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Advice on a new (or old!) Amplifier please....

lex365

Standard Member
Music lover and lifelong hifi enthusiast requires a new amplifier.

My current system from source to speakers: MacBook Pro/Audirvana+ and Tidal. Chord Mojo DAC with Audioquest Jitterbug. SMSL SA-50 class D amplifier. Q Acoustics 3050i speakers. QED interconnects and speaker cables.

I have very recently gone from a desktop set up to a large room set up. My little SMSL amp (please don't laugh) has served its purpose on my desk for the past 2 years. All things considered it sounds great, minus an audible hiss at around 12 inches from my speakers. Plenty of power and I only require the one analogue input so literally everything it does I need. However clearly a weak link so would really appreciate some advice on a suitable upgrade (is it even possible to downgrade?!)

I recently demoed a Cambridge Audio CXA60 and was very impressed. It sounded great with almost no audible hiss at any distance, however I only have the one set of analogue inputs. I don't need a DAC, multiple inputs, phone stage, remote or tonal/balance controls. £600 is a lot to pay for a lot of stuff I will never use. I just need an amplifier, new or old, that will do the Mojo's output justice.

Can anyone offer any useful advice and/or recommend some older amps I can pick up on eBay that will give me a nice upgrade on the little SMSL without breaking the bank? Thank you!

Lex
 

dannnielll

Prominent Member
I am going to annoy a few people here, but my advice is to buy a second hand high quality AVR reciever.There is no better bang for buck . 150 will get you something which might have cost 700 8 years ago. Units from before HDMI are particularly low cost, but just as good. Brand not particular.. Sony, Yamaha, Marantz,. I have picked up a Harman Kardon AVR with 800 watt continuous output..70 watt per channel all driven for 140 quid with a matched DVD player.
There is zero hiss even at full output,and it is loud, but never sounds loud.. oh and any of the top line units are built like tanks. I have purchased,in different locations ,and slightly different purposes 3 recently and they are all excellent.
 

Timmy C

Distinguished Member
I'm not going to laugh at your SMSL as I think they are great. I have a more powerful one (the 98e) which I use for kitchen ceiling speakers. When I first got it I tried it briefly with some fairly decent Acoustic Energy bookshelf speakers and was amazed at how good it sounded. As I had no intention of using it for anything other than the ceiling speakers I didn't spend a lot of time testing it but I remember thinking that if I was ever in a situation where only a single input and no features were required, I could possibly use the SMSL on a proper system. I'll check later and see if mine has the same hiss issue as yours.
 
D

Deleted member 24354

Guest
I am going to annoy a few people here, but my advice is to buy a second hand high quality AVR reciever.There is no better bang for buck . 150 will get you something which might have cost 700 8 years ago. Units from before HDMI are particularly low cost, but just as good. Brand not particular.. Sony, Yamaha, Marantz,. I have picked up a Harman Kardon AVR with 800 watt continuous output..70 watt per channel all driven for 140 quid with a matched DVD player.
There is zero hiss even at full output,and it is loud, but never sounds loud.. oh and any of the top line units are built like tanks. I have purchased,in different locations ,and slightly different purposes 3 recently and they are all excellent.
@dannnielll totally agree. I use an Anthem MRX500 in my office and it is a cracking stereo amp and I think that I would be hard pushed to find a better sounding stereo amp for the same money that you can pick one up for (my opinion, no flames please). They can be had for very little money these days if you shop around, expecially the MRX300's.
 

BlueWizard

Distinguished Member
Music lover and lifelong hifi enthusiast requires a new amplifier.

.... I don't need a DAC, multiple inputs, phone stage, remote or tonal/balance controls. £600 is a lot to pay for a lot of stuff I will never use. ...

You don't need all that stuff TODAY, but don't sell the future to buy the present. If you are expanding the system into a larger room, then it is possible that what you need the system to do will also expand. If you have a TV, as an example, you might want TV sound through your Stereo system. A good amp can last for years, even decades, so look a little beyond the moment and anticipate what you might want in the future.

In a high value amp, you could consider the Yamaha AS501, which is a full size 85w/ch Integrated Amp with DAC -

Yamaha AS501 Integrated w/DAC, 85w/ch - £260 -

Yamaha A-S501

Every amp I have or have ever had, has more inputs than I use, but that's not a reason not to buy a given amp.

In your new circumstances, is there any reason why you need a compact amp? Space limitations ...whatever?

The Cambridge CXA60 is certainly a good amp, but it is also £600. That implies a Budget, but far better if you simply state your budget.

Are there any other features you might want? You are connected to a computer, so that solves you Streaming needs, but it also means your Computer is pretty much tied to your Stereo System.

If you want one amp that does everything, consider the Yamaha RN803 Network Receiver -

Yamaha RN803 Network Receiver, DAB/DAB+, 100w/ch, Network Streaming, DAC, Bluetooth, etc... - £570 -


Yamaha R-N803D Network Amplifier

Of if Networking and Receiver have absolutely not appeal to you, then consider the Yamaha AS701 (£470) and Yamaha AS801 (£599), both integrated amps with DACs, both 100w/ch, but the AS801 has an improved 32bit DAC, and has a USB-PC input.

