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Will a Power Amp Always Improve a Home Theatre


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Hi,

I will be searching the conversations as my question maybe a common one but

 

i have been trying to do some research on expanding my home cinema.  I am only a novice and have been in a continual upgrade cycle since as long as I can remember.  I currently have a Sony VPL 360ES projector (which was my last upgrade) with an Onkyo TX RZ3100 receiver, a couple SVS PB2000 subs and a mixture of speakers to get a 7.2.4 Dolby atmos setup. 
 

I have never had a power amplifier and was wondering whether I would get any value out of adding one for the front 3 channels. The main speakers at the front are in wall Cabasse Minorca which was a recommendation from a specialist Hifi shop.  I called a couple stores yesterday and one told me that as the Minorca speakers have a normal 40W and peak 320W, if I added an amp (I was looking at anthem mca 325) I could blow my speakers.  They said I would get more value from upgrading the 2x front speakers.  When I called the store I originally bought the speakers from, they said I would get a substantial increase in performance by adding a power amp.  
 

is someone able to tell me the truth or help me understand this a little better?

thanks

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2 minutes ago, GarySteegs said:

I have never had a power amplifier and was wondering whether I would get any value out of adding one for the front 3 channels

 

Just to clarify,   the Onkyo receiver has a multi-channel power amp in it.  Is it that you want more power?  I would have thought using a separate larger power amp would unbalance things.

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maybe go back a step.  What are you trying to improve?  Is it not loud enough? Poor soundstage? Can’t understand dialogue.   I assume it’s home theatre and not music you want to improve.

 

1 hour ago, GarySteegs said:

They said I would get more value from upgrading the 2x front speakers.


if it’s HT use then this is a dud suggestion.  For HT your centre speaker is critical - most of the dialogue and sound from this channel.   Ideally the front three speakers should be identical - or at least the same series/speaker type.  This sounds like what you have.  So keep that or upgrade all three.
 

I suspect the onkyo is not that powerful.  The specs below are not very useful but I interpret the below as probably 80W per channel when all are running.    In most instances a dedicated power amp will give you some improvement over what’s in the receiver.  Before you do that a bigger improvement may come from attention to the speaker placement and calibration and room treatment.  If you have in wall speakers this is limited.   Assuming the above is correct yes a power amp may improve things - just make sure you redo all you room calibration again.

 

lastly having an amp with more power than the speaker can handle is not a problem unless you go nuts and overdrive everything with the volume control trying to extract more volume than the speakers design allows.

 

Power Output 200 W/Ch (6 Ω, 1 kHz, 1% THD,
1 Channel Driven, IEC)
340 W/Ch (6 Ω, 1 kHz, 10% THD,
1 Channel Driven, JEITA)
Dynamic Power

320 W (3 Ω, Front)
270 W (4 Ω, Front)
160 W (8 Ω, Front)

 

 

Edited by Steam
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Try to set up crossover to 120Hz to all speakers except centre (80Hz) and see how it work for you. 

Speakers usually make bigger difference than amp. 

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:welcome:to the forum...

 

Please have a look at this thread to understand more about how much power an AVR produces

Unfortunately, Onkyo is the worst, publishing a totally misleading power output to a 6 ohm speaker, 1% THD, ONE channel driven!  Having said that, your AVR is likely to have a decent amount of power, given it is a model in the upper range. I suspect adding a multi channel power amp will not be the quantum leap that you are expecting...

 

2 hours ago, Steam said:

What are you trying to improve?  Is it not loud enough? Poor soundstage? Can’t understand dialogue.   I assume it’s home theatre and not music you want to improve.

Agree, and let me add more. How large is your room and is it dedicated or shared?

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The Onkyo receiver retails about $5k so one would expect it to sound better than many generic cheaper units and it’s amplifier section might be equal to say a $1-2k power or integrated amp. If that’s correct you might experience less difference if adding a power amp at similar cost.

 

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Thanks everyone,

I was trying to see how I could upgrade the performance of my home theatre.  It is predominantly used for TV/movies but I also like to play music through it and had read somewhere an amp for the front 3 channels would improve overall sound performance. 

my centre channel is a different speaker to the front left and right.  The centre is a wharfedale diamond 240C and the fronts are the Cabasse ones mentioned earlier.


‘when I turn the volume up playing music through the onkyo amp, the sound from the Cabasse speakers start distorting before it got really loud (I know that is subjective) and I thought it might be because the AVR didn’t have enough power to drive them.   I purchased them from a specialist hifi store as I don’t know the technical aspects of making sure all the pieces of the home theatre fit together.

