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HiFi Power Amps in AV

Discussion in 'AV Pre-Amp/Processors & Power Amps' started by General Skanky, Jul 21, 2001.

  1. General Skanky

    General Skanky
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    I've just been trawling some old topics like BadAss's 'Channel Too Far' etc and re-read all the Rotel etc stuff.
    It occurs to me that very few of us if any! actually use HiFi power amps in our setups.
    In theory they are the ideal thing.
    As DD/DTS use stereo front and back and centre speakers are bi-wireable, surely they fit the profile perfectly. After all they have been optimised for stereo.
    So coupled with a good proc. an AV rig would really rock.

    For example, I use a Densen integrated for my HiFi. They make power amps that have been reviewed and well received. So why not employ amps like that to do the job? The same applies to other manufacturers across the board.
    Anyone use, let's say NAD, Roksan, Naim or whatever in their set up?

    I do ponder too deeply at times. :)
     
  2. Reiner

    Reiner
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    No expert on this but IMHO most multi-channel power amps are more or less hifi-amps, especially those made by traditional hifi manufactures.
    Then again others use monoblocks which were made for hifi or 2-channel power amps intended for the same purpose (see e.g. Denon's add-on for the AVR-3801, the POA-T10).

    Some are actually THX certified but I guess that's just an 'added bonus' as the amp would fullfil the specs easily.

    Sure, some may have been designed specifically for AV use but I think there aren't that many or it's just a question of the number of channels available if you call it a hifi or AV amp [see e.g. Arcam 10P(3)].

    [ 22-07-2001: Message edited by: Reiner ]
     
  3. General Skanky

    General Skanky
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    I agree.
    I was just wondering out loud to see if any non run of the mill stuff was in use. Something like valve amps maybe. I don't know.
    Is there anybody out there that is Mr. Stereo? when it comes to amplification.
     
  4. GaryG

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    Does a pair of Krell monoblocs and 5 JLH (John Lindsey-Hood) monoblocs count as non run of the mill?
     
  5. Nic Rhodes

    Nic Rhodes
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    General.

    I retired my old set up at the end of last year. It was valve all the way. DD / DTS all valve. A mixture of SE and PP. It was exception for the price and destroyed many / all similar setups. People didn't get tired listenung to it, even hours on end.

    My new Tag gear betters it significantly but I still use Parallel 300b SE for L and R duties (16w with a following wind). The Tag 5 channel amp does the rest (120w!). I did look at some exotic amps for surround duties but felt this was the best compromise before I ran out of money. I was close to buying four Audio Synthesis poweramps for the 8 channels but that was £10k. I soon woke up.
    :D
     
  6. General Skanky

    General Skanky
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    Gary,

    Krell and JLH. HiFi first I believe. Just what I wanted to know.
    How would you rate the HiFi stuff as AV gear?
    I can already imagine your answer though. :D

    Nic,

    Another man that trusts his own ears. Certainly different. The old valve amps went because 1. Better sound from Tag? 2. You couldn't replace the old valves? 3. Just wanted to turn the heating down in your room? :D

    [ 22-07-2001: Message edited by: General Skanky ]

    [ 22-07-2001: Message edited by: General Skanky ]
     
  7. General Skanky

    General Skanky
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    Do either of you have Gallery entries?
    I personally would love a snout at what you've got. :D
     
  8. Nic Rhodes

    Nic Rhodes
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    Tag amp is an exceptional performer. The valves were no slouches but ..., well I fancied a change and the Tag gear is so damn good. Perhaps space was an issue (according to my wife). Initially it was to be the Av32r only but the project soon grew to inc 5 channel Tag power amp and DVD32R! This has lead to the new KEFs (great by the way), a pair of new subs, a HTPC and projector imminent...

    Re the old valves. This is a hobby of mine and I have over 4000 NOS audio valves (not general valves, but one used in the audio field). If anyone needs Valve data, valve advice, I am your man. Valve replacement is therefore not an issue. Actually they are looking like a good investment...

    Heating not an issue, I live in cold wet Cumbria, we always need heat!

    If you are interest in a kit list, I will put something together and post later today.

