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Help with upgrading poweramp. Keep getting scoffed at in chat groups.


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I've spent the past week looking around for power-amplifiers as an upgrade to my system. Whenever I would ask people in the chat groups they would mock me for my very low budget.

My system is:
A&K Kann cube (XLR Out) or Musical Fidelity A3.5 CDP ->  Kinki EX-P7 -> Proton D1200 power-amp -> System Audio Pandion 2
I only have around $1500AUD to spend as I intend to keep the proton for my electrostatic headphones.

 

Planning on going the used/refurbished route.

What brands should I look for, and what should I avoid?

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Are you keeping an eye on the classifieds here?

There’s an Ayre power amp for sale atm. Older model but high quality

 

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Think I'm on a tighter budget...

 

Here is a list I lifted off Audiokarma

McIntosh MC-2300,
Mark Levinson ML-2,
Krell KSA-100(?)
Accuphase P-300
Sansui AU 7700
Marantz 1060b
Sansui BA-5000
Pioneer Spec-2
Accuphase P300
Marantz 510M
Kenwood 700M
Yamaha M-2
Yamaha MX-10000
Yamaha MX-2000
Yamaha B-6
Yamaha B-2
Perreaux PMF 2150B
Sansui BA 5000
Marantz 170DC (For the non switching DC lush sound and amazing looks)
Perreaux PMF 3150 (For the clinically accurate and immensely powerful FET)
Pioneer SPEC 2: What a machine.

Power/Pre Combinations:
Sansui BA-2000 with a CA-3000 preamp
Marantz 140 with a 3200 pre

Rotel RB-980BX still holds the over-looked award.

Sansui BA-5000

 

They are mostly high end and priced accordingly. Maybe something like

Yamaha MX-1000, MX-1, M-70

Harman Kardon Citation upto 19

 

I'd stay away from the vintage FET amps like Yam B-2. Also the amp must have a speaker protection circuit (which can be retro fitted), As always best to listen then decide...

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6 minutes ago, sir sanders zingmore said:

Is there anything missing from your current amp?

I’d never heard of it but this review (which google showed me) is very good

http://www.hifi-classic.net/review/proton-d1200-165.html

Nothing is missing no.
I bought it for $500 off eBay so i figured It would be the next logical upgrade.

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13 minutes ago, Gryffles said:

Are you keeping an eye on the classifieds here?

There’s an Ayre power amp for sale atm. Older model but high quality

 

No offense to the guy selling it, but what turned me off it was someone sending me this post.
 

ayre.png

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7 minutes ago, mbz said:

Think I'm on a tighter budget...

 

Here is a list I lifted off Audiokarma

McIntosh MC-2300,
Mark Levinson ML-2,
Krell KSA-100(?)
Accuphase P-300
Sansui AU 7700
Marantz 1060b
Sansui BA-5000
Pioneer Spec-2
Accuphase P300
Marantz 510M
Kenwood 700M
Yamaha M-2
Yamaha MX-10000
Yamaha MX-2000
Yamaha B-6
Yamaha B-2
Perreaux PMF 2150B
Sansui BA 5000
Marantz 170DC (For the non switching DC lush sound and amazing looks)
Perreaux PMF 3150 (For the clinically accurate and immensely powerful FET)
Pioneer SPEC 2: What a machine.

Power/Pre Combinations:
Sansui BA-2000 with a CA-3000 preamp
Marantz 140 with a 3200 pre

Rotel RB-980BX still holds the over-looked award.

Sansui BA-5000

 

They are mostly high end and priced accordingly. Maybe something like

Yamaha MX-1000, MX-1, M-70

Harman Kardon Citation upto 19

 

I'd stay away from the vintage FET amps like Yam B-2. Also the amp must have a speaker protection circuit (which can be retro fitted), As always best to listen then decide...

Hey Mate,

Thanks for that list.
I'll keep an eye out on hifishark for those.

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1 minute ago, Gabehcuod said:

No offense to the guy selling it, but what turned me off it was someone sending me this post.
 

ayre.png

Oh haha. Of course they are going to say that. Geez the new model is always so much better than the old

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29 minutes ago, Gabehcuod said:

Whenever I would ask people in the chat groups they would mock me for my very low budget.

 

If they're mocking you over your budget then they're just a bunch of ****s and not worth listening to !!

 

@Gryffles is spot on, a higher quality second hand amp is probably your best bet.

