Proper Amplifier to drive Focal Sopra 3 Speakers

Glenn B

Novice Member
I have a Marantz SR 7010 Receiver, I would like to know what kind of Amplifier would be a good compliment for either 2 or 7 channel audio.
 

Rambles

Distinguished Member
Do you mean you want to add a power amplifier via the pre-outs?

Have you got 7 x Focal Sopra 3 speakers?
 
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Rambles

Distinguished Member
No problem. That is a lot of speaker. I am afraid I don't know which amps would run them best, hopefully someone else will be able to help you.
 

Glenn B

Novice Member
Sorry for the misunderstanding.
I only have 2 Focal Sopra 3 speakers, with a focal profile center channel as well as a pair of focal sr908 surrounds.
Thanks
Glenn
 

Mark.Yudkin

Distinguished Member
Unfortunately, you didn't give a budget. Assuming (post #6) you're only looking to power the Sopra 3's and not the other speakers, and that your budget is reasonable, but not large, your choices would be either a
1) a stereo power amplifier, or a three channel power amplifier to give you consistency over the front three speakers.
2) a stereo integrated amplifier with HT mode input.
Option 1) answers your question, option 2) enhances it with a setup targeted at improving stereo applications. I'll leave 2) for the moment, as it wasn't your question and concentrate on two channels, for the same reason.

The CA Azur 851W is a decent quality power amplifier at a sensible price.

The Arcam P49 is a bit more expensive, but more interesting is the Arcam P349, which is the three channel version thereof. This gives you the ability to power the Focal profile centre from the same power amplifier, as mentioned above.

I like the Anthem P2, but it's not cheap. A compromise could be the Anthem A2.

If your budget stretches a bit further you could investigate Bryston, Elektrocompaniet or Primare.

OTOH, if you just want decent power amplification on a tight budget, you could get an Emotiva, or similar. This also offers a 3 channel solution.

I would suggest speaking with your dealer - the one who sold you the Focals would be my recommendation - to arrange home trial. Of course, that probably won't be an option if you're on a tight budget.
 

Glenn B

Novice Member
Thank you for your response. What amplifier would you recommend for a 7 channel amp. Is the monolith 7 any good. It is made by ATI.
 

Mark.Yudkin

Distinguished Member
I cannot make a sensible recommendation without a budget.

The Monolith has the advantage of a fairly low price. Assuming the Monolith's price represents what you're prepared to pay, popular alternatives at this price range here are Emotiva XPA Gen3 and the Nakamichi PA-7. Another option would be to see if you can get something nice from the classifieds.
 

Glenn B

Novice Member
Thank you. If money is not a problem, is there a point of diminishing returns if say you buy the McIntosh MC 207,Bryston etc. Is it worth it to pay $10,000.00 for an amp. Will it make that much difference?
 

Mark.Yudkin

Distinguished Member
Most people have their own break-even point in the cost - benefit curve. $10K will get you a McIntosh MC8207, which is a nice piece of kit. Bryston is a bit "messier" as you need two boxes to cover 7 channels.

If money is not a problem, you can get a stack of big monoblocs - but whether it's worth it will be an individual's decision. I would not pay excessive pricing for amplification, not that I could afford to anyway. In fact I'd need a pretty convincing home demonstration to persuade me to get even the MC8207. My expected price range is about half of that, but since I have adequate 7 channel power amplification, am anyway not in the market for a replacement (first comes a new processor).
 

Glenn B

Novice Member
Which Amplifier do you think you would go with if you had a pair of Focal Sopra 3s for 7 channel amplification as you know they are a bright speaker?
Thank you for replying!!
 

Mark.Yudkin

Distinguished Member
I would never buy a speaker I "knew to be bright" and would immediately set about fixing the speakers. No amount of money thrown at the amplification can possibly achieve anything. This should also be obvious as quality amplification is about increased accuracy - not compensating for inadequacies elsewhere along the chain.

That said, I have never before heard the Focal Sopra 3's described as bright, even though the top octave is somewhat directional. In contrast, the Sopra 3's have always been described as well balanced, although difficult to drive. I had assumed you had hit issues with driving the Focals from an AVR, but these problems should not result in a "bright sound", even with your Marantz AVR. The exception is valve amplification, where the high output impedance could interact with the speakers uneven impedance characteristics and typically higher treble impedance.


