Amplifier Choices - To Class A, Or Not To Class A?

Discussion in 'Hi-Fi Stereo Systems & Separates' started by GuitarBizarre, Jul 30, 2012.

  1. GuitarBizarre

    GuitarBizarre
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    At the moment, my amplifier is slowly dying.

    If it does, eventually, kick the bucket, I'll be back on my NAD C326 again, which is a fine enough amplifier but not really ideal because its a downgrade from what I have. I know I can't get the current amp repaired, and have asked in here before for good options RE: Replacing it.

    At present, I've been mostly saving towards the XTZ A100 D3, primarily for its Class A capability, which matches my previous Class A amplifier.

    However I'm currently in a position to be able to get very good deals on either a Cyrus A6, or Roksan Kandy K2, both for a couple hundred less than the XTZ.

    Is it worth saving for the XTZ in the end, or will I get equal performance from the other options? Are there any clear characteristics on any of these amps? I know the XTZ is neutral overall, possibly SLIGHTLY forward in character, but I don't know about the Cyrus or Roksan.
     
  2. scorpion88

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    Have you considered the HK 990?
     
  3. bow79

    bow79
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    afraid I cannot comment about any of the particular amplifiers. What I can say is I have a Marantz amplifier which can run in class a or not. This is achieved by pressing one button. So everything else remains the same. And it does sound better in class a. Probably no help but just in case it was.
     
  4. MaturityDodger

    MaturityDodger
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    What speakers will it be driving?
    before I bought it, I demoed the D3 against other amps - some lower quality/price, some AVR (in stereo mode), and a stereo amp that costs a lot more than the D3, and I was quite fond of with other speakers.
    But my speakers were the XTZ 99.36, and the XTZ was the only thing that was really able to drive them in a controlled way for me. I think that my decision came down mainly to the interaction between the amp and speakers, rather than the absolute quality of one amp versus another.
     
  5. scorpion88

    scorpion88
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    IMO the HK 990 will usurp all of the above.
     
  6. GuitarBizarre

    GuitarBizarre
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    It'll be driving Mordaunt Short Mezzo 2s. 89Db sensitivity, 6-8Ohm bookshelves.

    Of course, like all things HiFi, those are up to change as circumstances do. (Looking to move house and acquire floorstanders at some point in the next year or so).

    I'm not too interested in the HK990, if only because I'd settled on the D3, for Class A operation, and am only considering the Roksan and Cyrus due to being able to get them cheaply (A shade shy of £500, in my case, which is as far as I'm concerned, worth it, if they're of equivalent quality to the D3. If the D3 will still sound better, I'll continue to save.)

    Source will be PC, via either optical or USB, through DacMagic if necessary for the given amp.
     
  7. MaturityDodger

    MaturityDodger
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    I guess you're aware that the D3's DAC only has optical and coaxial - no USB?
    Do you already have the DacMagic? If so, you're possibly wasting your money on the built-in DAC.

    I probably would have given the HK990 some serious consideration when I was looking, but for the price. At the time (from memory), the D3 was around 550, with the HK around 1000. Now the D3 has gone up and the HK has come down. It's worth a look.

    Re. class A operation...
    I don't know if this is true, purely speculation on my part. But...
    If I were a manufacturer and I had designed an amp that performed poorly in AB, then that would be a good reason to add class A mode. If it was good in AB mode, I might not bother.

    But this is more than speculation or opinion...
    The statement "all class-A amps are better than all class AB amps" is not true. having the class A tick-box on the spec sheet doesn't necessarily make it a better amp.
     
  8. scorpion88

    scorpion88
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    The Mezzo's are IMO great speakers. Cyrus is a great fan of What Hi-Fi.:rotfl:
     
  9. GuitarBizarre

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    I wanted to retain the Class A operation because of the previous amplifier being switchable between AB and A. Performance in that amp is significantly better in Class A, more rounded and more detailed, without the harshness of AB in the same amp.

    I was aware of the lack of USB in the D3, yes. It didn't bother me overly, as I have owned the DacMagic for a few years already and was simply going to A/B test the two and see which DAC was superior.
     
  10. GuitarBizarre

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    Que? What does what hifi have to do with this?
     
  11. MaturityDodger

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    I was trying to say (but maybe failed in getting it across) that the difference between A and AB can differ between amps.
    The main difference in operation is that AB amps tend to get distortion around the point where the push transistors are turning on and pull transistors turning off (and vice versa). Other amps might not suffer so badly from this effect.

