Amp Sound Difference

Discussion in 'Hi-Fi Stereo Systems & Separates' started by scol78, Nov 25, 2017.

  1. scol78

    scol78
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    Would buying a £1500 150w amp be a lot better clarity wise than buying say a £500 50w amp.?
    Without changing speakers.
    eg Rotel RA-1570 vs Cambridge CX60
     
    Last edited: Nov 25, 2017
  2. dannnielll

    dannnielll
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    Maybe.
    .. IMHO, there should be no such thing as amplifier sound.

    But any amplifier running closer to its design limits will have increased distortion. So assuming two identical amplifier technologies, one from a power supply allowing 50w into 8 ohm speakers and therefore an output voltage of 20v and a current of 2.5 amps into the speakers, and another with a 150w power supply capable of an output voltage of 35v and a current of 4.2amps , both producing a power of 40watts , the bigger one will sound cleaner.

    The ear is fairly insensitive to power increases so a 100 w amplifier with twice the current going through the speakers does not sound twice as loud
    Loudspeakers have maximum power ratings and if one puts excessive current through them, a number of undesirable things happen..
    1. The cone may be mechanically driven slapped against its end stops, horrible distortion results maybe weakening and tearing of the cone material.
    2. The box will start flexing and radiating sound through its walls
    3. Coil in the loudspeaker cone will heat up and maybe burn out...
     
  3. scol78

    scol78
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    Wow Thankyou
    So if my speakers are rated at say 150w and had 2 different amps rated at 50w and 150w amp both turned up to say 3 o clock on the volume the loudness may be the same but the 150w will sound better/cleaner.
    Im just thinking of getting a more expensive/powerful amp at the moment, without changing speakers to futureproof myself for when I can afford better speakers.
    Would there be a definite difference between the 2 amps.

    Running Cx60 through Dalis at the mo.
    Looking at Rotel A14 and RA 1570 and Creek 100(must be silver for the wife)
     
    Last edited: Nov 25, 2017
  4. BlueWizard

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    Amp differences are very subtle, but I totally reject the idea that all amps sound the same. Though I might go so far as to say that all amps sound similar.

    And the quality of the amp is not based on Power alone. I went for years (decades really) with a 45w/ch Pioneer Amp, never had an amp I love more than that one. But one channel started getting weak, and I switched to a 100w/ch Yamaha, then to a 120w/ch Rotel (RA-1570).

    The real value of an amp is based on the design, and the type and quality of components, and I have to admit a certain percentage of the cost is in the brand name.

    Cambridge Audio CXA60 Stereo Amplifier

    Discontinued Rotel RA1570 Amplifier With DAC - Superfi

    The Rotel RA-1570 has been replaced by the RA-1572 which add Networking to the amp -

    https://www.hifix.co.uk/hi-fi/hi-fi-separates/hi-fi-amps-receivers/rotel-ra1572-amplifier

    I have no doubt that the Cambridge CX60 would sound fine, but I think I would personally like a bit more power.

    Cambridge Audio CXA80 - £650 -

    Cambridge Audio CXA80 (Silver)

    Another amp at a similar price but with an upgraded DAC would be the -

    Yamaha AS801 Integrated Amp with DAC £599 (including USB-PC)
    .

    Yamaha A-S801 Amplifier - Superfi

    Any decision you make is going to compromise something in favor of something else. You just have to work out where you are willing to gain and where you are willing to sacrifice.

    If you can go as high as the Rotel RA-1572, then you can go as high as the-

    Cambridge 851A -

    Cambridge Audio Stereo Amplifier

    Analyze your Feature requirements. Both the amps you are considering have a DAC, so can we/you consider that a requirement of the amp? Do you want Tone Controls? Do you need a Radio? Do you want/need Network Streaming?

