2-channel from scratch - Amp advice needed - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 25 Old 08-13-2012, 07:12 PM - Thread Starter
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I've decided to take the plunge into 2-channel and utilize a small spare bedroom (10' x 10') in our home. I've got the chair, now all I need is... everything else.

I'd like to start with the amplifier and then audition speakers once the electronics are set up. This will be a relatively low-budget system to start off. I'm currently looking at Stereo Receivers and Integrated Amps with a price point around $300. My top two choices are currently an H/K 3490 or a Rotel RA-985BX Integrated. Both are spot on the price point that I want. Does anyone have experience with either or both of these amps? I'm welcome to any suggestions of course but please try to avoid the "well if you up your budget just a little you can get this" lines. I know it's difficult!

Also, I'm intrigued by the Marantz SR4320 (ebaying for ~$150). I love the sound of my Marantz AVR and this little guy has pre-outs in case I decide that the 80wpc just aren't enough.
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post #2 of 25 Old 08-13-2012, 07:25 PM
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Considering your room is just 10x10 you really don.t need any huge power source. The HK or the Rotel will both give you excellent results. What is your budget on your speakers?smile.gif
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post #3 of 25 Old 08-13-2012, 07:27 PM
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What is the overall budget? And what, besides speakers, do you include in "everything else"?

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post #4 of 25 Old 08-13-2012, 07:51 PM - Thread Starter
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I'm likely going to audition speakers like KEF, Ascend, Monitor Audio, and perhaps a few others in the $600 range. Initial plan is for amp, bookshelves, and a budget CD/sacd player. Very basic. Down the road I may add other components. Just looking for a place where I can hide for an hour or so and just enjoy my music.
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post #5 of 25 Old 08-13-2012, 08:03 PM - Thread Starter
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my sense is that the Rotel would give me the most flexibility in speaker selection and would be able to handle just about anything. the hk is rated for 4ohms though. like Class A mentioned the room is small and I won't be needing to make any ears bleed. I'm not necessarily looking at 4 ohm speakers but it would be nice to know that I'm not limited in speaker selection.
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post #6 of 25 Old 08-13-2012, 09:47 PM
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All the speakers are solid choices. They will offer slightly differnt sound, some a warm presentation and some more dynamic and revealing sound. Just choose what you like best. You'll get a lot of comments on what's the best. Your ears will tell you that. As far as a Universal player I'm not sure if it is in your budget but the Oppo 93 is a good option ($499), Also check on Amazon for an Onkyo C-S5VL CD/SACD player. They can be had for around $240.smile.gif
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post #7 of 25 Old 08-13-2012, 09:59 PM
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All your choices are excellent. Just choose what you like best. As far as a CD/SACD player is concerned. Check on Amazon for an Onkyo C-S5VL they can be purchased for around $240(I think they're being cleared out). Or if money permits an Oppo BDP-93 ($499).smile.gif
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post #8 of 25 Old 08-14-2012, 07:05 AM
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There is one amplifier that I would recommend to you; the Music Hall A15.2.

It is the best integrated amplifier I know of for under $1000, and Music Direct is selling it for only $499; an excellent value for a very good amp. It has 70 watts per channel, and also has a built-in phono preamp.

Put that togetrher with the Monitor Audio Bronze BX-2 speakers, or the KEF iQ3 speakers and you will have a very nice start to your system for $1000.

The NAD C515BEE is $299, and might be good choice for a CD player.
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post #9 of 25 Old 08-14-2012, 08:12 AM
 
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Originally Posted by commsysman View Post

The NAD C515BEE is $299, and might be good choice for a CD player.
Nope, waste of money. Any Blu-ray player around $100 will be excellent choice, especially due to its ability to play many other types of discs.
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post #10 of 25 Old 08-14-2012, 10:07 PM
 
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Blu ray players tend to have really lousy menus and such for playing cds and you often have to turn on your monitor just to navigate to the song you want. Bad idea for someone who is just making a 2 channel system with no monitor. Get a decent cd player instead.
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post #11 of 25 Old 08-14-2012, 11:39 PM
 
