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Old 07-29-2016, 04:07 PM - Thread Starter
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Looking for 2 channel amp suggestions

Hey all,
I just bought a new pair of Focal 936 speakers, and I'm using a NAD C356BEE with them.
While I like the sound, I don't think I'm getting everything that I've paid for.
The only way that I get the separation between the highs and lows is to crank it up to a point where I can't hear the person sitting next to me.
I realize that there are dozens of reasons of why this could be happening, and one of them is not enough power.
I will certainly look at all options, but I'm just looking for advice here for a reasonable 2-channel amplifier without breaking the bank.

Thanks!

Dan
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Old 07-29-2016, 06:51 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SnoopGordo View Post
Hey all,
I just bought a new pair of Focal 936 speakers, and I'm using a NAD C356BEE with them.
While I like the sound, I don't think I'm getting everything that I've paid for.
The only way that I get the separation between the highs and lows is to crank it up to a point where I can't hear the person sitting next to me.
I realize that there are dozens of reasons of why this could be happening, and one of them is not enough power.
I will certainly look at all options, but I'm just looking for advice here for a reasonable 2-channel amplifier without breaking the bank.

Thanks!

Dan

Parasound Halo

Hegel H160

Benchmark

I think under $3k for any of them.
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Old 07-29-2016, 07:05 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SnoopGordo View Post
Hey all,
I just bought a new pair of Focal 936 speakers, and I'm using a NAD C356BEE with them.
While I like the sound, I don't think I'm getting everything that I've paid for.
The only way that I get the separation between the highs and lows is to crank it up to a point where I can't hear the person sitting next to me.
I realize that there are dozens of reasons of why this could be happening, and one of them is not enough power.
I will certainly look at all options, but I'm just looking for advice here for a reasonable 2-channel amplifier without breaking the bank.

Thanks!

Dan
http://nadelectronics.com/products/h...ower-Amplifier
If you want to keep it relatively cheap and stay with NAD I run one of these. If one is not enough you could double up and run one on each speaker. A beast of an amp and has done everything I have asked running my speakers.

(2)RF-83 (1)RC-64ii (2)RF-82ii (2)RC-62ii
(2)Exodus audio tempest-x 15" subs in 200l sealed enclosures
Onkyo 705 pre/pro and rear surrounds
DSPeaker Antimode 8033 sub eq Behringer EP4000 subs
NAD C275BEE mains
AMC 2N100-3 surrounds and center
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Old 07-30-2016, 07:42 AM
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Originally Posted by SnoopGordo View Post
Hey all,
I just bought a new pair of Focal 936 speakers, and I'm using a NAD C356BEE with them.
While I like the sound, I don't think I'm getting everything that I've paid for.
The only way that I get the separation between the highs and lows is to crank it up to a point where I can't hear the person sitting next to me.
I realize that there are dozens of reasons of why this could be happening, and one of them is not enough power.
I will certainly look at all options, but I'm just looking for advice here for a reasonable 2-channel amplifier without breaking the bank.

Thanks!

Dan

I have had several NAD amplifiers, starting with the original wonderful 3020 in 1980.

All of them have performed well EXCEPT the C356BEE.

I had one and tried it with NAD, Vandersteen and KEF speakers, all of which were excellent, and that amp never sounded right.

My wife and I both agreed that there was something that just didn't sound right about that amp; the sound was flat-sounding and uninvolving. We got rid of it.

It sounds as if your experience with it is similar. With a decent amplifier, those speakers should sound like a million bucks.

I also had a C326BEE at that time, which sounded great with all 3 sets of speakers. Go Figure. For some reason, that 356 is a dud.

You really don't need an amp with more than 30 or 40 watts per channel, because the sensitivity of those speakers is very high; 92 db/watt.

I recommend the Music Hall 15.3 amplifier, which is a very good amp that only costs $549. The C326BEE is also good, for the same price.

If you are willing to spend $1500 for an excellent amplifier, the Musical Fidelity M3si is worth the money. That is my recommendation for your speakers; it will really make them sing.

I used a M3 for a couple of years with a pair of Vandersteen 3A speakers, and the sound was excellent.

Last edited by commsysman; 07-30-2016 at 07:59 AM.
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Old 07-30-2016, 08:18 AM
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Give us a working budget?

I believe the NAD 356 is 80w/ch which should be plenty.

When looking for an amp, are they any special features you want included - DAC, Streaming, other?

The NAD 356 runs about $800, so an we assume that is the price range you are looking in? Can you go $1000 or more? ...???

