The SEPARATES vs. AVR Thread

Do Separates (Preamps or Pre-pros + Amps) Sound Better Than AVRs in Direct/Bypass Modes?

  • Yes, Separates sound better than AVRs

    Votes: 39 49.4%
  • No, Separates and AVRs sound about the same

    Votes: 20 25.3%
  • No, Separates and AVRs sound about the same when they are similar in price range

    Votes: 20 25.3%

  • Total voters
    79
C

Cloudreader

Audiophyte
I have an Aria 926 and Denon-X4000. My listening preference is 80B and allowing for THX movie level headroom (20db) and distance, the power requirement are well satisfied by X4000's 125WPC. I enjoy music/movies in my setup very much. However I always had my doubts if an amp would somehow make my speakers sound differently. Backstory - When I auditioned for the speakers 5 years ago, the dealer had many boxes of instruments (yes thats how much of a noob i am:) ) in the setup. I distinctively remember Natlie Merchant Peppery Man sounded as the best piece of music I have ever listened to in my life (Even though I have never listened to that song or her before!). After buying the speakers and installing in home and listening to same song ... it was good yet something was lacking. I had lived with it for the past 5 years bidding my time (Yet enjoyed the speakers every day). After countless hours of reading forums and debating to myself, I just bought my first ever amp Emotiva XPA-3. Cant wait for them to come in and listen to Peppery Man again.
My question is: is "not clipping" the only reason to use an amp or are there other benefits to consider. My quest is to get the same feeling I had when I first auditioned the speakers. Thanks for all the great discussions.
 
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lovinthehd

lovinthehd

Seriously, I have no life.
@Cloudreader I'd think the difference may have been the rooms or perhaps setup more than the amp power. OTOH the volume can be somewhat predictable with movies for the volume scale on the avr, but music can be quite a bit different as to levels. When I've added power amps in the 250-450wpc range to my avrs it doesn't magically make the sound better, just a bit more capable at higher levels....ymmv. I know the general idea you can get from a lot of guys swearing that the bigger amp makes a huge difference in sq and all but with four avrs and seven power amps in the house, this simply hasn't been my experience with a variety of speakers....keep in mind to simply raise spl by 3dB means a doubling of power.
 
P

pharaon

Audiophyte
@pharaon if you're listening to Netflix at -10 to -5 range and if you're calibrated to the THX standard that would yield average levels of 75-80 dB and peaks of 95-100 dB....
Thanks for your input! Most of time it's -20 to -15, but in action movies around -10 (I guess I lied about -5, because I use it just for testing EQ settings on this volume, sorry:eek: )
Yeah, average levels do are not more than 80dB, so guess my Denon X3500 would be really fine even with those short peaks to 95-100dB!
 
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lovinthehd

lovinthehd

Seriously, I have no life.
Thanks for your input! Most of time it's -20 to -15, but in action movies around -10 (I guess I lied about -5, because I use it just for testing EQ settings on this volume, sorry:eek: )
Yeah, average levels do are not more than 80dB, so guess my Denon X3500 would be really fine even with those short peaks to 95-100dB!
Not all movies adhere to the standards either. While I generally listen at -20, sometimes it's -15 or -10 depending on the movie.
 
highfigh

highfigh

Audioholic Overlord
Most of the time, speakers need no more than 2W to produce a volume of 85dB. :D

This is an amazing point. I wish there was a meter that would tell us exactly how many watts each channel is getting so we could understand how many watts we truly need and what a given output sounds/feels like... I do appreciate the calculator that PENG shared but seeing would really be believing.
This can be measured, but the meter needs to be dampened due to the fact that the signal from music is very complex and dynamic. If you want to test it with a pure tone (something that should be avoided at high power) or pink noise, it can be done best with an oscilloscope (voltmeters aren't as accurate for this purpose). Use Ohm's Law to calculate the power once the voltage is determined.
 
P

PENG

Audioholic Slumlord
While watching action movies @Netflix, it's -15 to -10, in rare cases even -5.


Why specifically this power-amp? What about budget ones like Emotiva (A-300)? I've read many good reviews about them.

What I'm trying to do is to get better understanding of how one or other components affect SQ and not to become Audiophile, who's buying like 4 devices (stereo amp, power amp, DAC, etc..) to get similar sound to AVR, but due to placebo is saying "SQ differs like day and night" :)
Power-amp in my case would help just in those rare cases, when sound level peaks to 90+ dB and has lots of bass, right? If I would listen e.g. classical music@90db, I would be fine? :)
Because imo no point buying an amp that offer may be 1 dB more power and similar or worse specs than your AVR. Emo amps offer excellent $/Watt but audio specs no better than Denon AVRs.

