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post #1 of 39 Old 07-30-2012, 05:26 PM - Thread Starter
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Guys forgive me if this is a stupid Q. I am a noob when it comes to sound. Going from a AVR to seperates for the first time. I have been trying to read and lot of it is too technical for me. I have a pre amp in mind. When I started researching amps; I found significant difference in price between the ones I was looking at.

For eg, XPA-5 from Emotiva is <1K while A5 from Anthem is close to 4K. I am sure that there are amps out there that are significantly more expensive. So my question to u audiophiles is: why the significant difference in price? I am trying to justify spending 4K on it. Tough to compare one with other as the speakers and the room dynamics come into play.

What do you guys look for in choosing the amp?

I have paradigm studio 100 in front, CC590 in center, studios 20s in rear. Two subs: Paradigm ultracube 12 and HSU VTF-15H. Room is moderate size: 17X22.

Thanks in advance. Sorry if it has been covered before smile.gif
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post #2 of 39 Old 07-30-2012, 05:38 PM
 
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If you have to ask, you can't hear it.

The point, a lot of the differences which are heard are incrementally learned behaviors and if you've never been a separate kinda guy, then you'll be more than uber happy with the Emotiva.

OTOH, double blind tests have shown that if the Amp is hidden by a curtain, nobody can reliably tell the difference between which Amp is being used beyond statistical chance. And these double blind test have been done over and over and over again, over many years; not just once or twice, twenty years ago.

I'm rather shallow and look for an Amp with a reputation for using quality products, coupled with quality assembly/build and looks cool as all hell.

Nothing beats the cool glow of hot tubes at night.

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post #3 of 39 Old 07-30-2012, 05:50 PM
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I have gone through and had many amps and for SS ones using the same connections, matching volume, and provided I have enough watts, I still have never in my life heard any even tiny difference in amps, and coming from a musician with studio and a lot of live experience, I think I have at least an alright idea of what to listen for. As the user above said, find quality parts, but also keep in mind balanced/unbalanced connections, and personally, I won't buy another amp that doesn't also have outputs or 12v trigger for my remotes. I have owned Marantz Ma500's, which can be bought very cheaply, and are pretty close to perfect. They are plentiful, last a long time, built well, and are not ridiculously large or heavy like many others.
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post #4 of 39 Old 07-31-2012, 06:47 AM
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Your return on investment on amps becomes slim to none once you spend over say $500. The differences between quality amps is very small and in most cases, not noticeable.
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post #5 of 39 Old 07-31-2012, 08:37 AM
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Originally Posted by KidHorn View Post

Your return on investment on amps becomes slim to none once you spend over say $500. The differences between quality amps is very small and in most cases, not noticeable.

Incredible then that amp manufacturers >$500 MSRP have managed to stay in business 50+ years.
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post #6 of 39 Old 07-31-2012, 10:47 AM
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Originally Posted by Sam S View Post

Incredible then that amp manufacturers >$500 MSRP have managed to stay in business 50+ years.

Not too surprising. Is a $80k Mercedes really that much better than a Toyota Camry?
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post #7 of 39 Old 07-31-2012, 10:50 AM
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Originally Posted by KidHorn View Post

Not too surprising. Is a $80k Mercedes really that much better than a Toyota Camry?

If you've ever driven an $80K Mercedes, you would not mistake any aspect of it for a $30K Camry.
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post #8 of 39 Old 07-31-2012, 11:17 AM
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And yet both get you to work and back...