    [ 22-07-2001: Message edited by: Nic Rhodes ]
     
  9. GaryG

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    General

    It's difficult to convey how it sounds for AV. I basically found a Hi-Fi sound that really suited me and the natural progression was to upgrade the various bits of AV gear in line with the Hi-Fi. I had to draw the line on amplification, Krell are a fabulous amplifier but have 3 drawbacks: Cost, Size and they get VERY hot. Even though I have vents in my room the heat from the projector and the Krell's means that watching one film is the limit, the room it too uncomfortable after that, so it was impractical to use Krells for all the channels. The JLH amps run much cooler and get within a nats whatsit of the Krells on sound quality. In fact I'm still grinning with the JLH as they were a recent purchase, I previously had Audiolab monoblocs which were competent but not in the same league as Krell/JLH.

    I'm also a big KEF fan. The Uni-Q concept when done right (the 'Reference' models) is fantastic, a point that I had taken for granted without realising it until I auditioned a potential replacement and was made aware of how narrow the 'sweet spot' is with conventional speakers. My never ending quest for fidelity is now being fueled by trying to get the 'best' out of the Uni-Q by upgrading the components in the KEF cross-over network, something to while away the hours.
     
  10. Charlie Whitehouse

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    Gary,

    Just being nosey, but which model are those Krell monoblocks? Have to agree about the heat! :eek:

    Cheers,
    C.
     
  11. GaryG

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    Charlie

    MDA 300, alas no longer a current model.
     
  12. Charlie Whitehouse

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    Gary,

    Hmmm, the monoblock version of the old KSA150, eh? I wouldn't worry about them not being current models, they're pretty bombproof and will likely see most of us out! 300wpc into 8 ohms, pure Class A, and all that that entails! Nice! Pity you cant run them on Economy 7, 'cos your electricity bills must be terrifying! ;)

    Cheers,
    C.
     
  13. GaryG

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    Charlie

    Very knowledgeable, a fellow Krell owner me thinks!!!
     
  14. General Skanky

    General Skanky
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    The Krell 'heat' thing explains why I once saw a HiFi rig in a mag with the power amp in another room!
    At that point of expertise, I'd expect the chosen sound from an amp like that to be based purely on taste rather than quality.
    They are built to the best standards and it must be sheer hell deciding which amps etc to pick/buy. :D
     
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    Nic

    I was wondering if you could advise me on valve amp kits. I've been looking at the World Audio Design 300b Parallel SE monoblocks (primarily for Hi-fi use to drive Quad ESL-989's). Would this be an appropriate choice for the Quads and would they be suitable for HT as well as hi-fi duties or are there other kits I should consider?

    thanks in advance

    Reg

    [ 23-07-2001: Message edited by: ANOpax ]
     
  16. Nic Rhodes

    Nic Rhodes
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    Reg

    I have no experrience of the new Quads but I have been a life long fan of the original ELS.

    They never really need silly power levels and more important the impedence is never fell to silly low levels. What you need to find out is whether the new Quad have wild swing in impedence. If so the SE (with its low damping) will be a poor match. What you are after is a constant impedence (4 or 8). This can then be matched with the relevant transformer tap on the valve amp. 20w should be fine for all but head banger status.

    The SE 300B cicuit looks a decent one, though I would upgrade a few key components. I would avoid Sovtek 300Bs and go for JJ. Much better.

    I will try and check drive ability in a review and report back for interest. I think it might work well.

    General

    Audio Synthesis Transcend CD Transport
    Audio Synthesis Dax Decade DAC
    Tekni Fi Zikkra 600SE
    Nakamichi Dragon
    Nakamichi BX300
    Nottingham Analogue Mentor, Mentor Arm, Tracer IV cartridge, TT PSU
    modded croft pre
    Audio Synthesis Passion V passive pre
    Tag M AV32
    Tag M DVD32R
    Tag M 100x5R
    NEC 9PG or 10PG projector (expected soon)
    Custom HTPC inc HD recorder
    Scaler expected soon (to be decided on)
    Toshiba 36 inch picture frame TV
    JVC HR-S6722 SVHS
    Posselt Albatross front speakers
    KEF 200C center
    2 pairs KEF TDM34DS rears
    Kef Q15 (soon to be Ref modded)
    REL Storm sub
    two Paradigm Servo 15 subs
    Marantz Pronto remote
    Angel remote
    "in house" interconnects and commercial (inc carbon , silver, you name it I've tried it).
    Croft modded Leak Stereo 20
    Hifi world 5881
    Border pratrol 6B4G prototype
    My own custom valve amp designs
    Arcam 500 DAC
    Marantz CD94 (Tricord clocked)
    Monacrchy re clocker
    Spendor BC1
    two Leak Troughline Stereo tuner.
    Musical Fidelity X10D
    Marantz tranformer

    etc etc etc an assortment of other stuff, Mission and Thorens TTs...

