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Thread: Amplifier shopping...decisions decisions

  1. #1
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    Default Amplifier shopping...decisions decisions

    Greetings all,

    Ascend newbie here and proud owner of a fabulous pair of Sierra 2EX's in gorgeous espresso finish.

    I've decided the Ascends need an upgrade in the power department, so as the subject says I'm amplifier shopping. The source will be an NAD C658 streamer / preamp as well as a Tascam CD-200BT CD player. The Ascends are complemented by an SVS SB-2000 subwoofer.

    Here are the amp contenders:

    PS Audio Stellar S300
    Nord One SE NC500 DM MKII
    Class D Audio GaN FET monoblocks
    Orchard Audio Starkrimson monoblocks
    Nord Four SE (either monoblocks or stereo version)

    Any strong feelings about the above list? My budget is $2000 or thereabouts. I'm reading really good things about the GaN FET amps, which is why the last three are on the list. Thanks!

  2. #2
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    Default Re: Amplifier shopping...decisions decisions

    D-Sonic is another option for Class D, as is VTV amplifier. I've heard the D-Sonic at Dennis' showroom - really nice. I use a VTV 4-ch Pascal for my ATMOS speakers and is nice for the price/application.

    That said, Dave has generally recommended Class AB amps for RAAL tweeters on this forum. Many options here - Monoprice Monolith, ATI, Outlaw, Rogue (if you are into tubes, although they also have some hybrids), etc.

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Amplifier shopping...decisions decisions

    Why A/B in particular? Just curious.

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Amplifier shopping...decisions decisions

    What are you using right now? More power never hurts, but keep in mind that even doubling your power will net you only 3 dB gain in volume, and depending on what you have now I wouldn't necessarily expect any improvements or differences outside of that. If you're reaching the volumes you like now without distortion any additional power just sits on reserve unused.

    Check out this spl calculator. A note about it, it's only accurate for 8 ohm loads, but it's a neat little tool I like to play with that does a good job of showing the relation between power, distance and volume.

    http://myhometheater.homestead.com/splcalculator.html

    Amplification is very mature tech and most of the major manufacturers have pushed the distortion figures so low that the minute measured differences are all inaudible so there's no need to dump big dollars into some of the more expensive options out there. Racrawford tossed out some great suggestions. I have a Monolith 7 (basically an ATI amp, a top manufacturer) and it sounds fantastic. Gobs of power on hand, and sota measurements. I've never heard it misbehave even at some pretty spirited volume levels.

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Amplifier shopping...decisions decisions

    Quote Originally Posted by PersonalTriumph View Post
    Why A/B in particular? Just curious.
    More efficient than A, and it's a tried and tested design. Pure class A is nice if you have need for a space heater tho I s'pose...

    Don't sleep on class D either. That tech is catching up to good A/B designs and is even more efficient. I've been reading good things about the Hypex amps.

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Amplifier shopping...decisions decisions

    Pogre's answer on a/b is spot on.

    You may be fine with class D -- as I recall, the ability of the RAAL to reproduce extremely high frequencies + way class D amplifies had something to do with his recommendation. Not everyone is likely sensitive to it.

    Hypex are nice modules. When I was researching class D, consensus was Hypex (good), Pascal (better), Purifi (even better). That was a few years ago and I'm sure implementation plays a role (eg op amps)

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Amplifier shopping...decisions decisions

    Quote Originally Posted by Pogre View Post
    What are you using right now?
    Yamaha MX-1. It's a good amp but old and it had a hard life before I rescued it. I just thought I might find something more refined.

  8. #8
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    Default Re: Amplifier shopping...decisions decisions

    Quote Originally Posted by racrawford65 View Post
    Pogre's answer on a/b is spot on.

    You may be fine with class D -- as I recall, the ability of the RAAL to reproduce extremely high frequencies + way class D amplifies had something to do with his recommendation. Not everyone is likely sensitive to it.

    Hypex are nice modules. When I was researching class D, consensus was Hypex (good), Pascal (better), Purifi (even better). That was a few years ago and I'm sure implementation plays a role (eg op amps)
    Yeah, right now A/B is a pretty safe bet. Jury is still out on class D, but like I said the tech is catching up. Gene over at Audioholics has some models in the chute for testing in the near future so I'm curious to see what he finds. I'm not all the way on the class D bandwagon yet, but it's looking promising.

  9. #9
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    Default Re: Amplifier shopping...decisions decisions

    Quote Originally Posted by PersonalTriumph View Post
    Yamaha MX-1. It's a good amp but old and it had a hard life before I rescued it. I just thought I might find something more refined.
    The MX-1 looks like a pretty solid amp already. Chances are you're not going to get much more in the way of refinement with something different. More of a lateral move, imo, provided your current amp is still operating within spec. 15 - 20 years is getting up there in years tho...

    A couple of things a lot of folks tend to overlook are placement and room acoustics. Are you using any eq for your subs? If you really want to make some significant gains a calibrated mic is invaluable. The 3 things that have made the biggest impact for me were quality speakers and subs first, a mic and REW to measure fr, and optimizing my room acoustics through positional eq and peq for my subs based on my measured fr results.

    Adding a separate amp made zero difference in sq to my ears, outside of the ability to play louder without breaking up. That said, I do get it. I love my big powerful amp and makes me feel like my system is more stable at high volumes. I love seeing it in my equipment stand and don't regret the purchase. If I'm being completely honest tho, it did not take things to a new level or blow me away. Straightening out my bass fr did that.
    Last edited by Pogre; 10-31-2021 at 07:49 AM.

  10. #10
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    Default Re: Amplifier shopping...decisions decisions

    Quote Originally Posted by Pogre View Post
    The MX-1 looks like a pretty solid amp already. Chances are you're not going to get much more in the way of refinement with something different. More of a lateral move, imo, provided your current amp is still operating within spec. 15 - 20 years is getting up there in years tho...

    A couple of things a lot of folks tend to overlook are placement and room acoustics. Are you using any eq for your subs? If you really want to make some significant gains a calibrated mic is invaluable. The 3 things that have made the biggest impact for me were quality speakers and subs first, a mic and REW to measure fr, and optimizing my room acoustics through positional eq and peq for my subs based on my measured fr results.

    Adding a separate amp made zero difference in sq to my ears, outside of the ability to play louder without breaking up. That said, I do get it. I love my big powerful amp and makes me feel like my system is more stable at high volumes. I love seeing it in my equipment stand and don't regret the purchase. If I'm being completely honest tho, it did not take things to a new level or blow me away. Straightening out my bass fr did that.
    Ya know, the more research I do, the more I come to the conclusion that the difference between one amp and another can be summed up in one word: "marketing". So, I do think I'm going to save my shekels and stand pat with the Yammy.

    I ran Dirac on the system yesterday (my "adventures" with this are documented in another thread...what a PITA...) And when all was said and done, I felt like Dirac took all the life and energy out of my system. Maybe I just like a more lively, bright, exciting sound...

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