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Power or preamp for nicely coloured music?

Discussion in 'AV Receivers & Amplifiers' started by Daneel, Apr 10, 2004.

  1. Daneel

    Daneel
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    I have come to the conclusion that for me, neutrality throughout my system is not desirable for music. To improve things on this front I can do one of two things. Either change my power amp or preamp for one that colours the sound nicely. I have a feeling that a tube preamp would be perfect.

    I'm considering selling my Parasound and replacing it with a Primare but I feel that will mean movies will suffer as I don't feel the need to colour that sound in a similar way. This leads to a preference for a preamp, although I then have the problem of connecting both the stereo preamp and my receiver up to the same front speakers.

    If anyone has suggestions (say under £700 for stereo preamp or power amp) for this, it would be appreciated.
     
  2. Peter Baker

    Peter Baker
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    I think your Parasound should be capable of exceelent sound, but, in my experience, none of the Japanese amps pass muster for music. I would therefore recommend changing your pioneer for something else. Perhaps an Arcam or Rotel or NAD, or a second hand Meridian/Naim/Primare
    Best of luck
    Peter
     
  3. Hawklord

    Hawklord
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    Hi Daneel, I would approach it in a different way and look at the source your using. One of the reasons I replaced the CD72T cdp was because it was very neutral sounding making my cd's very clinically without much emotion (imo). The cd72T was a marked improvement over my dvdp for cd music (obviously) and did a fantistic job of showing me what a good cdp was capable of. It managed to inject new life into my cd collection and rejuvinated my interest again after many years.
    Replacing the CD72t with the Naim CD5I has improved things futher. Not only does it appear to be more detailed but also seems to add more dynamics and emotion compared to the Arcam.
    If you keep the same amplification that your happy with av wise and add a source that gives you the sound you like then you'll have the best of both worlds hopefully. I'd get back on the cdp trail and find the player that suits your musical needs rather than changing the processing stage that may affect other aspects of your av set up:)

    you appear to have a quicker turnaround of gear than I do lol. Don't you just love this av malarky:rotfl:
     
  4. mutley

    mutley
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    i have had a 2011. Excelent in Movies, not in music.

    I have the same power and front speakers as you.

    I have great music!!! The thing is i swapped my 2011 for a Second-hand Meridian 561M.
     
  5. buns

    buns
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    I would recommend a meridian 565 or 561. Alternatively I like your valve amp approach..... id def stick with the power amp. Dont forget that its the preamp is the important one :)

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  6. Reiner

    Reiner
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    Actually what the world needs are three things: neutral speakers, a neutral amp with main in/out and ... a graphic equalizer.
    Then there is no need to find 'your' speaker or a 'warm' sounding amp etc., just buy the stuff without auditioning and adjust the equalizer according to your preferences. Done.


    Note: the above post may contain a certain level of sarcasm.
     
  7. buns

    buns
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    :clap: :rotfl: absolutely priceless!

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  8. Daneel

    Daneel
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    Thanks for the replies guys. :)

    Peter: The thing is that when I tried a Primare amp with my Pioneer as a pre and the 602s. I LOVED the sound. I should have bought there and then but I hadn't heard any other poweramps at that point so I declined until I had more experience.

    The problem with the Primare was it actually sounded pretty crap in direct mode, but engaging MCACC (which without the power amp it does a good job of clean up nasties in the frequency response) made it sound great. That means that if I do add the Primare, I need some EQ for both movies and music, because the amp is severely coloured.

    Reiner: I actually gave that serious consideration and despite your sarcasm, I think it could work!

    Mutely: You noticed my fronts are now JM Lab Electra 926s not 602s right? ;)

    Hawklord: I've heard some of the best CD (Naim, Linn, Accuphase) sources out there and although I wasn't demoing those in particular, I can't say I found any of them very impressive, especially at the price. I will get around to doing a dedicated CDP demo at some point but thus far I''m not convinced.

    Buns: I would love to get my hands on a Meridian but it's looking somewhat difficult without actually buying one. I'm at a total loss on the pre-amp side, does anyone have any suggestions at all?
     
  9. Ettepet

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    Difficult.

    You have many different components, making it hard to choose.