    Yamaha R-N803 Network Receiver, 100w/ch, Network Streaming, Bluetooth, FM Radio, DAC (2xOptical, 2xCoaxial, 1xUSB), etc.... £695 -

    Yamaha R-N803D Black Stereo Hi-Fi Receiver w/ MusicCast - Yamaha - AudioVisual Online - UK Home Cinema and Hifi Specialists

    Usually once you iron out the Feature requirements, that narrows the field of Amps, then you just need to work out the Power requirement. Depending on how the system will be used,will determine the power requirement. Generally anything 50w/ch up to roughly 100w/ch is good for most consumers. However, for those demanding more, they are usually in the 150w/ch to 250w/ch range. I personally see no need to go over 250w/ch, but if I found the right amp at 300w/ch, I wouldn't be crying. For now though, I amp perfectly content relative to power with 100w/ch to 125w/ch.

    As to power demands, for pure music at reasonable (though leaning toward loud) listening levels, a 50w/ch Amp is fine. But if you add Movies into the mix, then likely more power is better because the Dynamics of Movies are much different than Music. Though more Power can also serve Music. Slight Clipping can occur at much lower levels than you would think, though again it is slight and mostly unnoticeable. More power means more voltage and that means less clipping.

    The last feature is Budget. It is nice to dream but how much can your realistically afford? If you go for the most expensive amp, what else would you NOT be allowed to buy because of its high price? As an Example, you can probably buy the Cambridge CXA60 Amp and the Cambridge CXC CD Player for the cost of the Rotel RA-1572.

    So, choosing an amp is mostly about working out your priorities, the features you demand, and the price you can actually afford to pay.


    Steve/bluewizard
     
  5. scol78

    scol78
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    I run the cxn streamer which has the onboard DAC so can run any digital inputs through that, therefore not needing DAC onboard an amp.I do run the TV through the streamer at mo for movies.Flac files also on NAS through streamer.Budget is around £1500 for amp (silver)I have the CXC but rarely used.
     
  6. BlueWizard

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    You are thinking about this all wrong. You should never play with the volume up around 3 o'clock on the volume dial, at least on a standard mechanical volume dial. There is nothing but Danger and Distortion up that high. You have to understand that on the high end of the dial, slight changes in the position of the volume control mean extreme changes in the functional Power. On the high end the power really cascades.

    I can hit 100db on pretty much all the amps I've owned at about 1 o'clock on the dial. In any normal room, and excess on the volume control above that is pretty much wasted. Like I said, above about 1 o'clock to perhaps 2 o'clock is nothing but danger and distortion.

    In the specs for many speakers, they will give the maximum SPL (loudness) this is frequently about 105db. That is the speaker cone pushed to the limit. Above that the music starts to compress. And that maximum output is unrelated (sort of) to the maximum power handling. One is a mechanical limit, the other is an electrical limit, though naturally they are somewhat related.

    Maybe. The differences between amp is very subtle. We can't say whether you would be able to hear it or not, but the difference, especially in power, is still there.

    Relative to features, those are very different amps. The Rotels have much higher feature set than the Creek as an example. Most Creek amps are very minimalist. Basically a Volume Control and a Selector Switch. That's fine if that is what you really want and need.

    As I said before, it is all about -

    - Personal Priorities
    - Features
    - Power Requirements
    - Budget



    I think you said you have the Cambridge CXA60, I would expect that to sound very good.

    Steve/bluewizard
     
    Last edited: Nov 25, 2017
  7. Abacus

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  8. Rambles

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    This is the sort of topic that gets a lot of people quite argumentative ;)

    I have trialled a lot of different amps in my room with my speakers, and can absolute confirm that they all do sound different.

    For me, I have worked out that three things are important:

    1. A nice *clean* sounding pre-amp section, that maintains good instrument / voice separation

    2. Tone / Bass configuration to suit my room / speakers / personal tastes

    3. Power

    I have addressed these issues by having separate boxes doing separate things, which is really annoying as I would much rather have a more simpler, one box solution, but I can't find one that works, and is even remotely within the range of what is affordable to me.

    So, my solution is:

    1. A Musical Fidelity M3i for the pre-amp

    2. A graphic equaliser

    3. Pro audio amps - currently using a Behringer A500, but there are plenty that give good clean power output for a fraction of the price that you would pay for a consumer equivalent.
     
  9. Rambles

    Rambles
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    Ha, cross posted, and said the same thing!

    I actually like how the Behringer looks, it fits in okay in my room. What is really good with pro audio amps are the VU meters, so you get a real time visual representation of how much power you are using, and whether you are near or at clipping.
     
