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Rotel RA-02, Nad C350/70 or Arcam a65/75

Discussion in 'AV Pre-Amp/Processors & Power Amps' started by scouse, Feb 18, 2003.

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  1. scouse

    scouse
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    What are peoples opinions of these stereo amps. Has anyone compared them directly??

    Thanks
     
  2. sounddog

    sounddog
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    Okay ... back at Christmas I demo'd the C370 back to back with the RA-02.

    The C370 was a good amp, but I felt with the speakers I was demo'ing with (B&W 602s3) there was just too much force to the bass, with the top end loosing out, becoming at times indistinct.

    The problem with the RA02 though was that it was too bright, lacking the power to produce enough bass for the speakers. The solution was to look at the RA1060 ... a somewhat underrated amp IMO ... which had the top end goodness of the RA-02, with a lot more power and control to the bass.

    Now I can imagine with different speakers that the C370 would have been much better ... but with B&W 602s3 it just didn't make the grade.

    The RA1060 is now doing sterling work powering the front two channels of my Home Cinema kit, along with a Marantz SR5200 and will soon be joined by a RB970 to experiment with bi-amping the fronts. My only disappointment with the 1060 is that it lacks the "processor" switch of the Arcam A75 ... a feature wich is lacking on most affordable stereo amps.

    Victoria
     
  3. scouse

    scouse
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    Thanks sounddog. What speakers do you think would have suited the c370? I will be hopefully testing soon, within the next month so i need some recommendations to test you see.

    What is this processor switch that you talk of?? I'm a newbie you see.
     
  4. sounddog

    sounddog
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    I wouldn't like to recomend speakers for the C370 ... I guess maybe something less bass heavy ... something like the Quad 11L maybe? It wasn't that there was anything wrong with the C370 driving the B&W 602s ... its more that the RA1060 was more to my taste ... different rather than better.

    The Processor switch is a feature of the Arcam A75 (and A85). It lets one input be fixed level (the volume control is fixed regardless of it's position) ... this is ideal for if you are wanting to use the Integrated Amp to power front speakers in an AV setup.

    Victoria
     
  5. scouse

    scouse
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    Thanks again sounddog i shall try the b+w's out when the time comes to testing kit. It is my intention in the distant future to run an AV kit in my room but i've decided to stick with 2 channel for now so connectivity to an AV receiver or processor would be necessary.

    Thanks
     
  6. sounddog

    sounddog
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    I'm not sure if you're saying you want to make sure you CAN connect to a processor, or if you're saying you're not bothered either way ... however rest assured that any stereo integrated amp can be used with an AV reciever or processor - the front channels are just connected to a spare input and the volume adjusted to a suitable level.

    Victoria
     
  7. nathan_silly

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    If you can find a integrated amp which can be used as direct 2 channel poweramp (ie Audiolab 8000S), then this will be better than going through a integrated amp's line level input (ie aux), as you don't want to set the volume on the integrated every time you want a DVD.


    I had was in that situation a bit ago- it's a bit annoying.

    Also you're going through an additional pre-amp (which you don't want to do)

    Have Arcam sorted out the poweramp input on their integrated's? I found the Alpha 9 to be quite noisy when switched over.

    Nathan
     
  8. sounddog

    sounddog
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    Don't buy an amp JUST because it has a processor switch or poweramp direct input, etc. I've never really found it a problem setting the volume to the correct level ... 1 or 2deg incorrect setting on the integrated isn't going to make any difference and it's a 5 second things to do - certainly quicker than changing cables or walking over and having to change a switch on a manual switch box ... especially as the levels of the power amp probably still won't match those of the rest of the amps in the AV reciever.

    Anyway ... my advice to you is to audition in your price range (the RA-02, NAD C370, etc) and decide which suits you best ... buy that and enjoy it.

    (BTW ... if you decide on the RA-02 ... did you know that the RA-01 is pretty much identical electronics but without remote control and £100 less)

    Victoria
     
  9. nathan_silly

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    Nope. Just flip the switch from integrated mode to Poweramp in mode.


    Probably, but when you've set the integrated amp into poweramp mode- you adjust the L/R pre-out channel adjustment, and use a SPL meter to set exactly.

    Therefore you have the integrated amp volume purely for 2 channel (CD,Tape etc) for AV flick the integrated amp into poweramp mode. The integrated amp will not effect L/R volume. Then use the AV Amp master volume to adjust all channels, including L/R.

    I would consider finding a 2nd hand Audiolab 8000S. Approx £250-£300. The Arcam's, Rotels and NAD's don't even come close to the sound quality.
     
