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Using an av amp for music

Discussion in 'Hi-Fi Stereo Systems & Separates' started by darkness1, Jul 18, 2005.

  1. darkness1

    darkness1
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    Hi, just to walk you guys through my equipment. I currently have the following setup:

    plasma TH42pw6
    Mission 780 fronts
    Kef Q6c
    Kef compact rears
    Kef psw 2500 sub QED sub cable
    SD9500 Toshiba dvd player connected to plasma via component
    Yamaha A2 Amp
    speaker cables for fronts and ctr QED original
    Pioneer DVR530H dvd recorder with 160gig hdd.
    Arcam Alpha 6 dc player connected to Yam via monstor interconnects

    Now i don't think i can improve the video side of things and i'm more than pleased with the performance. But the audio doesn't quite seem to come up to Arcam standards.

    Any help if changing the amp for say an arcam would give me best of both worlds or is the extra cash for another amp Vs improvements negligable so mabe to an hard working guy better left in the pocket?
     
  2. alexs2

    alexs2
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    Very much depends on how much you want to spend,but there are a lot of benefits to be gained sonically from a stereo amp for music,or a multichannel amp from a manufacturer like Arcam,with a solid background in stereo previously.

    If I was going to have a receiver with a bias towards music,I'd certainly look at Arcam's offerings,but do be careful to try as many as you can,and from as many manufacturers as possible.

    Another option is a stand-alone stereo amp,and it can be useful to look at either ex-dem or used amps there,to get the best value for your money.

    In short...if you listen to music often,yes,I'd say it's worthwhile investing some money in a decent amp.
     
  3. andyAV

    andyAV
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    Most people on this and other forums think that most AV amps don't do stereo as good as dedicated stereo amps (except cheap nasty ones). Some peeps disagree (mostly those with £30000 amps or a preference for MP3 :D )

    I found I agree with most people from experience. A Pio D2011 (precursor to the AX5) doesn't sound quite as good as an Arcam stereo amp (Alpha7) I also had. The difference wasn't huge but it was noticable - bypass modes on some AV amps help but don't completely address the problem. None of the AV amps I used when demoing CDPs sounded as good as dedicated stereo amps (though I didn't try anything over £1500 so that rules out Arcam A8/P8 or Bryston or Meridian etc).

    I was also in the same situation as yourself - decent AV amp, nice speakers (Kef Qs) and decent source (Naim CP5i). I've chosen to go down the route of splitting DSP processing, amplification and source/volume control - The aim is to have a dedicated stereo pre amp/power amp combo (you could go integrated) alongside the AV amp. This way I can upgrade any component individually. Good stereo pre/power seem to hold value well whereas AV processing seems to change almost every week - first it was newer sound formats and now it's newer video upsampling capabilities.

    Andy
     
  4. CJROSS

    CJROSS
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    I would demo your SD-9500 off a couple of Stereo amplifiers to see what it is really capable of, I have one hooked up to a Primare A30.1 Mk II amp (which in turn runs a Kef Sub off the pre-outs) with Castle Richmonds standmounts, all I can say is that combo is stunning. And I cannot for the life of me think that a Arcam 6 is superior to this £2000 DVD player (I owned a TAG Dac 20 before this and happily use the SD-9500 now). You will note that your SD-9500 has XLR balanced outputs, give these a try if you can into a stereo amplifier, you may well end up thinking that its in a different league to a Arcam 6.

    Not sure what your looking for TBH, Ive always felt the best solution in combining a AV & Music system is always going for a AV pre-amp (passive) and used that into offboard PAs and using the Pre as a DAC stage from a transport, other than that all integrate AV reciever / amps are “hobbled” with what you could buy in stereo terms. Ie for example the Primare.

    This often comes up in the hifi forum, and it’s a simple question of priorities, music (stereo) or AV or a combined system. Combined wise I would be looking at an AV Pre (For DAC usage as well) /PA combo over a Int. Reciever / Amp.

    PS its worth doing a search on this forum and the amplifier forum, to read about users negative experiences using even high quality AV amps in stereo terms.
     
  5. BUGANNA

    BUGANNA
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    quite right

    there is simply to much interferance from the AV circuits to allow for a good stereo sound, from any av amp, regardless of price
     
  6. Daneel

    Daneel
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    I've tried a number of stereo preamps (Musical Fidelity A3.2, ATC CA2, Primare P30 for example) in place of my 2011 with a number of power amps and have yet to be able to tell the difference blind. I thought I heard differences at first but it seems I was fooling myself....

