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post #31 of 213 Old 11-23-2013, 02:28 PM - Thread Starter
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Thank you fellas...I appreciate the replies. I will respond in kind to each of you as soon as I have a bit more free time...

5.1:
ONKYO TX-SR605B - oppo BDP-83 - SONY KDS-50A2020 SXRD
polkaudio RTi12 - polkaudio CSi30 - SpeakerCraft Preinstalled In-Ceiling Surrounds - polkaudio PSW350
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post #32 of 213 Old 11-23-2013, 08:58 PM - Thread Starter
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2k,

I wholeheartedly appreciate your input in the thread thus far...but for the sake of cohesion and readability, could you possibly begin adding paragraph breaks to your next replies? It just makes it a bit easier to read and respond to...wink.gif
Quote:
Originally Posted by Audiophile2k View Post

Double blind test shown between any two solid state amps (operating within their limits), there is no difference in sound quality. All you can hope to gain by adding a separate amp is more output...and that is assuming the separate can output AT LEAST twice as much power as the original amp. That would be bare minimum for a perceived difference. Meaning without a direct A/B comparison you'd probably never be able to tell what you had gained. So just doubling the power wouldn't be a very wise investment. So you would need to at least quadruple the power for a significant difference that would be worthwhile...but that is only half the story.

Yes -- as of the moment, the only thing I'm concerned with as it pertains to my current system is sheer power increase...there's no issue of sound quality, etc. per se. So that's why I wanted to know how much more power I would need to physically perceive a loudness increase over my current AVR's output...
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Your speakers have a rating of 500W. That is not how much they NEED, that is how much they can take without blowing or melting a voice coil.

Completely understood and I acknowledged this a few posts up...
Quote:
They will start to compress sometime well before that amount of power is supplied, meaning they won't get any louder at some point. I don't know the max spl on your speakers, but there is a point at which they won't get any louder, they'll just get more distorted or start to compress.

Understood, once again -- I just figured I'd try some sheer muscle power to these things based on what I had read about them from "owners" (I'll get to this later in another post because another member addressed it after you)...
Quote:
So lets put those two things together. You need to quadruple the power to make a significant difference, but your speakers won't be able to take much more than triple your current power (at best)...and we are assuming that all occurs before max output is reached, which is by no means a given. With the sensitivity of your speakers, your receiver can push them to at least 108db (assuming they haven't already started to compress at that point). That is past reference, which is LOUD. Sustained listening at that level can cause hearing damage. The best your 300W amp will be able to push them to is 111db....once again, assuming compression hasn't already set in. And keep in mind, that is VERY, VERY loud, and it probably will not be noticeably louder unless you do an A/B test. Is that difference worth the money of the separate amp? Not to me.

Taking this into consideration...thank you.
Quote:
Why do people make claims of audio nirvana about using separate amps? The same reason they make those claims about power cords, speaker cables, magic green paint on CDs, isolation mats, etc...because they WANT to believe all that money they spent makes a difference. I'm not saying they are lying...just like snake oil will cure all sorts of things in peoples minds...until it doesn't. Soon you'll be looking for the next little tweak, and then the next. Blind listening test have proven this over and over.

I'm not saying you should never upgrade. New receivers have better room correction, which does make an audible difference, and more bells and whistles. Different speakers sound completely different. Adding a sub or two (or 3 or 4) can make a huge difference. Those are the things you should be upgrading and spending your money on. If you want louder, it would make more sense to get more efficient speakers. (although I would worry about your long term hearing if you really needed louder). Add a sub for more impact (it will make the music SEEM louder) etc, etc. Just don't go down the rabbit hole chasing after the snake oil salesmen.