  10. scol78

    scol78
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    Where is a power amp connected within my system ?
    Cx60 pre outs to Behringer. then speakers to this ?
    Where is volume position on my CX ?
     
  11. Rambles

    Rambles
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    Yes, connect the speakers to the Behringer (it has banana plugs inputs) then connect from the pre-out of your amp into an input on the Behringer. The A500 has three inputs, RCA, XLR and TRS. If using the RCA, I set the gain knobs on the Behringer to 12 o'clock (straight up). If using the XLR or TRS inputs, I have the gain knobs on the Behringer fully open.

    You then use the volume control on your amp as usual.

    I see Amazon have stock of the Behringer A500 at £164, quite low risk to try due to their returns policy. It bench tests at 120 watts per channel into 8 ohms before clipping, so even if you decide it is not for you, the VU meter will give you an idea of how much power you are using / need.
     
  12. dannnielll

    dannnielll
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    I am not going to say yes to the power rating thing. There is as much snake oil being bandied about regarding music power than in all the pythons in the jungle.

    The only reliable measure is the RMS power rating on the speakers. Likewise the only reliable rating for an amplifier is its rms power rating. However, it is very feasible to have a much higher power coming from the amplifier as an instantaneous current for a few seconds. This can be achieved by having more capacitors in its power supply than strictly necessary. An amplifier can often supply these momentary peaks as it takes a while for the transistors in the output stage to heat up from the extra current, and the capacitors can supply the transient current...
     
  13. Rambles

    Rambles
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    Incidentally, the Behringer A500 is a Class AB amplifier, with a 600 watt power supply, a toroidal transformer, and a 3 year warranty. I am not saying that it is the best thing since sliced bread, or that it will suit everyone. But, to get those sort of specifications in a consumer power amp, at 120 watts per channel into 8 ohms, you would have to spend possibly around £1000?
     
  14. scol78

    scol78
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    Having to keep the wife happy,she doesn't like the way it looks, which i suppose is fair enough.We have Ca gear in silver in a nice stand ,just wouldn't look the part.
    Im gonna try and source a more powerful amp , must be silver
    Yamaha as above or go the whole hog and get Ca 851,ive heard that the later can get heat issues

    Wife loves the Roksan K3 (silver) anyone ?
    I would still go for A500 really carnt decided would just love the one box>
     
    Last edited: Nov 26, 2017
  15. dannnielll

    dannnielll
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    It appears to be very good value. The copper in a 600watt toroidal trafo doesn't come cheap
     
  16. Welwynnick

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    Watch out guys, there is no such thing as RMS power. It does not exist, period. It's purely marketing gobbledegook, and it's just wrong.

    You can have peak voltage and peak current and rms voltage and rms current, and you multiply the latter two together to get power, and that is why you have RMS.

    You can have peak power and continuous power, and they're meaningful with qualifications.

    Nick
     
  17. dannnielll

    dannnielll
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  18. scol78

    scol78
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    Apart from the cost and looks , would there be a lot of benefits from buying CA 851A or a Rotel over the Behringer A500.
    I know the CA gets very hot but would fit in very nice with present gear (£1100)
    The Behringer I know nothing about but have read today people get humming/hissing etc (£160)
    And Distorsion
     
    Last edited: Nov 26, 2017
  19. Rambles

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    The other pro audio amps that works well in a home cinema environment are the Crown XLS ranges, the 1002 or the 1502. They both have inaudible smart fans, that are temp controlled so go on and off when needed. They are Class D amps, so are lighter, and run cooler.

    You could maybe put the pro audio amp out of sight, if you don't want it visible in your rack? I actually like the look of them, especially with the VU meters showing.

    They don't have triggers or remote on and off like a consumer integrated or power amp has. So you have to use your finger to power them on and off, or just leave them permanently powered on.
     
  20. scol78

    scol78
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    Compared to a Ca 851 would they be as good
     
  21. Khazul

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    Or use a smartplug or DIY trigger relay or maybe one of those 'energy saving' master/slave extension leads.

    The only thing that bothers me about many cheaper amps is I think they often don't have an anti-click relay to disable speaker output around power on/off. Not a problem when driving robust PA speakers, but more delicate tweeters on consumer HiFi speakers may not appreciate it.

