Integrated Amp Recommendations with £1000 Budget

Discussion in 'Hi-Fi Stereo Systems & Separates' started by Killak, Oct 10, 2018.

  1. Killak

    Killak
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    Hello all!

    I recently brought a pair of B&W CM10 S2 speakers and now looking for an integrated amp.

    Its my first purchase of a 2 channel amp and getting a bit confused.

    My requirements are:
    - 200w - 300w
    - have a HT pass through
    - have a decent phono stage (not deal breaker)
    - Be under £1000ish

    Now, from my research, that last requirement I know limits my options by quite a bit, and I'll probably have to go down the used route.

    My current set up is this
    - 7.1.4 Speaker setup with CM10s2 fronts. The other speakers are smaller. BK XXL400 sub

    - Arcam AVR390 reciever
    - Arcam P7 Power Amp

    - Pro-Ject Debut Carbon Turntable
    - Pro-Ject Phonobox (link here)

    - Other sources include Blu Ray player, Tidal HiFi, Sky, PS4

    If I can get a amp which includes Tidal integration, then that would be a bonus!

    Is this possible? Is there a selection of amps which meet my requirements?

    Any advice would be greatly appreciated!
     
  2. Danhifi

    Danhifi
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    That is a s#&t load of watts! Are you planning on listening to your music in your listening room or from the moon? What makes you think you need that many watts? The CM10 S2 are rated at 90dB spl (2.83V, 1m), which means that they are efficient speakers. I doubt you will find those watt specs on any integrated amp.

    That being said...perhaps check out the NAD C368 with the BluOS Module. If checks off some of your requirements.

    NAD C 368 Integrated Amplifier Pre-installed MDC DD-BluOS Module
     
    Last edited: Oct 10, 2018
  3. Killak

    Killak
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    Really? I saw the spec on the CM10s as rated between 30w - 300w. My current P7 amp is rated 150w x7 channels.

    I've been listening to music on them and I find the bass a bit lacking. From doing some research I saw that these were pretty power hungry speakers. So I thought, since I want to increase my music listening on them, that I would focus on getting a dedicated more powerful amp next and that should sort out the bass (as well maybe getting a better phono stage and Tidal integration as a bonus!).

    But the speakers are loud enough in truth, just not at the lower end. I also have the CM6 s2 and they seem similar if not just a tad below the CM10s is the bass department so I assumed that these just needed more power to get the most out of them.

    The other thing maybe, that as these are new, they may just need breaking in a bit...

    but who can wait for that when you've got your head set on a new amp eh? :D
     
  4. Danhifi

    Danhifi
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    I understand...I just bought a pair of B&W CM1 S2 and they are being stored in the UK until I can get them in August. I am also looking for an amp...most likely Rotel, which again I won't be able to see or hear until August! Perhaps giving them some time to break in may solve the "issue". Great looking speakers!
     
  5. dollag

    dollag
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    I just sold my creek evolution integrated (£899) as my arcam 390 sounded better, albeit this is largely due to dirac. for that budget, I do not think you will better the avr's stereo capability and plus you will also lose dirac.

    Just my 2 pence as ive just gone through a very similar process as you are and here is a recent thread i put together. Just upgraded to an arcam from a marantz

    Personally, you'd need to spend a bit more to better your arcam and whilst some may disagree, dirac has been more important that any amplifier I have purchased and I've been through a few. Depending on your room, your better off buying additional power amplification. I am using nord one up mono block power amplifiers for my LCR and the arcam's internal for surround and atmos. Like your b&W's, my kefs impedence drops low to 3ohms and they get power hungry so feeding them 400w each.
     
  6. ashenfie

    ashenfie
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    You are looking at loads of power. A decent 2 channel amp of around 80w would be more the able. It would have loads of reserve unlike many avr’s and for sure real low down bass grunt.
    The arcam 390 is a good avr though even though the least powerful of the range.
    I have a Musical Fidelity M3si with my arcam 550 and for sure no lack of bass.

    I run from a pc to the mf via it’s usb dac. Works very nicely . great depth and scale. I think with a arcam 860 I could get the same results if not better.

    I would expect your cm10’s to sing and thu Like my kef’s the crossover may present a complex load at lower frequencies, this should not be an issue for amps like

    Musical Fidelity M3si
    Rega Exel r

    The m3si has a pass thu while you have to go over the 1000k limit to get hype passthu with Rega.

    Other brands available of course. But the ht bypass is not that common in the price range.
     