For me, your description of the sound being bright means you should probably be looking at your room, rather than your equipment, for resolution of this problem. If you have a room issue that your AV's room equalization can't adjust for, no amount of cash thrown at the amplification will achieve anything other than a lighter pocket. My guess is that your room (furnishing) is not damping the high frequency, causing it to be exaggerated.
 

Glenn B

Novice Member
Thank you Mark for all the time that you have spent replying to my concerns. Maybe I should not have used the word bright to describe the Spora 3's. My TV is placed in a corner, so I have my speakers placed in a corner as well. The Marantz as you know only puts out 125 watts a channel and I think I need more amplification as my volume is at sometimes 83. Is a 200 watt amplifier enough or should I go to a higher wattage amplifier.
Thanks
Glenn
 

Mark.Yudkin

Distinguished Member
The Sopra 3 has a sensitivity of 91.5dB @1W @1m, so 125W is actually quite adequate for deafening levels in normal size rooms. However, I would consider "125W / channel" for the Marantz SR 7010 to be a rather generous statement (the Marantz spec says 2 channels driven with 0.05% THD; also the device consumes 710W).

I would indeed suggest having adequate power available, but the critical measurements are not power per se, but power in conjunction with low distortion and tolerance of an awkward impedance load (see the chart above for what your speakers are presenting).

You probably ought to consider seeing if you can improve your room layout - corner layouts are generally a nasty way to mistreat speakers. Modern flat TVs are much more amenable to rectangular layouts than the old deep CRTs that asked for corners.

Since you only have the two Sopra 3's and the other speakers are not really an issue, a logical move would be to address the front three only, leaving the surrounds and rears with the SR7010. This would speak for an Arcam P349, which gives you 3 channels, 8Ω, 20Hz—20kHz 180W at 0.2% THD; Harmonic distortion, 80% power, 8Ω at 1kHz 0.001%, and costs ca GBP 4K. Or if you could stretch to twice that, the Bryston 6BSST² PRO is an absolute beauty with 3 channels of 300 W into 8Ω,20Hz to 20KHz at 0.005% THD - total overkill of course, but heck, nice kit and well built with a 20 year warranty. There are also options from McIntosh, Parasound, etc.

OTOH, you haven't really indicated if this is purely for films or whether you also have a stereo requirement you wish to improve. The latter would speak for a decent integrated amplifier with HT mode.
 

Glenn B

Novice Member
Thank you again for your reply. Would those amplifiers you suggested above make a lot of difference in sound? I keep coming back to the Monolith 7 Amplifier. Is that amp any good or should I spend more money to get the ones that you are suggesting?
 

Mark.Yudkin

Distinguished Member
Thank you again for your reply. Would those amplifiers you suggested above make a lot of difference in sound? I keep coming back to the Monolith 7 Amplifier. Is that amp any good or should I spend more money to get the ones that you are suggesting?
My guess is that spending extra money will not make much of an improvement, given your comments in post #14.

I also rather suspect that the Monolith 7 would be quite adequate for yielding better control of the Sopra 3's and their awkward impedance. Better amplification would likely only make sense if you could sort out the underlying room issues.

(Since you never answered the questions on stereo replay or on budget, the above might be terrible advice).
 

Dvir

Novice Member
(Since you never answered the questions on stereo replay or on budget, the above might be terrible advice).
Hello,
I've stumbled upon this thread looking for recommendations for driving my Sopra No.3's.
I am interested in an integrated amp for stereo purposes with the option of using the Sopras for home theater, so the integrated amp needs to have HT bypass. Would really appreciate recommendations in that direction.

Thanks!
 

Mark.Yudkin

Distinguished Member
Hello,
I've stumbled upon this thread looking for recommendations for driving my Sopra No.3's.
I am interested in an integrated amp for stereo purposes with the option of using the Sopras for home theater, so the integrated amp needs to have HT bypass. Would really appreciate recommendations in that direction.
Budget?
 

Mark.Yudkin

Distinguished Member
I assume that's USD. You should be aware that this is a UK-based forum, and as a result, equipment that is more likely to be recommended at this price range is likely to be European. If you're US based, you'd probably be better off asking in a local forum.

The Eletrocompaniet ECI 6 D (ECI 6D Integrated amplifier with DAC) would be hard to beat at this price. All it's missing is an internal phono amp, but you didn't mention the need for that.
 

Dvir

Novice Member
yes, USD. European equipment is good for me as i'm not from the US :)

If budget would would increase to ~9K euros - how would that change the selection? and what would be the major gains?

Thanks!
 

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