Need some help with preamp/amps for a new 2 channel system - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 27 Old 07-19-2012, 10:01 PM - Thread Starter
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I am contemplating setting up a totally new 2 channel system in my basement. Right now it has the flotsam and jetsam left over from old systems. A CRT TV and old 2 channel Onkyo receiver my wife brought to our marriage, plus my 1992 era Infinity Reference 4 mini towers with Emit-R tweeters. It even has a VCR and dual tape deck!

I am much more of a home theater guy, but I have a 5.1 system in the family room that gets used for movies/TV 99% of the time and I think I would really enjoy a system better suited for music. But, it will still probably end up being used 50% for TV anyway. That is why I wanted some help. I pure music 2.0 system seems simpler to set up, but working TV in the mix makes it more complicated.

Some background info:

The room is maybe 17x17 feet and 7.5 foot ceilings. Listening position will be about 12 feet from the TV. It is a relatively dead room with carpet, old fashioned ceiling panels that have the little nooks and crannies, and wood paneling. Only a couple tiny windows, not even big enough to crawl out of. So, not many reflective surfaces.

I plan to by a small flat screen, 37 incher (that is all that will fit in my existing cabinet) and a new BD player that I will use for CDs, Blu-Rays, and streaming Internet sources. I will also upgrade my DirecTV box to a new HD DVR when the time comes. No phono. Also, would like to play music from my iPad.

Budget: About $1,000 for the components (amp/preamp or receiver) and about $2,000 for a pair of tower speakers. No sub planned for right now, but I definitely want to be able to add one in the future. Tv/Blu-ray budget is separate.

What I want to do, besides end up with a nice system, is actually start to enjoy this hobby. I spend more and more time reading about all these awesome products, but I have never experienced any of them. So, I want to get my display and components all purchased, then I plan to audition a bunch of ID speakers and maybe some B&M brands also in my house and really try to hear the difference in a bunch of good speakers. Have a little fun with it and end up with a great system. So, I do not know which speaker the amp will be driving.

Possible speakers:
ID brands:
Ascend Sierra Towers
Salk Songtowers
Aperion Versus Grand towers
Gallo Classico CL-3
Tekton Lore or Lore-S

B&M brands near me:
Paradigm Studio 60
Kef Q900
Monitor Audio RX-8
PSB Imagine T towers

Maybe Def Tech, B&W, or Goldenear also.

So, there are some 4 ohm and some 8 ohm possibilities, plus sensitivities from 88 to 98 dB. Therefore, I really want an amp that can handle 4 ohms.

After doing much research over the last couple weeks, I kinda see three options, which is what I want to ask you guys about.

Option 1) Pioneer Elite SC-61 AVR (MSRP $1,100, street price around $900-950) 125W/channel x7.
Benefits of this: The amp is rated for 4 ohms and is a new class D3 amp and seems to be pretty good. AVR amps often are strained in 7 channel playback, but I will only be using 2 channels. I am familiar with AVRs. All hookups will be HDMI, AVR will control sources. I get room correction, bass management if I add a sub, Airplay built in. Can easily go to full surround if I move to a new house.
Negatives: It seems dumb to pay all that for a high end AVR and not use about 90% of its functions. It is way better than my Denon 2309 upstairs! I won't be using all the surround sound decoding, zone 2 or zone 3, all the extra connections on the back I am paying for, or most of the amps built in. Plus, I will likely feel that the sound I am getting is not the best for my money because it is an AVR.

Option 2) Parasound 2100 preamp (MSRP $650, but dealer likely would take some off, so say $600) /Emotiva UPA-200 amp, 125W/channel, (MSRP $349, on sale for $315). So total cost about $915.
Benefits: Much better preamp. 2100 seems well reviewed and liked. Can still add a sub with at least some bass management. Amp is probably better, but I am not sure how much better the entry level Emotiva would sound than the Pioneer. Can keep 2100 in the loop if I go to surround sound due to its bypass connections.
Negatives: Have to run HDMI from each source to TV and analog audio to the 2100. Have to switch preamp source and TV source each time. No room correction. No Airplay.

Option 3) HK 3490 stereo receiver, 120W/channel x2, (MSRP $449, on sale at J&R for $299) / Emotiva XPA-3, 200W/channel x3 (MSRP $699, on sale for $629). Total Cost of $929.

