Request Opinion on three Ext Amp Options

XEagleDriver

XEagleDriver

Senior Audioholic
UPDATED to reflect replies as of 1300 EDT:
- Dropped Emotiva 3-ch, replaced with 3 x Outlaw 2220s
(shout out to NINaudio, Pogre, and Peng)


REQUEST: Thoughts on likely best external amp option to improve movie and multi-ch music SQ and system longevity for a 5.2.4 HT.
GOALS: Improve movie/multi-ch music SQ and avoid premature AVR death (heat) or speaker damage (THD) by running the AVR too close to its max output on a routine basis.

COMMON REQUIREMENTS:
a) Use is Movies and Multi-Ch Music, NOT 2-Ch music, in a Dedicated HT room (15' x 18' x 8' tall).
b) Augment a DENON x4500H (125W /ch at 2-ch @ 8 ohm)
c) <$1.2k delivered (lower is better)

THE THREE OPTIONS: (Specs below are for all channels driven @ 8 ohms.)
1) Add a stereo amp for Front L/R; Parasound 2250 V.2 @ 275W /ch. $999
2) Add a three-channel amp for Front L/C/R; three Outlaw 2220 amp bundle @ 200W /ch. $1,115 ($999+ship)
3) Add a five-channel amp for all five base layer speakers; Outlaw 5000x @ 120W /ch. $820 ($749+ship)

MORE DETAIL:
a) Atmos sounds great, but system feels power limited when running all nine channels from only the Denon.
- For movies, dB volume needs to be in mid-low teens to provide impact. When I was only running a 5.2 rig, volume was in mid-20s for similar impact.
b) System is tuned up to best of my ability using both MultEQ XT32 and the accompanying Audyssey MultEQ Editor App (very cool BTW).
c) When all nine channels are running, I expect each channel only has ~30W available, nowhere near the 125W 2ch spec.
d) Speakers are; Ascend S2 mains, Duo center, and Luna surrounds, two SVS subs, recently added four JBL Arena 61C in-ceiling Atmos speakers.

DISCLAIMER:
Initial inclination is the five-channel option, even with lower per ch power, will provide the best SQ improvement for my use and best reduce the load on AVR.
However external amps are not my strong suit, so thanks for your thoughts.
Cheers,
XEagleDriver
 
Last edited:
Pogre

Pogre

Audioholic Overlord
I'm between the Parasound and the Outlaw. Parasound for the power and Outlaw for flexibility. Emotiva was catching some flak around here iirc...

I'll bet the Outlaw would do the job very nicely unless you're really pushing volume limits. I'd say either one is a good choice tho.
 
P

PENG

Audioholic Slumlord
REQUEST: Thoughts on likely best external amp option to improve movie and multi-ch music SQ and system longevity for a 5.2.4 HT.
GOALS: Improve movie/multi-ch music SQ and avoid premature AVR death (heat) or speaker damage (THD) by running the AVR too close to its max output on a routine basis.

COMMON REQUIREMENTS:
a) Use is Movies and Multi-Ch Music, NOT 2-Ch music, in a Dedicated HT room (15' x 18' x 8' tall).
b) Augment a DENON x4500H (125W /ch at 2-ch @ 8 ohm)
c) <$1.2k delivered (lower is better)

THE THREE OPTIONS: (Specs below are for all channels driven @ 8 ohms.)
1) Add a stereo amp for Front L/R; Parasound 2250 V.2 @ 275W /ch. $999
2) Add a three-channel amp for Front L/C/R; Emotiva XPA-3 Gen 3 @ 275W /ch. $1,199
3) Add a five-channel amp for all five base layer speakers; Outlaw 5000x @ 120W /ch. $820 ($749+ship)

MORE DETAIL:
a) Atmos sounds great, but system feels power limited when running all nine channels from only the Denon.
- For movies, dB volume needs to be in mid-low teens to provide impact. When I was only running a 5.2 rig, volume was in mid-20s for similar impact.
b) System is tuned up to best of my ability using both MultEQ XT32 and the accompanying Audyssey MultEQ Editor App (very cool BTW).
c) When all nine channels are running, I expect each channel only has ~30W available, nowhere near the 125W 2ch spec.
d) Speakers are; Ascend S2 mains, Duo center, and Luna surrounds, two SVS subs, recently added four JBL Arena 61C in-ceiling Atmos speakers.

