If I don't need louder, does an external amp do anything for me? - Page 2 - AVS Forum
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post #31 of 115 Old 04-26-2012, 05:13 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 2-4Trippin View Post

I've been reading Peter Aczel's audio writings for about 30 years. He was one of first critics to actively (and aggressively!) question the publishers of Stereophile, The Absolute Sound and the tweak culture of high-end audio. Peter is now about 86 and doesn't write much these days, but these old articles may be of interest to the OP.

In the end, I don't think anyone here will argue that, dollar for dollar, upgrading amplifiers will have a far lesser effect (if any!) than upgrading your speakers. Put your money in speakers and improving the acoustics of your room...

http://theaudiocritic.com/plog/index...00504&blogId=1

"Hip Boots": http://www.theaudiocritic.com/back_i...ritic_29_r.pdf

Great reference, thanks for sharing (I have it bookmarked). Of course it won't end the debate, but excellent reading nonetheless.

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post #32 of 115 Old 04-26-2012, 05:14 PM
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Originally Posted by Ryan1 View Post

^^^^^

Good stuff. Thank you.

The Audio Critic was/is great stuff. Too bad the very people it would have helped the most (audiophiles) were some of its biggest critics/skeptics.

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post #33 of 115 Old 04-26-2012, 05:41 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Venomous View Post

I have a Yamaha 3010 and added an xpa-5 to it about two months after the purchase. The only difference I found was low volume playback. The external amp seemed more detailed and my speakers opened up better. At High volume, I didn't notice any difference. Since I got a deal on the amp, I'm not disappointed. Had I paid full retail, I think I would of sent it back for refund.

What I have gathered is, the higher the db efficiency rating on your speakers, the least likely your avr will have trouble driving them and... Making it least likely an ext amp is going to improve your listening experience.



I appreciate all comments and conversation on this. Venomous, you may have hit upon the crux of my thinking, even though I didn't really maybe know that is what I was thinking.

As I noted, my room/system is not dedicated to HT. There is one toddler in the house and another bundle due late this year - so, much of my listening is (and will be for the forseeable future) at lower levels.

This is my first system, and I haven't had it up and running long, and I still plan much tweaking. I am happy with my system - but who says you can't be happier? I'm not a fan of spending needless cash, but I also wouldn't necessarily shy away if there was a true benefit. And I realize alot of this is really personal preference/perception.

Even though I haven't had my system running long, I am already thinking about a possible upgrade to something like a Yamaha RX-A 3010 or Denon 4311, because I want the ability to run a full 7-channel in my main room AND a 2nd zone (can't do that with my 800), and I also am pre-wired to add more speakers in my main room, so considering adding some surround rears for a 9.1. If I upgrade to one of these AVRs, the added power might itself cure my "problem", so I probably won't add an amp until after I do such an upgrade - or if I decide against such AVR change.

Thanks again, all.

I love it when a [HT] plan comes together!
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post #34 of 115 Old 04-26-2012, 05:50 PM
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^ Congrats on the new one coming!

If you wait until later this summer or early fall, when the new 4311 (4530?) replacement begins hitting retailers the price should drop to $1k or below. This would be a great first step into the future, and you can expand from there. In the meantime, if you're serious about the hobby you can get into taking measurements and providing room correction - investments that really pay off.

Good luck.

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post #35 of 115 Old 04-26-2012, 06:25 PM
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Congrats on the new one on the way. We also have a toddler running around but my HT is in it's own free standing building aside from the main house. I very much agree with Nethawk about making changes to the actual room as well, a few homemade acoustic panels can make a very noticeable difference when done/placed correctly. As for the external amp, it may be worth asking around to find some local AV enthusiasts that would be willing to bring them over to demo, I for one am always willing to let people try things out if they are close and I have time.

Bill
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post #36 of 115 Old 04-26-2012, 07:09 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pds3 View Post

Well said.

Also, I wonder if it ever occurs to people that there are many dealers on these threads who would intentionally mislead a person into buying more gear? You know the type, this 1,000 watt amp will sound sooo much better than your lowly 100 watt amp (even though the person is only using 20 watts/channel at most). Be cautious in your business affairs for the world if full of trickery.