Side note: why the XPA-3 not the XPA-2 for a 2-ch system? First, $100 cheaper. Second, really don't see myself needing all the headroom the XPA-2 provides. Third, most importantly, if I do go to a surround sound setup, I now have a great amp for my future L/C/R speakers instead of just a 2 channel amp.

Benefits: Better preamp for 2-ch music than option 1, but not as good as Option 2. HK seems also very well liked and reviewed. Built in tuner and XM ready. Can still hook up 1 or 2 subs, but no high pass filter (might not be an issue given the towers I am considering). HK has digital audio in and good built in DACs, so I can use those inputs for the BD player and DVR. XPA-3 seems leagues better than either amp in Options 1 or 2. Can use XPA-3 in future surround sound setup and still run 2.0 system from the HK since its amps are not too shabby either.
Negatives: Similar to Option 2, no room correction, HDMI switching, or Airplay.

So, I am leaning towards Option 3. It seems to be most likely to give me the best sound and is more future proof. For the same price as option 2 I will be getting 5 total channels of amplification vs. just 2 channels.

I would love to know if anyone has a setup with a 2-ch receiver like the HK and a TV and how well that works or if it is a pain in the ass. Having the big Emotiva staring at me will give me emotional satisfaction vs. looking at the Pioneer. I guess if I went Option 3 I could always add a separate room correction device/bass management device and Apple TV if I really wanted.

Are there any other components/options in my price range I should consider? Does anyone make a 2-ch receiver with HDMI also? Which option would you guys choose?

Thanks for all the help! Sorry for such a long post, but I figure more info is better and I wanted to show I did try to do my homework. smile.gif

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post #2 of 27 Old 07-19-2012, 11:37 PM
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Unless your HDMI hookup scheme gets complicated, I would just go with option 3 if you intend to do two channel only. Also I wouldn't bother getting an Emotiva amp when the HK3490 has such a robust amplifier on board. The extra juice from the Emotiva amp will barely get you 2 db extra, and besides that you are not in a large room, so I don't think you will ever use the full capacity of any of the amps or AVRs you would buy. The only thing wanting from the HK is room correction, and you could just use the money saved from buying an amp for something like a Behringer DEQ2496 equalizer for that. As far as bass mangement, you could use something like one of these in-line crossovers or if you want a bit more precision and freedom, try this Hsu High Pass Filter.

Also, depending on the music you listen to, it might make more sense to get some bookshelf speakers and some subwoofers rather than tower speakers. Because
A: you can get more powerful, more controlled, and better defined bass by calibrating subs separately
B: bookshelf speakers have less cabinet resonance than tower speakers
C: you can get higher quality drivers if you aren't buying as many of them, and that means better highs and mids

I just don't see the advantage of towers in your situation except for more powerful upper bass. Some bookshelfs to check out which would leave room in your budget for a sub which I would consider: NHT Classic 3, KEF Q300, or Swan D2.1. Add a Rythmik F15 or Hsu ULS-15, or maybe two SVS SB12s and you are at $2k. A couple of these new sealed XS15's from Power Sound Audio may also warrant your attention.
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post #3 of 27 Old 07-20-2012, 07:11 AM
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For an amplifier, I would recommend the Music Hall 15.2 integrated amplifier. It is the best one I have heard for under $1000; definitely better than the NAD and Cambridge Audio and HK amplifiers in that price range. It is quite amazing for the money and even has decent power and a phono preamp! It was $800, but Music Direct has it for only $499 now. The sound quality, IMO, would definitely be better than any of your 3 options.

I have the Gallo Classico CL-3 speakers, and they are quite amazing for their size and their price. You can order them online from the factory for only $1595 and try them risk-free for 60 days. They pay shipping both ways, so it does not cost you a penny; taking advantage of that is kind of a no-brainer...lol. The sound quality of these speakers is very special. They are just incredibly "listenable". There are a number of well-respected speakers that cost twice as much that they easily out-perform IMO.

They go down to 32 hz, and the bass and power are literally unbelievable for their size (I have been involved with audio for 50 years, and have never experienced this kind of bass from a speaker of this size). A subwoofer may not be needed with them. I have one in my system, but only turn it on for some movies.

If you can get your hands on the July/August issue of The Absolute Sound, there is an excellent article in there that discusses the technical innovations that make these so special, including no crossover network and a unique tweeter with 180 degrees dispersion that makes every seat in the house a primo seat.