    I'm almost inclined to suggest a seperate (dedicated) HT speaker-set, which don't have to be expensive or BIG, but tonally matched. You could sell your B&W's. If you choose proper HT-speakers that match the Pioneer, than you have got that angle covered without any extra (HT-) amp.

    I don't know what amp or pre-amp matches the Electra's best for the sound you'd like to get out of them. Try googlin' for other users, and see what they feel matches. (a site with user reviews is often a good one) My experience is that power-amps also color sound, especially the cheaper ones.

    OR:

    You could sell the Pioneer, and buy a Yamaha 1400/2400, a Denon 3805, or a second-hand Rotel 1066. It would depend on what sound you prefer. Maybe the Yamaha/Denon are also 'crap' at pre-amping the Parasound.
     
  10. buns

    buns
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    Daneel,

    Maybe you could ask around and see whether anyone local could show you their Meridian? The other one worth looking towards (on a slightly more limited budget) are the lex DC series...... they are pushing £500 which is soooo low :D

    preamp wise that is difficult. I use a korato kvp10 dual mono valve pre and dual mono valve power supply. I think the combo comes in at under £1500 and is available through A-audiosolutions and their dealers. It is way too exotic for most on here so dont expect anyone to be able to tell you anything about it! Others I tried were mainly lower end. A linn kolector (very nice but lacked emotion) a naim 72 (reallly really fast paced but just too unrelenting for me) and an audiolab 8000Q (very good but a bit on the dull side for me) all pased the initial testing and were demo'd in house. But as for rivals over £1k...... I really cant tell

    all the best

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  11. mutley

    mutley
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    Nop, sorry :oops: :blush:
     
  12. Magic

    Magic
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    Just to add my hapeth. It's always a problem balancing hifi & av sytems as the av processor requires additional signal processing & somethimes video switching. I agree with Bins about the Meridian 565 as it is a very good sounding unit & is a real bargain. I much prefered it to the older Lexicons, TAGs & Arcams. It's decent with music, but not great.

    The preamp is really important & it's hard to get a decent one without shelling out serious cash. I'd recommend combining a 2nd hand 565 (£600-700)with a 2nd hand ATC CA2 Pre (£450). The CA2 is a fabulous pre, but uses XLR outputs so you'll need XLR/RCA converters (Maplin). This would be OK with the Parasound, but works great with Primare (better than their own pre/processors).

    Also have you tried using hard isolation under the source. Nordost Pulsar Points are excellent & can really lift the performance of DVD/CD players (the thin metal casework is a nightmare that really holds them back). I'd try these first.

    Cables can also have a significant effect so what are you using? Parasound sounds coloured compared to Primare, which suits av use nicely, but with the right cables Primare can be both open & full, without sounding cold. I've just changed over to to a Proceed system which is excellent for both. This has now been discontinued, but if you look around the PAV/PDSD combo can be had for around £1k (originally £14k). This is a great combination that is a steal for that much. There's no PLII or DDDEX, but their stero surround is v. good.
     
  13. avanzato

    avanzato
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    Which are you saying is 'severely coloured' the Primare or Pioneer?
     
  14. Daneel

    Daneel
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    Thanks a lot for your time people, those are some in-depth replies. :)

    Magic:
    If the CA2 (I'm demoing one this weekend) or similar works well, I shouldn't have any need for the 565 as I'm more than happy with the Pioneer for movies.

    Re isolation and cables. Despite my best efforts I can't tell the difference between my Arcam CD72T and my old Marantz CD4000. Given this I can't imagine that new cables or isolation thingys will make a difference for me.

    I'm very surprised to hear you say the Parasound is coloured and the Primare is neutral as I've found the opposite, although there are differences between the new Halo series and the older amps, to which were you refering?

    I would love to get my hands on some Proceed kit, any suggestions where I can source it?

    Buns: I was looking at a 8000Q just a few days ago but they seem to go for about £400, which given their age seems rather high. I'll look into that preamp you are using and I can certainly demo the Naim.

    avanzato: The Primare.
     
  15. avanzato

    avanzato
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    Hmm? Like Magic I would have said Primare had a fairly neutral sound.

    Can you remember what the MCACC processing gave the Primare that it didn't have originally. That might be the easiest way to pinpoint what it is you are after.

    OTOH If the Pioneer Eq is 'improving' the sound and you go for a Pre or Power that gives you that sound straight. It might be that you end up buying something that only pleases you with the current system layout in the room you are using now. Even just moving the speakers then could put you back to sq. one.
     