Ayre does have a good reputation, might be worth a look.

Edited by Martykt
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People will usually tell you that any system upgrade should start with the speakers. They’re wrong, I reckon any system upgrade should start with the room :)

 

But joking aside, if you’re truly in love with your speakers and you reckon your room sounds fine, there are great amplifier buys to be had under $1000.

 

I went through a stage when my beloved amplifier of 20+ years finally bit the dust, and I thought there was nothing out there within my means that could ever make my speakers sing like that again. But after taking the (small money) punt on an oldish Rotel integrated amp, and working my way up from small to medium to large Rotel power amps over the following months, I’m now in a happy place again. The 15-20 y.o. RB-991/1080 model is an affordable (about half a grand), deliciously overspec’ed, exquisitely measuring and well-made from prime components solution for me. It will drive virtually any speaker with ease and authority. I don’t know how it compares to more expensive amps factory-wrapped in audio-sommelier jargon, and I have no need to find out, because right now it is about the strongest link in my system, and the one least in need of upgrade.

 

You could also join the merry-go-round of hype, hope, disappointment and back to hype, and sample all the big names that form the basic vocabulary of audio forums. As long as you stick to 2nd-hand gear (like from the SNA classifieds) you’ll be fine and won’t risk much money.

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$1,500 can get you a lot of amp, especially on here and looks like you have some great gear already. Be patient and demo as much as you can

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11 minutes ago, JC. said:

Your setup looks good as it is.

Whats the power amp not doing for you ?

I really just want better vocal clarity, more emotion. That's the main thing.
The system is  great but I strongly feel it gets much much better and I want a small taste of that.
I mainly listen to 50s/60s Jazz and blues so a warm sweet sound is kinda what I've been dreaming of.

40 minutes ago, Gryffles said:

@Gabehcuod I’m not trying to sell the Ayre or it’s virtues to you btw. It was just an example

 

Sorry mate,

didn't mean it that way, I just was put off by that comment. I made a lot of audio mistakes when I started the hobby two years ago, so I have audio PTSD.
I'll look into it more, thanks.

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3 minutes ago, Gabehcuod said:

I really just want better vocal clarity, more emotion. That's the main thing.
The system is  great but I strongly feel it gets much much better and I want a small taste of that.
I mainly listen to 50s/60s Jazz and blues so a warm sweet sound is kinda what I've been dreaming of.

From my personal experience, I don’t think a change of amplifier will give you that. The biggest potential for tuning the tonality of a system lies (and I hate to repeat myself) in the room itself. A few 50mm sheets of CSR Martini or Autex (or commercially available panels if you have the money), placed right against the wall in the appropriate spots, will tame the shrill presence range and make all the difference to how warm and sweet your system will sound, without affecting the bass.

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19 minutes ago, Steffen said:

People will usually tell you that any system upgrade should start with the speakers. They’re wrong, I reckon any system upgrade should start with the room :)

 

But joking aside, if you’re truly in love with your speakers and you reckon your room sounds fine, there are great amplifier buys to be had under $1000.

 

I went through a stage when my beloved amplifier of 20+ years finally bit the dust, and I thought there was nothing out there within my means that could ever make my speakers sing like that again. But after taking the (small money) punt on an oldish Rotel integrated amp, and working my way up from small to medium to large Rotel power amps over the following months, I’m now in a happy place again. The 15-20 y.o. RB-991/1080 model is an affordable (about half a grand), deliciously overspec’ed, exquisitely measuring and well-made from prime components solution for me. It will drive virtually any speaker with ease and authority. I don’t know how it compares to more expensive amps factory-wrapped in audio-sommelier jargon, and I have no need to find out, because right now it is about the strongest link in my system, and the one least in need of upgrade.

 

You could also join the merry-go-round of hype, hope, disappointment and back to hype, and sample all the big names that form the basic vocabulary of audio forums. As long as you stick to 2nd-hand gear (like from the SNA classifieds) you’ll be fine and won’t risk much money.

Spot on (Steffen) Furthermore,with this hobby of ours, wow, does the "law of diminishing returns" kick in quick. Sometimes spend a tremendous amount of your 'hard earned' for a 2 or 3% improvement. The well heeled of course will spend whatever it takes to squeeze 1% more out of their setup... However imo, if your spending considerably less, often you are not missing on too much especially when buying preowned. 