    I want some LS3/5A, Quad 11, and Quad ELS but I am broke.

    [ 26-07-2001: Message edited by: Nic Rhodes ]
     
  17. GaryG

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    Nic

    Interesting! I also have the Dax Decade, driven by a Meridian 602 transport with clock circuitry modified by Audio Synthesis. Are you using the N-Code option? I'm wondering whether it's worth adding to my 602. Also, how does the TAG compare to the Transcend for CD duties?
     
  18. General Skanky

    General Skanky
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    Nic,

    wow!

    I'd bet you read HiFi World. :)
    That is devotion.
     
  19. Nic Rhodes

    Nic Rhodes
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    GaryG

    I think I am using C code which is better again but I will have to check. It is one of those things you set right at the beginning and forget. From memory C code is better than N code which is better than SPDIF (Yuk!).

    Both the N and C codes are much better than SPDIF. In my view it is worth doing. My Transcend transport allow you to flick between all three easily. If you are ever in Cumbria, you are welcome to listen.

    Re the Tag DVD playing CDs. I can honestLy say I have only come across two players I think better it. The Linn CD12 and the Audio Synthesis COMBO. On the same level as the Tag is a BAT player and the Marantz CD7. Everything else is well behind in my estimation and I have listened to many. Wadia wasn't bad but the long term viability was is doubt at one stage so I steered away from Wadia.

    The Audio Synthesis Transcend CD transport is a revelation. I thought the DAX DAC would be the quality determining component and I originally planned to use my clocked CD94 as source. In reality the Transcend make the biggest difference to sound quality. This I was not expecting but when I talked to the designer, he confirms this and is obviously proud of their transport.

    [ 27-07-2001: Message edited by: Nic Rhodes ]
     
  20. GaryG

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    Nic

    Looks like we've got a lot in common! We'll have to try and get together at some point, I'd really like to do an A/B with your Transcend and my 602 to compare the improvement of N-Code. While we're talking about Audio Synthesis perhaps we could talk David into coming out with a DD/DTS DAX, now that would be interesting.
     
  21. Nic Rhodes

    Nic Rhodes
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    Tried this with David already, he doesn't seem to be interested in multi channel. He did let slip once he might do a multi channel amp however. Never seen one though. I did consider 4 Daxs driven from Meridian digital processor but unfortunately Meridian don't use SPDIF for the digital transmission standard for their digital speakers. Wacky idea but so was a valve driven DD/ DTS system. Everyone loved that.

    I often pass on the M6 I'il drop you a line next time I have a spare evening to see what we can organise.

    KEF mod put on hold for a month, found a flat black speaker to go with the black HTPC with black LCD display. Have you tried paper in oil and Solens for the caps in the crossovers? I've had good results from both.

    Looks like I might upgrade the projector even before I've bought it. Ouch. :D

    This is an expensive hobby. ;)

    [ 27-07-2001: Message edited by: Nic Rhodes ]
     
  22. Nic Rhodes

    Nic Rhodes
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    I knew I would get it the wrong way around N code is better than C code. Doooh :eek:

    Ran a quick test and all I will say is get N code now!
     
  23. Nic Rhodes

    Nic Rhodes
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    Actually I am not a great fan of magazines and prefer to use my own knowledge but Yes I do read them. I travel allot for my company and I generally read them when I travel.

    I have always taken a quality approach to what I do. It means that I don't change kit very often despite what people think. My last CD player (still being used by me) was bought 13 years ago. I try to get it right first time. It means lots of research but thats the fun bit, isn't it. :)
     
  24. GaryG

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    Nic

    This is getting unnerving! I had also considered multiple DAX dacs but my Lex DC1 doesn't have digital outputs. I had considered looking around to get it custom modified but decided to sit it out and see what developed in the HTPC market. I have an Audiophile 24/96 sound card which is getting good press on the AVS site, they have a multi-channel version of this card available at a ridiculously low price in comparison to the Hi-Fi market, so it's just a question of somebody coming up with a software DD/DTS decoder, surely that can't be far off.

