Starke Sound Fiera4 4CH Amplifier Does It Meet Power Spec?

B

buckchester

Junior Audioholic
I absolutely made some mistakes In my description here but a lot of the disagreements were pedantic. Some of what I wrote that was wrong was simply a typo caused by the fact that I typed it on my phone with two kids running around and dinner cooking. For those that don’t know, My wife works evenings so I am responsible for dinner and watching the kids after 5pm. It’s hard for me to have deep technical conversations on forums with that going on. I suppose next time I should formulate my responses more cautiously.

to correct one of the pedantic issues being discussed. I didn’t mean to say it has two chips. I meant channels. Each actual channel is the amp uses two channels of the chip in a BTL arrangement. When it’s bridged, it uses all four channels in a PBTL arrangement.

the Ti module can be configured for four SE amps, two SE and one BTL, two BTL, or one PBTL. A number of the inexpensive versions on Amazon were wired as a 2.1 amp. So not really comparable. A few do use the same BTL arrangement and so in theory could be as powerful as this. But they appear to use much weaker power supplies and lower rail voltages. So they don’t put out as much power. I am sure there is going to be some exception. But I also don’t think we can condemn a product because there happens to be some cheaper similar alternatives. That will always be true.

As for the brand. I know that many people were really put off by how Starke handled the prior situation. None of us at Audioholics feel it was handled well. A lot of things said should not have been and clearly the old amplifier was wildly mis-specified. I can’t say way. I really don’t know where those numbers came from. Many of you know Dan Wiggins. He has never struck me as a liar or grifter. He’s a talented engineer that brought us a ton of really great products and technologies. Something clearly went wrong in bringing the last product and it’s marketing to the public. I want to believe it was an inadvertent mistake that was then mishandled when it came to light. But in talking to Scott about this amplifier and about the situation, it seems like they recognized that prior amp was a problem and were seeking to restore faith with a better product and more accurate specs. I reviewed the product and not the brand. I really can’t be asked to justify what they say or do. The amp seems fine for what it is, with respectable performance.

I can also say this. Purely because I am busy and lack enough time to stay on top Of my reviews, everything I review typically gets used for a long time. Meaning I likely do a better job than most at testing reliability. I even delay some reviews when j detect potential reliability problems that I want to work out before giving my review. This amp was tested about 2 months ago and has been in use in various forms since then. I was too lazy to connect the trigger so it’s running 24/7. I can’t test it for years obviously but months is still better than days.
Two little kids running around...I hear ya. I'm in the same boat. If only I had the same level of energy as them!
 
D

dlaloum

Audioholic Intern
For it's rated output 140 W into 8 ohms, that's about the same as any flagship D, M or Y AVRs but if you look at the specs you can see that the Quad 606 has excellent current capability. That doesn't mean it is suitable for 2 ohm loads, it may be fine but as always it would depend on your listening habits, distance and the specific speakers.

Is your current speaker's impedance 2 ohms nominal, or 2 ohms minimum?

Everything is relative, the 606's specified "maximum" current is 12 A, one channel, that would be 12^2*2 = 288 W into 2 ohm. Obviously it can't handle a 2 ohm load at that level, but for transient peaks in music, if the power requirement is, say, less than 140 W at your maximum listening level then it should have enough current.

Any load below 4 ohm nominal is going to be tough on power amps regardless of the brands. Then again it all depend on the factors I mentioned, so when shopping for one you need to read the detailed specs and measurements if available carefully and do your math too because purchase.
According to the power / impedance chart in the manual - it can drive a grand total of 90W into 2 ohm

My speakers go down to 3 ohm on the bass/Woofer, but the tweeter drops to 1.6 ohm - and is capacitive.

My 100W Integra AVR, just sounded congested/confused - running at an MLP average SPL of 72db (so not high power) - driving my 5.1 setup, with easy 6ohm to 8 ohm surrounds - and my matched 3 fronts. (my previous 140W @ 8 ohm Integra DTR 70.4 handled them fine... but its power supply was a heck of a lot bigger... the current AVR is 10kg the old one was 30kg)

Moving the Front L&R onto a separate power amp, completely resolved the "congestion/confusion"

I did do back to back comparisons of the Quad 606 vs the Crown XLS2500... but for these speakers... the 1200W @ 2 ohm from the crown, seems to do the magic, where the 90W @ 2 ohm of the Quad could not. (On my previous Quad ESL63's - there was no audible difference between AVR/Quad/Crown... - much easier to drive!)

Yeah low impedance loads really separate amps!
 
