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Power Amplifiers

Discussion in 'AV Pre-Amp/Processors & Power Amps' started by gazzerr, Jun 26, 2002.

  1. gazzerr

    gazzerr
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    I'm thinking about upgrading to a separate processor and amp. On the processor side I will be looking at the Tag AV30 and the Rotel 1066 but have no idea about amplifiers. Anyone else demo these yet?

    Can anyone suggest what might be a suitable amplifier ? I appreciate there is the TAG but that seems disproportionately expensive to the processor, the Rotel amp 1075 would be a contender but any others?

    I'm not sure if this is a silly question but how much difference to the sound does the amp make compared to the processor e.g people talk of Denon being a warm sound is it the processor, the amp or the combination that gives the characteristics :confused:

    Cheers
     
  2. garmtz

    garmtz
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    The most difference will be in the processor. A good amp will not colour the sound much, as long as it has enough steam to drive your speakers. I think Rotel has a slightly warmer, fuzzy sound than TAG, which is very lean, clean and fast. These are small differences however in a power amp. Most of the colour is given by the surround processor. Other pre/powers to consider are from Arcam and Cyrus.
     
  3. slingshot

    slingshot
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    Gazzer I'm also thinking of demoing a Rotel 1066, I contacted Rotel about availability in the UK, and they reckon they should have them within the next couple of weeks.

    I'm also going to try the AV30 if I can and check them out with Arcam power amps (I already have an Alpha 9P) and the Rotel 5 channel jobby.
     
  4. gazzerr

    gazzerr
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    Cheers guys,

    Garmtz , do you know any good dealers in Den Haag who could help me out,

    Slingshot,

    Let me know how you get on with the demo's. A key feature for me will be upgradeability and TAG have a track record but don't know about Rotel. I looked at Arcam amp's but at present they don't have a 5 channel amp in one box.
     
  5. garmtz

    garmtz
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    Garry, I know that Stuut & Bruyn are selling Rotel along with lots of other brands. You might want to contact them. I definitely don't like the guys working there, but they do stock a lot of brands.
     
  6. slingshot

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    if you look on Rotel's web site they already have 1 upgrade fix for it, which is to so to do with ES flags, so it looks like they are going to be reasonable with upgrades (although I don't in the same class as TAG) but then the AV30 isn't as upgradeable as the the AV32 so who knows what will happen.
     
  7. Lowrider

    Lowrider
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    The power depends a lot of the speakers you have, how sensitive and how hard to drive, and the room to a degree (they will have to work harder in a big room)...

    For instance I had Rotel 1080 (2x200 watts), with a pair of Sonus Faber Concertos, and it worked very well, then I upgraded the speakers with a pair of Electra Amator II, from the same brand, and it would clip easy, and both speakers are 87db sensitive... I bought the Bryston 4BST 2x250 watts, and no more problems...

    The Bryston powers are very good too, and 20 years warranty, but similar priced to TAG...

    Otherwise, there are differences, of course, but not as important as the speaker´s...

    As for the AV processor, as long as it is from a reputable brand, the most important to me is upgradeability, thats why I bought the TAG AV32R, even though it was way more expensive that the other gear I had at the time, still is my most expensive piece...
     
  8. John Dawson

    John Dawson
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    Gazzerr - Arcam presently has 2 and 3 channels amplifiers available, rated at around 100 WPC in real power output into 8 ohms, and 150WPC into 4 ohms. These are the P85 and P85/3 respectively.

    We are very soon going into production with a 7 x 150 WPC into 8 ohms power amp in our FMJ series, the P7. It also delivers
    7 x 230 W into 4 ohms BTW (1.6 kilowatts in all). It costs about twice as much as a P85 and P85/3 combination. This should be available to buy in Holland in black or silver within about 2 months, alongside the AV8 THX Ultra 2 preamp / processor.

