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Is something wrong with my hearing :) ?


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Alright - here goes:

 

I run my home theatre with:

- A Marantz SR6014 AVR

- Dual JL Audio 12 inch subwoofers 

- Sonus Faber LR & C channels

- Old JBL as rears 

- so a total of 5 channels 

 

I’ve been contemplating a power amp upgrade as some reliable sources tell me that the AVR is probably not driving the speakers to their potential. Fair enuff.

 

I was lucky enough to try two different power amps at home over the last week - won’t name the brands but they were reportedly over 250 watts into 5 channels (4 ohms), and retail for over $5K ... pretty well regarded products all in all.

 

BUT for the life of me, I could not tell the difference having sampled a few movies. My ears could not discern the difference as far as movies were concerned. The subwoofers continued to rock the room and the dialogue was just as clear :)

 

I did feel a slight difference with the 2 channel music listening in the HT setup. The music and vocals felt deeper with more body. 
 

My listening volumes were not high high - they were at my comfortable levels - not quiet but not over the top loud.
 

I don’t have a sound proofed, proper closed up HT - it’s an open plan living room :)
 

Now for the obvious question:

- why did I not notice the diff with movies (are there too many sensory inputs confusing me)?

- are my settings wrong (I did the Odyssey sets ups every time a component was altered)

- are power amps better if I have a dedicated cinema room?

 

keen to here your thoughts please...

 

thank you 

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pretty hard to comment. ive heard benefit with even some pretty basic speakers and far more gruntier AVR than the marantz there and in pretty typical homely room. non dedicated

 

BUT if you head no differnce... it really doesnt matter what anyone else things. there is no difference for you. so either be happy with your marantz :) or look at some other power amp that provides noticeable enough difference to you worth the gains.

 

some aspects I have found with power amps.

 

- find dont actually need to crank volume for dynamics and find actually listening at lower volume levels

 

- detail and clarity from lower levels (spooky low) to higher levels

 

- find sound less strained... ie not sounding like its on edge breaking up

 

- some serious kick in the dynamics ..ie sounding far more realistic more meaty

 

- sound stage and placement sound just so much more realistic...usually related to noise floor and sounds placed with a really clean back ground.

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I have a similar setup to yours. Have been running  Sonus Faber standmounts(Cremona auditor) with a Pathos Acoustic Classic One for over 15 years and recently tried to buddy it together for a home theatre setup. Marantz 6014 + monitor audio centre with MA bronze 2 for rears and B&W atmos ceilings speakers. Also got a pair of B&W 606s to A/B with Bronze 2 and Sonus Faber. With home theatre I found little practical differences with the Pathos running a preout to the Sonus Faber with most movies unless there was a large orchestral/musical component to things. I think the visuals, centre speaker and overall synergy with the system takes precedent over the superiority of the dedicated stereo setup. 

 

If I was starting out or on a budget I could probably live with a Marantz 6014 stereo out to Bronze 2 or 606s. However once you listen the warmth and depth from a better dedicated stereo setup it is hard to step down. I also found that the Pathos + budget speakers(bronze 2/606) edges the Marantz + sonus faber combination for music. 

 

 

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1 hour ago, Ravin said:

BUT for the life of me, I could not tell the difference having sampled a few movies. My ears could not discern the difference as far as movies were concerned. The subwoofers continued to rock the room and the dialogue was just as clear :)

No need to spend more money on power amps. Good place to be!  👍 😃

 

 

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It's simply, that watching a movie [even though you were determined to evaluate sound quality] changed your perception.

Your eyes effected your ears.

 

Try playing the same movies with amp swaps with the screen turned off [no movie showing], then see if you notice a difference.

I bet you will.

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41 minutes ago, digoxin said:

However once you listen the warmth and depth from a better dedicated stereo setup it is hard to step down. I also found that the Pathos + budget speakers(bronze 2/606) edges the Marantz + sonus faber combination for music. 