    I would suggest that the power section is the weak point of most AV amps and on a decent one, the pre stage can be put to good use with a suitable power amp.

    As always, try (blind if possible) before you buy.
     
  7. Mr_Sukebe

    Mr_Sukebe
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    Some interesting comments.
    I'd like to add that I think it's more likely to be the pre-amp section of an AV amp that really lets the side down, as I believe that a good dedicate stereo pre-amp (standalone or integrated) will walk all over an AV pre-amp.

    My logic is based on two key dems:
    1. A Naim AV2 processor. Noted as one of the better processors available for music, yet on dem it sounded no better than the pre-amp section of Nait 5, and was easily outperformed by a Nac 112 (a dedicated pre-amp costing 1/3rd of the amount)
    2. My own system. AV duties provided by a cheapy Marantz 4300, acting as processor and pre-amp into the Naim pre/power combo I have running the front stereo channels. Frankly I was amazed how much better a Linn movie classik was with AV. Now bear in mind that the power amp I'm using on it's own costs nearly as much as the Linn movie classik in total, it's clearly NOT because of the power amp. The only logical explanation is either the processing or the pre-amp. My guess is that the Linn doesn't have massively better processing, that it's down to the pre-amp section being miles better than the Marantz I used to have.

    Hope that helps.
     
  8. alexs2

    alexs2
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    I think this holds true at the lower end of the price scale,where compromises do have to be made,but I think you'd be surprised at the results from some of the more costly gear(and with reference to another post,yes it would mean some of the very expensive stuff...Krell/Levinson/Theta etc)

    It seems that many of us have conflicting views on which part of most receivers is the worst in terms of music reproduction....I think the answer is that some have better power than pre sections,and vice versa,but a common general problem is power reserve with many lower priced receivers,and it's also not realistic to expect a sub £1k receiver to provide up to 7 channels of amplification,do all the relevant processing(video and audio) and not cut corners somewhere...sound quality is what inevitably suffers.

    I had a cheap-ish Denon for a while,when starting down the AV route,and very quickly reverted to the power amps I already had,before investing in a decent processor as well(plus a separate stereo section thankfully).
     
  9. darkness1

    darkness1
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    Thanks guys. Some good advice their for me to look at. My main drag is having to bi-wire up wires if i use a stereo amp. Mabe i can use banana plugs to the
    missions 780's.

    Plus is mabe an idea, me selling the Arcam Alpha 6 and buy a dedicated stereo amp with my SD9500?
    If so any ideas what will run well with the Tosh ?
     
  10. CJROSS

    CJROSS
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    My SD-9500 is 6m away from this chap using the XLR balanced connections :

    http://i3.photobucket.com/albums/y57/CJRHifi/System155.jpg

    Here is a Mk I version (no pre-outs) for sale for the ludicrously low price of £600.

    http://www.avforums.com/forums/showthread.php?t=216492

    Go for a stereo amplifier that you can use in XLR balanced mode of the ones I would recommend would be :

    Primare A30.1 above, NAD S300 Silverline, Sony TAF-777-ES, TACT SD-1275 Digital amplifier.

    I can only vouch for the Primare and Sony ES amplifiers above, lovely pieces of kit, all can be bought below £800 second hand, whilst the TACT is £975 new.
     
  11. Nic Rhodes

    Nic Rhodes
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    I would add Parasound pre to the list, I am having great results with this at the moment, bargain...
     
  12. darkness1

    darkness1
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    Hi, if i bought say a primare A30.1 or something of that quality and used my monster interconects to the
    SD9500. Can i then bi-wire the amp to the mission 780's and use banana plugs so to leave the AV wiring alone?

    Plus will the mission 780's be upto the job of driving such a setup?
     
  13. Andywilliams

    Andywilliams
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    Hi
    My Harman kardon avr8500 sounds good in stereo to me, You can pick one up for around £900 worth thinking about if you dont want to spend £££.
     
  14. darkness1

    darkness1
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    Just another point. Someone said there was a new amp out from Music Fidelity (A3.5) for £1000 that also has a switch to allow the av amp i have to work as a power amp. Mabe another thought?
     
  15. davehk

    davehk
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    Except those that allow you to turn the DSP off completely and provide a pure analogue path in to out - eg Arcam AVR300.
     
  16. CJROSS

    CJROSS
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    Possibly the best feature of the 3.5 integrated is the Home Theater Direct input. When the right and left outputs of your receiver/processor are connected to HT Bypass input, the Processor uses the amplifier section of the A3.5 to power your front left and right speakers. This is also very helpful to your receiver/processor as it frees up more power supply for the center and surround speakers powered by the receiver/processor. However, when you then connect a component (CD, Phono etc) to the A3.5, the preamp stage is then engaged. This bypasses any affect the processor would have on music reproduction thus giving you the best of both worlds. If you want world-class stereo integrated with your Home Theater, the A3.5 is a great inexpensive solution.
     
