What to look for in stereo amp for MA silver 500s?

pjacko

Standard Member
Hi, I recently picked up a pair of Monitor Audio Silver 500 floorstanders to use as part of a 2 channel set up (currently using my 5.1 set up for music and movies, but looking to separate the two) and I’m now looking at stereo amps/receivers.

What should I be looking for in a stereo amp?

I note so far that a lot of stereo amps tend to have lower quoted power outputs than similarly priced AV receivers and I’ve read the odd comment that under powering speakers can be bad for them, so I’m trying to figure out what my requirements should be in an amp to suit the new speakers, before I set a budget and audition a few.

Thanks in advance
 

Ugg10

Distinguished Member
When comparing avr and stereo amp output you need to make sure you are comparing apples with apples. Stereo amp power output are usually quoted at 8 ohm load (supplemented by 4ohm) and at their minimum distortion figure or at 1% distortion. I have seen many avr amps quote at 6 or 4 ohms and ta 10% distortion both of these will boost the figures. Avr figures are also often quoted at two channels running and power drops significantly with all 5/7/9 channels running.

The MA Silver 500 have a moderately high sensitivity at 90dB/W/m (the higher the figure the lower the watts you need for the same volume), are rated nominally at 8ohms but do drop to a minimum of 3.1ohms which may challenge some amps.

Worth noting that I’d you get an amp with HTBypass (also called processor mode or pre/power mode) and your avr has front channel pre-outs you can integrate your stereo amp with the avr and use it to run the front channels all the time. Connect your stereo sources (cd, streamer, turntable etc.) to the stereo amp and multichannel sources to the avr as normal (DVD, Blueray, sat/cable, PlayStation etc.).

If you have a budget for the amp I am sure the group will have a number of amp suggestions.

As a start the Yamaha AS800 or AS1100 or the Rega Elex-R or Elicit-R or possibly the Roksan K3 would be a starting point, each has a slightly different presentation so do audition.
 

pjacko

Standard Member
Thanks for the response. Due to an imminent house move I’ll be in the fortunate position of being able to put the 2 channel set up in a different room to the telly and 5.1 set up so I don’t have to get my head around bypass modes etc. and can keep the two systems completely separate (which is good as the finish on the silver 500s is similar to my older bronze bx speakers, but not a perfect match!)

I should have said that the speakers I picked up are the older (6g?) silver 500s rather than the latest model in case that makes a difference and I’m looking to spend no more than £1000

My primary source of music currently is streaming from Amazon music, so as a follow up question I’d be keen to understand whether it’s a better option to look for an amp with built in Bluetooth to connect directly to a phone/laptop or whether I should look to factor in a standalone streaming unit too…
 

Ugg10

Distinguished Member
If you can connect the laptop directly to the amp (via a built in usb connector or via A separate DAC) or via a streamer (built in or separate) then that would be better than Bluetooth, especially if you are using Amazon cd quality stream. The blue tooth will throw away half the data in the process (aptx limited to 500mbps, amazon cd is approx 1000mbps) which is not as bad as it seems but you may as well get the most out of the source.

Are you happy to go second hand. Also worth looking at the maipjor retailer clearance and ex demo sections, there can be good deals on there.
 

Ugg10

Distinguished Member
If you are up for second hand this is a beast and will drive pretty much any speakers you throw at it. Plus it has a usb 24/96 input on the back for your laptop.

 

pjacko

Standard Member
I do have access to Amazon’s “HD” or “ultra HD” options but have yet to spot a streaming unit with Amazon support built in so a wired connection to my laptop sounds like my best option.

I’ve bought speakers used before, but rightly or wrongly, for an amp I’m keen to look for a new or open box option to ensure I get some sort of warranty, which is a bit disappointing as it rules out the lovely suggestion you just made!
 
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pjacko

Standard Member
Would something like a Cambridge audio cxa81 be sufficiently powerful? Their website tells me it has a USB audio in which should give me the option to connect my old MacBook Pro I guess? Although I’m not familiar with usb audio to be onest
 

Ugg10

Distinguished Member

Helix Hifi

Well-known Member
Ma floor standing speakers needs an amplifier which is up front, not too up front.

What I mean is an amplifier with balanced sound. Not too warm, too bright.

I see Cambridge is mentioned. Then maybe Yamaha AS 1200 could suit you.
 