Though there are many options, I would at least suggest the Yamaha A-S701 ($799) and the Yamaha A-S801 ($899) both with 100w/ch, though the AS801 has USB-PC and better DACs.

http://www.crutchfield.com/p_022AS70....html?tp=34948

http://www.crutchfield.com/p_022AS80....html?tp=34948

Taking it one step upward, the ROTEL RA-1570 runs about $1600 (120w/ch, DAC, ...) -

http://www.abt.com/product/70497/Rot...-RA1570BK.html

Taking it up another notch -

Parasound P5 Pre-Amp + Parasound A23 125w/ch Power Amp - DAC, Bass Management - ($2090) -

http://www.audioadvisor.com/prodinfo.asp?number=PAHAP5

http://www.audioadvisor.com/prodinfo.asp?number=PAHA23

Taking it up a notch from there -

Parasound Halo Integrated, 160w/ch, better DAC, Bass Management, etc... - ($2495) -

http://www.audioadvisor.com/prodinfo.asp?number=PAHAINT

Taking it up a notch from there, the Parasond P5 ($995) Pre-amp with the Parasound A12 250w/ch Power Amp ($2495) - ($3490 total) -

http://www.audioadvisor.com/prodinfo.asp?number=PAHA21

How far do you want to take it?

Certainly there are a few others to consider, but until we know your price range and your goals, there's not much we can do.

Steve/bluewizard
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Old 07-30-2016, 08:32 AM
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Originally Posted by Scotth3886 View Post
Parasound Halo

Hegel H160

Benchmark

I think under $3k for any of them.
All good recommendations. Also check out the Micromega M-One, Peachtree Nova 300, and Cambridge 851A.

Also don't discount the idea of getting a decent Adcom/B&K/etc preamp and an older used B&K 2 channel amp. EX442 or ST-202 series would both be outstanding. Such great amps and can be found so cheap on Ebay.
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Old 07-30-2016, 08:33 AM
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Please post a picture of your setup and how you have the speakers positioned also. Those are unbelievably good speakers and should be blowing you away. I have no experience with that NAD amp you're using however.
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Old 07-30-2016, 03:24 PM
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I agree. Perhaps it's a setup issue with the speakers in the room. That integrated shouldn't have a problem driving these speakers. They are pretty efficient but do have dips to 2.8 ohms.
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Old 07-30-2016, 04:03 PM
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Please post a picture of your setup and how you have the speakers positioned also. Those are unbelievably good speakers and should be blowing you away. I have no experience with that NAD amp you're using however.
Excellent idea. I know nothing about his amp but unless it's a real dog those Focals should sound great properly placed in the room. He also doesn't mention the source. If he's streaming crappy low resolution content nothing's going to help.

Last edited by MSchott; 07-30-2016 at 05:22 PM.
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Old 07-30-2016, 04:12 PM
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using an spl calculator 400 watts on 92 db speakers at mlp of 12 feet gives 110db. my focals might go that high, but the tweeter distorts too much after about 105db imo. I usually listen around 95 db in a huge open floor plan house. I am very happy with nad 275bee, but that doesnt mean its the best value or sound, its just what my dealer used and I liked the sound...didnt really compare with other brands. my dealer used a marantz avr when I demo'd the 936 but he only turned volume up to 75 out of 98 if I remember right.

with my setup, I dont really go higher than -5 on my volume knob and that produces between 95-100db peaks depending on song.

Power: Marantz sr7008, NAD C 275Bee x 2, Video: Oppo 103, Samsung 75un6300
Speakers: Focal aria 948, Focal cc800v, Klipsch synergy KSF 10.5 Subs: Velodyne HGS 12, VA 1512, Rythmik FV15HP

Last edited by torii; 07-30-2016 at 04:19 PM. Reason: added more info
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Old 07-30-2016, 08:24 PM
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Although one poster claimed that the 356 was not up to NAD's usual standard, I would expect just about any amp could make the Focal 936 sing.

So, I'm going to back others. I would like to know more about your room. What are the dimensions? Where are the speakers place? How far forward from the wall? How far to the side walls? Etc...? How is the room furnished? Curtains? Rugs? Carpets? Clutter?

Most decent speakers so NOT like to be pushed back against the wall or backed into a corner. That will result a a muddy sound, with excess bass drone.

I would say, you need the speaker a minimum of 10" to 12" forward of the wall, and about 18" minimum to the side walls. Though that's just a guess.

I've not heard the 936, but I did hear the entire 800 series and I was VERY impressed with the 836. Though they were connected to about a $2200 AV Receiver.

Curious what speakers did you have before the Focal, and how did they sound on your NAD amp?