    I just thought you'd like to know :)

    John Dawson (Arcam)
     
  9. slingshot

    slingshot
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    Thanks John, Would using my existing Alpha9P in conjunction with a P85/3 be a reasonable solution in terms of tonal qualities ? I was intending to take my old Alpha with me for a demo, but if all else fails I'd probably consider trading it in for an all in 1 5 channel.

    I'd love to try an AV8, but it's a bit out of my price range.

    Cheers

    Slingshot
     
  10. gazzerr

    gazzerr
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    John,

    Thanks for the update. Interesting you are going for a 7 amp box. I would have thought you would have gone for a 5 Channel box so that people can upgrade from the FMJ amp to 7 channel via one 5 channel amp box.

    I'm curious why there a lack of supply of separate processors from the amps. I know that you will be bringing out a model at the higer end of the market but there is a limited supply mid range e.g TAG AV30, Rotel 1066. Given the pace of change on formats I would have thought that this route and the promise of software upgrades would have been a strong marketing strategy. Once people have bought your kit they will have a strong propensity to go with the upgrades rather than selling on. Must be able to have a higher margin on the upgrades than the hard fought initial equipment purchase?
     
  11. John Dawson

    John Dawson
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    Hi guys -

    Slingshot - you can certainly use a 9P alongside a P85/3. The 85 is the better power amp so I would use this for the front channels and the 9P for the rears.

    Gazzerr - I don't quite understand the point you are making about the separate processor. However I can say that 2 years ago, when we started these projects, we originally thought of trying to make a lower cost processor but found that, by the time we had added all the sensible features the market wanted, we were inevitably going to be fairly expensive. These include THX Ultra2, comprehensive video handling, including component and RGB, true analogue pathways for stereo and 6 channel etc etc. However, even with all of this on board it retails in the UK for more or less the price of a 32R.

    Similarly in terms of the power amp, we were going to make it 5 channels but got very clear feedback from the USA in particular that 7 channels with lots of power was the way to go. By the reaction we've had so far I am 100% sure this was one of our better decisions! Stripping out 2 channels does not save very much money so we don't plan to offer it as an option - if you only need 5 channels then you have 2 spare to bi-amp your main stereo speakers or to drive a pair of speakers in another room using the AV8's second zone output.

    So we decided to go all out for performance from the start because in our opinion the market will respond much better to that than a "halfway house" product for a bit less money. If after a year or so we find we can value engineer down the AV8 then we will decide if such a "stripped"product is worth developing. However my view is that if it's worth doing it's worth doing really well and that offering a lower cost option alongside the premium unit will not actually do much for our overall sales. This has certainly been my experience in the past where we've done this kind of thing with amplifiers and CD players.

    I will be curious to see how the lower cost TAG processor actually does in the market place (if it were me choosing between the two TAG options I'd struggle with the finances and buy the 32R) and welcome considered opinions from anyone in the market for any serious processor as to the merits of these approaches.

    John Dawson (Arcam)
     
  12. Edgeyboy

    Edgeyboy
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    Hi John

    When will physical stock get to the dealers of the P7 ?

    Regards.
     
  13. John Dawson

    John Dawson
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    Hi Edgeyboy,

    A few in late July, volume in August according to the best information I have to hand. Having said that we are pretty heavily back ordered so if you are seriously interested to check out a P7 let me know the names of your local dealer(s) and I'll feed that into the system. Note that the P7 and AV8 are FMJ series products so not every Arcam dealer is franchised to stock these. A current list should be on the website at www.arcam.co.uk

    John Dawson (Arcam)
     
  14. gazzerr

    gazzerr
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    John,

    Thanks for the reply. My comment about the separate processor was in relation to a proc/pre amp unit, as you are now releasing , and keeping the power amps separate. I hear your comment about premium and cheaper brands although if you get the tiering right I would bet that overall sales would go up but if you ge it wrong people might downgrade! Probably a conundrum that TAG has been having lengthy discussions over before bringing the AV30 to the market and the reason why they are limiting the upgradeability!!

