Question Stereo Amp with HT bypass for Home Cinema integration

RayP

Well-known Member
My system comprises:
  • Yamaha RX-A3010 AVR
  • B&W CM4, CMC and DM600 S3 rears
  • BlueSound Node 2i using Chord Clearway RCA interconnects.
  • BK XXLS400 Sub connected via low-level cable.
Requirement. To improve 2 channel sound for music over current system. Music is all 16-bit FLAC stored on NAS and accessed via Node 2i. No streaming at present. Would want to continue to use sub for music. Budget is flexible. Yamaha manual states any power amp must have unbalanced inputs; volume control bypass and 100W (8 ohm) minimum.

I did consider the Rega Elicit-R but the lack of remote on/off is not ideal. The Roksan K3 looks suitable. All reviews are very favourable. I picked this up from a US review... "I took some time to compare the Roksan K3 with my own Rega Elex-R, as I’m sure many might wonder how these two British integrated amps compare. The Rega portrayed a noticeably warmer and smoother character, while the Roksan K3 clearly demonstrated superior grip, sense of speed and transparency, most noticeable in the lower bass. The K3 was more dynamic and incisive in its presentation while the Elex-R portrayed a more relaxed demeanor. Which you prefer would be a matter of taste."

That would make the Roksan more attractive to me as I feel my current sound lacks punch. Having said that I wouldn't want to have a substantial tonal inbalance between front pair and centre for home cinema. Or would it not be that noticable?

My system is located in the front half of a through lounge / dining room that measures 6.2m x 3.4m. So rough listening area is 3.2 x 3.4. Carpeted and with curtains so acoustically not lively.

The BK XXLS400 has both high and low level outputs. Currently using low direct to AVR for cinema and music. Can I use the high level directly into the amp? The Roksan has one pair of speaker terminals. Is that a problem?

Would appreciate any comments / advice.
 

GoingGoingGone

Distinguished Member
That would make the Roksan more attractive to me as I feel my current sound lacks punch. Having said that I wouldn't want to have a substantial tonal inbalance between front pair and centre for home cinema. Or would it not be that noticable?
Unlikely to be as substantial as using different makes/models of speakers
The BK XXLS400 has both high and low level outputs. Currently using low direct to AVR for cinema and music. Can I use the high level directly into the amp?
Yes
The Roksan has one pair of speaker terminals. Is that a problem?
AFAIK, no

I've been looking at the K3 myself but have seen a few comments on it being bright which has put me off a bit as bright is what I'm trying to avoid.

I've also been looking at the Cambridge Audio Azur 851A Cambridge Audio AZUR 851A (Black) which seems well reviewed and currently has an extended home trial on it Audition in the comfort of your own home and enjoy the reassurance that you have made the right choice, or if you’re not completely satisfied, exchange in-store for a different product any time up to 14 days after our stores re-open

That same offer also apples to the K3 and some other HIfi amps. Seems a good way to check for yourself any possible tonal imbalance and how well an amp fits into your current system.
 

RayP

Well-known Member
Thanks GGG. The only comments I've seen about the K3 are that it's punchier and more dynamic than the Rega. I suppose some would equate that to being brighter but speakers and room conditions play a major part.

One thing I need to clear up is sub and speaker connection to the amp. If it only has one set of terminals how do you connect both sub and speakers plugs?

A demo seems mandatory. I do have a RS nearby but also have a specialist Hi-fi shop in Cheadle which is a rarity these days. When I bought the Yamaha in 2012 I took my own speakers in to Superfi. That might be better than a home demo as the dealer can demo more amps for me.

I'll do some research on the Cambridge, thanks.
 

Russ_64

Well-known Member
Hi Ray,

I have been down this road myself, and still have not achieved nirvana!

My advice is to buy the best 2-channel amp with HT that you can. I went for a budget option (Musical Fidelity M3i) as it was a discontinued model and I got last one. In hindsight, it did improve stereo music for sources connected directly but left me with more pronounced center in front for movies.

I have been searching for an upgrade and considered many such as MF M5si, K3, Elict-R, Marantz PM-KI, CA Azur 851. In addition to HT bypass, I also wanted a trigger input. I was also watching the classifieds here and got lucky last week, I bought a used Lyngdorf TDAi 2170. Will be installing it this weekend.

As already said, speakers are often a bigger upgrade to your sound but if you are happy with yours then this is a route you can follow. Regarding using your Sub, I have also considered this but never got around to try High-level inputs. Just be aware that if you buy an integrated amp that is Class D, then you cannot use high-level (AFAIK).
 

Hixs

Distinguished Member
Yamaha as1100 or as2100 should be on the list.

Now been replaced with new models. Maybe a deal about?

Very good amps. Beastly at 23kg as well. Plus vu meters! Who doesn't love vu meters?
 

Russ_64

Well-known Member
I did consider the Yamaha A-S1100 or actually, was hoping for A-S1200 but 1). it is massive (and heavy) so will not fit in my rack , and 2) the 1100 is very hard to find and new 1200 is not out in UK yet.
 

