Paradigm PW Amp Play-Fi Networked Two-Channel Amplifier Review - AVS Forum | Home Theater Discussions And Reviews
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Paradigm PW Amp Play-Fi Networked Two-Channel Amplifier Review

The Paradigm PW Amp ($500) is an all-in-one, compact, networked integrated amp. It's part of the company's Premium Wireless lineup and supports DTS Play-Fi, which means it is interoperable with a wide variety of wireless products from multiple manufacturers that are part of an expanding ecosystem.

The purpose of a connected integrated amp is to power passive speakers while adding streaming and multi-room audio capabilities. These are numerous competing products—at similar price points—from companies such as Sonos, Denon, Yamaha, Definitive Technology, Bluesound, and others. What these devices have in common is small size, a modest price, wireless connectivity (including support for various streaming services), and a subwoofer output. But there are also many differences, including which wireless system they work with.


The Paradigm PW Amp and the Prestige 75F speakers used to review it. Photo by Mark Henninger


Many competing systems are proprietary and only work with one brand's products—Sonos, Yamaha MusicCast, and Denon HEOS are examples of such systems. But even within the Play-Fi universe, you'll find significant product differentiation. So read on to find out if the Paradigm PW Amp is the right device to satisfy your streaming, hi-res, 2-channel amplification needs.

Features and Specifications

Old-school audiophiles may scoff at the lightweight, plastic-encased PW Amp. But it's a mistake to underestimate what its thoroughly modern design offers critical listeners. Thanks to its efficient class-D amplification (courtesy of Anthem), the PW Amp can output 50 watts per channel into 8 ohms and 100 W/ch into 4 ohms. That's enough juice to get most speakers going, especially if a subwoofer takes care of the deep bass.

The PW Amp is small and light, weighing only 3 pounds and measuring 3.125" (high) x 5.75" (wide) x 8.625" (deep). If you want a metal box, you'll have to look elsewhere; the PW Amp is proudly made of black plastic and looks like a compact desktop computer. The front of the unit features physical buttons for input selection, mute, volume, and power.

You'll find all the connections on the back of the box. The speaker-wire terminals are spring-loaded and easily accommodate 12-gauge speaker wire. There's an Ethernet port for wired network connections and a USB port for attaching an external drive with media files. A pair of RCA terminals offer stereo analog input, while a third RCA jack serves as the subwoofer output. Finally, there's a Wi-Fi setup button. The two other USB ports are both for "factory use" and not for attached storage. Also, the two-prong power cord is detachable and easily replaceable.


Rear panel view of the Paradigm PW Amp. Photo by Mark Henninger


The DTS Play-Fi interface handles setup, setting adjustments, and music streaming. Play-Fi supports hi-res audio up to 24-bit/192 kHz (unlike Sonos, which tops out at CD quality). A dedicated Play-Fi app is available for iOS, Android, Amazon Kindle, and Windows PCs.

I love that you can control the system with a laptop or desktop computer, not just a phone or tablet. The free PC app can be upgraded for $15 to an HD version that supports hi-res audio and lets you stream sound from specific apps (including video sound) to specific speakers. I got the upgrade, which allowed me to use Room EQ Wizard to send test tones to the PW Amp wirelessly—very handy.

The PW Amp uses Anthem Room Correction 2 for bass management as well as room correction and EQ, but this feature is only available using the Windows PC app. The amp comes with its own USB calibration microphone. The system is very effective, and it allows an almost absurd level of user tweaking. For example, the subwoofer crossover point is selectable in single-Hz increments, and you can choose any slope you want—from 1st order to 16th order. The software also lets you set minimum and maximum EQ frequencies, and it provides clear graphs of the measurements.

Thanks to the combined power of DTS Play-Fi and ARC software, the feature set of the Paradigm PW Amp is remarkably deep. The main catch is that you will need a Windows PC to take advantage of ARC and the included mic. Alternatively, Paradigm just released Anthem ARC Mobile, which lets you use an iOS device to create room correction profiles. I did not get to test this feature prior to returning the review unit, plus I'm an Android user.

