getting better without actually improving...

Ed Selley

AVF Reviewer
Never a truer word spoken- in respect to amps and speakers at least. I don't recall it ever being so much of an issue with stereo gear though. Indeed, at about the time I was born, the "top down" theory was at it strongest and systems with £1000 source into £200 amps and £200 speakers were commonplace. The argument used to go that no error in the source could be rectified further down. On my 2-channel system this is still the case with the CD player and relevant connections costing far more than the other bits its connected to. A half price end of line source is more financial sense than speakers IMHO. It is also staggering in some cases how fast speakers get changed, when an amp change could unlock far more of their potential.
 

jasper_mccrea

Active Member
I disagree, slightly. Granted, you'll probably see an improvement when you match your expensive speakers with a more expensive amp (s/expensive/quality/g), but from my experience, decent speakers will give a bigger improvement than almost anything.

I had a DSP-A5 amp, £325 MRP, driving Tannoy Mx speakers. All was hunky dory. Then I got some Tannoy Eyrises, MRP £999 for the front two. The improvement was spectacular. Clarity, soundstage, depth. Then I got a DSP-A1 second hand (originally £2k), and didn't notice anything like the same improvement. Back down to a DSP-A2 and no different from the A1. I bet if I went back to the Mxs I'd be crying.

Sounds like your speakers are just terribly hard to drive. I bet if you got quality speakers that were easy to drive, the Marantz would sound just fine.

Remember, a light plastic and aluminium car with a Rover 100 engine is just as good as a ferrari. ;)
 

lowrider

Standard Member
I agree that you usually need to spend as much for powers as for speakers to get the most out of both... :rolleyes:

I started with 5 speakers around 3.500 euros + a receiver, no good, so upgraded to Rotel approximately same price... Then bought new speakers double the price, the Rotels had trouble driving them, so Brystons had to be bought, again approximately same price as speakers... :smoke:
 

dunkyboy

Novice Member
IME it's not a good idea to draw general conclusions from a single first-hand experience, especially where audio is concerned - it's something we all do (I'm certainly guilty of it!) and is a fairly fundamental human trait, in all areas of life, but I think it can be detrimental in this case. Speakers and amps vary so much that there just can't be any generalisations made. In some cases, budget amp A will drive expensive speakers B just fine (in terms of power), in other cases, with other combinations of amps and speakers, the same may not be true.

In my experience, speakers tend to make the biggest improvement of any component in the hifi chain. Generally, in a system with £300 components, jumping to £1000 speakers will make much more difference than jumping to a £1000 CD player or amp. But again, this is a generalisation, and I would never claim that this is always going to be true.

It's definitely true that most speakers will almost always benefit from an upgraded amp. The degree of that benefit depends on a lot of factors, of course.

Personally, I think upgrading speakers first is a fine plan. It will most likely lead to a big improvement. Then, from there you can upgrade the amp (and likely see a big improvement as the high quality speakers are used to their fullest - probably much bigger than if you'd upgraded the amp before getting the nicer speakers). Then the source can be upgraded and you'll have a much better chance of noticing differnces in source quality than if you'd upgraded the source with the old speaker and amp.

Anyway, just my opinion, and I readily admit that everyone's circumstance will be different and everyone's system will be different. As always (it's getting boring having to say this yet again ;) ) you have to try things out for yourself and see what works best in your specific case. No sense going on broad generalisations.

Cheers,

Dunc
 

Nobber22

Novice Member
Originally posted by dunkyboy
P.S. - The obvious solution to this mess is, of course, active speakers!!! ;)

I thought Buns was into stereo listening in this case, not AV? ;)
 

buns

Banned
jasper..... have you considered going up another level..... I would certainly consider having at least one of the current flagships with speakers of that level, but would be onto separate power amps given half a chance. There simply may be insufficient difference between A5 and A1 for you to notice.

