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Why should I have a separate 2 channel amp?


gigantic
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I currently have a Denon AVR that sounds great and does everything I need it to, but I've been seeinga lot of mention about having a dedicated two channel receiver. What's the benefit? also, is there an advantage to vintage 70's gear, which is all the rage these days, vs amps and receivers from the 80's and even now? 

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The goal is to waste er, spend all your money. Seriously if you are happy that is all that matters. Lots of rabbit holes out there. For some even an AVR won't do. They "need" separate pre/processor and dedicated amps for each channel. A lot might depend on your room; is it a dedicated theater or multi-use? AVRs typically don't have near the power they state. If  you don't find anything lacking for movie-ish playback you are probably good. If you want more, more more you just have to find the point of diminishing returns that fits your desires and budget.

 

Putting together a dedicated room with projector, 90+ inch screen and stacks of equipment was my goal back in the late 90s into the early 2000s. If I had it to do all over again, I'd drop $3K or less on a Sonos 5.1 system and call it a day. I'm much more into music these days. I've not made it through a comic book, super hero or disaster move in the last 10 years I'd bet. I wish I could buy 2 or 3 movies a month for home viewing like I used to...they just don't make 'em like they used to </old man shaking fist> 

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29 minutes ago, gigantic said:

dedicated two channel receiver

Haha; some of us just want to "show off." But, seriously, dedicated 2-channel receivers usually are just "better" than AVR's - especially AVR's pushing 7 channels. In my case for example, I have a decent 4.1 "TV SOUND" system using an Onkyo AVR which puts out 120 wpc. But, also have a 2-channel setup with pre-amp/amp (350wpc) and KPT-904's with a JBL HF horn section. Haha; I only play it LOUD. Absolutely "night and day" or "Yugo vs Porsche." Try it; I am sure you will like it. But be prepared to spend much more money :) 

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53 minutes ago, gigantic said:

I currently have a Denon AVR that sounds great and does everything I need it to, but I've been seeinga lot of mention about having a dedicated two channel receiver. What's the benefit? also, is there an advantage to vintage 70's gear, which is all the rage these days, vs amps and receivers from the 80's and even now? 

 

Generally speaking, a good 2 channel amp will surpass a home theater receiver.  That is *IF* you can hear the difference, *IF* you have a room layout that can let you set up speakers for best placement, and *IF* you want a new toy to play with.

 

If you are happy with what you have, and it works for you, and you don't feel like opening up a can of worms, you may be better off with what you have.  Denon makes nice receivers.

 

Don't get hung up on "its old it must sound better".  That is not always the case.  

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Here's the scoop with AVR power claims, as I remember it.  Back in the 1970s, some stereo receiver manufacturers (everything was mono or 2-channel stereo back then) were making ridiculous power claims, like "Peak Music Power", for just one example, that produced wildly inflated power figures.  It got so bad that around 1980 or so, the FCC stepped in and issued strict new specs.  From then on, every receiver had to be rated and advertised as having "XX watts RMS into 8 Ohms from 20-20 kHz".

 

The companies could still make other outrageous claims, but with power at least, there was finally a standard, which was adopted in several other countries as well.  Great, right?  All a reasonably informed consumer had to do was to look for the "watts into 8 Ohms 20-20 kHz RMS", and he or she would be fully informed.

 

Then came the Audio Visual Receivers, the AVRs, and it was back to the Wild West, with the usual crazy claims.  Now the manufacturers and dealers would just say their receiver put out 100 watts at 8 ohms 20-20k Ohms.  "And did we tell you, it has 7 channels!"  Many consumers would think, "Wow, that's 700 watts!"  Not exactly.  If you look a bit closer, you'll see "100 watts into 8 Ohms 20-20k, 2 channels driven".  That last bit was what really mattered.  If your receiver can put out 100 watts into 2 channels, that's a total of 200 watts.  Therefore, if you happened to hook up 7 speakers, and if you had any program material that was equally loud on all channels, you'd be getting around 28.6 watts per channel.  Depending on the particular amp type and wiring scheme, the number could be a bit higher or lower, but you get the idea.

 

You won't find that number anywhere in the specs.  The prospective buyer is left to make his simple but inaccurate calculation, and since most of them will rarely, if ever, use the full power of their receivers, the confusion carries on.  They may upgrade to a receiver that puts out 110 watts per channel and has 9 channels, "So I've got 990 watts, right?"  No, you have around 220 watts, more or less.

 

Okay, that's as definitive as I can be without resorting to Google.  What's the difference between a bottom-of-the-range "100x5" AVR and a midrange "100x7" or "100x9" AV receiver?  Well, the better AVRs will have better DACs, and various other higher-grade parts.  But what about all those "extra watts"?  Do the better AVRS have better power supplies, so that they do put out more power than the basic units, but how much more?  Your guess is as good as mine.