There are a lot of differences between a $1k amp (I think $500 is a little low) and a $100k amp (yes, they make them). The debate is how much is audible, and that depends heavily upon you, your speakers, your room, etc. More expensive components, more design effort, higher build quality (one would hope), and often better performance can be found in a higher-end amp. Personally, on my system, to my ears, I have a hard time telling any difference between my Emotiva XPA-2 and say a Krell or ML amp (have had both in my system though not since getting the Emotiva) at my usual listening volume. I can instantly tell if I swap in a tube amp, or even my old Hafler (MOSFET) amp, but have a much harder time telling two similar SS designs apart. For that matter, I hear little difference at moderate volume between the XPA-2 and my AVR (Pioneer SC-27). I just figure my ears of clay are saving me a ton of money... smile.gif

OTOH, while my older Denon did OK, the Sony AVR that lived in that system briefly did very poorly. So, there are differences even among SS, and they are audible/measurable in a real-world situation (even if not, or less so, driving a test load). A friend has Emotiva XPA-1s and we keep saying we are going to compare to the XPA-2 in our systems (he has B&W 803D's, I have Magnepan MG-IIIa's) but we have never found the time and/or enough motivation.

"After silence, that which best expresses the inexpressible, is music" - Aldous Huxley
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post #9 of 39 Old 07-31-2012, 11:22 AM
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Originally Posted by DonH50 View Post

And yet both get you to work and back..

But we're not just trying to get to "work and back" no more than we're trying to listen to casual background music. If you only goal is to get to work and back or watch a movie, then built-in TV speakers are just as good as a nice receiver and 7.1 set-up.
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post #10 of 39 Old 07-31-2012, 12:53 PM
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Not here to argue with all-amps-sound-the-same crowd. Stlcity asked a question so just sharing my experience.

I'm also relatively new to this hi-fi stuff (just started building a system when I bought my own place last year). I have gone from Anthem MRX internal amp to Bryston 4B SST2 and now settled with Pass Labs XA30.5. Each amp sounds different to me (I truly wish that they didn't) and the difference in sonic character can't be more apparent over a variety of music (jazz, classical, rock, hip-hop, techno, etc). Refinement, dynamics, musicality are what I find very different. I do find it's less apparent for movies, tv shows, etc. I must also say this that you won't find night and day different sonically by switching the amp over..say..changing the speakers. But quite significant nonetheless. In my case, listening to music for 15 minutes or 3-4 hours per day significant.

One thing I find very important is the amp synergy with your system, especially with the speakers. First figure out if the speakers are right for you. Once you find the speakers you like, go from there. But not the other way around. I've been on the merry-go-around changing different components of my system and luckily I've finally found the sound that I can enjoy for hours and hours everyday.

Anthem should be a good choice for your Paradigms. I have owned Studio 60v5 and find them sound great with Anthem gear. Start off with a used Anthem amp or Emotiva (I think they have 30-day return policy, well reviewed as good bang-for-the-buck but not as refined as higher priced QUALITY amps). I find my amp searching experience very fulfilling.
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post #11 of 39 Old 07-31-2012, 01:02 PM
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Also do keep in mind that all advices here speculative at best. Listen for yourself. I can't stress this enough. After all, it's your money, your system and your enjoyment. Good luck!
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post #12 of 39 Old 07-31-2012, 04:38 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DonH50 View Post

And yet both get you to work and back...
There are a lot of differences between a $1k amp (I think $500 is a little low) and a $100k amp (yes, they make them). The debate is how much is audible, and that depends heavily upon you, your speakers, your room, etc. More expensive components, more design effort, higher build quality (one would hope), and often better performance can be found in a higher-end amp. Personally, on my system, to my ears, I have a hard time telling any difference between my Emotiva XPA-2 and say a Krell or ML amp (have had both in my system though not since getting the Emotiva) at my usual listening volume. I can instantly tell if I swap in a tube amp, or even my old Hafler (MOSFET) amp, but have a much harder time telling two similar SS designs apart. For that matter, I hear little difference at moderate volume between the XPA-2 and my AVR (Pioneer SC-27). I just figure my ears of clay are saving me a ton of money... smile.gif
OTOH, while my older Denon did OK, the Sony AVR that lived in that system briefly did very poorly. So, there are differences even among SS, and they are audible/measurable in a real-world situation (even if not, or less so, driving a test load). A friend has Emotiva XPA-1s and we keep saying we are going to compare to the XPA-2 in our systems (he has B&W 803D's, I have Magnepan MG-IIIa's) but we have never found the time and/or enough motivation.

