Question Stereo amp vs Power amp

StefanBFC

Well-known Member
Has anybody changed from using a Power Amp to a dedicated stereo amp, in an AV setup? Just curious to see opinions who've done this.

I have an AV Receiver with an Emotiva XPA power amp for home cinema. But I found myself listening to a lot of music lately, just using Spotify connect direct to the receiver.

I know a stereo amp would be better, and I'd lose some headroom on movies if I swap power amp for stereo. I just want to know it its worth it really. I can sell the Emotiva and buy a Roksan/MF, but would I regret it. Has anybody done this switch?
 

Ugg10

Distinguished Member
If you get a stereo integrated amp with HT bypass (also called processor mode) then you can use it for the front speakers on your AV amp and add stereo sources to that for music etc.
 

gibbsy

Moderator
I think it's more of space issue with a lot of people, certainly me, where both a music source and home cinema source has to share the same pair of front speakers. If you just want to boost power to the home cinema then the power amp is enough. Maybe no interest in music or have the luxury of a separate room for listening to music.

For me lack of room for another separate pair of stereo speakers and the Denon's poor music performance meant a one box solution was out and the stereo amp brought in to take over music duties.
 

StefanBFC

Well-known Member
Yeah I get this, I have the space that's fine. I suppose really I'm asking-

Denon 3300 and Emotiva XPA
Vs
Denon 3300 and Roksan K3 (or similar amp)

I'm running Monitor Audio silver 300's
Two SVS subs.

70% movies 30%music. I'd say I have music levels higher than movies.

I'm just worried I'd miss the Emotiva if i swapped it. Does a stereo amp sound a lot better, what are stereo amp like in home cinema when they are bypassed.

Has anybody had both power and stereo and decided which they prefer?
 

oscroft

Member
Has anybody had both power and stereo and decided which they prefer?
As a disclaimer, I don't have an AV setup, so take these words with that in mind.

I don't think the difference is going to be down to the AV power amp vs stereo integrated amp itself, but between the specific components you compare. I've no doubt that some power amps will sound better than some stereo amps in the setup you suggest, and that some stereo amps will sound better than some power amps in the same setup.

And that's the end of anything I can offer - Emotiva and Roksan amps are both very well regarded, but I've heard neither.
 

StefanBFC

Well-known Member
As a disclaimer, I don't have an AV setup, so take these words with that in mind.

I don't think the difference is going to be down to the AV power amp vs stereo integrated amp itself, but between the specific components you compare. I've no doubt that some power amps will sound better than some stereo amps in the setup you suggest, and that some stereo amps will sound better than some power amps in the same setup.

And that's the end of anything I can offer - Emotiva and Roksan amps are both very well regarded, but I've heard neither.
Yeah this is kind of what I'm upto, or up against. Obviously I own the Emotiva do I know what they sound like (Its actually my second)
But I've never owned a Stereo amp, might have to see if i can "borrow" or buy one which can be returned if i didn't like it and prefer the Emotiva.
 

3rdignis

Active Member
@StefanBFC
Your power amp is good, you have a switch for 2 inputs on amp don't you?
For music do you want subwoofer integration or room eq?

I have used tidal app on Apple tv and chord mojo.
 

StefanBFC

Well-known Member
Their is no switch no. Its just a 5 channel power amp. The Emotiva is excellent.

I'd want subwoofer integration for music really. I can't stream Tidal, just spotify, looking at Bluesound node 2i for that.

What amp is your chord plugged into though? Is this headphones only?
 

3rdignis

Active Member
1992350-096874fb-emotiva-xpa5-gen-2.jpg

Is this not the back of your power amp (I see a switch between rca and xlr)
Mojo can be used as a preamp.
Node 2i uses app volume control (do research)
 

StefanBFC

Well-known Member

gibbsy

Moderator
I don't think you be able to have a stereo amp and the receiver connected to the Emotiva at the same time. You are not going to get a good music performance from the receiver with a power amp as it is just going to amplify the signal from the Denon's pre-amp circuit.

You could buy a stereo amp with HT by-pass and use that for the front left and right and leave the Emotiva to power the remainder. Or there is the thought of a stereo amp and speaker switcher. A lot will depend on how much room you have for another box or maybe two.

Similar discussion going on here:

 

StefanBFC

Well-known Member
Yeah I've been keeping an eye on that thread, very similar position to me, I even thought about selling the Denon and Emotiva for an Arcam.

