Question Power Amp vs Stereo Amp HT

sosen13

Active Member
For the start.. I hope it is correct forum, sorry if not.
I will try to keep it short and clear..so..
It's about front speakers and amplification. At the moment I have set from signature (denon 4200, silver 10, silver centre, MF m3si), very soon I'm expecting delivery platinum plc150 centre, LR stay the same for a while.
In stereo mode MF m3si is brilliant with these speakers. But watching movies it isn't any special (there is no this WOW moment which I had earlier with tannoy dc6tse, but I guess monitor audio being 4ohm speaker are harder to drive and just need more power)
I was planning to add just monoblock power amp for coming centre plc150, but now wondering if adding 3 or 5 channel power amp (like primare a 30.5) and replace stereo amp would be better option.
Basically, would power amp on top of existing avr work better for me than stereo amp in ht mode plus mono for centre?
Thank you
 

Rambles

Distinguished Member
Replacing the stereo amp with a power amp means that you will lose the pre-amp section of the MF M3si for music, so essentially you will be upgrading your movie watching but downgrading your music listening.

You may find that a mono power amp on the centre speaker will be enough, as the centre speaker is doing most of the work in surround sound mode.

If you find that you have enough power on the front left and right speakers, with the M3si when listening to music, and you are listening to music with a large dynamic range, eg cd's, then I would be surprised if you were running out of power for movies. For me, I find that I use more power on my front left and right speakers when listening to music than I do when watching movies (the power amp I have on those has VU meters).

The M3si does have pre-outs, so you could just use it as a pre-amp, but if you think it is adequate in stereo mode, then I don't think you need to add a power amp to it.
 

sosen13

Active Member
Replacing the stereo amp with a power amp means that you will lose the pre-amp section of the MF M3si for music, so essentially you will be upgrading your movie watching but downgrading your music listening.

You may find that a mono power amp on the centre speaker will be enough, as the centre speaker is doing most of the work in surround sound mode.

If you find that you have enough power on the front left and right speakers, with the M3si when listening to music, and you are listening to music with a large dynamic range, eg cd's, then I would be surprised if you were running out of power for movies. For me, I find that I use more power on my front left and right speakers when listening to music than I do when watching movies (the power amp I have on those has VU meters).

The M3si does have pre-outs, so you could just use it as a pre-amp, but if you think it is adequate in stereo mode, then I don't think you need to add a power amp to it.
There is no option i will be able to keep avr, stereo and power (financial reasons). avr stay definitelly. power amp would replace stereo amp only.
i understand, i would improve movie watching and loose some quality on liestning music. only wondering if power amp with avr denon would be much better for music. same as stereo amp is much better for music than avr on its own.
the odd thing is - i watched same scene (spectre first few minutes) over and over with different settings. played from nvidia. stereo only (without avr, audio by usb to mf) lackes surround ofcourse, but is so much powerfull, really so much, i sometimes even think i could be ok without anything else, just stereo amp and LR speakers..
 

Rambles

Distinguished Member
Yes, a pure stereo set-up can be good. It certainly saves a lot of hassle and expense on setting up a surround sound system. But if you already have the AVR and speakers set-up, or on their way, then it might be worth persevering on getting it to work in a manner that you like.

In the last 18 months I have had four AVR's - Cambridge Audio CXR 200, Marantz SR7011, Denon 6300, Denon 4400. The Denon's sound awful for music (to my ears) Marantz a bit better, the Cambridge better still, but the Musical Fidelity M3i which I now use as a stereo pre-amp sounds better than all of them, by quite a margin.

So, if you are into listening to music on that system I would not advise going back to just using the AVR as a pre-amp for music.

If you are looking for value power amps, consider the Behringer A500 or the Crown XLS range. They are very cost effective, and I can not hear any tonal differences between using those power amps and the ones on my AVR's or Musical Fidelity M3i. I also measured them with Audyssey, using the app, and the curves were identical.
 

sosen13

Active Member
Thank you, very informative. I can agree to what you say about denon for music, it's not good. That's why I added stereo amp. I have had few earlier (arcam a19 and a39, Creek 50a) and actual m3si I like the most. It makes big difference with listening the music, even using chromecast audio (sold arcam miniblink as I couldn't stand blutooth limitations).
It also is good for movies, but ofcourse it is stereo only. But still very very good. I should have new centre soon to replace silver one from monitor audio. Then I'll do some more testing but I'm afraid without proper power (using avr only) it won't be as good as platinum should be..
 

Rambles

Distinguished Member
I had a Behringer A500 on my Kef Q200C centre and it did a very good job. They are currently £165 new, with warranty, and can do 2 x 300 watts into 4 ohms, or you can bridge it and use it as a mono amp for an insane amount of power output.

I've moved mine to powering my rears as I now use a Klipsch centre speaker which is very sensitive and doesn't need much power.

Amazon have stock of the Behringer, so you would get their returns policy if it doesn't work out. That's how I got mine, about 3 years ago, to give it a try out of curiosity.
 

sosen13

Active Member
That's interesting, as this way I could also test power amp vs Stereo Amp in my system.
You really say it would be as good as some other power amp for centre like audiolab mono?
In this case I might look closer into behringer.
 

Rambles

Distinguished Member
I am not saying it is definitely as good, but I have listened to a lot of amps in my room and I can't hear the difference between power amps, when they are working well within their range (ie not near clipping). I can hear the difference between pre amps and DACs though.

This is quite old now, but still relevant I think:

Matrix HiFi --> Blind testing high end full equipments

It's almost certainly worth a try, with the returns option to fall back on.
 

sosen13

Active Member
Never tried return policy on opened item I'm afraid. As long as everything is OK with item I just stick to it or sell elsewhere. Anyway.. Just looked at it on amazon and reviews are good, but.. What a ugly thing it is.. Lol
 

t bone

Well-known Member
If you have MA platinums across the front stage you really need to go the pre/pro route, few AVRs have the proper power to drive the 4 ohms platinums. Given the price of the plats you should be looking at a power amp in the range of 2.5 to 3k I use a MF power amp on my platinums with great success.
 

sosen13

Active Member
If you have MA platinums across the front stage you really need to go the pre/pro route, few AVRs have the proper power to drive the 4 ohms platinums. Given the price of the plats you should be looking at a power amp in the range of 2.5 to 3k I use a MF power amp on my platinums with great success.
Not across the front. Only centre on the way. Can't afford yet LR platinum. Have silver 10, but these are 4ohm as well
 

Rambles

Distinguished Member
Given the price of the plats you should be looking at a power amp in the range of 2.5 to 3k
That's quite a bold statement. I am not sure there is evidence to support that claim. But, neither do I have evidence to prove it wrong.

I suggest that it is beneficial to think a little bit more creatively about this. And power amps, in my experience, is one area where there is value to be had by looking at the ones that are built for studio / musician use. They may not be so pretty, but they do the job very well, for a fraction of the price. And the blind test article is an interesting read in regard to real world use.
 

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