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Power / Pre or Integrated - what to do?!


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Hi All,

 

I've come back to the mountain for advice.

 

I'm slowly upgrading my system, next item I want to purchase is an amplifier / amplifiers. I recently upgraded to a pair of Sansui SP-300 speakers, which are awesome. They are so clear and transparent when playing music that has 'space', eg jazz. And when I play Pink Floyd Dark side of the moon, they blow me away. It's like the notes are falling out of the air right in front of me. However they are only ok on music that is hard / fast eg rock. I suspect it's down to my current amp, which is a Rega Brio. It's a great little integrated amp, worked really well with my previous Quad bookshelf speakers, but it's time for something that does the Sansuis justice.

 

I am a novice when it comes to Hifi, but from what I have read, gleaned from forums etc, I am leaning towards 2 options for amplifiers. My total budget is $2k overall, and the options are as follows;

 

Option 1 - A Power and Pre Amp combo. Maybe a tube pre-amp and solid state power amp? I've seen a couple of Quad power amps that look good (405 or the 305) however I am not sure what I should be looking for. One question I have is the Sansui speakers have a maximum input of 50W, does this mean that any power amp that delivers more than 50W is an overkill?

The other issue with this option is the cost for a decent tube pre-amp seems to be high, as well as I am nervous about shipping a used tube amp due to damage (not sure if this is a real concern?). 

 

Option 2 - A vintage integrated amp, like a Sansui, Luxman or Marantz. A lot of what I have read seems to suggest that the Sansui speakers like to be paired with amps from a similar era?

 

Some other points;

- I have a Luxman PD290 turntable with an Ortofon blue cartridge.

- I am happy to buy second hand

- I am looking for a great sounding setup, rather than an 'audiophile' system (not that there's anything wrong with that :)

- I want something that can play rock, soul, blues etc comfortably

- I am looking for quality of sound rather than quantity (volume) of sound. I rarely crank the volume right up.

 

Specs for the Sansui speakers are;

 

Scheme 3 ways, 4 speaker bass-reflex scheme, and a floor type
Unit For low-pass: 30cm cone type
For mid ranges: Horn type
For high regions: Horn type x2
Frequency characteristic 35Hz - 20000Hz
The maximum input 50W
Impedance 8ohms
Output sound pressure level 104dB/W
Cross over frequency 1000Hz, 6000Hz (12 dB/oct)
Dimensions Width 460x height 700x depth of 420mm
Weight 35.6kg

 

Any thoughts would be greatly appreciated! And apologies for my lack of knowledge / terminology etc.

 

Cheers,

 

Neil

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Your Sansui SP300 speakers are very efficient speakers at 104db, so you don't need much power to make them sign. 

 

A high quality, low power amplifier may do the trick for you. How about this one advertised in the classifieds?

 

A used Sansui vintage amplifier may also cut the cake to add to the Sansui goodness!

 

Here's a thread about Sansui speakers from one of our forum members

 

Edited by anandpkumar
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3 hours ago, anandpkumar said:

Your Sansui SP300 speakers are very efficient speakers at 104db, so you don't need much power to make them sign. 

 

A high quality, low power amplifier may do the trick for you. How about this one advertised in the classifieds?

 

A used Sansui vintage amplifier may also cut the cake to add to the Sansui goodness!

 

Here's a thread about Sansui speakers from one of our forum members

 

Hi, thanks for the recommendation, I’ll do some reading on the sonneeter. I’ve just tested a Bravo 2.2 300B single ended Class A integrated valve amp with my speakers. Good depth, but sounds a bit muted, especially with vocals. I’m wondering if a good sansui amp might be the way to go?

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Just food for thought.  The speakers are of some vintage, do you know if the crossovers have had any attention since 1967 plus they are a three way too?

I am no expert but it would be the first place I would look before looking at amps.  Treble might be amazing but the mid/lower range in rock might be lacking a bit of speed or punch eg.?

FYI I know nothing about crossovers but might be worth a look, I am sure there would be a recap kit that someone does for them.

Edited by StuDog78
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Hi,

 

good question, but lucky for

me the guy I bought them from did a complete refurb a couple of years ago, including the crossovers so they’re in great shape. 
 

neil

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Hallo Neil,

 

I think you're travelling well for a beginner.

 

I'm a bit perplexed that the 2 amps you have tried through your system don't seem to float your boat. While system synergy is important, I can't imagine why a very efficient speaker won't sound wonderful with the Rega (a multi-award winner). (Or a good 300B amp.) Nor why only a certain kind of music (hard-fast) comes out OK.

 

If your Rega worked well with the Quad speakers, then it implies that there's a mismatch with the Sansui speakers OR a technical speaker issue. I don't think it's about over-driving them at all.

 

Since your speakers are older, maybe they have other caps/bits/connections that might need looking at? Check about that refurb if you can--because I would not be looking at the amp first. Are the crossover 'values' lining up with the original specs?

 

[Having said that, if you borrow a good amp (store, friend or SNA member) briefly, one that is 'guaranteed to perform' according to superior wisdom, then you will quickly find out if the music is flowing.]

 

Other things to check are your signal components. The other constant in your system.

 

Good luck

 

You seem to have all the necessary gear to make a conclusion--with just a bit of extra help. Just my 2c worth.

 

Good luck.

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Consider Stereo Coffee preamp (non tube) built for around $500-600, used Audio Research Ls7 $700 and similar tube preamp, also Conrad Johnson, Cary, new or used Schiit Freya etc all circa or near $1k.