    My view is that there is a place in the market or the various market segments, I'm not sure that there is one market. You could probably/maybe already are doing a bit of Market Research on your current tiering in the market to see people's attitudes. I agree that if you want a premium name you need some top end products but the question is have far down the market you can come like Jaguar and BMW.

    Just my view based on a punters perspective!

    If you've got any beta versions of your new proc/amp let me know!!








    ;) ;)
     
  15. MikeE

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    Hi John

    Thanks for your open and frank explanations of Arcam’s thinking with the AV8 and P7. I understand your reasoning and sympathise that no matter how competitive the price of this power amp and processor had been, you would have been compared directly with TAG’s well regarded equivalents both by the magazines and the contributors here on these forums. You clearly have no choice but to do the best you can.

    However, whilst I dream about owning such equipment I’m sure I can’t be alone in not being able to justify this level of expenditure to myself, let alone my wife… Don’t get me wrong, I don’t expect the same level of performance for half the price, I’m not in the market for budget equipment and I agree with you on the TAG processors, if the price saving is too small I would be inclined to struggle for the better version. But still, five and a half grand is a lot of money for an amp and processor especially when you need to add in source and speakers to do them justice.

    What I want (please…), appears to me to be within your capabilities and would seem (to me) to tap into a much bigger market. Certainly from reading these forums I get the impression I’m not alone in wanting a processor and amp for something between two and three thousand pounds, something that would offer an audiophile biased alternative to the big amps and receivers produced by Denon, Yamaha, Rotel, etc.

    So my suggestion, the system I would like to buy, is this. You have already mentioned earlier in this thread your P85 amps, which seem universally well regarded. Well I can already buy 5 channels of this amplification for £1200 and 7 channels for £1700. How about putting 7 channels in one box rather than 3 and selling it for £1500. Sounds a winner to me, especially given the interest Rotel’s 1075 and 1095 power amps generate. The £1000 pound saving over the P7 means it shouldn’t take sales off that amp and I’d feel I’m getting 90% of the performance for 60% of the cost.

    You already have suitable DVD, CD and tuner products, a DV88 for around 60% of the cost of the DV27, the CD92 for around 75% of the cost of the CD23 and the T61 for around 60% of the cost of the T21. I know I’m not getting the quality of finish or the last bit of performance that the higher priced products generate, but I would feel I had made a sensible compromise.

    So that just leaves the processor. My processor wish list is therefore as follows. The stereo pre-amp part would be straight from the A85 (say £500), which leaves around £1000 for the surround processing, dac’s and video switching (personally I’d be prepared to forgo the latter, but realise I’m in the minority) to undercut the AV30R and give a £3000 total solution. Given that your AVR200 costs just £800 and includes amps and tuner, I would have thought that £1000 would be enough for some decent processing and converters of a quality to match the A85? Sounds like what I need then is either a DAVE2 for the A85 or preferably a new DIVA range processor without the A85’s internal amps.

    Sorry to go on, but you did ask for considered opinions. It sounds like at least one other (Gazzerr?) is thinking on the same lines and I’m sure I recall past threads where this was discussed. It’s a strange feeling having money to spend and not being able to find anything suitable to spend it on!

    Regards

    Mike
     
  16. slingshot

    slingshot
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    Couldn't agree more, the only thing you missed from my point of view was an excellent straight through mode for music, I'm hopping the RSP-1066 does provide a good stereo solution.

    Video switching is a priority for me since I have a projector, I'd love to consider an AV8 or Tag32 but I've blown too much on the projector.

    The only other options I could see were the Cyrus, which for £1000 may sound good but doesn't have video switching or upgradable to 7.1 (I hear they are updating it soon, but I'm not sure how).

    Slingshot.
     
  17. MikeE

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    Thanks for the endorsement. I agree completely on the quality two channel mode, that was my thinking on keeping the excellent A85 pre amp stage. It's the CD replay for me that's almost the priority, and that's what's making finding anything suitable so difficult.
     
  18. garmtz

    garmtz
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    Do keep in mind that a good surround pre-amp also has good DACs and you will have the advantage of bass management from the processor.