    As it goes, I can tell the difference between A and AB mode on the D3, but only when it's being played quietly. (Thinking back a long time ago to a chat with a guy from XTZ, I seem to recall that as you turn the volume up in class A mode, it will run out of headroom, so gradually shift into AB. If it didn't do this, then the apparent volume would be vastly different depending on the mode.)

    Don't get me wrong - I'm not putting the D3 down at all. I demoed it against other amps, chose it in the end, and I still love it.
    I was just trying to present the other side to the argument, as you seem fairly well decided that this is the amp you want to buy. So I didn't see much point in extolling its (many) virtues, as you've probably read all about them already, that that's why you're considering the amp in the first place.
     
    Last edited: Jul 30, 2012
  12. GuitarBizarre

    GuitarBizarre
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    You're pretty much right. What I wanted was really more of a price/value approach. Given I can either save £200 and get the Cyrus 6 DAC/Roksan K2, or save the extra £200 and get the D3, which would you get, and what kind of qualities of sound do they bring to the table versus each other?

    Both will likely be a large upgrade over my present system, but I do want to avoid harshness as the tweeter of the Mezzo's can easily become overbright and congested, as happened with my C326 versus the current amp.
     
  13. MaturityDodger

    MaturityDodger
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    FYI, I actually A/B tested the internal DAC against an Arcam rDAC. My result came back as inconclusive.
    The gain seems to be slightly higher in the rDAC than the internal DAC, so I couldn't A/B switch immediately to the same level. Any differences I could hear (or thought I could hear!) could have been attributed to this effect.
    For prolonged listening, I was getting the same level of enjoyment.
     
    Last edited: Jul 30, 2012
  14. MaturityDodger

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    Which would I get?
    I couldn't possibly answer that, having never heard the Cyrus & Roksan. I can just give you some facts, and my thoughts.
    I can say that to me the D3 represented phenomenal value for money at the time, and suited my personal needs very well. I was willing to pay a premium for something with a DAC. I also have larger floorstanders which seem to need something that can deliver a lot of current to avoid the bass booming at times. Yours are smaller and (I would expect) easier to control.

    The only thing I actually dislike about it, is the interface, features and usability. It just doesn't feel like a very 'polished' product. I suspect that the others on your list might do better here.
    The D3 is just a monstrously big, high-quality, noise machine. And that's what I wanted!
     
    Last edited: Jul 30, 2012
  15. daytona600

    daytona600
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    Class A AB D push-pull single-end solid state , valves
    does not matter , choose on sound quality not the design of the circuit to drive your speakers
    Class A is not new your granfather listened to class A with valve amps at home or at the cinema before the war
    Purest sounding class A are valve amps or single end solid state
     
  16. GuitarBizarre

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    Um, I know class A isn't a new technology, but as mentioned, I already have an amp that switches between class a and class ab and I find it markedly improved in class a.

    I am only asking if versus the XTZ in class a, the Cyrus DAC 6 or the Roksan K2 would be equivalent in sound, as I can get them at a cheaper price and would consider them if the XTZ is not markedly better.
     
  17. daytona600

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    only way is to get a demo , ideally in your own home with your music & speakers
    one mans meat is anothers poison 2nd hand is always a good option if cash is tight
    Hard to tell which amp is best , what are your speakers & source Cd/TT/Pc
     
  18. robertseymour

    robertseymour
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    How about a Sugden A21 Integrated, Monarchy SM-70 Power Amp or plenty of Tube amps that run in Class A.
    The little Decware SE84 delivered 1.5w of SET Class A bliss, which gave enough SPL IME in my room even with 80dB speakers. Best soundstage and performance (except in bass authority) compared to other amps I have tried.
     
  19. Electro58

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    As said on previous posts just because an amplifier is class A it does not automatically make it sound better than any other type of amplifier it is more important that the amplifier is well designed and built .
    That said my choice would be the XTZ because of the build quality and versatility but most of all the high current output and quality power supply and of course the choice of Class A operation .
    It has to be said though that a good quality high current , high bias class A/B amplifier can sound far better than some pure class A amplifiers IMHO .:)
     
  20. GuitarBizarre

    GuitarBizarre
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    What cost are we looking at here? I looked at Sugden a while back and it was too much.
     
  21. robertseymour

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    A S/H A21 (older models) can be had for around £400, the SM-70 Power amp around £300 and the Decware was £300. Plenty of Audio Innovations, Icon Audio, Ming Da tube amps around in that price bracket as well all S/H.

    Marantz PM-4 can be had for between £300 and £400 as well.
     
    Last edited: Aug 2, 2012

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