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Originally Posted by runnin' View Post

Blu ray players tend to have really lousy menus and such for playing cds and you often have to turn on your monitor just to navigate to the song you want. Bad idea for someone who is just making a 2 channel system with no monitor.
Which Blu-ray player do you have such issue with?
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Get a decent cd player instead.
That's an option too and while they limit disc options, decent ones are cheap (< $100).
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post #12 of 25 Old 08-15-2012, 02:25 AM
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Originally Posted by runnin' View Post

Blu ray players tend to have really lousy menus and such for playing cds and you often have to turn on your monitor just to navigate to the song you want. Bad idea for someone who is just making a 2 channel system with no monitor. Get a decent cd player instead.

That's not true. The only problem comes in when discs are java based. CDs are not java based. I use a BD player for CDs and I've never had to cut on a monitor to navigate a disc. You go up a song with the chapter skip button just like a cd player would.

As far as the OPs request, he said cd/sacd. If that is the case a good budget alternative to oppo would be the sony blu ray player 390 or 590, both of which are sacd compatible (but not dvd-a) compatible.
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post #13 of 25 Old 08-15-2012, 03:46 AM
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Originally Posted by runnin' View Post

Blu ray players tend to have really lousy menus

I don't know about that. A friend of mine has if memory serves a Samsung BD player, and the menus are gorgeous.
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and such for playing cds and you often have to turn on your monitor just to navigate to the song you want.

Definitely true of some utterly cheap BD players but once you get up around $100 or just a little bit more you get better front panel displays.

People who don't have an AV system do need to look at this area carefully when they are buying!
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post #14 of 25 Old 08-15-2012, 04:49 AM
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Don't overlook the older Oppo universal non-Bluray players. They had a few great upscaling dvd players that will handle your dvd-a/sacd/cd needs for cheap (last I looked on ebay).


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post #15 of 25 Old 08-15-2012, 10:20 AM
 
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Originally Posted by glangford View Post

That's not true. The only problem comes in when discs are java based. CDs are not java based. I use a BD player for CDs and I've never had to cut on a monitor to navigate a disc. You go up a song with the chapter skip button just like a cd player would.
As far as the OPs request, he said cd/sacd. If that is the case a good budget alternative to oppo would be the sony blu ray player 390 or 590, both of which are sacd compatible (but not dvd-a) compatible.

I have a sony 570, about 2 years old. You have memorize the key strokes on your remote to get it to play if it was already on. Or turn on the TV in order to see which menu and sub menu to navigate to. Ditto my Panny blu ray. CD players are easier in general to navigate around with since they don't have tons of other formats that they have to work with. It's just simpler. Why buy a blu ray player when you want to play music only?
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post #16 of 25 Old 08-15-2012, 11:50 AM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by baniels View Post

Don't overlook the older Oppo universal non-Bluray players.

A good friend has an older Oppo 981 which does a fine job with SACDs. Once you get the menus down it's really not difficult. Don't get me wrong I'd love to drop the coin on a "real" sacd player but in a system with a $300 amp a $400-600 cd player doesn't really make sense. I have an old Sony universal player laying around that will probably do the job until I decide to upgrade.

I was really just looking for input on the amp itself. When it comes time for the other components I'll likely start a new thread with the appropriate title/topic. Thanks for all the replies though.
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post #17 of 25 Old 08-15-2012, 12:30 PM
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I'm quite happy with my HK 3490.
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post #18 of 25 Old 08-15-2012, 01:08 PM
 
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Originally Posted by runnin' View Post

I have a sony 570, about 2 years old. You have memorize the key strokes on your remote to get it to play if it was already on. Or turn on the TV in order to see which menu and sub menu to navigate to.
The front panel shows track number and time. What more do you need when listening to music? I would rather focus on what I'm listening.
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Why buy a blu ray player when you want to play music only?
Because of its versatility for the price.
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post #19 of 25 Old 08-15-2012, 02:07 PM
 
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What if you need to jump 12 songs ahead, and you'd rather not hit the "skip" button 12 times to only find out that two button presses weren't received? To each their own I guess. I have the Oppo 95 in my 2 channel system and sometimes find it necessary to turn on a small monitor I bought for the purpose. It's a good trade off IMO though because the Oppo punches way above its weight.