Dunky...... im not so much drawing from single experience, rather all round. I havent listened to half the kit some have (i simply dont have the chance in NI) but of all the combos ive heard, the worst are when the amp and speakers are mismatched. In any case, your £1000 speakers were not designed with a £300 amp in mind, so in some respects it is like watching a film in the wrong aspect ratio. Also i restate that i think people here differences and not improvements, i suspect that, taking as an example, a denon A11sr. Run a pair of £300 speakers on the front. Then blindly switch for a different designs, one costing £300 again and the other twice that, i suspect that the listeners will only have slightly better than 50% chance of telling which the more expensive speaker is. Were you to tell them the expensive one was B&W however, while the other was my earlier mentioned MS, they would know what to be listening for and then would pick the B&W because they know how it will sound compared to the MS. Tough one to argue, but i really believe most people with unbalanced amp/speakers are perceiving difference, not improvement.

I have on occasion thought about actives, but im not into these studio things, it might be accurate but im not monitoring, im enjoying. So i choose on enjoyment factor. that said, i like the idea of pmc actives as well as some of the more exotic brands, but that gets to be daft money to get a matched 5.

Nobber..... im actually talking about both stereo and AV. Believe it or not, i do as i preach for both. I have 3 stereo poweramps, each coming in at about twice that of a pair of speakers..... so i have a power amp for the front pair, one for the rear pair and one biamping the centre. The centre is easily the strongest channel and that is with an amp to speaker ratio of 4:1! that doesnt even include processing! So hopefully its obvious that i believe what im saying here!

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Nobber22

Novice Member
Originally posted by buns
Nobber..... im actually talking about both stereo and AV. Believe it or not, i do as i preach for both.

No worries Buns. I understood your post and agreed with you too. I was just having a little poke at Dunkyboy about how harsh/bright some (most?) active speakers can be with music in stereo and since I believe (?) you spent a lot of time sourcing special amps overseas.......:)
 

lovegroova

Well-known Member
Here's my experience: I used to run B&WCDM2SEs which originally went with my Denon PMA350 and then a Denon AVR3300 and finally the Denon with a Rotel RMB1095. I then wanted to improve things further so tried Nautilus 805s and 805 Signatures. The Signatures are much better than the 805s so that is what I ended up with.

The Rotel (now in conjunction with a TAG AV32R) drives the Sigs perfectly well, especially at the levels I listen at. It has bags of power and is slightly rolled off at the higher freqencies (see the reviews on the Rotel website). My system sounds fantastic.

To improve things significantly amp-wise, I think I would be looking at spending triple the money per channel the Rotel cost (at least if I bought new). Things like Brystons/Krell etc.

I guess it's a question of when the curve flattens out for each person's budget. At lower budgets, you can get great inmprovements by changing one component (e.g. going from £400 CDM2SEs to £2250 805Sigs). But I bet the difference between my Sigs and a pair of 803s is nowhere near as great.
 

cribeiro

Novice Member
In my opinion, it is just a matter of technology.
Decades ago, reading and amplifying the signal without noise and with a good response was not as simple and cheap as now. Not to say that the analog stuff is always more complicated in the technical sense, so it becomes also more expensive (and, if they are relatively cheap now, is because there is little demand).
But with speakers is another story, because there Physics cannot help so easily. Constraints on materials and size cannot be avoided, and that costs money.
This is why I think that today the speakers are in most cases the limiting factor (apart from power and impedance factors in the amp, which is another story).
As an example, think about a review I read about the Yamaha s-540... They said that one year ago it would be considered high end, and now is budget stuff!
 

buns

Banned
Nobber...... in trying to figure how to get a camera into my ion source..... my heads not with it! :D

lovegroova...... i would agree that you would need away up in cost to see significant improvements, triple or more isnt unbelievable. But the fact remains that there are significant improvements to be had (by your own words), so you arent getting nearly the best from them. Im not going to say any more though because they are great speakers and i dont want to put you down. I am being more specific to lower end, i.e. integrated amps or lower power amps.

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B

bobbypunk

Guest
I like the sound of my speakers better than alot of the much more expensive ones i've heard they are first range missions from a couple or so years back, at some point i'm looking at upgrading my seperates but there is no way i would change the speakers. I think it's the style of the sound people like not necescerily the pure quality. I thought thats why (Certainly with stereo) You should ALWAYS demo speakers as they are very much a matter of personal taste!
 

buns

Banned
Originally posted by bobbypunk
I think it's the style of the sound people like not necescerily the pure quality.

spot on. In some senses it would be wise to listen to a low end speaker from a manufacturer if they are known to have their own distinctive sound before you listen to more expensive ones

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franc

Novice Member
Its a good point that Buns makes here. Some listeners may interprit a different speaker 'sound' as being 'better' as opposed to being 'different'.