Setup

A lifestyle-audio product like the PW Amp isn't going to succeed in a crowded marketplace unless setup is easy and intuitive. On the hardware side, all you have to do is connect the speakers and (optionally) a subwoofer—a process that took me only a few seconds to complete.

On the software side of things, I was able to connect the PW Amp to my home network without incident. I followed the clear instructions for adding a new device using the Play-Fi app. It only took a minute to connect to the PW Amp and add the Wi-Fi network password, at which point it became available as a device in the app.

When arranged to review the PW Amp with Paradigm, the company suggested it could send a pair of speakers to accompany the unit. I wasn't expecting those speakers to be the gorgeous Prestige 75F towers ($2600/pair), but that's what I got. A stand-alone review of the 75F towers is forthcoming, but it's worth mentioning here that they are very good speakers. Paradigm did not send me a subwoofer, so I used a SVS SB13 Ultra for that part of my testing.

I use the same audiophile-approved equilateral-triangle arrangement for all my listening. I set the various systems up in my 2-channel listening room following the same formula—speakers four feet from the front wall, two feet from the side walls. That puts the tweeters seven feet apart, and I sit seven or eight feet away from the speakers. The room is an open floorplan in a Philly row house, so the back wall is about 25 feet behind my head.

I used the Anthem Room Correction PC app to create a profile for my listening position and sent that info to the PW Amp over the network. The process was automated, save for moving the microphone to five different positions. It was a largely automatic and painless process. When that was done, I signed into to streaming services I use for the bulk of my listening, namely Tidal and Spotify Premium.

A $15 upgrade to the Play-Fi app on PC enables nifty features like a choice to stream to specific Play-Fi devices from iTunes, Spotify, Windows Media Player, or all audio sources (Windows sound). A drop-down menu lets users decide the source app.

Performance and Listening


As long as a modern solid-state amplifier has good specifications in terms of distortion, noise, linearity, and frequency response—and is operating within its performance limits—then you can expect it to be very transparent. The class-D amps used in this unit were silent, ran cool, and provided the fidelity needed to appreciate the speakers they powered.

The Paradigm PW Amp was music to my ears. With 2-channel audio, it was on par with—and likely indistinguishable from—an AVR-based system featuring sophisticated room correction and bass management. While 50 W/ch is not as much power as most AV receivers provide, I found that it was more than enough to push the Prestige towers to very gratifying volume levels.

When I fed the speakers pink noise and cranked up the volume, I measured 103 dB of output from my seat (C-weighted, both speakers driven). I tried to squeeze more juice out of the amp, but at that point its auto-limiter kicked in. You probably could squeeze 3-4 more dB out of the Prestige 75F speakers using a big amp to drive them, but there's little doubt the PW Amp has the torque needed to push those towers to something approaching their performance limit. While pink noise played, the woofers were approaching their excursion limits without any sign of stress from the amp.

The Prestige 75F towers measured quite nicely without any EQ, which translated to engaging, transparent, and dynamic sound with almost no effort. While I commend Paradigm for designing such well-behaved speakers, ARC room correction is one of the features of the PW Amp that sets it apart from the competition. So, after enjoying a few albums without EQ, I fired up ARC on my PC, connected the USB measurement mic, and let it do its thing.

Very little correction was required to achieve strikingly good linearity with this system. Once profiled, the speakers exhibited a textbook-perfect in-room response, as measured from the main listening position.


The speakers measured well before ARC EQ was applied, and essentially perfect afterward.


The main audible difference with ARC running was an improvement in bass response, with slightly more extension and definitely smoother response up to my room's Schroeder frequency (300 Hz). There was also a slight improvement in overall clarity, likely the result of correcting a dip in high-frequency response around 3 kHz. These improvements were subtle, but they were all desirable.