Okay, a couple of things here: First, there's no way I'm trading up these RTi12s for "more efficient" models because we got a great deal on 'em and there's nothing wrong with them. I'd like to perhaps wring a bit more "sing" out of them (as other owners have talked about) but based on what everyone is telling me here, now I'm not so sure. With regard to the comments about the "snake oil" theories surrounding the power cords and such, I never bought into the whole "power cords make a sound difference!" fiasco; however, I don't think this is the same camp that contains folks that are running power amplifiers in their systems...I mean, is there NO situation that can benefit from power amplification outside of running low impedance/efficiency speakers? It would merely be a need to run, as we have been discussing, power-pig giant speakers at full range?

5.1:
ONKYO TX-SR605B - oppo BDP-83 - SONY KDS-50A2020 SXRD
polkaudio RTi12 - polkaudio CSi30 - SpeakerCraft Preinstalled In-Ceiling Surrounds - polkaudio PSW350
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post #33 of 213 Old 11-23-2013, 09:25 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by duc135 View Post

I had a fairly lengthy, detailed reply to this yesterday, but lost it somehow. mad.gif

Let's try this again.

I am terribly sorry this happened to you, duc; happens to me all the time so I understand...thank you for your efforts in retyping it...
Quote:
There are several possible reasons why people will claim to hear a "major" improvement.

1. Generally, people do not like to admit they were duped and spent gobs of money on something that provided no benefit. They'll either be in denial or accept it, but are too embarrassed to admit they made a mistake.

2. Most people do not know how to properly compare and test. Testing of audio performance in this case requires proper equipment and procedures. The test will require that the listener has no idea if the speakers are being driven by the receiver or the external amp. The switchover needs to happen within a few seconds as people cannot accurately remember audio quality for much more than a few seconds. The two systems much be level matched. Even a difference of 1dBs will favor the louder system. This is why Harman has invested enormous amounts of money on a proper testing facility that does exactly this for speaker tests. Only in the presence of properly setup testing environments (or close enough for our purposes) can a valid comparison be made.

3. The effects of placebos are VERY strong. When a person hears or reads anecdotal stories that there is a huge difference, they already have that expectation and will actually hear an improvement when there is none. Same thing happens when they see a big amp with all the lights flickering. This is the reason why blind testing is necessary.

I understand what you're getting at here and the point is well taken -- I just know that when you Google "RTi" speakers, the results are absolutely riddled with "people" who claim these speakers CANNOT BE RUN with ANYTHING LESS than MONSTROUS power amplifiers, regardless of their decent sensitivity and 8 ohm nominal ratings...

Just some examples; please look carefully at the posts that suggest the speakers NEED big power:

http://www.polkaudio.com/forums/showthread.php?137146-RTi12-power-need
http://forum.blu-ray.com/showthread.php?t=161438
http://emotivalounge.proboards.com/thread/23072?page=2

Look at the guy on this Amazon page who says he's "seriously underpowering these speakers" with the 90 watts he's feeding them -- just as I am:

http://www.amazon.com/Polk-Audio-Output-Floorstanding-Loudspeaker/product-reviews/B00011CRZE
Quote:
4. Some people will actually get a big improvement. These are the people who use speakers that have low sensitivity in conjunction with a low powered receiver, listen to them loud and/or are far away from the speakers. In this case the receivers are clipping and distorting the signal. For situations like this, people will definitely benefit from an external amp or a more powerful receiver.
You will hear this from people who do not understand the science behind audio. They are merely spewing out the same things they've heard or read. I know because I've been there.

I understand, as this is more in line with what I was asking about...thank you...
Quote:
Your speakers can and will do the same with an external amp as it does with your current receiver. 50W (just a random number) from your receiver is the same as 50W from a 2000W $50K external amp. No point on paying money for power you will never use. Just because and amp is capable of 2000W doesn't mean that it's pushing that much to the speakers. It only pushes what it needs to based on your setup and volume level.

