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Best amplifier for Khorns?


CushXR
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Some think the high end Yamaha's are great and that along with their stats and professional reviews motivated me to buy it. But I have never been satisfied with the sound, whether it's the fault of the receiver I can't know until I replace it.

I suspect a good preamp will be more important than any particular amp separate but I'd like to prove that to myself by moving into a new amp before replacing my receiver (which pre-outs) with a new separate preamp. Either way I'll have to buy an amp anyway.

So I was wondering if there were any experiences with particularly cold or warm amps when paired with Klipschorns. I guess I'm leaning toward a solid state Mcintosh but obviously still very undecided.

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Mark Deneen's response is pretty much on point.

If you listen to acoustic or orchestral music, particularly string orchestras, piano, solo violin, viola, or cello, I'd really recommend some amplifier that has:

1) very low higher order harmonics (i.e., 4th harmonic, 5th harmonic, etc.), and

2) much less than 1% lower order harmonics (i.e., first and second harmonics)

...at your typical listening levels. If you never listen at more than 70-75 dBA average listening levels, then many of the very low power amplifiers can suffice.

However, if you're listening to concert level jazz, big bands, and amplified combos, you'll likely enjoy the clean sound of a lower THD amplifier that can put out as much as 75 W per channel in the peaks without soft clipping.

But remember, your ears are much more sensitive to higher order harmonics, and most of those type of amplifiers having significant output higher order harmonics are Class A-B transistor amplifiers of older "surround system in a box" quality. Class "D" amps are a mixed bag and a different subject altogether.

I've also found that amplifiers with high slew rates sound much, much better, but they also cost a lot more. There are some very good push-pull tube amps that fit this profile, but there are also some FET-type amps that can do this, too (like Nelson Pass' First Watt amplifiers). To find high slew rate solid state amplifiers, look for amps that have a hign-end frequency response roll-off above 50-100 KHz (or even higher). Tube amps are a different story due to output transformers that are used, with their inherently high inductance of those output transformers.

Be careful of the output impedance of tube and simplified FET amplifiers above about 0.5 ohm (i.e., low "damping factor" amplifiers). You'll need an equalizer in your system to correct for the changes in frequency response of your Khorns when using low damping factor amps.

A couple more articles to help with your decisionmaking:

https://community.klipsch.com/index.php?app=core&module=attach&section=attach&attach_rel_module=post&attach_id=69980

https://community.klipsch.com/index.php?app=core&module=attach&section=attach&attach_rel_module=post&attach_id=73904

Edited by Chris A
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I'm having a great experience with the VRD monoblocks I had Craig at Nosvalves build me in April. Like many others here I wouldn't hesitate to strongly recommend them. Running them with walnut '96 khorns w/alk es crossovers and a JM bbx. This is the best system I've ever had.

My VRD's are not going anywhere but I would also like to try Bob Latino's st-70 in a second system. I like el34 amps.

BTW, I've been remiss on sharing my impressions and photos of the new VRD's here on the forum, but have that on my to do list. Been a busy time lately but in a good way.

Tim

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Your question is a good one, but is also a huge one. The range of answers is going to run from a 1W tube amplifier to a 1000W SS PA amplifier, because all of those are the choice of someone here. If you work backwords from those choices, you will uncover very different listening styles and listening objectives. One guy may want to play stadium rock at ear splitting levels in a huge room, someone else is listening at conversational levels to chamber music. Some are in love with the most subtle inner details of sound, some just impact and on and on it goes. How do you make the best spaghetti sauce? It's like that.

Room size, loudness, type of music you love, would be good starting points for people to make suggestions. Some people think the difference in amplifier sound is very tiny and insignificant, others will pay many thousands of dollars for very small improvements in amplifier sound. Amps can be like caviar, or burgers, it's all an individual thing. They can cost $300 or $30,000 and more, so some idea of your budget is needed too!

Amps can be everything from an afterthought to a major quest in the chase for audio nirvana. The more information you can provide, the better the recommendations will be. Good luck! :D

As usual, Mark has stated the case clearly and logically. I will tell you though that in my experience, if you really want to get into the inner details of the music, listening near-field at lower levels (say 65-75 db) through a low power tube amp can offer a sonic experience that is impossible to beat. Quite a number of my local crowd now listen that way with as little as 1/3 wpc (tubes, of course) and claim that they have never enjoyed music more thoroughly. I do the same with my RF-15s, and did so with my K-horns as well. In the fall I'm going to start developing 3 or 4 flea/low power budget amps (in terms of cost, not sound quality) and will be glad to pass along schematics if you are into building your own gear. Best of luck!

Maynard

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Your question is a good one, but is also a huge one. The range of answers is going to run from a 1W tube amplifier to a 1000W SS PA amplifier, because all of those are the choice of someone here. If you work backwords from those choices, you will uncover very different listening styles and listening objectives. One guy may want to play stadium rock at ear splitting levels in a huge room, someone else is listening at conversational levels to chamber music. Some are in love with the most subtle inner details of sound, some just impact and on and on it goes. How do you make the best spaghetti sauce? It's like that.

Room size, loudness, type of music you love, would be good starting points for people to make suggestions. Some people think the difference in amplifier sound is very tiny and insignificant, others will pay many thousands of dollars for very small improvements in amplifier sound. Amps can be like caviar, or burgers, it's all an individual thing. They can cost $300 or $30,000 and more, so some idea of your budget is needed too!

Amps can be everything from an afterthought to a major quest in the chase for audio nirvana. The more information you can provide, the better the recommendations will be. Good luck! :D

As usual, Mark has stated the case clearly and logically. I will tell you though that in my experience, if you really want to get into the inner details of the music, listening near-field at lower levels (say 65-75 db) through a low power tube amp can offer a sonic experience that is impossible to beat. Quite a number of my local crowd now listen that way with as little as 1/3 wpc (tubes, of course) and claim that they have never enjoyed music more thoroughly. I do the same with my RF-15s, and did so with my K-horns as well. In the fall I'm going to start developing 3 or 4 flea/low power budget amps (in terms of cost, not sound quality) and will be glad to pass along schematics if you are into building your own gear. Best of luck!

Maynard

I've been told that the alk es crossovers sound the best loud and they do sound great loud. But I enjoy to the point of chill bumps at times listening to my system with 60 watt VRD's (in push-pull mode) at low levels - low enough that you can carry on a conversation with another person in the room at a normal level. That's pretty low.

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My Preference is for SET amps. Low Power. First choice 45 amps. 2nd choice 2A3 Amps.

Lots of folks go the solid state route, but when they try Single Ended Triode tube amps, they rarely go back. Once I heard my Khorns on a SET 300b amp, I never looked back. I have since joined Cut-Throat in my appreciation of the 45 tube sound. It's the cleanest I have ever heard my speakers. I still have a 300b, a 2A3, and a push-pull EL34 amp, but my 45 tubed amp is my favorite. If you would list your location, there is probably someone near you that you could audition what they are using to get first hand experience. Good luck. Horns love tubes!

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Has anyone tried bi-amping with an active crossover or DSP?

Yes. I'd actually recommend tri-amping with a digital active, then you can correct for the tweeter and midrange time delays.

Settings for tri-amping are here: https://community.klipsch.com/index.php?/topic/132275-i-finally-got-around-to-triamping-my-k-horns/?p=1480317

Edited by Chris A
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