Originally Posted by sketterman1981
I'm considering purchasing a power amp for my HT setup. I guess I'm sort of hoping to get a resounding yes or no via this thread, because I've got an audiophile-quality taste, but the wallet doesnt really agree with me :-)
Right now I've got a Pioneer VSX-1120 K receiver, with a pair of Polk M60's as mains, a CS2 center, and a pair of TSi200's in the rear. I've read through numerous threads, throughout the interwebs, with opinions on either side of purchasing a power amp. My main 2 reasons for wanting one are 1). I want to get the best possible sound out my speakers as possible, and 2) Many of the movies we watch (Blu Ray) I tend to have to turn the receive way up for it to be nice and loud. We don't watch movies at asinine levels, but I mean like to get a real good listening experience.
The receiver has a minimum listening level of -80 (anything lower than that displays "---"). The highest I can turn it up is -12 (these are both negative numbers, so negative 12 is the highest it will go, after that, it displays MAX). Back to what I was saying, we generally have to turn the receiver up to about -20 to -18 to get good volume, and that seems like a bit much. This receiver has a feature called MCACC which automatically tunes the speakers, so their levels and EQ are all set via that. I can go in a manually change stuff afterwards, and I found that the MCACC sets the speaker levels low, like -3 to -4 db. I upped them a few db but I still have to turn the receiver way up, almost to max.
Another aspect I’ve come across the last few days is that a lot of folks claim that the pre-amps on AVR’s are garbage, and they are prone to distortion. So a few questions I have at this point are:
1. Is this true?
AVR power amps and preamps aren't garbage, but they are what they are which varies somewhat. All amps are prone to distortion if you try to push them too hard. But volume control settings aren't direct or reliable measures of power amplifier power. Generally AVR's don't have peak power indicators or clipping indicators, and that is what is required to get a reliable indication of how much AVR capability that you are using.
Are the pre-outs a bad idea to use?
2. Would a power amp connect to my system via the pre-out, or am I completely wrong?
The pre outs are there exactly for the purpose of connecting outboard power amps. If you want a sound quality benefit from connecting an external power amp you first need to know that the AVR's internal power amplifier is inadequate for your needs, which is to say it is clipping in typical use.
Secondly, the power amp you attach has to be significantly more powerful than the one in the AVR that you are bypassing. A few more watts won't make an audible difference - you need from 3 to 10 times more power to obtain a satisfying difference.
3. When using a power amp along with an AVR, do the speakers receive power from both, or from just the power amp?
The speakers that are attached to the speaker terminals of an outboard power amp receive power from just the power amp.
4. For a pair of M60’s, how many watts / channel would be recommended to push them? They can handle 210 or 220, cant remember exactly, so I was thinking a 2 channel amp, 200 w/channel at 8ohms would be perfect.
"Recommended Amplifier Power 20 - 150 watts per channel"
Frankly, these speakers can probably be driven to or close to their safe limits by many AVRs.
Your best option for extending the dynamic range of your system would probably be to get a good subwoofer. The subwoofer will take a significant load off of both your AVR and your speakers.
For example, my personal system has a pair of Infinity Primus P363s, an older 12" Paradigm subwoofer and a low end RX- V371 Yamaha 5.1 channel AVR. It gets very loud with no audible distortion that I can hear. The subwoofer makes a huge difference in dynamics and cleanliness.
I would recommend looking at a subwoofer with a 12" driver in the $500 or more price category. Hsu, SVS, Polk, Klipsch, Rhythmic, etc. are good brands.