Actually you will have the Camry in the shop getting repaired a whole lot less often than the Mercedes. $50k cheaper, better EPA and its an actually more reliable vehicle. yes, the Mercedes has some performance advantages, but for almost triple the price you would think it would be as dependable if not a whole lot more dependable than cars costing less than half its price, yet its not. And it doesnt just apply to Mercedes same thing for BMW, Audi, etc......... biggrin.gif
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post #13 of 39 Old 07-31-2012, 05:23 PM
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The only time I've heard a significant difference in power amps is when I owned a pair of Klipsch LaScallas. I first paired them with
an SAE solid state amp (only 50 watt...but Klipsch are very efficient). The speakers came off harsh and fatiguing. I later bought a NAD 50 watt
Mosfet amp, and the difference was night and day. The speakers were now much smoother and listenable. Many of my friends
commented on this. I had just bought a new CD player at the time, and everyone thought it was the player....but it was definitely
the change in the amp.

For your speakers the Emotiva will work just fine IMO.

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post #14 of 39 Old 07-31-2012, 10:26 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by stlcity View Post

Guys forgive me if this is a stupid Q. I am a noob when it comes to sound. Going from a AVR to seperates for the first time. I have been trying to read and lot of it is too technical for me. I have a pre amp in mind. When I started researching amps; I found significant difference in price between the ones I was looking at.
For eg, XPA-5 from Emotiva is <1K while A5 from Anthem is close to 4K. I am sure that there are amps out there that are significantly more expensive. So my question to u audiophiles is: why the significant difference in price? I am trying to justify spending 4K on it. Tough to compare one with other as the speakers and the room dynamics come into play.
What do you guys look for in choosing the amp?
I have paradigm studio 100 in front, CC590 in center, studios 20s in rear. Two subs: Paradigm ultracube 12 and HSU VTF-15H. Room is moderate size: 17X22.
Thanks in advance. Sorry if it has been covered before smile.gif

Recently I purchased a Parasound Halo A21 amp to replace an Emotiva XPA-3 amp in my 2 channel system. I have Paradigm Signature S6 speakers. I compared the two amps critically and noticed that the Emotiva amp had a harshness at higher volumes with vocals and highs that the Parasound did not. Also, the Parasound had a somewhat more refined soundstage, and the thing looks gorgeous beside the plain jane Emotiva, if that is important to you.

Parasound is not cheap, but has way more options, and it ships with brackets for rack installation while the Emotiva charge extra, if they even have them in stock. If not, you will be waiting for a slow boat from China, could be 2 months or more. Parasound also has a variable gain which allows you to dial in the level needed for any pre amp, not so for the XPA-5. Another nifty feature is signal sensing which when selected has the Parasound automatically turn on when the pre amp is operating. So you don't have to run a separate 12 volt signal cable as with the Emotiva. Some AVRs can be used as a pre amp but have no trigger output. This feature makes it easy to turn the Parasound on/off in such situations. The Emotiva, not so.

As you can tell I am impressed with the Parasound product, if your budget allows it would be a flexible excellent addition to those Paradigms.
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post #15 of 39 Old 08-01-2012, 10:49 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by runnin' View Post

Recently I purchased a Parasound Halo A21 amp to replace an Emotiva XPA-3 amp in my 2 channel system. I have Paradigm Signature S6 speakers. I compared the two amps critically and noticed that the Emotiva amp had a harshness at higher volumes with vocals and highs that the Parasound did not. Also, the Parasound had a somewhat more refined soundstage, and the thing looks gorgeous beside the plain jane Emotiva, if that is important to you.
Parasound is not cheap, but has way more options, and it ships with brackets for rack installation while the Emotiva charge extra, if they even have them in stock. If not, you will be waiting for a slow boat from China, could be 2 months or more. Parasound also has a variable gain which allows you to dial in the level needed for any pre amp, not so for the XPA-5. Another nifty feature is signal sensing which when selected has the Parasound automatically turn on when the pre amp is operating. So you don't have to run a separate 12 volt signal cable as with the Emotiva. Some AVRs can be used as a pre amp but have no trigger output. This feature makes it easy to turn the Parasound on/off in such situations. The Emotiva, not so.
As you can tell I am impressed with the Parasound product, if your budget allows it would be a flexible excellent addition to those Paradigms.

