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New amp needed

Floyds

Standard Member
I'm investigating upgrading my hifi system to support a new TV and Blu-ray player.

My setup currently consists of Mordaunt Short MS906 speakers (ten years old), Rotel RB850 power amp and RC850 Stereo Control Amplifier (both over 20 years old, gulp!).

A phono cable between the new TV and the RC850 Stereo Control Amp will provide the sound connection, but the amp doesn't have a remote control.

So I'm looking to invest in a new amp with a remote control and a pre-amp output to connect to the input of the RB850 power amp.

I'm happy to spend up to £300 ish to achieve this (but could go higher if this was the right thing to do). I'd welcome any advice on the right amp to buy in these circumstances. Any ideas?

I've had a look at a Rotel RA-05 that will do what I want, but it's £500 and it's an integrated amplifier - so it has the power amp stage that will be redundant in my setup. Do manufacturers still make pre-amps like my old RC850?
 

formbypc

Active Member
Yes, Rotel make a Pre-Power combo that was reviewed in the HiFi press recently.

There's loads around - Audiolab, Marantz, Quad, etc.
 

MaturityDodger

Well-known Member
Getting an integrated with pre-outs doesn't necessarily mean that your power amp stage of the integrated will be redundant. You could bi-amp.
Being of the same brand, they'll probably have the same gain to make this possible, but it's worth checking.
 

formbypc

Active Member
Quad 99 Pre on UK eBay at £159 right now.
Various other 33, 34 and 44 Quads at prices below this.

Loads of others by Musical Fidelity, Audiolab, etc etc
 

Floyds

Standard Member
It seems that today, separating pre / power amps is only done at the high end of the market and there aren't many new preamps in my price range. Ebay is a good idea and I've seen a few bargains around, so will keep my eyes open for a suitable one.

Thanks for the bi-amp suggestion, I had to read up about it, and if I do buy a new integrated amp, then I'll try that as I've already got the cables I need to do that. If it doesn't work well I haven't lost anything :)
 

Floyds

Standard Member
Update:

I just received an Audiolab 8000S I bought off ebay, and I'm running a bi-amp configuration with my old Rotel power amp.

I've been playing around with which power stages drive HF / LF and I can tell there's a slight difference in gain, but it's not really noticable and still produces a very pleasing sound.

It does, however, highlight some of the inadequacies of my old Rotel pre/power combo. I think I might have to spend a little more money and upgrade to the Audiolab power amp (the Mrs will not be pleased :lesson:).

Besides, I will probably get more money back by putting the Rotel pre/power combo on ebay.
 

MaturityDodger

Well-known Member
Out of interest, which had the higher gain, Audiolab or Rotel?
How does the bi-amp config you described compare quality-wise to using the Audiolab on its own?
And what speakers are they driving?
 

Floyds

Standard Member
The Audiolab has the higher gain, but as I said it's marginal.

I haven't tried the Audiolab on its own, and you're right, I should. I'll give this a go sometime over the weekend and try to report back.

Speakers are MS906.
 

MaturityDodger

Well-known Member
Good plan. I wouldn't expect the result of bi-amping with two mismatched (mismatched not only in gain, but possibly character and tone) amps to be any better than the best amp on its own.
 

Floyds

Standard Member
I started out comparing the two and found it difficult, as the bi-amped config seemed to give better stereo imaging and a punchier bass, but the gain differences between the two power stages meant the integrated config gave better balance between high and low frequencies.

But then, I looked at the layout of the room and decided the speakers were alot closer together than they should be, and the placement of an armchair was going to impact the sound, so I moved everything around. When the speakers were about the right distance apart and there was nothing else between the speakers and the listening position, the integrated amp gave much better performance than the bi-amp configuration.

So now I have some challenges at home negotiating differences to the layout of the room :)

Lesson learned - it's possible to spend a fortune upgrading equipment, neglecting the free option of setting up the listening environment to make the best of what you already have.
 

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