The low-end Parasound preamps (under $1500) sound crappy to me. The only preamp I could recommend for under $1000 is the Vincent SA-31. It is very good. All of the other good ones I know of are $2000 and up. It has dual preouts which means one set can be used to connect to a sub if desired.

If this is definitely going to be a 2-channel system, I suggest forgetting about HDMI for the audio and using analog connections.
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post #4 of 27 Old 07-20-2012, 07:58 AM
 
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There are a few salesman on this forum posting sales pitch for the stuff they sell.
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post #5 of 27 Old 07-20-2012, 09:36 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by shadyJ View Post

Unless your HDMI hookup scheme gets complicated, I would just go with option 3 if you intend to do two channel only. Also I wouldn't bother getting an Emotiva amp when the HK3490 has such a robust amplifier on board. The extra juice from the Emotiva amp will barely get you 2 db extra, and besides that you are not in a large room, so I don't think you will ever use the full capacity of any of the amps or AVRs you would buy. The only thing wanting from the HK is room correction, and you could just use the money saved from buying an amp for something like a Behringer DEQ2496 equalizer for that. As far as bass mangement, you could use something like one of these in-line crossovers or if you want a bit more precision and freedom, try this Hsu High Pass Filter.
Also, depending on the music you listen to, it might make more sense to get some bookshelf speakers and some subwoofers rather than tower speakers. Because
A: you can get more powerful, more controlled, and better defined bass by calibrating subs separately
B: bookshelf speakers have less cabinet resonance than tower speakers
C: you can get higher quality drivers if you aren't buying as many of them, and that means better highs and mids
I just don't see the advantage of towers in your situation except for more powerful upper bass. Some bookshelfs to check out which would leave room in your budget for a sub which I would consider: NHT Classic 3, KEF Q300, or Swan D2.1. Add a Rythmik F15 or Hsu ULS-15, or maybe two SVS SB12s and you are at $2k. A couple of these new sealed XS15's from Power Sound Audio may also warrant your attention.

Thanks for the info. I have been going back an forth in my head about just using the HK to drive the speakers since it seems to get very good marks for how it sounds. I may wait til I can get the room set up and then buy the XPA-3 and try to listen for myself to see if it sounds better than the HK, at least enough to justify the cost. If not I would have 30 days to return it. Thanks for the links to the Hsu high pass filter and the equalizer. That DEQ2496 looks pretty complicated. I will take a look at it to see whether it would be feasible for me in the future.

How would you compare the HK 3490 to the Outlaw Audio rr2150 as far as sound? The Outlaw is pricier, similar power, and has bass management.

Finally, I have debated internally about towers vs. bookshelf/subs. To me, music seems to sound better with full range towers. I am also really excited to eventually demo some of the speakers I listed. But thanks for the suggestions.

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post #6 of 27 Old 07-21-2012, 12:37 AM
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I can't tell you how the HK compares to the Outlaw, I haven't heard the Outlaw, but I think they would sound very similar. You know, if your room is going to be a dedicated listening room, you might try some Magnapan 1.7 planars. There are definitely those who love the sound of maggies. I have always been curious to give my music a spin on them myself. My only concern is they supposedly do not have the greatest dynamic range, but for detail and soundstage they are reputed to have few peers. Something to think about depending on what kind of music you listen to. Another interesting looking speaker for $2k is the Funk Audio F8.2P, two heavy duty 8" woofers and a horn-loaded ribbon tweeter, that ought to be extremely detailed and very punchy. A powerful 95 db sensitivity! The only problem is its frequency response range is more like a bookshelf than a tower- but who cares, just add some subs. Something else I would consider very strongly in that range is the JBL Studio 590, they are not only gorgeous, but they also use Harman's no-nonsense approach to engineering. I am certain those will sound great.
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post #7 of 27 Old 07-21-2012, 11:43 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NewHTbuyer View Post

I am contemplating setting up a totally new 2 channel system in my basement. Right now it has the flotsam and jetsam left over from old systems. A CRT TV and old 2 channel Onkyo receiver my wife brought to our marriage, plus my 1992 era Infinity Reference 4 mini towers with Emit-R tweeters. It even has a VCR and dual tape deck!
I am much more of a home theater guy, but I have a 5.1 system in the family room that gets used for movies/TV 99% of the time and I think I would really enjoy a system better suited for music. But, it will still probably end up being used 50% for TV anyway. That is why I wanted some help. I pure music 2.0 system seems simpler to set up, but working TV in the mix makes it more complicated.
Some background info:
The room is maybe 17x17 feet and 7.5 foot ceilings. Listening position will be about 12 feet from the TV. It is a relatively dead room with carpet, old fashioned ceiling panels that have the little nooks and crannies, and wood paneling. Only a couple tiny windows, not even big enough to crawl out of. So, not many reflective surfaces.

