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adding a stereo amp to reciever

Discussion in 'AV Receivers & Amplifiers' started by martian1, Jan 9, 2003.

  1. martian1

    martian1
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    I have a Marantz 6200 and want to add a dedicated stereo amp to improve music sound quality and drive front pair of speakers when watching movies. I want so spend between£250-£350 and i am considering these manufacturers

    Acram
    Rotel
    Nad

    Can anyone please advise, i am worried about power output since most Hi Fi amps are rated 40 t0 60 Watts but my Marantz is rated 100Watt. How will i get round this for playing movies?
     
  2. 337GUS

    337GUS
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    Hi

    I have done this and am happy with the results. This has been covered quite a few times - do a search for "add stereo amp" and such like.

    Just about all AV receivers are optimistic about their power levels, I don't think you will have much to worry about unless you have very hard to drive speakers.

    Front pre-outs on receiver go to aux, av or tape on the amp via phono leads.

    Personally I would look for an ex dem or second hand Arcam A75 because it has a feature which makes this task easy - fixed gain av processor function. You match the level to your receiver once and then just press this button when you want to watch a movie and the front stereo speakers are set to the correct level.

    With the other amps you set the volume control manually and then mark or remember the position - see if you can get the levels right with it at 12 o'clock first as it's easy to set later, just remember to turn it down before switching to CD ;)

    New you are looking at Arcam A65plus, Rotel RA01 and 2 and Nad 320 and 370. Power wise if you are worried the Nad 370 and Rotel 02 would be the safest bets.

    Obviously get a couple of dems and then try to borrow one or two for a couple of days to try in your own room.

    Regards

    Gus
     
  3. sounddog

    sounddog
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    Yes the A75 (+) has the processor feature but that in itself souldn't justify you buying it if you find others more to your taste.

    It really isn't a hastle to mark your Amp's dial with a sticker or similar and remember to turn it to the relevant level each time.

    The RA01 and RA02 are have identical power amp sections with just the addition of a remote control in the RA02.

    The Arcam A65+ has mixed reviews. It seams to me people either love it or hate it.

    The NAD370 is the most powerful noted here ... it is however (from listening) very bass heavy.

    I did a comparison between the RA02 and the C370 a month or so ago and found the RA02 to be a lot lighter, more open sound. The C370 was very basey especially with my B&W 602s2.


    Victoria.
     
  4. Nutty

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    I have also connected a stereo amp to my av amp to drive the front speakers and to be honest if you always listen at more or less the same level then matching the volumes isnt much of a problem and with regards to differing power outputs from the AV amp and the stereo amp thenl just turn the volume up a little more on the stereo amp if need be.

    I have never heard any of the amps you have listed as it's a fair few years since I have bought a stereo amp but I have always been a fan of both Rotel and Arcam ...quite different sounds though with the Rotels sounding much more punchy and open which is generally better suited for rock music and the Arcams tend to be much smoother and quite warm which I find to be better with Jazz and bluegrass.

    Wich one to choose will depend on your cd player or music source and what you listen to on it. Personally I tend to listen to classic rock with a sprinkling of heavy metal and a fair bit of classical so I chose an amp which balances the attack and drive of the Rotel with some of the smoothness of the Arcam (at least to my ears) enter Audiolab ... I must say that TAG/Audiolab is by natuare decidedly neutral sounding but it works in my setup to produce the sound I like. However given the amps you have listed I fear that TagMcLaren will be out of your budget. You could have a look around on the classfields section off www.tagmclaren.com ...I have seen a few Audiolab 8000a and 8000LX 's at around the £250-£300 mark lately, any of them will sonically troune the amplifiers you have listed but as I say it depends what you listen to, what source and spekers you have and the sound you like.
     
  5. Rustam

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    Could anybody tell me, is Marantz SR6200 not good enough in stereo so the separate stereo amp is needed ? I plan to buy SR6200 or SR6300 and music from CD is my major interest.

    Thanx,
    Rustam.
     
  6. sceptic

    sceptic
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    I've tried adding stereo amps to my Marantz SR5200 and found no improvement.
    I'd assumed that this was because the Marantz is good with stereo.
    So, is the AV amp a potential limitation to the the perfomance of the stereo amp?
    I wish I'd tried connecting the front speakers directly to the stereo amp but I didn't think of it when I was auditioning them.
    If playing through the AV amp is a limitation would a speaker switching unit be a better idea?
    Or is the best idea to unplug every time you switch from 2 channel stereo to surround - what a drag.
     
  7. darhart

    darhart
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    I was thinking of adding a stereo amp to my setup and was going to do this with a switch box from maplin. ie 2 sources into 1 set of speakers, it costs £10. Is this not a good way to go then?
     
  8. sceptic

    sceptic
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    It seems a good idea to me. QED also do the MA19 which does the same job for about £20.
    However, purists tell you never to break the speaker cable and put switch contacts in the path.
    I've always been put off using them but haven't heard from anyone who's used one. My guess is that I wouldn't be able to hear any difference. I guess I should try it myself.
    If you try it let us know what you think.
    Good luck.
     