Another amp suggestion would be one of the Cambridge small integrated amps. The CA350A can be had for around 270 on Audio Advisor and seems pretty flexible. I've got my eye on it for my bedroom.
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post #20 of 25 Old 08-15-2012, 04:46 PM
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I have a Sony S770, not a sub-$100 player and the front panel only displays 1 whatever track is played. To play a higher number track is a real pain without turning on the TV. Basically whichever track you choose is track 1 on the display. Even when you turn on the TV the display does not display all the tracks. You have to go up one level to the home menu, music to see that. Just totally non-intuitive. People who think all players displays track number on the front display obviously haven't personal experience with the Sony.

PS. Apparently the current Pioneer BDPs are also like this without track number on the display.
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post #21 of 25 Old 08-16-2012, 05:19 PM - Thread Starter
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Can anyone speak to the "real-world" differences going with a 2 channel "receiver" like the Marantz 4320 and H/K 3490 vs. integrated amps like the Rotel and the Cambridge mentioned above? I simply won't have the opportunity to do any side by side comparisons between the two and have only first hand experience with H/T receivers and their on-board amplifiers. Are they going to sound distinctly different? Does one offer more of something I "can't live without" than the other? I realize there are probably plenty of other threads on this topic but advice specific to my room (10'x10') and price point would be greatly appreciated biggrin.gif
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post #22 of 25 Old 08-16-2012, 05:38 PM
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Are they going to sound distinctly different?
No. Not unless one is severely underpowered for the speakers you are trying to drive. And that is unlikely, though not impossible.
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Does one offer more of something I "can't live without" than the other?
I can't imagine what. (Unless you need the digital input the HK 3490 provides.)

I used to use a stereo receiver. Now I use an integrated amp. I like the amp better for several reasons. Sound quality is not one of them. I couldn't tell the two apart in a blind test if my life depended on it. Some people will tell you they can tell the difference. But they've never tried a blind test.
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post #23 of 25 Old 08-16-2012, 06:34 PM - Thread Starter
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Now I use an integrated amp. I like the amp better for several reasons. Sound quality is not one of them.

Could you please elaborate on this?
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post #24 of 25 Old 08-16-2012, 07:07 PM
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Why I like the amp better? It has a lower profile,and runs very cool. These are very important, as I keep it in a wood cabinet. Also, it just looks cooler than a clunky receiver.

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post #25 of 25 Old 08-17-2012, 04:43 AM
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Originally Posted by jm86wvu View Post

Can anyone speak to the "real-world" differences going with a 2 channel "receiver" like the Marantz 4320 and H/K 3490 vs. integrated amps like the Rotel and the Cambridge mentioned above? I simply won't have the opportunity to do any side by side comparisons between the two and have only first hand experience with H/T receivers and their on-board amplifiers. Are they going to sound distinctly different? Does one offer more of something I "can't live without" than the other? I realize there are probably plenty of other threads on this topic but advice specific to my room (10'x10') and price point would be greatly appreciated biggrin.gif

Seems like a very backward-looking question. As AVRs go the Marantz 4320 is a blast from the past - about a decade ago. The 3490 has many of the same limitations, but it at least knows about the very oldest kinds of digital audio gear, as opposed to the Marantz which is simply blind to digital audio. Neither knows about speaker management or modern video formats. Neither knows about any kind of remote controlled equipment but itself. So here's your opportunity to buy your own personal outdated strait-jackets!

Of course today, none of that may mean anything to you. But, what does the future hold? Why pay extra money to avoid being able to ever properly integrate a subwoofer? Why pay extra money to avoid being able to integrate modern video and digital audio gear? The two receivers you mentioned are neither smaller nor lighter than most 5.1 and 7.1 AVRs. They don't put out appreciably more power and they are unlikely to sound any better. In fact, they are pretty much guaranteed to sound worse as soon as you try to move your system forward, even within the concept of a 2-channel audio.
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