5 channel Power amp comparison

T

thebrieze

Enthusiast
Here’s an explanation of why an external amp will improve the sound quality regardless of number of watts in the receiver.


 
AcuDefTechGuy

AcuDefTechGuy

Audioholic Jedi
I think in general, 99% of us don't even need external amps. :D

But if we're going to buy amps anyway, I think it might as well be around 200WPC, not around 100WPC.

One good thing about having a 200WPC or 300WPC amp is that you could always change your AVR to a separate AVP (pre-pro) later if you want to go "Separates" and you would already have the amps.

IMO, if you want to go "Separates" for fun, then go totally separates (AVP + Amp). Otherwise, there's nothing wrong with using AVRs since I think about 99% of us don't need external amps.
 
lovinthehd

lovinthehd

Audioholic Slumlord
I am not sure @lovinthehd , I was hoping maybe you can direct me to the correct direction? :)
Most of the sound differences are in the speakers and the room, electronics not so much. Many years ago I heard all the same arguments that abound on the internet now (I go back well before internet :) ) and when it was time to replace my 70wpc receiver I went with separates, as that was said to be the best audio quality, and supposedly clearly superior to the receiver (per magazines and sales people). I was a bit disappointed actually as it really didn't make that big a difference except in volume, the new amp was 250wpc and did get a bit louder cleanly, but it was less than I had been led to expect. Considering it takes a doubling of power to gain merely 3dB spl, that makes a lot of sense to me now (I didn't know that back then).

My receiver back then was good quality as were the separates I replaced them with so no real big surprise, but those expectations made for a bit of a letdown. I've been more realistic in my amp expectations since and that's been helped along by experiencing several different speakers in several different rooms with various preamps/amps and avrs over the years. I generally have not had very low impedance speakers either, I might feel differently if I had some more difficult to drive speakers to high levels, particularly in large rooms. I've often had relatively small rooms to deal with, so that factors in as well. Now, as I'm older and starting to pay for the abuse of my ears for the last 50 years, I definitely don't crank it up as loud as I used to. I'm not currently using any of my avrs (I have four setups with such) with external amps except for subs even though I have several I could use still.

I even had two of my old 250wpc amps gone thru by a tech recently (one made a bad sound as I hooked it up after several years of non-use, altho it turned out to be minor issue) and they've been sitting next to my rack for almost 2 months as I've got no burning reason to use them other than I've got them and don't have a particular purpose for them otherwise now. But to recalibrate seems more work than its worth :) I just don't like selling gear and generally try to use my gear....aside from the four avr setups in the house, my only 2ch setup is with active speakers at the moment but I've got a room or two left :)


Here’s an explanation of why an external amp will improve the sound quality regardless of number of watts in the receiver.


Gene does not say that, though. He qualifies the possibilities of how better electronics MIGHT be audibly better. Nothing wrong with getting higher quality gear or more capable gear, but depends on the factors he mentions, too.....
 
P

pinifinina

Audioholic Intern
75 WPC is a lot unless you sit far from the speakers and have speakers with low sensitivity. So how far do you sit and what kind of speakers you have again?
Hi @PENG ,

I sit about 11 feet away from my front speakers. I typically listen to around 100dB max (when measured using my phone, not sure how accurate that is though). On my receiver, the volume was never near 0db, no way, probably -30 to -25 dB. The speaker I have are Paradigm monitor 11v7 and monitor 3v7 for center, and Atom monitor for 2 surrounds.

What do you think?
 
P

pinifinina

Audioholic Intern
Most of the sound differences are in the speakers and the room, electronics not so much. Many years ago I heard all the same arguments that abound on the internet now (I go back well before internet :) ) and when it was time to replace my 70wpc receiver I went with separates, as that was said to be the best audio quality, and supposedly clearly superior to the receiver (per magazines and sales people). I was a bit disappointed actually as it really didn't make that big a difference except in volume, the new amp was 250wpc and did get a bit louder cleanly, but it was less than I had been led to expect. Considering it takes a doubling of power to gain merely 3dB spl, that makes a lot of sense to me now (I didn't know that back then).

