Power Amp + AV Amp - Am I being stupid?

wombar

Active Member
Hi All,

Firstly my current setup:

Marantz SR7400 AV Amp
Quad 12Ls, L centre & L sub + some crummy rears that are getting replaced within the next few months.

The marantz is fed with a SPDIF from my PC running a Terratex DMX6Fire soundcard. My PC does pretty much everything for me (DVDs, Music, TV etc) and I find it's output relatively decent. However, I'll probably look at upgrading the card to something a little better in the future.

I record my own music and recently I went to get some mastering done in a studio, they had a Quad 606 amp there and their speakers (PMC TB2's) sounded great. Stuff that I simply didn't hear with my setup was clear as day on the TB2's/Quad amp setup.

Just a couple of questions:
1) If I were to purchase a Quad 606 (or similar power amp) to power my 12Ls would I notice a big difference in sound quality? It really is quality improvement I'm looking for rather than sheer volume.

2) I was intending to run out of my pre-outs (just the front L & R tho)on my Marantz into the poweramp. Is this a good way to do it? Presumably I don't need to use all the pre-outs at once(i.e. use just the front for now and buy some more amps later down the line).

3) Is buying a poweramp a waste of money if I'm going to drive it through the marantz?

4) If I'm talking a load of cobblers can anyone suggest a better solution?

5) I'm looking at about £300-£400 for a second hand 606 but if anyone has any better suggestions I'd love to hear them.

I'm more interested in top quality stereo reproduction for recording/mixing on than movies etc. I just want the clarity so I won't miss pops and clicks in my mixes that shouldn't be there. Obviously I can buy some "studio monitor speakers" but I still want something I can use everyday that sounds good.

Anyway, any help you guys can offer would be great.
 

deaf cat

Active Member
Hiya,
I Loved the sound of the Arcam AVR200, but on the fast tracks I found it could do with a bit more Boot. So demoed a few different power amps and ended up with a Rega maia3, wonderfull now!:smashin: Also demoed IC's and found some made quite a remarkable difference. The different amps and cables all sounded different in different areas, so I guess go and try a few:Dsee if you like:thumbsup:
 

clockworks

Novice Member
Adding a power amp to the L&R pre-outs will undoubtedly improve the stereo sound of your system, but I'm not sure whether it'll give the big improvement you're looking for.

The weak link is possibly your PC. I've got Linn and Naim amps connected to my Denon AV amp (Linn LK100 for L&R, Naim 110 for centre). Playing audio CDs on my DVD player (optical link to the AV amp) sounds very detailed through my Quad L-ites. Playing the same CD on my PC is OK for background music, but sounds a bit lifeless. Playing a 320k MP3 of the CD sounds even "flatter". The difference with CDs may be because the PC is a poor CD player, or it may be because I'm using an analogue interconnect, or it may be both.
It might even be the pre-amp stage of the Marantz causing the problem. I assume that you are listening in stereo mode?

I think you're going to have to experiment. As a first step, can you borrow a CD or DVD player, and try that connected to your Marantz, to hear how good the PC is as a source?
As it stands, the only thing that you can really be sure of is that it isn't the speakers causing the problem (barring serious problems with the room acoustics).
 

wombar

Active Member
Thanks for the replies:smashin: .

I've got a MOTU 896HD that I use to record my music, I'll run the output of this straight into the Marantz(instead of through the PC) and see if the sound improves. It's a pretty decent unit so should give me an indication of whether the PC itself is at fault.

I'm inclined to think it's the Marantz that is at the root of the problem, it's fine for everyday listening while I'm working, but I think for the really detailed work I need something a little more precise.

I toyed with the idea of buying some monitor speakers last year but I don't really want to spend £1000 on something I only use once every fortnight. That's why I'm looking at going down the poweramp route because I can use it all day and still have something reliable to mix on. However, if it's not going to improve the sound substantially there's not really much point going down that route.

Anyway, if there are any more suggestions for decent poweramps I'd love to hear them. I was looking at the quad 606 because you can get them for ~£300 and the one in the studio sounded pretty nice paired with the TB2's. I should really give them a call and ask them what their setup is.

Cheers for the help and if anyone else would like to jump in with some advice that would be much appreciated.
 

deaf cat

Active Member
Good Point Clockworks, wombar is it a decent sound card you have?
I used to have a (approx 200 quid) M-Audio card, switched to a Squeezebox and sound repro seemed to improve.
 

clockworks

Novice Member
For secondhand power amps, the smaller Linn and Naim models go for less than £300. I've not heard the 606, but I upgraded from a 405 to the Naim 110.

