Amp for Wharfedale Diamond 9.1s

Discussion in 'Hi-Fi Stereo Systems & Separates' started by Ellis, Feb 2, 2014.

  1. Ellis

    Ellis
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    Hey,

    My current setup is in my signature. The primary source is my PC, where I'll play music, watch TV/films, and also game. I have a PS3 as well (currently connected with an analogue out straight into the amplifier) which I just use for gaming. My primary concern is music listening though :)

    The amp is showing signs of age and I'm thinking that replacing it might be the best bet but my question is where do I begin?

    Seems to be a lot of discussion about NAD's D 3020 at the moment, but my knowledge of how amps work isn't great. The NAD is £400 and accepts digital inputs, how might that compare to a £200 amp plus a £200 DAC? A Yamaha AS500 plus a DACMagic 100 or something.

    I know that attempting to demo equipment will be better than just reading about it, but I'd like to try and get some idea beforehand.

    Cheers
     
  2. illy406

    illy406
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    The yamaha as500 is a very powerfull amp having just bought one myself a few days ago. its a cracking peice of equipment.
    have you not thought about an AV amp ? i would say it would suit all of your needs better. movies/gaming ? and giving you the option to add surround sound later on ? my yamaha AV amp sounds great with music set to 2 channel stereo mode.
     
  3. Ellis

    Ellis
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    I'm glad you mentioned power because I'm a bit confused as to what effect an amp's power output will have on the sound. I know that an amp with more power will be able to produce a louder sound, but is that the only effect power would have? For instance, if we took the AS300 and AS500 (presumably fairly similar internally, with the 500 having a higher power output) and adjusted them both to the same perceived volume, would the more powerful amp sound better?

    I have thought about an AV receiver but I'm fairly sure a stereo amp would be a better buy for me. I definitely don't have room for a surround setup at the moment (this is in my bedroom, which is not a large room) and I can't really see myself moving to surround in the near future. Whilst I don't only use the amp for music, it is its main purpose. I don't watch many films at all and only watch a bit of TV. As for gaming, that varies but my PC is what I use for most of it (I literally just have 1 PS3 game) and I'm happy to use the same stereo output that I use for music.
     
  4. illy406

    illy406
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    I.d personally just go for the as500 and see how it sounds. regarding the better sound im unsure. Dont think more power will necesserily mean better sound. You will definately not go wrong with the as500.
     
  5. Ellis

    Ellis
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    I don't doubt that I would be happy with the AS500, though I don't want to jump and buy the first thing that comes to mind in case there's something potentially better available.

    I'm particularly interested in the NAD D 3020 because I see it as potentially giving me an amp + DAC upgrade whilst consolidating the two into a tiny package. This is where I want to better understand amp power though, as the NAD is only rated for 30W per channel at 4 ohms.
     
  6. illy406

    illy406
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    Have you read the what hifi review on the as500 .
     
  7. Ellis

    Ellis
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    I have, yes, but like I said I'm interested in whether the NAD is a viable alternative. Possibly someone in the know could let me know the pros and cons of each option, and whether 30Wpc on the NAD poses an issue or not.
     
  8. Don Dadda

    Don Dadda
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    The Nad is a very nice little unit and hopefully somebody who owns one will provide their thoughts. i only had a few hours with it at home and it left a impression on me that will not be forgotten anytime soon. However, in terms of grunt, the AS500 will slap it silly all day. Lets face it, Nad's 30w at 4ohms is pretty low powered. Add 8ohms speakers and that 30w becomes 15w per channel so even lower still, but it does very well with what it has got and paired with the right speakers, it comes into its own.
    The Nad is solely a digital hybrid amp with no analogue input connections whatsoever, so if you have any need for them in the future, you're stuffed. So you need to make sure if this type of amplifier is what you want.

    The AS500 is bit a of beast in size but for anything digital, you will need a dac. For the price, I doubt it can be beaten but it also boil down to if you like what you hear. Speaker also needs to be a good match as a setup can sound overly bright or too detailed if not matched well.

    You could consider the Marantz PM6005, stereo amp with onboard dac (no bluetooth if that is a concern) so has more flexibility. Currently going for £300 in most places where selling.
    Marantz PM6005 Integrated Amplifier

    Not as powerful as the AS500 but good enough for most rooms and is a well regarded amplifier. More of a neutral-warm sounding amp.
     
    Last edited: Feb 3, 2014
  9. Ellis

    Ellis
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    Yeah, that was what I'd feared (that the NAD would potentially lack pure power). I thought it had a dual RCA input though?