  7. Russ_64

    Russ_64
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    Checkout the Musical Fidelity M3si at just over 1k. Not sure if it has enough power but these are great amps, I am very happy with my M3i as I don’t need phono.

    Musical Fidelity M3si Integrated Amplifier
     
  8. AndyRg4

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    One thing to make sure is that the front speakers are set to large on the Arcam AVR390. I have the AVR550 running the 702s in a surround set up in my store. Using Dirac, it set all speakers to small, so this would result in the bass lacking).
    Your P7 bpower amp has sufficient power and you would be looking at nearer the £3000 to get a stereo amp of high and reliable power that will sound better than the Arcam.

    Another thing to consider is using the high level input on your BK sub (or ideally invest the money in a REL, something like the T9i) to use purely for music. This connects to the speaker posts on the the amplifier and feeds a full range signal to the subwoofer, which then filters out the higher level frequencies to give better bass with 2 channel music. I use this configuration at home and where I was looking at replacing the speakers due to a lack of bass, I am no keeping them for sure as the REL sub has transformed them.

    Contradictory to what you would think, adding a subwoofer on the high level input actually improves the sound across the whole frequency range and makes the soundstage more expansive
     
  9. Rambles

    Rambles
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    I tend to agree with what has already been said. I recently swapped in my Denon 4400 + Musical Fidelity M3i for an Arcam AVR550.

    I don't think a £1000 integrated amplifier will improve the stereo music performance, over what the Arcam 390 + P7 power amplifier can already manage. Do you have the front mains, going through the P7?

    What you could try is the beta version of Dirac V2, I am finding that I am getting better results with that over the V1 Arcam version.
     
  10. gibbsy

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    The cheapest Rega amp to have HT by-pass is the superb Elicit R (£1679). The Rega will give 105 watts into the 8 ohms of the CM10s. I was very impressed with how tight and controlled the bass is on the Rega. I'm not a fan of heavy bass and prefer to hear the notes than feel them and the Rega excels at this.

    HT by-pass is extremely easy to set up and use and to integrate it into the surround sound system just takes a press of a button the Rega's remote.
     
  11. BlueWizard

    BlueWizard
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    First what do you mean by 2-Channel Amp? I assumed that meant an Integrated Amp, but it is not clear how you will use the amp or what you specifically need.

    - 200w to 300w/ch
    - That's not happening for your budget, at least not in an integrated amp. The best you can do is something in the vicinity of 100w/ch.

    - Have Home Theater pass through - Why? The only reason you would need that is if you are placing the 2-channel amp in series with the AVR. That is, the 2-channel becomes a substitute for the AVR 2 front channels. And if you are going to do that, then why not just get a good Power Amp and use the AVR Front End as a Pre-Amp?

    - Have a decent Phono Stage - Again, how do you envision this Amp being used in your system?

    Generally speaking there are two ways to integrate a Stereo Amp into a AV system.

    One is PARALLEL, that is, the Stereo Amp is completely independent of the AVR system with the exception that they share the front speakers through a routing switch.

    The other is SERIES where the Stereo Amp is connected to the Front Channel Pre-Outs on the AVR and is always in the system. But while it certainly can be done, it is a bit odd to place the amp this way, and still use it as a Stereo Music System. In Series, you might just as well add a Power Amp and use the Front End of the AVR.

    A good Phono Stage built in or separate is not going to be a problem. But we need to more clearly understand what and how the new components will be used in the overall system.

    - Be under £1000 - Again, not very realistic. There are solutions under £1000, but not as your describe them.

    The Arcam AVR-390 is a pretty decent £2000 AVR, I would imagine it would do a very very good job at playing Stereo Music. So, I'm not sure what you gain in adding a Stereo Amp. If you must use the DIRECT Mode on the Arcam to bypass all digital processing.

    There are two better models of Arcam AVRs -

    https://www.hifix.co.uk/home-cinema/home-cinema-separates/home-cinema-amplifiers/l/arcam

    Or you could consider switching to ANTHEM -

    https://www.hifix.co.uk/home-cinema/home-cinema-separates/home-cinema-amplifiers/l/anthem

    Now there are people who integrate a Stereo system into an AVR system, but they typically do not have AVR's as good as yours. Though this is not absolute, when AVRs pass £1500 and start heading toward and exceeding £2000, ARVs become very good for Stereo Music. So, I'm not sure what you can buy for $1000 that would equal or exceed what you already have.

    As describe above, there are two options - Series and Parallel - though there is also an alternative Series option that is workable but opens the door to being more error prone.

    What is it that your current system is not doing that you feel you need to improve on?