Just to clarify, a decent power amp will undoubtedly improve things, but replacing the source might improve things more!
 

wombar

Active Member
Hi All,

I've just run my MOTU 896HD direct into my Marantz and done an A/B comparison with one of my mixes that stood out at mastering between direct to the Marantz and routed through my Terratec soundcard. Quite frankly I couldn't hear any difference between the two which would indicate it's part of the Marantz that is the weak link.

I'm not really sure what my options are really. I'd guess that I can buy a reasonable power amp and buy a decent pre-amp unit in the future. Of course now the question becomes how far do I go with the power amp:devil:

I usually start off sensibly but then get sucked into something way more than I need at the moment in hopes that it will last me a lifetime. I started off looking for subs in the £200 price range and ended up ordering a Quad L sub to give you an idea.

Anyway, opinions/suggestions are more than welcome.
 

clockworks

Novice Member
How about getting a "baby" high end integrated secondhand?

Something like a Linn Majik or Naim Nait would be enough to drive the Quads.
The Linn is a bit of a bargain, secondhand. It's basically an LK100 power amp with a fully-specced pre-amp, but sells on ebay for the same price as an LK100 (£200 - £300)! IIRC, the Majik cost about £900 when new.

I think that people avoid the entry level models, thinking that they're not powerful enough. The Linn is only rated at 50 watts, but it actually goes way louder than a Japanese AV amp.
My LK100 is a big improvement on my (100 watt) Denon.
 

deaf cat

Active Member
Yep, sound card don't seem bad at all, now you've done a little test, must be time for a few power amp demos:smashin: - take your kit along though if you can - or maybe see if they will let you demo the power amp at home.

A while ago now, but I think I tried NAD, Rotel, Arcam, cyrus and Rega all around the £4-500 mark, loved the Rega. Always fanced hearing a Linn amp just to see, but always seemed a little out of my price range, and as you know if you like it - can't rest untill it's home and pluged in!

I found the IC between pre and power made an amazing difference to my set up, so once you've decided on your amp, you could borrow a few different cables to just to try.
 

wombar

Active Member
Thanks for the replies everyone. I think this is going to be a tough decision in terms of what I spend my money on. The funny thing is, I don't dislike the sound of my Marantz with the Quads, but obviously there's better stuff out there that will give me a more faithful reproduction.

I'm really just looking to get a much clearer less coloured sound out of my speakers which is why I like the idea of a Quad 606, I've seen this unit doing exactly what I need it to which is why I'm keen on it. If I can demo a Majik or something similar I'll probably hear a very similar result but I'd need to hear before I buy.

I suspect I'll probably end up going for something like a quad 606 and then getting the preamp when I feel I need something better for mixing/mastering on. I'll keep my eyes peeled for a bargain on eBay or second hand in a shop somewhere.
 

clockworks

Novice Member
If you buy on ebay at the right price, you won't lose much if you have to sell it again, just the postage and your listing fees.
I'd be confident that a Majik will outperform a 606.
 

wombar

Active Member
Cheers Clockworks.

I'll keep an eye out for the Majik, but I seem to be cursed never to win anything on eBay. Nothing I bid on ever goes for a reasonable price, some idiot usually jumps in and pays 5% below retail:mad:

Anyway, I'm in no rush so I'll just keep my eyes peeled for one and get it at a decent price.

Thanks for your help.
 

Joe Fernand

Distinguished Member
AVForums Sponsor
Hello Wombar

Flying Mole launched the all NEW CA-S3 single Input 20wpc Integrated amplifier at the Bristol Show last week and it may just be ideal for your requirements.

It looks way too small to deliver the quality and punch many folk require but it is a truly 'high end' amplifier in a very small form factor chassis.

The UK SRP is £450.00 and I reckon its a bit of a bargain if its limited feature set meets your requirements - see http://www.flyingmole.co.jp/en/index.shtml

Best regards

Joe
 

johnbriant

Standard Member
Wombar i hope im nto being controversial with everyone talking naim quad and linn but have you thought about old school musical fidelity.

they do some tasty amps and you can probably get 2 P150 70wpc amps for just less than £300 which means you ca run them as mono and bi amp for nice hi current isolated channel output.

just my 2 pence but i gues im biased, i have 3 of em.

john
 

deaf cat

Active Member
wombar said:
The funny thing is, I don't dislike the sound of my Marantz with the Quads, but obviously there's better stuff out there that will give me a more faithful reproduction.
.

Hay wombar what you could do while your waiting for that ebay bargin amp, is try a coulple of different digital coax cables, see if they let through any more detail from your sound card. I tryed a few and found the Chord Signature Digital Coax pretty good on detail and clarity and up front sounding which I like, Cardas was somewhat more relaxing to listen to, may be worth a demo to see they make any difference in your system......:rolleyes:
 

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