  9. sounddog

    sounddog
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    As AV amps go, the Marantz SR5200 is probably the best in it's price range for stereo music. How much improvement you get does of course depend a lot on your source and your speakers.

    i.e. I have a SR5200 and (had) a NAD T550 DVD player. Now this DVD player is rated quite high for its ability to play CDs as well as DVDs. I didn't notice much difference between playing this directly through the SR5200 and playing it through a NAD C320 stereo Amp. When I replaced the T550 with a NAD C521i, the difference was very noticable - more open sound, better top end with more controlled bass, etc.

    Later I (after auditioning) replaced the C320 with a Rotel RA-1060 and the difference is even more marked (this is using B&W 602s2 speakers for the fronts).

    So weather it's worth adding a stereo amp will depend on various circumstances - your source and your speakers - and of course also your room layout, etc.

    It's the pre-amp / processor section of the AV Amp that is the most limiting factor in stereo performance.

    I'm not sure how you tried connecting the stereo Amp ... but you should connect your CD player direct to the stereo amp, then connect your front speakers to the stereo amp. Then connect from the front two pre-amp outs on the AV amp to a spare input on the stereo amp. You will need to turn the volume of the stereo amp up quite a way (most people find around 12 o'clock is right) and balance the levels of the front, centre and surround channels. Mark the position of the volume dial on the stereo amp. Note: YOU SHOULD HAVE NO DIRECT CONNECTION FROM THE AV AMP TO YOUR FRONT SPEAKERS.

    There is no need to switch speakers from the AV to Stereo amp each time you change source. Also an A-B speaker switch from Quad or Richer Sounds, etc (as meantioned in another post) would NOT be a good idea as most of these allow you to connect to speaker set (A) or speaker set (B) or both speaker sets (A) AND (B) at the same time. This position if selected accidentally, could result in either your speakers, or one or both of your amps blowing up.


    Hope this helps you get a better understanding of how everything connects together and if I've been patronising then I appologise.

    Victoria
     
  10. sceptic

    sceptic
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    Not patronising at all. Very helpful.
    I think the way you describe is the way that I connected but I'm not absolutely sure. Perhaps I'll have another try.
    The QED MA19 has a safe either/or system. It's about £30 - over double the price of the Maplins switch which doesn't have this feature. It's as well you've made this point though as I intended giving the Maplin's switch a try.
    Have you any recommendations on the best way to improve my stereo? I have a Marantz SR5200 av amp, a Marantz CD6000KI and Mission 771e speakers.
    I'm not sure if the amp or the speakers are the limiting factor although I don't really want to change the front speakers as they match my centre and rears.

    Thanks
     
  11. sounddog

    sounddog
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    I don't really have enough experience with your Mission 771 speakers to really say whats the limiting factor.

    I would say pretty much definantly that your CD player ISN'T the limiting factor and will work well with kit well about the price point of your own kit.

    If you could get hold of them ... it might be worth trying either a pair of 772 or even 774 (I've never heard much good said about the 773e) front speakers as these would match your center (I assume you have the 77c). Other alternatives for speakers would be Wharfdale 8.2 or 8.3, Tannoy mX and Revolution ranges and B&W 602 or 603 (though the 602.5 aren't so goo IMO) though these would of course mean that your centre wouldn't match so you'd probably want to replace that too.

    Beyond that ... try a stereo amp along the lines of the Rotel RA01/02 or NAD C350 or C370. All are well reguarded and did give me an improvement over the sound from my B&W 602s2.

    As I said initially ... I wouldn't like you to set what I have said in stone as I've never heard the Mission speakers or compared them to anything else.


    Victoria
     
  12. Nobber22

    Nobber22
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    Agree with Victoria. Add a stereo amp. Your CD player is a goodun' and your speakers still have plenty more to give. They are a very good little set which are better than many others in their class.
    OR
    You could also try a good quality sub instead of an amp to really fill in the lowend of movies and music. Standmounter speakers often sound loads better when a sub is taking care of the lows, allowing their mid-range to really shine.
     
  13. LBB

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    I have a Marantz CD67OSE Cd player and the Mission Cinema 7 speaker pakage (consists of 773e, 77c and 77ds), which is superb if a lillte bass light (will buy a sub when funds allow). I intend to add an integrated amp to drive the front speakers and demo'd the Arcam Diva A65 plus and Rotel RA-02 over Xmas. The Arcam blew the Rotel away, the latter sounding very rough with very "loose" bass. Have seen the specs for the A75 Plus and will probably go for this (bigger WPC and the AV Processor switch influenced me on this). Can be bought for £399.99 from www.superfi.co.uk RRP £469.99!
     
  14. sounddog

    sounddog
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    If the only negative on the Rotel was the lack of control over the bass ... try the RA1060 ... it's very similar sounding but the bass has a lot more presence and control to it.

