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Posted (edited)

Hi Guys,

 

Need some advise and guidance regarding the power amplifier requirements for home theatre use.

 

I have Anthem MRX710 powering my 7.1 setup in Home theatre, my components are as below.

 

Fronts: Ascension Summoner 863SQTL (150 WRMS, with 91 dB 1w/1m sensitivity)

Center: Ascension 253SQ (120/200 wrms/max (@ 60Hz plus), , with 91 dB 1w/1m sensitivity) 

Surrounds: Polk T15 (20 watts → 100 watts, with 89 db 1w/1m sensitivity)

Surround back (Ceiling mounted): Micca M-8C (100 watts, with 90dB 1W/1M sensitivity)

Subwoofer: Martin Logan Dynamo 600x

Room size: 4m x 3.8m (Acoustically treated with Acoustic pin boards, Martini Absorb HD50 on all 4 walls with carpet on the floor, ceiling untreated.)

 

I like loud volumes when watching movies to get the same feel and punch one gets from commercial theatres. However, I have never gone past -10db volume level with Anthem, as I find other members of the household start complaining before I even get a chance to listen at reference level. This is for mainly HT use, I do occasionally listen to two channel music but it is not my main stereo listening room.

 

Some demo audio at close to reference level sounds amazing and feel like increasing the volume even more, however I find some movie scenes at the loud volume seems to be bit distorted or somewhat incoherent that I find the need to turn down the volume. I am not sure, if this is the limiting factors of Anthem's power amp stage or just room acoustics.

 

So far, Anthem has been the best AVR, I have ever had and Sound quality is really really great. Lately, I have been questioning, if I should add a power amplifier to the mix, and if I did, will there be much improvements to the sound quality vs the money spent? I am mainly thinking about adding 2 or 3 channel amp for front stage. I have seen countless posts on the net where people suggest adding power amp to AVR to boost the sound quality, given the Anthem MRX710 driving 7 channels, I don't think it outputs more than 80-90 watts per channel. 

 

Will adding power amp to my setup give me better bang for buck?

 

As for the budget, It is very limited at this stage and I am thinking somewhere the range of $1000 for 3 channels. Unfortunately, most in this range are somewhat at the same power rating as the Anthem or less, that I think will not make much difference adding them.

 

What do you guys recommend, Is power amp really necessary and will it be a better investment? if so, what amps would you recommend to go with Anthem MRX710? 

Anthem's MCA325 is an ideal choice to match with Anthem MRX but at $3600, it is way out of budget for me. Should I get some inexpensive amp now or perhaps I should save up and go for it when budget allows and be done with it or I am looking at this at wrong way and should perhaps target my speakers. I am quite happy with the front stage, my surrounds are cheap speakers, but they do their job.

 

What has been your experience when adding the power amp to relieve AVR of some of the channels?

Edited by N_R
Updated subwoofer information

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Consider adding subwoofer(s) instead and setting your speakers to "small" with a crossover set in the AVR to 80Hz.

This will significantly reduce the effort required by your speakers and therefore AVR especially playing movie soundtracks with LFE content.

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Just now, Satanica said:

Consider adding subwoofer(s) instead and setting your speakers to "small" with a crossover set in the AVR to 80Hz.

This will significantly reduce the effort required by your speakers and therefore AVR especially playing movie soundtracks with LFE content.

Oops, I forgot to include the subwoofer in the components. Yes, I do have a subwoofer and checked the Anthem's ARC setting and it has set the crossover to 80hz.

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1 minute ago, N_R said:

Oops, I forgot to include the subwoofer in the components. Yes, I do have a subwoofer and checked the Anthem's ARC setting and it has set the crossover to 80hz.

OK cool. Do you have all speakers set to "small"?

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1 minute ago, Satanica said:

OK cool. Do you have all speakers set to "small"?

Yes, all speakers are set to small and crossover set at 80hz.

 

I do find the balance between subwoofer and speakers are good, no complains there. The sub also has Anthem room correction built in so it does work perfectly in the room. Its just at the loud volume, I am finding the amp's power stage starts to lose the control a little bit. That's not to say it does not sound good, I am just questioning if adding a power amp to mix will improve the performance. Given the cost of the power amps, I am evaluating if the cost is worth it to over all improvement. 

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The MRX-710 does have decent power, 90W over 5 channels (when they used to declare multi channel power). Your speakers are also sensitive.  I suspect any gain with a power amp will not be that significant?

 

Suggest instead to get a second sub. 

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27 minutes ago, Snoopy8 said:

The MRX-710 does have decent power, 90W over 5 channels (when they used to declare multi channel power). Your speakers are also sensitive.  I suspect any gain with a power amp will not be that significant?

 

Suggest instead to get a second sub. 

Thank you for suggestions.

 

Adding a second sub would be bit of a pain. Room is not that huge for a second sub, also MRX710 has only one Sub out. I could get a RCA splitter but, I fear this way the ARC room correction would screwup. Besides, I really would not prefer to add a second sub. I am quite happy with the current bass output, its not boomy and doesn't vibrate things unnecessary. 