  17. darkness1

    darkness1
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    CjRoss, Do you really rate the SD9500 dvd player more than a purpuse built arcam alpha 6 cd player?
    I realise the arcam is getting on a little but is still a very good player.
     
  18. CJROSS

    CJROSS
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    Yes I do. Im not knocking the Arcam 6 Im sure it’s a great CDP, but I very much doubt the SD-9500 is inferior to it in CD terms in any respect. Were talking here of a £2000 DVD player that has HDCD, video off circuitry disable, upsample modes (I notice 2 distinct types of playback from the unit via its upsmample circuit with CD) XLR outputsm and it has been measured by Paul Miller as having 40 spec of jitter (a Naim CD5 has 100 spec). How on earth a Arcam 6 is “superior” to it is an old audiophile fishtales about DVD players being crap at CD. It compares very favourably to TAG £1250 DAC 20 the last digital unit I had for CD playback. That’s a direct comparison.

    Especially once it played through a decent stereo amplifier other than your current Yammy A2.

    ATB.
     
  19. darkness1

    darkness1
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    I've been ringing quite a few Audio shops and not had great feedback. I live in Lincs.
    What feedback i have had was, "use the arcam as no dvd player works as a dedicated cd player. And get
    a poweramp or preamp for the yam A2. Plus get rid of the Mission 780's as they were a nice piece of kit
    and get new speakers and a dedicated amp.

    To round things up i'm more confused now.
    A) do i buy an updated av amp to do both jobs like the Arcam avr350 i think the model is?
    B) Do i get a music fedelity A3-5
    C) Do i just get a decent audio amp and huck up to the SD9500 via XLR and to my missions via banana cable thus keeping the a2 wiring intact?
    D) Are the missions up to the task?
     
  20. CJROSS

    CJROSS
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    Darkness what sort of feedback would you expect from any audio dealers ?, they are in the business of getting you to buy kit they want to sell to you (thus the daft advice about using the A2 as a pre-amp or PA section for Stereo usage).

    You have a load of options ahead of you, in your shoes I would start by seeing what the kit I own currently is capable of, thus I would try to get a demo of the SD-9500 into a XLR equipped amp at a dealers, then try some new speakers off of that combo, to see the limits of the 780s. My advice is purely centred on the stereo angle TBH. You have a whole raft of options AV wise. But I can tell you this, the dealer who said that above if he knew the kit you own at present was, is talking through his rear end, not to put too fine a point on it.

    All I know is that you have a perfectly viable CD player in the shape of your SD-9500 that is as good as playing CDs as many current £1000 CD players that I have heard.

    Your system currently lacks a stereo impitus, and there are a few places you could spend money to sort this out, unfortunately you have to decide how radical the surgery is TBH. Using an amp like the MF A3.5 with its theatre pass through is a good combination of an existing AV system and a new stereo amplifier. PS the SD-9500 sounds as good in RCA connection as it does in XLR mdoe.

    ATB.
     
  21. darkness1

    darkness1
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    Think all i need CJROSS is a decent audio specialist in my area. Everyone i've rang have dismissed the
    SD9500 as a worthy cd player and then shrug when i say okay i'll demo my Arcam 6. Plus XLR equiped
    amps gets a blank. Think it's put me off spending anymore cash tbh.
     
  22. Craig

    Craig
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    CJRoss, shame on your for quoting verbatim from the MF website :hiya:

    Darkness - whichever way it breaks down with the Tosh, you may as well lose the Arcam as the money received would pay for / go towards a DAC to work together with your Tosh DVD. However, I'd concur to listen again to the Toshiba.

    As for the amp issue, whilst it's not terribly independent advice to suggest one's own set-up, I honestly think that adding an integrated is the best soltuion to your problem. The Primare is indeed a good choice and you may wish to look on the Hi Fi Choice forum as I recall there being one in the classifieds. Whilst I am an owner and fan of their kit, buying new Musical Fidelity is mayeb not the best idea as they change their lineups faster than you can say "does CJRoss work for MF?" and it makes a poor investment, IMO. There's plenty second hand though. Elsewhere, I'm not a fan of th Cyrus 8, but a 7 + PSX should easily be in budget

    As for the fixed gain input, if you can live with setting up the sound pressure levels with the amp on aux and the volume at 12 o clock, then it really is no hassle at all.

