Should I replace power amp with integrated amp?

Rnjderivs

Standard Member
Hi there, I just bought kef q150s, and am using a niles si2100 power amp to drive them. They are on decent stands, and I have a Sonos connect plugged into the Niles. Seems to work well enough, but I think I want a lusher, warmer sound.

Would I get an audio upgrade by switching out the Niles and using an integrated amp. I would lean towards a good budget one if I went that route, rather than high end

Is that worth it, or am I heading down a rabbit hole? I am an occasional listener and by no means an audiophile.
 

Kapkirk

Well-known Member
Being a class D amp the Niles may not be particularly warm sounding as you have found out but it does have good power. Also the Kef speakers you have are not the most sensitive speakers around at 86dB so will require a decent amount of power to get the most out of them. It's difficult really to recommend a warmish sounding amp with enough power to get the most out of the KEF's without really spending some decent cash but I would say look at something like the Quad Vena 2 or Denon PMA800NE as a minimum, both of these amps are class AB and offer a warmer sound than most. Going second hand might be an idea also.
 
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Rnjderivs

Standard Member
Being a class D amp the Niles may not be particularly warm sounding as you have found out but it does have good power. Also the Kef speakers you have are not the most sensitive speakers around at 86dB so will require a decent amount of power to get the most out of them. It's difficult really to recommend a warmish sounding amp with enough power to get the most out of the KEF's without really spending some decent cash but I would say look at something like the Quad Vena 2 or Denon PMA800NE as a minimum, both of these amps are class AB and offer a warmer sound than most. Going second hand might be an idea also.
Thank you for the advice. Will this be enough of a difference for me to even notice, or am I falling down the trap of shiny new gear but with minimal audio difference?

My room is a medium sized room (16 x 15 feet), and I have the speakers in a corner with foam plugs in the bass port. So the positioning is not ideal from a audio perspective, but is convenient for me from a use of space perspective.
 

Khazul

Well-known Member
I don't think changing the amp is likely to get you what you want. 'Warmer' sound is about the overall frequency balance and with any speaker + room combination, the interaction of the speakers with the room results in a specific sound character at a listening position.

I assume you use the port bungs because the result was too bass heavy without them. Part of putting those in will be an overall average frequency balance tilt in favour of the high end. If you make the bass quieter, to get the same overall perceived playback level you will need to turn it up and so everything else will now be louder and likely sound brighter as a consequence.

I guess what you want is somewhere between bungs in and bungs out. Perhaps there is another hole in the overall spectrum in the 100-200Hz region that is now more exposed by there being less bass below and that is making the overall sound seem a bit thin perhaps.

I would experiment more with speaker placement and bungs / listening position, etc before thinking about changing amps. Maybe a measuring mic and the REW application would be a useful investment to guide you on what to do.
 

rccarguy2

Distinguished Member
What's room like? Empty with hard surfaces?
 

Rnjderivs

Standard Member
What's room like? Empty with hard surfaces?
the room has wooden floors and exposed brick and walls that are mostly bare. two windows. There is a desk, lounge chair and bookcase as furniture. Are you maybe thinking a rug will make the difference?
 

Rnjderivs

Standard Member
I don't think changing the amp is likely to get you what you want. 'Warmer' sound is about the overall frequency balance and with any speaker + room combination, the interaction of the speakers with the room results in a specific sound character at a listening position.

I assume you use the port bungs because the result was too bass heavy without them. Part of putting those in will be an overall average frequency balance tilt in favour of the high end. If you make the bass quieter, to get the same overall perceived playback level you will need to turn it up and so everything else will now be louder and likely sound brighter as a consequence.

I guess what you want is somewhere between bungs in and bungs out. Perhaps there is another hole in the overall spectrum in the 100-200Hz region that is now more exposed by there being less bass below and that is making the overall sound seem a bit thin perhaps.