Steve/bluewizard
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Old 07-31-2016, 11:58 AM - Thread Starter
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Excellent idea. I know nothing about his amp but unless it's a real dog those Focals should sound great properly placed in the room. He also doesn't mention the source. If he's streaming crappy low resolution content nothing's going to help.
Hey all,
Thanks for all the suggestions. It took me a while to take pix and get back here, but I'm attaching one (hopefully) and the speakers are 8ft apart, 2ft from the back wall, an open space next to the right speaker, and I sit about 12 feet away from them. When I bought them I also bought the Bluesound Node 2 and I've been mostly streaming from Tidal because I have a $99.00 dvd player. I was given about 40 MQA files (anyone want any..I'll share?) and those sound really good.
I never had another pair of speakers with this NAD, these are the only ones so I can't really compare. These sounded incredible when I listened to them when I purchased them. I didn't bring any music with me and they used some demo cd that consisted of acapellas, some Barry White types singing lower than you can imagine, but mostly quiet stuff, to show off the highs and the lows I suppose. Their setup had the speakers closer to each other than I have now.
I'm not going to purchase more power since I don't know if that's the issue and I haven't even paid these off yet.
I'll go through the suggestions here and let you know what's worked and hasn't. Has anyone used an app with a mic to capture some stats? that sounds interesting to me.
Anyway, the picture is attached.

Dan
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Old 07-31-2016, 12:06 PM
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here is my setup. my 15fvhp is an end table on left side of couch and just hooked up my va1512 behind the mlp. I need to rerun rew with the 3rd sub added....but here is rew with the hgs 12 by tv and fvhp.
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Power: Marantz sr7008, NAD C 275Bee x 2, Video: Oppo 103, Samsung 75un6300
Speakers: Focal aria 948, Focal cc800v, Klipsch synergy KSF 10.5 Subs: Velodyne HGS 12, VA 1512, Rythmik FV15HP

Last edited by torii; 07-31-2016 at 12:10 PM.
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Old 07-31-2016, 01:19 PM - Thread Starter
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here is my setup. my 15fvhp is an end table on left side of couch and just hooked up my va1512 behind the mlp. I need to rerun rew with the 3rd sub added....but here is rew with the hgs 12 by tv and fvhp.
If you took your room and shrunk it down by %25 you'd have my room. I'm thinking that maybe my room is too small. I have to admit that when I crank it up when my wife isn't home, they sound awesome when I'm out on my deck! But a bigger room isn't an option, unfortunately.
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Old 07-31-2016, 01:42 PM
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Snoop-

a hearty solid state power amp will feed the 936 (great speaker). Go out to a local dealer/retailer and listen, listen, listen.
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Old 07-31-2016, 03:26 PM
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But a bigger room isn't an option, unfortunately.
In your case, near field monitors may work better. Google search on "near field monitors" will show you many options.
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Old 07-31-2016, 05:03 PM
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These sounded incredible when I listened to them when I purchased them.
The difference then is probably not the amplification, but that hi end audio stores typically have some room treatment and they are good about placement.

Here are some things you can do:

1) Pull the speakers up so that they are flush with the front of the entertainment console. Then try toeing them in (angle them) toward the listening position.

2) I see hardwood floors. Is the room mostly hardwood floors? A big area rug can help with reducing reflections that muddy sound.

3) Do you have curtains with the windows? That can reduce reflections. Room treatments on the walls can also help as well.

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Old 07-31-2016, 05:07 PM
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I have the Node2 and that NAD 356BEE AMP. I am running small inefficient Harpeth speakers.
I’m curious if you are using the DAC in the Node2 or if you are using the DAC in the NAD (if you have the module) or some other DAC?
I ask because the DAC in my Node2 sounds very different, and not as good as the DAC in the NAD or the OPPO 105 with the same content.
The NAD and OPPO DAC are pretty indistinguishable to me when feed the optical and/or coax output from the Node2, but with the Node2 connected via RCA to the NAD – Not as good.
Also – Is that a Pioneer AVR in your picture? – If so, how do the speakers sound driven with that AVR vs. the NAD?


JJK
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Old 07-31-2016, 05:23 PM
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The difference then is probably not the amplification, but that hi end audio stores typically have some room treatment and they are good about placement.

Here are some things you can do:

1) Pull the speakers up so that they are flush with the front of the entertainment console. Then try toeing them in (angle them) toward the listening position.

2) I see hardwood floors. Is the room mostly hardwood floors? A big area rug can help with reducing reflections that muddy sound.

