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Thread: Amplification for Sierra-2 for 2.0/2.1 music: receiver or integrated, ~$500

  1. #1
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    Default Amplification for Sierra-2 for 2.0/2.1 music: receiver or integrated, ~$500

    More noobery and also me being poor. Also more verbosity. Sorry! Here:
    TL;DR precis: with Sierra-2s, is there an amplification solution ~$400-700 for really good sound for mainly stereo music listening? (Preferably something you've tried yourself with Sierra-2.)

    I had to decide between thread-necromancy and thread-redundancy, so I settled on the latter. I've seen some very helpful recommendations for gear that I just cannot invest in for the moment (e.g. the Parasound Halo, etc). My $500 is arbitrary and could be stretched a couple hundred dollars but really no more, and warrantied refurbs (A4L etc) are okay. $500 or less is the target, because I want to have money to put toward a sub.

    Even though my needs are virtually 100% 2.0 music with the impending addition of a sub, AVRs are a persistent consideration because I'd like something with HDMI inputs and the likely ability to handle DSD conversion straight to analog, if possible. This is because the Oppo 103 won't send DSD over the coax.

    (I'm told that it's silly to imagine I could hear the difference between DSD and DSD-converted-to-PCM-to-analog, and running my Oppo 103D into my little NAD C316BEE 40w class A/B integrated amp with RCA interconnects, I must admit....I can't.)

    Room correction might be a feature that could prove more clearly useful. (I'm in a ~10x15 space with walls close in on one side and behind me, and hardwood floors, sitting ~6 feet from the speakers.) I hear such mixed accounts of this.

    I'm operating on the assumption that a significant increase in power would provide me with better sound at the same relatively low volume. (Using NIOSH SML on an Iphone 5 with its internal mic---don't laugh!---it seems that I rarely ever peak above 83db(A), and rarely that loud.) As one argument that I keep encountering is that watts are _not_ just watts, but depend on the quality of power supply, I can't assume that I'm right about even this; but let's say that ~80w/channel would be the minimum increase in power that I would be looking for?

    I've been looking at a number of options, but some recommendations from personal experience---within the constraints of budget, and closer to $500 than to $700 would be ideal---would be most appreciated.

    Some things I've been reading up on, and most of these as "antiquated" refurb options:
    1. Integra 70.2 (for Audyssey XT32, for DSD, for allegedly having the HDMI board issue now solved)
    2. Pioneer SC-81 (to try a Class D, though for the moment the power ratings seem troublingly couched in that "1kHz" business, with the "20 Hz – 20 kHz" measurement given as "VSX Model Power Rating Only"...still can't determine the meaning of that)
    3. The usual options among the other big brands: Yamaha, Denon, Marantz.
    4. Searching for integrated amp options at equivalent prices---e.g. the Yamaha S series---but it's hard to know how superior the two-channel playback sound is.

    If the DSD-to-analog scenario is patently snake-oil nonsense at this point, this makes a lot of options more interesting.
    Last edited by Octave; 05-29-2017 at 09:24 PM. Reason: to be less contentious

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Amplification for Sierra-2 for 2.0/2.1 music: receiver or integrated, ~$500

    You could consider something like this for an integrated, very cost effective:

    https://emotiva.com/products/amplifi...nd-pros/ta-100

    Or these two together for 3x the power, since you can stretch your budget to $700:

    https://emotiva.com/products/pres-and-pros/pt-100

    https://emotiva.com/products/amplifiers/300

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Amplification for Sierra-2 for 2.0/2.1 music: receiver or integrated, ~$500

    Thanks for that suggestion MH. I felt a little bad after I'd posted this because (as I already knew) there are so many requests for basically the same advice, over and over. I was hoping my conditions of use and speaker pairing would be more specific, but it's basically the same question, isn't it?
    I'd ruled out separates but was still looking into that Emo combo when you posted that. So much for principled resistance. I find myself looking at a lot of integrated amps that are way out of my budget but still (technically) affordable---Rogue Sphinx, Peachtree Nova, etc etc etc---but it's started to make me feel dizzy and exhausted. Those more expensive options would probably rule out a sub, too. It's a trade-off. I'm fairly determined to find something quite powerful for possible use with much less efficient speakers than the Sierras, as it's only a matter of time before I develop a wandering eye and/or get some towers.

    I have read that Emotiva gear is noticeably "bright", one Reddit know-it-all going so far as to say it was a bad combination with very neutral or 'analytical' like the Sierra-2's (he named the Sierras specifically). Based on some Ascend Forum testimony, I am assuming this is bogus advice.

    Thanks again for your suggestion!

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Amplification for Sierra-2 for 2.0/2.1 music: receiver or integrated, ~$500

    You are welcome. I do not have the Sierras, but I have the CMT-340SE as my mains, powered by a Emotiva Fusion 8100, a 7-ch AVR now discontinued. In stereo it is capable of a very respectable 110Wx2. I do not find that combo bright at all. Like virtually all Ascend speakers the CMT-340SE are neutral as well, with a very flat frequency response.

    Lots of people in this forum have Emotiva gear powering their Sierras. I am sure someone will comment on how that combo works.