What is 'better'?

Some of you will no doubt say a 'neutrel' speaker akin to a monitor that does not lend its own character to the source. But I have seen more than one listener to audition such speakers and to find them 'forward' or 'bright'.

mmmmmm.....Interesting......
 

lovegroova

Well-known Member
Originally posted by buns

lovegroova...... i would agree that you would need away up in cost to see significant improvements, triple or more isnt unbelievable. But the fact remains that there are significant improvements to be had (by your own words), so you arent getting nearly the best from them. Im not going to say any more though because they are great speakers and i dont want to put you down. I am being more specific to lower end, i.e. integrated amps or lower power amps.

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Thanks for not putting me down :smashin: I wish I had the necessary £6k+ (++++!!) to improve the amplification all round. however, I am considering just a stereo jobbie for the front 2 and then bi-amping the HTM2 with the Rotel. Sold sound even more super duper than it does already.

I would argue however, that the speakers have a much larger bearing on the overall sound of a system than the amplifier. It may however not be an improvement, rather revealing the flaws further up the chain.

But then it really is a matter of budgetting for most of us. We can't improve all the components in our system in one go. It's usually 'one at a time'.

When I bought the Rotel, it was an improvement to my AVR3300 and the most expensive component in my system along with my Sony 28" widescreen. Then, a year or two later I bought the AV32R. Later I bought the Sigs and HTM2 moving the CDM2SEs to rear duties, then I added my Densen CD, and recently bought a DVD32R (2nd hand) and Panny 6 plasma. So now, it's time to upgrade the amplification once again (and perhaps the AV32 to DP).

I have been spiralling upwards which is, I think, a good way to do things. What is bad is buying one super expensive component and having the rest as poor quality. It amazes me, for example, that many people with plasma screens on these forums use £100 DVD players and surround systems costing £300 with them. But then I have been more sound than vision based, although that has changed a little with the plasma and DVD32 (with PSM).

I guess that buyng an expensive set of speakers and then using it with a low budget AV amp is a bit silly, especially if all you do is replace the AV amp with 'this years' model all the time.
 

buns

Banned
ah with a bit of care you can get alot of amp for not alot of money..... ;)

speakers do have the biggest impact, no doubt, but its important to get the best out of them by treating them well, most people never get what they should before they get tempted by something else!

sounds like you hav a nice setup! but id favour more power amps more than the DP upgrade ;)

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Adrenochrome

Well-known Member
So Buns what would you suggest i team up to my mrrp £465 yamaha rxv630?

atm i have tannoy mx3-m floorstanders
tannoy mxc-m centre
tannoy mx2-m rears

Adrenochrome.
 

lovegroova

Well-known Member
Originally posted by buns
ah with a bit of care you can get alot of amp for not alot of money..... ;)

sounds like you hav a nice setup! but id favour more power amps more than the DP upgrade ;)

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Well, I've been looking a little. And power amps are certainly ahead of the DP, simply because CD reproduction is via the bypass (gotta love the Densen DACs). And a stereo (or double mono) power amp will help this the most.
 

buns

Banned
Originally posted by adrenochrome
So Buns what would you suggest i team up to my mrrp £465 yamaha rxv630?

atm i have tannoy mx3-m floorstanders
tannoy mxc-m centre
tannoy mx2-m rears

Adrenochrome.

i wouldnt give specific suggestions since i dont really know this area. Id honestly doubt there is much point changing the speakers unless you dislike them. I feel you are unlikely to see improvement even with a large expenditure. If you dont like the sound, id try a similar level package from another manufacturer.