    As for other general differences - the biggest difference in amp sound after voicing is probably how they behave with high transients that may clip. Some you don't notice until severely overdriven (soft clip behavior / musical overtones generated - tubes are known for this behaviour for eg), some just sound nasty very quickly (digital like clip and/or non-musical overtones generated, hence a bit harsh sounding on high end).

    I don't think damping comes into it that much just because most modern amps seem to be sufficiently well damped anyway for normal loads, but for some more awkward loads (some sub drivers) Ive heard of some people having issues with these amps at high levels and loosing damping entirely.

    Avoid all those scenarios and the general consensus seems to be that they are great amps for the amount you spend on them, but can have random reliability issues which isn't really surprising - costs have to be cut somewhere to achieve the price.
     
    Last edited: Nov 26, 2017
  22. Rambles

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    As I said before, this is the sort of subject that people can get argumentative about ;).

    I do get a 'thump' if I have my Musical Fidelity M3i as a pre amp with the Behringer A500 as a power amp, so the MF has to be powered on last, or permanently left on. But, I don't get a 'thump' with my Marantz SR7011 as a pre amp, and the Behringer A500 as a power amp, so it might actually be the Musical Fidelity that is causing the thump.

    The point is, that by using pro audio amps, it is affordable to have oodles of headroom so that they never get anywhere near clipping. Plus, you can see how far away from clipping the amplifier is due to the VU meters and clipping led's.

    I've not had any issues myself, and both the Behringer and the Crown come with a 3 year warranty. Maybe it isn't that costs have been cut in the pro audio amps, but ridiculously inflated in amplifiers aimed at the consumer market. ;)
     
  23. Rambles

    Rambles
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    Depends what you mean by 'as good'. If you mean sound quality wise, I don't know as I have not done an AB listening test against a CA 851. Why not get a pro audio amp and take it with you for a demo of the CA 851. That might be fun!
     
  24. dannnielll

    dannnielll
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    .. and your qualifications for making such a sweeping statement are?
    All electric measurements ultimately revert back to a dc voltage driving a dc current into a fixed load . The rms value of an AC voltage is that which would have the same heating effect as a dc voltage.accross the same load. If there was no such thing as rms power, why did I specify true rms wattmeters and true rms voltmeters for the laboratories I was equipping?
    For your information a true rms power measurement involves measuring the instantaneous voltage difference across a component, multiplying it by the instanteanous current through the same component at the same instant, summing this and averaging over an agreed interval.
     
    Last edited: Nov 26, 2017
  25. scol78

    scol78
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    Any thought on Yamaha S1100,looks good.Is it ?
     
  26. Rambles

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    I agree, it looks gorgeous and has great reviews. If you get one, I would be interested to hear what you think of it. For me, £1150 for 90 watts is out of my ball park.
     
  27. scol78

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    Then again I'm not gonna sit looking at the meters
    The 801 is 100w no meters £500 cheaper
     
  28. dannnielll

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    The thump you get when switching on, is the dc voltages stablising within the amplifier stages . The power supply gets up to voltage pretty quickly, but it takes longer for the voltage accross capacitors embedded in the amplifier stages to charge to their quiescent level. The imbalances create the thump.
     
  29. Rambles

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    Thanks, so that would be in the Musical Fidelity I guess? Is there any anti-thump device that can be fitted, or just carry on with turning the power amp on last?
     
  30. NewfieDrool

    NewfieDrool
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    MF has always suffered with the thump on some of their amps, it’s just the way they have designed them.
    Ive an old MF A370.2 which always has a thump on start up.
    Ive had a fair few pre amps too that I’ve tested the amp on from a MOD Squad passive to an early DNM that I acquired from a friend of Dennis M.
    The A370 was described as a very open sounding amp with valve like sound and as Tim from EAR had a part in it and was a valve man it’s not surprising.
    The problem is with all audio each component has an impact on sound so the MOD Squad pre was light but open where the DNM produced a punchy type sound but the soundstage closed.
    Ive an MF pre amp but for the life of me I can’t remember the model but that was fairly soft sounding compared to the others.
     

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