Although this is not a review of the Prestige 75F towers, I really want to complement the speakers for how smoothly and engagingly they transduce modulated electricity into sound. As long as the music I played did not dip under 35 Hz, everything I'd hope to hear from great speakers was present. When I played well produced tracks such as "Trapped Here" and "U.R. Sound" by Adrian Sherwood, the system conjured a deep, wide, luscious, expansive soundstage.

As good as the Prestige 75F towers sounded on their own, adding the SB-13 Ultra sub took the system to the next level of performance. ARC zapped the usual peaks and dips in the deep bass zone that are caused by room modes, and I was able to fine tune the crossover to my heart's content. The result was impressively linear for a 2.1 system in that room—smooth all the way down to 16 Hz.

Staring at the PW Amp as it delivers a full-throttle rendition of Datsik's album Vitamin D, I could not help but feel some cognitive dissonance. "Fully Blown" wasted no time giving the sub a workout, and "Bonafide Hustler" absolutely banged. Dubstep is a physical experience; if you can't feel the music, you are not doing it right. The PW Amp equipped with a capable sub absolutely gets the job done.

Conclusion


When I first unpacked the Paradigm PW Amp, I was dismissive. It was too small, too light, and too affordable to take seriously. After all, big-time audiophile sound quality is supposed to require heavy amps, and stacks of pricey gear—but not in this case. There was never a moment when I felt I was compromising the listening experience because the PW Amp was handling everything from streaming to decoding, DSP processing, and amplification.

I can't commend Paradigm enough for providing the flexibility in bass management and room EQ that ARC affords; this is the only networked amp I am familiar with that offers such sophistication, which is crucial if you want to achieve true high-fidelity. I also applaud the company's choice to go with DTS Play-Fi since that ecosystem encompasses products from many companies, unlike the proprietary systems offered by some other vendors.

While the specific system in this review is perhaps a bit over the top in terms of the total price, it proved the point that a $500 box can fully and properly power $3000/pair tower speakers and deliver a performance that—especially when bolstered by a good subwoofer—provides as engaging a listening experience as space-heater stacks of audiophile gear. Welcome to the future of 2-channel hi-fi, folks.

REVIEW SYSTEM

Paradigm Prestige 75F tower speakers
SVS SB13-Ultra Subwoofer
Windows 10 PC
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post #2 of 31 Old 10-10-2016, 04:39 PM
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Nice review; this integrated amp certainly will fit in some use cases, though I'd rather pair a modest amp of my own with a box that just has DTS Play-Fi and ARC software.

'Very little correction was required to achieve strikingly good linearity with this system. Once profiled, the speakers exhibited a textbook-perfect in-room response, as measured from the main listening position.'

The Green corrected line that appears nearly perfect is only an estimation of the corrected response. It's not measured after the eq curves are applied. One could use REW to measure but you'll need another mic with correction tables as Athem/Paradigm would give you the correction table for your specific mic in a usable format (it's binary).
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post #3 of 31 Old 10-10-2016, 04:45 PM - Thread Starter
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Nice review; this integrated amp certainly will fit in some use cases, though I'd rather pair a modest amp of my own with a box that just has DTS Play-Fi and ARC software.

'Very little correction was required to achieve strikingly good linearity with this system. Once profiled, the speakers exhibited a textbook-perfect in-room response, as measured from the main listening position.'

The Green corrected line that appears nearly perfect is only an estimation of the corrected response. It's not measured after the eq curves are applied. One could use REW to measure but you'll need another mic with correction tables as Athem/Paradigm would give you the correction table for your specific mic in a usable format (it's binary).
Thanks, it was fun to review. The PW Link is the preamp version, and at $350 is pretty much worth it just for ARC.

Yes, going forward what I plan to do is use the UMIK-1 and REW to take measurements using the same cluster pattern that a room EQ system calls for, so it's effectively the same measurement.