    As for the Mission 780's, I wouldn't change them just cos some clown dealer fancies selling you something else. If you like em, that's good enough. I've a few friends who have them and I really like them myself. Their fast and tuenful and don't tire you. At least to me.

    Finally, before you nod off, I'm from your neck of the woods-ish (N. Lincs) and whilst it's a while since I lived there I still keep an eye of who is selling around the area. If you're close to the Humber, pay the toll and go to Hull, as there's a new-ish dealer called Audio Room (I think it is www.theaudioroom.co.uk) who seem to be a step above the superfi / sevenoaks set. I'm not saying for sure, but you'll maybe get some better advice. Also, I know it might be a wee bit further, but Moorgate Acoustics in Sheffield are as sound as.

    HTH, Craig
     
  23. darkness1

    darkness1
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    Thanks all for the advice. Think i've got worse things to deal with as listening to music through just the fronts i noticed the left speaker only giving sound through the tweeter. Looked at all the wiring and found
    nothing untoward. Switched speakers and the bass speaker has diffinatley had it :-(

    I may go for the 780's off ebay...
     
  24. darkness1

    darkness1
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    Hi, craig, tks for the good info. Bad news for me is that one of the front mission 780's
    has blown so i'm going to have to look for some more fronts :mad:

    Would you with my setup go for some more 780's (I can get a pair of 780se for £199)
    Or as you can see my future improvement into music go for some others?
     
  25. Craig

    Craig
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    Darkness

    Well, now that your 780's are buggered I would not turn down the chance to explore some other choices. For sure, the 780se is a nice speaker, and 200 is a good price for it (is that new, ex dem or s/h?) At 200 quid you may just wanna snap up the 780se - it's far from a bad deal, especially as you enjoyed them previoulsy.

    However, you could also try wrap your ears around a pair of Dynaudio Audience 42, or a pair of Castle Durhams or Richmonds (I forget which is which) or some of the recently discounted Monitor Audio Silver range

    All are highly regarded in the price range you're talking about, and you may prefer em to your 780's

    Don't feel rushed - sort the amp out first and then sort the speakers out, as they are nearly always the biggest 'variable' in the hi fi chain, and most sensitive to the other components you're using.
     
  26. darkness1

    darkness1
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    Thanks for the advice Craig. I finnaly went to my hifi dealer yesterday and auditioned some
    speakers. I must say they were very helpful at such short notice. However their audition room
    was very lacking due to not being able to run my Tosh sd9500 with various amps and speakers.
    Infact i ended up listening to a pair of Q4 floorstanders with a rotel amp and cd player.
    This may have been down to not giving enough time for them to set things up mabe.

    However considering the Q4's are the smallest floorstanders i've seen and would fit in nicely
    at home plus i have Q compact rears and kef sub plus Q6c ctr and all the same colour as the
    Q4's, plus discounted to £299 i agreed to test them at home for a week with return option.

    Now i have to admit they sound different class to my missions and play cd's even throuth the
    Yam a2 really quite nicely.
     
  27. Craig

    Craig
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    Well, that's the test isn't it? if they sound significantgly better at home (plus matching kit) then there's no reason not to buy them instead of the Mission's.

    FWIW; I suspect there are other speakers which could 'compete' with the KEF but if the KEF's sound good, look good and cost good, then they are good

    You could also consider - for florrstanders at that price - a s/h pair of Monitor Audio Silver 5.....

    Still, matching speakers are always nice; as regards them being better than your Mission's, make a judgement over time - new speakers often have a different presentation which can sound better in the short-term but over longer period may just be different, and not better. You've got a week :cool:
     
  28. darkness1

    darkness1
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    I decided within the next 2-3 months to audition some integrated ampliers for my setup. Now i've rang some
    stores and tbh seem to be sold too. Now with my setup as follows:-
    kef Q4 fronts, kef Q6c ctr, Kef kws 2500 sub and kef q compact rears driven by a Yam a2 amp and a SD9500 Tosh cd/dvd player.
    Now with this setup i've been offered to use by various stores the following:
    AVR300 Arcam av amp £1100 - Will this really shine against my A2? Plus i understand that as an integrated stereo for music will suffer.
    Sugden A21A £950.00
    A90 Arcam £950
    Music fidelity has been recommended for audition as they are musical and blend in with Q4's apparently?

    Now i guess using the preout of the A2 too an integrated stereo amp will be the best way.
    With this setup is there a peak price or quality that i won't get any better benefit paying extra money for a top end Integrated amplifier?

    Any help most appreciated
     

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