Originally Posted by FMW
My pro audio amp, a Yamaha S3500, is rated at 350 watts per channel into 8 ohms and 450 watts into 4 ohms with 0.1% THD 20-20khz. It has a 102 db signal to noise ratio and a ruler flat frequency response up to over 40khz. It weighs 56 lbs. The new ones are lighter at only 33 lbs and have the distortion spec at half power. Where do you see specifications that would lead you to believe it would make poor quality sound in a home environment? I sure don't see it and I sure haven't heard it. I think Bill described it pretty well as gear snobbery.
But nevertheless, OP, your problem is not amplifier power. It rarely is. You need to upgrade your speakers.
The thing that non-technical people who have never designed and thoroughly tested an amplifier do not understand is that an amp may test 0.1% distortion into a resistor on a test bench, and then produce 20 to 50 times as much distortion when driving the much more complex load of a real speaker. A quality amplifier, which has a much larger power supply, and of course costs a lot more to make, will distort a lot less.
Anyone who thinks that specs from a bench test with a load resistor tells you about real sound quality is extremely ignorant of the complex interaction between an amplifier and real speakers.
The reason REAL audio pros spend $4000 for a Bryston amp or Boulder amp instead of $500 for a Yamaha or some other cheap crap amp, is because they know that the cheap ones distort like heck when they have to drive the inductances and capacitances found in REAL SPEAKERS. Their livelihood depends on that amp sounding good on a stage or in a recording studio, and they CAN HEAR THE DIFFERENCE. They don't throw money around for nothing. They know that the cheap amps can't handle the difficult loads due to much smaller power supplies that won't deliver the peak currents required. Cheap is cheap is crappy sound; ask a REAL professional audio person.
If YOU can't hear the difference, then it is clear that you lack the experience of the real professionals.
Bryston, for one, has been selling large numbers of amplifiers to true audio professionals for over 40 years, and they are not cheap. The true audio pros and roadies I know regard the kind of cheap "pro" amp made by Yamaha and Beringer etc. as worthless trash and wouldn't use them if they were free. Bryston works with true audio pros and builds the kind of amp they want and need; that actually sounds good when driven very hard. That is why their very expensive amps are one of the music industry standards, and junk like Yamaha and Beringer is NOT.
Comparing the bench test power specs of amps is like comparing sports cars solely on a dynomometer power result. It tells you very little about what performance is like when the rubber actually hits the road. It is only a small part of a much larger and more complex picture.