Here are the individual uncorrected measurements from ARC, fwiw. That there would be variations caused by room interaction at each measurement spot is a given.


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post #4 of 31 Old 10-10-2016, 07:13 PM
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I've never understood why room-correction systems don't also measure an "after" response. It just seems like a total no-brainer to show the before and after measurements side-by-side on the same chart.

Does anyone know why that's the case?
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post #5 of 31 Old 10-10-2016, 08:22 PM
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I had a chance to see/hear this little amp in action a few months ago at my local Anthem/Paradigm dealer, though it was driving the Prestige 85Fs. It was impressive to see such a small, unassuming device driving the speakers. Clean and loud. The ARC does work nicely in these PW devices. I have a PW800 and was impressed with the correction ARC provided. I did not ever bother measuring anything, not with the PW800, but the ears could easily hear the improvements. The PW Amp is worthy of consideration for a simple, two-channel or 2.1 system, especially a space-limited one.
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Is there any way to control 2-sets of speakers via either daisy chain or A|B selection? Does Play-Fi works with iTunes in any way?

I'm currently using Airplay. I have two zones in a master with an A|B integrated + network streamer. Would love to replace with an all-in one solution.
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does play-fi works with itunes in any way?
100%.
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100%.
Is there a program that I run on the PC with iTunes that bridges the two? I'm not clear on the details.
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Is there a program that I run on the PC with iTunes that bridges the two? I'm not clear on the details.
Play-Fi can literally act as your computer's sound card, just choose it as the default output.
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These little Pw Amps do sound great but the one I bought only lived through a couple weeks of light use. Came home after work one day(still in week two of ownership) and no power on the unit. Still talking to Paradigm about a warranty replacement.
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post #11 of 31 Old 10-11-2016, 08:46 PM
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A very well written review. And spot on, I think. I was recently in a quandary with what to do to solve my outdoor music problem. First, I wanted a high sound quality solution that was easy to use. Specifically I wanted to be able to stream from my networked Mac Mini (with JRiver MC 22) which has a lot of music, much of it in DSD 128 format which has been ripped from vinyl. I figure that if I went to all the trouble to rip my vinyl, I should be able to listen to it outside when I'd like, right? So right off the bat, that virtually rules out the Sonos Amp since it is limited to FLAC 16/44.1. I guess I could have downsampled all my recordings, and I've done a few, actually, for the rest of my Sonos speakers. But that defeats the purpose of making the hi-res recordings of my vinyl collection in the first place! And I would be spared all the downsampling. So that left me with wiring a zone out from my media room to my back deck. The only problem was that it was a pretty good distance to run speaker wire and would have cost a lot and been a real hassle to do. Not to mention the fact that the Android app for my Anthem pre/pro is pretty spotty, so that wouldn't have been good functionality anyway. So I was pretty much resigned to building another system with a small amp with a DAC and MicroRendu, or something along those lines, and run the wire a short distance to the deck. That was going to be a little pricey, but at least I wouldn't have to run the wire and could actually control the volume reliably. The problem was that when I ran that by the wife, she pretty much nixed the idea because that equipment would have to reside in our dining room which would not be pretty, to say the least. Can't say I blamed her. So I had pretty much resigned myself to Sonos, while being an excellent product, wasn't ticking all the boxes, so to speak. I was lukewarm on the project all of a sudden.

That's when I randomly discovered the Paradigm Amp. I was lamenting the situation with a friend who works at a local audio shop and he suggested that I check out the Paradigm PW Amp. He told me it could stream just like the Sonos Amp but would also handle double DSD files and PCM up to 24/192! And he said the little Paradigm could kick out the sound and had more power than the Sonos. Plus, it had room correction by ARC. How perfect! So I did a little research and decided to pull the trigger. I had already decided on the Def Tec AW 6550, their top outdoor speakers if I was going with the Sonos Amp.