I understand that latter portion of what you stated...
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I have a Denon AVR-4311. My main speakers are Revel Salon2s, center is Revel Voice2, surrounds are Revel S30, wide and rears are Infinity Primus P363 and the heights are Infinity Primus P163. Subs are all DIY. 2x 18" LMS Ultra 5400 and 6x 15" Alpine SWR-1522D. I run my mains large when listening to music then cross them over at 80Hz to the subs when watching movies. The Revels Salon2s, Voice2 and the wide channel Infinity P363s are powered by an Emotiva XPR-5 amp. The rest are connected to my receiver.

But this is a different situation than mine as my Onkyo 605 is driving EVERYTHING. BTW, I have the Infinity 363s as the speakers in my two channel system...biggrin.gif

I mean, what if you had to let your Denon drive ALL these channels?
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That is exactly what I'm saying. External amps are only beneficial when there is a need. They make no audible difference if your current system is not being taken to its limits. A receiver with 95W/CH is more than enough to drive your speakers to reference levels. This is even more true since you are crossing your speakers over to your subs for the lower frequencies.

I suppose, at the end of the day, THIS is gonna be the bottom line...thank you...
Quote:
Not too long ago I actually measured the power draw of my speakers run full range at reference levels. When there was no bass notes, my speakers were only drawing less than 10W. It actually only hovered around 5W. During heavy bass notes the power draw jumped to ~150W. Keep in mind that my speakers' sensitivity is rated at 83dBs and is fairly difficult to drive at 4ohms impedance under 600Hz. This is means I need several times more power than you with your Polks. If you take you Polks in my situation it would only be drawing somewhere around 40W to play at reference levels in my room. Any mid-ranged receiver can do that without breaking a sweat.

If you prefer no Audyssey then a receiver upgrade will probably not improve your audio experience. I would still advise you to give Audyssey MultEQ XT32 a shot if you have a chance though. It's a huge improvement over the more basic 2EQ. Of course, in this case, YMMV. Some people love it and some don't. In my room I prefer no Audyssey for critical 2CH listening, but turn it on for movies. My room is well treated and I have decent supporting hardware to take advantage of not needing too much room correction to begin with. For my critical 2CH listening I run analog from my Oppo BDP-95 with no Audyssey which, to me, sounds better than digital connections with Audyssey which in turn sounds better than digital with no Audyssey.

On a purely scientific level, the answer would be yes. Any receiver would be able to drive any speaker. Whether or not it can drive them to acceptable volumes is where knowing how to calculate power requirements come into play. A speaker's sensitivity rating tells you how loud a speaker will play at a specified distance and power rating. It's "usually" at 1W at 1m. You need to look carefully though.

So for my Salon2s it is 86dBs/2.83V/1m 6ohm nominal. This means that it takes 1W to drive my speakers to play at 86dBs at a 1m distance. I'm going to ignore impedance dips as we're just looking at ballpark numbers to calculate how much power I will need. Reference levels for satellite (non sub-woofer channels) speakers according to THX is 105dBs. For every 3dBs increase in volume requires a doubling of power. You also need to double the power for every 1m distance increase after the first 1m. So at 2m I need 2W to get to the same 86dBs. To get to 89dBs at 2m I would need 4W and to hit 106dBs I would need 256W. Now you can see why I would need an external amp. But this is only if I wanted to play at reference. If I just dropped my volume down to 103dBs I would only need 128W then only 64W if I only listened at 100dBs. Now we're back to more realistic listening levels and within the capabilities of most decent receivers.

This is why I stated that I only heard minor differences between an external amp and my receiver's amp and only when I played over reference levels. at that point my receivers amps were most likely hitting their limits.

I never really get to "reference" in my room -- not even close as the wife doesn't like it loud -- so we're probably on the same page here...

However...

That being said, if I wanted to just "punch up" the performance of my RTi12s a bit, what would make the most sense to do? Just hook up a three-channel model, like say the Emotiva, or run a two-channel amp to just the 12s, letting the AVR power the center and surrounds?

