Power amp upgrade - what route to take?

bbanduser

Novice Member
I have a denon 3802 and am generally happy with it. However lately I have been feeling the need for more power.The Denon is driving a 7.1 setup - B&W 602 S3's as fronts, B&W CDM NT SE as the centre, B&W LM1's as surrounds and a pair of kef eggs as rear surronds. The sub is a REL Q100E.

Now the thing is that I don't want to spend too much on an amp,and want to keep the 7.1 system,and also want to keep all the equipement I have. What is the cheapest option in getting more power from this system. Can I buy a 5.1 poweramp and add the amplification of the Denon as well? What is the cheapest way to go about it?
 

Daneel

Active Member
How cheap is cheap? You could just add a stereo power amp for the fronts which would give you a nice boost, particularly for 2 channel music. I'm waiting for a Parasound 1205A power amp I just bought having demoed a 2 channel version. It makes a big difference. Going 2nd hand saves a lot of money on things like this for little disadvantage.
 

bbanduser

Novice Member
I don't want to do this piecemeal and then end up with 10 boxes. I want to go for a 5 channel amp or 7 channel amp. What's the minimum I can do this in (first hand and second hand)? And which brands or odels do I need to look out for?
Can I use the amp's in the Denon and add an external amp to it? I want to use the processor of the Denon as well,sowhat I want is the extra burst of energy from an amp I guess..
I am all for going second hand,as the quality products (I feel) have a long life,and people who love their kit will look after it,so no harm done.
 

Daneel

Active Member
Minimum would be an older rotel 5 channel for around £350-£450. The 2 channel thing isn't piecemeal exactly. I'll be using the Parasound for the moment but at a later date may add a Bryston 2 channel (more money for those 2 channels than the 5 channel Parasound) for my fronts.

New you are looking at a Rotel 1075 for £845. You would be using the Denon as a preamp and it's internal amps for any other channels. The reason I mentioned a 2 channel amp is that you can obviously get a better 2 channel one than 5 channel for the same money. If music is important to you that might work out better. There are also 3 channel amps available.
 

Daneel

Active Member
There is a Rotel 985 MK II in the classifieds.
 

MarkE19

Moderator
The Denon receivers are well known for being underpowered when driving all 5 or 7 channels. I found that adding the 2 channel Arcam amp freed up power for the centre and surrounds as well as giving a huge improvement for stereo music.
If you have the money then adding a 5 or 7 channel amp will be better than just a stereo amp, but the extra cost is large and the improvement I got from just the stereo was enough, for now at least!

Mark.
 

bbanduser

Novice Member
So when you say you added a 2 channel AMP, do you mean that you did not use the Denon for the fronts at all (and only the 2 channel amp powered them) ? So did the Denon power only the centre and surrounds? And did the Denon still do all the processing?
If I do go this way, which 2 channel amp is recommended? Want to spend as little as possible,so this should be bourne in mind at all times.
 

MarkE19

Moderator
So when you say you added a 2 channel AMP, do you mean that you did not use the Denon for the fronts at all (and only the 2 channel amp powered them) ? So did the Denon power only the centre and surrounds? And did the Denon still do all the processing?
Yes to all the above!
I've actually bi-amped the front speakers with the Arcam Alpha 8R integrated and 8P power amp. This also helps to improve things.

If I do go this way, which 2 channel amp is recommended? Want to spend as little as possible,so this should be bourne in mind at all times.
The Arcams are great amps for adding to a receiver for driving the front (or whatever) speakers as they have a processor mode that bypasses the volume control when being fed by the receiver so you only have to set one volume control for watching a DVD etc.
You should be able to get an Arcam Alpha 8R for under £100 s/h from the likes of Ebay and an 8P for just over £100 - obviously less if you are lucky.

Mark.
 

mick23

Standard Member
bbanduser i have 3802 and did have cdm1nts for fronts .lcr60 center ,600s3 for surrounds,

i did try the rotels below

you could add a rotel 891 i think is model 130watts 2 channel sterio amp about £150 2nd hand use (891 ) to drive fronts.

or a rotel 895 mk1 or 2 approx £300 to drive fronts/center /surrounds, or bi amp fronts+center

either of these is the (cheap) option and would take the strain of the 3802 , and be better for av use, possibly a slight improvement re sterio .

it was suggested by a b&W rep that i try a better quality 2 channel sterio power amp over av powers , i did try linn lk85 to me it was better for av/sterio but was £550


you could also go for a 2nd hand integrated amp and use that to drive fronts , using the 3802 preouts that would also be less strain on 3802 and increase 2 channel replay .
 

ditton15

Standard Member
(seem to be following Mark around ...)

If you connect the L/R pre-outs to a quality 2 channel stereo amp, especially one that can be used in poweramp mode (like the AudioLab 8000S below), then you both improve AV performance, but better still you have better 2 channel music - but only if you play CDs on a dedicated CDplayer set up (one box or transport/dac two box) straight into the stereo amp.

hth
 

bbanduser

Novice Member
Thanks for the advice guys.
I think I will go for the 2 channel amp and use the Denon Processor for the time being.