DISCLAIMER:
Initial inclination is the five-channel option, even with lower per ch power, will provide the best SQ improvement for my use and best reduce the load on AVR.
However external amps are not my strong suit, so thanks for your thoughts.
Cheers,
XEagleDriver
For your budget, imo nothing would beat the Hypex based amps. If you don't mind the look and if you are in the US, or Europe I guess....:D

Buckeye Amps: New US based Hypex multichannel amplifier builder, line-up announcement! | Audio Science Review (ASR) Forum

They don't have the best specs, but much better than the ones you listed, and have been verified by bench tests.
 
P

PENG

Audioholic Slumlord
I'm between the Parasound and the Outlaw. Parasound for the power and Outlaw for flexibility. Emotiva was catching some flak around here iirc...

I'll bet the Outlaw would do the job very nicely unless you're really pushing volume limits. I'd say either one is a good choice tho.
Agreed, until I found out about those Buckeyes.:D
 
NINaudio

NINaudio

Audioholic Field Marshall
What volume levels are you listening at and how far away are you seated from the mains? The front 3 is where most of the action lies, so I'd be inclined to go with three of these. That will be more than enough to power your front three and decrease the heat being generated by your AVR. Don't expect it to do much for your SQ though.
 
Pogre

Pogre

Audioholic Overlord
Agreed, until I found out about those Buckeyes.:D
Hey PENG! Good to see you still kicking 'round these here parts! I don't think I'm familiar with the Buckeye Hypex amps you suggested. I'm gonna follow your link and check 'em out.
 
XEagleDriver

XEagleDriver

Senior Audioholic
What volume levels are you listening at and how far away are you seated from the mains?
The front 3 is where most of the action lies, so I'd be inclined to go with three of these. That will be more than enough to power your front three and decrease the heat being generated by your AVR. Don't expect it to do much for your SQ though.
Great questions:
Haven't measured dB during movies in a long while, but I would describe volume as moderately high, definitely not reference.
- As an ol' retired fighter pilot, I am very cognizant of hearing damage and try my best to avoid, while still enjoying the show or song.

MLP is 10' (HT has screen on the long wall), seats to the right and left of MLP are 12' from farthest main speaker.
 
Pogre

Pogre

Audioholic Overlord
You know, I have a pair of S2s And while I love the quality of sound I get out of them, I was never able to quite reach the SPL I wanted, even with a 200 W per channel amp. That would nudge me more toward the Outlaw. Although PENG's suggestion looks very promising as well. Especially Bang for buck.
 
ryanosaur

ryanosaur

Audioholic Spartan
Denon and Marantz claim that 70% of the rated power should be available in multichannel usage. I’ve always wondered if that held true listening in multichannel stereo... which arguably shouldn’t be done, anyway... ;)
Regardless, I like the outlaw monoblocks. They are great little workhorses in my room. I also like Hypex and am working on my own diy implementation (slowly, very slowly). Either would be a good option, I think.
I would strongly urge you to go with Amp that can deliver more power than your receiver. Having headroom beyond what you can already access is IMO a key part of making this choice. I also am not a keen believer that this will greatly improve SQ, rather provide adequate power or current to keep from overtaxing your receiver or speakers during those short yet demanding moments.
 
P

PENG

Audioholic Slumlord
Denon and Marantz claim that 70% of the rated power should be available in multichannel usage. I’ve always wondered if that held true listening in multichannel stereo... which arguably shouldn’t be done, anyway... ;)
Agreed, and I would like to add that even for those who really enjoy multichannel stereo, it really isn't a big deal either, in terms of increased power requirements. If you take a look of the popular spl calculator (Peak SPL Calculator (homestead.com), it shows that with 7 speakers versus 1, there is a gain in spl of a whopping 8.5 dB assuming same speakers are used. Surely this is just approximate and the actual gain would depend a lot on the individual room acoustic conditions including speaker placement, but even if the gain is only say 6 dB, it is still a lot.

That means if I am listening in two channel stereo, and suddenly switch to 7 channel stereo, I would naturally turn the volume down by 6 dB (minimum).

So now I am inclined to believe that multichannel stereo use may in fact tax the amplifier a little, but not that significant at all because more speakers will be making the same sound simultaneously. Now if someone uses multichannel stereo modes to increase the spl all around the listening area for big parties, line dance etc., than yes, it would tax the amp much more.
 