Their fans will tell you they made their speakers sound better.
 
AcuDefTechGuy

AcuDefTechGuy

Audioholic Jedi
Because imo no point buying an amp that offer may be 1 dB more power and similar or worse specs than your AVR. Emo amps offer excellent $/Watt but audio specs no better than Denon AVRs.

Their fans will tell you they made their speakers sound better.
No seriously, my Emo amp makes my Bose speakers sound better than KEF Muon, Focal Grande Utopia, and all the speakers. :D
 
RichB

RichB

Audioholic Field Marshall
Because imo no point buying an amp that offer may be 1 dB more power and similar or worse specs than your AVR. Emo amps offer excellent $/Watt but audio specs no better than Denon AVRs.

Their fans will tell you they made their speakers sound better.
Do you still run outboard amps?

- Rich
 
D

DJ7675

Audioholic
Because imo no point buying an amp that offer may be 1 dB more power and similar or worse specs than your AVR. Emo amps offer excellent $/Watt but audio specs no better than Denon AVRs.

Their fans will tell you they made their speakers sound better.
This sums up by thoughts exactly. The Denon/Marantz amps (as well as some other brands as well) are actually very good and provide enough power in most most circumstances. It hasn't stopped me from trying some external amps receintly with my Denon X8500 though :) Been using a Hypex NC252 based amp as well as a NC502 based amp for the front 3 channels to try to take the load off of the Denon which was running all 13 channels. Probably not necessary but why not.
 
M

mtrot

Full Audioholic
This sums up by thoughts exactly. The Denon/Marantz amps (as well as some other brands as well) are actually very good and provide enough power in most most circumstances. It hasn't stopped me from trying some external amps receintly with my Denon X8500 though :) Been using a Hypex NC252 based amp as well as a NC502 based amp for the front 3 channels to try to take the load off of the Denon which was running all 13 channels. Probably not necessary but why not.
Lol, my Denon AVR-X5200 is pretty good, but I do employ my Krell FPB 400cx for the front L/R channels. :cool: Seems to sound pretty good to me.
 
E

Erod

Audioholic
Yes, separates are far better for my conditions.

7.2.4
Anthem pre pro
Anthem amp 5x, 225w 8 ohm/400w 4 ohm, all channels driven
B&K amp 7x, 125w 8 ohm/185w 4 ohm, all channels driven
3100 cubic feet space
12 foot ceilings

For years, I heard pops and clicks and generated a lot of heat with AVRs, and even with lesser preamps and amps. More beef seems to have ended all that.

I fully understand that I have more power than I need, but I also know my amps don't have to break a sweat to go well beyond what my ears can take.

I'm missing nothing. Crystal clarity with superb transients, runs cool, fast and quiet.

Plus, I just like owning them, and there's inherent value in that alone.
 
AcuDefTechGuy

AcuDefTechGuy

Audioholic Jedi
Yes, separates are far better for my conditions.

7.2.4
Anthem pre pro
Anthem amp 5x, 225w 8 ohm/400w 4 ohm, all channels driven
B&K amp 7x, 125w 8 ohm/185w 4 ohm, all channels driven
3100 cubic feet space
12 foot ceilings

For years, I heard pops and clicks and generated a lot of heat with AVRs, and even with lesser preamps and amps. More beef seems to have ended all that.

I fully understand that I have more power than I need, but I also know my amps don't have to break a sweat to go well beyond what my ears can take.

I'm missing nothing. Crystal clarity with superb transients, runs cool, fast and quiet.

Plus, I just like owning them, and there's inherent value in that alone.
You have any deep down desires to replace the B&K with another Anthem amp? Not that it will affect the SQ at all, but just for the “mental aesthetics“ of knowing you have all-Anthem. :D
 
E

Erod

Audioholic
You have any deep down desires to replace the B&K with another Anthem amp? Not that it will affect the SQ at all, but just for the “mental aesthetics“ of knowing you have all-Anthem. :D
You know it's crossed my mind. Lol

Actually, I'm thinking of 9.2.6 as my final speaker destination, so I'm waiting for Anthem's next prepro offering.