I wonder that quite a bit. Especially when I see stuff like Commsysman posting on every thread how great Cambridge audio receivers are and how they overcome their stripped down room eq system with these suburb amps. I don't know if he is a dealer or just someone searching for anybody to agree with him to justify his purchase.
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post #37 of 115 Old 04-26-2012, 08:29 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AC2011 View Post

I don't listen at reference level, and have not had it anywhere near a level where I've heard any straining/clipping.
...
So, what say you - is adding an amp worth the time and $$?

Unfortunately, the sound of clipping isn't all that obvious. By the time it's clearly audible you're usually well past the point where it began to occur.

I'm not going to give you some line about you need to have big amps because I don't really know your listening levels and habits. But, going from some fairly powerful amps without clipping indicators to some even more powerful ones that have them, I found out just how far power doesn't go once you start turning up the knob a bit.

Power isn't just about volume. It's also about dynamics and that's where it comes more into play. Of course, if you never drive the system hard enough to clip then it is a moot point but that brings us back to the first two paragraphs.

Just because there is a knob doesn't mean you should turn it.
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post #38 of 115 Old 04-26-2012, 10:48 PM
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I always figured power and dynamics are two sides of the same coin. If your amp can't produce the dynamics present in the signal, it would seem as if it lacks power...

"But this one goes up to 11"
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post #39 of 115 Old 04-27-2012, 12:11 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hyfi View Post

I have to completely disagree. I have 2 AVRs and 3 standalone amps and they ALL sound different with the same speakers.

The 2 AVRs in no way sound as good or even close to my Counterpoint amp, Stratos or Hafler 9180 AND my Integra 30.3 sounds very different than my HK AVR635.

So I am not sure what kind of gear you used to come up with that statement but I think you should reconsider it.

Now in this case, depending on your speakers and what one considers good sound or if you are completely satisfied with the sound of the Yamaha, don't bother.

On the other hand, if you have only heard receivers and AVRs, you may never know what a good amp and pre-amp can do for the same given speakers unless you try.


You can disagree all you want...I know I wont be able to change your mind, and I don't have any intention to argue the matter in a futile attempt to try and force you to see the light.

I do know that the only way you will even think about changing your mind is if you were to conduct a level matched blind test of your gear or any gear for that matter to see if you can tell the difference when you cant see the name plate. Take any one of your avrs with all eq and dsp's disabled and level matched to any of your amps, both within their spec of course, and only time you will "hear a difference" will be when you can see the badge.

The only other time you would hear a difference is when a weaker amp has run out of steam and is clipping while the more powerful amp is still with in specs. The more powerful one will get louder before it clips. If you need the higher spl level, by all means get a more powerful amp.

But I suspect you will come up with lots of reasons justified by your beliefs not to conduct such a test or even to conduct any type of research into such testing methods.

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post #40 of 115 Old 04-27-2012, 01:23 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by whoaru99 View Post

Unfortunately, the sound of clipping isn't all that obvious. By the time it's clearly audible you're usually well past the point where it began to occur.

I'm not going to give you some line about you need to have big amps because I don't really know your listening levels and habits. But, going from some fairly powerful amps without clipping indicators to some even more powerful ones that have them, I found out just how far power doesn't go once you start turning up the knob a bit.

Power isn't just about volume. It's also about dynamics and that's where it comes more into play. Of course, if you never drive the system hard enough to clip then it is a moot point but that brings us back to the first two paragraphs.

Dude, you'd definitely know clipping if it ever becomes audible.... Bot most normal people would never get to that point with most modern amps in a normal size room.

At normal listening volumes, just about any modern amp would do with most speakers of normal sensitivity. Nothing magical about "dynamics," or "air," or whatever. Flashing lights notwithstanding.
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post #41 of 115 Old 04-27-2012, 04:45 AM
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Dude, I'd hope you'd recognize clipping if it ever became audible. The point is clipping has to be occuring at a fairly egregious level for it to be clearly obvious.