I also have the Paradigm S6 -- currently running them off a Marantz MM7055. Did you consider Anthem A5, or even a P2 before going with Parasound A21? Do you think the A21 is worth it over the A23 for the S6?

Trying to decide between an Anthem A5 or Parasound A51 as an upgrade. I have heard good things about both.
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post #16 of 39 Old 08-01-2012, 11:45 AM - Thread Starter
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Thanks guys for the input. I know it is very subjective with the hearing, speakers. room dynamics etc. This is what I decided to do: got the emotiva XPA-5 for now. Going to pair it with Integra 80.3. Going to give it a try for a few days as Emotiva has a 30day return policy. Read a lot of good things about Emotiva and dint want to splurge 4K on the A5 until I listened to the Emotiva. I am upgrading from an AVR(Denon 43XX)..I'm sure that it will be better sounding. Will keep you guys updated. Good times LOL.....

Where do u guys get used amps from? I tried audiogon and videogon..could not find any anthem amps on there..

Wilth the Anthem: the paradigm rep who happened to be at my installer when I went there: swears by it. He said that the amps are built for the Paradigm speakers since the company owns Anthem..
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post #17 of 39 Old 08-01-2012, 11:54 AM
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Twenty years ago, shop owner was showing me the difference between amps. The speakers used were Accustats and the amps were a totl Yamaha and a tube amp whose make I forget.
Bottom line- I could tell that both amps sounded very slightly different from each other. However, these amps were working with a very, very good electrostatic speaker and, more importantly, although the amps sounded slightly different, I couldn't decide which one sounded better as they both sounded great.
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post #18 of 39 Old 08-01-2012, 12:22 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by stlcity View Post

Wilth the Anthem: the paradigm rep who happened to be at my installer when I went there: swears by it. He said that the amps are built for the Paradigm speakers since the company owns Anthem..

Sounds like marketing bs. Exactly how is the amp designed different for Paradigm speakers? Not saying that either the Anthem amps or Paradigm speakers are not top quality and excellent performers but I don't think the amp is designed specifically for the speakers.

Barry
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post #19 of 39 Old 08-01-2012, 12:58 PM
 
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Originally Posted by Tank_PD View Post

I also have the Paradigm S6 -- currently running them off a Marantz MM7055. Did you consider Anthem A5, or even a P2 before going with Parasound A21? Do you think the A21 is worth it over the A23 for the S6?
Trying to decide between an Anthem A5 or Parasound A51 as an upgrade. I have heard good things about both.

When I was looking at Anthem, I got suggestions from a Canadian forum that the mid level Anthems were not that impressive. One guy said he prefered the P7 over the models above it. I had a bad experience with a pre amp I bought from them, the TLP-1, which though an entry level product, was 1000. Therefore I couldn't bring myself to get a lower tier amp from them, and the top of their line was too much. Just my experience.

I liked Parasound's Halo line because of John Curl, a legend, and the class A high bias. I wanted to get rid of the harshness in the high frequencies at higher volumes with the Emotiva amp. The A21 did that and more, offering a more refined soundstage and detail. As far as the A21 vs A23, what I heard was that JC was not directly involved in the A23 amp. Also, 125 watts is a step down from the 200 per side I was running, and the A23 only runs 2.5 watts in class A.