Swerd

Swerd

Audioholic Spartan
I agree with what others, @PENG, @ryanosaur, and others have said above. Whether you hear a difference, or not, with added amp power is debatable, but you do seem to understand the issues involved. The real issue is that you never want your amps to clip, not even for a brief fraction of a second.

Don't underestimate the benefit of keeping things cool as they operate. I've recently bought a new Denon X4500H to replace my older AVR that failed. The new Denon runs cooler than my old AVR, and I do supplement it with an external 2-channel amp. Despite that, I also spent $20 for a pair of 5" cooling fans. They sit on top of the $1200 Denon AVR and make a surprisingly significant difference in heat dissipation. At the slowest speed setting, the two fans are essentially inaudible.


I also splurged and bought this for another $8.
 
Alex2507

Alex2507

Audioholic Slumlord
I agree with what others, @PENG, @ryanosaur, and others have said above. Whether you hear a difference, or not, with added amp power is debatable, but you do seem to understand the issues involved. The real issue is that you never want your amps to clip, not even for a brief fraction of a second.

Don't underestimate the benefit of keeping things cool as they operate. I've recently bought a new Denon X4500H to replace my older AVR that failed. The new Denon runs cooler than my old AVR, and I do supplement it with an external 2-channel amp. Despite that, I also spent $20 for a pair of 5" cooling fans. They sit on top of the $1200 Denon AVR and make a surprisingly significant difference in heat dissipation. At the slowest speed setting, the two fans are essentially inaudible.


I also splurged and bought this for another $8.
Hey, Big Spender ... that turbo fan option runs the fans faster and louder than say a lower voltage iphone charger plug rated for 5v and like 0.5 mA or something like that. I had dual fans with the turbo but opted for a single fan with the lower output adapter stolen from my girl's phone. Rec'r is still cool to the touch, as you said, "significant difference in heat dissipation".
 
lovinthehd

lovinthehd

Audioholic Jedi
Just what kinda levels we talking here and what speakers and what distance and all that? :) I'd go with a couple or three Crown XLS 2502 s myself depending going front three or adding surrounds. Go big or go home.
 
ryanosaur

ryanosaur

Audioholic Spartan
For
Just what kinda levels we talking here and what speakers and what distance and all that? :) I'd go with a couple or three Crown XLS 2502 s myself depending going front three or adding surrounds. Go big or go home.
speakers he's using Sierra 2s and a Duo Center.
 
XEagleDriver

XEagleDriver

Senior Audioholic
Ordered the Outlaw 5000x today, now starts the hard part - waiting for its arrival.
Thanks again to all who assisted.
Will report back once it is installed and checked out.
XEagleDriver
 
Gmoney

Gmoney

Audioholic Samurai
Ordered the Outlaw 5000x today, now starts the hard part - waiting for its arrival.
Thanks again to all who assisted.
Will report back once it is installed and checked out.
XEagleDriver
With photos also! ;)
 
R

richierey1

Enthusiast
Hey XEagleDriver. I had a similar situation a couple years ago with a Marantz SR6009. I used the AVR processor to its absolute limit running 6 floor standing forward facing B&W speakers in multi-channel (110W/8 ohms) and two B&W subwoofers (15"/12") with Audyssey. The soundstage was amazing, but i could "tell" the processor was "struggling".

Fast forward two years later I have upgraded my Marantz processor to the SR7013, 9.2 channel, 125W @ 8 ohm (similar to your Denon X4500H) which i use for processing only. I pre-out to a Marantz MM8077 amplifier, 7 channel, 150W @ 8 ohm. Each device has its own dedicated fan from AC Infinity which I have set to auto-start at about 99 degrees (i treat my devices like a human, lol).

The difference? Night and day.

I'm not a sound engineer, but the simple upgrade of adding separate amplification to my original SR6009 was dramatic. My system sounded cleaner, wider, spacious and 3 dimensional. Subjective terms i know, but i don't know how else to describe.

The SR7013 made an even bigger difference in that the soundstage sounded more "balanced" and revealing and surprisingly not as "warm" as the SR6009. The effect on the subwoofers was also huge in that the SR7013 allows for each subwoofer to be calibrated separately. I'm still tweaking the settings to somehow re-capture that "warm" sound. I know the 7013 can do it, I just have to acclimate to the new settings.

Don't know if this helps, but having "been there, done that" I highly advise separate amplification.

Good luck!

~ Cheers
 

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