But, dude, if what you're sportin' works for you then carry on. I prefer to have no clipping at normal (whatever that means) or even abnormal listening levels.

Just because there is a knob doesn't mean you should turn it.
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post #42 of 115 Old 04-27-2012, 04:47 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hyfi View Post

I have to completely disagree. I have 2 AVRs and 3 standalone amps and they ALL sound different with the same speakers.

The 2 AVRs in no way sound as good or even close to my Counterpoint amp, Stratos or Hafler 9180 AND my Integra 30.3 sounds very different than my HK AVR635.

So I am not sure what kind of gear you used to come up with that statement but I think you should reconsider it.

Now in this case, depending on your speakers and what one considers good sound or if you are completely satisfied with the sound of the Yamaha, don't bother.

On the other hand, if you have only heard receivers and AVRs, you may never know what a good amp and pre-amp can do for the same given speakers unless you try.

Why would the amp in a receiver sound any different than a separate amp? Does the separate amp have some kind of magical enhancements? As long as both amplifiers are operating within their specifications both should sound the same at a given volume.
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post #43 of 115 Old 04-27-2012, 04:54 AM
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Yup, with enough qualifiers, I agree that most amps will sound similar enough that one could say for all intents and purposes they sound the same. Problem is the specifications and conditions of operation can be different so one usually ends up being held back to the performance of the lesser unit to make it true.

Just because there is a knob doesn't mean you should turn it.
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post #44 of 115 Old 04-27-2012, 05:09 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nethawk View Post

No. Stop reading and enjoy your system.

Excellent and true post.

I don't even have to read any further between the original post and this excellent second post.

I have wharfedale sapphires and an onkyo tx nr 1007. I wondered the same and hooked my front sound stage up to amps with over 10 times the power rating of my speakers. I did some testing with friends and none of us could tell a lick of difference between the crown and behringer amps vs. The onkyo at volumes approaching reference. My receiver is more powerful than yours, but if you look up watts to dB ratio you'll see it doesn't matter much. To get three more db you have to double your wattage. To get six more dB you have to quadrouple the wattage.

In my opinion there is a lot of placebo in this hobby.

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post #45 of 115 Old 04-27-2012, 05:12 AM
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Originally Posted by pds3 View Post

Why would the amp in a receiver sound any different than a separate amp? Does the separate amp have some kind of magical enhancements? As long as both amplifiers are operating within their specifications both should sound the same at a given volume.

My guesses would be Topology, construction, different quality components and power supplies, and maybe even the speakers I use.

Maybe I can hear the differences in my amps because of the pre-amp I use, which you won't find in a mass market AVR.

If you feel that EVERY Amp sounds the same, that's great, you will never spend any money on equipment unless it's just for show.

Rotel 1072 > VAC CLA 1 MKII > Counterpoint NPS-400 > Clearfield Continental Speakers via Synsergistic Research Cabling
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post #46 of 115 Old 04-27-2012, 05:18 AM
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Originally Posted by 67jason View Post

You can disagree all you want...I know I wont be able to change your mind, and I don't have any intention to argue the matter in a futile attempt to try and force you to see the light.

I do know that the only way you will even think about changing your mind is if you were to conduct a level matched blind test of your gear or any gear for that matter to see if you can tell the difference when you cant see the name plate. Take any one of your avrs with all eq and dsp's disabled and level matched to any of your amps, both within their spec of course, and only time you will "hear a difference" will be when you can see the badge.

The only other time you would hear a difference is when a weaker amp has run out of steam and is clipping while the more powerful amp is still with in specs. The more powerful one will get louder before it clips. If you need the higher spl level, by all means get a more powerful amp.

But I suspect you will come up with lots of reasons justified by your beliefs not to conduct such a test or even to conduct any type of research into such testing methods.

I have done level matching with a meter and my pre amp has no tone controls. It's an all tube class A unit that was considered a reference quality pre amp back in its day. It's a VAC CLA1 MKII all tube, dual mono, 22lb outboard power supply bla bla bla.

