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Power amp with an AV Receiver???

Devotee101

Established Member
Is it possible? Is it recommended?

The reason I ask is, I'm thinking about the "next upgrade", having just bought some Monitor Audio RS6s which I'm using on the end of a Sony STR-DA1200ES AV receiver. I'm happy with the sound for the time being, but would be interested in hearing what the RS6s really sound like with a "proper" 2 channel amp.

There's some pre-out connections on the back of the AV amp, so I was wondering if I could use a power amp for the fronts to give me a bit more fidelity? If so, is there anything I'd need to look out for?

Thanks,
Ant

p.s. hope the wife doesn't read this!!! ;)
 

HiFiRuss71

Distinguished Member
Loads of people are doing exactly this (see my signature) although there seem to be two ways of doing it.

One is to use a dedicated stereo integrated amp for the front L&R speakers and plug music sources like a CD Player into the stereo amp, hence keeping music replay free of AV gubbins. All that is required is to preselect a given volume on the stereo amp before commencing multichannel playback.

The other is to simply output the AV receivers pre outs into a power amp (like wot I is doin) because most recievers have powerful, but not exactly refined poweramps and can be found wanting with music*. There are loads of variations here, depending on how many channels the poweramp has, but for instance, I'm using a five channel Rotel to bi-amp the stereo pair and mono-amp the centre, whilst leaving the receiver to power the less critical surrounds.

As to what you do depends on budget and what you're trying to achieve, but again for example my, near 10 year old, 5 channel Rotel cost £200 off fleabay and kicks the £1000 Denon into touch in all respects.

Russell

*After Noel Keywoods almost fawning review of the Onkyo TX-SR875 in this months Hi-fi World, the gap seems to be narrowing, although he didn't go as far as to say what price of stereo amp the Onkyo compares to. My own experience has shown that a £1k AVR will just about compare to a £300 stereo amp, although it will probably be more powerful by compensation.
 

evans

Established Member
i was in the same boat a few weeks ago. I have an old yamaha av receiver for movies but wanted better sound for 2 channel. So i bought an arcam a70. I use my toshiba xe1 which has analogue out to hook up front speakers to A70 and use the centre and suround inputs of the AV receiver. Only problem i thought would be the volume control as i have two now but in actual fact it is not a problem and my centre and surround speakers sound fantastic now:smashin:
 

Mark.Yudkin

Distinguished Member
There's some pre-out connections on the back of the AV amp, so I was wondering if I could use a power amp for the fronts to give me a bit more fidelity?
Yes.
If so, is there anything I'd need to look out for?
Ideally the power amp should have the same gain as the STR-DA1200ES. However, you can probably configure the front speaker levels on the Sony if it doesn't.

Evans is using an integrated amp rather than a power amp, like Russ's first suggestion. I do not recommend this course of action, unless the integrated amp also supports HT passthrough.
 

Mark.Yudkin

Distinguished Member
Although 29dB is the THX specified gain, it is unfortunately by no means ubiquitous (or even all that common amongst stereo equipment) and the OP should check to avoid surprises.
 

crobo

Prominent Member
I would go all the way and get a separate processor + power amp combination. The pre-amp sections of most AV receivers are just not good enough for serious 2-channel work so adding on a power amp only solves part of the problem. You can get processors for £500 that will amaze you. I went from a huge Denon A1SE to separate pre-power sets and would never go back. Having said this, I did think the Arcam AVR300 was pretty good for stereo and these are very cheap nowadays.

I bought an Onkyo 875 and sent it back. It is amazing value for money and a lovely piece of kit, but in the end of the day you still tend to get what you pay for. For £1k you don't get a high-end HD audio receiver and excellent stereo amp and I do agree with one of the posts above, suggesting that £1k AV amps tend to equate to £300 stereo amps.
 

AngelEyes

Distinguished Member
I think it may depend on the other components in the chain and your own listening preferences.

I was running the Onkyo 875 with an Arcam FMJ P7 as a power amp, I ran it for quite while before curiosity (and finances) tempted me to try using the 875 on it's own.

I couldn't hear the difference, even at reference level with music or movies. The same sort of experiment with a much older Sony Amp really did pay dividends. As russ.will says the gap is closing, although I doubt many would admit to my experience :D

Adam
 

mooney058

Standard Member
Russell,

I need a second opinion :) Could not decide - shall i buy Denon 3808 and to use it for both stereo and movies OR should I buy Marantz 6002 amp and cd player combination. All of it would be connected to B&W CM7 floorstanders.

What would you do in this case? It is exactly £1000 AVR against £250 power amp. Would there be a substantial diference between the two when using for stereo?


Loads of people are doing exactly this (see my signature) although there seem to be two ways of doing it.

One is to use a dedicated stereo integrated amp for the front L&R speakers and plug music sources like a CD Player into the stereo amp, hence keeping music replay free of AV gubbins. All that is required is to preselect a given volume on the stereo amp before commencing multichannel playback.

The other is to simply output the AV receivers pre outs into a power amp (like wot I is doin) because most recievers have powerful, but not exactly refined poweramps and can be found wanting with music*. There are loads of variations here, depending on how many channels the poweramp has, but for instance, I'm using a five channel Rotel to bi-amp the stereo pair and mono-amp the centre, whilst leaving the receiver to power the less critical surrounds.

As to what you do depends on budget and what you're trying to achieve, but again for example my, near 10 year old, 5 channel Rotel cost £200 off fleabay and kicks the £1000 Denon into touch in all respects.

Russell

*After Noel Keywoods almost fawning review of the Onkyo TX-SR875 in this months Hi-fi World, the gap seems to be narrowing, although he didn't go as far as to say what price of stereo amp the Onkyo compares to. My own experience has shown that a £1k AVR will just about compare to a £300 stereo amp, although it will probably be more powerful by compensation.
 