I'll have a think about it. I wouldn't have three amps no chance. Two maximum. Emotiva or a Stereo amp. Or Emotiva and upgrade the 3300 to a Marantz and add a Blusound Node2i. Arghhh haha.
 

badeff

Active Member
I might be missing something, but the solution seems pretty simple to me. As 3rdignis noted, you have the option to switch between unbalanced and balanced (RCA and XLR) inputs for each channel. All you need is a good stereo pre-amp with balanced XLR output. Connect it to the front channel inputs of the power amp, and all you need to do is to toggle two switches to change from music to HT mode.

If you don't plan to use any analog sources, it's even simpler - get a decent streamer that has a good DAC and XLR outputs, and it's all set. With digital volume control, no preamp will be needed.
 

StefanBFC

Well-known Member
I might be missing something, but the solution seems pretty simple to me. As 3rdignis noted, you have the option to switch between unbalanced and balanced (RCA and XLR) inputs for each channel. All you need is a good stereo pre-amp with balanced XLR output. Connect it to the front channel inputs of the power amp, and all you need to do is to toggle two switches to change from music to HT mode.

If you don't plan to use any analog sources, it's even simpler - get a decent streamer that has a good DAC and XLR outputs, and it's all set. With digital volume control, no preamp will be needed.
I don't want, Receiver, power amp, and a stereo pre-amp. I want it limited to two, so power or stereo as the thread.

I did think about the decent streamer, i almost bought the Blusound, like you said i don't have any analog for music. But would it really improve the sound that much?
 

badeff

Active Member
Well, AV receivers are just not meant to excel in stereo - no matter what the manufacturers claim, or what the reviewers rave about. I ditched my AV receiver for music a long time ago, and even a top-notch processor/power amp combo by Harman/Kardon recently left me very very unimpressed when playing music.

I have no idea what your power amp is capable of, but getting rid of all the receiver's circuitry and creating a straight path from player to amplifier will definitely make big difference.

The only way to know if you like is it to hear it yourself, at your own place. Every system sounds differently in a different space. Give it a try - get a streamer with a return option, and listen. Give yourself some time - to judge a component properly, at least a few days of listening are needed.

NB: the Blusound is not appropriate for this setup. You'd need a streamer with balanced XLR outputs - ike Cambridge Audio CXN V2. (No idea about its sound qualities - just an example of a technically suitable player.)
 

StefanBFC

Well-known Member
Well, AV receivers are just not meant to excel in stereo - no matter what the manufacturers claim, or what the reviewers rave about. I ditched my AV receiver for music a long time ago, and even a top-notch processor/power amp combo by Harman/Kardon recently left me very very unimpressed when playing music.

I have no idea what your power amp is capable of, but getting rid of all the receiver's circuitry and creating a straight path from player to amplifier will definitely make big difference.

The only way to know if you like is it to hear it yourself, at your own place. Every system sounds differently in a different space. Give it a try - get a streamer with a return option, and listen. Give yourself some time - to judge a component properly, at least a few days of listening are needed

NB: the Blusound is not appropriate for this setup. You'd need a streamer with balanced XLR outputs - ike Cambridge Audio CXN V2. (No idea about its sound qualities - just an example of a technically suitable player.)
This is interesting then, I just expected the Blusound to plug analoge direct to the AV Receiver, the power amp is on a trigger and comes on with the receiver to power the front Three. Putting a streamer direct to the power amp, will this make any difference?

I'm with you on receivers and music, but I'm not planning full stereo, I need the receiver for 5.2.2 in my setup
 

Jester1066

Active Member
But I've never owned a Stereo amp, might have to see if i can "borrow" or buy one which can be returned if i didn't like it and prefer the Emotiva.
Hi don't know if you have a Richersounds branch near you, but they are offering the Roksan K3 on extended home trial:


This has HT Bypass and connect in the way @gibbsy has already mentioned. FWIW I have this setup, using an Audiolab 6000a & Denon x4500H combo. It's definitely improved my stereo listening experience.
 

StefanBFC

Well-known Member
Hi don't know if you have a Richersounds branch near you, but they are offering the Roksan K3 on extended home trial:


This has HT Bypass and connect in the way @gibbsy has already mentioned. FWIW I have this setup, using an Audiolab 6000a & Denon x4500H combo. It's definitely improved my stereo listening experience.
I'll have a look at this. Sometimes I think a power amp is wasted on me as I have movie volume relatively low.

How do you find the Audiolab, its a lot cheaper than the Roksan
 

Jester1066

Active Member
I'll have a look at this. Sometimes I think a power amp is wasted on me as I have movie volume relatively low.

How do you find the Audiolab, its a lot cheaper than the Roksan
I absolutely love it. It's rated at "only" 50w per channel, but ran my Monitor Audio Bronze 5's with ease. I say ran - because I no longer have these as I'm in the middle of deciding on a speaker upgrade... But that's another (increasingly expensive) story 😂...