    I have a DAC, but it is definitely entry level. It only supports up to 16-bit / 48 kHz so no high res support at all.

    The 9.1 are supposed to be quite a warm speaker, so hopefully if the Yamaha has a tendency to be a bit bright then they would cancel each other out.

    I'll have a look at the Marantz, thanks. I'm interested to see how well the integrated DAC is regarded i.e. what price of external DAC might it be comparable to.
     
  10. Don Dadda

    Don Dadda
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    A decent dac will be from £200 but you could go second hand if you don't mind that and get better for similar money.

    With regards to the nads power, yes it is low but you would think its much more than its 30w if you heard it. As i said previously, it does very well with what it has. It drove my speakers very well.

    There's a review on here on it by sergiup which you may want to read.

    If you can get a demo then its worth a listen.
     
  11. Ellis

    Ellis
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    Yeah, I should have mentioned a budget. I suppose I would really like to upgrade my DAC as well, hence my interest in the D 3020. I don't have a strict limit but I wouldn't like to go more expensive than the NAD, all in. I can't imagine I would end up with a very well balanced system if I spent a ton on an amp and DAC and kept the same speakers, anyway.

    I have read the review but I'll do so again in more detail. It seems like Sevenoaks are the only place to stock it in the UK and the nearest one is in Tunbridge Wells which isn't particularly near and isn't somewhere I'd just happen to be going past on my way to somewhere, either :(
     
  12. Ellis

    Ellis
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    Anyone got any more advice on which path to take?
     
  13. Ellis

    Ellis
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    I've been thinking of three main possible options:

    Analogue amp, standalone DAC - perhaps the Yamaha AS500, possibly using my current DAC at first but more likely buying a new one such as a DacMagic 100.

    Analogue amp with integrated DAC - like the Marantz PM6005. Of course, I could always add a standalone DAC at a later date but it would definitely be an upgrade from what I have now.

    NAD D 3020 "hybrid digital" amp - I would buy this with the intention of using a digital input, it doesn't seem particularly aimed at use with an external DAC.

    I'm struggling to work out which of these is the best bet for me.
     
  14. Don Dadda

    Don Dadda
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    Welcome to the world of HiFi.
    A lot of options with so many paths to achieve the same goal. Can be a nightmare .

    If I be Spock like and look at it logically, the as500/DAC would be best option. More of everything. Power, options, upgradeability. The NAD, though works well, falls short in all of these and therefore ruled out. It also limits you to what speakers you can have. It probably pretty close to the 9.1 minimum amplifier power requirements which is 20w. They are also 6ohms speakers. If they were 8ohms the nads power Wii drop below the minimum required.

    The 6005 falls short on power and digital input limitations, but in the average room, 45wpc is plentifully which it delivers very well. So its still a contender on that front IMO. Its DAC, I think the jury's still out on that as I've not seen any comments or user reviews on that specifically though I would expect good things.

    With options 1&2 brings not so much good news for the speakers as they will be the weak link in the chain. Thevamplifiers do deserve better. A class or 2 up, but this can be addressed another time when funds allow
     
  15. Ellis

    Ellis
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    This seems like a great run-down, thanks!

    I think you're right that I should rule out the NAD. Maybe it will be fine for my current room and current speakers, but it's nowhere near as future-proof with regards to power and upgrades.

    It's a real shame that the 6005 doesn't have a USB input as that would make it a lot more flexible.

    Yeah, I'm aware that this upgrade will likely make the speakers the weakest part of my system, however, they can obviously be upgraded at a later date. I do like the sound of the 9.1s so possibly the newer 121s might be worth looking at. Either way, I don't plan on getting new speakers just yet :p

    I think I will try and arrange a demo at Richer Sounds of the AS-500 and PM6005. It might help me get closer to making a decision. Of course, if I go with the AS-500 I need to decide on a DAC as well.

    Thanks again for your help!
     
  16. MIFF INFIDELIUS

    MIFF INFIDELIUS
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    I think the NAD 326BEE would be worth auditioning as well but has no DAC built in, I believe up in the range it's the 356BEE that has DAC built in
     
  17. Ellis

    Ellis
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    Sadly it seems that the only way to audition any NAD amp would be to travel further than I'd really like to :(

    Apparently, the "C 356BEE DAC" has this built in but the regular 356BEE has no DAC. Sevenoaks have it listed as £600 without DAC and £700 with, though, which is more than I want to spend at the moment. Even the 326BEE is £350 which would mean sticking with my current DAC for the moment.

    Anyway, thanks for the suggestions and I'll have a look at the 326BEE.
     

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