 

One last thing:  I didn't forget you smug guys with the AVRs that rate their power in however many speakers they have sockets for, like "200 watts into 8 Ohms 20-20 KHz, All Channels Driven".  Respect Points to those manufacturers!  I wish everyone could be as honest as that, but you'll hear excuses like "Who would buy a 30 Wpc AV receiver, when the next one over on the shelf, for the same price, offers 100 Wpc?"  An educated consumer, of course, but they are usually in the minority, and the less attentive have just as much money to spend.

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I had another comment under construction, but unless the auto-backup feature backs it up and presents it to me, this is all you get.  I thought the days of saving your work every 15 minutes were over, but maybe not.  Anyway, I had spent way too much time on typing up a long reply that was probably only of interest to me and the original poster, typed up by me while half-asleep.  So that's enough of that, unless something changes in the next few seconds, this is over.

 

Okay, that's it.  On to the next thing that catches my eyes, or ears.

 

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Proceed with caution if:

  • The specs are given at 1K only ... a useless spec.
  • The specs include THD, but not IM.  Some (Parasound?)even include TIM. 
  • The roster of company executives includes Hassatan or Niccolò Machiavelli.
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If your current set up "sounds great and does everything I need it to" there is no reason you "should" change anything. Sit back and enjoy and love it as it is. As mentioned above, chasing the elusive better can get really expensive.

 

Now, if you positively insist on diving into the rabbit hole, you can count on endless suggestions...LOL

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11 hours ago, gigantic said:

I currently have a Denon AVR that sounds great and does everything I need it to, but I've been seeinga lot of mention about having a dedicated two channel receiver. What's the benefit? also, is there an advantage to vintage 70's gear, which is all the rage these days, vs amps and receivers from the 80's and even now? 


If you listen really loud and have all the speakers connected to your receiver that it’s capable of powering, a separate amp will increase the available power for any speakers still connected to your receiver.  Probably the most common thing that people do is get a 3 channel amp to power their LCR speakers since they usually output the majority of sound.

Lots of vintage gear had substantially beefier power supplies than today’s receivers do.  They won’t necessarily sound better under normal circumstances but will play cleaner at louder volumes.

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Here are two ways to upgrade your listening experience, while keeping your current gear.  First, spend some money on recordings, new ones you’ve only heard some of, or high-quality copies of what you already have.  Is your LP of DSotM completely free of scratches and other souvenirs of the party years?  Maybe you’d like to hear Electric Ladyland or Yoshimi Battles the Pink Robots from a mint copy?

 

The other way is to upgrade your listening room.  Is it as quiet as possible?  Lowering the noise floor allows you to hear more detail in the music, without having to turn up the volume so high.  That could mean upgrading your windows and your entrance door (or at least adding some weatherstrip to your front and rear doors), which will keep our street noise, as well as heat and cold, reducing your energy costs.  12 years ago, my building had a major upgrade done, to bring it into line with current building codes.  It was expensive, but now my apartment in the middle of downtown is as quiet as a house in the country.  Not only that; now all my drafts are gone.

 

The second half of the second suggestion is to acoustically treat your listening room.  Get rid of any echoes or excessive reflections, of maybe add some diffusers or bass traps.  Before you spend any money on that, though, you first have to determine whether your room is excessively live or dead.  Talking steps to correct either condition can really pay off.  I won’t make any suggestions about that, though, since I don’t know enough.  Do some research and talk to some experts, and you may fall in love with your system all over again.

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I've commented on this topic before, so the regulars can keep scrolling if they like....😄

 

Islander made some good points about the dirty little secrets of AVRs. He is right that the power supply in a receiver isn't capable of supplying rated power to all channels at once. Then look at physics. You stuff 7 channels of power, a processer, a preamp, and a tuner in a box that weighs on average about 40-50 lbs. Compromises can and do get made.

 

If you compare a good integrated amp or a preamp/amp combo to your receiver and you don't hear an appreciable difference, consider yourself money ahead. I won't go so far as to say "consider yourself lucky". Because not hearing a difference is a detriment IMHO. As you move up the food chain with your system, all things can an do make a difference. You just have to determine if it's important to you or not.