Jamie

Distinguished Member
One thing I need to clear up is sub and speaker connection to the amp. If it only has one set of terminals how do you connect both sub and speakers plugs?
Most high level sub leads I've seen have forked spade connectors so it's easy to slide under the terminals with bare wire or screw them down and then connect banana plugs. There's no issue connecting to the same terminals at all.

Commonly the lead only has 3 wires, a left and right positive connection and a single negative which can connect to either terminal.

Edit to add a picture

mj-acoustics-bass-ic-high-level-cable.jpg
 
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GoingGoingGone

Distinguished Member
One thing I need to clear up is sub and speaker connection to the amp. If it only has one set of terminals how do you connect both sub and speakers plugs?
Look at the end of the Neutrix connector that comes with BK subs for high level input. They are bare wire but some have spade connectors. Basically put those behind the speaker terminals as usual for bare wire/spade connectors and use banana plugs for the speakers. Or two sets of stacking banana plugs.

From the BK manual
Using the optional Neutik lead, connect the XXLS400 to the output of your amplifier via your existing speaker plug or to a spare set of speaker terminals if available. In effect you are Bi-Wiring your XXLS400 to your power amp.
 

RayP

Well-known Member
Hi Russ, thanks for your post. I am flexible on price as I always remember my old man's saying... "quality is remembered long after the price is forgotten". I've never regretted spending too much on something.

What is a trigger input? I have a Harmony Elite and intend to program it so when I select 'Play Music' the amp will turn on and the correct input will be selected. I know it seems a small point but when everything else is controlled by a remote having to walk over and turn things on would soon become tiresome.

Useful point about Class D and subs, noted, thanks. Both the Cambridge and Roksan are A/B. The Cambridge has two sets of speaker terminals which would be ideal of the sub and front pair. How would you connect sub and front pair to an amp with only one set?
 

RayP

Well-known Member
Thanks chaps for the tip on the sub connection. I just have to find that lead now that's somewhere in the house! 🤔

For those of you who have added a HT bypass amp into a home cinema system how did you find the balancing of the various channels? I presume I still use the Yamaha YPAO.
 

GoingGoingGone

Distinguished Member
What is a trigger input? I have a Harmony Elite and intend to program it so when I select 'Play Music' the amp will turn on and the correct input will be selected. I know it seems a small point but when everything else is controlled by a remote having to walk over and turn things on would soon become tiresome.
Connection between AVR and power amp etc which when the main unit is powered on allows that unit to then power on downstream stuff to it. And power them off when it powers off.
Useful point about Class D and subs, noted, thanks. Both the Cambridge and Roksan are A/B. The Cambridge has two sets of speaker terminals which would be ideal of the sub and front pair. How would you connect sub and front pair to an amp with only one set?
If you are going to look at the Azur 851A perhaps also look at the 200W per channel Azur 851W stereo power amp if your only music use is going to be the Bluesound. The Bluesound seems to have a volume control which should be accessible via your Harmony. One important question with that would be can you set a default power on volume in the bluenote.

Edit: scrub that idea as the volume control on its remote is to vary the volume control of another device and a power amp doesn't have a volume control.....
 
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RayP

Well-known Member
Connection between AVR and power amp etc which when the main unit is powered on allows that unit to then power on downstream stuff to it. And power them off when it powers off.

If you are going to look at the Azur 851A perhaps also look at the 200W per channel Azur 851W stereo power amp if your only music use is going to be the Bluesound. The Bluesound seems to have a volume control which should be accessible via your Harmony. One important question with that would be can you set a default power on volume in the bluenote.

Edit: scrub that idea as the volume control on its remote is to vary the volume control of another device and a power amp doesn't have a volume control.....
The need for an amp to switch on when the AVR is powered on is not important. I can program that action into the Harmony.

Would 200W inbalance the 150W of the RX-A3010? Is a power amp preferable to an integrated one? Does it still have HT-bypass?

I keep the volume level on the Bluesound at a fixed level and use the AVR volume to adjust as necessary.

One glitch has just arisen. I have speaker cables routed under the floor and the left channel is at its maximum reach. Only a few inches spare so it won't reach the next shelf up where I planned to place the amp. New loudspeaker cable required but the tricky bit is routing under the floor. Arrgghh!
 

RayP

Well-known Member
I have a McIntosh MA5300 and that has a HT bypass, cant recommend highly enough .Lovely bit of kit.
Although I'm flexible on budget that's a bit more than I'm comfortable paying. Nearest dealer is Nottingham so not really feasible. Thanks all the same.
 

GoingGoingGone

Distinguished Member
One glitch has just arisen. I have speaker cables routed under the floor and the left channel is at its maximum reach. Only a few inches spare so it won't reach the next shelf up where I planned to place the amp. New loudspeaker cable required but the tricky bit is routing under the floor. Arrgghh!
Can't you just splice a few more inches on?