What about the furniture? So far you have not described a "relatively dead room". Carpeting is not an effective sound absorber at even lower mid frequencies, let alone low frequencies.
Quote:
I plan to by a small flat screen, 37 incher (that is all that will fit in my existing cabinet) and a new BD player that I will use for CDs, Blu-Rays, and streaming Internet sources. I will also upgrade my DirecTV box to a new HD DVR when the time comes. No phono. Also, would like to play music from my iPad.

I think I have a small flat screen - 60 inches. Not a chance that it fits inside anyplace. It sits on top! ;-)
Quote:
Budget: About $1,000 for the components (amp/preamp or receiver) and about $2,000 for a pair of tower speakers. No sub planned for right now, but I definitely want to be able to add one in the future. Tv/Blu-ray budget is separate.
What I want to do, besides end up with a nice system, is actually start to enjoy this hobby.

All things considered I think you are financially going heavy on the electronics and perhaps too light on the speakers.

Quote:
I spend more and more time reading about all these awesome products, but I have never experienced any of them. So, I want to get my display and components all purchased, then I plan to audition a bunch of ID speakers and maybe some B&M brands also in my house and really try to hear the difference in a bunch of good speakers. Have a little fun with it and end up with a great system. So, I do not know which speaker the amp will be driving.
Possible speakers:
ID brands:
Ascend Sierra Towers
Salk Songtowers
Aperion Versus Grand towers
Gallo Classico CL-3
Tekton Lore or Lore-S
B&M brands near me:
Paradigm Studio 60
Kef Q900
Monitor Audio RX-8
PSB Imagine T towers
Maybe Def Tech, B&W, or Goldenear also.

Odd list.

KEF, PSB, Paradigm, Def Tech, I get.
Quote:
So, there are some 4 ohm and some 8 ohm possibilities, plus sensitivities from 88 to 98 dB. Therefore, I really want an amp that can handle 4 ohms.

I don't know of an good amp that can't "handle 4 ohms".
Quote:
After doing much research over the last couple weeks, I kinda see three options, which is what I want to ask you guys about.
Option 1) Pioneer Elite SC-61 AVR (MSRP $1,100, street price around $900-950) 125W/channel x7.
Benefits of this: The amp is rated for 4 ohms and is a new class D3 amp and seems to be pretty good.

At this time I recommend Class D amplifiers only when built into speakers, IOW as subcomponents of powered speakers. Reason is that class D amps as a group tend to change their response at the upper end of the audible range depending on the impedance curve of the speakers they are driving. This situation can be managed using the amps built-in equalizer or facilities like MCACC or Audessy. But, if it isn't there, so much the better!
Quote:
AVR amps often are strained in 5-7 channel playback, but I will only be using 2 channels.

This is an audiophile myth. It is true that AVR amps are often overtaxed and won't put full rated output into every channel on a test bench when driving resistive loads. However, that mode of operation is completely non-representative of real world usage when playing both music and movies.

Obviously, they are not strained at all when driving just 2 channels with music or movies. When a subwoofer is being used, they are miles from being overstressed.
Quote:
I am familiar with AVRs. All hookups will be HDMI, AVR will control sources. I get room correction, bass management if I add a sub,

Good points and worthwhile advantages.
Quote:
Airplay built in.

Airplay is just an Apple-branded solution that others match well, sometimes better, often for a lot less money. Wanting to have a web-enabled system is IME a good idea. However, you can do it equally well through your AVR or BD player or via a dedicated accessory. I see the AVR as the larger-ticket purchase and the BD player as the smaller ticket purchase. I don't favor putting all of one's eggs in the same basket, particularly if the basket is expensive and getting full all by itself.
Quote:
Can easily go to full surround if I move to a new house.

A good point and worthwhile advantage.
Quote:
Negatives: It seems dumb to pay all that for a high end AVR and not use about 90% of its functions.

Which 90% would that be? I would say that using an AVR for 2 channel is easily using more than 75% of its functions.
Quote:
It is way better than my Denon 2309 upstairs! I won't be using all the surround sound decoding, zone 2 or zone 3, all the extra connections on the back I am paying for, or most of the amps built in.