Problem is, I have limited space in the cabinet, so I'm thinking about the Monolith 11-channel amp. That would give me 16 channels of amplification.
 
AcuDefTechGuy

AcuDefTechGuy

Audioholic Jedi
You know it's crossed my mind. Lol

Actually, I'm thinking of 9.2.6 as my final speaker destination, so I'm waiting for Anthem's next prepro offering.

Problem is, I have limited space in the cabinet, so I'm thinking about the Monolith 11-channel amp. That would give me 16 channels of amplification.
Anthem needs to make an 8CH amp.
 
R

Roninov

Audiophyte
I think I will sell my separate amp, and never come back to them. Here is the story:
My audio system 5.1 consists of speakers in front Dynaudio Contour 30, center Dynaudio Evoke 25c, rears Dinaudio Evoke 10. AVR Arсam AVR10 and Anthem MСA 50 amp. All speakers are connected to MCA 50.

Recently, sound disappeared in one of the rear channels on the amplifier, I immediately rearranged the cable to the receiver and noticed a large increase in volume (I thought it might be due to the fact that only one small rear speaker with a small load connected to AVR). But I decided later to compare the sound of AVR and AMP. Now is all 5 channels work fine on amp.

I am comparing devices using Cd/Aux Stereo Switch box and Speaker Switch Box and SPL meter,AVR in Direct mode. The methodology is as follows, my ears are 1-1.5m from the speaker, one hand on the PС keyboard constantly presses the left button, rewinding a high-quality test track for 5 seconds so that one and the same required segment sounds. The other hand switches the AB switch on the audio boxes. I have noticed that this method allows my ears to hear the difference in the sound of the devices. If I just listen to one track through one device, then this track through another device, then I don't notice the difference.

Before Arсam AVR10, I had an Yamaha RX-A1080, I compared the Yamaha and MCA 50 together. The sound through the MСA50 was a little louder, I did not notice the difference at the mids and high frequencies, but the lows were much better, faster and deeper. I was pleased with the purchase of the MCA50.

Today I compared Arсam and Anthem, and the result surprised me very much. The sound from Arсam sound much louder, the bass was more dynamic and snappier, I was struck by the fact that the trumpet on Arcam from the test track sounded close and completely open, while at Anthem I could barely hear it. Then I compared the total volume of all 5 channels thru Arcam with 5 channels thru MCA50. At high volume levels, Anthem sounded quieter by an average of 6 dB.

It is very strange and not entirely clear for me why this is so. I'm not an audio technology expert, I'm just an amateur who likes to compare things like that. I started using the Anthem MCA50 amplifier from the beginning of the year, before that it was in the warehouse of audio equipment new, not unpacked for several years. Maybe this is the reason for this difference.
 
lovinthehd

lovinthehd

Seriously, I have no life.
I think I will sell my separate amp, and never come back to them. Here is the story:
My audio system 5.1 consists of speakers in front Dynaudio Contour 30, center Dynaudio Evoke 25c, rears Dinaudio Evoke 10. AVR Arсam AVR10 and Anthem MСA 50 amp. All speakers are connected to MCA 50.

Recently, sound disappeared in one of the rear channels on the amplifier, I immediately rearranged the cable to the receiver and noticed a large increase in volume (I thought it might be due to the fact that only one small rear speaker with a small load connected to AVR). But I decided later to compare the sound of AVR and AMP. Now is all 5 channels work fine on amp.

I am comparing devices using Cd/Aux Stereo Switch box and Speaker Switch Box and SPL meter,AVR in Direct mode. The methodology is as follows, my ears are 1-1.5m from the speaker, one hand on the PС keyboard constantly presses the left button, rewinding a high-quality test track for 5 seconds so that one and the same required segment sounds. The other hand switches the AB switch on the audio boxes. I have noticed that this method allows my ears to hear the difference in the sound of the devices. If I just listen to one track through one device, then this track through another device, then I don't notice the difference.

Before Arсam AVR10, I had an Yamaha RX-A1080, I compared the Yamaha and MCA 50 together. The sound through the MСA50 was a little louder, I did not notice the difference at the mids and high frequencies, but the lows were much better, faster and deeper. I was pleased with the purchase of the MCA50.

