When to Add External Amplification to an A/V Receiver

Discussion in 'Amps, Pre-Pros & Receivers' started by admin, Apr 15, 2014.

  1. admin Audioholics Robot Staff Member

    admin
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    The question often comes up on our forums asking what benefits a user may see from connecting an external amplifier to their A/V Receiver. The answer depends on many factors including listening habits, room size, speaker load, and bass management. Find out if you're a good candidate for adding external amplification to your system.
    [​IMG]

    Read When to Add External Amplification to an AV Receiver

    Are you running an external amp with an AV Receiver too? Please also share your experiences on this forum thread.
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 15, 2014
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  2. agarwalro Audioholic Ninja

    agarwalro
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    Exemplary work! Simple to understand and tool to help the novice.

    I encourage everyone to click through the Hyperphysics link for a short and effective interpretation on Equal Loudness Curves.
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  3. 3db Audioholic Overlord

    3db
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    Great work Gene. I have to hide this article from my wife :) . It reinforces the fact that I don't need external amplification for my set-up.

    Also I'm surprised to learn this ...

    Editorial note:
    It takes 10dB of added output to double perceived loudness in midrange region (500Hz to 3kHz band) but much less (around 3-4dB) at bass and high frequencies.

    because I thought it would take less power where human hearing is more sensitive.
    3db,
  4. gene Audioholics Master Chief Administrator

    gene
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    thx.

    LOL well I just added a section about what to do with the unused amps in the receiver so you can tell her you need to upgrade so you can power speakers in another room or run a full 9.1 system with height channels :)
    gene,
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  5. agarwalro Audioholic Ninja

    agarwalro
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    Gene,

    Maybe you can use the anointed version of the Hyperphysics Equal Loudness Curves diagram.

    Even better is if a mouse over flipped the clean to anointed version.
    Last edited: Apr 15, 2014
  6. RichB Audioholic General

    RichB
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    Great article. I scored a 7, that almost explains the obsession with amplifiers :p :)

    That chart does not match my experience watching TV/Movies.
    Typically, dialog sounds right with the volume set around 52 (-28) on the Marantz AV8801.
    Required adjustments range from 3 to 6 DB depending on the source.

    - Rich
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  7. PENG Audioholic Warlord

    PENG
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    Gene, I think the score system is great and will work well for owners of higher end AVRs such as 3 dB's RX-V1800/1900 and the newer RX-A3000 series. For people who own the less powerful AVR such as the RX-A800 series, Anthem MRX-310, Marantz SR-5000 series, they may still need to think about external amp even if they score lower than 4. Unlike Denon's, those closer to lower end AVR models by Yamaha, Antham and Marantz do have preouts.
    PENG,
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  8. PENG Audioholic Warlord

    PENG
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    With such high score, just any external amp is not enough. You really should be thinking JC monoblocks.:D
    PENG,
  9. RichB Audioholic General

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    I was dreaming about them last night. :p
    My friend is getting his demo JC-1's and new A51 tomorrow night.
    I'll be in SF next week but when I get back we can compare the JC-1 to the A51 driving his Focal 1038Be's.
    I'm am hoping for no discernable difference at moderate volume. :D

    - Rich
  10. PENG Audioholic Warlord

    PENG
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    At moderate volume, better not. Heck even my AVR-3805 sounds great at moderate volume. I am now enjoying Patricia Barber (Night Club) while comparing my Marantz SM-7 that was known for its warm/golden sound, and the 4B SST, this time driving the revealing 1028 Be. Once again, so far it sounds almost exactly the same as the 4B SST that is supposedly sterile, clinical blablablablaabla...........according to audiophile forums. The 1028 Be always sounds nice and warm with most of Patricia Barber's, and sound bright with other tracks such as some of Adele's. I think one of these days I may just settle for some Crown pro amps that Jin's been bragging about. Probably sound same enough for me.
    Last edited: Apr 15, 2014
    PENG,
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  11. AcuDefTechGuy Audioholic Slumlord

    AcuDefTechGuy
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    I think we should also ask, "Do you need a cooling fan your AVR?" :D

    I think we see this issue during extended AVR use. Heat accumulates with insufficient heat dissipation and the resulting AVR shutdown. :D

    People then assume they need a more powerful amp, but what they really need is better heat dissipation--- like a cooling fan. :D
  12. cpp Audioholic Field Marshall

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    Trouble is heat dissipation is a big deal. I never had a heat issue until I moved to our new home and added the large entertainment center. Sure there are holes in the back and within the shelves to allow for any heat to escape but it's still not ideal, as the heat can't go away where closed up. Planning on adding some fans to the back of the unit to suck out the warm air and to drive circulation within the cabinet.
    cpp,
  13. AcuDefTechGuy Audioholic Slumlord

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    It's a huge deal that is often overlooked. And the remedy could be a lot cheaper, simpler and faster than adding an external amp. :D

    So for the guy throwing that house party and leaving his AVR on for 6+ hours playing 90+ dB volume, grab a small cooling fan and cool that AVR! :D

    Sometimes natural ventilation isn't enough; sometimes the AVR just needs intervention. ;)
    Last edited: Apr 16, 2014
  14. FiremanFrank Audiophyte