So a friend and I installed the outdoor speakers (in truth he did the VAST majority of the work) and ran the wire and hooked it up. It took a couple minutes to pair it to my wifi network and get the app running. Next thing you know I was listening to Deezer on my deck! It sounded very impressive right off the bat. Very crisp with tight bass and detailed voicing. How was it going to sound with DSD, though? It was actually a pretty simple pairing with my JRiver app to work as a DLNA server through the app. So next thing you know I was listening to "Back in Black" in DSD 128! It sounded amazing! Angus Young's distorted guitar had a very textured sound and bass was tight. Then Steely Dan "Aja". Absolutely awesome. As you can tell, my musical taste runs all over the map. Comparing to Deezer streaming showed the vinyl to have significantly more dynamics compared to the streamed version, just like my media room which I has spent a lot of time and effort on. Awesome! Now to do the "room correction". Can you really do room correction if it's outside?? Well, based on the improvements I noticed by running it, I would say yes! The main thing that improved was the stereo imaging and a little more oomf in the bass. Definitely more thump, and definitely in a good way. Now it was just more musical, I guess you could say. Not hugely, but significantly better. I would say it isn't quite the difference maker that it is with my Anthem AVM60, but it is worthwhile.

So I have grown to really love my outdoor solution powered by the Paradigm PW amp. It makes me happy every time I listen to it. Friends who have listened to it can't believe how good it sounds. Soooooo much better than rocks in speakers! The only down side is the Play-Fi app, which I'd call good but not great. By comparison, the Sonos app is absolutely great and niggle free. When the Play-Fi is working smoothly, it is awesome. The problem is I get more wifi hiccups with it than I do with Sonos. And it's not a signal strength issue either. Sometimes it, well, just stops playing. Not often, but it happens. BTW, I recommend that you get a dedicated tablet to control the Paradigm and keep it where you listen to it. As it happens, the Play-Fi will stop working if you go out of wifi coverage. So you could be having a party and playing your music from your phone. But when you get in the car to get ice (this actually happened) the music stopped streaming. Sonos doesn't do that. So good, but not great on the Play-Fi.

Still, I am very pleased with my solution. It sounds amazing and is easy to use. Plus it doesn't break the bank. I'll deal with the occasional misstep with Play-Fi. And it will probably continue to improve. So basically, I'd highly recommend the Paradigm PW Amp. Especially if you want a audiophile-quality portable system and want to listen to your hi-res music. I can't imagine a better fit.
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Do you have more than two speakers outside?
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Do you have more than two speakers outside?
Nope. Just the two and it sounds great. Hung them from the underside of the eave with the woofer facing the house to reflect as designed. I can hear the speakers clearly from the entire yard.

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The only down side is the Play-Fi app, which I'd call good but not great. By comparison, the Sonos app is absolutely great and niggle free. When the Play-Fi is working smoothly, it is awesome. The problem is I get more wifi hiccups with it than I do with Sonos. And it's not a signal strength issue either. Sometimes it, well, just stops playing. Not often, but it happens.
My major concern is the reliability of the app as I'm firmly in the "I need it to just work" camp. Are you using iOS, or Android phones? Still on the fence between this and the Sonos Connect Amp. Any additional insights/comparisons between the two vendors are welcome. Thanks.
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My major concern is the reliability of the app as I'm firmly in the "I need it to just work" camp. Are you using iOS, or Android phones? Still on the fence between this and the Sonos Connect Amp. Any additional insights/comparisons between the two vendors are welcome. Thanks.
I have the Android app and it's pretty good. Not as slick and smooth as the Sonos app, but functional. It has good app support including Pandora, Tidal, Deezer, and Napster, among others. One thing I noticed is that when I run hi-res music to the tune of 30+ mb per file, it puts a strain on the network and that's usually when the hiccups occur. Streaming Tidal, on the other hand, is much smoother. If you need mission critical level reliability, I'd think twice about the Play-fi system. I haven't used it with ethernet, though, so it probably would be more stable in that scenario. Hope this helps!
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My major concern is the reliability of the app as I'm firmly in the "I need it to just work" camp. Are you using iOS, or Android phones? Still on the fence between this and the Sonos Connect Amp. Any additional insights/comparisons between the two vendors are welcome. Thanks.
I can not compare it to Sonos, no experience there. I use Play-Fi through iOS - either the music on my phone's iTunes/iMusic - whatever you want to call it - and Pandora. Works really well. Sure, there's a burp every once in a while, it's not perfect, but it typically it works just the way I want it to! Maybe Sonos does this too, but you can group speaker sets together in Play-Fi, so I've got my Anthem AVM60 driving my main system in one room and my Anthem PW800 in another room and they sync seamlessly on playback. Not sure what the limit is on devices, I'm sure there is one, but it handles two just fine! Use it all the time.
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Mini Review