3) Do you have curtains with the windows? That can reduce reflections. Room treatments on the walls can also help as well.
+1 You beat me to it. I had the same observations.
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Old 07-31-2016, 05:29 PM
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If it sounds good when you turn up the volume and are further away, it's very probable your seating position is a problem, is your setup or seats in or near the middle of your room?
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Old 07-31-2016, 05:34 PM
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Good suggestions. It's hard to tell from the picture but the speakers do look too close to the back wall. Also, I think toeing them in will help a lot. You should also try to be seated in about an equilateral triangle based on the distance of the speaker centerlines. These are not tried and true formulas but I suggest the OP experiment with speaker and seating position. Here is a picture of my setup. The front of the speakers are 34" from the back wall, the center of the front of the speakers are 28" from the side walls and the speakers are about 8 feet apart. My optimal listening position is about 9 feet from each speaker. Also, although I have hardwood floors there is a large fabric couch as the main seating area and the wall to the right has a doorwall with 8' fabric curtains.

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Old 07-31-2016, 05:36 PM
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+1 You beat me to it. I had the same observations.
Where is Ethan when you need him to say something like a $500 pair of speakers can sound better in a treated room than a $4000 pair in an untreated one?
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Old 07-31-2016, 05:37 PM
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Also, although I have hardwood floors there is a large fabric couch as the main seating area and the wall to the right has a doorwall with 8' fabric curtains.
You would still benefit a lot from an area rug, too. Those hardwood floors will just bounce reflections right up at you
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Old 07-31-2016, 05:56 PM
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fwiw, like mentioned above ,speaker placement and room( and good recordings to an extent) are more important for great sound compared to what powers your speakers. as long as you have enough power to bring your speakers to the volumes you desire without clipping or distortion . again unless you have some very low efficient speakers, most amps will do this. would put money into room treatments than a new amp. just my 3 inflated cents.
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Old 07-31-2016, 06:08 PM
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You would still benefit a lot from an area rug, too. Those hardwood floors will just bounce reflections right up at you
Not sure if you are being clever but the point of having finished hardwood floors is to see their beauty. There is plenty of fabric in the room, it's not at all live and the system sounds fantastic.
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Old 07-31-2016, 06:27 PM
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Not sure if you are being clever but the point of having finished hardwood floors is to see their beauty. There is plenty of fabric in the room, it's not at all live and the system sounds fantastic.
I have a 105 year old house with oak hardwood floors throughout (except in the kitchen and bath) that I personally sanded and refinished to like new condition, careful to match the stain to the original 105 year old mission style oak stained wood that is on the baseboards, the window frames and sills, and even the windows themselves. So I have plenty of appreciation for wood finish, not that it has anything to do with this.

An area rug will help reduce reflections and improve the sound. A fabric couch and a few curtains on the windows won't do it all. I wish I could do more in my room than I have. But I don't pretend like it wouldn't help.
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Old 07-31-2016, 06:28 PM
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I think OP should always first get a UMIK-1 and REW and measure his system. "Separation between highs and lows" is hardly a diagnosis, let alone a functional symptom that warrants spending money on a new amp.

But PS: reflections are real, and they make a huge difference. The best stereo in the world will sound like any old useless POS 200 dollar cheapo system if there are no acoustic treatments to reduce reflections.

cms, aka driver diaphragm suspension mechanical compliance: 0.000065 meter/Newton or in standard form 6.5e-05 m/N. (smaller number is better)
rms, aka driver diaphragm suspension mechanical resistance: 6.41 Newton.sec/meter. (higher number is better)

Last edited by ronny31; 07-31-2016 at 06:31 PM.
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Old 07-31-2016, 06:48 PM
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Originally Posted by ronny31 View Post
I think OP should always first get a UMIK-1 and REW and measure his system. "Separation between highs and lows" is hardly a diagnosis, let alone a functional symptom that warrants spending money on a new amp.

But PS: reflections are real, and they make a huge difference. The best stereo in the world will sound like any old useless POS 200 dollar cheapo system if there are no acoustic treatments to reduce reflections.
+1
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Old 07-31-2016, 06:49 PM
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Originally Posted by MSchott View Post
Not sure if you are being clever but the point of having finished hardwood floors is to see their beauty. There is plenty of fabric in the room, it's not at all live and the system sounds fantastic.
I have nice oak hardwood floors two, a small throw rug will do a little to improve the acoustics. but if the floor is more important, that's fine you still have the ceiling you could treat.
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Old 07-31-2016, 07:06 PM
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Originally Posted by postrokfan View Post
+1 You beat me to it. I had the same observations.

+2 You beat me to it except that I'd have the speakers way further out into the room. No surprise there.
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