  16. Daneel

    Daneel
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    avanzato: Yes that is exactly what is putting me off the Primare, it only sounded good with EQ on so if I lose that due to changing the Pioneer for something that doesn't have it, I'm screwed.

    In direct mode, ie MCACC off, the Primare was overly strong in the bass (a combination of the room and the amp), it sounded soft (not so through the Parasound or the Pioneer) and imaging wasn't great. General Skanky was there (it was his Primare at the time) and agreed that engaging MCACC improved things a lot.

    The thing is, with the Pioneer or Parasound the sound is lacking something I can only describe as musicallity. It is very hard to work out as I can't point to anything that is actually wrong. It is very clean and neutral.
     
  17. Peter Baker

    Peter Baker
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    This is exactly what I feel when I listen to Japanese mass market products.
    If the Primare only sounds good with the Pioneer MCACC, I wouldn't feel happy with it myself, as introducing more digital hash with the MCACC must have some impact on the overall sound quality.
    Maybe try something totally different, like NAD or ROTEL.
     
  18. rags

    rags
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    Daneel - the pioneer is hardly renowned as a good musical preamp. Shouldnt you be looking to change that ? If your budget is limited given all your recent purchases why not consider one of the Cyrus, Naim, Tag etc second hand processors ?

    I agree with the others here an in my opinion the Primare can hardly be described as right for you if it only sounds good with the MCACC on. Sounds like your judging your power amps by their ability to sound good with the Pioneer !
     
  19. Daneel

    Daneel
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    True rags, very true. I'm just getting frustrated with the whole thing. I need you guys to keep on the path to hi-fi heaven :D

    BTW, did you hear the PB2+ over the weekend?
     
  20. rags

    rags
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    Not heard the PB2 yet. Coming weekend.
     
  21. Magic

    Magic
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    You're right about the 565 being redundant if you already have an AV processor you're happy with (although the 565 might surprise you if you get to try one). It's not bad as a cheap one box solution for music & AV, but it's certainly not ideal. I would guess that as previously observed the Pioneer might be the weak link & the sound you prefer may well be the one that best masks it's weaknesses. having said that if you're happy with it then perhaps a Rotel might be more sympathetic.

    The CA2 is dynamite, although it can be rather revealing. If you have the Parasound Halo amps rather than their older offerings then this won't be a problem. I heard the new stuff at Signals a while back & was heartily impressed. Much better than Rotel for the money.

    I would give the Pulsar Points a go if you can borrow a set. I use Elemental Audio & Mana racking for all my stuff & they still do the biz under all of my kit. Experiments with the more modest systems of my mates & colleagues have been startling, especially on CD/DVD players. The change in sound is not subtle & I wonder how we ever did without them. They made a £100 Tosh DVD palatable with CDs which based on its previous performace was nothing short of miraculous. Even the highend stuff gets better with them underneath.

    Lesson over. Hope the dem goes well. Make sure you listen with decent cables like Nordost Blue Heaven / Chord Silver Siren (No Van Den Dull I hope). Try the CA2 with a Primare aswell if you can as the two go together really well (2 of my mates have combined them).
     
  22. rags

    rags
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    I agree with your thoughts on the Parasound Halo kit but whats wrong with Van Den Hul ?
     
  23. Daneel

    Daneel
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    I had the Parasound Halo A23 for a week. It sounded very impressive at first but was so bright that I was reaching for the volume control then the off button within minutes. :(

    Not a good match with my system at the time.
     
  24. mick23

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    hi all ive tried quite a bit of kit now but in general find most music all sounds a bit clinical with not much depth or warmth to it.

    find this with dynaudio and previous cdms possible more neutral than i prefer

    tried unico hybrid that solves part of the problem (more warmth ) but cannot combine with av .

    but cannot see how one would add a preamp to an av reciever and use for say cd playback +phono

    or has anyone got suggestions for differant more warm sounding av unit than 3802 without going into far higher price bracket, or whats a warm sounding integrated just tried mf 3.2 found top end too hard sounding .
     
  25. Peter Baker

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    Try any of the Arcams
    If it's of interest I have an Arcam 10/DAVE/10P3 on sale in the classifieds currently.

    Regards
    Peter
     

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