What are you using when you say all amps sound the same as a pre? What speakers are you using? Maybe your front end cannot resolve enough to hear the differences in the amps?

I have 2 amps in my main setup that I routinely swap back and forth to as well as 2 sets of main speakers. I can get 4 different sounding setups by swapping a few cables or hand trucking my speakers in and out.

Rotel 1072 > VAC CLA 1 MKII > Counterpoint NPS-400 > Clearfield Continental Speakers via Synsergistic Research Cabling
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Originally Posted by Hyfi View Post


If you feel that EVERY Amp sounds the same, that's great, you will never spend any money on equipment unless it's just for show.

Lets put it another way. If you feel that all amps sound different, you're going to be spending one hell of a lot of money throughout your life always chasing that "perfect" amp sound and yet, somehow, never finding it. To each his own.
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post #48 of 115 Old 04-27-2012, 05:53 AM
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Yup, a fair number of people do that and they don't have a problem with it, so why should anyone else? It's a hobby.

Perhaps one day panacea will present itself in a state-mandated, one-size-fits-all system so we can truly agree and end the "it all sounds the same" debates.

Just because there is a knob doesn't mean you should turn it.
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post #49 of 115 Old 04-27-2012, 06:09 AM
 
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Originally Posted by whoaru99 View Post

Yup, a fair number of people do that and they don't have a problem with it, so why should anyone else? It's a hobby.

Perhaps one day panacea will present itself in a state-mandated, one-size-fits-all system so we can truly agree and end the "it all sounds the same" debates.

Everyone is free to buy whatever they want. The problem arises when a lot of people get duped into buying equipment that they don't need or that doesn't sound any better than what they've got.
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post #50 of 115 Old 04-27-2012, 06:10 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hyfi View Post

I have done level matching with a meter and my pre amp has no tone controls. It's an all tube class A unit that was considered a reference quality pre amp back in its day. It's a VAC CLA1 MKII all tube, dual mono, 22lb outboard power supply bla bla bla.

What are you using when you say all amps sound the same as a pre? What speakers are you using? Maybe your front end cannot resolve enough to hear the differences in the amps?

I have 2 amps in my main setup that I routinely swap back and forth to as well as 2 sets of main speakers. I can get 4 different sounding setups by swapping a few cables or hand trucking my speakers in and out.


It is not worth getting into this debate again. Research the topic for yourself and choose what facts and myths you wish to follow. There are plenty of threads here on AVS discussing the topic with plenty of links to further your education.

And for the record I never said anything about tube gear.

Modern solid state gear from competent manufactures operated within spec with any eq's or dsp disabled (where required) will have no audible sonic difference detectable, unless of course if you have bionic ears.

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post #51 of 115 Old 04-27-2012, 06:19 AM
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Originally Posted by pds3 View Post

Lets put it another way. If you feel that all amps sound different, you're going to be spending one hell of a lot of money throughout your life always chasing that "perfect" amp sound and yet, somehow, never finding it. To each his own.

Nah, that's not true at all. I lucked into some of the gear I have now and would never have chosen to purchase it for what they actually would sell for. I did buy my Hafler setup as my first dive into entry level with Mirage 790s, moved to a Sound Valves 101i Tube Pre and a Stratos amp and Dynaudio 82s. I then lucked into the VAC-Counterpoint NPS400 and Clearfield Continental Speakers (von Schweikert when he worked for Counterpoint) and all Synergistic Research cabling...all for $300. It cost me another $300 to repair the amp and retube the pre leaving me with a $16k system for $600.

I don't have the Mirage 790s or the Sound Valves pre, but I still use the Hafler 945 and 9180 in my gym, the 82s and Stratos at times in my setup.

I also have a Rotel 1052 Integrated that also has it's own house sound and drives a pair of JM Labs Tantal 509s.

I actually have been researching to downsize. I have been looking at single driver speakers and a nice little SET tube amp. I don't hunt for the Perfect Amp Sound, but can acknowledge that better amps exist outside my price range.