Van300

Active Member
I have the MF 600si with the MA silver 500 6G and the pair works very well. I would highly recommend that you go with the second hand MF 600i. Do not worry about the warrantee as these amps are built like tanks and weighs about the same too! To use a car analogue, there is no replacement for dispacement!

These speakers need power to bring out and control the base.
 
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Helix Hifi

Well-known Member
My Silver 300 6g needs 150 watts to wake up. Try Tara Putra song. I can never remember the song name, but if you search on Spotify, it’s the first song which pops up in the search bar.

Dubland mix, I believe it’s called. There’s bass line in the middle of the song, truly spectacular dynamics.
 

Helix Hifi

Well-known Member
OP could get used Rotel RA1570. It we’ll control the speakers with iron grip.
 

pjacko

Standard Member
Thanks for all of your replies. As I expected I’m well out of my depth here, but that’s why I’m asking questions so hopefully you’ll bear with me 😀

I bought the speakers as I found an open box deal on them for a price I couldn’t refuse as well as wanting bigger speakers for the bigger room I’ll shortly have and being very pleased with the MA bronze bx5s I currently use in my 5.1 set up.

Have I made a poor choice, or would most speakers this size be more demanding of an amp?

I’m not (yet) really what you would call an audiophile and this explains why, to date I’ve been happy listening to music using stereo mode on an old Cambridge audio azur 540r via the bx5s.

When I tested the silver 500s on this set up it already sounded like an improvement to me (before I boxed them up for safe transport to the new house) so I would have thought that by switching to a modern stereo specific amp I would likely hear further improvements and probably be quite happy??

As before, I really would prefer some sort of warranty if I’m spending £1000 on electronics, so do I risk anything (apart from not getting the best of the speakers) if I looked at a new amp with ~100wpc?

Thanks
 

gibbsy

Moderator
When I tested the silver 500s on this set up it already sounded like an improvement to me (before I boxed them up for safe transport to the new house) so I would have thought that by switching to a modern stereo specific amp I would likely hear further improvements and probably be quite happy??
That's a telling statement. How does the new room compare to the old? You listen to speakers in a room and the room makes a hell of a difference. Can you post a photo of the speakers in their current position. Maybe nothing to do with the amp but all about positioning.

The Silvers do dip to 3.1 ohm so your amp needs to be able to recover from those dips to keep a good clean grip, especially the bass, which needs a good power supply. The 91dB sensitivity means that they don't need a lot of watts (although outright power is always welcome) so if you have an amp of 70 watts into 8 ohms that more than adequate providing the amp can almost double that output into 4 ohms.

The Rega Elex-R would be a contender.
 

pjacko

Standard Member
Thanks for all the advice. I ended up spending an hour listening to some different amps on the latest MA silver 500s at my local hifi shop before (rather cheekily) buying an open box version of the winner online for a reasonable saving.

Ended up trying the Cambridge cxa81, arcam sa20, roksan attesa and roksan k3.

Perhaps unsurprisingly given the price, I preferred the roksan k3 so that’s what I now have.

Very excited to rig it all up in the new house in a couple of weeks time (which will still be within the 30 day return window in case things are very different in my room compared to the listening room at the shop)

Now to focus my attention and questions on projectors and AVRs…
 

[email protected]

Active Member
I do have access to Amazon’s “HD” or “ultra HD” options but have yet to spot a streaming unit with Amazon support built in so a wired connection to my laptop sounds like my best option.

I’ve bought speakers used before, but rightly or wrongly, for an amp I’m keen to look for a new or open box option to ensure I get some sort of warranty, which is a bit disappointing as it rules out the lovely suggestion you just made!
bluesound seems to support Amazon Music. I haven’t tried it.
 

Kapkirk

Active Member
Thanks for all the advice. I ended up spending an hour listening to some different amps on the latest MA silver 500s at my local hifi shop before (rather cheekily) buying an open box version of the winner online for a reasonable saving.

Ended up trying the Cambridge cxa81, arcam sa20, roksan attesa and roksan k3.

Perhaps unsurprisingly given the price, I preferred the roksan k3 so that’s what I now have.

Very excited to rig it all up in the new house in a couple of weeks time (which will still be within the 30 day return window in case things are very different in my room compared to the listening room at the shop)

Now to focus my attention and questions on projectors and AVRs…
Just my 2 pence worth, I'd have thought the Roksan might be a bit too lively for those Monitor Audio's, and could cause a bit of listener fatigue, the Arcam amps tend to work very well with Monitor Audio and would provide a more balanced easy going sound that the Roksan.
 

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