what amp?

Discussion in 'Hi-Fi Stereo Systems & Separates' started by djt111, Feb 24, 2013.

  1. djt111

    djt111
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    as i seem to be listening to more and more music, i dont think my yamaha rxv-673 is doing my set of tannoy dc6t's any justice

    so i am looking to get a amp just for music

    i currently have all my music on a portable hdd, and it all plays from the usb port on the yamaha

    anyone recommend an amp that would go well with the dc6t's :smashin:
     
  2. Don Dadda

    Don Dadda
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    What's the budget?
     
  3. djt111

    djt111
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    around £600
     
  4. rsvtoddy

    rsvtoddy
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    Rega Brio R seems to be the most popular one at around that price.
     
  5. Don Dadda

    Don Dadda
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    For that budget there are plenty of very good amps to choose from.
    As mentioned the
    Rega Brio R - £400-£500
    ROTEL RA12 £599
    MARANTZ PM7004 - £450
    Cambridge Audio AZUR 651A £450
    Arcam A19 - over budget at £650
    Nad C356Bee - £550 ish

    Those are a few of usual suspects that i think would do well with the tannoys but some may suit better than others.

    The Rotel and Cambridge Audio may be of particular interests as they have usb inputs. The Nad C356 can also come with a dac with a usb input but at £700 will be above budget.

    Any particular requirements that the amp must have, i.e tone controls, HT Bypass, etc?

    How do you intend to incorporate the amp into your setup? Will you be wanting both amps to use the DC6T?
    This can be achieved by using the Pre-outs of the avr to the stereo amp, a source switch or will tis be a completely separate setup?

    If you intend to use pre-outs then having a stereo amp with HT bypass is beneficial as you can switch to this mode when watching films and use only the power amp section of the stereo amplifier. The Pre-amp section is disabled and all control ( volume, input selections, etc) is done by the avr .

    The only amp i can think of within this budget that can do this easily without faffing about to activate is the Marantz PM7004 and is done by a push of a button on the front panel.
    I think the Nad also has this but is activated by removing links from it pre/main in connectors at the back. Not so easy, or it use to be that way.

    Without HT-Bypass, you will have to volume match the 2 amps until level - faffing about.

    If you intend to use a switch between the amps, I recommend the following. Beresford TC-7220 - Manual
    AL2 Automatic Line Level Source Selector | Sonance - Automatic

    Or you consider a power amp for the front L\R channels. These are not normally cheap but suitable one should able to be found within the budget.
    In saying that there is the Behringer A500 PA which is a reported 2x300watts at £150 which is a steel but seems to be like marmite. Some like it, some don't, but worth investigating.

    My tuppence worth and i hope it helps.

    :thumbsup:
     
  6. djt111

    djt111
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    have just been looking at the rotel but the usb is very limiting only being able to play from an ipod. no flac from a usb

    i would like to go the power amp route, but cant with the 673, as it has no individual preouts for the L/R

    i will be using the amp / speakers as a seprate system for now.
    im guessing i will need a dac to go with the amp
    or find an amp that can play flac files

    just had a quick look at the ca azura and it looks to be the same limiting usb
    "It can handle standard-resolution CD-quality files, but won't work with any high-resolution material you might have downloaded"
     
  7. Don Dadda

    Don Dadda
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    Ah yes. I was thinking of the Yamaha 667 which does have preouts. Pity that as it would of saved some hassle and a pot load of money. You cant add power amp either.

    Without actually searching for specifics, i cannot say whether there is a stereo amp with usb that can decode flac. In which case I would think a streamer with usb would be probably more suitable to go with the amp than a ext dac (though one can be added at a later date) as most will decode flac.

    A source switch as previously suggested would definitely be needed if you want both amps to share the DC6Ts.
     
  8. Don Dadda

    Don Dadda
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  9. juggler

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    Most DACs, even if they have a USB input, will not accept input from a portable HDD. They need some software running somewhere to deliver the data to the USB port rather than just presenting a naked filesystem.

    Some amps with USB inputs will be similar; they will accept audio data but lack the ability to deal with a filesystem directly.