Splices degrade the sound: Audio experts have determined that properly spliced and soldered wires do not change or degrade the sound coming out of speakers. Although an oscilloscope can detect splices by identifying small voltage drops or spikes, the anomalies are too small to hear. Voltage used for driving speakers is simple voltage, and since regular fluctuations due to program and frequency type occur during normal use, splices produce no adverse audible effect.
StackPath

how-to-splice-speaker-wire
 

ashenfie

Well-known Member
Note of warning, I previously had the Yamaha RXA 3010 and it's pre-outs are not good for driving other amps. So try before you buy.

I went from the 3010 to an Arcam 550 and was very happy with the balance between AV and Music, hard to setup thu.
 

RayP

Well-known Member
Can't you just splice a few more inches on?

Splices degrade the sound: Audio experts have determined that properly spliced and soldered wires do not change or degrade the sound coming out of speakers. Although an oscilloscope can detect splices by identifying small voltage drops or spikes, the anomalies are too small to hear. Voltage used for driving speakers is simple voltage, and since regular fluctuations due to program and frequency type occur during normal use, splices produce no adverse audible effect.
StackPath

how-to-splice-speaker-wire
They’re soldered to banana plugs so not straight-forward as I have zero DIY skills.
 

GoingGoingGone

Distinguished Member
They’re soldered to banana plugs so not straight-forward as I have zero DIY skills.
Cut the cables wire a few inches from the banana plugs and follow the instructions in the link I gave earlier to insert a bit of wire between the existing cable and the wire going to the banana plugs.
Drawback two joins per cable.
Or
Cut off the banana plugs and just add wire to the existing cable. Then put some non soldered screw together banana plugs to the bare wire on the new bit of cable.
Drawback: having to buy and fit new banana plugs. Pros: one join.
Or
A bit more complicated, do as above but unsolder and then resolder the existing banana plugs

All seem easier DIY wise than running new cables under the floor....
 

RayP

Well-known Member
Note of warning, I previously had the Yamaha RXA 3010 and it's pre-outs are not good for driving other amps. So try before you buy.

I went from the 3010 to an Arcam 550 and was very happy with the balance between AV and Music, hard to setup thu.
Thanks for the warning. It's not just the cable problem that has made me rethink. My SkyQ box is right above the AVR and again, the signal cable from the dish is more or less fully used. So I couldn't move that.

Having visibility of my setup would help you understand. I’m now wondering if a single box might be the better option given your cautionary warning. The easiest option for me would be to replace the 3010 with something that can satisfy for both music and cinema. No messing with two amps, no speaker cable problem and good sound all around. Maybe the Arcam AVR30?

Hi-Fi_Stack.jpg
Ray_Hi-Fi.jpg


I'd have the 3010 to dispose of but I wouldn't want much for it and it's still a good AVR.

@GoingGoingGone, see above.
 

GoingGoingGone

Distinguished Member
Thanks for the warning. It's not just the cable problem that has made me rethink. My SkyQ box is right above the AVR and again, the signal cable from the dish is more or less fully used. So I couldn't move that.
@GoingGoingGone, see above.
You can also extend sat cables....
can i extend a satellite cable?

Plus also looks like there is enough space to put a stereo amp under (or over) the sky box while keeping the box on the same shelf..
 
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ashenfie

Well-known Member
I think the AVR30 would provide the best around solution. DIRAC room correction is one of the best room correction system, but you might want the dealer to set it up.
 

RayP

Well-known Member
You can also extend sat cables....
can i extend a satellite cable?
I was warned many years ago not to make any changes to the cable as the quality of signal would be compromised. The only solution would be to get an independent fitter to run a new cable and that isn't high on my list of priorities at present. As I said earlier I'm considering a replacement for the RX-A3010 so all these niggles can be avoided.
 

RayP

Well-known Member
I think the AVR30 would provide the best around solution. DIRAC room correction is one of the best room correction system, but you might want the dealer to set it up.
It would be the last time I bought a serious AVR. My previous two were a Denon A10SE (12 years) and the Yamaha (8 years). I don't chop and change much. :D

I had my OLED TV calibrated and it was worth the expense. If a dealer can provide a similar service that would be great.
 

GoingGoingGone

Distinguished Member
I was warned many years ago not to make any changes to the cable as the quality of signal would be compromised. The only solution would be to get an independent fitter to run a new cable and that isn't high on my list of priorities at present. As I said earlier I'm considering a replacement for the RX-A3010 so all these niggles can be avoided.
The warning I suspect is a load of old bull. I've run sat cable round the house myself and have seen no difference in signal quality between having the cable directly connected or sticking it into a surge protector with another bit of cable plugged into that.

I suspect you're sold on the idea of getting a new AVR and are using the cables as an 'excuse' to do so....;)
If so, maybe also take a look at the Anthem MRX1120. Cheaper than an AVR30 and uses ARC which some rate higher than Dirac You can get a demo of that from AV Online, cost £100 wich includes the courier costs both ways and is taken off the purchase price if you buy one. Or if you wait a bit they are expected to have a new model range out within 12 months or less.
 

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