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which half width stereo amp?

dazed&confused

Prominent Member
I'm looking to pay around £200 for a second hand amp, and it needs to be half width. It will be powering Castle Compact satellites initially, then Castle Column floorstanders once I upgrade. It shoud be easy enough to hook up to a sub, and preferably but not necessarily offer speaker A and B outputs.

Most importantly, for stereo sound it should provide a substantial improvement over my Yamaha DSP AX750SE AV amplifier and my eighteen year old Mission Cyrus One amplifier. I would presumably connect my DVD/CD player direct to the amp to make use of its preamp stage, instead of/as well as using the preouts from the Yamaha.

On the list so far are

Musical Fidelity X-80
Musical Fidelity X-A1
Audio Analogue Primo
(don't know what sort of Cyrus I'd get for this sort of cash).

Any information, advice or suggestions much appreciated. Many thanks.
 

clockworks

Prominent Member
Why not get a power amp for your L&R speakers? Connect it to the L&R pre-outs on your AV amp. The pre-amps in modern AV amps are pretty good, certainly when compared to a £200 secondhand integrated amp. Probably good enough if you are using your DVD player for CDs (your post suggests that you are?).

If you want an integrated amp, also consider an early Naim Nait. For a bit more cash, you could get a Linn Majik or later Nait.
 

dazed&confused

Prominent Member
Hi Clockworks and thanks for your reply. Perhaps I should consider increasing my budget to £300 second hand.

My thinking was that two to three hundred pounds would get me an amp that cost four or five hundred pounds new (maybe even £600 rrp), and that since it only has to work on two channels it would surely be better than an amp that has to have enough electronics for six channels.

My thinking was also that I should go for an intergrated amp because, for some reason, it seemed to me that it was in the pre-amp stage of a dedicated stereo amp that most of the improvement would be seen over an AV amp. Perahps this seemed to be to be the most sophisticated part of the amp, and when I have read reviews of amps like the Cyrus 6vs and 8vs it seems to have been in the preamp stage that new models had made improvements. Would a better pre-amp not provide more detail and open out the spaciousness of the sound stage. Would an improved power amp just not improve what was already there?

I will add your suggestions to my list. I assume you believe they would be a better choice than those I have already mentioned, and would be a good match for the Castles?
 

clockworks

Prominent Member
I've not heard castle speakers, and I've not heard any recent MF amps, so I can't really comment.

Linn and Naim amps seem to hold their prices, once they reach a few years old. If you buy one, and don't like it, you could sell it again without losing more than your postage.

I've got a Linn Majik, which isn't currently being used. It'll be used again when I rebuild my dining room. These fetch about £300 on eBay, but retailed for about £900 when new. The Linn LK100 power amp I currently use is similar design and sound, and should be available for nearer to £200.
If you want to spend the extra on an integrated amp, it may well improve the sound over using the AV pre-amp.
For £200, buy a power amp. For £300 buy an integrated - think of it as a £200 power amp with a £100 pre-amp!

I suggested using a power amp purely to keep things simple (only one volume control to worry about).
I think the big problem with most AV amps is the power supply. In most cases, one transformer supplies all five (or seven) power amps, as well as the pre-amp. What happens on one channel affects all the others.
Taking the load off by using external power amps improves things a lot.
I only use the rear channel amps on my Denon, and stereo performance is very good.

My intention is to use one power amp for each front channel (bi-amping each speaker with one stereo amp), and use another stereo power amp for the rears. Currently the centre is bi-amped, L&R share another stereo amp.
 

clockworks

Prominent Member
dazed&confused said:
Hi again. Just had a look at ebay and it seems that all the later Naits (version 3 onwards) are full rather than half width?

Sorry, I forgot they changed the case design.
Half-width probably rules out the Linns as well - they're 310mm wide.

Can you stack two half-width components? If you can, a Naim NAC42/NAP110 would be a good buy. A pair sold for not much over £200 a couple of weeks ago on eBay.
 

dazed&confused

Prominent Member
Thanks for the suggestion. I would probably be ok with a combo provided I could stack on edirectly on top of the other. The connections look quite starnge (DIN type are they?). How would I hook something like this up to a sub?
 

clockworks

Prominent Member
Stacking is fine - these units run cool due to the solid case design. The inputs take locking DIN plugs. The cables are readily available on eBay.

Connecting a sub to any decent stereo amp is equally difficult - they don't normally have sub pre-outs. Do you actually want to use the sub in stereo mode? Some people just leave the sub connected to the AV amp, and use it for 5.1 only. Others use the "high level" inputs on the sub, connecting them to the speaker terminals of the stereo amp. You can normally use both sets of inputs (high and line level), so the sub can be used with both systems.

Of course, if you just add a power amp to your AV amp, the sub stays connected to the AV amp.
 

garyb9900

Established Member
Dazed, sorry to hijack your thread somewhat, but i had a Musical Fidelity X-A1 for sale on the for sale threads a little while ago. It was up for £225 + p&p last time.
 

dazed&confused

Prominent Member
What did you replace the X-A1 with Gary? What would you say characterises the X-A1 and what are its strengths? Have you also listened to the X-80?
 

garyb9900

Established Member
Replaced the X-A1 with a full processor set up (Rotel 1098 into 2 x 1075 now) simply because it suits my set up now (all items are out of sight in a large AV rack). Don't know about the X80 as i'd never heard 1, but i just know that the X-A1 is a fantastic sounding and beautiful amp. I had it partnered with a pair of KEF Q35 and the rest of the surround set up with a Yamaha DSP 492 powering the rears (Boston Micro VRS) and a matching KEF Q95c centre.
 

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