Until I read the feedback, I thought I had purchased some really good quality front speakers and an amp would resolve things but now I think I should be looking at improving the quality of my front speakers.  If I purchased a couple floor standing tower speakers, could I connect them to the same wiring as the Cabasse speakers or would it be better to just replace the Cabasse speakers? 
 

the room is a shared family room with a Kitchen so my surround speakers can only be located in the ceiling.  I also have 2x sets of atmos speakers but the people who installed them, put them in the wrong locations.  Having said that, after 2 years of use, I just realised that the rear atmos speakers should have been connected to the surround speakers and vice versa.  I had just watched a YouTube video on home theatre install mistakes and had a light bulb moment.

 

 The room itself is like a short L space and is about 6mx3m.  I know the ceiling speakers are ‘kef’ but I have no idea what model they are.  

 

I really appreciate your advice.  I think I have been listening to sales pitches instead of genuine advice.

 

thanks
 

 

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Have the speakers always distorted and what volume levels are you using like past 1pm on dial often distorts speakers. To test if the amp or speaker are the problem try different speakers at same levels.

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2 hours ago, GarySteegs said:

when I turn the volume up playing music through the onkyo amp, the sound from the Cabasse speakers start distorting before it got really loud

Ok. This doesn’t sound so good.  Sounds like maybe you want more volume than these speakers can deliver.  You may be able to borrow a power amp from a good dealer and try it.  In the past I have put the amp on the credit card and taken it home to try.  take it back if it doesn’t help - of course if you break it you buy it.

 

3 hours ago, GarySteegs said:

could I connect them to the same wiring as the Cabasse speakers

If you mean connect them at the same time to the same wiring as the cabasse that is a very bad idea.  If you get new speakers just replace the cabasse pair.  

 

another option is put up a post asking if there is a local forum member willing to come over and have a look.  If nothing else they may be able to confirm that you actually need a PA system  to meet you volume requirements
 

a picture would also help.

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Also try setting your front speakers as small in your Onkyo, crossover to 80hz...

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3 hours ago, Steam said:

Sounds like maybe you want more volume than these speakers can deliver.

Cabasse Minorca specs are 89dB efficiency, 4 ohm stated minimum, 40w power handling which should provide volume but they are not even being played loud so something is not right. Perhaps the stated minimum speaker impedance is lower than 4 ohm and the amp is struggling, unlikely should still get enough volume. More likely to be cables miss connected and out of phase so double check all your leads from amp to speakers. It may also be connection grit in the way of proper signal somewhere, which I have had problems with in the past resolved by simply reconnecting cables to amp and ensure firm fit.

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  • 2 weeks later...

You mentioned that your centre speaker is different to the L/R. You didn’t by chance have to use the channel level adjustment to match the volumes did you? If so, check that you didn’t have to boost up the L/R too much. Better to keep them at zero with no adjustment and reduce the other channels to match if so. I’m just throwing in the dark for a solution as there isn’t much info to pinpoint where the issue is coming from at this stage. 

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. . . and what Snoopy8 said. Make sure the speakers are set to ‘small’ and crossover to 80hz. 
 

But overall you’d think a $5k amp would be able to handle a bit of volume. It’s subjective, so it would be good to know how loud you are actually talking about here. You don’t have an SPL meter to test when it starts breaking up do you?

 

I think once everyone knows that info it might be obvious if there is something wrong with your setup, or if you truly need more power for your needs.

 

 

 

 

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Thanks everyone,

I was trying to see how I could upgrade the performance of my home theatre.  It is predominantly used for TV/movies but I also like to play music through it and had read somewhere an amp for the front 3 channels would improve overall sound performance. 

my centre channel is a different speaker to the front left and right.  The centre is a wharfedale diamond 240C and the fronts are the Cabasse ones mentioned earlier.


‘when I turn the volume up playing music through the onkyo amp, the sound from the Cabasse speakers start distorting before it got really loud (I know that is subjective) and I thought it might be because the AVR didn’t have enough power to drive them.   I purchased them from a specialist hifi store as I don’t know the technical aspects of making sure all the pieces of the home theatre fit together.

