Do I need to add power amp?? - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 29 Old 02-06-2013, 01:01 PM - Thread Starter
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Currently own an Onkyo 818 AVR. Rated for 4,6,8ohm speaker, 135wpc 7.2, with pre-outs to upgrade to a 9.2.

Here's the issue, I purchased a pair of Martin Logan Electromotion ESLs. They are to be used with amps rated 4 or 6 but are known to dip down to 1.6ohms on higher frequencies. I can hear the sound when listening to music or playing movies but I'm wondering if I'm actually getting their full potential.

Should I add a power amp? If so, what do I look for, should the stereo amp be more than 135wpc. How does hooking up an amp to a receiver effect each other. Any suggestions??

Thanks
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post #2 of 29 Old 02-06-2013, 01:10 PM
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Originally Posted by NLaudiophile View Post

Currently own an Onkyo 818 AVR. Rated for 4,6,8ohm speaker, 135wpc 7.2, with pre-outs to upgrade to a 9.2.

Here's the issue, I purchased a pair of Martin Logan Electromotion ESLs. They are to be used with amps rated 4 or 6 but are known to dip down to 1.6ohms on higher frequencies. I can hear the sound when listening to music or playing movies but I'm wondering if I'm actually getting their full potential.

Should I add a power amp? If so, what do I look for, should the stereo amp be more than 135wpc. How does hooking up an amp to a receiver effect each other. Any suggestions??

Thanks

Looking at the spec sheet I'd think you'd do better with more amp but that depends on how loud you listen to an extent or if you just want max headroom (91db sensitivity and rated for 20-300 wpc, 1.6ohm at 20kHz). Are your two speakers just mains in a 7ch setup? Or a 2ch setup?

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post #3 of 29 Old 02-07-2013, 12:36 AM - Thread Starter
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I'm using them as a 5.1 right now but will upgrade to a 7.1. Having said that, I'm planning on upgrading all speakers to match the 2 fronts. Basically, the center, and surrounds that were designed to match those fronts from Martin Logan. When listening to music, I tend to use the all channel stereo option. I usually listen at a moderate level, rarely reaching the half way mark on the volume.
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post #4 of 29 Old 02-07-2013, 03:04 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NLaudiophile View Post

Currently own an Onkyo 818 AVR. Rated for 4,6,8ohm speaker, 135wpc 7.2, with pre-outs to upgrade to a 9.2.

Here's the issue, I purchased a pair of Martin Logan Electromotion ESLs. They are to be used with amps rated 4 or 6 but are known to dip down to 1.6ohms on higher frequencies. I can hear the sound when listening to music or playing movies but I'm wondering if I'm actually getting their full potential.

Should I add a power amp? If so, what do I look for, should the stereo amp be more than 135wpc. How does hooking up an amp to a receiver effect each other. Any suggestions??

If its not broke, don't fix it.

Is it broken? Does it sound bad? Do you hear clipping? Does the receiver go into protect mode when you turn it up?

I have to ask - if you can't hear whether your system is broken or not, why did you buy such good hardware?
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post #5 of 29 Old 02-07-2013, 01:16 PM
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Originally Posted by NLaudiophile View Post

I'm using them as a 5.1 right now but will upgrade to a 7.1. Having said that, I'm planning on upgrading all speakers to match the 2 fronts. Basically, the center, and surrounds that were designed to match those fronts from Martin Logan. When listening to music, I tend to use the all channel stereo option. I usually listen at a moderate level, rarely reaching the half way mark on the volume.

I wouldn't worry about it. Like Arny says, if it ain't broke don't fix it smile.gif. Now if you simply need rationalization, yes, go for it! You could also just get a two or three channel amp for the front two/three speakers to help take the load off the avr's amp (that could be more along the lines of rationalization for you smile.gif ).

I have an Onkyo avr and do supplement my front three speakers with some outboard amps but I listen quite loud at times (7.3 system). I usually listen to music with just my L/R speakers plus subs as the vast majority is simply two channel source, but if I actually have multichannel music then I'll play in the recorded format. I'd only use all channel stereo during a party or something...

