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Thread: Integrated Amp Recommendations for Sierra-2

  1. #41
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    Default Re: Integrated Amp Recommendations for Sierra-2

    Quote Originally Posted by Beave View Post
    I wouldn't call the feedback in an amp a 'feedback system.' Maybe that's just semantics.

    In any case, Hegel is just like most other audio manufacturers - they'll brag about some specific parametric or other and claim *that* is what makes their amp special. And many will believe it.

    Damping factor is generally a non-issue with solid state a/b amps. They're all high enough that it doesn't matter. Certainly so with a speaker like the Sierra that doesn't have ridiculously low dips in its impedance. Damping factor can be an issue with tube amps and class d amps, where the output impedance is often much higher.

    Keep in mind that when you're testing amps sighted and non-level matched, you're not really just testing amps - you yourself are now an uncontrolled variable in the test. You're testing yourself and your brain as much as you're testing the amps.
    Just curious, given that you believe that all class ab amps should sound the same - what amp do you use and how did you make your choice? was it simply based on topology/class preference and then determining how many watts would be sufficient for your listening levels/space?

  2. #42
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    Default Re: Integrated Amp Recommendations for Sierra-2

    Quote Originally Posted by davef View Post
    One big difference in amps that is seldom discussed is how the amp handles clipping. It is possible that you might be reaching the power limits of your Hegel such that it is starting to clip or that some form of compression is kicking in... Your Hegel also has quite a bit of digital signal processing - who knows what it is doing to the original source material....
    I am generally running the Hegel at about 50-60 out of 99 on their volume control - maybe 80 dB from 12 ft away? I would be surprised if i were pushing the limits of the amps. But maybe they do start clipping at lower levels and I don't know it. The Rega I tried last night is spec'ed right around the same power output (72 watts @ 8 ohm) but it didn't look like I was using up much of the volume knob ...
    Last edited by nquery; 10-17-2017 at 09:15 PM.

  3. #43
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    Default Re: Integrated Amp Recommendations for Sierra-2

    A simple question that requires a long answer. I'll try to keep it straightforward.

    I started with a Kenwood receiver in the 1990s.

    Late in the 1990s at work we had an extra Parasound setup (HCA, pre-HALO era) that was literally going into the trash (or electronics recycling). I got permission to take it home and found it crushed my Kenwood receiver, so I used that Parasound setup for many years. But it didn't have a remote control.

    A few years ago I really wanted something with a remote. I bought a Cambridge Audio integrated amp at a great price. Then, out of curiosity, I also bought an NAD integrated amp on sale. Then I found a good deal on another model Cambridge, so I bought it too. Then I found a great deal on a Parasound HALO setup - a guy down the street selling it online - so I bought that as well. And then a friend gave me his Onkyo receiver (pre-hdmi era) because he bought a Yamaha with HDMI inputs.

    I also had a TV setup, so I wanted an AVR as well. I bought a Denon AVR-1712.

    Listening to them one by one, with a few minutes taken between to switch them out, I thought they all seemed to sound different. I liked the Parasound HALO the best - punchy, tight, dynamic, great imaging, etc.

    Then I decided to do some more rigorously controlled comparisons, so I got a mechanical/electrical switch box, where I could have three-amps-at-a-time connected to the box, then immediately switch back and forth between A, B, and C. Once I level matched them as closely as I could, I found that I couldn't tell ANY of them apart, with one exception: The old Kenwood from the early 90s sounded really flat, with no low bass to speak of, and it couldn't go loud at all without sounding muddy and constrained. Turns out the power supply caps were dried out. All the other ones sounded indistinguishable to me at any level I tried (note I didn't go to ear-bleeding levels, where there most certainly could have been real differences).

    So I sold the Parasound, the Parasound HALO, the NAD integrated, the Kenwood, the Onkyo, and one of the Cambridges. I kept the Denon AVR for my main setup that does audio and movies. I kept a Cambridge integrated for a bedroom stereo/music only setup because I liked its look/feel more than the others.

  4. #44
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    Default Re: Integrated Amp Recommendations for Sierra-2

    For what it's worth, Dave is right that once an amp reaches clipping, all bets are off. Different amps obviously clip at different levels, and different amp designs also behave differently once they do clip.

    I just think that with a speaker like the Sierra tower, which has a moderately high sensitivity and a moderate impedance, that you'd have to be really blasting it to be around clipping even with a modest amp.

    On the other hand, I once was involved in a single-blind test at a dealer, where the room was really big, the speakers had a dip to about 2-3 Ohms in the midbass, and they were playing content with lots of midbass and playing at really, really loud levels. Some of the amps sounded awful, some sounded great, at the same (very high) levels.

    So amps can make a difference - if the system is being played really loud in a really big room and/or the speakers are really low sensitivity and/or really low impedance.

    But *most* of the time, the differences people ascribe to solid state amplifiers are a simple result of 1) mismatched levels 2) listener bias (conscious and unconscious)

  5. #45
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    Default Re: Integrated Amp Recommendations for Sierra-2

    Quote Originally Posted by nquery View Post
    I am generally running the Hegel at about 50-60 out of 99 on their volume control - maybe 80 dB from 12 ft away? I would be surprised if i were pushing the limits of the amps. But maybe they do start clipping at lower levels and I don't know it. The Rega I tried last night is spec'ed right around the same power output (72 watts @ 8 ohm) but it didn't look like I was using up much of the volume knob ...
    They can have very different gain curves for the volume control but still have very similar max output capabilities.