If you won't ever be using the extra features of the Elite SC-61 AVR, why buy them?

Quote:
Plus, I will likely feel that the sound I am getting is not the best for my money because it is an AVR.


Yes there is a lot of audiophile mythology about circuitry being substandard just because it is inside an AVR. AVR's often give optimal price/performance because of their high volume production.
Quote:
Option 3) HK 3490 stereo receiver, 120W/channel x2, (MSRP $449, on sale at J&R for $299) / Emotiva XPA-3, 200W/channel x3 (MSRP $699, on sale for $629). Total Cost of $929.
Side note: why the XPA-3 not the XPA-2 for a 2-ch system? First, $100 cheaper. Second, really don't see myself needing all the headroom the XPA-2 provides. Third, most importantly, if I do go to a surround sound setup, I now have a great amp for my future L/C/R speakers instead of just a 2 channel amp.

I don't see the need for the power amp at all. 200 wpc is only a couple of dB more than 120 wpc. It would take 1200 watts to seem twice as loud. Where is the evidence that 120 wpc won't be loud enough?
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post #8 of 27 Old 07-25-2012, 10:40 PM - Thread Starter
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Thanks for all your suggestions. I ordered the HK 3490 for $299 from J&R. I figure it is relatively cheap, so not much risk. My basement is still a long way from being ready for a new setup though, still have lots of cleanup to do.

Based on your guys' recommendations, I am going to hold off on an external amp for now. Once my room is clean, I will buy the TV and BD player, upgrade my DVR, then audition speakers. Once I pick a pair, I can always try out the Emotiva for 30 days and see..er..hear for myself if it makes a difference.

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post #9 of 27 Old 07-27-2012, 06:32 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by arnyk View Post


I don't see the need for the power amp at all. 200 wpc is only a couple of dB more than 120 wpc. It would take 1200 watts to seem twice as loud. Where is the evidence that 120 wpc won't be loud enough?

I think I am going to test this. I have the HK 3490 and recently acquired an Adcom GFA-555 200x2 amp. I'll hook up my speakers using the HK's internal amp, and then send the pre-out to the Adcom and compare the difference between 120w and 200w.
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post #10 of 27 Old 07-27-2012, 08:13 AM
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Originally Posted by Tweaked05 View Post

I think I am going to test this. I have the HK 3490 and recently acquired an Adcom GFA-555 200x2 amp. I'll hook up my speakers using the HK's internal amp, and then send the pre-out to the Adcom and compare the difference between 120w and 200w.

I'll bet money that you will do your alleged comparison without level matching or bias controls and you will report back hearing a difference.

Sorry guy, but Forrest Gump comes to mind! ;-)
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post #11 of 27 Old 07-27-2012, 10:18 AM
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Originally Posted by arnyk View Post

I'll bet money that you will do your alleged comparison without level matching or bias controls and you will report back hearing a difference.
Sorry guy, but Forrest Gump comes to mind! ;-)

How could I level match the Adcom to the HK? The Adcom has no controls. And what do you mean by "bias controls"? Do you mean controlling personal bias or transistor/circuit bias?

Serious question here. I would really like to learn.
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post #12 of 27 Old 07-27-2012, 11:30 AM
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Originally Posted by Tweaked05 View Post

How could I level match the Adcom to the HK?

Two of these, one for each channel to get close matching of the channels:

http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16882461009&nm_mc=KNC-GoogleAdwords&cm_mmc=KNC-GoogleAdwords-_-pla-_-NA-_-NA



Just use one of the two adjustements in each volume control to obtain individual control of each channel. Use with the amplifier under test that has the highest gain.

Quote:
And what do you mean by "bias controls"? Do you mean controlling personal bias or transistor/circuit bias?
.

Personal bias. It is endemic.

To start with, just try level matching and quick switching via a switch like this one:

http://www.bhphotovideo.com/bnh/controller/home?O=&sku=718845&is=REG&Q=&A=details



To match levels, use a CD with test tones on it, and a voltmeter connected across speaker terminals. Use test tones at 20 HZ, 50 Hz, 100 Hz, 1000 Hz, 10 KHz, and 20 KHz.

This voltmeter is supposed to have real good frequency response, but since all you need to do is match levels as you switch back and forth, exact precision is not required:

http://www.harborfreight.com/5-in-1-digital-multimeter-98674.html



Match the levels within 1% which is about 0.1 dB.