So after owning this amp for four days, here is my review in a nutshell:

Amp powers speakers nicely. ARC is awesome. Play-Fi App is a deal breaker.

I wanted to love this little amp, but the Play-fi app is just too clunky/unresponsive/unreliable. The app loses connection to the internet frequently, and often fails to recognize the PW Amp.

For those interested, I was using an iPhone 5s to stream iTunes, Amazon Music, and Internet Radio Stations. Did not test Spotify as I don't have a premium subscription. I also did not test the amp with a hard-wired connection. However, my router is centrally located and no other devices in my 1300 sq. ft. home have connection issues.

On a positive note, using ARC was cool. I really liked the way it tightened up the bass and focused the sound. This feature was a selling point and lived up to the hype. I wish there were a stand-alone box just for ARC.

Will be returning the amp and looking at other solutions.
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So after owning this amp for four days, here is my review in a nutshell:

Amp powers speakers nicely. ARC is awesome. Play-Fi App is a deal breaker.

I wanted to love this little amp, but the Play-fi app is just too clunky/unresponsive/unreliable. The app loses connection to the internet frequently, and often fails to recognize the PW Amp.

For those interested, I was using an iPhone 5s to stream iTunes, Amazon Music, and Internet Radio Stations. Did not test Spotify as I don't have a premium subscription. I also did not test the amp with a hard-wired connection. However, my router is centrally located and no other devices in my 1300 sq. ft. home have connection issues.

On a positive note, using ARC was cool. I really liked the way it tightened up the bass and focused the sound. This feature was a selling point and lived up to the hype. I wish there were a stand-alone box just for ARC.

Will be returning the amp and looking at other solutions.
Looks like a home network issue. Try giving the amp a static ip. Also what wireless does your router support? Running mixed devices. Try setting wireless N as that is the max the device supports, but that may be a downgrade for other devices if you have wireless AC.

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post #19 of 31 Old 10-20-2016, 11:47 AM
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Looks like a home network issue. Try giving the amp a static ip. Also what wireless does your router support? Running mixed devices. Try setting wireless N as that is the max the device supports, but that may be a downgrade for other devices if you have wireless AC.
Thanks for the tip. I did not change the amp to a static ip while in my possession, but my network is/was only broadcasting to wireless N clients.

The PW Amp is already in the hands of UPS, but this may help others having similar issues.
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post #20 of 31 Old 10-20-2016, 04:57 PM
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Mark: first seen this at the CES show in Manhattan. The sound was excellent, using some small Paradigm speakers. Nice product from the company..Did you attend that show?

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post #21 of 31 Old 10-20-2016, 06:10 PM
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Three questions:
1. Does the AMP allow subwoofer level adjustments through the app?
2. I assume ARC with the PW Link does not have bass management? Not sure how this would work.
3. No remote? Grrrr...