Yamaha A-S701

Yamaha A-S801 Integrated Amplifier

As to an AV Receiver, if you buy used, you can get one pretty cheap. That would not be my choice for Stereo, but AV Receivers tend to be very full featured with Bass Management and Network Streaming pretty much as Standard. Though that is not the way I would go, it is an option.

At this point, determine what you really need the amp to do in both the short term and long term, then give us a statement of working BUDGET.

Steve/bluewizard
 

Alex P79

Established Member
As well as the Yamaha amps listed above, a few other options that could fit the bill:

If you want to keep with a digital amp, how about:
- Temple Audio Bantam Gold - stereo amp with single line input, available with volume control or as a power amp - cost circa £200.
- Temple Audio Monoblock - about £500 for a pair and output 100 watts per channel with the correct power supply. Could the Mojo Dac act as the volume control? Both of the above have adjustable gain settings to match your source output. Both are also made in Manchester.
- alternatively, there is the Cyrus One at £700.

As for new Class A/B options, as well as the Yamaha/Onkyo/Marantz etc. options, Talk Elctronics (Edwards Audio) offer several half width options between £450 - £700. There is also the Rega Brio at £600.

As for used, the options are limitless. For example, Fanthorpes in Hull (no affiliation) currently have a Cyrus 6a for £300.
 

3rdignis

Prominent Member

3rdignis

Prominent Member
£658 For 2 take a look at what these are compared to in review.
 

lex365

Standard Member
Many thanks for the advice! Much appreciated.....

I will reply to the messages in bulk. Yes I have considered just a power amp as the Mojo acts as a preamp in my setup. It also has a USB and optical input so I can have a TV connected too which would be the only addition I would add having been a 100% computer audio guy for 12 years.

I guess the biggest criteria really is budget. Buying this little SMSL for £45 blew me away when I compared it to my NAD D 3020 at the time. I really didn't expect such a tiny and cheap unit to deliver such good sound quality. Granted everything else in my system is taken care of but even so. So I am vert reluctant to pay £300-600 on an amplifier that gives me a 10% improvement in the sound quality.

I am very aware my SMSL amp is a very cheaply made Chinese product. If my amp "base camp" was something like a Marantz PM 5000 or 600 (I demoed the CXA60 alongside the PM6006 and the CXA blew the Marantz away) then I would happily invest the extra cash as I am already in for £250-350. Currently I am in for £45, so realistically my budget would be £100-200 for a used amplifier IF it was a noticeable upgrade on the SMSL.
 

dogfonos

Prominent Member
Yes I have considered just a power amp as the Mojo acts as a preamp in my setup.

Peerless

Some studio amps are also worth considering:

Studiospares Trojan 600 Power Amp

Yamaha P2500S Power Amplifier - Excellent Condition | eBay

The Yamaha has a good reputation and pre-owned examples often become available. More than enough power too.

I've used an SMSL amp in the past and was impressed with it's tight control and clean sound - but it's no match for the big guns. I would expect the Yamaha amp in particular to make your QA 3050i's sound larger and more dynamic than with the SMSL driving them though I can't be certain as I've never tried these combinations myself.

EDIT: Should mention that most studio power amps have cooling fans. These fans may not spin at all at 'normal' hifi listening levels so won't present a noise problem. Best check with someone in the know.
 

BlueWizard

Distinguished Member
Though not as cheap as some, these CROWN XLS Drivecore amps hit a pretty high standard in Class-D amp, and I think they have bass management built in. So they could be used as a Low-Pass to drive a passive Subwoofer, or they could be used as a High-Pass to drive Front Speakers in a system with an Active Subwoofer -

Crown XLS 1002 Drivecore Power Amp - £389 -

Crown XLS 1502 Drivecore Power Amp - £475 -

These products have massive power. The XLS-1002 is 200w/ch to 8 ohms and the XLS-1502 is 300w/ch to 8 ohms.

Here is a review on the Crown XLS-1502 -



Steve/bluewizard
 
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Paul7777x

Distinguished Member
Definitely use the Chord as a preamp (It’s very good and too much so for the SA50).

Then this is perfect for your budget.

Parasound HCA-1000A Power Amp | eBay

A THX certified power amp. Top class.

The SA50 is a bargain certainly.

However, if pushed, even a bit, it’s distortion figures sky rocket.

And it simply can’t compete with the current ability and speaker control of the above.

The Parasound and Chord will easily stand a serious speaker upgrade in the future too, so it’s a solid investment.

And you’ll know for certain you’re getting the very best from your current speakers.
 

potshot

Prominent Member
@dannnielll totally agree. I use an Anthem MRX500 in my office and it is a cracking stereo amp and I think that I would be hard pushed to find a better sounding stereo amp for the same money that you can pick one up for (my opinion, no flames please). They can be had for very little money these days if you shop around, expecially the MRX300's.

Move to an MRX510, I did from an MRX500 all I can say it was a big improvement in stereo and in surround. The 500 sounded dull in comparison. I wonder what the MRX720 sounds like.
 

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