 

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Goodaye

 

For that money you should get something that sounds very nice.

 

Can l just point out that for some of the older stuff you will have to spend some money replaceing the electrolytic caps at least.

Maybe  a couple of transistors.

Buying refurbished can be a problem as how for did they go.

 

So if you are buying second hand just try and keep some cash aside for a service with a trusted tech.

 

Good luck.

 

regards Bruce

 

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Your loudspeaker specs:

 

Power handling: 200 Watts
Frequency range (+/- 1.5 dB): 40 – 25.000 Hz
Impedance: 4-8 ohm
Sensitivity (1W, 1m): 87 dB
Construction: 2-way bass reflex
Rec. amplifier: min. 70 Watts

 

As members have pointed out you could in theory 'improve' your sound with a good amp upgrade and/or room treatment. 

 

Your amp has the capacity for high output and this is a good thing:

 

The Proton D1200's output clipped at 155 watts per channel into 8 ohms, 175 watts into 4 ohms, and 350 watts into 2 ohms.

 

I agree with other members that your system seems to be technically OK as it is. That is, your amp/speaker combination is a good electro-mechanical marriage. I do note that some suggestions on that list include a pre + power amp combination

 

I think you're leaning toward a different amp (presumably a 'better' amp) but this depends entirely on synergy between the components. As such, if you can take your speakers to another system OR have a loan of an amp to play with in your own, you'll be well ahead of intellectual speculation. The Sansui sound is held to be a sweet one and I agree (for example). But you do need quite a few watts according to the speaker makers. 

 

When you describe the actual sound you're seeking---and the funds you have---I start thinking of valves somewhere in the chain! Your front end is digital all the way, isn't it? My own bias tells me that a more 'lush' presentation, especially for voices, might be tackled in part at the front end...with a valve preamplifier for example. Something worth borrowing and trying out in your system?

 

Then there's this line/buffer amp ($650 new) you could insert into your system if the concept appeals:

 

https://www.ebay.com.au/itm/1-x-McChanson-Mini-LINE-Buffer-6S4P-Amp-Transformer-Coupled-Tube-Valve-NEW/114205035899?hash=item1a97268d7b:g:YcAAAOSwWz1dGIRj

 

Eric works in Sydney and is very helpful with suggestions.

 

I hope I haven't disturbed your upgrading mission. There are many ways to go here, also including very good solid state, but not all are within your budget. 

 

Just my 2c worth.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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@Gabehcuod, reading reviews of all your gear points to the A&KKann Cube 

"not a subtle performer" in review from What HiFi, also said the KannSP100M was " compelling delivery, greater finesse and aptitude for conveying intricacies", what you said you wanted in you first post. All your other gear is an interesting mix but certainly exudes quality, the power amp i would see as a sleeper, the review i read was i would say more than very good. the comment on the room being a factor goes without saying, very important, i would also look at what cables you are using ( many different views about this) you need to decide yourself, good luck

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Hello All,

Thanks for all the replies.

My youth allowance covid suppliment just came in, so i've bumped myself up to $2k.
There's a really nice pair of audiolab 8200MB but it has a SNR of 88 dB.

I haven't been in the hobby long enough to know if it matters but I'm afraid of hissing in near-field.

 

The only other possibilities I'm considering is keeping the amp if it really is that good, I'll have it serviced after COVID and upgrade to a denafrips ares 2 so i have digital inputs.

 

24 minutes ago, wen said:

@Gabehcuod, reading reviews of all your gear points to the A&KKann Cube 

"not a subtle performer" in review from What HiFi, also said the KannSP100M was " compelling delivery, greater finesse and aptitude for conveying intricacies", what you said you wanted in you first post. All your other gear is an interesting mix but certainly exudes quality, the power amp i would see as a sleeper, the review i read was i would say more than very good. the comment on the room being a factor goes without saying, very important, i would also look at what cables you are using ( many different views about this) you need to decide yourself, good luck

The Kann Cube is the only DAP on the market with an XLR out that lets you bypass the internal amplifier completely.
Geoff at Aurealis has done the majority of my cables, I have an AQ speaker cable coming in though so I can give that a try.

 

 

16 hours ago, Steffen said:

From my personal experience, I don’t think a change of amplifier will give you that. The biggest potential for tuning the tonality of a system lies (and I hate to repeat myself) in the room itself. A few 50mm sheets of CSR Martini or Autex (or commercially available panels if you have the money), placed right against the wall in the appropriate spots, will tame the shrill presence range and make all the difference to how warm and sweet your system will sound, without affecting the bass.