My receiver back then was good quality as were the separates I replaced them with so no real big surprise, but those expectations made for a bit of a letdown. I've been more realistic in my amp expectations since and that's been helped along by experiencing several different speakers in several different rooms with various preamps/amps and avrs over the years. I generally have not had very low impedance speakers either, I might feel differently if I had some more difficult to drive speakers to high levels, particularly in large rooms. I've often had relatively small rooms to deal with, so that factors in as well. Now, as I'm older and starting to pay for the abuse of my ears for the last 50 years, I definitely don't crank it up as loud as I used to. I'm not currently using any of my avrs (I have four setups with such) with external amps except for subs even though I have several I could use still.

I even had two of my old 250wpc amps gone thru by a tech recently (one made a bad sound as I hooked it up after several years of non-use, altho it turned out to be minor issue) and they've been sitting next to my rack for almost 2 months as I've got no burning reason to use them other than I've got them and don't have a particular purpose for them otherwise now. But to recalibrate seems more work than its worth :) I just don't like selling gear and generally try to use my gear....aside from the four avr setups in the house, my only 2ch setup is with active speakers at the moment but I've got a room or two left :)



Gene does not say that, though. He qualifies the possibilities of how better electronics MIGHT be audibly better. Nothing wrong with getting higher quality gear or more capable gear, but depends on the factors he mentions, too.....
Thanks @lovinthehd , and @AcuDefTechGuy

So are are you saying if I hook up an external amp say 125W X 5 all channel driven, I will not hear any sonic benefit from my speaker? So I am not going to get tighter, cleaner, more punchy sound. I will need to change my speaker to get this sound characteristic?

Thanks
 
lovinthehd

lovinthehd

Audioholic Slumlord
v
Thanks @lovinthehd , and @AcuDefTechGuy

So are are you saying if I hook up an external amp say 125W X 5 all channel driven, I will not hear any sonic benefit from my speaker? So I am not going to get tighter, cleaner, more punchy sound. I will need to change my speaker to get this sound characteristic?

Thanks
I doubt it based on my experience. Hard to know what you might perceive as a sonic benefit to an extent, some get that from new gear alone (expectation bias can be quite influential :) ). Tighter cleaner punchy does sound like more a speaker expectation, not something a wee bit more power will address (you're talking about a 1dB difference between 100w and 125w) ....at least I assume the Anthem amp section is of decent quality to rule out a bad amp to start with. Could be an acoustics issue to an extent, hard to know over the internet but dealing with a room's acoustics if you like your speakers is a good option.

As to the speakers, they seem to be relatively sensitive and 8 ohm rated sort of but I didn't look for measurements. Are you using subs with the speakers?

Was the 100dB reading peak or average? What weighting scale? If your avr is properly calibrated for 0dB reference level, then -25 to -30 would be 60 to 70 average dB and 80 to 90 dB peaks if dealing with a soundtrack recorded to the standard (but could be all over the place for music). What source/content did you take level readings of?
 
P

pinifinina

Audioholic Intern
v


I doubt it based on my experience. Hard to know what you might perceive as a sonic benefit to an extent, some get that from new gear alone (expectation bias can be quite influential :) ). Tighter cleaner punchy does sound like more a speaker expectation, not something a wee bit more power will address (you're talking about a 1dB difference between 100w and 125w) ....at least I assume the Anthem amp section is of decent quality to rule out a bad amp to start with. Could be an acoustics issue to an extent, hard to know over the internet but dealing with a room's acoustics if you like your speakers is a good option.

As to the speakers, they seem to be relatively sensitive and 8 ohm rated sort of but I didn't look for measurements. Are you using subs with the speakers?

Was the 100dB reading peak or average? What weighting scale? If your avr is properly calibrated for 0dB reference level, then -25 to -30 would be 60 to 70 average dB and 80 to 90 dB peaks if dealing with a soundtrack recorded to the standard (but could be all over the place for music). What source/content did you take level readings of?
Thanks @lovinthehd ,

100dB is peak while watching movie. What is weight scale? I believe I have calibrated my Anthem correctly (I think), I measured it using an iphone app:p
 
lovinthehd

lovinthehd

Audioholic Slumlord
Thanks @lovinthehd ,

100dB is peak while watching movie. What is weight scale? I believe I have calibrated my Anthem correctly (I think), I measured it using an iphone app:p
Just seems a bit off but could be the particular movie, maybe the phone mic/app. Why didn't you use the ARC program?
 