If I understand correctly,I will be using the processor of the Denon and the amplification for the centre and surrounds,and the processor of the Denon and the amplification of the 2 channel amp for the front 2. How do I connect the pre-amp of the Denon to the 2 channel amp(I mean what kind of cable?) ? And how will I control the volume for the fronts?Mark was alluding to this fact I think when he said the Arcam allowed something like this.

So the shortlist is :
rotel 891
rotel 895
Rotel 985
Arcam Alpha 8R
Arcam Alpha 8P

Which one will be the best valud for money?
 

MarkE19

Moderator
With the processor mode of the Arcam (ond also on other amps) you just bypass the preamp and just use the power amp section.

You connect a pair of phono leads to the front L/R preouts on the Denon to an input on the integrated amp. Connect the speakers to the outputs of the amp with nothin connected to the denon L/R speaker outs.
Connect CD etc to integrated amp for stereo music.

If the amp has a processor mode then when the AV receiver feed the amp as said above the preamp is bypassed and all the volume is controlled from the receiver. If not then you need to set the volume of the amp to a set point for DVD and then balence all the speakers from the AV setup menu. Make sure you always put the volume back to this point for watching a DVD and then turn it back down before playing a CD etc.

Mark.
 

MarkE19

Moderator
Rotel v Arcam?

Well I personally demo'd a few amps before I bought my Arcams and much prefered the sound of the Arcams over Rotel etc. You really do need to demo them with the same speakers as you have.
If all you require is extra power then a power amp is enough. If however you require better stereo performance for CD replay etc then you should get an integrated amp as the weak link in an AV setup is normally the preamp section of the receiver.

Mark.
 

bbanduser

Novice Member
I play my CD's through my DVD player, or play MP3's from my jukebox - would integrated amp be useful for me?
BTW, what's a preamp? I kow what a processor does and what an amp does, but am not too sure of the preamp.
 

MarkE19

Moderator
A preamp is the volume control along with things like the bass/treble and source select switch. In other words it is the controls of the amp as a power amp does not have any controls.

If you connect the analogue stereo outputs from your DVD player to an integrated amp you might well find an improvement over the digital or analogue connections to the receiver. If you notice no improvement then you can opt for a power amp instead, but as I said before you really should try and demo an amp to see if you like the sound.

Mark.
 

bbanduser

Novice Member
Got you!
How does NAD compare with Arcam and Rotel?
 

MarkE19

Moderator
NAD make some very nice HiFi equipment, you just need to listen to it and see if it suits you. I've never owned NAD, but have listened to a few pieces of their equipment and always found, in the price range, something else that I prefer. It is all down to personal taste (and what is available at the time if buying second hand!), and you may well really like their amps.

Now I'm off down the pub for a well earned pint, so if I do reply again tonight it may well be unintelligable - like most of my posts anyway, before anybody else tries to jump in there first :devil:

Mark.
 

bbanduser

Novice Member
Thanks a lot Mike! I appreciate it.
 

mick23

Standard Member
bbanduser as you are in watford i would have a demo at hifi city they have b&W rotel /arcam and nad ,and some denon av amps, or 7 oaks 7 oaks do not stock nad though ???

and hear with the same cd /dvd player you have take your time to really compare that you are hearing something better rather than differant.
 

bbanduser

Novice Member
ok mick, will try to have a demo during the lunch break.
 

mick23

Standard Member
bbanduser try to arrange a proper demo and give yourself more time, compare volumes levels at dem to what you use at home.
 

lovegroova

Well-known Member
I would personally try a different shop to HiFi City for a dem, as they do not have a dedicated dem room. Try Sevenoaks or Acoustic Arts if you can.

AA don't stock Arcam but do have some excellent stuff although it can be pricey!
 
I

Icarus

Guest
MarkE19,

Following on from this fascinating thread, I have an Arcam AVR200 and was contemplating adding an Arcam poweramp, however the dealer recomended bi-amping my AE1 V1 speakers as follows:

The tweeters are fed via the AVR 200 and the woofers by the power amp. Is this something you have tried or have I got what the dealer told me all wrong?
 

bbanduser

Novice Member
I was wondering how the sound from my system will improve if I get something like an Arcam A75+
It only delivers 2 X 50 W, whearas my 3802 delivers at least that.
So what am I missing?
 

mick23

Standard Member
bbanduser i heard the arcam a75+ vs denon 2803 recently , yes i would say the a75+ sounds (better ) but the 75+ is a dedicated sterio integrated , but its yourself who has to decide wether you like the sound of say arcam vs 3802,

you should have a demo as suggested to see what you prefer,

i would not get tied up in 3802 has 100watts something else has supposidly less , the linn power i tried was only 42wattsinto 8 ohm but to me sounded better than 3802, or rotel powers .

you will still be looking approx £250 for nad,a75+ rotel so make sure you compare , do not expect a night and day differance between 3802 and above .
 

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