Anyway, back on topic...

What i like about it most though is (for me anyway) it's a 1 box solution for my stereo needs. It has a very good onboard DAC allowing me to connect my TV via optical. I watch most TV, soaps etc in stereo and leave the surround stuff for movies, sports etc. The kids watch eveything in stereo. Peppa Pig is annoying enough without being in upmixed 5.1! 😂

It has Bluetooth, so can stream from Google music on my phone or any other Bluetooth device. It has pre-outs for either a line level sub connection or bi-amping the fronts. I'll probably be adding a wireless streamer to my setup (bluesound etc) at some point. Also has some analogue outputs, so you can pretty much connect any old/new gear to it. Richersounds also offer a home trial of the Audiolab.

Incidentally the Audiolab 8300a has higher watts per channel output, but is a purely analogue integrated amp - still has HT Bypass, but would need a separate DAC if you needed it, eg Audiolab's own standalone DAC - the M-DAC.

There's also the new 6000 Play. This is basically a 6000a & 6000n (music streamer) combined into 1 unit. I bought my 6000a about 2 months before the 6000 Play was released! 🙊🤦‍♂️
 
Last edited:

Jester1066

Active Member
@StefanBFC forgot to ask. What speakers are in your current setup?
 

StefanBFC

Well-known Member
@StefanBFC forgot to ask. What speakers are in your current setup?
Monitor Audio Silver 300. But also, 350 centre, ceiling, and rears.

Its interesting with the Audiolab play, id need a streamer for my music.

I'd be keeping my receiver and use h/t bypass, everyyhing but music I would play through the receiver. I have two subs and I do use them for music, could I just leave these connected to the receiver? Or do subs have to go direct to the Audiolab
 

Jester1066

Active Member
The Silver 300's are an ideal match for the Audiolab's. I auditioned the Silver 100 Standmounts and was pretty impressed with the results.

If you got the 6000 Play, this contains a network streamer built in - so I don't think you'd need a seperate one. See here:


*Sorry posted the link to the 6000n previously. The link above is now correct!

Depending on if your subs can accept both high & low level connections simultaneously - Most BK & Rel subs do - you could connect both the subs to the audiolab's speaker post in a high level connection, See this link:


This is for REL, but my BK P1200SB-PR connects in a similar way to my Audiolab.

NB: In the video, they high level connect to an AVR, but the same method can be used to connect to any a/b class amp - which the Audiolab is.

The subs can also remain connected to the AVR's sub outputs as they currently are.

If you can't do the above, you may be able to use y splitters to split the subs signal between the AVR and Audiolab's pre-out. Although I've never tried this. Post #5 in the following thread explains this connection method:


Note: I haven't bought the Silver 100's or 350C yet as I want to now audition some Kef's as I've heard good things about them too!
 
Last edited:

Jester1066

Active Member
@StefanBFC

Just noticed you have SVS subs from an earlier post. I'm not surecwhat model you have, but the manual should show how you can high level connect them for stereo use. I think it's a slightly different way to the video I linked to above.

I don't have SVS subs, sure someone who does can confirm if it's possible to use both high & low level connections simultaneously. If this is not possible, the splitter method i mention above might be an option. Apologies if I've confused you!
 

StefanBFC

Well-known Member
@StefanBFC

Just noticed you have SVS subs from an earlier post. I'm not surecwhat model you have, but the manual should show how you can high level connect them for stereo use. I think it's a slightly different way to the video I linked to above.

I don't have SVS subs, sure someone who does can confirm if it's possible to use both high & low level connections simultaneously. If this is not possible, the splitter method i mention above might be an option. Apologies if I've confused you!
Two PC-2000'S. No not confused, I've read this a while back when I thought about doing it, ill have a watch
 

Jester1066

Active Member
Two PC-2000'S. No not confused, I've read this a while back when I thought about doing it, ill have a watch
The cylinder subwoofer?

Page 9 on your subs manual explains about high level/stereo connection. Looks like you'll have to go the Y-splitter route.
 
Last edited:

The latest video from AVForums

Podcast: Samsung HW-Q950T Soundbar Review, Filmmaker Mode, Disney+ $30 for Mulan, AV news and more

Trending threads

Latest News

NAD launches T 758 V3i surround sound receiver
  • By Andy Bassett
  • Published
Sky unveils next tranche of HDR content
  • By Andy Bassett
  • Published
Acoustic Energy launches AE520 flagship speakers
  • By Andy Bassett
  • Published
Disney drops all 20th Century Fox branding
  • By Andy Bassett
  • Published
Kitsound launches Funk 25 wireless earphones
  • By Andy Bassett
  • Published
Top Bottom