 

 

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I live in a condo and rarely listen to anything above 85 dB. That's politely loud in my book. the room is an open space that's about 20' x 25', comprising of a kitchen, dining area and living room/seating area; the seating listening area is about 14 x 10, the speakers are about 7' apart, aggressively toed, 12 inches from the wall and in corners, as much as possible. while we have hardwood floors, there is a rug in front of the hifi. the only bare walls are behind and above the hi-fi credenza, which I use as a projection screen. Overall, I would rate the space as acoustically neutral, mostly because it's packed with furniture, wall hangings, curtains, plants and such, with little in the way slapback echoes or sonic artifacts.


fn6KrwN.jpg


My Denon receiver sounds fine to me, but I have a nagging wonder that it could be better. I'm not likely overwhelming the power, but I would like more adjustment capability and the UI on my receiver is not particularly intuitive, I don't have a manual and I'm not sure if I have the bandwidth to download it and fiddle with everything. Part of me has vintage inclinations to get something to match my 51 year-old Heresies, so I'm largely looking at things made between '68-'82. another part of me is parsimonious to a fault and reluctant to spend the asking rates for vintage kit these days. So to balance that out, I've been curious about a few NAD amps in my area that I've seen advertised: the classic 3020 integrated amp- the original '82 version, a newish C 316BEE V2 that seems to embody the spirit of the 3020 and a 7240PE receiver from the mid 80's. The 3020 has some really appealing attributes which seem to balance the pros of the early solid state era, while serving as a bridge to the modern era; it would certainly be sufficient to drive my Heresies, but the downsides are their age and resultant scratchy pots, tired caps and power supply issues that have presumably been rectified if it has made it this long. The 7040 is somewhat from the same era and has many of the same characteristics of the 3020, but more power, although it also has the same minuses, plus a tuner that I don't really need. That leaves the C 316BEE V2 which has the simplicity of the 3020, but being newer, has ostensibly better reliability & more power, but does it have the same mojo? at any rate, all being well under $300, they're cheap enough to scratch my itch to see if the concept is worthwhile, but have audiophile cred that belies their low price. any thoughts?

 

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19 minutes ago, gigantic said:

I live in a condo and rarely listen to anything above 85 dB. That's politely loud in my book. the room is an open space that's about 20' x 25', comprising of a kitchen, dining area and living room/seating area; the seating listening area is about 14 x 10, the speakers are about 7' apart, aggressively toed, 12 inches from the wall and in corners, as much as possible. while we have hardwood floors, there is a rug in front of the hifi. the only bare walls are behind and above the hi-fi credenza, which I use as a projection screen. Overall, I would rate the space as acoustically neutral, mostly because it's packed with furniture, wall hangings, curtains, plants and such, with little in the way slapback echoes or sonic artifacts.


fn6KrwN.jpg


My Denon receiver sounds fine to me, but I have a nagging wonder that it could be better. I'm not likely overwhelming the power, but I would like more adjustment capability and the UI on my receiver is not particularly intuitive, I don't have a manual and I'm not sure if I have the bandwidth to download it and fiddle with everything. Part of me has vintage inclinations to get something to match my 51 year-old Heresies, so I'm largely looking at things made between '68-'82. another part of me is parsimonious to a fault and reluctant to spend the asking rates for vintage kit these days. So to balance that out, I've been curious about a few NAD amps in my area that I've seen advertised: the classic 3020 integrated amp- the original '82 version, a newish C 316BEE V2 that seems to embody the spirit of the 3020 and a 7240PE receiver from the mid 80's. The 3020 has some really appealing attributes which seem to balance the pros of the early solid state era, while serving as a bridge to the modern era; it would certainly be sufficient to drive my Heresies, but the downsides are their age and resultant scratchy pots, tired caps and power supply issues that have presumably been rectified if it has made it this long. The 7040 is somewhat from the same era and has many of the same characteristics of the 3020, but more power, although it also has the same minuses, plus a tuner that I don't really need. That leaves the C 316BEE V2 which has the simplicity of the 3020, but being newer, has ostensibly better reliability & more power, but does it have the same mojo? at any rate, all being well under $300, they're cheap enough to scratch my itch to see if the concept is worthwhile, but have audiophile cred that belies their low price. any thoughts?

 

 

It sounds to me like you have the desire to explore something new and different.  And if you are like me - you can use logic all you want to try and dissuade but at the end of the day you will always wonder "what if". 

 

I think (I mean this in a good way) you already know the answer - you need to try something new.  That is after all the fun part, isn't it?

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A couple other reasons in favor of a 2-channel integrated amp:  1) If you don't want your sources (you have a TT and maybe a nice DAC) to be re-digitized and routed through the internal processing of the Denon, then a separate 2-channel integrated amp is the way to go. 2) Analog tone controls.  I kind of like them.

 

One consideration is how to integrate your 2-channel and HT.  If your Denon has pre-outs, look into a 2-channel integrated with home-theater bypass.  Or, there are speaker switching boxes out there that would switch your Heresies between the Denon and the 2-channel.  Good luck.