I looked yesterday but couldn't find anywhere that sold either of those.
Definitely something i need to do.
I'm hesitant to get any proper panels since we'll be moving into large house in Canberra and I don't want to loose a great deal of money when moving (these things aren't reusable from what I've gathered).

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Hypex NC400 monoblocks if you're into DIY, or a prebuilt NC502 stereo amplifier will blow all of those out of the water for quality and power handling. As much as it pains me to say it, March Audio probably offer the easiest way to get one of these at an affordable price.

DIY option with NC400 monoblocks:

https://www.diyclassd.com/product/nc400-mono-kit-complete-kit/24

Prebuilt with NC500:

https://www.marchaudio.net.au/product-page/p502-500-watt-stereo-power-amplifier

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46 minutes ago, Gabehcuod said:


I'm hesitant to get any proper panels since we'll be moving into large house in Canberra and I don't want to loose a great deal of money when moving (these things aren't reusable from what I've gathered).

 

Acoustic panels are certainly reusable. You need to mount them in a way that allows you to take them off the wall later, of course.

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you can make the acoustic panels as freestanding panels like a foldable screen, can then move around room to suit and take them with you when you move

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On 30/04/2020 at 1:54 PM, Ittaku said:

Hypex NC400 monoblocks if you're into DIY, or a prebuilt NC502 stereo amplifier will blow all of those out of the water for quality and power handling. As much as it pains me to say it, March Audio probably offer the easiest way to get one of these at an affordable price.

DIY option with NC400 monoblocks:

https://www.diyclassd.com/product/nc400-mono-kit-complete-kit/24

Prebuilt with NC500:

https://www.marchaudio.net.au/product-page/p502-500-watt-stereo-power-amplifier

The March Audio suggestion is a good option, I have the smaller one P122 which is 125 Watts and it drives my big speakers easily. I think I paid about $1300 with a pair of XLR cables delivered. Nice small footprint, very little heat dissipation, nice neutral sound with no BS.

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Bought a Denafrips Ares II off dacman with some quality cables for now.
Figured going R2R instead of the ESS chips in my DAP would give a noticeable improvement.

I'll also be able to take coax out of my CDP into the DAC and use my Kann Cube as a streamer via optical.
 

I figured that the amplifier really is something I cannot blind buy, and no one knows how long COVID will last.

New speaker cables also made a noticeable difference.

 

Thanks everyone for all the help.

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On 29/04/2020 at 7:54 PM, Gabehcuod said:

I've spent the past week looking around for power-amplifiers as an upgrade to my system. Whenever I would ask people in the chat groups they would mock me for my very low budget.

My system is:
A&K Kann cube (XLR Out) or Musical Fidelity A3.5 CDP ->  Kinki EX-P7 -> Proton D1200 power-amp -> System Audio Pandion 2
I only have around $1500AUD to spend as I intend to keep the proton for my electrostatic headphones.

 

Planning on going the used/refurbished route.

What brands should I look for, and what should I avoid?

$1500 is a very realistic budget, you'll find stuff that retailed at similar prices to family cars in the 1980s that are still fantastic amps. Just check they can still be serviced and repaired. Many are still be up there with $20k-$30k options. Make sure your cabling from your pre is up to the task. 

Edited by DrSK
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Gabehcuod,   

i have a new Denafrips Ares II and im very pleased with it, highly revolving yet smooth and natural, this is my second NOS dacs,  theyre the best to my ears by far.  BTW, I have a spare superb Yamaha MX830 amp superb 170watts p. channel (8 ohm) from the 90's 

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How much power do you need?

 

Class AB : Denafrips Hyperion 80w in 8ohms; 150w into 4ohm. There's a measurements that show the specs are very under reported, its closer to 100w into 8ohms whilst having superb distortion specs. I upgraded from a Job 225 to these as the latter were current limited when driving lower loads. $1.8k from @Dacman audio. I consider this budget Benchmark AHB-2.

 

Class D : A purifi stereo amp (2x400W into 4ohm) is like 2.2k delivered from Audiophonics but they've been back ordered to 1-4 weeks wait. VTV is offering a even cheaper purifi offering but don't offer delivery to aus...

 

The best amp is an invisible one. 

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