Until I read the feedback, I thought I had purchased some really good quality front speakers and an amp would resolve things but now I think I should be looking at improving the quality of my front speakers.  If I purchased a couple floor standing tower speakers, could I connect them to the same wiring as the Cabasse speakers or would it be better to just replace the Cabasse speakers? 
 

the room is a shared family room with a Kitchen so my surround speakers can only be located in the ceiling.  I also have 2x sets of atmos speakers but the people who installed them, put them in the wrong locations.  Having said that, after 2 years of use, I just realised that the rear atmos speakers should have been connected to the surround speakers and vice versa.  I had just watched a YouTube video on home theatre install mistakes and had a light bulb moment.

 

 The room itself is like a short L space and is about 6mx3m.  I know the ceiling speakers are ‘kef’ but I have no idea what model they are.  

 

I really appreciate your advice.  I think I have been listening to sales pitches instead of genuine advice.

 

thanks
 

 

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I used the auto eq first after entering speaker distances and the centre which is a Wharefdale 540c had the same volume adjustment as the front speakers.

I will play around with the cross overs and check my wiring.  I’m not sure on the volume level as such as the Volume is set to a neg value and I generally sit between -55 to -65.  If I push past -65, the front speakers start distorting when I play music.  

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14 minutes ago, GarySteegs said:

I will play around with the cross overs and check my wiring.  I’m not sure on the volume level as such as the Volume is set to a neg value and I generally sit between -55 to -65.  If I push past -65, the front speakers start distorting when I play music.  

There is something wrong with your setup. -65 is a ridiculously low volume to distort! 

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The way the Onkyo volume works is it gets louder the closer to 0 you get.  -65 is about 'wife annoyance' level.  If I try to get closer -70, the 2x front distort, so I had originally thought adding a 3ch power amp would keep the sound clear, but i'm now learning, I may need to review the speakers..  The centre channel handles it ok.

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2 hours ago, GarySteegs said:

The way the Onkyo volume works is it gets louder the closer to 0 you get.  -65 is about 'wife annoyance' level.  If I try to get closer -70, the 2x front distort, so I had originally thought adding a 3ch power amp would keep the sound clear, but i'm now learning, I may need to review the speakers..  The centre channel handles it ok.

It still doesn’t make sense, virtually any average system will be able to achieve sufficient volumes. Either your wiring connections are so wrong (+/-ve wire connections throughout mixed up) or there is a problem making solid connection (loose wire in connectors), speakers damaged, your perception of loudness and limits of the speakers are not being conveyed properly here (any speaker will distort if played too loud and is your hearing normal. Going from -65 to -70 means you reduced volume so how can you it get louder and as mentioned it is too low anyway as above -40 is normally considered loud. Forget about what others in the house think about loudness emotionally to resolve the issue), HT amp settings are wrong and affecting volume settings (still shouldn’t distort a speaker. Set it to loudest like music and not movie whatever), or the HT amp itself is buggerred.

 

Howabout just using it in 2 channel speaker mode with rears to the front and seeing if it still distorts or loud enough to test if the wall fronts (one or both) are damaged. With wall front damage try to locate if tweeters or woofers are the problem with head up close to them.

 

Also, try disconnecting everything and start over completely to help eliminate what you may have missed.

Edited by Al.M
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1 hour ago, Al.M said:

It still doesn’t make sense, virtually any average system will be able to achieve sufficient volumes. Either your wiring connections are so wrong (+/-ve wire connections throughout mixed up) or there is a problem making solid connection (loose wire in connectors), speakers damaged, your reception of loud and limits of the speakers are not being conveyed properly here (any speaker will distort if played too loud and is your hearing normal), HT amp settings are wrong and affecting volume settings (still should distort a speaker), HT amp itself is buggerred.

 

Howabout just using it in 2 channel speaker mode with rears to the front and seeing it still distorts to test if the fronts are damaged.

Fully agree.  To expand further:

  1. Check wiring and connections.  It is easy to mix up the +ve and -ve from AVR to speakers.  Check that connections are tight, no loose or frayed wiring.  Check connectors themselves on AVR and back of speakers.  Suggest taking out speaker cables from their binding posts, give them a clean and putting them back on, on both the AVR and speaker.
  2. Connect centre speaker to left channel of AVR, then switch to right. CARE to set initial AVR volume to low.  This will check whether your left and right AVR channels are faulty or there is a setup issue.
  3. If centre speaker is OK on left and right channels, you may have a problem with your left and right speakers.  *** Try connecting left first, then right speaker to centre AVR channel. CARE to set initial AVR volume to low.   This will check whether speakers are working or not.

 

Edited by Snoopy8
Correction **
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