Matthew J Poes

Matthew J Poes

Senior Audioholic
Staff member
According to the power / impedance chart in the manual - it can drive a grand total of 90W into 2 ohm

My speakers go down to 3 ohm on the bass/Woofer, but the tweeter drops to 1.6 ohm - and is capacitive.

My 100W Integra AVR, just sounded congested/confused - running at an MLP average SPL of 72db (so not high power) - driving my 5.1 setup, with easy 6ohm to 8 ohm surrounds - and my matched 3 fronts. (my previous 140W @ 8 ohm Integra DTR 70.4 handled them fine... but its power supply was a heck of a lot bigger... the current AVR is 10kg the old one was 30kg)

Moving the Front L&R onto a separate power amp, completely resolved the "congestion/confusion"

I did do back to back comparisons of the Quad 606 vs the Crown XLS2500... but for these speakers... the 1200W @ 2 ohm from the crown, seems to do the magic, where the 90W @ 2 ohm of the Quad could not. (On my previous Quad ESL63's - there was no audible difference between AVR/Quad/Crown... - much easier to drive!)

Yeah low impedance loads really separate amps!
A lot of receivers tend to fall apart and. Asked to drive a lot of speakers. Especially a lot of low impedance receivers. All the worst if any are set to large. I feel that for many a separate amp for their L-R speakers could make a huge difference. Even if the amplifier isn’t rated for any more power than the receiver itself.

in many cases even a top of the line receiver could yield a good 1-2dB of extra headroom. Lower end receivers might see a 3+ dB boost in headroom.

Gene also does his tests into 8 ohms. Since most receivers would be more current limited with 4 ohm loads and most share a single supply across all channels, I assume we would see bigger issues with a 4 ohm load.
 
P

PENG

Audioholic Slumlord
According to the power / impedance chart in the manual - it can drive a grand total of 90W into 2 ohm

My speakers go down to 3 ohm on the bass/Woofer, but the tweeter drops to 1.6 ohm - and is capacitive.

My 100W Integra AVR, just sounded congested/confused - running at an MLP average SPL of 72db (so not high power) - driving my 5.1 setup, with easy 6ohm to 8 ohm surrounds - and my matched 3 fronts. (my previous 140W @ 8 ohm Integra DTR 70.4 handled them fine... but its power supply was a heck of a lot bigger... the current AVR is 10kg the old one was 30kg)

Moving the Front L&R onto a separate power amp, completely resolved the "congestion/confusion"

I did do back to back comparisons of the Quad 606 vs the Crown XLS2500... but for these speakers... the 1200W @ 2 ohm from the crown, seems to do the magic, where the 90W @ 2 ohm of the Quad could not. (On my previous Quad ESL63's - there was no audible difference between AVR/Quad/Crown... - much easier to drive!)

Yeah low impedance loads really separate amps!
Without seeing a set of graphs including the impedance and phase angle characteristics I would not comment further on why one amp would do fine with them whereas another would not.

That's one thing good about using amps rated 2X the maximum recommended power recommended by the manufacturer of a speaker. With such rated output, such an amp will most likely drive the speaker well regardless of the impedance dips and/or capacitive phase angles.

As you must low (since you have such seemingly tough to drive speakers), large leading phase angles (capacitive) or lagging (inductive) do not demand higher current at a given voltage, but it would definitely result in more heat dissipation in the out devices and may potentially cause stability issues.

The Quad 606's schematics can be found on hifiengine.com. If I remember right it use 3 parallel output devices so as long as it is used within its output limit, I highly doubt some 3 ohm dips for the woofer and 1.6 ohm dip for the tweeter would be an issue unless those dips stay on a wide range.

I have not seen the owner's manual of the Quad 606, below is one I found in the service manual. I am not 100% sure how to read this graph's two straight lines on the left. If that 2nd straight line is for "continuous rating", then you could say at 2 ohms it would be about 90 W. That is excellent, I doubt AVRs can do 90 W into 2 ohms average for much longer than a few seconds even for a pure resistor load.

AVtech tested the Denon AVR-3805 and it was among the very few (if any) that passed their 1 ohm test and it managed >300 W into 2 ohms and >160 W into 1 ohm at 1% THD but those were dynamic test, so the duration would have been very short, likely for milliseconds.

By the way, while weight is a good indicator for comparing amp's real power, it is still a guideline and is best applied when comparing the same brand and their same series, not very effective for comparing products from different manufacturers and/or model series. The Onkyo DTR 70.4 however, not only weighs >50 lbs, but also has a strong amp section, it's power supply is probably about the same size as the Marantz SR8015's or even the AVR-X8500H. It is the same as the Onkyo TX-NR3010.