    Another interesting option for a 2-ch receiver is Outlaw:

    http://www.outlawaudio.com/products/rr2160.html

    I have a sub as well, I am a strong proponent of subs for music listening as well. A Rythmik L12 sealed sub, phenomenal for the price.

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Amplification for Sierra-2 for 2.0/2.1 music: receiver or integrated, ~$500

    Quote Originally Posted by Octave View Post
    I'd ruled out separates but was still looking into that Emo combo when you posted that. So much for principled resistance. I find myself looking at a lot of integrated amps that are way out of my budget but still (technically) affordable---Rogue Sphinx, Peachtree Nova, etc etc etc---but it's started to make me feel dizzy and exhausted. Those more expensive options would probably rule out a sub, too. It's a trade-off. I'm fairly determined to find something quite powerful for possible use with much less efficient speakers than the Sierras, as it's only a matter of time before I develop a wandering eye and/or get some towers.

    I have read that Emotiva gear is noticeably "bright", one Reddit know-it-all going so far as to say it was a bad combination with very neutral or 'analytical' like the Sierra-2's (he named the Sierras specifically). Based on some Ascend Forum testimony, I am assuming this is bogus advice.
    That is certainly bogus advice. There is nothing bright about Emotiva's gear. Schiit has had the same comments from some people, but every time I look into what gear they own/what they listen to, it's apparent that their other systems/components are not meant to be neutral gear, but often are very smooth/warm tilted kinds of gear. It's always funny when tube audio snobs comment on a particular solid state design as they tend to think anything that isn't tubed is harsh and/or bright.

    Emotiva, much like Ascend, engineers their gear for neutrality, accuracy, and affordability. They also don't have any marketing, sales, or distribution costs, just like Ascend. You're getting something that sounds amazing without being in an overly fancy box that requires stupid amounts of labor to assemble, which is what most of the competition is doing.

    I think most of the integrated amps out there are insanely overpriced for no good reason. There are quite a few out there with very lazy designs (lots of wiring instead of just laying out in an organized way and bad chassis design that add dramatically to labor and parts cost). Emotiva uses a very straightforward, effective chassis, and they try to minimize wiring where they can.

    I pair my Sierra Towers with RAALs with an Emotiva XPA-5 Gen 2 and everyone that I've had in my theater has been blown away by their sound, especially the accuracy. There has only been one time where I was concerned and it turned to be a poorly mastered Blu-Ray that contained clipping in several scenes.
    -Alex
    PS4/Nvidia Shield --> Emotiva XMC-1 --> Emotiva XPA-5 --> Ascend Acoustics Sierra Towers and Horizon Center w/ RAAL tweeters (L/C/R), HTM-200 SE (Surrounds), 2x Rythmik F12 subwoofers

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Amplification for Sierra-2 for 2.0/2.1 music: receiver or integrated, ~$500

    Thanks for the word. The XMC-1 looks luscious but for my box-wine noobery is terrifyingly expensive; I am quite close to biting for the little entry PT-100/A-300 combo, though.

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Amplification for Sierra-2 for 2.0/2.1 music: receiver or integrated, ~$500

    Quote Originally Posted by Octave View Post
    Thanks for the word. The XMC-1 looks luscious but for my box-wine noobery is terrifyingly expensive; I am quite close to biting for the little entry PT-100/A-300 combo, though.
    The XMC-1 is fantastic, but would be wasted on a stereo setup since it's a 7 channel, dual sub output device. I feel bad for not having rear channels with it still.

    The only suggestion I would throw out there would be to go for the Schiit Modi Multibit and SYS instead of the PT-100 if you only need digital inputs. The PT-100 is a jack of all trades type of device with a DAC that is certainly decent, but nothing particularly special. The Modi Multibit is an insanely impressive device for $249. The level of accuracy and soundstaging it can do in stereo is pretty incredible. http://schiit.com/products/modi-2

    The downside is that you don't have remote control unless you step up to one of their fancy preamps, and you wouldn't have the phono input, and the two companie's devices don't match aesthetically at all, unfortunately, but man do I love how Schiit Multibit sounds. I use a Bifrost Multibit and Asgard 2 with my Audeze LCD-2 at work.
    -Alex
    PS4/Nvidia Shield --> Emotiva XMC-1 --> Emotiva XPA-5 --> Ascend Acoustics Sierra Towers and Horizon Center w/ RAAL tweeters (L/C/R), HTM-200 SE (Surrounds), 2x Rythmik F12 subwoofers

  8. #8
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    Default Re: Amplification for Sierra-2 for 2.0/2.1 music: receiver or integrated, ~$500

    You might consider buying pre-owned gear.

  9. #9
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    Default Re: Amplification for Sierra-2 for 2.0/2.1 music: receiver or integrated, ~$500

    You might consider trying the Outlaw Model 5000.

    It is a very solid and capable amp at a reasonable price (~$600 retail + shipping).

    It is more than you need with 5 channels, but gives you a number of options + expansion for down the road you won't get with a 2 channel amp.

    I am using one as part of a 7.1.4 system with Sierra-2 L & R and Horizon center, and have been very pleased.

  10. #10
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    Default Re: Amplification for Sierra-2 for 2.0/2.1 music: receiver or integrated, ~$500

    I have an outlaw 5000 and recommend it also. It puts out little heat and was an improvement over a receiver. You can use only 2 outputs without problems

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