is more about maximum rating so they don't get blown when paired with various amps. A more important factor for loudness is their efficiency.  I think my speakers are rated to 700W but run fine off 80W to 100W amps which sound way better than my old 150W amp.

 

You only really need higher power levels when driving subs as our ears are very insensitive to noise in the low frequency region. Takes a lot more energy to sound as loud. 

Edited by DrSK

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17 hours ago, afie said:

Yes, and reading them its easier to see Beginners go round in circles. I struggle to see what motivated you to post such a useless response - a waste of energy only surpassed by me responding to you.

If you had read enough of those posts you should have seen the final same conclusions that would assist you in turn eventually. Many newbies post repetitive questions without seeing if the question has been asked before and is often normal forum etiquette or rules.

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I'm in a similar position and am looking at a Yamaha A-S701 to get my system started. 

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Denon PMA-800NE is another option.

 

Digital Inputs, MM/MC phonostage, not stupidly expensive.

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On 26/03/2020 at 6:48 PM, afie said:

Sorry, $5k looks to be the cost of an AVR that is comparable to a $800 power amp - my budget is $1000 (and may have to go second hand to achieve this).

 

The AMC and Emotiva I listed look to be just power amps. So I would need a pre-amp to handle all the inputs, but the cheaper ones starting at $500 dont have hmdi. A new pre-amp plus power amp is going to cost too much, I was hoping I could just add a DAC to a power amp?

 

g'day afie

 

Perhaps you could consider a mini-system, for example Denon DM41DAB as i think this latest model might have inputs for all the items you listed in your original post and is possibly a simple, neat, compact and cost effective solution.

 

I've previously used for around 5-8 years each the Denon DM31 and DM38 models in a 5.5 x 10m open plan lounge/dining/kitchen area where they did a fine job for general tv, movies and casual (background) music.  The DM38 now moved to the kids rumpus room for gaming and Netflix.

 

There alternatives such as Cambridge One, etc depending on what you can demo, preferred/perceived sound quality etc. 

 

Obviously with these mini-systems you don't get the absolute level of clarity, scale and punch possible from a well chosen large and/or more expensive set up but at around $800-1000 street price this type of min-system might just fit the bill.    And the beauty with these "3 box mini systems" is you can easily move them off to a rumpus, bedroom, office, workshop when time/desire/budget/madness leads to a serious upgrade.

 

Cheers

2B

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Right. I think the whole thread is going round in circles too. Lets start from the beginning. @afie so can you clarify your budget for everything, amp, speakers and dac? Is it $1000? So you want something for mainly music, but want to be able to switch source to tv and stream stuff like movies/Youtube? How big is the room, what shape? Do you prefer floorstanders/bookshelves or no preference? Is second hand or vintage ok? Have you heard the Ascensions? 

 

@MTsoul you need to answer these questions too. You also need to start by listening to and choosing speakers first. 

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From my experience, AVRs are constantly changing and always trying to compete with each other in the numbers game so most of them rate their ‘peak’ power outputs whereas stereo amps usually rate their ‘nominal’ power outputs.

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