P

pinifinina

Audioholic Intern
Just seems a bit off but could be the particular movie, maybe the phone mic/app. Why didn't you use the ARC program?
I can’t use ARC while watching movie:p when ARC is running, it will make frequency sweep, and keep repeating it... Audessey can measure whatever sound?
 
lovinthehd

lovinthehd

Audioholic Slumlord
I can’t use ARC while watching movie:p when ARC is running, it will make frequency sweep, and keep repeating it... Audessey can measure whatever sound?
What? That doesn't make sense. Audyssey is similar in concept, not sure of the difference in execution (I've used Audyssey quite a bit, but never Anthem Room Correction).
 
P

PENG

Audioholic Overlord
I can’t use ARC while watching movie:p when ARC is running, it will make frequency sweep, and keep repeating it... Audessey can measure whatever sound?
He's not asking you run ARC when watching a movie. He meant have ARC "on" so it can do the equalization thing. Two different things!

What is the minimum and maximum volume position for the MRX 510?

Normally, if you ran AARC properly, it would likely calibrate things so that when volume is at "0", you would be listening to "reference" level, or 85 dB average from you main mic position, and that would be about the same as what you would get sitting in a movie cinema, that is, very loud to the point extended exposure day after day to that level may result in hearing loss.

If Anthem use similar standards as the mainstay AVR manufacturers such as Denon, Yamaha, Marantz, Onkyo, Pioneer, with volume at -30 or even -10, there is no way your MRX would be pushing 75 W.

Even with just one single Monitor 11v7 should get you 85 dB average with 0.9 watt, or 105 dB peak with 90 W. That's just 1 speaker, based on your seating distance of 11 ft in your speaker's sensitivity at 93 dB/2.83V/1meter in room response.

If you listen at -10, and assuming 0 is reference, then you should be listening to about 75 dB average and that's just about my comfort level. In that case, your MRX would be cruising at around 0.01 WPC, that's no joke, it's science and reality!!

So something does not sound right in your measurements and the key thing to solve this puzzle is to figure out what does volume "-30" really represents for Anthem receivers. We all know what it means (at least roughly..) if it was a D&M, Y, O, or P receivers, but not really sure about Anthem as they are not really that popular, so less users post about their experience. I am a curious persons, as I am using one of their amps in my HT, so I am going to search for any helpful info..:p

1579276017579.png
 
Pogre

Pogre

Audioholic Spartan
Hi @lovinthehd ,

Yes I have, judging from the work sheet, 75W per channel us enough for me. However, like I mentioned before, I am looking for solution that can make the sound more tight, clean, and punchy... so I thought high wattage amps like 300W per channel might not be what I am after, but maybe just a better quality amp with enough power, hence why I short listed those amps which only capable of 105-125W per channel, all channel driven.

Do you think I am completely wrong on this? So to get sound to be more tight, clean, punchy, do I need to change my speakers instead of getting a power amp?
No, more power isn't going to have any impact on sound quality at lower listening levels.
 
T

thebrieze

Enthusiast
Thanks @lovinthehd , and @AcuDefTechGuy

So are are you saying if I hook up an external amp say 125W X 5 all channel driven, I will not hear any sonic benefit from my speaker? So I am not going to get tighter, cleaner, more punchy sound. I will need to change my speaker to get this sound characteristic?

Thanks
In theory the only difference should be max loudness (volume dial) levels so for the same wattage there shouldn’t be a difference. However in practice, most average AVR’s are severely crippled in many ways - see the audioholics video, and it can make a big difference depending on the AVR.

I had 4ohm, 87 dB speakers connected to a Denon 3xxx series AVR - 100 watts 2 channel driven. The setup was stable, and could go very loud without clipping, however even at normal levels, I was missing the punch and dynamics I would have expected. I added a 5x100 watt external amplifier, and it brought made a huge difference. The dynamics and punch was significantly improved even at moderate levels.

With the Pioneer Elite receiver (using ICEPower internal amps) the difference with the external amp was not much and I could have been very happy with just the receivers internal amps.

Overall my preference is for the Marantz + external amp combo, because of the Marantz smoothness and sound signature + Dynamics of the amp
 
Pogre

Pogre

Audioholic Spartan
Marantz smoothness and sound signature..? I never noticed a sound signature with my Marantz and it's as smooth as my Denon and Yamaha receivers were. The real sonic differences with receivers comes down to REQ-EQ modes.
 