I would experiment more with speaker placement and bungs / listening position, etc before thinking about changing amps. Maybe a measuring mic and the REW application would be a useful investment to guide you on what to do.
thank you. I did play around with bungs, but maybe there's more to experiment with there...
 

rccarguy2

Distinguished Member
Put as many soft furnishings you have to test out, quilt, blankets, cushions, pillows, towels around the room that is free room treatment you have and be able to tell difference
 

Kapkirk

Well-known Member
I don't think changing the amp is likely to get you what you want. 'Warmer' sound is about the overall frequency balance and with any speaker + room combination, the interaction of the speakers with the room results in a specific sound character at a listening position.

I assume you use the port bungs because the result was too bass heavy without them. Part of putting those in will be an overall average frequency balance tilt in favour of the high end. If you make the bass quieter, to get the same overall perceived playback level you will need to turn it up and so everything else will now be louder and likely sound brighter as a consequence.

I guess what you want is somewhere between bungs in and bungs out. Perhaps there is another hole in the overall spectrum in the 100-200Hz region that is now more exposed by there being less bass below and that is making the overall sound seem a bit thin perhaps.

I would experiment more with speaker placement and bungs / listening position, etc before thinking about changing amps. Maybe a measuring mic and the REW application would be a useful investment to guide you on what to do.

That particular amp he has is quite well known for sounding bright and sterile. I agree with almost everything you said Khazul, and he could definitely benefit from a rug to dampen the sound a little in that room.
2 ch Amplifiers from Denon, Yamaha, Quad and the Rega Brio have a particularly warmer sound characteristic than most amps I've heard and I think WOULD go some way to help make the music more pleasant to listen too.
If it were in his position I'd also consider an amp with tone controls and remove the bungs from the speakers or try repositioning the speakers so he could do away with the bungs. Bungs can remove a lot of the warmth by emphasizing the mids/highs.
 

Rnjderivs

Standard Member
That particular amp he has is quite well known for sounding bright and sterile. I agree with almost everything you said Khazul, and he could definitely benefit from a rug to dampen the sound a little in that room.
2 ch Amplifiers from Denon, Yamaha, Quad and the Rega Brio have a particularly warmer sound characteristic than most amps I've heard and I think WOULD go some way to help make the music more pleasant to listen too.
If it were in his position I'd also consider an amp with tone controls and remove the bungs from the speakers or try repositioning the speakers so he could do away with the bungs. Bungs can remove a lot of the warmth by emphasizing the mids/highs.

Thanks for that. If I remove the foam bungs, would you advise instead reducing the bass via the equalizer in the Sonos connect? The speakers are positioned where they need to be due to other constraints but it definitely produces a boom and muddy sound without the bungs.
 

Kapkirk

Well-known Member
Thanks for that. If I remove the foam bungs, would you advise instead reducing the bass via the equalizer in the Sonos connect? The speakers are positioned where they need to be due to other constraints but it definitely produces a boom and muddy sound without the bungs.

You could certainly try that, unfortunately it sounds like having your speakers tucked away in the corners are not helping matters. Try with equalization first and see what sounds better, that or with the bungs., personally I hate using bungs but in some cases they cannot be avoided.
As others have suggested try some soft furnishing or a rug in the room first before committing to purchasing another amplifier, that might be enough to get some warmth back.
The power amplifier you have is probably more suited to HT than for pure hifi, a dedicated 2 ch Class AB hifi amp like those I suggested will definitely sound nicer in my opinion but it won't sort out the bass issues with the speakers in the corners or the room acoustics unless you spend a fair chunk of cash on one that has stuff like "Room Perfect or Dirac live capabilities. Hifi is all about compromises unfortunately.
 

Rnjderivs

Standard Member
hi there - thought i would provide a little update. After about 30 hours of listening. Everything is starting to sound warmer, richer, and better.

To clarify, I had a Klipsch G17 with a google chromecast audio plugged in before. I think it took a little time for my ears to adjust to the better clarity and imaging of the new set up (sonos connect into the niles si 2100 into Kef q150s). Or maybe the speakers (or my ears) needed to be run in. But loving sound now. I decided to keep the foam plugs in the back
 

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