Question Modest up to date AVR and external power-amps?

Discussion in 'AV Receivers & Amplifiers' started by Rich9600, Nov 3, 2017.

  1. Rich9600

    Rich9600
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    Hi folks

    I’ve recently notionally downgraded my AV-R to a more modern device with the present technology set. Damn you HDCP 2! A Marantz SR6009 to a Yamaha RX-V781. This was half the price of the new Marantz SR60##. After discounting, one third the price!

    My front L+R are already amplified through my stereo, so I was thinking towards adding a mono or stereo power-amp to drive my centre, single or bi-amped. My centre is a Monitor Audio Silver (5th generation) and will accept high and low inputs.

    I’m very pleased with the Yamaha, especially for the price. But, kind of feel I could improve my system notably with a dedicated power amp for the centre channel. Especially if I add Atmos height speakers... Presently the AVR is only driving the centre (full range) and rears (small). So, the demands on the power supply aren’t too great. But, if I add front height speakers (likely small), then the load will increase. Like all AVR’s I’ve had, the power available decreases as more channels become used. The power supply is very often less than the sum of the headline channels outputs...

    So, my theory is that if I buy a used power amplifier for say £250 I’ll have a great system, with dedicated amplification for the potentially demanding large front speakers and onboard amplification for the lower worked small speakers. Even a 60wpc into 8ohms stereo would give a real 120w to share between drivers. Greater than the claimed headline 95wpc from my AVR. Stereo amplifiers are more common used.

    My stereo amplification is Linn, so I’m mostly looking at used Linn power amps. Vintage to get to around the £250 mark. The modem switch mode power supply Linn amps come in north of £300 by eBay.

    When I first branched out from an AVR for all to true Stereo (using unity gain for the L+R under AV usage) I noticed and improvement in the centre performance... Though, this was 3 AVRs and one Stereo ago now...

    Taking this route also frees me up less expensive future technology chases. All I need is modest onboard amplification and a full set of pre-outs...

    Has anybody followed a similar route? Or, just has some thoughts or opinions. All advice is greatly welcomed.

    Regards

    Richard
     
  2. Rambles

    Rambles
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    Hi Richard, I have a similar set-up. I use a Marantz SR7011 for a 5.1.2 set-up, with a Musical Fidelity M3i for my front left and rights (Kef Q700) via HT byapss / unity gain, and, as I had it spare, a Behringer A500 in bridged mode on the centre speaker (Kef Q200c).

    The Behringer is a pro audio amp, and I understand that some people are a bit 'sniffy' about having it a home cinema set-up, which I understand. But I have had no problem with mine at all, apart from a ground loop hum when my HTPC is in the chain, but that was easily fixed with a very inexpensive ground loop isolater.

    The Behringer is around £170 new, with 3 year warranty and can output 120 watts in stereo mode into 8 ohms, and a stupidly high 350 watts into 8 ohms in bridged / mono mode, and it is convection cooled, so completely silent and bags of headroom.

    2017-11-03 15.00.50.jpg
     
  3. Leelo55

    Leelo55
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    Hi All this is a very sensible approach I’m using my Yamaha RX V775 along with 5 Arcam Delta 290p amps for 7.1 for the last 12 months. I expect to replace the Yamaha with another one probably an Aventage model for Atmos and 4K sometime in the new year but I suspect the Arcams will be staying put [emoji3]
     
  4. Rich9600

    Rich9600
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    Thanks for your feedback guys.

    My stereo is a Linn Majik DSM and Majik 140’s. So, I’m looking at used Linn power-amps to lift both at once. A Majik 6100/D or a AV5125/D would be my ideal at the moment.

    These would power the front three, leaving the Yamaha free to just drive the small rears and (future) front heights. Also, I’d be able to disable the internal amplifiers in my Majik DSM, apparently giving a sound quality improvement...
     
  5. Khazul

    Khazul
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    I would say before spending extra money on the center channel, do make sure the center speaker itself is not positioned in such a way as to be heavily colored by its surroundings (proximity to resonant wooden AV cabinet).

    In general if there is the usual wooden/mdf AV cabinet anywhere near, then extra outlay probably isn't worth it. Heavy glass ones can be better (or very heavy MDF with a very rigid structure).

    Personally I'm not really convinced of the merits of adding hi-end amps to a mid range AVR for AV purposes because you are still at the mercy of whatever audio processing it has and DACs. I can however fully get with adding a hi-end stereo amp to the fronts to improve music enjoyment while sharing front speakers with AV system especially as high quality music sources may go direct into the amp.

    I have a 781 as well and do like it and probably will eventually get an A-S1100 amp to drive the fronts, but my purpose here is also to give a much better audio path for music devices connected directly to the amp rather than expecting any miracles from the through-AVR audio path. Of course it should drive the speakers much better and so hopefully improve dynamics.

    However once you get into adding amps for the surrounds etc as well, then I wonder if you are simply better off trading the AVR in for a high end AVR which will have a bunch of improved amps (unless your eventual goal is to get a very high end pre-amp only type AVR). For eg, if I really felt the need to improve surround sound and wanted to stay with Yamaha, then it would make more sense I think to trade my RX-V781 in for an RX-A2070 perhaps which would give me much better amps, a better PSU to give them more grunt, and also happens to directly support adding in an extra A-Sx100 front amp for the mains letting you re-assign the original front amp for presence/surround duty if you want 7.2.4 for eg and end up with a great amp for stereo music duty.
     
    Last edited: Nov 10, 2017
  6. Rambles

    Rambles
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    Unfortunately, I think that there is a need for both an integrated amp to improve 2 channel performance from the pre-amp section within AVR's, PLUS power amps to overcome the limitations of most AVR's power supplies.