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    Cooling

    On my AVR, an Onkyo, I added a external cooling fan unit made by Elan. It works great and keeps my receiver nice and cool and I haven't seen more than 90 degrees on the top of the unit. I used one of those infrared temperature guns that they sell in hardware stores like Lowes or Home Depot. I was forced to go this route as my receiver sits in a fairly tight location and I am sure would run a bit hot without it.
  15. Stanton Audioholics Contributing Writer

    Stanton
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    That's why I placed my receiver at the TOP of my cabinet and drilled (large) holes in the TOP to allow additional ventilation (heat rises, remember) in addition to having NO BACK on that shelf. I've run 5.1 channels at very high volume for years without an issue (doesn't hurt that I have a Yamaha amp).
  16. AcuDefTechGuy Audioholic Slumlord

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    It depends on the situation. Is it on for 2-4HR or 8HR continuous?
    Is it for movies and music listening or for karaoke parties? :D
  17. twochordcool Junior Audioholic

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    Funny this comes up now - the timing is perfect - I need your help! I am actually having issues with an external integrated amp (a conservatively rated 60 Watt per channel Rotel) powering my left and right front speakers in a home theater. I had the integrated amp already in place for music, and I wanted music to take priority, so I felt the Rotel amp should remain in place, with left and right speakers wired from it. I recently added a Yamaha RX-A1020 AV Receiver for movies, powering my center and surround speakers. All 5 speakers are identical in a 5.1 configuration (B&W DM602 S3) and I have a B&W ASW610 subwoofer.

    I was concerned with damaging the Rotel, so I placed the volume control modestly to the 9:00 position. I ran YPAO and sounds came out of all speakers, it came back with the proper speaker distances, correctly recognized all speakers as normal and large, HOWEVER it came back with a W-3 warning code and when I went through the YPAO results it highlighted the left and right speakers in red and maxed them out at 10.0 decibels.

    Unfortunately my integrated amp does not have HT bypass or unity gain or processor mode or whatever.

    And when I played a movie it sounded good, but at the end during the credits, they were playing a song and I noticed that only 10% of the center speaker volume was coning out of the left and right speakers. I know the center channel is the workhorse in a home theater but this cannot be right.

    Do you think putting the Rotel at the 12:00 position and redoing YPAO will remedy both the YPAO error codes and the weak left and right front playback?

    If the Yamaha YPAO microphone can "hear" the sounds coming out of the front left and right speakers, even though they are powered by the Rotel integrated amp, shouldn't the Yamaha be able to compensate for that, and lock it into it's "memory", just as it does with other speakers being powered directly from the Yamaha itself? Especially if I find a good fixed position (12:00) for the volume control on the Rotel amp?

    By the way, my Rotel is hooked up via its aux section, coming out of the Yamaha preouts for front left and right speakers.

    Thanks in advance for any advice that will tweak this as close to perfect as possible!
    Last edited: Apr 16, 2014
  18. Pyrrho Audioholic Ninja

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    No, your speakers are not properly "large." They have a -3dB point of only 52 Hz. You should set them to "small" and select an 80 Hz crossover point. With them "large," you are effectively filtering out the really deep bass for all of the main channels, and increasing distortion for all of them as your bookshelf speakers are trying to reproduce deep bass that they cannot adequately reproduce. If you redirect the deep bass to your subwoofer, you will be able to get bass down to its limits for all channels, instead of the limits of your bookshelf speakers.


    You should turn up the volume on the Rotel (if you are going to use it at all, which you need not) and rerun YPAO. Basically, most power amps without volume controls are very much like an integrated amplifier with the volume turned way up.

    There are limits to how much the Yamaha can adjust each channel, and it seems that you are trying to exceed what it can do with its adjustments. So turn up the volume control on the Rotel, and immediately rerun YPAO. Or just take the Rotel out of the system entirely.
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  19. twochordcool Junior Audioholic

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    Cannot take Rotel out of system entirely unless I want to take a step backwards for listening to music with the Yamaha instead. If I wanted to replace my Rotel entirely I would have gone to one unit, I would have dedicated a much larger sum of my tax return to an Arcam AV receiver. I thought I could pull this off and keep the Rotel integrated that I like while avoiding frustrations over tweaking a home theater built around it.

    As far as speaker size they sre right on the edge, Yamaha "hears" them as large during YPAO and the instruction manual says anything with a woofer over 6 inches is large. These seem to be about 6 inches. But I think you are right about the advantages of categorizing them as small. I think 80 Hz is the default crossover.
  20. Buildsafire51 Enthusiast

    Buildsafire51
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    Should I Use my External Amps with My Receiver?

    I have a Yamaha RX-A2030 - 140 wpc... But at 9 channels driven, probably closer to 70? I'm running NHT Absolute Towers as my Mains. I have 3 Emotiva XPA-100 (250 wpc and 32db Gain) that I was going to hook up to my Fronts and Center. Should I? I want things to sound as good as they can - but, I have heard about AVR's Clipping due to their preout voltage, and the Yamaha is rated at 1.0V ... I've heard this might be understated. I really want to run the Emotiva's, but don't want to hurt my AVR. Any thoughts or advice? Thank you!

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