    Think of the volume control like the gas pedal on a car - some cars have touchy pedals, where the lightest effort really gets the engine going. Some require quite a bit more push on the pedal to get the car moving. But that has little relation to the actual power of the engine itself.

    The NAD that I owned got VERY loud with the volume knob only at about 10 o'clock. By 12 o'clock it was blasting loud, but beyond that, from 12 o'clock and beyond, it didn't get much louder.

    The Cambridge needed to be at about 12 o'clock to be the same volume as the NAD was at 10 o'clock. They both had about the same power ratings, but their volume controls tracked quite differently.
    Last edited by Beave; 10-17-2017 at 09:36 PM.

  6. #46
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    Default Re: Integrated Amp Recommendations for Sierra-2

    Quote Originally Posted by Beave View Post
    For what it's worth, Dave is right that once an amp reaches clipping, all bets are off. Different amps obviously clip at different levels, and different amp designs also behave differently once they do clip.

    I just think that with a speaker like the Sierra tower, which has a moderately high sensitivity and a moderate impedance, that you'd have to be really blasting it to be around clipping even with a modest amp.

    On the other hand, I once was involved in a single-blind test at a dealer, where the room was really big, the speakers had a dip to about 2-3 Ohms in the midbass, and they were playing content with lots of midbass and playing at really, really loud levels. Some of the amps sounded awful, some sounded great, at the same (very high) levels.

    So amps can make a difference - if the system is being played really loud in a really big room and/or the speakers are really low sensitivity and/or really low impedance.

    But *most* of the time, the differences people ascribe to solid state amplifiers are a simple result of 1) mismatched levels 2) listener bias (conscious and unconscious)
    Maybe nquery should just look into getting an amp that won't clip within the limitations of the Sierra 2s. The 2 channel version of the Emotiva XPA 2 Gen 3, for example, puts out 300 Watts per channel into 8 Ohms with 2 channels driven. The Sierra 2s are rated to only draw as much as 300 Watts per channel for short term peaks. So even very short bursts will still be clean without clipping. The Emotiva amp comes in at $1000, which is far less than other amps like the Belles Aria, for example that is 2200.

    If one was using the Sierra towers instead, then they could get a pair of Emotiva XPA 1 Gen 2s, which can put out 600 Watts per channel into 8 Ohms without clipping. This would still come under the price of the Belles Aria and one will never run into the amplifier clipping before exceeding the output capabilities of the speaker.

  7. #47
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    Default Re: Integrated Amp Recommendations for Sierra-2

    Quote Originally Posted by N Boros View Post
    Maybe nquery should just look into getting an amp that won't clip within the limitations of the Sierra 2s. The 2 channel version of the Emotiva XPA 2 Gen 3, for example, puts out 300 Watts per channel into 8 Ohms with 2 channels driven. The Sierra 2s are rated to only draw as much as 300 Watts per channel for short term peaks. So even very short bursts will still be clean without clipping. The Emotiva amp comes in at $1000, which is far less than other amps like the Belles Aria, for example that is 2200.

    If one was using the Sierra towers instead, then they could get a pair of Emotiva XPA 1 Gen 2s, which can put out 600 Watts per channel into 8 Ohms without clipping. This would still come under the price of the Belles Aria and one will never run into the amplifier clipping before exceeding the output capabilities of the speaker.
    Yes that is exactly one thought I have to remove this variable from the equation - get away from these 75 watt amps and ensure I have enough headroom. I was already looking at the Emotiva's last night ... thanks for the suggestion.

  8. #48
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    Default Re: Integrated Amp Recommendations for Sierra-2

    Quote Originally Posted by Beave View Post
    They can have very different gain curves for the volume control but still have very similar max output capabilities.

    Think of the volume control like the gas pedal on a car - some cars have touchy pedals, where the lightest effort really gets the engine going. Some require quite a bit more push on the pedal to get the car moving. But that has little relation to the actual power of the engine itself.

    The NAD that I owned got VERY loud with the volume knob only at about 10 o'clock. By 12 o'clock it was blasting loud, but beyond that, from 12 o'clock and beyond, it didn't get much louder.

    The Cambridge needed to be at about 12 o'clock to be the same volume as the NAD was at 10 o'clock. They both had about the same power ratings, but their volume controls tracked quite differently.
    Yes of course - the volume attenuation is generally never linear. But as you say, the Sierra's are easy to drive and pretty efficient. I really doubt I am pushing things to any clipping limits, but as per my last comment, swapping in some more headroom would not hurt this exercise (other than my pocketbook) and would remove any future concerns on this front ...

  9. #49
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    Default Re: Integrated Amp Recommendations for Sierra-2

    I, on the other hand, have found significant differences in sound characteristics between amplifiers. Parasound and Emotiva especially. Onkyo and Denon receivers as well.

    But I think it's important not to get into a long debate over these things. I'm comfortable with my findings but I don't have to prove anything to anybody or prove that others are wrong. Too many forums have had these bickering threads with endless arguments and I sincerely hope that we don't devolve into that kind of nonsense. Live and let live.

  10. #50
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    Default Re: Integrated Amp Recommendations for Sierra-2

    I'm not surprised you found differences. The test method matters a great deal when comparing amps. Many (most?) people will find differences when doing non-level-matched, sighted comparisons with too much switching time between components.

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