Today I compared Arсam and Anthem, and the result surprised me very much. The sound from Arсam sound much louder, the bass was more dynamic and snappier, I was struck by the fact that the trumpet on Arcam from the test track sounded close and completely open, while at Anthem I could barely hear it. Then I compared the total volume of all 5 channels thru Arcam with 5 channels thru MCA50. At high volume levels, Anthem sounded quieter by an average of 6 dB.

It is very strange and not entirely clear for me why this is so. I'm not an audio technology expert, I'm just an amateur who likes to compare things like that. I started using the Anthem MCA50 amplifier from the beginning of the year, before that it was in the warehouse of audio equipment new, not unpacked for several years. Maybe this is the reason for this difference.
Sounds like level mismatch....different gain between the Arcam's built-in amp vs the external amp....but the for the external amp if a channel failed who knows what its issues may be.
 
P

PENG

Audioholic Slumlord
Anthem needs to make an 8CH amp.
Agreed, more so the likes of D+M, Yamaha, Onkyo, the mass producers. I am very happy to have my MM8003, that measured just almost like the best ever measured Denon AVR-4308CI at the price point. I only used it for the 4 surround channels for a few years, but since joining the Atmos club, all 8 channels are used, 8+3 is the perfect number for 7.1.4 or 5.1.6.

7 channels amp just seem awkward now, Marantz made a stupid move replaced the 8003 with the 8077. IMO, very few people actually need 200 W equal rated power amp for those surround and height channels.
 
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M

Movie2099

Full Audioholic
No seriously, my Emo amp makes my Bose speakers sound better than KEF Muon, Focal Grande Utopia, and all the speakers. :D
Shoot, after I purchased my KEF Muons the only amp I could ever pair it with would be Emotiva amps! It's like a match made in heaven. McIntosh 1.25KW mono's would've been ideal, but seeing those blue lights and logo on the Emotiva's just said "luxury". My Muons have never sounded better. It's like I'm at the concert sitting on stage!

I would easily pay $30k for an Emotiva amp. OH, and don't worry I have all synergistic research cables and doodads hooked up to these bad boys. :p
 
AcuDefTechGuy

AcuDefTechGuy

Audioholic Jedi
I think I will sell my separate amp, and never come back to them. Here is the story:
My audio system 5.1 consists of speakers in front Dynaudio Contour 30, center Dynaudio Evoke 25c, rears Dinaudio Evoke 10. AVR Arсam AVR10 and Anthem MСA 50 amp. All speakers are connected to MCA 50.

Recently, sound disappeared in one of the rear channels on the amplifier, I immediately rearranged the cable to the receiver and noticed a large increase in volume (I thought it might be due to the fact that only one small rear speaker with a small load connected to AVR). But I decided later to compare the sound of AVR and AMP. Now is all 5 channels work fine on amp.

I am comparing devices using Cd/Aux Stereo Switch box and Speaker Switch Box and SPL meter,AVR in Direct mode. The methodology is as follows, my ears are 1-1.5m from the speaker, one hand on the PС keyboard constantly presses the left button, rewinding a high-quality test track for 5 seconds so that one and the same required segment sounds. The other hand switches the AB switch on the audio boxes. I have noticed that this method allows my ears to hear the difference in the sound of the devices. If I just listen to one track through one device, then this track through another device, then I don't notice the difference.

Before Arсam AVR10, I had an Yamaha RX-A1080, I compared the Yamaha and MCA 50 together. The sound through the MСA50 was a little louder, I did not notice the difference at the mids and high frequencies, but the lows were much better, faster and deeper. I was pleased with the purchase of the MCA50.

Today I compared Arсam and Anthem, and the result surprised me very much. The sound from Arсam sound much louder, the bass was more dynamic and snappier, I was struck by the fact that the trumpet on Arcam from the test track sounded close and completely open, while at Anthem I could barely hear it. Then I compared the total volume of all 5 channels thru Arcam with 5 channels thru MCA50. At high volume levels, Anthem sounded quieter by an average of 6 dB.

It is very strange and not entirely clear for me why this is so. I'm not an audio technology expert, I'm just an amateur who likes to compare things like that. I started using the Anthem MCA50 amplifier from the beginning of the year, before that it was in the warehouse of audio equipment new, not unpacked for several years. Maybe this is the reason for this difference.
So..............Your conclusion is that your Arcam AVR makes the bass Faster, Snappier, and Deeper, and the overall sound is Louder?

The sound from a dedicated separate Amp from Anthem makes the bass Slower, less Snappy, less Deep, and the overall sound is Quieter?
 
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