I have heard some very expensive systems with amps costing in the 100s of thousands such as the full Dynaudio Arbitur setup, Wilson Grand Slams, Focal Utopias and all the Krell, Mark Levinson, BAT, VAC gear in between.

What are you basing your opinions on?

Rotel 1072 > VAC CLA 1 MKII > Counterpoint NPS-400 > Clearfield Continental Speakers via Synsergistic Research Cabling
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post #52 of 115 Old 04-27-2012, 06:19 AM
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Originally Posted by pds3 View Post

Everyone is free to buy whatever they want. The problem arises when a lot of people get duped into buying equipment that they don't need or that doesn't sound any better than what they've got.

Word.

The problem is that in this hobby it's consumers duping other consumers. Amazing.

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post #53 of 115 Old 04-27-2012, 08:12 AM
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Is that any worse than the generalized opinion that comes across as it's all the same and nobody needs anything other than the least common denominator?

If you have any doubt that a 700wpc amp sounds different than a 50wpc amp I can demonstrate that any time. OTOH, if you insist that I hamstring the 700wpc amp to only what a 50wpc amp can do, then it's a moot point because I mostly agree...but why the hell would I run a 700wpc amp like it's a 50wpc amp? Differences notwithstanding like capability to deal with low impedances.

Again, I agree that the least common denominator approach applies if all the assumptions behind it actually fit the situation.

Just because there is a knob doesn't mean you should turn it.
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post #54 of 115 Old 04-27-2012, 08:23 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hyfi View Post

Nah, that's not true at all. I lucked into some of the gear I have now and would never have chosen to purchase it for what they actually would sell for. I did buy my Hafler setup as my first dive into entry level with Mirage 790s, moved to a Sound Valves 101i Tube Pre and a Stratos amp and Dynaudio 82s. I then lucked into the VAC-Counterpoint NPS400 and Clearfield Continental Speakers (von Schweikert when he worked for Counterpoint) and all Synergistic Research cabling...all for $300. It cost me another $300 to repair the amp and retube the pre leaving me with a $16k system for $600.

I don't have the Mirage 790s or the Sound Valves pre, but I still use the Hafler 945 and 9180 in my gym, the 82s and Stratos at times in my setup.

I also have a Rotel 1052 Integrated that also has it's own house sound and drives a pair of JM Labs Tantal 509s.

I actually have been researching to downsize. I have been looking at single driver speakers and a nice little SET tube amp. I don't hunt for the Perfect Amp Sound, but can acknowledge that better amps exist outside my price range.

I have heard some very expensive systems with amps costing in the 100s of thousands such as the full Dynaudio Arbitur setup, Wilson Grand Slams, Focal Utopias and all the Krell, Mark Levinson, BAT, VAC gear in between.

What are you basing your opinions on?

Many years of listening to audio equipment.
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post #55 of 115 Old 04-27-2012, 08:45 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by whoaru99 View Post

Is that any worse than the generalized opinion that comes across as it's all the same and nobody needs anything other than the least common denominator?

If you have any doubt that a 700wpc amp sounds different than a 50wpc amp I can demonstrate that any time. OTOH, if you insist that I hamstring the 700wpc amp to only what a 50wpc amp can do, then it's a moot point because I mostly agree...but why the hell would I run a 700wpc amp like it's a 50wpc amp? Differences notwithstanding like capability to deal with low impedances.

The problem is folks distorting what's said. Intentionally - or out of lack of understanding? I don't know.

If the 700 watt amp is properly designed, then it doesn't have a "sound" ie it doesn't audibly colur the signal input into it as long as its operating in designed range. The same should be true of a well designed 50 watt amp.

If that statement is contentious, well there's the source of the problem.

Further at 5 watts or 10 watts which is normal listening even with peaks, a decent 50 watt amp can remain invisible in a system supplying even 4 ohm speakers or a little lower even, just the same as the 700 watt one.

No one is saying the 700 watt and 50 watt amps would sound the same if asked to suppy 100 watts of power. Obviously in those conditions one amp will distort and the other won't.