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post #6 of 29 Old 02-09-2013, 06:04 PM - Thread Starter
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Probably a dumb question, should I Look for a 2 ch stereo receiver, a power amp or something else? The reason I ask, is that we only have futureshop and bestbuy here. They offer a small selection of 2ch receivers. I'd hook one of those up to my current AVR just to see if there would be a difference, then look for something online. I guess the question is, when they advertise a 2ch receiver, but none say just amplifier or power amp, are they the same or completely different
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post #7 of 29 Old 02-10-2013, 06:28 PM
 
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This thread interests me a bunch and I am in a very similar situation. First of all if its not broke don't fix it is great and works perfect for many/most things but not really so well here with this hobby. I mean that is what we in this hi-fi hobby do is try new stuff to get the sound we are looking or hoping for. I guess if you are totally happy and you have the exact sound you always wanted then sure keep what you got till it breaks but this is kinda new to me and each time I have made a change/upgrade the sound has gotten better and better each time. When it gets better its awesome and kinda what drives us with this hobby of tinkering with different stuff. Its what its all about. Trying new stuff and learning and reading and getting new ideas and having fun with it. I have the same ML EM-ESL speakers. I started with Martinlogan Motion 12's,10's and 8 for HT and 2 channel listening with the 12's and they were really nice sounding.. I had a newer Denon the AVR2112CI amp and it sounded awesome and better than anything I ever had before and for music and HT my sound was so great. Then for the first time I came across the the ESL Xstat ML's and they totally blew my mind. I couldn't believe how much better they were. I was hooked and bought them and was so happy and then I upgraded my receiver to handle them better and got the Elite SC-57 and was blown away again. I then bought better speaker cables the Audioquest Type 4 cables and verse just the 14 gauge home depot wires I was using and the sound got a lot better again. I have no idea how people can say cables don't matter but that's another story. I was very happy with the sound and it wasn't broken at all but I kept reading how separates in the form of a good quality external amp will be a possible another improvement over even a beast like the SC-57. So just last night online I bought the Parasound HCA-1500A that has me going from 140WPC 4ohm to 315 WPC 4ohm. They say the Parasound is not perfect or a world beater but has a nice sweat sound and for the money is a very nice sounding amp and I hope it should help my speakers when they drop down in the ohms and offer more headroom and provide more imaging detail. Maybe it gets me another upgrade or not. I bought it used online and should be able to get most my money back if it does not improve the sound so keep an open mind to a good quality used amp as a possible option for you. Most out there seem to think it will be a nice upgrade but who knows? Another thing that may or may not help is with both our AVRs are THX Certified. I bought an AMP that was THX Certified as well so maybe that will help synergy wise when using components that are both THX Certified but who knows if that really matters or not but I thought to mention it to you in case it may be helpful.. I just did what your thinking of doing and hope it bumps sound quality up again but either way its been a lot of fun although it is getting expensive lol. Let me know how your adding an amp works out for you and when I get mine I will do the same. Good luck and enjoy... smile.gif
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post #8 of 29 Old 02-10-2013, 06:58 PM
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Originally Posted by NLaudiophile View Post

Probably a dumb question, should I Look for a 2 ch stereo receiver, a power amp or something else? The reason I ask, is that we only have futureshop and bestbuy here. They offer a small selection of 2ch receivers. I'd hook one of those up to my current AVR just to see if there would be a difference, then look for something online. I guess the question is, when they advertise a 2ch receiver, but none say just amplifier or power amp, are they the same or completely different

Where are you? Don't know futureshop, would buy internet for amps. You already have a receiver, no need to use another simply for it's amplifier section. Buy a dedicated power amp (you don't need the pre-amp section an integrated amp would provide) if you want to play around with more power but I think you're probably just fine with the 818. Some of the best priced power amps can be found at emotiva.com. If you're out of the US this may not be so interesting.

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post #9 of 29 Old 02-11-2013, 07:41 AM - Thread Starter
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Fsmithjack, you said it perfectly! I'm attempting to build a quality system. I buy one thing and it leads into looking for another component or upgrading something else. I purchased the 818, then decided, I need a nice set of fronts. I purchased the energy RC-70s. Great sound for the price point, but a demo pair of ML Electromotion ESLs stood next to them in the store. Sales people did not have much knowledge on them, but they sounded amazing. The price difference in both sets of speakers were more than tripled. I returned the 70s and bought the MLs. Now, I want more!! The problem is that apparently the MLs can go to 1.6ohms at certain frequencies. I never have the system turned up loud because its a small room, but what am I missing? The only way to know is to buy a seperate power amp. I'm def buying a power amp just to find out. If there's no difference, I guess I'll return it!

Not living in the US, tends to create some problems when finding some nice equipment and can't get it or if its shipped, the extra cost is heartbreaking!

Having said that, I've located a local HT dealer that carries NAD power amps. I have no experience with this brand, but one of there power amps dips down to 2 ohms and 300 watts.

I'll prob give it a try.