  10. sounddog

    sounddog
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    The Audiolab 8000 series are good ... but personally when spending upwards of £250 I would prefer to have the backing of a dealer and the manufacturers guarantee behind me.

    And I don't know how they compare ... but if an Audiolab 8000S is similar to a Tag 60i ... then I would venture that the Rotel 1060 is better than it in terms of sound quality (again using B&W 602 as the speakers).

    And anyway ... the guy isn't wanting to use an AV Amp with it at the moment ... so it doesn't really matter to him how the connection of the AV amp works ... it's just comforting to know that he CAN do it later if he wishes.

    Victoria
     
  11. nathan_silly

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  12. scouse

    scouse
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    thanks a lot for all your advice i shall try to get some demos arranged as soon as possible

    Just to clarify though if you have an amp connected to the front speakers on an av setup the av amp still controls the overall volume of the front speakers doesn't it...or am i missing something?
     
  13. EvilMudge

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    Scouse,
    if your driving a power amp with the line level outputs then the volume control is soley on the AV part. If it's an integrated, some can have the volume control bypassed whilst others can't. I think others have covered this, but the AV amp has the primary volume control, whilst an integrated external would be a secondary volume control - as long as it's not touched you don't have to worry about it.
     
  14. nathan_silly

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    Yes. There are two ways of connecting a integrated amp from the AV amp..

    1) Left & Right pre-outs (volume controlled output) from the AV ampm go into a spare line-level (ie, CD, tuner, aux) of the integrated. Every time you watch a DVD, you need to set the integrated's volume to a certain level so the L/R speaker output is the same as C/RR/RL. You also need to reduce volume if you want to listen to CD, as the volume control is normally quite high to match the others (usually 12 o clock)

    2) Left & Right pre-outs from the AV go into a direct poweramp input on the integrated amp. For normal CD listening, the integrated adjusts the L/R volume. For DVD, flick the input to poweramp mode, the integrated does not effect L/R volume. The AV amp will control the L/R volume, and all other channels (master volume)

    More amps nowaways have the poweramp input. I have to disagree with Victoria, I would find all decent quality amps with the direct poweramp input, and demo each one (why limit yourself to a amp without a direct poweramp input?)

    btw, the Tag 60i is based on the 8000C. The 8000S beats both.
     
  15. sounddog

    sounddog
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    I actually said that you shouldn't limit yourself to just amps WITH a direct poweramp input. If you find an amp that suits you but it DOESN'T have a direct poweramp input, then buy it, but if the amp that suits you DOES have a poweramp input / fixed level input that all the better if you want to add a AV system later.

    And Nathan ... other than second hand amps ... what Amps upto say £600 have a direct poweramp input that is switchable via the front panel?

    The Arcam A75 has it's "fixed level" input - but that (I believe) still goes via the pre-amp section, just the volume is fixed at a particular level. Then the NADs all have an external link between the pre and power amp sections ... but you either have to manually switch cables with that or would have to use an external switch box. Lets think appart from that ... Rotel - No, TAG 60i - No, Marantz PM8200 - No, Music Fidelify A3.2 - No, Cyrus - No, Roksan Candy - No (all these are from cursory glances at spec ... they may have separated pre / power amp sections like the NAD) ... so to say that More amps nowerdays have this facility is wrong (IMO) ... the Arcam have had it for a long time (Alpha 8 + 9 had it) and, as you say, some of the Audiolabs had a switch to connect an input directly to the poweramp section ... but not many companies (unfortunately to my mind) have particularly followed suite.

    I agree with you that it is a great feature ... but by no means is it essential and to buy and amp just because it DOES have a "processor" switch rather than because it sounds good ... is as bad as buying it because "its a nice colour" or "has pretty green LEDs rather than red ones".

    Victoria
     
  16. nathan_silly

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    Did I say consider a bad-sounding amp just because of the poweramp input? Nope.

    The Arcam 9 did have a processor switch- but this was extremly noisy (mate had a Alpha 9), also added hum to the signal as well.

    You've stumped me about the £600 amps.

    The 8000S is dead silent via the poweramp. One reason I got the 8000S was because of the poweramp input- and I'm grateful I did. Setting the amp to 12 o clock is a pain in the ***. Once you go direct (just flick a switch) I think you'll agree with me.

    I can understand people not buying 2nd hand unit, however a poweramp/integrated is pretty much bullet proof. I bought poweramps 2nd hand- if they did go faulty it's only simple components (resistors, capacitors, transistors, and at worst a new power supply) Pretty cheap to repair. I would not buy a CD player 2nd hand.

