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Yamaha DSP-AX750 vs. Arcam Alpha 9 integrated amp in stereo

Discussion in 'AV Receivers & Amplifiers' started by reservoir51, Mar 1, 2005.

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  1. reservoir51

    reservoir51
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    Thought I might share this with you guys. I've just acquired an Arcam Alpha 9 integrated amp - a great stereo amp in its own right - and compared its stereo performance with my Yamaha DSP-AX750SE. Front speakers and CDP used were Mission M53 and Marantz CD5400 respectively. There was hardly any difference between the two - apart from the fact that the Arcam was slightly more detailed and more controlled in its presentation, but the Yammie had better sound staging. Tried to bi-amp the two (with the Arcam as pre-amp and Yammie as power amp) but unfortunately it sounded awful - probably because they're too dissimilar with different gain, etc. Thinking of acquiring the Arcam alpha 9P power amp but I think I'm going to be disappointed again. I can't anticipate a vast improvement in sound quality unless of course if I get a better CDP and perhaps better speakers (although the Mission M53s aren't slouches themselves!).

    reservoir51
     
  2. beany

    beany
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    Hi Reservoir51.
    Just wondering what settings did you use the Yamaha 750SE on? 'straight' or 'pure direct' i take it? It's hard to imagine something sounding more detailed than the yammy...
    I used to have a NAD C320BEE, the yamaha kills it.
     
  3. reservoir51

    reservoir51
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    I used 'pure direct' for both amps in the test.
    The differences were surprisingly quite minute and subtle. I would have expected a reputable dedicated stereo amp to completely trounce the 750.

    Anyone else who have directly compared the 750's stereo performance with other stereo amps?

    reservoir51
     
  4. GFS AV

    GFS AV
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    I used to have an Arcam Alpha 5+ and Marantz CD63. I now have Yamaha 640SE AV amp with Marantz DV4500 DVD player. I'd say the two system are pretty even at low volumes (the Yamaha models do like to be turned up). I was very surprised though when I first listened to my Yamaha in stereo! At medium to loud volumes, the system I have now is far better! Mind you, this could be a lot to do with my speakers - my current MS Avant 906s are much better than my old Acoustic Energy standmounters. Especially when pushed hard. The 906s are very detailed and powerful throughout the frequency range.

    Just comparing the two amps though, I can honestly say the Yamaha is at least as good as my old Arcam! This is not to say the Arcam was a bad amp, it was quite the opposite!
     
  5. zoolander

    zoolander
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    I got a Yammy 650 about a week ago and it sure can play a tune. I have a fairly decent dedicated stereo system which has awesome synergy and a very decent interconnect which made all the difference. The Yammy 650-750 upwards uses 192kHz DAC's for all channels, i find when i feed it with a digital signal via my pioneer dvd player thru my QED signature cables(excellent rhodium plated phono's plus screening) its sounds great. Id say in this mode it can really compete with my dedicated stereo with certain types of music especially dance and hip hop due to the strong warm mid bass but with anythingelse my stereo system sounds alot better esp more subtle music and instruments sound more natural. Thats not bad going at all considering the 650 only cost me £270 :D and i only bought it for its awesome home cinema performance anyway. I use the radio on it alot as that too sounds brilliant, can put budget cd players to shame with a clean signal! I love the sleep function too so it turns itself off at nite. I havent tried plugging my Tannoys on to the yammy yet as they are hooked to my stereo system but my main speakers for my AV are also the mission m53's. These babies go so deep! I actually turn the sub off for music with the yamaha to save electricity coz the m53's go nearly as deep as my strata III anyway! I do prefer the Tannoy standmount,strata III combo however as it gives a nice combination of crystal clear vocals and airy top end with deep tuneful bass. Stereo imaging has great depth and precision too :clap:

    For anyone who wants a do it all AV amp for not alot of money the 650/750 is the way to go! I think the 650 is far better VFM as it is only 5watts less powerful and also the 750 has no radio, i havent comapred the 2 for home cinema sound but im so pleased with the 650 im not going to return it to richersounds for an exchange for the 750 anymore.

    Zoo
     
  6. Tejstar

    Tejstar
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    A very interesting post. I have been toying with the idea of adding an integrated stereo amp to my Yamaha 750SE for some time. The kind of performance I get at the moment does vary with the type of music played. My experience seems to matches zoo’s comments. Whilst pop/hip-hop is startlingly good, I can’t say the same for the classical/jazz/blues experience.

    Given my funds I haven’t worked out what purchase would give me the most improvement in sound:
    - integrated amp
    - new cdp
    - or, dac

    So many people say different things but given that I’m currently using the dvd player as a music source I’ve got a cdp earmarked as soon as funds allow.