    A full system will have 5 components:
    1. Data storage
    2. Streaming software
    3. Remote control (to select tracks)
    4. DAC
    5. Amplification

    Some devices combine two or more of these functions but don't assume you can just buy a DAC or USB-enabled amp without ensuring it can do (2) and (3) above too. Some will be fine but check the specs carefully.
     
  10. djt111

    djt111
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    i was going to plug a laptop in via usb to the Cambridge Audio AZUR 651A or ROTEL RA12
    but looking at them in more detail they still cant do flac
    you would need an digital / optical out
    the usb is just for ipod / phone

    why i thought laptop to dac then im not limited on the amp to choose

    ultimately i would like an amp where it has usb play back from a portable hdd just like the 673 but for pure audio.
    but looking round i dont think these exist

    not sure if it would be much of an improvment to go to the as500 / pm6004 over what i have now

    i do like the look of the Rotel RA-10 £350 in black but the no remote may be a killer.
    along with a ARCAM rDAC
    then laptop, for playback of flac
    TC-7220 speaker switch

    will be slightly over budget :rolleyes:
     
    Last edited: Feb 25, 2013
  11. Don Dadda

    Don Dadda
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    The laptop wasn't mentioned before so it looked like you wanted to connect the ext hdd directly to the amp, but the above is very is doable and is done by many so no harm there if you want to take that route. Your laptop is the streamer in this particular role.

    You should even be able to connect the laptop directly to an stereo amp with usb input and play flac without an ext dac because the laptop is the streamer and will decode and send the data to the amp via the usb. All the dac does is convert the 1s and 0s to analogue signal for the amp to amplify. Yes, how well the dac does this is very important but it couldn't give a rats ring-piece which format the data was in before it was decoded and sent.

    Its the playing directly from the ext hdd which is a problem. It can only currently be done if hook up to a streaming mechanism thats able to navigate its contents- Laptop/pc/ext streamer.

    Your av has a built in streaming facility so you can connect a ext hdd directly to it, navigate and play music of any format from it that the av is able to decode. The stereo amp listed does not and only have 3, 4 and 5 out of list outlined by Juggler. They also do not have a display/ GUI to navigate and select tracks. So call that no 6 ;). Maybe higher classed stereo amplifiers have this, i dont know, but definitely none of ones listed.
     
  12. juggler

    juggler
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    These sorts of products aren't sold as straight amps. Try
    Cambridge Audio NP30 Network Music Player and Internet Radio from £350 to Naim UnitiQute from Creative Audio for about £1000 to NaimUniti 2 | All-in-one Player | Uniti | NaimUniti 2 | Naim Audio at about £2800.

    There's also SimpleAudio at £500ish.
    Others exist, but not all that many combine amps with digital inputs and the streamer ability to access local USB storage. Check specs and performance carefully; if high-res audio or gapless playback are important to you then be sure that the chosen item can do the job.

    If you wander over to the music streaming forum here then you'll find that most of the active posters doing this kind of thing go for separate components based around stand-alone NAS. That may be because those who have one box systems don't need the support of a forum, of course :)
     
  13. larkone

    larkone
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    There seems to a misconception about what some of the USB inputs on amps can do. They generally will only accept USB slave devices such as USB storage and i-things because they also have the Apple signature chip. They will not accept connection to other USB host devices such as PCs and laptops. However the Cambridge is unusual in that it will accept connection to a PC/Laptop through USB as it a slave device, though, because of that will not accept connection of USB storage devices.

    If you wanted to connect a laptop to something like the RA-12 then it could be via a digital out from the onboard soundcard to the digital in on the amp or via a DAC, either digital or USB from the laptop to analogue in to the amp. The other option is a USB converter giving a digital output into the digital in on the amp. The Rotel will accept flac into the digital input just not the USB input.

    If you thinking of using a laptop as the streaming device then I would strongly recommend an async USB DAC - the rDAC is. This is because laptops are worse than PCs for USB data timing so it is better to let the DAC's USB input take over the timing control of the data, otherwise you could be plagued with pops and clicks.
     