    This Power Amplifier could be added, as specs I found indicate that the Arcam 390 is rated at 80w/ch. -

    Rotel RB-1582 MK-II Power Amp, Class-A/B, 200w/ch - £1200 (from this source) -


    https://www.hifix.co.uk/hi-fi/hi-fi...o-power-amps/rotel-rb1582-power-amplifier-mk2

    https://www.hifix.co.uk/hi-fi/hi-fi-separates/stereo-mono-power-amps/l/rotel

    This would require the existing amp to have Front Pre-Out which I think it does.

    At the Second link just above you can see other Rotel Class-AB Power Amps. The RB-1552 is 130w/ch and priced at £750. Even that is potentially a workable option.

    Again it is not clear where and how you will integrate this Amp into the system, and it is not clear what type of amp you are looking for. Perhaps a few more details would be helpful.

    Steve/bluewizard
     
    Last edited: Oct 10, 2018
  12. 3rdignis

    3rdignis
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    It seems you already have a good power amp. (Arcam p7).
    You could run an optical cable from tv or tidal hifi, through chord mojo stereo dac/preamp to bi-amp stereo speakers. (Some cable swapping will be needed initially).
    Used mojo £280 will only accept stereo signal so any surround sound must be downconverted.
    Analogue room correction could be added to bass stereo phonos / or digital correction on optical.
    This would be digital front end only for stereo.
     
  13. BlueWizard

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    Ahhhh... I missed the Arcam P7 Power Amp. At 150w/ch in an brand that is certainly considered above average, I'm not sure what the OP hopes to gain by adding a Stereo Amp?

    https://www.hifix.co.uk/arcam-fmj-p7-multi-channel-power-amp

    I think if he wants to bypass the Digital Processing of Analog signals, simply see if the amp as a Direct Mode. If it does, the Arcam should be a more than sufficient pre-amp, and the power amps are more than sufficient for the MA-CM10-S2 speakers.

    I just don't see much gain in adding a stereo amp to what is already an enviable system.

    Now if he wants to start building a separate Stereo System in another location, then perhaps there are some options. But I'm not sure what can be added to the current system to improve it.

    Keep in mind I'm a very strong advocate of Stereo Amps in general, but I just don't see what it brings to this particular system.

    Steve/bluewizard
     
    Last edited: Oct 10, 2018
  14. Rambles

    Rambles
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    There *might* be some benefit in adding a separate stereo integrated amp or pre-amp to the system for music, in order to separate it from the chassis of the AVR, and potentially get a cleaner reproduction of sound.

    However, having recently moved from using a Musical Fidelity m3i for music to using an Arcam 550 for music and movies, I would say that the Arcam is about 90% as good as the m3i when comparing just pure stereo sound for music, but when you add in Dirac, bass management, less boxes, faff, cabling, more features, then the Arcam is better.

    If the OP is not happy with how music sounds currently , I think tweaking Dirac might be worth trying.
     
  15. dollag

    dollag
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    off topic but I take it you got the beta off diracs site??
     
  16. Rambles

    Rambles
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    No, it's via registration only at the moment, but they seem quite quick to include new users to beta test.

    Dirac Live Beta Sign-up
     
  17. Hoku

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    I thought your comments here were interesting and we could be barking up the wrong tree here in giving you advice.

    I don't want to teach you to suck eggs, but many people are surprised when they listen to more powerful high-current amplifiers when they tend to offer LESS bass. What bass there is might be beautifully tight, controlled and not just one note, but LESS all the same.

    If you just want MORE bass then a less powerful integrated with the features you want may be just the ticket, but personally I can't stand overblown bass that swamps the rest of the frequency range when it really shouldn't.

    So it depends what you really mean with your initial comments. Do you want better bass control or just more bass? Or is it actually a more rounded out midrange that you're referring to? In which case some of the comments here about crossovers and speakers set to large or small may be more relevant than spending money.

    Certainly based on the Arcams I've listened to, you shouldn't be lacking much in the musicality department, but set-up is easier to get wrong with an AVR over a straight integrated stereo amp so it's certainly worth experimenting plenty here first before parting with your hard-earned.
     
  18. Paul7777x

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    Still no sign of the stereo version? All of this was also promised in January of this year.

    Big fan of the software... not so much the snails pace and lack of info.
     
  19. RRRuss

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    Nothing amplification wise for £1000 will improve your situation. You have a great power amp.

    Perhaps try a dedicated hifi pre amp like Arcam c31 and see what that does?