    Quick question to those in the know, I have my dvd player connected to the amp via optical. By having it connected this way will I be using the dvd’s dac or the amps dac?

    I assume it is the amps dac, if that is true then is it right to say that if I have the dvd player connected to the amp using a stereo interconnect then I’ll be using the dvd’s dac?

    What happens if I have both connections in place?
     
  7. reservoir51

    reservoir51
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    I connect my DVD player to my Yammie 750 via analogue and optical simultaneously. The manual states very clearly that when both connections are present, the digital connection takes priority. If you look at the amp's display, it'll state 'PCM' when you play CDs on your DVD player - i.e. the amp is getting a digital stream.

    I agree with your statements regarding the Yammie's performance on pop and rock - anything with heavy bass it handles quite well, but for live, jazz and acoustic music, something's definitely missing. That's why I took the plunge and got an integrated amp. The differences, though subtle, become clearer with live/jazz/acoustic/classical music, with the integrated amp being superior.

    The other thing is, you won't be disappointed by upgrading to a CD player for musical duties. My DVD player costs £400 but the Marantz CD5400 CDP (£120) is clearly superior to it on playing music CDs.

    I'm seriously thinking about getting the Arcam Alpha 9p power amp to bi-amp the speakers. If I do, I'll let you know the outcome!

    reservoir51
     
  8. Tejstar

    Tejstar
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    Cheers for that reservoir, didn't see that bit in the manual :blush: Would love to know how you get on with adding the power amp!
     
  9. zoolander

    zoolander
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    Reservoir, are you sure your cd5400 is "clearly" superior than your £400 marantz dvd player? It could well be psychological, try listening to familiar tracks and do an A/B comparison. The difference between digital source is minor at best, especially at entry level-even some very expensive cd/dac transport players dont sound "that" different. I used to have a cd6000ose and borrowed a entry level marantz dvd player and to be honest there were minimal differences. Its not till i got the cd6000Ki where there was a worthwile gain over the pioneer. The stereo system altogther is clearly superior to the AV system but plugging the cd6000Ki into the yammy 650 via digi cable (using the internal dac's of the 650)sounds worse than plugging the pioneer as dvd players make better transports for technical reasons. Plugging the cd6000Ki via my top end Black Rhodium Oratorio I/C into the yamaha however does sound abit better but its not until you try plugging the pioneer into the marantz stereo amp and then the 6000Ki til you could here the differences more clearly due to the extra transparency on offer. Even then the differences are quite small. But for an hifi enthusiasts small changes add up and can make or break the sound :lesson:

    Zoo
     
  10. reservoir51

    reservoir51
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    Yes, there're clear differences between my CDP and DVD player. It could well be psychological - but then again, music appreciation has always been influenced by psychological factors - try listening to jazz when you're in a bad mood and compare it with when you're feeling wonderful.

    But then again, being the scientist that I am, I tried to be objective and blind-tested both players with different genres of music, and the results were conclusive. I used the DACs in both players and only fed the analogue signal to the amp. The results were the same using different amps - i.e. Yammie and Arcam Alpha 9. So, as far as I'm concerned, I don't need further convincing. :)

    reservoir51
     
  11. reservoir51

    reservoir51
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    Ok, correction to my earlier post regarding the failure of the Yamaha DSP-AX750SE and the Arcam Alpha 9 integrated amp to work together in a bi-amped system.

    I've just converted the Arcam into a power amp by virtue of switching an internal switch which shuts off its pre-amp stages. This - according to Arcam - essentially converts the Alpha 9 into its sister power amp, the Alpha 9p, with virtually identical sonic performance. I then connected the Yamaha's front pre-amp outputs to the Arcam, and with the Arcam driving the high frequency units and Yamaha driving the low frequency units on the loudspeakers. The result is amazing - what a difference that makes. The soundstaging and stereo depth in particular has improved tremendously. There is a greater sense of separation, with enhanced dynamics and timing. Vocals and acoustic and percussive instruments sound extremely detailed and natural, and the mid-range is no longer muddled and 'in-your-face' as it was previously - particularly important for jazz, classical or live music. All in all, a lot better than either amps on their own.

    So, for anyone who's not satisfied with the Yamaha DSP-AX750SE's stereo performance, the addition of a suitable power amp and bi-amping the system will result in great improvements, in my humble opinion. :D
    The positive outcome (apart from the improved sound) is that another power amp which I was considering to purchase is no longer required! :clap:

    reservoir51
     
  12. Tejstar

    Tejstar
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    reservoir51 - It's always nice when a plan comes together! :D
     

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