5.1:
ONKYO TX-SR605B - oppo BDP-83 - SONY KDS-50A2020 SXRD
polkaudio RTi12 - polkaudio CSi30 - SpeakerCraft Preinstalled In-Ceiling Surrounds - polkaudio PSW350
2-CHANNEL:
ONKYO TX-8555 - marantz CC-4001 - TASCAM CD-RW900SL - Numark CDMIX 1 - Infinity PRIMUS P363BK - audio-technica AT-LP120USB
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post #34 of 213 Old 11-23-2013, 09:30 PM - Thread Starter
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Thanks for your input with the thread, jevan...
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Originally Posted by jevans64 View Post

FYI. HT Labs tested the TX-SR605 8 Ohm output at 85 watts/channel with 5 channels driven and 80 watts/channel with 7 channels driven. Those outputs were the maximum before the AVR clipped and went into protect mode so the " safe " numbers will probably be 5 to 10 watts lower. I don't think the amps in the new Onkyo AVR's are any better and are probably worse, but upgrading the AVR will be mainly for better room correction, more streaming features, net connectivity, and better A/V processing.

So there would be NO Onkyo receiver in their current lineup that would improve upon the power of my 605?
Quote:
Deciding on a 3-channel or 5-channel external amp is going to depend on whether more speakers will be added later on to make up a 9.x or greater setup. Getting something like an XPA-5 or XPR-5 now might not be a bad idea since the cost over the XPA-3 is minimal and opens up the option of having a core 5.x setup running on external amplification. Any additional speakers beyond 5.x would easily run off the AVR.

I don't think I'd be adding even two extra channels for 7.1, let alone more than that...

I'm just concerned that a five-channel amp doesn't have the same "guts" as a "more" dedicated three-channel model would, concentrating on powering JUST the mains (and the center)...

But I see your reasoning.
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My reasons for getting a 5-channel amp vs. a 2-channel or 3-channel...

- AVR limited to 7 channels.
- Only had room for one amp.
- Had a core 5-channel setup that could handle the XPR-5.

Absolutely no difference between the AVR ( HT Labs rated 140 watts/channel @ 8 Ohms w/ 7 channels driven ) and XPR-5 at NORMAL volume levels. There IS a noticeable difference when I want to abuse my ears though. Crystal clear at 115 dB. LOL

Which AVR and amp were you comparing?

5.1:
ONKYO TX-SR605B - oppo BDP-83 - SONY KDS-50A2020 SXRD
polkaudio RTi12 - polkaudio CSi30 - SpeakerCraft Preinstalled In-Ceiling Surrounds - polkaudio PSW350
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ONKYO TX-8555 - marantz CC-4001 - TASCAM CD-RW900SL - Numark CDMIX 1 - Infinity PRIMUS P363BK - audio-technica AT-LP120USB
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post #35 of 213 Old 11-23-2013, 10:04 PM
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There are some extremely in depth opinions and explanations on AVR and/or adding a power amp. From personal experience, yes there is an audible difference when using a good quality power amp across the front and center channels. I found more detail and a better sound stage. Yes you can crank it louder and remain clean and free of distortion but it is not about the loudness or volume. Think of it as two cars. A Camero with over 400HP and a Mazda with 225HP. Both will get you to your destination. However when you need to merge into traffic on an interstate and need that acceleration which will get you in the flow easiest? That same analogy applies to the cost. You have to decide is it worth the $'s.

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post #36 of 213 Old 11-23-2013, 10:47 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Maddmaster View Post

There are some extremely in depth opinions and explanations on AVR and/or adding a power amp. From personal experience, yes there is an audible difference when using a good quality power amp across the front and center channels. I found more detail and a better sound stage. Yes you can crank it louder and remain clean and free of distortion but it is not about the loudness or volume. Think of it as two cars. A Camero with over 400HP and a Mazda with 225HP. Both will get you to your destination. However when you need to merge into traffic on an interstate and need that acceleration which will get you in the flow easiest? That same analogy applies to the cost. You have to decide is it worth the $'s.