    If you find bass ‘lacking’ (I think what you’re hearing is more controlled bass) then I agree with the suggestion for running a Rel T9i in the way described above, wired up for music, or sell the BK and invest in something even better sub wise and run that for music too (like the used JL F113 on here). No way CM10 is lacking in bass.

    How large is the room and where are they placed? I assume the bungs are out?
     
  20. Rambles

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    The problem with that is that it will remove the option of using Dirac, and Dirac is where the bass, or any frequencies can be customised to infinity, to get a sound that is more what the OP is after.

    IMO :)
     
  21. Rambles

    Rambles
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    It does seem odd that they are rolling out the beta software to users of Arcam / Nad / Audio Control / Lexicon devices, but not to the users that use their own software directly.
     
  22. Paul7777x

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    Perhaps it’s the buying power of the AVR manufacturers?

    I’d still have thought MiniDSP sold enough to be included though... perhaps not.
     
  23. mcarpe

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    How about getting a second P7 - they go for under £1k usually. You could daisy chain it from the original p7 and bi-amp all channels.
     
  24. BlueWizard

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    The more I hear and the more I read, the less I think the problem is the Pre/Pro/Pwr. So, let's touch on some issues.

    ROOM EQ -


    Room EQ is not the Hand of God. There are limits to what it can do. Room EQ can make a Good Room better, but it can not make a Bad Room good. If sound is bouncing and reflecting off the bare walls, there is no electronic tweak that can stop that. If there are large Bass Standing Waves in the room, you can tweak the EQ until the cows come home, and those waves are still going to intersect in the same place, and those standing waves are still going to be there.

    BASS -


    You have a BK XXLS-400 Subwoofer, that should not be lacking in bass. Admittedly there are probably better quality Subwoofers out there if you want to pay THREE or FOUR Times the money. But for what they cost, the BK should not be lacking in any way.

    BK Electronics XXLS-400 - 400w, 12" Driver - [email protected] - £450 -


    XXLS400-FF

    XXLS400-DF

    First, do you have the Front Firing Model or the Down Firing Model?

    Keep in mind there are tweaks to the system that could make a difference. Try the Phase Control on the Subwoofer. Try shifting the angle or position of the Subwoofer. I'm am stunned beyond belief that the MA-CM-10-S2 combined with a 12" 400 watt Subwoofer can not provide adequate bass. That tells me that something else is wrong. Either your expectations for bass are completely unrealistic, or you equipment is set up very poorly in a room with poor acoustics.

    What you are claiming is nearly unthinkable, or at least nearly unbelievable.

    ROOM and ROOM ACOUSTICS -


    Again Room EQ is not magic. It can't work miracles. In a quality AVR, it does amazing things, but not on par with the parting of the Red Sea.

    How big is the room that the system is in? Dimensions? And Yes, that very much matters.

    What does the room look like? What kind if furniture? Carpets? Curtains? Large Glass Doors or Windows? Fireplace? And anything else that could potentially effect the sound.

    Would you say the room is softly furnished? Sofas and chairs covered with Fabric? Lots of clutter? Or a bare modern room with hard surfaces like leather furniture? Those are acoustically very different rooms.

    EQUIPMENT and SETTINGS -

    Where are the speakers placed? If the speakers are shoved into a corner or place up against the wall, then it is no wonder it doesn't sound right.

    Is the system set to Large or Small, though this is a very individual thing, it is nearly universally recommended that the system be set to SMALL. That diverts all the Bass to the Sub on the assumption that you let each speaker do what it does best.

    BUT ... that applies to Surround Sound/Movies.

    It is a bit different for listening to Music on an AV system. Most will use the Direct Mode to bypass all the Room EQ and other electronic processing. Others will simply set the system to 2.0 or 2.1 while they are listening to music, then set it back to 5.1, or 7.1, or whatever the default movies setting is when watching movies.

    What you are telling us does not seem consistent with the equipment you listed. I would speculate your Pre/Pro combined with your Power Amps would run about £5000 that makes for a pretty good system. I'm baffled at how this is not meeting your needs. Obviously it seems as if it is not, but I don't personally understand how it is not.

    That makes me think, that the problem is outside the electronics and speaker, and is in Room Acoustic, equipment settings, or in Speaker Placement.

    Certainly you are allowed to want more for Stereo Reproduction, but that is not going to come for an additional £1000, and it is going to best come from a dedicated Stereo System, likely in another room. By all reason and accounts, what you are seeking SHOULD come from the system you have.

    And once again, I remind people that I am a strong advocate for Stereo Systems. It is a rare and cold day when I don't recommend a Stereo, that should imply that, in this case, a stereo anything is not likely the solution to the problem.