William Lemmerhirt

William Lemmerhirt

Audioholic Spartan
Marantz smoothness and sound signature..? I never noticed a sound signature with my Marantz and it's as smooth as my Denon and Yamaha receivers were. The real sonic differences with receivers comes down to REQ-EQ modes.
Psst, hey Poges.....
 
panteragstk

panteragstk

Audioholic Ninja
Is that how you got your Monolith to sound so syrupy? Sticky? What word am I looking for.....

In all honesty to the OP, if it sounds good, leave it alone, if you feel your AVR might be struggling with a difficult to drive speaker, then by all means go with external amplification. You can't really hurt anything by having a quality amp in the mix.

I still want one...cause reasons.
 
AcuDefTechGuy

AcuDefTechGuy

Audioholic Jedi
Thanks @lovinthehd , and @AcuDefTechGuy

So are are you saying if I hook up an external amp say 125W X 5 all channel driven, I will not hear any sonic benefit from my speaker? So I am not going to get tighter, cleaner, more punchy sound. I will need to change my speaker to get this sound characteristic?

Thanks
Amps are NOT going to give you tighter, cleaner, more punchy sound by themselves.

Usually it's a combination of the speakers/subwoofers and the setup - Bass Management, EQ, placement, etc.
 
P

PENG

Audioholic Overlord
In theory the only difference should be max loudness (volume dial) levels so for the same wattage there shouldn’t be a difference. However in practice, most average AVR’s are severely crippled in many ways - see the audioholics video, and it can make a big difference depending on the AVR.
I watched that video before and just watched it again. No, Gene did not say all the things you claimed he said, except, yes he mentioned something about the $500 receiver would fall apart driving 4 ohm speakers etc. That's almost just common sense though, that he really wasn't telling experienced AH members anything new in that regard. As I was watching, I jotted down some of the things he said (not word for word, just my interpretation):

- Don't buy $500 receiver to drive 4 ohm speakers full range.
- Significant difference between the $800 5014 and the 8012 he recently reviewed.
- DAC, bigger power supply, better pre-amp output can be expected in more expensive receivers than the cheap/$500 ones.
- Not saying those differences would definitely be audible as it depends on many things, whether the speakers are 4 ohm rated, listened to loud, in a big room..
- Can external amps added to a receiver make a different? Yes and no, it really depends...he went on to explain the importance of the pre-out quality at 2 V output.

So Gene, as he typically would, included qualifiers such as "depends, cheap/$500 vs $>2,000 receivers (used the SR8012 as example), 4 ohm rated speakers, loud, being run full range in a big room... etc.

I had 4ohm, 87 dB speakers connected to a Denon 3xxx series AVR - 100 watts 2 channel driven. The setup was stable, and could go very loud without clipping, however even at normal levels, I was missing the punch and dynamics I would have expected. I added a 5x100 watt external amplifier, and it brought made a huge difference. The dynamics and punch was significantly improved even at moderate levels.
May be you sit far from the speakers in a large room and your "moderate" level is actually not moderate for others. The fact is, it depends, for example, I pasted the calculation for the OP's 91 dB 8 ohm speakers from 11 ft, he can get "moderate" level of 75 dB from just one speaker for 0.09 W, for your 4 ohm 87 dB speaker, it would be about 0.9 W so your 3XXX series Denon AVR should have no trouble providing all the punches you need two channel driven.

Now if you crank it up to reference level, like 85 dB average, then your AVR will have to output about 9 W average (if one speaker is used). That would still be fine without suffering from lack of dynamics for most music except certain tracks that have dynamic peaks of say >=12 dB and that's when you may perceive lack of "punches" and/or hear distortions. However, adding a 5X100W external amp is not going to offer "huge difference" except perhaps under certain conditions. Your claim must be taken with a grain of salt as others who take it as facts may be disappointed..

Overall my preference is for the Marantz + external amp combo, because of the Marantz smoothness and sound signature + Dynamics of the amp
That is your subjective perception, many members here owned/own both Marantz and another brand and did not feel the Marantz has such a "signature". No one can argue with you though, all we can say is that it is just your own subjective impression, ommv.
 
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