Why then people bother to distort this basic innocuous statement is hard to understand. I suspect it hits some sort of religious nerve, as then one has to ask ones if those watts will ever be needed. No surprise here, we are a country where everyone seemingly "needs" a a V6 200 hp engine in their car, no matter their real life driving pattern.
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post #56 of 115 Old 04-27-2012, 08:54 AM
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Innocuous? Uh huh.

Like I said earlier, I agree the generalizations work if the assumptions behind the generalizations apply to the specific situation.

I bought 700wpc amps for the same reason I'd buy a Corvette, if I was so inclined to buy a high performance car. If I wanted never to have any more performance than a Toyota Yaris then that's probably what I'd get.

Just because there is a knob doesn't mean you should turn it.
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post #57 of 115 Old 04-27-2012, 09:26 AM
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I think, possibly, that 50 watts is considered too little by people because of some crappy receivers that advertise more power but cant deliver.

An honest 50 watts of power should be able to drive 90 dB sensitive speakers to decent SPL levels.

A watts is a watt, providing it really is a watt...but some receivers won't deliver the watts they say they will deliver.

To give you an example of what I mean, I remember a few friends who bought some cheapo receiver likely rated for 100 watts, and when you turned the volume knob, it hardly seemed to get louder. Maybe you experienced that? No good talking about how that receiver should have been great based on it's specs - it's junk, and you should not base your thinking on such things.

I never owned one, but I am sure some of you know about some Harmon Kardon receivers that were rated around 50 watts, and were said to be great systems.

The writers of some of the articles and books on amps I have read, seem to feel that 50 watts is quite good as well.

Of course there are variables such as room size, room acoustics, speaker sensitivity, speaker impedance and desired SPL. I was making a general statement about how much power is needed for clean sound as reasonable SPL in an "average" setup.

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post #58 of 115 Old 04-27-2012, 09:38 AM
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Originally Posted by Osamede View Post


If the 700 watt amp is properly designed, then it doesn't have a "sound" ie it doesn't audibly colur the signal input into it as long as its operating in designed range. The same should be true of a well designed 50 watt amp.

These types of arguments always fail because you make one broad (false) assumption: a speaker is a linear device that does not interact with the amp driving it. All speakers will present hundreds of different Ohm loads back to the amp, at hundreds of different frequencies. A "50 watt amp" may have a real tough time delivering even 30watts at 3.1 Ohms at 70Hz and simultaneously 5 watts at 17.6 Ohms at 12000Hz. As a result, two amps can have easily audible differences when producing bass/drums, depending on the speakers.
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post #59 of 115 Old 04-27-2012, 09:41 AM
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^^^

key phrase... "operating within it's designed range"...

edit: to clarify, the "difference in wattage" of amp 2 really doesn't have anything to do with it... a "watt is a watt" still applies...

you could take 2 50 watt amps and easily have the same results...

your example is really about power supply... take a 50 watt amp with a feeble power supply, and a 50 watt one with a robust one... "operating within it's designed range", i.e. not asking for more than the feeble power supply can give, there would be "no difference"...

no one is saying that if you hook up said feeble power supply to a demanding load that it won't cry for uncle...

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post #60 of 115 Old 04-27-2012, 09:57 AM
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Originally Posted by Sam S View Post

These types of arguments always fail because you make one broad (false) assumption: a speaker is a linear device that does not interact with the amp driving it. All speakers will present hundreds of different Ohm loads back to the amp, at hundreds of different frequencies. A "50 watt amp" may have a real tough time delivering even 30watts at 3.1 Ohms at 70Hz and simultaneously 5 watts at 17.6 Ohms at 12000Hz. As a result, two amps can have easily audible differences when producing bass/drums, depending on the speakers.

Its true that speakers are not passive. But I am not sure it works like you say.

I don't understand how you can have more than one impedance value at any point in time. My (admittedly somewhat limited) knowledge tells me that effective impedance should be a simple graph over time, with the impedance depending on the signal present at that time...normally you would not expect the worst case scenario of a really low impedance.

I would think most setups probably benefit from a powered subwoofer, and bass management...I seem to recall the worst case scenario being near port tuning.

"But this one goes up to 11"
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