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I have listened the systems with NAD 3020 when it was available new, and later NAD 316BEE. I had the feeling that both had much more power than rated. Nicely balanced amps, if that are the words to describe them. We used to say they have that British charm, not clinically sharp sound and yet enough musical information came out of them not to sound boring. In my opinion worth the try, they are not expensive.

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20 hours ago, gigantic said:

I currently have a Denon AVR that sounds great and does everything I need it to, but I've been seeinga lot of mention about having a dedicated two channel receiver. What's the benefit? also, is there an advantage to vintage 70's gear, which is all the rage these days, vs amps and receivers from the 80's and even now? 

Don't worry, be happy. Ignore the internet noise/mostly BS about separate 2 channels. Just use your AVR as a 2 channel device. Modern electronics are better than the old stuff in every way. Besides, when you consider your "near future" Super Heresy's will only need about 1/2 Watt at sane listening levels (or any Heritage Klipsch for that matter), who needs lotsa watts anyhow. That's for the British branded "Space Heaters that make Sound" like B&W, which were totally STOMPED by my Super Heresys.

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8 minutes ago, ClaudeJ1 said:

Don't worry, be happy. Ignore the internet noise/mostly BS about separate 2 channels. Just use your AVR as a 2 channel device. Modern electronics are better than the old stuff in every way. Besides, when you consider your "near future" Super Heresy's will only need about 1/2 Watt at sane listening levels (or any Heritage Klipsch for that matter), who needs lotsa watts anyhow. That's for the British branded "Space Heaters that make Sound" like B&W, which were totally STOMPED by my Super Heresys.

 

I've had multiple B&W's over the years at all price points and I agree with you - my Heritage speakers spank the crap out the of the lifeless B&W's.  

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23 minutes ago, Knows_Very_Little said:

 

I've had multiple B&W's over the years at all price points and I agree with you - my Heritage speakers spank the crap out the of the lifeless B&W's.  

Dynamics are the key to a "live sounding" presentation. Higher efficiency means lower distortion and better dynamics. Hoffman's Law is still in effect, and horns are the most dynamic of all.

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2 hours ago, gigantic said:

I live in a condo and rarely listen to anything above 85 dB. That's politely loud in my book. the room is an open space that's about 20' x 25', comprising of a kitchen, dining area and living room/seating area; the seating listening area is about 14 x 10, the speakers are about 7' apart, aggressively toed, 12 inches from the wall and in corners, as much as possible. while we have hardwood floors, there is a rug in front of the hifi. the only bare walls are behind and above the hi-fi credenza, which I use as a projection screen. Overall, I would rate the space as acoustically neutral, mostly because it's packed with furniture, wall hangings, curtains, plants and such, with little in the way slapback echoes or sonic artifacts.


fn6KrwN.jpg


My Denon receiver sounds fine to me, but I have a nagging wonder that it could be better. I'm not likely overwhelming the power, but I would like more adjustment capability and the UI on my receiver is not particularly intuitive, I don't have a manual and I'm not sure if I have the bandwidth to download it and fiddle with everything. Part of me has vintage inclinations to get something to match my 51 year-old Heresies, so I'm largely looking at things made between '68-'82. another part of me is parsimonious to a fault and reluctant to spend the asking rates for vintage kit these days. So to balance that out, I've been curious about a few NAD amps in my area that I've seen advertised: the classic 3020 integrated amp- the original '82 version, a newish C 316BEE V2 that seems to embody the spirit of the 3020 and a 7240PE receiver from the mid 80's. The 3020 has some really appealing attributes which seem to balance the pros of the early solid state era, while serving as a bridge to the modern era; it would certainly be sufficient to drive my Heresies, but the downsides are their age and resultant scratchy pots, tired caps and power supply issues that have presumably been rectified if it has made it this long. The 7040 is somewhat from the same era and has many of the same characteristics of the 3020, but more power, although it also has the same minuses, plus a tuner that I don't really need. That leaves the C 316BEE V2 which has the simplicity of the 3020, but being newer, has ostensibly better reliability & more power, but does it have the same mojo? at any rate, all being well under $300, they're cheap enough to scratch my itch to see if the concept is worthwhile, but have audiophile cred that belies their low price. any thoughts?

 

 

My 1972 Heresy speakers are mostly driven by my Leben Hifi CS300 tube amp (12wpc), but they sound equally magnificent with a 1970s Harman Kardon 430 'twin engine' (which means each channel has its own power transformer, which, in my opinion, makes all the difference).

 

PSX_20201217_212316.thumb.jpg.0005fd17e8846055f958cdaf0e5bbb85.jpgPSX_20220109_100358.thumb.jpg.7772ea45f37ff17b6b1a07bcc4b54810.jpg

 

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