Your car analogy isn't very accurate since cars accelerate at different speeds. Power amps will all "accelerate" the same. The ONLY difference is their "top speed". It is better to think of them as small ponds being fed by stream. The same stream is feeding two ponds, one slightly larger than the other. Hook the same pump up to either pond and you'll get the same amount of water pumped, until you hit the limit of what the small pond can hold. Until that point, both were giving you the EXACT same amount and quality of water. As to your claims of a sonic difference, have you set up a controlled double blind test to make sure the difference is real and not imagined? It has been proven over and over and over and over...there is NO audible difference between any two solid state amplifiers when operating within their limits in ANY double blind test I've ever seen published. Amplifiers don't change the quality of the sound, only the quantity (within the parameters I explained above). To believe anything else you are literally fooling yourself and wasting money. But the choice is yours. You can believe in proven science, or you can believe in voodoo....and in my experience once someone goes down the voodoo path no amount of facts will get in the way of their beliefs.

From the OP "Okay, a couple of things here: First, there's no way I'm trading up these RTi12s for "more efficient" models because we got a great deal on 'em and there's nothing wrong with them. I'd like to perhaps wring a bit more "sing" out of them (as other owners have talked about) but based on what everyone is telling me here, now I'm not so sure. With regard to the comments about the "snake oil" theories surrounding the power cords and such, I never bought into the whole "power cords make a sound difference!" fiasco; however, I don't think this is the same camp that contains folks that are running power amplifiers in their systems...I mean, is there NO situation that can benefit from power amplification outside of running low impedance/efficiency speakers? It would merely be a need to run, as we have been discussing, power-pig giant speakers at full range?"

That pretty much sums it up. Unless you need more volume or more channels, there is NO benefit of running an external amp. End of story. It will not change the sonic characteristics of your speakers at all. This has been shown in so many controlled scientific studies it should even be discussed any more, but we still have the people like you've seen in the reviews you mention who want to claim otherwise without any proof at all. The term for what they are hearing (or think they are hearing) is called "expectation bias".
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post #37 of 213 Old 11-23-2013, 10:49 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by IntelliVolume View Post

I understand what you're getting at here and the point is well taken -- I just know that when you Google "RTi" speakers, the results are absolutely riddled with "people" who claim these speakers CANNOT BE RUN with ANYTHING LESS than MONSTROUS power amplifiers, regardless of their decent sensitivity and 8 ohm nominal ratings...

Just some examples; please look carefully at the posts that suggest the speakers NEED big power:

http://www.polkaudio.com/forums/showthread.php?137146-RTi12-power-need
http://forum.blu-ray.com/showthread.php?t=161438
http://emotivalounge.proboards.com/thread/23072?page=2

Look at the guy on this Amazon page who says he's "seriously underpowering these speakers" with the 90 watts he's feeding them -- just as I am:

http://www.amazon.com/Polk-Audio-Output-Floorstanding-Loudspeaker/product-reviews/B00011CRZE

Yea, I don't know the setups and how they did their testing so I can't say how many are valid comparisons and how many can be explained by my first three scenarios. If you let us know how far you sit from your speakers that would give us a better idea of power requirements.

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Originally Posted by IntelliVolume View Post

But this is a different situation than mine as my Onkyo 605 is driving EVERYTHING. BTW, I have the Infinity 363s as the speakers in my two channel system...biggrin.gif

I mean, what if you had to let your Denon drive ALL these channels?

I didn't start off with an external amp. I added the amp thinking, like all the other posters, that I would get an improvement. I had all nine of my speakers powered by my 4311. At the time, I had Revel Performa2 F52s which have the same sensitivity as my current speakers. So I did have my receiver powering all my speakers at once. Remember, my relatively low sensitivity speakers were only drawing less than 10W at reference levels when crossed over to a sub. Any receiver can easily push 10W to all channels without a problem.