As for futureshop and bestbuy. Bestbuy in the US has a larger selection than Canada, not sure why, but it can be frustrating!
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post #10 of 29 Old 02-11-2013, 01:05 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NLaudiophile View Post

Fsmithjack, you said it perfectly! I'm attempting to build a quality system. I buy one thing and it leads into looking for another component or upgrading something else. I purchased the 818, then decided, I need a nice set of fronts. I purchased the energy RC-70s. Great sound for the price point, but a demo pair of ML Electromotion ESLs stood next to them in the store. Sales people did not have much knowledge on them, but they sounded amazing. The price difference in both sets of speakers were more than tripled. I returned the 70s and bought the MLs. Now, I want more!! The problem is that apparently the MLs can go to 1.6ohms at certain frequencies. I never have the system turned up loud because its a small room, but what am I missing? The only way to know is to buy a seperate power amp. I'm def buying a power amp just to find out. If there's no difference, I guess I'll return it!

Not living in the US, tends to create some problems when finding some nice equipment and can't get it or if its shipped, the extra cost is heartbreaking!

Having said that, I've located a local HT dealer that carries NAD power amps. I have no experience with this brand, but one of there power amps dips down to 2 ohms and 300 watts.

I'll prob give it a try.

As for futureshop and bestbuy. Bestbuy in the US has a larger selection than Canada, not sure why, but it can be frustrating!

Thought you were in the Netherlands with your handle there...didn't think BB was over there though. Lots of folk say it can be tough up in Canada for selection and price....

NAD's good stuff, maybe a bit over priced.

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post #11 of 29 Old 02-14-2013, 06:22 AM
 
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Is it possible to buy on eBay or does where you like make it tough? Man for the money there are some nice priced Adcom GFA-555 with their different variations for crazy short money. Sure there are better amps out there for sure but these are very well received and have a great reputation and they say sound great and I have seen them in the $300 and under $400 range. You may need to search a bit and your location may throw a wrench into this idea but that's a ton of amp for the money and if you don't like it chances are good you will get most/all your money back. Thought that idea may help you. With output Power: 200W into 8 ohms (23dBW); 325W into 4 ohms you can run your mains with this and it will take that load of your AVR for the rest of your speakers and I bet will be a nice smooth match and upgrade for very reasonable dough. cool.gif
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post #12 of 29 Old 02-14-2013, 08:49 AM - Thread Starter
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Yeah I'll definitely give it a try. I confirmed from the Onkyo company that my 818 AVR and well, none of there current products produce enough power for 1.6ohm requirements, but I have preouts that will work. So I def need a power amp. I'll look into ebay for sure. We can get a lot of stuff shipped here. The problem is, most individual companies will not ship across the boarder, or at least with regards to electronic HT stuff.
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post #13 of 29 Old 02-14-2013, 10:08 AM
 
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Yeah, no receiver is going to do justice to speakers that dip down to 1.6 ohms. But you say that you rarely go above the half way mark on the volume. What specific volume number is that on the display? My Onkyo goes from -80 to +20, so are you saying -30? Also, I may have missed it, but you didn't mention a budget. Since you bought some pricey speakers and plan to go 7.1, it sounds like you are willing to invest in a good system. one company I'd suggest is Outlaw Audio, they do ship to Canada. I'd phone to ask what they'd recommend, possibly the 7200 model would do the trick.
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post #14 of 29 Old 02-14-2013, 11:02 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NLaudiophile View Post

Yeah I'll definitely give it a try. I confirmed from the Onkyo company that my 818 AVR and well, none of there current products produce enough power for 1.6ohm requirements, but I have preouts that will work. So I def need a power amp. I'll look into ebay for sure. We can get a lot of stuff shipped here. The problem is, most individual companies will not ship across the boarder, or at least with regards to electronic HT stuff.

Crown Pro amps handle 2 ohms well so I would guess they'd handle 1.6 ohms pretty well.
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post #15 of 29 Old 02-14-2013, 07:27 PM - Thread Starter
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I usually have the volume on -40, give or take 5. Having said that I usually have the volume on absolute, and it's between, 30-40. So it's not overly loud.

As for budget, I'm buying each piece over time. I'm about to replace my center, from a Bose vcs-10 to the Martin Logan C2. I'm hoping to hear a huge difference. I'd say overall, 1000 per component, but I would invest more if I see the value.

Thanks for the input, i definitely look into the outlaw audio
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post #16 of 29 Old 02-14-2013, 07:35 PM
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If that's your volume level, there's no need for an external amp. But if you want to add the NAD amp, go right ahead, gives you the capacity to turn it up if you want.
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post #17 of 29 Old 02-14-2013, 07:49 PM
 
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I see, so you're probably not looking to get more than 2 channels of amplification right now. In that case, the only Outlaw option would be their mono block model. For a 2 channel amp, there are lots of options, you might check out the Emotiva XPA-2. I think this is their best amp, and it goes on sale now and then.
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post #18 of 29 Old 02-14-2013, 08:13 PM - Thread Starter
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If that's your volume level, there's no need for an external amp. But if you want to add the NAD amp, go right ahead, gives you the capacity to turn it up if you want.

