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Do Better Amps/Receivers Make A Difference?

Discussion in 'AV Receivers & Amplifiers' started by bwstsw, Oct 22, 2003.

  1. bwstsw

    bwstsw
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    Hey Everyone,

    Finally got my BK sub and its amazing. There are 2 things I want to upgrade now, the amp and the speaker wire.

    But can anyone tell me, if I bought an amp, say one twice as costly as my £150 Sony receiver, would the sound to the speakers handle/sound better? Such as bass-managment to the sub, or effects to the centre etc?

    Would I be able to exploit more potential to the speakers as a whole?

    I now have a BK XLS200 sub, a Paradigm CC350 centre, a very decent Panny pureflat TV, a decent Sony DVD, good sub cable, 2 decent 3-way Technics speakers and this £150 entry range Sony receiver.

    If I invested in a 300-400 quid Denon or Yammy receiver, in what ways would the sound be different?

    Any advice would be gladly welcome :)
     
  2. jelly

    jelly

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    used to have a sherwood rds 6103 av amp since up-gradeing to the pioneer it has breathed new life into my kit i would say up-grade definateley
     
  3. JUS

    JUS
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    I would agree. I'm a firm believer in testing to make sure you like the new sound and that you are happy it's worth the extra cash. Visit your local dealer in person and sweet talk them into lending you some kit or maybe they'll come round your house with the kit. If you're thinking richer sounds then maybe they offer some sort of no quibble money back guarantee (not sure about that).

    Personnally I wouldn't take anyones recommendation and just buy.

    Looks like you may need some rear or some front speakers :D I can only see a centre, sub and two technics.
     
  4. bwstsw

    bwstsw
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    This is the amp I have (pics are stored on photobucket, online storage).

    [​IMG]

    Sony STR-DE495

    Main features
    Dolby digital/DTS/Dolby pro Logic II decoder
    32 bits Full DSP
    2x80 W RMS
    5x80 W RMS
    5.1 Multichannel entrance
    UKW/MW - Tuner
    RDS
    30 transmitter memory

    This is the one I am looking to upgrade to:

    YAMAHA DSPAX640SE HOME CINEMA AMPLIFIER (What Hi-Fi Best of 2003 - up to £500)

    [​IMG]

    "The Yamaha DSP-AX640SE delivers a superior home cinema experience for the price of an inferior amplifier! Yet all is present and correct, robust build (all metal case and fascia), a hefty 6 x 85 watts output, fully-fledged 6.1 decoding from Dolby and DTS and no less than 24 independent DSP modes.

    Add on the array of video and audio switching (including a turntable input, component video loop-through and optical 4 optical inputs) and a front AV input for top convenience."

    YAMAHA DSP-AX640 AV AMPLIFIER SPECIFICATIONS

    Power output: 85 watts x 6 (8 ohms RMS)
    Decoders: Dolby Digital, Dolby Digital EX, DTS, Dolby Pro Logic II, DTS ES Discrete 6.1, DTS Neo:6, DTS-ES Matrix 6.1
    DSP modes: 32 bit DSP Processing, 24 surround programmes (44 variations) including Silent Cinema and Night Listening mode, 5 band centre channel graphic equaliser
    Video inputs & outputs: 2 x video inputs (with component, composite, S-Video and audio in)
    2 x video loops (with composite, S-Video & stereo audio in and out)
    1 x front video in (with S-Video, composite video and stereo audio)
    Component video out HDTV (720p/1080i) compatible
    Composite video monitor output, S-Video monitor out
    AV record out selector, video format conversion built-in
    Audio inputs: 3 x optical and 1 x coaxial digital inputs, CD, tuner, tape loop, 6 channel input, 6.1 channel pre-outputs, front-mounted optical input
    Speaker outputs: Two pairs of independently switchable stereo speaker outputs, rear stereo, rear centre, front centre - all binding posts which can be simply modified to accept 4mm banana plugs
    Audio outputs: Subwoofer pre output, 6.3mm (1/4") headphone socket on the front, optical digital output
    Remote control: Yes, with preset options for other AV components
    On screen display? No
    Dimensions WxHxD / Weight: 435 x 171 x 390mm / 13 kg
    Supplied accessories: Remote control, batteries
    Colour: Black or silver
    Extra: 96kHz/24 bit D>A Conversion, wideband frequency response - up to 100kHz - for SACD or DVD Audio compatibility.

    ----------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Now what differences to the sound is the yammy going produce over the sony, for movies and music? Am I going to be able to turn the gain levels up on my sub for example without worrying if the amp can handle it etc?
     
  5. Stereo Steve

    Stereo Steve
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    I suspect that you will find some improvement. If it were me, I would spend that money on some better speakers. Will probably make a huge difference to your sound. Why not move your Technics to the rear and invest a few hundred on some qaulity mains?

    But, the Yammy is a good little amp and will be better than your Sony.
     
  6. bwstsw

    bwstsw
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    In what way would it be better? I dont fully understand the why's and how's of amps. I have done a fair bit of research into subs and centres for when I bought the BK sub and Paradigm centre, but amps/receivers have been left on the shelf a bit, knowledge wise.

    Just to ask you, which speakers of mine would you replace, just the fronts and move the technics to the rear?