Once you do some close comparisons with this setup, you can make it blind by having a hidden person operate the switch.

Have them flip a coin to create a list of 16 unknowns. Have them hide from you and operate the swtich as you direct. Have them select A, B or unknown number NN as you desire.
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post #13 of 27 Old 07-27-2012, 05:21 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tweaked05 View Post

I think I am going to test this. I have the HK 3490 and recently acquired an Adcom GFA-555 200x2 amp. I'll hook up my speakers using the HK's internal amp, and then send the pre-out to the Adcom and compare the difference between 120w and 200w.

I would love to hear your impressions on how the new amp sounds vs. the HK. What speakers will you be driving?

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post #14 of 27 Old 07-27-2012, 05:31 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by arnyk View Post

Two of these, one for each channel to get close matching of the channels:
http://www.newegg.com/Product/Product.aspx?Item=N82E16882461009&nm_mc=KNC-GoogleAdwords&cm_mmc=KNC-GoogleAdwords-_-pla-_-NA-_-NA

Just use one of the two adjustements in each volume control to obtain individual control of each channel. Use with the amplifier under test that has the highest gain.
Personal bias. It is endemic.
To start with, just try level matching and quick switching via a switch like this one:
http://www.bhphotovideo.com/bnh/controller/home?O=&sku=718845&is=REG&Q=&A=details

To match levels, use a CD with test tones on it, and a voltmeter connected across speaker terminals. Use test tones at 20 HZ, 50 Hz, 100 Hz, 1000 Hz, 10 KHz, and 20 KHz.
This voltmeter is supposed to have real good frequency response, but since all you need to do is match levels as you switch back and forth, exact precision is not required:
http://www.harborfreight.com/5-in-1-digital-multimeter-98674.html

Match the levels within 1% which is about 0.1 dB.
Once you do some close comparisons with this setup, you can make it blind by having a hidden person operate the switch.
Have them flip a coin to create a list of 16 unknowns. Have them hide from you and operate the swtich as you direct. Have them select A, B or unknown number NN as you desire.

arnyk,

Couple of questions about this post, maybe showing my lack of knowledge. How exactly do you connect the products you mentioned? If he has 2 sets of speaker cables, one from the HK and the other from the new Adcom, how do you get those both attached to the same set of speakers? Or, do you only hook up one speaker to each amp and listen in mono? Also, aren't you supposed to level match the volume of sound using an spl meter? I don't understand the use of the voltmeter.

I was planning to buy or borrow a speaker selector, something like this:

http://www.jr.com/sima/pe/SMA_SSW6/#productTabDetails

and then level match the speakers with a Radioshack spl meter. Is that not a good way to do it? My thought was that if speaker A plays, for example, 80 dB with the volume at, say, -15, and speaker B needs the volume to be at -12 to play 80dB, then each time I switch from A to B I would raise the volume 3 dB on the receiver to get the same spl.

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post #15 of 27 Old 07-27-2012, 07:13 PM
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I'll let Arny explain the connections, but as for level-matching, SPL meters aren't precise enough for the task, and simply adjusting using your volume control isn't going to be accurate or consistent enough, either. You need to be within 0.1 dB. Otherwise, you'll be able to tell the difference based on the level difference alone. (It won't sound louder, but it will sound different.) The correct way, as Arny says, is to measure the voltage at the speaker terminals, which even a basic voltmeter can do well enough. But you need some way to adjust levels and just leave them in place as you switch back and forth, which is why you need the newegg devices.

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post #16 of 27 Old 07-27-2012, 07:27 PM
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Originally Posted by NewHTbuyer View Post

I would love to hear your impressions on how the new amp sounds vs. the HK. What speakers will you be driving?

I'll be driving a pair of B&W 604 S3 floorstanders in 2.0. I don't have the equipment that Arnyk is recommending I use, and don't plan to purchase them at this time. I will still do the comparison and report my impressions bearing in mind what Arnyk has said.
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post #17 of 27 Old 07-27-2012, 09:07 PM - Thread Starter
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I'll let Arny explain the connections, but as for level-matching, SPL meters aren't precise enough for the task, and simply adjusting using your volume control isn't going to be accurate or consistent enough, either. You need to be within 0.1 dB. Otherwise, you'll be able to tell the difference based on the level difference alone. (It won't sound louder, but it will sound different.) The correct way, as Arny says, is to measure the voltage at the speaker terminals, which even a basic voltmeter can do well enough. But you need some way to adjust levels and just leave them in place as you switch back and forth, which is why you need the newegg devices.