Are you saying that the speakers will only need the extra power at high volumes? It states that the high frequencies could dip down to 1.6ohms, but is that only at high volumes? I was under the impression that when higher frequencies are sent to the speakers it would require a lot more power to produce it(thus the 1.6). Having said that, I do not hear any problems from the speakers, but am I hearing their full potential? Or is it just at loud volumes + high frequencies that require all the power.
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post #19 of 29 Old 02-14-2013, 10:06 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NLaudiophile View Post

Are you saying that the speakers will only need the extra power at high volumes? It states that the high frequencies could dip down to 1.6ohms, but is that only at high volumes? I was under the impression that when higher frequencies are sent to the speakers it would require a lot more power to produce it(thus the 1.6). Having said that, I do not hear any problems from the speakers, but am I hearing their full potential? Or is it just at loud volumes + high frequencies that require all the power.

I use an Onkyo 818 with my Anthony Gallo Stradas (L/R/C) and, at -20 to -10dB listening levels, it rarely gets warm. No issues here. Onkyo claims 818 as "high current" amp (whatever it means).

If I understand correctly you need more power playing lower end which is normally handled by a Sub (if you have one). Can someone clarify the power requirements at high frequencies with low ohms?
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post #20 of 29 Old 02-15-2013, 02:41 AM - Thread Starter
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The speakers could require up to (or as low as)1.6 ohms to produce the 22kHz and up( high frequency) it needs more power to drive high frequencies
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post #21 of 29 Old 02-15-2013, 05:28 AM
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a couple of observations

unless a person is very young or has lived a very quiet life, the chances they can hear 22 KHz are slim to none.

With a typical crossover frequency of 2000 Hz, the tweeter in a speaker system sees only 25 percent of the total power, which would appear to ean that any content with frequencies that high will not be calling for significant power at those frequencies. Even when you are playing loud, if there's 22 KHz content, it's not loud in and of itself and is not calling for significant power.

no CD will contain any sound at all at 22 KHz. there is a brickwall filter applied to the incoming sound stream when it is converted to digital at CD standard sampling frequency because the system cannot encode correctly significantly above 20 KHz.

Because of the above, and because bass is where big power is typically required, it's usually thought that frequency dips in lower frequencies are harder for amps to support
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post #22 of 29 Old 02-15-2013, 11:53 AM - Thread Starter
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I need to make a correction, The Martin Logan EM-ESL has a rated sensitivity of 91db and nominal impedance of 6 ohms, which dips to 1.6 ohms at 20khz. I've located this information for the company and other articles. These speakers are not cone speakers, they are Electrostat panels. Having said all that, 2kHz lower than what I originally had stated is not much. I realize we don't hear much into those high ranges, and personally, I may not hear things into the high teens either! Haha.

Don't get me wrong, I love the sound and the difference in cones and electrostats are noticeable. Clean, clear with a wide sound stage. If you get a chance to listen to a pair, try them. I guess I'm just looking into the amp stuff for 2 reasons. I don't want to damage the current AVR, and want to be sure I'm getting full potential from the speakers. The 818 may perform well for years, which would be great!
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post #23 of 29 Old 02-15-2013, 12:10 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NLaudiophile View Post

I need to make a correction, The Martin Logan EM-ESL has a rated sensitivity of 91db and nominal impedance of 6 ohms, which dips to 1.6 ohms at 20khz. I've located this information for the company and other articles. These speakers are not cone speakers, they are Electrostat panels. Having said all that, 2kHz lower than what I originally had stated is not much. I realize we don't hear much into those high ranges, and personally, I may not hear things into the high teens either! Haha.

Don't get me wrong, I love the sound and the difference in cones and electrostats are noticeable. Clean, clear with a wide sound stage. If you get a chance to listen to a pair, try them. I guess I'm just looking into the amp stuff for 2 reasons. I don't want to damage the current AVR, and want to be sure I'm getting full potential from the speakers. The 818 may perform well for years, which would be great!

i am sure they sound great. I've loved several of the ML designs, and had Maggies for quite a while. But still, at the impedance dip, the power needed, even with the low impedance, is going to be negligible in the scheme o fthings. If 2Khz to 20- KHz is 25 percent of total power, 20 Khz is going to be , what, 2.5%? Even if the impedance is down to 1.6 from 4 ohms, that's boing to barely more than double power to maybe around 6 percent of total.