 

 

Hey mate - yes I do agree. I have a separate stereo only setup in the second living room where I have Sonetto Vs with a Marantz PM14 - and there is a big difference in sound between than, and the HT (living room) where the Marantz AVR is driving SF centre, and SF Sonetto2 standmounts+JBL rears.  Just that I couldnt tell the diff in the HT setup between pwr amps - but, Tweaky (above) makes a very valid point.

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16 minutes ago, Tweaky said:

It's simply, that watching a movie [even though you were determined to evaluate sound quality] changed your perception.

Your eyes effected your ears.

 

Try playing the same movies with amp swaps with the screen turned off [no movie showing], then see if you notice a difference.

I bet you will.

I think you're absolutely correct. I agree with movies, too much distraction to clearly identify.

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1 hour ago, betty boop said:

- find dont actually need to crank volume for dynamics and find actually listening at lower volume levels

This is an important improvement I feel. I watch a bit of TV late evenings - with the kids in bed.

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15 minutes ago, Ravin said:

This is an important improvement I feel. I watch a bit of TV late evenings - with the kids in bed.

we quite happily regularly watch movies -21-28db with kids fast asleep upstairs... a very crucially important aspect :D 

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17 hours ago, Tweaky said:

It's simply, that watching a movie [even though you were determined to evaluate sound quality] changed your perception.

Your eyes effected your ears.

 

Try playing the same movies with amp swaps with the screen turned off [no movie showing], then see if you notice a difference.

I bet you will.

The (above) is a distinct possibility. I'd try it if you can...

 

The other is that it's possible that your set-up (Odyssey?) is balancing your system in pretty much the same way each time and that this means you would find it difficult to tell the difference. Which might mean that your AVR is doing a good job.

19 hours ago, Ravin said:

 the AVR is probably not driving the speakers to their potential

 

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the power amps will give you headroom when you want to crank it, that the AVR might struggle with. I found only a small benefit initially but over time realised like @betty boop that we were not listening as loud because there was more low volume clarity. We use Audessy dynamic range supression on the least invasive setting (to convince the wife we won't wake the kids) and can happily watch movies at -45dB

 

I would use a dB meter as part of your evaluation process to see if you are getting equivalently perceived results at lower dB with power amps.

 

Of course power amps will out live several AVR's/Processors. When it's time to upgrade the avr you could move to a processor, that is where the big improvements are found imho

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IMHO there is likely no audible difference between the power amp and AVR - as long as the AVR is driven well within its limits. If you are someone who likes to occasionally push the Master Volume up, and your speakers are fairly inefficient , and you're in a big room  -- watts can add up fairly quickly 

555357363_speakersensitivity.png.35b82ac7cac9b0550b8827d59889dea5.png

 

This calculator is also handy

http://myhometheater.homestead.com/splcalculator.html

 

 

In my case, my LCR are 8Ohm 98dB @ 1w/1m and my surrounds are 95dB 1w/1m and all speakers are crossed over to multiple subs at 80Hz.

At my usual max listening MV of -10dB I am pulling maybe 2 Watt peaks from my AVR. At the MV I watch movies with my daughter at (-15dB) I am probably hitting 1W peaks from my AVR. 

So (IMHO)  in my situation a power amp would be totally wasted and the difference inaudible

 

 

 

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2 minutes ago, jamiebosco said:

So (IMHO)  in my situation a power amp would be totally wasted and the difference inaudible

there are watts and watts though... and dont underestimate power reserves even with VERY efficient speakers ! 

 

I have listened to pair of even more efficient horns and running off flea power... fantastic listening to choral stuff and small instrumentations..... people were oohing and ahhing all over it. and it sounded glorious... truly ... voice of angels and all that...and then I put on a cd of my stuff with a bit more dynamics... completely fell to bits :D they couldn't get my CD off fast enough :D ... ive had the same with some local made speakers on low wattage valve amps ...sounding glorious on music being played...put something with a bit of bass in and lost it...

 

re wattage... the main problem with AVRS is now days they are having to pack MORE and MORE channels in the same chassis...and that is the issue. look at an old school rotel 5ch that is relatively affordable and there is NO way can fit an amp like that let alone the heat sinking or capacitors for those 5 channels in most AVRs let alone any more channels.