    As for scouse- find a Audiolanb 8000S, the Rotels/Arcam/Nad are good - but Fraggle is also considering the Audiolab setup. If they are so close why is doing it?

    btw, my mate had a Arcam Alpha 9/9P setup- he borrowed my two Audiolabs for a week. You know what?- within a month he sold the Arcams and bought the same. And he's not really into music- just shows you the difference.
     
  17. sounddog

    sounddog
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    No ... you didn't say "consider a bad-sounding amp just because of the poweramp input" ... you did say audition all the amps you can with a processor switch (by which I include direct power amp inputs, and fixed level inputs - anything which defetes the volume control). My point is that you should audition all the amps in your price range ... and yes ... include a s/h Audiolab 8000S if possible and you're comfortable buying second hand. Yes having the processor switch would be nice and would avoid 2 seconds annoyance 2 or 3 times aday when changing from listening to a CD to AV or vis-a-vis ... but I don't want to give scouse the impressiong that he MUST get an amp with a processor switch otherwise he'll have problems if later he wants to integrate an AV amp.

    The Alpha 9 comment wasn't anything to do with quality ... just that it was a feature that HAD been around for a while and hasn't got to be any more widespread.

    Yes ... only simple components go wrong on an amp (pre or power) but IF they do go wrong ... unless you are capable of fixing it yourself and have the time, then it is still going to cost to repair - pretty cheep components but an electronics technicians time is not cheep. Yes I agree that a CD player (or anything else with moving parts) is much more of a risk to buy s/h - but MY opinion is that I would rather spend a little more on something I consider to be of similar sound quality but is new so I got the backing of a dealer, etc. Add to that that the last AudioLab was made at least 5 years ago (from memory ... I'm sure you'll correct me about the right time) then you must admit that they are beginning to age. Not everyone is comfortable in buying second hand.

    Oh ... and you say your "two" Audiolabs beat the Arcam ... I assume thats a integrated and power amp? Oh but then the "poweramp direct" switch doesn't work does it!! Also, and I think you've made this point yourself in other threads, the Audiolabs need to be matched to the right speakers if they are to sound good.

    BTW ... I do wish Audiolab didn't name EVERYTHING (or so it seams) 8000 with various letters afterwards ... its so confusing.

    To summerise and clarify ... I am not saying that the Audiolab is NOT a good amp, far be it ... from what people tell me it IS a very good amp (I've never heard one in any system) ... but it IS going to be second hand and at least 5 years old. There are also several very good new amps out there for the money ... but very few have the "processor" switch which is a shame ... but not something that should influence your purchase that much. Buy the best amp you can afford, and by best I mean the one that sounds best to you, with recordings you enjoy listening to.

    And when demoing ... take your own CDs you like, don't let you dealer try to guide you into listening to only well recorded tracks.

    My choice ... listening through B&W 602s ... was the Rotel RA1060, because I couldn't afford an Arcam A85. But for other people the best amp might be something else. Don't close your eyes (ears) to any option - be it Nathans suggestion of a s/h Audiolab 8000S, my sugestion of the RA1060 or other peoples sugestions and reviews.

    Victoria
     
  18. nathan_silly

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    Good points. You're correct with the poweramp input (and no signal to the SX) however got round this- two systems! :D

    At the time poweramp inputs were a bit more common (Audiolab, Linn, Arcam) were bringing out new models with this feature. I guess with the affordability of AV amps, and preference of fewer boxes they got phased out.

    The age of gear is not a reason of re-considering it (unless old worn out tubes etc)- but alot of older Japanese Technics amps were good. Now look at them.

    Nathan
     
  19. sounddog

    sounddog
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    Good point about quality of older amps ... however there are also some stunning budget amps compared with mid to high range kit that was avaliable 5 - 10 years ago.

    However ... I think we've probably done the S/H Audiolab vs New Rotel / NAD / Arcam bit to death so probably that about wraps it up!!

    Scouse ... just go out there and get listening to some demos.

    Victoria
     
  20. scouse

    scouse
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    Thanks again you lot...i think some auditioning will be taking lace very shortly.... ;-)
     
  21. sounddog

    sounddog
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    scouse I'm not sure what crackpot magazine you've been reading ... but trimming the amp in lace really isn't they way to improve tweek the sounds quality ...
     
  22. scouse

    scouse
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    heh heh...its a northern thing you see...

    meant "place" obviously...ahem...
     

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