To the thread author, nothing wrong with trying out the XPA-5 in your system. I predict it will sound brighter than the Denon. It might be great in your room and system.
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post #20 of 39 Old 08-01-2012, 12:59 PM
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Originally Posted by blb1215 View Post

Sounds like marketing bs. Exactly how is the amp designed different for Paradigm speakers? Not saying that either the Anthem amps or Paradigm speakers are not top quality and excellent performers but I don't think the amp is designed specifically for the speakers.
Barry

Agreed. The BMW approach...buy only BMW parts (inluding the battery) for the perfect system match that leads to greater performance.
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post #21 of 39 Old 08-01-2012, 01:09 PM - Thread Starter
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Sounds like marketing bs. Exactly how is the amp designed different for Paradigm speakers? Not saying that either the Anthem amps or Paradigm speakers are not top quality and excellent performers but I don't think the amp is designed specifically for the speakers.
Barry

It is marketing BS biggrin.gif..would not expect the company rep to say otherwise LOL...
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post #22 of 39 Old 08-01-2012, 03:20 PM
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I don't know if Anthem specifically made for Paradigm. Doesn't sound very logical. But having the same parent company, it makes sense they sound good together. If you do have higher level Paradigm speakers like Sigs, it's good to try out higher level Anthem gear first. One thing I do know is as the resolution in your system improves, synergy becomes more critical.

Beryllium is top notch in high frequency reproduction. But it's also important to match with appropriate gears.
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post #23 of 39 Old 08-02-2012, 02:44 PM
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^^^

"synergy" between electronics and speakers is a figment of people's imagination...

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^Don't make me explain our use of the Lipka Labs Synergy Analyzer at my lab at work! biggrin.gif

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^^^

dude, you have ALL the cool toys... smile.gif i wanna work where you do....

i can see the review now... "the synergy on this system was the highest we've ever tested, with the lirpa synergy analyzer showing 98 fremers. switching the knob to harleys though, we were a bit disappointed that the analyzer maxed out at 90 harleys. still, the fremer/harley combined score was remarkable"....


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I know that the Emotiva amp I have is brighter or harsh at higher volumes with upper frequencies. With my speakers, Paradigm S6, I can actually get a hard "ssss" over emphasized on some recordings. It is repeatable and annoying. So it follows that this amp is a bad combination for these speakers, or vice versa. But being that the speakers retail for over 6 grand, I'll pick on the amp. smile.gif The amp that I've replaced it with, a Parasound Halo A21, does not do this and therefore I think it sounds better with my speakers.

Now, call it synergy, call it a good match/combination or whatever you want. But some amps work better with some speakers. This same A21 might sound too laid back with some already laid back sounding speakers. That would be a bad combination.
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post #27 of 39 Old 08-02-2012, 04:43 PM
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1. Do you know for certain you're getting these different results while playing the two amps at the exact same levels?

2. Do you think it's a possibility that the Emo amp is clipping during these passages while the Parasound is not?

Either one is a valid technical explanation for what you're hearing and not some voodoo about equipment matching.

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Here we go...again
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Quote:
Originally Posted by beaveav View Post

1. Do you know for certain you're getting these different results while playing the two amps at the exact same levels?
2. Do you think it's a possibility that the Emo amp is clipping during these passages while the Parasound is not?
Either one is a valid technical explanation for what you're hearing and not some voodoo about equipment matching.

Both amps are level matched at 85db at a distance of 9 feet. Since the speakers have a sensitivity of 91db, there is no distortion going on. It is repeatable and not some kind of voodoo, but believe whatever you like.
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post #30 of 39 Old 08-02-2012, 05:06 PM
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1. You are level-matching by using what? An SPL meter? Sorry, but that's not precise enough.

2. Speaker sensitivity being 91dB is no guarantee that one amp is not clipping. Do you have an impedance vs. frequency plot for the S6s? Do you have a powercube measurement, or equivalent, for the two amps in question?

For every new thing I learn, I forget two things I used to know.
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