    If you compare the power supplies of most low / mid / high end AVR's, the difference between them is not that great. The only exception that I have found is the Cambridge Audio CXR 200, which has a great pre-amp section for 2 channel music, and a massive power supply, toroidal also. Unfortunately, it has some firmware issues, and lacked a few features. So, I went from that one box solution, to my current 5 box solution, but I have finally got the movie surround and music stereo performance that I was looking for.
     
  7. Khazul

    Khazul
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    Well if you are going with dedicated amps, then there is a lot to be said for fully active systems. My little studio monitors and companion sub are in a class of their own compared to all but the most expensive consumer systems Ive heard. The down side is they are a bit stark (because they are designed to let you hear every detail as-is rather than sound nice). If you are not used to them, then they can apparently be a bit too in-yr-face, but Ive long got used to them and so find most consumer hifi and av systems a bit dead by comparison.
     
  8. Rich9600

    Rich9600
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    My aim is to take my stereo active, my Majik 140’s are designed with active in mind. However, to fully exploit this it is a £4k Majik Exaktbox. So, this is where my present plan comes from...

    My Majik DSM is a beautifully detailed device. Though, a bit light on power IMHO. 90wpc at 4ohm. The exaktbox is 8x100w.

    So, my present thinking is... If I buy a relatively common used 5-6 channel Linn Power Amp, I can bi-amp the Stereo (switching off the Majik DSM’s internal amplifier for sound quality gains) and power-amp/bi-amp the large Centre. Leaving the Yamaha AV-R to drive the small surrounds only.

    If I make it to Exakt on my stereo I then have a power-amp for all AV channels.

    My man-maths says I saved £650 by buying the Yamaha over this years direct replacement Marantz. So, eBay is calling for used power amps...

    In 20 years of stereo-av interest I’ve binned 5 AV-R’s and upgraded but kept one stereo amp.

    I’ve got annoyed with binning perfectly good amplifier stages because technology or connections have moved on... My last Marantz SR6009 was 4k but not HDCP2.O So, useless with a single output Apple TV 4K.

    So, I’ve moved away from £1k AV-R’s in the hope that a lesser AV-R with external muscle to help the centre can fit the bill.

    I started off looking at £150 used Linn LK100’s. Now, I’m looking at £1k multi channel amps to do everything...

    Looking is bad... lol
     
  9. Khazul

    Khazul
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    ^ OK - that's making more sense. It was part of the reason I ended up with the RX-V781 - ie something with pre-amp outs, but I'm only bothered with high quality music at the moment.

    Of course what will eventually happen is you will realise you have all these amps and don't need an amp in your AVR at all so you'll end up with a really really expensive pre-amp only AVR ;)
     
  10. Rambles

    Rambles
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    Except that there aren't really any multi channel pre-amps with all the features you might want at an affordable price. So a mid range AVR plus power amps / integrated amp is about all there is at anything near a sensible price point.
     
  11. Rich9600

    Rich9600
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    With the onward March and pace of AV technology it would be ideal to have an accessible processor. Though, I’d bet the market would be very small... It’s a matter of space. Most people use a single AV unit for everything. So, two boxes isn’t an option. So, a budget pre/power amp combination will probably never exist.

    This leaves us with our best bet as an integrated processor/amp with extra muscle added to selected speakers...
     
  12. Khazul

    Khazul
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  13. Rambles

    Rambles
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    Ah, well if money is no object, then that's a different story. There are a range of pre / pro's available here:

    Processors

    Discounting the two cheaper ones because of lack of features (eg Atmos, HDMI 2.0, room correction) the price range is between £1900 and £16,000!. Which makes the current model Marantz AV7703 an absolute bargain at £1300:

    Marantz AV7703

    But why buy that when you can buy the Marantz SR7011 for £900, and have the option of using it's onboard amps for some of the surround speakers, then add a powered sub, and power amps / integrated amps to run the main speakers?

    I guess the answer is because a pre/pro + all external amplification will sound better than an AVR + some external amplification. Which could well be true. But then we need to consider what external amplification is being used, and what speakers, and what room type, and what sources, and how the system is being used.

    I think then, it is all down to cost to decide which direction to go.
     
    Last edited: Nov 11, 2017
  14. Rich9600

    Rich9600
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    Well, after stalking eBay I decided to try a Linn AV5105. It arrived yesterday and I’ve set it up this morning.

    This is a 2x 100W into 8ohms dual mono amp. So, a fair powerhouse and probably wasted on a just driving a MA Silver (5th Gen) centre.

    I think this amp would be North of £2k when new, inflation adjusted. But, just fitted into my intended budget after a bit of to and fro on eBay’s best offer. It dates from April 2001 and has had the recall performed.

    It is a fair visual match to present Linn boxes, so fits the aesthetics of my stereo, but uses a Toroidal power supply instead of the present generations posh ‘Dynamik’ Switch Mode ones. Though, I may still try this with my stereo at some point... ;)

    Initial impressions using it to bi-amp my centre are very favourable. However, in most scenes the differences are subtle. I’m finding dialogue has improved with an increased depth to male voices and extra clarity everywhere.

    I run my front three as full range and I’m genuinely surprised at the extra mid-bass this has added to the overall presentation. When music is played through the front three or a storm rages on screen it’s a significant improvement.

    The centre really does a lot and I’m overall very pleased with this addition. Though, I’ve only played a few bits of films streamed through an Apple TV 4k and TV on Sky Q. I’m looking forward to the next chance for a full film run and especially a disk spin. I think the extra agility will really show through on an Atmos disk. :)

    If anybody stumbles across this thread in the future. It’s, amazing what you can achieve from the foundations of a relatively modest integrated AV-R.
     

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