Mark.Yudkin

Distinguished Member
What you heard is the total system: room, speakers, amplification, processor / preamp, source. You replaced one of the components - quite possibly the best one in your setup - with a probably lower quality one (power amplification: A7 -> Onkyo 875). You did not attempt to determine the weakest link and improve that, so that you have confirmed that indeed:
it may depend on the other components in the chain
 

AngelEyes

Distinguished Member
What you heard is the total system: room, speakers, amplification, processor / preamp, source. You replaced one of the components - quite possibly the best one in your setup - with a probably lower quality one (power amplification: A7 -> Onkyo 875). You did not attempt to determine the weakest link and improve that, so that you have confirmed that indeed:

So I need to upgrade my ears then? :rotfl:
 

j0hn

Banned
most of this depends on if your running full range or satelites. With a high crossover say 80hz you wont need a power amp just a decent sub. If your running full range floor standarders you may prefer/need a power amp.

am I wrong in thinking most studio mixing (music and movies) is done with satelites and a sub?
 

AngelEyes

Distinguished Member
most of this depends on if your running full range or satelites. With a high crossover say 80hz you wont need a power amp just a decent sub. If your running full range floor standarders you may prefer/need a power amp.

am I wrong in thinking most studio mixing (music and movies) is done with satelites and a sub?

I think you hit the nail on the head there, the Onkyo 875 seems to have plenty of grunt for the M&K sats. With some of the money I saved I bought a better sub which I really could hear and feel the difference with.

With reference to Mark's comments I am not sure what else I could change; the room is what it is and the Onkyo and Audyssey has improved that compared to my old Rotel RSP 1068. The M&Ks are renowned as being good speakers and I have always liked the way they sound although they are at their best with the Onkyo in the chain, the Rotel processor was just a tad too harsh.

The only thing I suppose I could change is the source which is my HTPC, delivering up to 7.1 HD LPCM over HDMI. I don't really want to do that though as a single source with all my Lossless Music, HD-DVD & Bluray available on a Gigabit network, is a convenience I would not be without :)
 

NonPayingMember

Previously Liam @ Prog AV
I think it may depend on the other components in the chain and your own listening preferences.

I was running the Onkyo 875 with an Arcam FMJ P7 as a power amp, I ran it for quite while before curiosity (and finances) tempted me to try using the 875 on it's own.

I couldn't hear the difference, even at reference level with music or movies. The same sort of experiment with a much older Sony Amp really did pay dividends. As russ.will says the gap is closing, although I doubt many would admit to my experience :D

Adam

I would consider that in each case the Onkyo was the weakest point in the chain rather than the power amps not giving you any further benefit. Onkyo's are known to have horrible analogue input/output stages. Well known to me since I've tried it LOL!! However if what you have is what you are happy with then stick with what you have!
 

AngelEyes

Distinguished Member
I would consider that in each case the Onkyo was the weakest point in the chain rather than the power amps not giving you any further benefit. Onkyo's are known to have horrible analogue input/output stages. Well known to me since I've tried it LOL!! However if what you have is what you are happy with then stick with what you have!

All I can pass on is what my ears tell me, the Onkyo was a definate improvement on the RSP 1068 as a Pre-Amp and I am very happy with the way things sound and the extra cash in my pocket :D

The fact that my opinion is in stark contrast to the 'norm' bothers me little :hiya:
 

Welwynnick

Distinguished Member
I would consider that in each case the Onkyo was the weakest point in the chain rather than the power amps not giving you any further benefit. Onkyo's are known to have horrible analogue input/output stages. Well known to me since I've tried it LOL!! However if what you have is what you are happy with then stick with what you have!
Liam, do know if that applies to the new 885 pre-pro as well? I've seen conflicting reviews on that.

Cheers, Nick
 

crobo

Prominent Member
Ditto. I was wondering about this too. I was disappointed in the analogue performance of the 875 receiver and was considering the pro 885 or Integra 9.8 instead (they are the essnetially the same?).

On the other hand I have been very happy with my Integra RDC-7 for 2-channel do the Onkyo family must be able to get this right, though I think BAT had a lot to do with this line of kit.

From what I read the 885 is good for HDMI 1.3 audio but only average for 2-channel, and I guess that is to be expected with its low price tag.
 

goodtimes

Established Member
Are you guys saying that If I purchased a Onkyo 2 channel amp conected through the pre amp on my lx 60 I would not get an improvement to both my home thereter or music .???
 

j0hn

Banned
All I can pass on is what my ears tell me, the Onkyo was a definate improvement on the RSP 1068 as a Pre-Amp and I am very happy with the way things sound and the extra cash in my pocket :D

The fact that my opinion is in stark contrast to the 'norm' bothers me little :hiya:


Talking of rotel... I feel the same way. I had a 1066 before a 1068 and a 1055 on loan for a good month or so, also owned a 1062. The onkyo is really enjoyable and makes me dance :) its a great product for not alot of money
 

Apone

Prominent Member
All I can pass on is what my ears tell me, the Onkyo was a definate improvement on the RSP 1068 as a Pre-Amp and I am very happy with the way things sound and the extra cash in my pocket :D

The fact that my opinion is in stark contrast to the 'norm' bothers me little :hiya:

Really interesting discussion this. I also swaped my pre amp and tested my set up with a Denon A11 as a pre amp with my existing amps and speakers. The difference was HUGE (in a good way) , but then i was also using the inbuilt Audyssey Room eq as well.

That led me to the realisation that the room will have the biggest impact on the sound i hear from my equipment. And i became a Audyssey lover:suicide:
 

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