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What Amp?




I have a Cambridge Audio A1 amp and a pair of Kef Q15.2's. I play MP3's from my PC in my office and I'm thinking of upgrading the amp as i feel it sounds lacking in the lower end and there seems not to be enough punch driving the speakers. I have been told by a friend that the speakers are "not being driven" so was after any advice on what amp to get to replace it. Budget is up to £250.

Any advice appreciated.




Established Member
To be honest I think the lack of lower end is more likely to do with the MP3 format than your amp/speakers. The fact that MP3's are compressed means that you will lose both top-end and low-end detail, so it won't really matter what gear you play it on.

If you're using iTunes then you could try recording your tracks in apple lossless which is a big improvement over the normal compressed rate of 128, but at the end of the day any form of compression is going to hinder your listening pleasure.


Established Member
Have to agree with chantrys, you're never going to get fantastic sound quality from a compressed media. What bitrate/quality level do you tend to use? Below 192Kbps and you really should consider re-encoding. As well as Apple Lossless, you could look at is Flac, which is an open source lossless codec and has much support and tools freely available. If you don't have the space for a lossless, try Ogg as albeit lossy, tends to give much better results than mp3 for only marginally extra space. Again OS and free. Also there's AAC (think iTunes can use this), however careful some encoders ditch all above 16Khz, unless overridden!

The other consideration is your soundcard, what is it? A cheapo onboard one will do you no favours. A good Audigy would be better, as you then can use ASIO, so music players (like FooBar2000) can talk directly to the hardware. Otherwise look at an external solution like the M-Audio range (the Transit gets good reviews and is reasonable priced), as they won't pick up any interference from internal PC components. Otherwise consider a hifi separate DAC and feed it optical/coax spdif from your soundcard, since most soundcards have terrible DAC built into them and tend to pick up loads of interference. I used to do this with a Cambridge Audio Dacmagic 2 - got big improvements to clarity, depth and detail. However all of this is moot if your mp3's are compressed too harshly...

PS I've got a Cambridge Audio P500 power amp on the classifieds, could give you a nice upgrade for your A1 - hook them up together and bi-amp your Kef's. Interest you?

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