If it's clipping (moving toward a square wave) it's adding odd harmonics and the 3d harmonic lies at 60KHz which isn't going to make much of an impact on anything. In a perfect square wave (pretty much as clipped as clipping gets), the 3d harmonic is 1/3 the voltage of the fundamental (fifth harmonic is 1/5th voltage etc etc. to infinity to be genuinely "perfect").
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post #24 of 29 Old 02-15-2013, 12:31 PM - Thread Starter
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I understand what you're saying in the first paragraph. Somewhat lost in the second! Ales sense when it comes to the percentage of power requirements, but if the impedance constantly fluctuates, would it be putting stress on the AVR? Would the ohms dip down past 4 at midrange? I doubt it would just dip from 4 or 6 to 1.6 when high frequencies are required. Am I on track with that ?? But having said that, I'm not hearing or experiencing any distortion, cracking or cut- offs during listening. Would this suggest that everything is fine and the sound will not be any better with more power?
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post #25 of 29 Old 02-15-2013, 06:50 PM
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The Onkyo 818 is a good receiver, but I personally wouldn't power ML electrostatics with it, especially 7 of them, as they're not easy speakers to drive. If you're thinking of going for a 7.1 system with all ML electrostatics, I would look at a 7 channel amp from Outlaw (at least the 7200, although the 7900 would be better), which has a great price to performance ratio in my opinion.
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post #26 of 29 Old 02-15-2013, 07:20 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NLaudiophile View Post

I understand what you're saying in the first paragraph. Somewhat lost in the second! Ales sense when it comes to the percentage of power requirements, but if the impedance constantly fluctuates, would it be putting stress on the AVR? Would the ohms dip down past 4 at midrange? I doubt it would just dip from 4 or 6 to 1.6 when high frequencies are required. Am I on track with that ?? But having said that, I'm not hearing or experiencing any distortion, cracking or cut- offs during listening. Would this suggest that everything is fine and the sound will not be any better with more power?

The bass is where the amp gets challenged, so if your speakers dip down to lower impedance ratings at very high frequencies, it's not that big a deal for your amp. At your listening levels I don't think you have an issue, and you're not missing anything accordingly, you would have to drive your speakers to much higher levels before you're going to have issues with that avr's amp section. Unless you just want to have the potential to get LOUD smile.gif

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post #27 of 29 Old 02-16-2013, 02:08 AM
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The MLs at FS are only ever driven by the receivers they sell, never any power amps. I doubt FS/BB would sell speakers that damage receivers they carry.

If the Onkyo isn't getting very hot then it indicates it's not over worked.

There's enough objective analysis offered here which suggests you don't need more power at your listening level but many people still add power amps if they can afford them (sometimes people here assume you have to buy the cheapest brand) and they look cool on the racks. It's not a terrible sin and we don't have to rationalise (except some people feel obliged to do that to their other half) everything that we buy. It's ok to try them to your satisfaction. Start with a pair for the fronts.

There are good S/H amps on CAM, I wouldn't rush and buy a new pair of NAD at the local dealer.

Audiosceptics accept audio trials using 25 people. A recent Oxford study with over 353,000 patient records from 639 separate clinical trials shows for every 1,000 people taking diclofenac or ibuprofen there would be 3 additional heart attacks, 4 more cases of heart failure and 1 death every year.

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post #28 of 29 Old 02-25-2013, 07:43 AM - Thread Starter
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You guys bring up some good points. I'll throw this in there, that I contacted Onkyo and they advised that they have nothing that dips to 1.6ohms. But on the other side of the coin, I don't listen at loud levels. It's not a large room(12x17) so at about 30-35% volume level it's comfortable, for music and movies. I don't notice any overheating or the sound cutting out, dipping or fading. I will add, I love watching movies with lots of surround sound effects, but since purchasing Martin Logan's, I spend more time just listening to music. The panels produce a different sound effect, thats for sure.

As for adding a power amp. I'll do it, but it will be after I complete upgrading the remaining speakers. Need the FX2 surrounds and a sub. So, it will be some time down the road.
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post #29 of 29 Old 02-25-2013, 10:29 AM
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You could also look at Emotiva amps they have alot to offer at a reasonable price

samsung pn64d8000 plasma, motorola dcx3400 dvr, monster cable hts5100 mkii signature series, oppo bdp-93, onkyo txnr1009, emotiva xpa-5, emotiva xpa-2, polk audio lsi15 fronts, polk audio lsic center, polk audio lsifx x 4 surrounds, polk psw1000 sub, velodyne spl1000 sub, ed a5-350 sub:rolleyes:
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