 

$500-$1500 used power amps like Audiolab, Accuphase P20, various Musical Fidelity, Electrocompaniet, Parasound, Bryston, NAD, Rotel, Yamaha, Adcom 555 etc

 

Amps in the power range of 30w plus up to 200w and beyond would be fine if you don’t crank it ridiculously.

 

New amp shortlist here for new purchase or lookout for used https://www.stereo.net.au/forums/topic/325588-sna-amplifiers-and-preamps-audition-shortlist/

 

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14 hours ago, doogie44 said:

Hallo Neil,

 

I think you're travelling well for a beginner.

 

I'm a bit perplexed that the 2 amps you have tried through your system don't seem to float your boat. While system synergy is important, I can't imagine why a very efficient speaker won't sound wonderful with the Rega (a multi-award winner). (Or a good 300B amp.) Nor why only a certain kind of music (hard-fast) comes out OK.

 

If your Rega worked well with the Quad speakers, then it implies that there's a mismatch with the Sansui speakers OR a technical speaker issue. I don't think it's about over-driving them at all.

 

Since your speakers are older, maybe they have other caps/bits/connections that might need looking at? Check about that refurb if you can--because I would not be looking at the amp first. Are the crossover 'values' lining up with the original specs?

 

[Having said that, if you borrow a good amp (store, friend or SNA member) briefly, one that is 'guaranteed to perform' according to superior wisdom, then you will quickly find out if the music is flowing.]

 

Other things to check are your signal components. The other constant in your system.

 

Good luck

 

You seem to have all the necessary gear to make a conclusion--with just a bit of extra help. Just my 2c worth.

 

Good luck.

 

Agree with @doogie44. With your high efficiency speakers, it is odd that the Rega is not up to the mark. The Brio is known to be a good amplifier and should be able to drive your Sansui's easily.

 

Do you have an opportunity to check with the previous owner regarding the amplification that he used? That might give some insight

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@doogie44

@anandpkumar

Ok, I've kind of worked out my thoughts about both the Rega and the Bravo 2.2 Valve amp, after listening to both against each other.

 

Rega Brio

- the Rega drives the sansui speakers easily, power and volume etc isn't the issue.

- the Rega is a little clinical / harsh with the Sansui speakers. This could be the room (lots of glass and hard walls), and it could be subjective, not sure, but this is how I'm hearing it. Not significant, but I want an amp that I can listen to for hours.

 

Bravo 2.2 Valve

- so easy to listen to, it's gentle, doesn't feel like it's straining, and transparent.

- some vocals feel flat and muffled, but then others don't. I suspect it's the quality of the vinyl and recording. I think the Bravo plays it as it was recorded, and because the Rega is a bit more clinical / crisp it compensates for this a little (? this might be rubbish ?)

- The Bravo is great up to mid volume level, and then doesn't get much louder beyond this. It doesn't distort, it just doesn't get much louder, nothing like the Rega. I don't play stuff really loud, but every now and again there's a song that's wants to be cranked just a little, and the Bravo doesn't seem to get there. (Bravo is 8w per channel vs Rega at 50w per channel - not sure if this is why?)

 

What does that all mean to me? I'm now thinking i definitely want a valve amp with the Sansui horn speakers, but I want something with a little more grunt. Not enough to make your ears bleed, but a bit more than what the Bravo seems to have.

 

I'm not criticizing the Rega at all, it's a fantastic amp, but I think I like that valve sound a little more.

 

Not sure if any of this makes sense - would appreciate your comments.

 

Neil

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Given you've been able to compare the two ... I hope you were able to borrow the amps - rather than buying them!  (As neither meet your full expectations.  :( )

 

My comments are as follows:

  • you need to get hold of a more powerful valve amp and see if that does let you crank it, those times the song demands this.  I wouldn't have thought a 20-25w tube amp would be too hard to get hold of?
  • don't tar all ss amps with having Rega's 'clinical' (aka harsh!  :lol: ) sound.  Can you get hold of a Class A ss amp?

Andy

 

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You're doing a great job of troubleshooting - trying out different amps and stating your observations objectively. 

 

A couple of points that seem to come out from your experiments

- your sansui's are not the warmest of speakers. So you may need to partner them with warmer sounding amplifiers. Your results with the tube amp seems to prove this right

- your room may also be adding to the harshness because of reflective surfaces like glass

 

As @andyr mentioned, trying out a more powerful amplifier - say something in the 20-40 W range is one alternative. Look for tube amplifiers that have a reputation for being on the warm side.

Another option is to look at a tube pre-amplifier and combine that with a good solid-state power amplifier. Usually, the pre-amplifier is the one that affects the sound quality (warm) - so a good tube pre-amp will do this for you. Combine with a good SS power amp and you should be set. You don't need to look for a powerful power amp since the 50 W rega was driving your speakers fine. 

 

As a further experiment, can you check if your rega has a 'pre-in' connection? Then you can use a tube-preamp and connect this to the 'pre-in' of the rega - this will bypass the pre-amp section of the rega and use only it's power amp section. That's one way of confirming whether a tube-preamp and SS power amp will work well for you. Alternately, if your tube amp (Bravo) has a pre-out connection, then you can use this as a pre-amp and try connecting to the rega (if it has a pre-in connection) to test out the tube-pre and SS-power combination.

 

Another option to tame down the brightness/sibilance is to add some soft furnishing to your room - carpets/rugs on the floor, maybe some blinds to the windows etc. Also play around with the toe-in of the speakers - if the speakers are toed in strongly (i.e facing the listener), the treble tends to be a bit more stronger. Of course, as you toe-out, the imaging becomes less focused - so it's always a trade off, but worth experimenting with (if you have not already done so)

Edited by anandpkumar
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Might fit the bill, leaves room to tube roll the input valves as the stock ones tend to suck.

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