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6 minutes ago, N_R said:

Adding a second sub would be bit of a pain. Room is not that huge for a second sub, also MRX710 has only one Sub out. I could get a RCA splitter but, I fear this way the ARC room correction would screwup. Besides, I really would not prefer to add a second sub. I am quite happy with the current bass output, its not boomy and doesn't vibrate things unnecessary. 

I used to own a MRX-710 and ran with 2 subs. Use a Y-splitter (which is internal in the latest Anthem AVRs) and it is easy to integrate the subs using ARC.

https://www.pooraudiophile.com/2014/06/how-to-calibrate-dual-subwoofers-with.html

(I took my integration further using a DSP, but that is for another discussion).

 

Also, have you looked at tweaking ARC to get more slam

https://www.anthemarc.com/arc-genesis/advanced-settings/adjust-arc-settings-adjust-targets.php

I have used a target curve which boosts the bass between 4 to 8 dB, starting around 200 Hz and going down.  At about 30 Hz, decay it rapidly (but never abruptly).  You can experiment with different values and you can try one or other, or both.

image.png.ea053969552d766d2150781c74fc18f0.png

 

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18 minutes ago, Snoopy8 said:

I used to own a MRX-710 and ran with 2 subs. Use a Y-splitter (which is internal in the latest Anthem AVRs) and it is easy to integrate the subs using ARC.

https://www.pooraudiophile.com/2014/06/how-to-calibrate-dual-subwoofers-with.html

(I took my integration further using a DSP, but that is for another discussion).

 

Also, have you looked at tweaking ARC to get more slam

https://www.anthemarc.com/arc-genesis/advanced-settings/adjust-arc-settings-adjust-targets.php

I have used a target curve which boosts the bass between 4 to 8 dB, starting around 200 Hz and going down.  At about 30 Hz, decay it rapidly (but never abruptly).  You can experiment with different values and you can try one or other, or both.

image.png.ea053969552d766d2150781c74fc18f0.png

 

Thank you for the suggestions Snoopy. Yes, I did adjust the ARC to tweak to my liking. I think I may not have phrased the topic right.

 

I am quite happy with the current setup as is, with the Sub and ARC adjustments, there is just right amount of punch and balance between speakers and sub that I like and don't think I need anymore bass output. What my concern is that when I turn up the volume close to reference level, I do notice the audio seems to be little distorted, I took this to mean the power amp stage is at its limit in terms of pushing the speakers.

 

I may be wrong here, and the amp might just be powerful enough to drive the speakers.

 

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Posted (edited)
26 minutes ago, N_R said:

What my concern is that when I turn up the volume close to reference level, I do notice the audio seems to be little distorted, I took this to mean the power amp stage is at its limit in terms of pushing the speakers.

 

I may be wrong here, and the amp might just be powerful enough to drive the speakers.

It may be the amp or it may not. As you ask more of your speakers the drivers have to increase in excursion. In general, increased driver excursion means increased distortion.

 

If you did get an amplifier which I'm not sure whether to suggest or not, I would suggest you get one that is capable of at least twice power so that it is capable of providing a 3db increase which is twice the acoustic power (intensity). Note this would not provide twice the volume, you need a 10db increase for that. For three channels and $1000 I think you're looking at second hand and you have to factor in the cost of interconnects. Three channel amps are not common. If you bought a second hand one, tried it and found it offered no value you could probably on sell it for around what you bought it for.

Edited by Satanica

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1 hour ago, N_R said:

What my concern is that when I turn up the volume close to reference level, I do notice the audio seems to be little distorted, I took this to mean the power amp stage is at its limit in terms of pushing the speakers.

Sorry, I missed that!  In that case, with your budget, get a second hand 3 channel power amp, probably a Rotel or Emotiva. Anthem power amps do not appear often here.

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hmm... ok. Thank you guys

 

I might have to keep my eyes on for some power amps to try out.

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Posted (edited)
16 hours ago, N_R said:

What are your thoughts on pro audio power amps? They seem to be a lot cheaper with lot of power outputs.

 

Something like this seems powerful enough.

https://www.storedj.com.au/crown-xli800-power-amplifier-2x-300w-4ohm

 

or are they not suitable for home use?

Interesting I thought of suggesting pro as such, but I was reluctant for several reasons. Mostly because you said you wanted a three channel amp and pro amps are seemingly almost exclusively 2 channel.

 

I have three of these:

https://www.storedj.com.au/crown-xls1502-power-amplifier-2x-525w-4ohm?gclid=EAIaIQobChMIu-Ds2vXS6QIVR3RgCh2lHg-QEAYYBCABEgLuR_D_BwE

Two of them power the woofers of my main speakers and one powers my surround speakers in my 4.2 setup.

Review here:

https://www.audiosciencereview.com/forum/index.php?threads/review-and-measurements-of-crown-xls-1502-amp.6062/

 

Things to consider of pro amps which may be viewed as negative.