If you send this thing to ASR I bet its pre out will measure as good as or better than the currently top (by SINAD and other criteria) ranking AVR-X8500H. I hope you are keeping it but you said "previous" so... It is a outdated on the features side but for stereo 2 ch use, it's specs and again likely measurements too, beat most <$2,000 integrated amps or even preamps.


1662985486395.png
 
D

dlaloum

Audioholic Intern
Without seeing a set of graphs including the impedance and phase angle characteristics I would not comment further on why one amp would do fine with them whereas another would not.

That's one thing good about using amps rated 2X the maximum recommended power recommended by the manufacturer of a speaker. With such rated output, such an amp will most likely drive the speaker well regardless of the impedance dips and/or capacitive phase angles.

As you must low (since you have such seemingly tough to drive speakers), large leading phase angles (capacitive) or lagging (inductive) do not demand higher current at a given voltage, but it would definitely result in more heat dissipation in the out devices and may potentially cause stability issues.

The Quad 606's schematics can be found on hifiengine.com. If I remember right it use 3 parallel output devices so as long as it is used within its output limit, I highly doubt some 3 ohm dips for the woofer and 1.6 ohm dip for the tweeter would be an issue unless those dips stay on a wide range.

I have not seen the owner's manual of the Quad 606, below is one I found in the service manual. I am not 100% sure how to read this graph's two straight lines on the left. If that 2nd straight line is for "continuous rating", then you could say at 2 ohms it would be about 90 W. That is excellent, I doubt AVRs can do 90 W into 2 ohms average for much longer than a few seconds even for a pure resistor load.

AVtech tested the Denon AVR-3805 and it was among the very few (if any) that passed their 1 ohm test and it managed >300 W into 2 ohms and >160 W into 1 ohm at 1% THD but those were dynamic test, so the duration would have been very short, likely for milliseconds.

By the way, while weight is a good indicator for comparing amp's real power, it is still a guideline and is best applied when comparing the same brand and their same series, not very effective for comparing products from different manufacturers and/or model series. The Onkyo DTR 70.4 however, not only weighs >50 lbs, but also has a strong amp section, it's power supply is probably about the same size as the Marantz SR8015's or even the AVR-X8500H. It is the same as the Onkyo TX-NR3010.

If you send this thing to ASR I bet its pre out will measure as good as or better than the currently top (by SINAD and other criteria) ranking AVR-X8500H. I hope you are keeping it but you said "previous" so... It is a outdated on the features side but for stereo 2 ch use, it's specs and again likely measurements too, beat most <$2,000 integrated amps or even preamps.


View attachment 57722
The Quad current dumping amps, are rated to be unconditionally stable into ANY load - not a lot of designs make that claim! (and it was apparently proven when some 405's ran for a long time into a partial short circuit!)

The Quads do sound good with these speakers - but the crowns sound better (how much better? could I seperate them in a blind test... is it confirmation bias? ... don't know for sure)

With my earlier Quad ESL63's (and 989's) the AVR, Quads and Crowns all sounded the same to me - with the Gallo's the Crowns sound best then the Quads and finally the Integra DTR 70.4.

P.S. I still have the 70.4, but with a failed DSP board, and so far no ability to find a replacement board (no response from local Onkyo / Integra since the change in ownership.... does not bode well for long term support of these brands) - if the price were reasonable for the repair (say under AU$500) then I would happily repair the 70.4 - it is a great sounding AVR... even if the Audyssey XT32 never "floated my boat".
At some point, if I can get no response, I may just have to send it to Landfill - which would be sad.
 
P

PENG

Audioholic Slumlord
At some point, if I can get no response, I may just have to send it to Landfill - which would be sad.
What a pity! That is among the very few preamp/dac (ignoring the power amp section) that use the important parts in the analog and digital preamp/dac signal path that are actually better than many integrated amps.

DAC IC - PCM1796 and 1795 (these chips are used in the old Denon flagship AVRs and flagship Marantz AV preamp/processors, and universal disc players, i.e. real "separates".

Volume control IC - CS3308 (Only a few AVP, even real separate preamps that use this excellent SSI, small scale integrated volume control chips)

Op amps - NE5532 widely used in the preamp section, this OPA's specs are much better than those found in AVPs such as Marantz's AV8805.

I have read tons of service manuals and was shocked to find such high audio quality parts in the DTR70.4, its amazon how they could compete with the D+M and Yamaha AVRs/AVPs at the time on price.
 

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