Thanks for the additional info on level matching. I didn't know an spl meter was not enough. It is a good start at least.

Just to clarify, if you are comparing two amps using the same set of speakers, as in this case, I can see why you want the voltage the same. But if I am using one amp to compare two sets of speakers, even if I make the voltage the same going into each speaker, wouldn't the different sensitivities of the speaker produce different spls? How do you accurately measure spls in that case?

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post #18 of 27 Old 07-28-2012, 02:39 AM
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Originally Posted by NewHTbuyer View Post

Thanks for the additional info on level matching. I didn't know an spl meter was not enough. It is a good start at least.

Don't fool yourself. If you aren't going to do your amp comparisons right, you are far better off not comparing amps.

If you do most amp comparisons right and remove all of the sources of audible differences other than the amps themselves, you very frequently find that they sound the same. For most of us, it is a waste of time.
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But if I am using one amp to compare two sets of speakers, even if I make the voltage the same going into each speaker, wouldn't the different sensitivities of the speaker produce different spls? How do you accurately measure spls in that case?

Comparing speakers is far, far more difficult to do right than comparing amps.It takes much more than obtaining the same SPL from each speaker.
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post #19 of 27 Old 07-28-2012, 08:09 AM
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But if I am using one amp to compare two sets of speakers, even if I make the voltage the same going into each speaker, wouldn't the different sensitivities of the speaker produce different spls? How do you accurately measure spls in that case?
Don't even think about trying to do blind comparisons of speakers. If you put two side by side in a room, they will sound different simply on the basis of their location in the room.

The way the big boys do this is by using a shuffler that can switch speakers into position in a split second. Not realistic at home.

If you can't explain how it works, you can't say it doesn't.—The High-End Creed

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post #20 of 27 Old 07-28-2012, 07:53 PM
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I used to have a Crown XLS202, a 200 watt per channel amplifier hooked up to some Infinity Primus p362 and also some Hsu HB-1 km2 speakers. I have also used both speakers on a Kenwood 107VR and the HK3490- both of which are 120 watt/channel amps, and also the Onkyo TX-SR707 at one point, and I used the Hsu speakers on an Alesis 50 watt per channel amp and right now they are on a Pioneer Elite VSX 47TX (135 watt/channel). I have other speakers that I used with different amps too, but probably the Hsu speakers have seen the most different amps. While I have never listened closely for a difference, I have never noticed any while shuffling my speakers with different amps over time. I'm pretty sure that unless an amp is messed up, the difference will be one of quantity, not quality. The only difference between a well-built 200 watt amp and a well-built 120 watt amp is just over 2 db, in other words, not a whole lot, certainly not worth the expenditure of a separate amp in a setup with a modest budget.

I would say try to listen for a difference yourself, but, like was said above, make sure you don't know which amp is on at the time. The test has to be blind. You don't need an Emotiva amp to prove this, just borrow any decent amp from a friend and have him switch the amp between speakers when you aren't looking.
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post #21 of 27 Old 07-29-2012, 02:20 PM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by arnyk View Post

Don't fool yourself. If you aren't going to do your amp comparisons right, you are far better off not comparing amps.
If you do most amp comparisons right and remove all of the sources of audible differences other than the amps themselves, you very frequently find that they sound the same. For most of us, it is a waste of time.
Comparing speakers is far, far more difficult to do right than comparing amps.It takes much more than obtaining the same SPL from each speaker.

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Don't even think about trying to do blind comparisons of speakers. If you put two side by side in a room, they will sound different simply on the basis of their location in the room.
The way the big boys do this is by using a shuffler that can switch speakers into position in a split second. Not realistic at home.

You guys are like the Borg..instead of "Resistance is futile!" it is "A/B speakers comparisons are futile!" eek.gif

Seriously, I guess I am going to do the best I can by putting a few pairs of speakers in my room with my HK 3490 and trying to level match them as best as possible. I plan to do some blind testing and some un-blinded testing with various material and at various volumes. Hopefully, I can end up with the speaker I like the best. In a couple months after my room is cleaned up I will probably start a new thread detailing my process of speaker shopping.

I will try switching the speakers around in my room from time to time, in case one pair is in a bad spot, and thus at a disadvantage.