    As a side note, I really must get around to doing an A/B of the 602/DAX against the HTPC with 24/96 sound card, up to now I've dared not risk it in case I damage my speakers, I've already blown the tweeters 4 times due to an intermittent fault on the DAX, the last time it happened I threw the towel in and sent the DAX back to Audio Synthesis for repair. However, the scenario hasn't changed, my amps output enough power to blow the speakers, even though they're rated at 400w, so I'm wary of plugging a sound card directly into a power amp, not only am I worried about the speakers, I'm worried about my hearing, the last time the DAX did it's 'phaser on overload' trick I had ear ache for several days and couldn't listen to anything for a week without starting the ear ache off again. I'm tempted to drag my old NAD amp out of the attic and do the test with that, although the overall sound will be seriously compromised hopefully it will be good enough to hear the difference between the two sources.

    I look forward to you passing on the M6! I'll clean up the lenses on the Barco and have a hoover round, you may also be interested in the other projects I've got on the go at the moment with 4 Adire Audio 15" Tempest subwoofer drivers, 2 RCM 200w remote control subwoofer amps and a BK Electonics 500w subwoofer amp, oh, and there's 2 ACI 12" SV12 subwoofer drivers kicking around just for good measure!


    Nearly forgot, I haven't tried the capacitors you suggested are they available in a value of 8uf? If so I'd appreciate the supplier's details. I'm still on my second capacitor at the moment (Hovland Musicap), I haven't had much time to listen to crossovers lately, I've got some Black Gate electrolytics to try next, I know electrolytics aren't the best but that's what's in the original crossover and I like the sound of that, the expensive polpropylene ones I've tried are too smooth, they roll off the high frequency just a little which I find annoying, I guess I like a bright sound.

    [ 28-07-2001: Message edited by: GaryG ]
     
  25. General Skanky

    General Skanky
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    I think you'd both be interested in this link sent to me by Ramius who's away at the moment.
    A different opinion on some things that you may find controversial!
    Go to http://sound.westhost.com/articles.htm
    and enjoy. :)
     
  26. GaryG

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    General

    Thanks for the link. I've not come across this one before, very interesting reading. In fact it reinforced my own design choice to go for an 'active' solution for the speakers I'm working on to replace my KEF Reference 4's. Now I'm debating whether to ditch the 'passive' mid/hi cross-over as a result of reading this, it's early days yet though, I may come across a capacitor I like the sound of (electrolytic) but without the drawbacks, in which case all the R&D work I'm doing will be worthwhile. Just getting a bit dispondent at the moment from trying expensive capacitors and getting a 'different' sound as opposed to an 'improved' sound. Should have realised it wasn't going to be easy, I auditioned something like eight pairs of speakers before I settled on the KEF's. Maybe I should just start saving and buy Meridian's top of the range 'active' system, I heard it at the Bristol show when it was released and wow was that something else, trouble is I will be well past pensionable age by then and my hearing probably will be too shot to enjoy it!
     
  27. General Skanky

    General Skanky
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    The Agony and The Ecstacy! :)
     
  28. Guest

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    Nic

    Thanks for your reply on the WAD 300B PSE design. I've found an impedance chart and commentary on the 989s. Although quoted at 8 ohms nominal, they will drop to 4 ohms between 10hz and 20khz. The reviewer seemed to think this was ok. From what I can gather, the original ESL-57 had a sinuous impedance curve too which resulted in more than a few transistor amps going up in smoke. Do PP valve designs have better damping than SE designs and would they therefore be a better match for the Quads?

    You've got a great set-up - I'm not surprised you're broke! I'm trying to persue a major upgrade step from my mid-fi 80's system. Rather than undertake a myriad up small incremental upgrades, the Quads should hopefully be the last pair of speakers I'll ever need which will leave more time to get on with enjoying the music/cinema instead of obsessing about the next upgrade...

    reg
     

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