    The Technics are actually very good, they cost about £200 each in their day, and still do hold up today, so for me an amp was the main priority, as I have been told by a few friends of mine, that for the speakers I have (mainly the sub and centre) the amp is severely underperforming the speakers. The sub aint getting half as much depth as it should. I personally dont know, as I said, I dont really know the differences in entry range amps and high-end ones, etc.
     
  7. SanPedro

    SanPedro
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    bwstsw

    Why not find a dealer who will let you rig your Sony up to a new set of speakers?

    That would be the easiest way to decide whether your amp is capable of driving a new set of speakers. If the sub is not sounding up to much it may not be set up right. the sub, remember, only like a sugnal from the receiver and uses its own built in amplification. I have a Servo 15 driven via a Richer Sounds receiver and it sounds awesome.

    The problem you may also have is that your speakers are mismatched tonally as they are not from the same manufacturer - different brands sound warmer/harsher/brighter etc. compared to each other. And you will be unlikely to get a set of Paradigm fronts as RS seem not to sell Paradigm products any more.

    Somebody was selling a set in the classifieds recently for a reasonable amount which would have matched better. Don't know if they sold.

    How old are the Technics and what do you have for rears? Most Japanese brands have never had a particularly good reputation compared to most UK brands like Mission and KEF. You may find you are underrating your Sony.

    Chris
     
  8. bwstsw

    bwstsw
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    Here is a pic of one of the Technics, its easily about 15 years old now (laugh if you will) but they are pretty good actually. Very well made, almost solid casting, very heavy. The sound is rich and full of character. I really see no reason to upgrade these until I move from home, when the times comes I will be investing a few hundred quid in some hand-built british speakers. Of course these speakers cant be compiared to a pair of KEF Reference speakers or whatever, but they are good enough for me for the time being. What I really want is more bass from my BK sub, its fine now as it is, I have had to turn the gain levels down considerably on louder volumes, but I can set them lower and have deeper bass on lower volumes. I have been told a few times that it is the amp's bass management system, which is simply not good enough for the sub. What happens is, the bass from the sub cuts off on louder volumes, so i compensate by turning the gain down.

    [​IMG]
     
  9. SanPedro

    SanPedro
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    Hmmm...

    does sound like something is amiss with your sub set up.

    My servo 15 has no bass management, just a volume control. Neither has my old Sherwood got any bass management other than setting the level of the sub relative to the level of the other speakers in the set up. And I manage to integrate it well for movies and music.

    I'd suggest posting a query on the speakers and subs forum (if you haven't done so before) to get some advice on setting it up. There is a review there from another recent BK purchaser who had few issues on initial setup but who is now more than happy with it. You could try PMing him for advice.

    Chris
     
  10. Stereo Steve

    Stereo Steve
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    I reckon something like Ruark Epilogues would be a good replacement for those Techniks, especially as you have a sub. I'm not knocking them as I have no experience but going on what I have heard from mainstream Japanese speaker makers (Sony etc), I suspect they may be the weak link.

    The only way you'll know is to try some others with your amp, maybe take your speakers to a dealer an try them back to back. Then try the Yammy with your speakers and with some newer ones.

    This way you'll know which gives you the better improvement for your cash, which is the most important thing.
     
  11. mjn

    mjn
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    Surely if the sub is active, then changing your amp is going to make hardly any difference?

    Only the DAC in the DD/DTS decoding is going to be changed.
     
  12. bwstsw

    bwstsw
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    I would have thought this, but surely if you have a £150 amp on one side and say a £1500 on the other, there must be a difference. I contacted Creative Audio about this and they told me if I upgrade from my Sony to this Yammy, there will be a huge difference to the sound to 'all' speakers, not least the sub, which will have a much more sophisticated and dynamic sound, tighter and more focused. I personally dont know enough about amps to make a technical judgment, but thses guys seem to know what they are talking about, but logically it seems right I guess, the more you pay, the better the sound. My Sony one is just a bog-standard entry level amp, the Yammy one I am looking it has been proclaimed to be the best for up to £500. There has to be some kind of difference, according to CA, a big difference...
     
  13. SanPedro

    SanPedro
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    BWSTSW

    Still think it's your sub setup that may need looking at again. A better amp will improve the quality of the signal tou your sub but will not necessarily give you more bass. The sort of improvements you could expect from a better amp would be: less distortion at higher volumes as the amp can drive the speakers more easily, better surround effect as the higher quality DSP chips will steer the effects more accurately so they sound more realistic etc.

    It seems that the problems you are having with your sub are not just related to quality (correct me if I am wrong). You say they sub cuts out at higher volumes, which suggests the gain on the sub is set too high, or the output level for the sub on the receiver is set too high. It's natural that you won't get the same bass at low volumes as you do at high volumes. You shouldn't need to be constantly adjusting the gain on the sub when you change your receiver volume. I think you need to find the correct level, which could be done by investing in an SPL meter. This enable you to measure the volume of each speaker channel relative to each. There have been numerous postings on using one. Could be a worthwhile investment.

    Also, don't forget to look at the positioning of your sub within the room. Mine, for examples, gives best results when placed between the main front speakers, about a foot from the wall. Other sound better in corners. Some experimantation may be needed.

    Cheers

    Chris
     
  14. mjn

    mjn
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    you don't say how you have your sub connected to your amp, low level or high level?

    Also, more expensive doesn't mean better!!
     
  15. bwstsw

    bwstsw
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    both high and low level
     

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