1) They may do an analogue to digital and then digital to analogue conversion even when there are no settings applied i.e. no analog bypass. The XLS 1502 as mentioned above is one as such.

2) They usually have fans and they can be audible. The XLS 1502 is not one as such as the fans only come on when needed and even when they do are extremely quiet in that I've never heard them from my listening position.

3) They can have much more lighting than domestic amps. The XLS 1502 is one as such out of the box but you can switch them all of by delving into the settings!

Edited by Satanica

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3 hours ago, Satanica said:

Interesting I thought of suggesting pro as such, but I was reluctant for several reasons. Mostly because you said you wanted a three channel amp and pro amps are seemingly almost exclusively 2 channel.

 

I have three of these:

https://www.storedj.com.au/crown-xls1502-power-amplifier-2x-525w-4ohm?gclid=EAIaIQobChMIu-Ds2vXS6QIVR3RgCh2lHg-QEAYYBCABEgLuR_D_BwE

Two of them power the woofers of my main speakers and one powers my surround speakers in my 4.2 setup.

Review here:

https://www.audiosciencereview.com/forum/index.php?threads/review-and-measurements-of-crown-xls-1502-amp.6062/

 

Things to consider of pro amps which may be viewed as negative.

1) They may do an analogue to digital and then digital to analogue conversion even when there are no settings applied i.e. no analog bypass. The XLS 1502 as mentioned above is one as such.

2) They usually have fans and they can be audible. The XLS 1502 is not one as such as the fans only come on when needed and even when they do are extremely quiet in that I've never heard them from my listening position.

3) They can have much more lighting than domestic amps. The XLS 1502 is one as such out of the box but you can switch them all of by delving into the settings!

Thank you for the tip Satanica,

 

This one does seem like a good amp. I have always wondered, why aren't these powerful pro audio amps being used in HT setup. I might as well just get this one and if I like get another just to drive the centre channel.

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Hey @Satanica, I ended up placing an order for Crown XLS 1502, now the waiting game begins for postie to show up.

 

Question, what sensitivity setting I should be using, I have no idea what that does.

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Novice question here folks and apologies if it sounds nonsensicle.

When adding a power amp to your AVR or Integrated amp does the sound signature change?

 

By that I mean, take an AVR like Anthem, Marantz and Yamaha who all have for want of a better term a different sound - will the power amp influence that house sound?

 

For an integrated amp, again, adding in power amp to something like I have the Vincent SV237mkII which first 10w class A and has tubes and SS.  Adding in a power amp to provide more drive much like the OP will the Class A disappear and or the sound signature change from the Vincent Sound.

 

Hope this isnt a derail, its a question I've often wondered and with the OP looking to add more power to his Anthem I thought it a good time to ask and learn

 

cheers.

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Posted (edited)
2 hours ago, 08Boss302 said:

Novice question here folks and apologies if it sounds nonsensicle.

When adding a power amp to your AVR or Integrated amp does the sound signature change?

 

By that I mean, take an AVR like Anthem, Marantz and Yamaha who all have for want of a better term a different sound - will the power amp influence that house sound?

 

For an integrated amp, again, adding in power amp to something like I have the Vincent SV237mkII which first 10w class A and has tubes and SS.  Adding in a power amp to provide more drive much like the OP will the Class A disappear and or the sound signature change from the Vincent Sound.

 

Hope this isnt a derail, its a question I've often wondered and with the OP looking to add more power to his Anthem I thought it a good time to ask and learn

 

cheers.

As far as I know, power amp should not add any coloration, if it does it’s not a good amp. It’s only job is to provide power, a good amp is good at providing dynamic power when and if needed, nothing else.


Tube amp would be different to that generalisation.

 

no worries about side questions, I welcome it, helps me learn more.

Edited by :) Go Away (:

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Thank you!  I appreciate the reply.   Yeah, its one of the things i've been wondering about for some time.

I've often pondered on getting a power amp for my integrated just for extra drive as the volume gets to a point where  it seems to run of puff.....to be fair its not often I push it that hard but when I want to ensure I keep the first 10watts as Class A and dont want any colouration influence from the power amp.  My integrated has tubes but its not strict tube amp.  I'll dig around the net and see if I can find more information on that

 

cheers.

 

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On 28/05/2020 at 2:59 PM, :) Go Away (: said:

Hey @Satanica, I ended up placing an order for Crown XLS 1502, now the waiting game begins for postie to show up.

 

Question, what sensitivity setting I should be using, I have no idea what that does.

Hi, note that the sensitivity can be set to 1.4Vrms or 0.775Vrms and that the latter will yield 6db worse signal to noise ratio (more hiss).

I suggest the 1.4Vrms setting.

The only potential downside is that your pre-amp outputs less than 1.4Vrms at maximum (e.g. 1.0Vrms max) and this would mean you won't be able to drive the amplifier to full power with this setting. But with the amount of power this amplifier is capable of I doubt it will be a problem.

So I suggest you start with 1.4Vrms and if you think you're not getting enough power out of it change it to 0.775Vrms.

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