But, were you to go on the bargain hunt, chances are you could get an A series setup (similar to mine) for under £800 2nd hand. Its a bargain. should you try it? NOOOO!!! You'd learn quickly to hate me!

are you definitely wanting to spend? Have you subs and everything else in your system balanced as well as your amp and speakers?

lovegroova,
if you are so inclined, have a bit of a wider look about. Look on tnt audio for their amp reviews and that will point you towards some obscurer brands. Some are a bit odd but some are quality, if you are lucky you will find something good at an incredible price (like i did ;))...... oh and i like dual mono amps.... thats what mine are :D

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lowrider

Standard Member
You are forgetting something even more important, speaker placement and rooms... :smoke:

I am sick of visiting friends with good to very good setups, stereo and AV, to find their speakers improperly placed, and a lousy sound that I wouldnt trade for my Tivoli radio... :nono:

The last one has cables that you wouldnt believe, names I only read on the Audio Asylum, even the ICs are thicker than my PCs... :eek:

Moving the speakers closer and pointing them forward, completely changed it, from muffled mids, one note bass, sound from the speakers, all wrong, to very nice bass, clean and dynamic mids, deep and focused stage, reasonable highs... :clap:

As for DP or new powers, its a tough call, the imporovement is so large, I couldnt listen to the old one after I took the new one for a ride home, and that before I used TMREQ, but EQ you might not need that much, so if your power handles the Sigs reasonably, I would go for the DP, in my case, the RB991 couldnt handle my new speakers, so it had to go first... :rolleyes:
 

micb3rd

Novice Member
I recently discovered that power is more important than I realised.

I have set of Mision M73 Floorstanders.

I have seen people pair these with cheap AV recievers thus wowfully underpowering them and then they complane that the bass is not so good and the trebble is really harsh.

Ised used to run them of a Denon AVR 1802 and you easly find the amplfiers limits with listening to demanding music.

Well I now run them with a classic Rotel RB960BX stereo power amplifier and the M73 really sing now, the difference is like night and day.

I have a feeling that many people pair spekers with low to mid level AV recievers that don't really have the grunt to power the speaker to decent SPL levels.

If Mission M73's can benifit hugly from extra power I would assume a lot of the peoples higher end speakers on this this forum would benifit form more decent power.
 

Stereo Steve

Novice Member
I remember posting on here when I got my Ruark Prelude R floorstanders as I felt they were no where near as good as my existing Epilogue standmounts yet they had sounded great in the shop. I only recently realised that this was down to my amp not driving them properly. Getting some half decent Rotel amplification has brought them out of themselves and I wouldn't swap them for anything now.

So, yes, you do need good amplification. However, upgrading from a £150 standmount to a £500 one should yeild sinificant improvements.
 

buns

Banned
Originally posted by Stereo Steve
So, yes, you do need good amplification. However, upgrading from a £150 standmount to a £500 one should yeild sinificant improvements.

with a flagship amp...... possibly a £1000 amp..... but its very possible that they would sound worse on the end of a £300 - £500 amp......

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lovegroova

Well-known Member
Originally posted by lowrider
You are forgetting something even more important, speaker placement and rooms... :smoke:

I am sick of visiting friends with good to very good setups, stereo and AV, to find their speakers improperly placed, and a lousy sound that I wouldnt trade for my Tivoli radio... :nono:

The last one has cables that you wouldnt believe, names I only read on the Audio Asylum, even the ICs are thicker than my PCs... :eek:

Moving the speakers closer and pointing them forward, completely changed it, from muffled mids, one note bass, sound from the speakers, all wrong, to very nice bass, clean and dynamic mids, deep and focused stage, reasonable highs... :clap:

As for DP or new powers, its a tough call, the imporovement is so large, I couldnt listen to the old one after I took the new one for a ride home, and that before I used TMREQ, but EQ you might not need that much, so if your power handles the Sigs reasonably, I would go for the DP, in my case, the RB991 couldnt handle my new speakers, so it had to go first... :rolleyes:

Thinking about all this, I am actually more than happy with the sound of my system, as I've said above, it sounds fantastic, and sadly TMREQ would be of no use when using the bypass. I am somewhat limited as to where my speakers can be placed as the room isn't that large but it all works very well indeed (just lucky I guess).

I think I might save the money on amplification and put it towards upgrading my Honda Civic to an S2000. 9,000rpm sounds better than most systems!!:devil: :smoke: :cool:
 

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