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post #22 of 31 Old 10-25-2016, 10:22 PM
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I had my Creek evo 2 blow up on me, and I could not afford to spend the same amount on its replacement, so I ended up picking up one of these. My Mac mini hooked to an external dac to the one amp input. Speakers are NHT classic threes with a 12c sub. Sounds pretty darned good, better detail than the creek. Not as warm, but for less than half the cost, I am darned happy. The sub is much better integrated now. I did wire the amp to my network, as the 802.11n was not impressing me.

Just now the amp spent about five minutes updating itself. As an IT guy, I do like that sort of thing. The room correction made a real difference in my weird space as well.

Sounds good and technically fun.
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post #23 of 31 Old 10-26-2016, 02:22 AM
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Another integrated amp that can do room correction! That's great. Now if I could get something between $500 and 5000 (Lyngdorf) I could finally ditch the air for my two channel needs.
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post #24 of 31 Old 12-07-2016, 08:39 PM
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That's when I randomly discovered the Paradigm Amp. I was lamenting the situation with a friend who works at a local audio shop and he suggested that I check out the Paradigm PW Amp. He told me it could stream just like the Sonos Amp but would also handle double DSD files and PCM up to 24/192! And he said the little Paradigm could kick out the sound and had more power than the Sonos. Plus, it had room correction by ARC. How perfect! So I did a little research and decided to pull the trigger. I had already decided on the Def Tec AW 6550, their top outdoor speakers if I was going with the Sonos Amp.

So a friend and I installed the outdoor speakers (in truth he did the VAST majority of the work) and ran the wire and hooked it up. It took a couple minutes to pair it to my wifi network and get the app running. Next thing you know I was listening to Deezer on my deck! It sounded very impressive right off the bat. Very crisp with tight bass and detailed voicing. How was it going to sound with DSD, though? It was actually a pretty simple pairing with my JRiver app to work as a DLNA server through the app. So next thing you know I was listening to "Back in Black" in DSD 128! It sounded amazing! Angus Young's distorted guitar had a very textured sound and bass was tight. Then Steely Dan "Aja". Absolutely awesome. As you can tell, my musical taste runs all over the map. Comparing to Deezer streaming showed the vinyl to have significantly more dynamics compared to the streamed version, just like my media room which I has spent a lot of time and effort on. Awesome! Now to do the "room correction". Can you really do room correction if it's outside?? Well, based on the improvements I noticed by running it, I would say yes! The main thing that improved was the stereo imaging and a little more oomf in the bass. Definitely more thump, and definitely in a good way. Now it was just more musical, I guess you could say. Not hugely, but significantly better. I would say it isn't quite the difference maker that it is with my Anthem AVM60, but it is worthwhile.

.
Hmm...I cannot get this to play DSD...maybe your JRiver is transcoding.

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post #25 of 31 Old 12-07-2016, 08:46 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by madtapper View Post
So after owning this amp for four days, here is my review in a nutshell:

Amp powers speakers nicely. ARC is awesome. Play-Fi App is a deal breaker.

I wanted to love this little amp, but the Play-fi app is just too clunky/unresponsive/unreliable. The app loses connection to the internet frequently, and often fails to recognize the PW Amp.

For those interested, I was using an iPhone 5s to stream iTunes, Amazon Music, and Internet Radio Stations. Did not test Spotify as I don't have a premium subscription. I also did not test the amp with a hard-wired connection. However, my router is centrally located and no other devices in my 1300 sq. ft. home have connection issues.

On a positive note, using ARC was cool. I really liked the way it tightened up the bass and focused the sound. This feature was a selling point and lived up to the hype. I wish there were a stand-alone box just for ARC.

Will be returning the amp and looking at other solutions.
Yeah, the app leaves something to be desired. If I didn't get it at discount, I would be disappointed.

It works well to simply use the streaming apps....surprisingly, I find Amazon has better sound quality than Pandora or Spotify, if they update it to also allow streaming from your library instead of Amazon created stations & playlists, it would be great.