    Though admittedly that just my opinion.

    Steve/bluewizard
     
    Last edited: Oct 11, 2018
  25. Killak

    Killak
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    Wow! Thank you all for taking time out to help me out. This is why I love the community on this forum


    I just want to clarify a few points...

    Firstly, let me go though my thought process. I upgraded from CM6 s2. I was actually quite happy with their performance and base, but got a deal on the CM10s I couldn't refuse! I thought I would get similar sound performance but with extended low end meaning I wouldn't need to use my sub woofer for listening to 2 channel audio.

    But the base had almost disappeared when playing 2 channel on the CM10s. Almost felt as if the speakers were set to small in my AVR, but forgot to turn the sub on. But this was not the case, the speakers are set to Large! It not loud booming base I'm missing, I've never had loud base with my CM6s, my family (or neighbours) would never allow it! I can hear some base, but at a very low level. As if the base level has been turned low.

    So after doing some research, I read that these speakers were power hungry...So I thought adding a 2 channel power amp would help. But then I thought, rather then a power amp, I'll see if I could get a integrated amp within my budget and by doing so, I could get a few other benefits such as Tidal integration and a better phono stage. But it now seems that this, even by going to the used market, is out of my budget!

    So this was my thought process...



    But now, from hearing what some of you are saying, it seems my current set up should be good enough to get decent performance out of my CM10s. I shouldn't be lacking the low end.

    So I believe it could be down to 3 things.

    1) As the speakers are brand new, but old stock as now its not the current model, it is possible that these have been in storage for a few years and simply need braking in.

    2) Like @BlueWizard suggested, it something to do with speaker placement and/or room acoustics. To be honest, I have just placed them in a temporary (and probably not ideal) location just so I could hear and play about with them. My current Cm6s are where my new CM10s will eventually end up, I just haven't had the time to move things around yet. Also I haven't run Dirac with my new speakers. I've turned it off as I haven't done any measurements. But I didn't think it would have this much effect. Ps. my room is around 6m by 4m.

    3) My speakers are faulty. Please let it not be this!


    I'll have a chance to really play about with them over the weekend. I should be able to put them in the right place too and let them play for a few hours.

    By doing this, if my problem hasn't been fixed, this should eliminate 1 and 2 above. Which leaves me with faulty speakers unless anyone else has any other suggestions...
     
  26. BlueWizard

    BlueWizard
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    I hate to ask, but did you re-run the Setup Program after you changed the Speakers (Audyssey, or whatever)?

    Because if you didn't, you really should.

    Steve/bluewizard
     
  27. BlueWizard

    BlueWizard
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    I'm going to say the two things that are almost universally said in a circumstance like this -

    1.) Make ABSOLUTELY SURE BEYOND ANY SHADOW OF A DOUBT that the speakers are wired correctly. Amp(RED+) to Speaker(RED+). Nothing will suck the life out of a speaker like one of them being wired backwards.

    2.) Make absolutely sure that the JUMPER BARS are in Place and making Contact. Jumper Bars are not always the most reliable. If the speakers have FOUR terminals on the back of each speakers, then there should be a Jumper Bar bridging between the LF(+) and the HF(+) and the LF(-) and the HF(-). If they are not there or if they are not making contact, you will lose half your speaker.

    3.) Yes, I said there were two, but I'm repeating something I already said with ammendments. Get the speakers in their final working position, and RUN THE SETUP PROGRAM.

    Steve/bluewizard
     
  28. Killak

    Killak
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    I didn't... I just turned everything off. Will do over the weekend though, promise! Still would it make that much of a difference?

    You make a good point regarding the jumper bars, and something I didn't bother checking tbh. Will do in the morning...

    As for the wires, I am 100% sure they are connected correctly + to + and - to -. I think I read you saying that to somebody else so I did double and triple check
     
  29. Killak

    Killak
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    Also just on your earlier point about the subs. I'm testing these speakers without the sub by setting the speakers to large in the AVR. Just playing 2 channel music at the mo. So it should be sending the full signal to the speakers. I used to do this with my CM6 and they sounded just fine
     
  30. Rambles

    Rambles
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    I'd suggest running Dirac, or REW if you use it, just on your front mains to measure what is going on. If the speaker cabling is definitely correct, it does sound like something else is wrong. A sweep would show you what is happening across the different frequency ranges.

    You could also try temporarily removing the speaker jumpers and connecting the speaker inputs to the LF inputs only, to check if the bass drivers are working correctly in the speakers.
     

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