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"A/B speakers comparisons are futile!"
Not what we said.

If you can't explain how it works, you can't say it doesn't.—The High-End Creed

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post #23 of 27 Old 07-29-2012, 04:11 PM
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Well, I just A/B'd my HK 3490 using internal amp with the HK 3490 sending pre-amp output to my Adcom GFA-555. Honestly, there was no audible difference. The sound stage was identical, the timbre was identical, the dynamics were the same. This made me suspect that the differences I had previously heard between the two may be contained between the pre-amp of the 3490 and the Adcom GTP-500 Pre-amp I have. So I hooked up the adcom pre-amp to the adcom amp and sure enough there were subtle differences. These differences are probably associated to the fact that I didn't do any level matching beyond my ears, but the Adcom pre-amp seems to have a greater dynamic range. The symbols ring clearer and the highs seem more crisp, however the sound stage is somehow different. I can't quite put my finger on it. The differences aren't significant at all, and if I didn't have both amps and hadn't been switching back and forth between the two combo's, I would never notice and wouldn't be any less satisfied using the HK 3490. I think I may sell the Adcom combo and put the money into a really good musical sub, or into a quality TT.
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post #24 of 27 Old 07-29-2012, 05:37 PM
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Originally Posted by NewHTbuyer View Post

Once I pick a pair, I can always try out the Emotiva for 30 days and see..er..hear for myself if it makes a difference.

Remember you can also get an amp from Guitar Center. They have a 30 day no hassle return policy and you don't have to pay any shipping. Try the Yamaha P2500. It will give anything you listed a run for its money.

An audiophile likes to talk about how much they spent and how good it sounds.

A DIY'er likes to talk about how little they spent and how good it sounds.

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post #25 of 27 Old 07-30-2012, 12:38 AM
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Not what we said.
But it makes a good strawman.

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Remember you can also get an amp from Guitar Center. They have a 30 day no hassle return policy and you don't have to pay any shipping. Try the Yamaha P2500. It will give anything you listed a run for its money.
I concur - terrific amp, but I'm biased, I own one and 6 other Yamaha pro amps.
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post #26 of 27 Old 07-30-2012, 04:24 AM
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Originally Posted by Tweaked05 View Post

Well, I just A/B'd my HK 3490 using internal amp with the HK 3490 sending pre-amp output to my Adcom GFA-555. Honestly, there was no audible difference. The sound stage was identical, the timbre was identical, the dynamics were the same. This made me suspect that the differences I had previously heard between the two may be contained between the pre-amp of the 3490 and the Adcom GTP-500 Pre-amp I have.

Without any of the required experimental controls in place, I don't know what to make of this. You seem pleased, I guess that matters.
Quote:
So I hooked up the adcom pre-amp to the adcom amp and sure enough there were subtle differences. These differences are probably associated to the fact that I didn't do any level matching beyond my ears, but the Adcom pre-amp seems to have a greater dynamic range. The symbols ring clearer and the highs seem more crisp, however the sound stage is somehow different.

That could as easily be due to a lack of level matching as anything.
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I can't quite put my finger on it. The differences aren't significant at all, and if I didn't have both amps and hadn't been switching back and forth between the two combo's, I would never notice and wouldn't be any less satisfied using the HK 3490. I think I may sell the Adcom combo and put the money into a really good musical sub, or into a quality TT.

A well chosen, well-integrated sub can be a major asset to your system.

You've seen the story about speaker A/Bing. The changes due to upgrades like adding a good sub are usually so huge that the claim "Don't need a DBT because the difference is so large" can actually be meaningful. ;-)
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post #27 of 27 Old 07-31-2012, 10:34 PM - Thread Starter
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I received the HK 3490 today. Luckily I was home when UPS dropped it off b/c a freak Colorado rain shower hit and it probably would have gotten pretty wet. Anyway, so far I have just had time to hook it up and make sure it works. So far sounds fine with FM radio and my iPad plugged into the front. I like the look of it, but I agree with some of the opinions I read before I bought it...the tiny front panel buttons that are not back-lit are not the most user friendly choice. I will try to give it a bit more of a listen in a day or 2 and post my impressions. Then I need to pack it away as I finish cleaning my basement. Now on to picking out a TV and a Blu-ray player.

Thanks for all your help. I can't see how I will be disappointed with this at only $300. I will post pics in a day or 2.

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