    I know the DACs in my processor easily outperform any CD-player up to a considerable price.
     
  19. John Dawson

    John Dawson
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    Thanks for the comments so far guys - keep them coming in!

    One of the issues we face on these heavyweight processors and amps, on top of the component, assembly and test costs, is the sheer engineering time involved to complete each project.

    So, for packaging 7 P85 channels into one (new) box to save £200 at retail, we'd probably have to spend a man year or more to do the redesign - on second thoughts it would be nearly as big a job as the P7 - so make that more like 2 man years. That's conservatively £100,000 with only modest overheads, so to get our money back we would have to sell very large numbers and also not cannibalise the sales of many P85s or P7s. So it's not a very easy thing to comtemplate, especially if you feel the engineers could spend their time more profitably on another project (it's called "opportunity cost" in management jargon)

    It is absolutely certain that the AV8 is the biggest project we've ever undertaken at Arcam (and DVD was really big) - we reckon to have spent well over half a million pounds on this so far - and to do a simpler one with different boards etc would be a fair fraction of this, even allowing for reuse of some of the code. You've got to get this money back which inevitably affects the final price and until this is more or less completed it's difficult even to contemplate a less expensive version.

    We have of course done this kind of thing with amps and CD players but it's been easier to stretch a design upwards when doing those products in their FMJ versions. With the AV8 and P8 it very early on became clear that this had to be FMJ from the beginning as we would be compared with the benchmarks in the market place and we are offering more in most areas. Hence the final prices - but remember many dealers can do easy terms :)

    That's enough for tonight!

    John Dawson (Arcam)
     
  20. MikeE

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    John

    Thanks once again for the interesting insights. I understand your thinking with regard to a 7 channel amp based on the P85’s and I could certainly live with two or three separate amps, given the greater flexibility for upgrading and bi-amping as funds allow. I’m surprised though given the arguments, that you didn’t choose to make the new FMJ P35 amp slightly more powerful and promote the same approach, rather than develop the P7.

    Unfortunately, while I also understand your thinking in regard to going for the high end with the AV8 it leaves me without an Arcam processor for my system. I take it from your comments we are unlikely to see an updated DAVE for the A85 in the near future?

    As a long time fan of Arcam, I sincerely hope that there are enough buyers for £3000 processors for you to recover your costs and that it’s not just seen as a ‘me too’ product to the AV32R. From the amount of happy owners of that product on these forums alone, it would seem to have the market fairly well sown up. For me, it looks like I’ll be auditioning the Rotel and Myryad ranges (and buying lottery tickets)….

    Regards

    Mike
     
  21. John Dawson

    John Dawson
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    Thanks for your comments Mike. I am of course sorry if the AV8 is not for you and wish you luck auditioning the alternatives. BTW it is not a "me too" product to the AV32R - it does a lot more.

    I would like to clarify why we chose not to produce a new DAVE module. Briefly if we had set out on that route it would have still been a big project (perhaps a third to half the size of the AV8) and yet we would have been limited in market terms because of the lack of connectivity on the DAVE module because of its small size. And of course we wouldn't have been able to do the AV8 at the same time.....

    Also they really don't get the DAVE approach in the USA, where powerful processors and big power amps rule the day. The USA is by far Arcam's largest export market and so North American input was crucial in defining the final spec of the AV8/P7. From the market response so far we expect to export a lot of these, as well as sell a decent number in the UK :)

    Sincerely,

    John Dawson (Arcam)
     
  22. mrblue

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    Hi all
    just for interests sake I currently use a TAG AV32R bp192 7.1
    with 3 ARCAM FMJ P25 power amps [ 2x2 1x3 chnl] although
    the 3 amps do take up alot of space in my AV stand, I was
    able to buy the amps over a longer period of time [as I
    upgraded my system] and I like the greater flexibility of
    seperate units .
    I understand TAG are going to bring out a
    10 channel AV amp and along with the new AV amp from ARCAM these will be the amps to lust after!?


    Cheers!
     

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