    I wouldn't buy the A75+ just on the grounds that it's the "big brother" to the A65+. Audition it before buying. Make sure you also avoid buying an A75 or A65 (non-plus version) as these are also very different from the later plus versions - if you do want one listen first!!

    Also I hope you listened to the Amps with your own speakers as the 773e are very light in the base area and generally an amp that is good with one set of speakers can be weak with another. Might also be worth trying the NAD C370 as this has a LOT of control on the Bass ... though sometimes at the expense of the mid-top area.


    Victoria
     
  15. LBB

    LBB
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    I did listen to the Arcam and Rotel amps with my CD player and speakers. Unfortunately the dealer doesn't stock any NADs. Will also demo A75+. Am aware of differences between first generation of DIVA range.
     
  16. sceptic

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    Interesting how tastes differ. I've never seen anything but glowing praise for the Rotel both on this forum and in the hifi mags. I must say I was practically sold on it. It just shows how important it is to audition.
    The NAD 370 is also widely acclaimed but, perversely, its incredible power puts me off. I feel, probably wrongly, that I'd be better off with a lower powered amp. Hence my leaning towards the Rotel. Now you've put doubt in my mind about that. Damn!
    I really must go out and audition.
    Happy days :D
     
  17. sounddog

    sounddog
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    I found the Rotel RA02 is very good ... but is very light in the bass department ... now if you pair it with bass light speakers as well then I would imagine you would be disappointed with it.

    The RA1060 on the otherhand has all the topend goodness but more control of the bass.
     
  18. sceptic

    sceptic
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    The RA1060 is £200 more though which is a bit out of my price range.
    I still fancy the Rotel RA02 and would use it with a sub which should address the light bass problem.
    Incidentally, has anyone tried the Tag McLaren 60i. Tag are selling them refurbished for £299 (rrp is £549). I'm very tempted but can't audition it so if I don't like it I'm stuck. :)
     
  19. martian1

    martian1
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    Thanks for all the help, my main concern was power ratings and the fact that if you increase the volume level on the reciever [movies] do you then have to manually try and blend stereo amp as well. This is a big put off for me, is there a way of controlling the volume on both amps simultaneously. And sorry i sould have done a search first before posting. :eek:
     
  20. sounddog

    sounddog
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    The power rating is pretty much irrelevant - unless youhave an enormous room then 30-60W that most stereo intergrated amps are will be perfectly adequate at sensible listening levels.

    With the AV to Stereo amp setup, you only have to balance the levels once. After that, when you want to listen to AV, you set the Stereo amp to the predetermined level, the main volume on the AV amp will now control the level of all 6(7) channels at once.

    When I auditioned before Xmas I also listened to the Tag 60i but felt that the music lost it's integration ... e.g. with a piece of classical with a dominant violin, it felt like there was the violin playing alone and then there was the rest of the orchestra. With the RA1060, the maid violinist was playing along with the orchestra, still dominant but part of a whole. Surfice to say I didn't like it but I guess some people might do.


    Victoria
     
  21. Nutty

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    sceptic it is a shame that you can't audition the Tag 60i it is a fantastic amp in my opinion. Noticing you live in wales I took the liberty of having a look at some retailers and I have found that http://www.audio-excellence.co.uk have branches in both Cardiff and Swansea ...also in Chester which is only just in over the North Welsh border. They have a lot of great offers on and a lot of ex-demo kit and 2nd hand bargains going.

    I noticed that they have a Cyrus 5 Amplifier for £400! and a Rega Mira 2000 Amplifier for £418 and a Meridian 551 for £500 and £550 ..all worth a listen id say. You may want to ask audio excellence about Creek Audio equipment aswell ... I noticed they are a registered distributor accoridng to the Creek website http://www.creekaudio.co.uk or at least the Cardiff store is. I have always found Creek stuff to be very easy to listen to ...very nice sound to it so I would recomend you take a listen if you can. Their intergrated amps arn't usually particularly expensive.
     
  22. sounddog

    sounddog
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    The Tag CAN be a fantastic amp but only with the right speakers. I demo'd it with B&W 602s3 and found it very week compared with the Rotel RA1060. The soundstage was just too spread out and the instruments were too individual, especially when one person was dominant in a piece. It just didn't make me feel everyone was playing as an orchestra - just individual intruments.

    I've not heard any Rega or Creek stuff for ages ... but do remember liking both makes when I auditioned them a long time ago - with a pair of Mission 760 (that dates it!!) and a Rotel CD.

    I really would also recommend the NAD C350 and C370 if you have speakers that need to be driven hard or have light bass.


    Victoria
     
  23. Nutty

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    Must admit I have never heard any NAD amps, I guess I'll make a point of doing so when I next get the opportunity.

    As a point of referance I find that Tag/Audiolab kit works well with Mission, KEF and Monitor Audio speakers, some say that Sonus Faber and M&K work well to but I've not heard any myself.
     

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