    Last edited: Feb 26, 2013
  14. djt111

    djt111
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    thanks for the replys everone

    the Naim UnitiQute is the type im looking for but no chance with the £600 budget
    direct digital USB playback
    with inbuilt amp 2 x 45 watt

    looks like i will have to do some saving
    or go the amp/ dac / laptop
    think i will still need more than the 600 to get one of the amps in post #5
    to make it worth it / bigger step up to what i have now
     
  15. Don Dadda

    Don Dadda
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    I don't play to know the can do's and cannot's of usb inputs on amps but this is what i was going by as i have known it to be done and used in this way on a 651A. Good to know someone else does :smashin:.
    Laptop/pc is not the best i agree, too much going on in them, but I would make do with a laptop until such time i can afford a standalone streamer with usb input for the ext hdd to use.

    Naim Uniqute - Way over budget but good call. Something to think about if you can wait until you saved enough or look for one going s/h which could be a long wait for one to turn up.
    While we're at it, there's the CA Stream Magic 6 . Similar in functionailty as the naim but will need a suitable power amp. Together, probably will amount to be the same in price as the Uniqute or less. I think less. Or look for a s/h PA.. Still will be above budget but maybe only by a couple of £100s.

    And funny enough, I'm looking at the NP30 as i may add another streamer in the near future. Looks good.
     
    Last edited: Feb 26, 2013
  16. larkone

    larkone
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    A laptop or PC can be as good as any streamer if it is setup up correctly and ideally running through an async USB connection and on to a DAC. It is just not a good idea to listen to music and try and run games on it at the same time.

    All of the streamers mentioned are just PCs at their heart with tweaked linux OSs on them and then put in a smart box. All they are doing is moving data to a DAC with the right timing, something just about any laptop or PC can be setup to do equally well. It doesn't need a lot of processing power to do this. It just depends on whether you want to pay for the smart box as well. Though watch out for those streamers that still struggle with gapless and have limited file format handling - ALAC is a common one that is often missing, or poor displays that are difficult to read. A tablet is a much easier way to control a streamer or PC, again some streamer apps are not the best so check these out carefully to be sure they do want you want. Many do not match up to the more generic apps for managing music server software on PCs.
     
  17. juggler

    juggler
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    I've said it before... I have no idea why anyone would spend a lot of money on a stand-alone streamer or music server. A cheap quiet PC plus a reasonable DAC will get performance and usability which is easily on a par with or exceeds many of the high-end offerings at the expense of the aesthetics of the casework.

    The Uniti devices are curious beasts which try to do everything; the modern equivalent of a Grundig Radiogram.

    Back to the original question..

    If the OP wasn't planning piecemeal upgrades I would seriously consider a Simple Audio Roomplayer 1 for £600. This should play most things from a laptop or portable USB device - but do your own research - and has a pretty good inbuilt amp. A Sonos Connect:Amp is probably the closest rival.

    The other options would have to include the Cambridge Audio NP30, Pioneer N50, Marantz NA7004 or the discontinued Logitech Touch and its various compatible homebrew projects. All of these options would require the addition of a power amp.

    If future upgrades are a possibility then separates are the way to go. Get a NAS which can run something like Logitech Media Server or Twonky and a cheap DAC. (fwiw I much prefer LMS).

    Use the laptop to stream from the NAS to the DAC and thence to the amp of your choosing.

    The laptop could be replaced with a dedicated (cheap!) streamer at some point in the future if required. The streamer may or may not include a DAC.

    Keep the portable HDD for off-site backups; don't bother trying to use it as a source.

    I don't have an AVR so can't offer advice on how to integrate the two systems with one set of F/R speakers.
     
  18. Don Dadda

    Don Dadda
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    I don't disagree with that. For me, The functionality of a the laptop/pc as a streamer is very good. In fact it probably the best streamer you can have when you consider the advantages it has over an ext streamer. Multiple media players, able to decode all formats and ones to come if any and easy to update if not, gapless playback, easily maintainable, etc

    My issue is with the internal gubbings causing interference, i.e, spinning of hdd, fan, etc. While Laptops are more robust than before, but there's still the high possibility of it being knocked hard enough to cause problems even by accident and as much as i love my family, i can't always trust their handling. Heck, even i have almost dropped it couple times. Hence why i prefer a ext streamer and Nas or ext hdd. They will be in 1 place and not need to be moved.
     

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