 

just something has to give. and it does with AVRS. most have quite small power supplies little to no heat sinking. its all just the compromise of what space can accomodate...

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4 hours ago, blybo said:

Of course power amps will out live several AVR's/Processors. When it's time to upgrade the avr you could move to a processor, that is where the big improvements are found imho

I think this is a great way to look at it.....thank you

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7 hours ago, betty boop said:

there are watts and watts though... and dont underestimate power reserves even with VERY efficient speakers ! 

 

I have listened to pair of even more efficient horns and running off flea power... fantastic listening to choral stuff and small instrumentations..... people were oohing and ahhing all over it. and it sounded glorious... truly ... voice of angels and all that...and then I put on a cd of my stuff with a bit more dynamics... completely fell to bits :D they couldn't get my CD off fast enough :D ... ive had the same with some local made speakers on low wattage valve amps ...sounding glorious on music being played...put something with a bit of bass in and lost it...

 

re wattage... the main problem with AVRS is now days they are having to pack MORE and MORE channels in the same chassis...and that is the issue. look at an old school rotel 5ch that is relatively affordable and there is NO way can fit an amp like that let alone the heat sinking or capacitors for those 5 channels in most AVRs let alone any more channels.

 

just something has to give. and it does with AVRS. most have quite small power supplies little to no heat sinking. its all just the compromise of what space can accomodate...

Whilst I definitely agree regarding Flea amps,  an amp with 3-10 watts certainly won't leave a lot left over for headroom, but with my Denon X-4000 having around 100w available with 5 channels driven, I won't be bumping against its limits till around  10dB over Reference Level, which is about 20dB louder than I listen

 

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there is still quality of amplification and very much get what pay for ...no matter what wattage we are talking.

 

denon x4000 only has a max consumption of 670W.

 

class AB you are going to waste a lot of that in heat. about 65% efficiency  .... that only leave about 435 watts MAX...ie flat chat. divided by 5ch thats about 87wpc again flat chat...nothing left in reserve. amps dont sound all that great pushing at their most. and especially since at that point there is nothing left for delivering dynamics and why sound flat. there is a good thread I posted many years ago and its pinned up top here as to how much power do you need.... yeah 87w is good for casual listening with typical speakers but for home theatre ? no.

 

ok you got some high efficiency speakers... but most dont. and most are running FAR more than 5ch that is about what we did back in he 90s ! receivers these days  are running some 11 channels of amplification... do you suspect they are managing to fit in much more for the money in power supply and cooling ? :D once squish in all those extra channels of power plus processing and all the other bells whistles they cram in AVRS these days... answer is no.. something got to give :D 

 

ps I am also not talking anything serious here. if want serious check out the seaton catalyst and guess what they use to power those ? 2000w ICE amps... thats each speaker :D ! now that is serious hehe

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Yeah, I'm not inclined to believe that there would be an audible difference between the 1-5 watts from my AVR and a power amp, no matter the cost, as I'm just nowhere near the amps limits. Even 50 watts would put me well over THX Ref Level. 

 

 

 

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Wouldn’t be first to believe amps don’t matter, but am not in that camp. No free rides with high efficiency either. Amps matter all the more. More crucial how good they are in that 1-5 watts. Infact plenty in that camp believe it’s that first watt that’s crucial. And that’s even for 2ch let alone multichannel with larger dynamic needs of ht :) anyways each to own. Many paths ...

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On 02/09/2020 at 7:56 AM, betty boop said:

Wouldn’t be first to believe amps don’t matter, but am not in that camp. No free rides with high efficiency either. Amps matter all the more. More crucial how good they are in that 1-5 watts. Infact plenty in that camp believe it’s that first watt that’s crucial. And that’s even for 2ch let alone multichannel with larger dynamic needs of ht :) anyways each to own. Many paths ...

From the from page of Nelson's baby - Dick Olsher famously remarked that “The first watt is the most important watt.”.

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