Didn't realize play-fi devices were dumb, meaning the brains is in the app. Only Spotify runs on the device. I thought DLNA did as well, so I could use a better app like BubbleUPNP to control playback. The playfi dlna features suck, no playlists, queueing songs, & it frequently crashes playing HQ audio.

Guess I'll just use it as an amp and attach a better streaming preamp to the analog inputs. Haven't tried room correction yet, but it's a good compact AMP. The playfi app & volume control (not very precise...jumpy, cannot control analog input volume) are not that great. As said earlier, I got it at discount, so I can wait and see how the app develops and not feel so bad.

LN55C630, PN64F8500, Definitive SSA-50, GE Supercinema 3D Array X, Paradigm Millenia CT

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post #26 of 31 Old 12-08-2016, 10:28 AM
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Hmm...I cannot get this to play DSD...maybe your JRiver is transcoding.
Yes, you're absolutely right. JRiver was handling the transcoding. I noticed this a while ago. I was a little sad the DSD wasn't being natively handled by the PW amp, but it still sounds great so I got over it! And I didn't have to convert to FLAC all my DSD files, which is great.
Adam

AVR: Anthem AVM60 - Amp: McIntosh MC205 - DAC: PS Audio DSD NuWave - Phono stage: PS Audio Phono Converter - Turntable: ClearAudio Concept with Ortufon Black cartridge - Power: PS Audio P10 power regenerator - Speakers: Def Tec 8060s - Subx: JL Audio Fathom 110 x 2 - Blu Ray: Yamaha BD-S473 - Projector: Epson Powerlite 5020 - Music Server: Mac Mini with Roon and JRiver
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post #27 of 31 Old 12-08-2016, 10:35 AM
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Funny how there are two USB ports, but are totally useless at the moment due to lack of software support.

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post #28 of 31 Old 12-08-2016, 10:44 AM
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One quirk to add. I have noticed that the Play-Fi Android app is much less reliable on my Samsung S7 Edge phone than on my Nexus 7 tablet. I can load an album, playlist, or stream Pandora indefinitely on the Nexus 7 without a hiccup but the S7 can't keep the stream going for any significant period of time (1-3 songs uninterrupted, max). For some reason this has gotten worse lately, I'm not sure why. I've tried reinstalling the app and there has been no change in the behavior. I've reinstalled the latest firmware on the PW to no avail. Now I just control with the tablet and all is well.
Adam

AVR: Anthem AVM60 - Amp: McIntosh MC205 - DAC: PS Audio DSD NuWave - Phono stage: PS Audio Phono Converter - Turntable: ClearAudio Concept with Ortufon Black cartridge - Power: PS Audio P10 power regenerator - Speakers: Def Tec 8060s - Subx: JL Audio Fathom 110 x 2 - Blu Ray: Yamaha BD-S473 - Projector: Epson Powerlite 5020 - Music Server: Mac Mini with Roon and JRiver
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post #29 of 31 Old 12-19-2016, 12:08 PM
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One quirk to add. I have noticed that the Play-Fi Android app is much less reliable on my Samsung S7 Edge phone than on my Nexus 7 tablet. I can load an album, playlist, or stream Pandora indefinitely on the Nexus 7 without a hiccup but the S7 can't keep the stream going for any significant period of time (1-3 songs uninterrupted, max). For some reason this has gotten worse lately, I'm not sure why. I've tried reinstalling the app and there has been no change in the behavior. I've reinstalled the latest firmware on the PW to no avail. Now I just control with the tablet and all is well.
Adam
I've noticed something to do with keeping screen on vs off.

LN55C630, PN64F8500, Definitive SSA-50, GE Supercinema 3D Array X, Paradigm Millenia CT
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post #30 of 31 Old 02-11-2017, 09:40 AM
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This POS play-fi app will make you want to bang or throw this decent piece of hardware out the window

Instead of focusing on making the core app solid, they've added surround sound features to market, the app can't even handle 1 speaker well at the moment....the basics aren't there

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