You also need to keep in mind that when many of these third parties test the receivers they are usually using a constant sine wave. This puts a load many times higher than real life usage. Ordinarily, real life usage is 1/8th (IIRC) of sine wave loads. So if an independent test shows that a receiver can push out 90W/CH with all channels driven then that's usually a constant 90W. With that in mind also note that when playing MCH content, the lions share of the content is in the front three channels with minimal content in the surround channels. If you have a digital multimeter you can measure it for yourself.

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Originally Posted by IntelliVolume View Post

That being said, if I wanted to just "punch up" the performance of my RTi12s a bit, what would make the most sense to do? Just hook up a three-channel model, like say the Emotiva, or run a two-channel amp to just the 12s, letting the AVR power the center and surrounds?

If you insist on trying it for yourself then yes, put the front three channels on an external amp and let your receiver drive the remaining speakers. Just be sure to properly level match the setups if you try to compare the two. If you do get an external amp, Emotiva is a good, solid choice. The offer a 30 day money back guarantee. You just have to pay for return shipping which can get pretty expensive to ship a huge, heavy box back. Just keep that in mind.

You can try and see if you have a Fry's or best Buy or some other local shop that you can test with one of their amps. If you were local to Southern CA I would even be willing to bring my amp over for testing. Well, that's assuming that my shoulder is strong enough lift a 90lbs amp out of the rack.
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post #38 of 213 Old 11-23-2013, 11:06 PM
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I was going to comment about the car analogy being bad, but Audiophile2K summed it up very well. Also his comments about all SS amps sound the same. For now, let forget about scientific tests. Let's just look at this logically. Properly designed amps will have outputs that measure flat across their usable frequency. That means it will not have spikes or dips at any frequency. That means that all the amp does is amplify the incoming signal and applies the same amplification to all frequencies equally. In other words, what comes in, goes out unmodified other than an equal increase in volume across the entire frequency range. Logic will dictate that two properly designed amps that do nothing other than increasing the volume will sound the same. If it changes the characteristic of the sound other than an equal volume increase it is no longer a. properly designed or b. just an amplifier.
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post #39 of 213 Old 11-23-2013, 11:32 PM
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To expand slightly on what duc135 posted, there have been a few amp designs that intentionally mess with the frequency response. Some Bob Carver designed SS amps have mimicked certain tube designs. But I think that is outside what we are discussing as typical receivers and separate power amps. We always leave tube amps and oddball solid state designs out of this sort of conversation, because tubes DO change the incoming frequency response (most noticeably in the higher frequencies).
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Audiophile2k View Post

To expand slightly on what duc135 posted, there have been a few amp designs that intentionally mess with the frequency response. Some Bob Carver designed SS amps have mimicked certain tube designs. But I think that is outside what we are discussing as typical receivers and separate power amps. We always leave tube amps and oddball solid state designs out of this sort of conversation, because tubes DO change the incoming frequency response (most noticeably in the higher frequencies).

Bob Carver did some pretty simple but insightful stuff with his tube-mimicking SS amps. He put some low-value (maybe 3.3 ohms) power resistors in series with the speaker cables.

This made the FR of the amps become stribgky influenced by the impedance curves of of the speakers, which is the most important effect of running exotic amps like SETs.

So, you can do an approximately 95% accurate simulation of the sound quality of tubed amps if you stop buy and obtain these resistors from your nearest Radio Shack or other electronics store...
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post #41 of 213 Old 11-24-2013, 01:05 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Maddmaster View Post

There are some extremely in depth opinions and explanations on AVR and/or adding a power amp. From personal experience, yes there is an audible difference when using a good quality power amp across the front and center channels. I found more detail and a better sound stage. Yes you can crank it louder and remain clean and free of distortion but it is not about the loudness or volume. Think of it as two cars. A Camero with over 400HP and a Mazda with 225HP. Both will get you to your destination. However when you need to merge into traffic on an interstate and need that acceleration which will get you in the flow easiest? That same analogy applies to the cost. You have to decide is it worth the $'s.

I understand what you're saying with regard to the car analogy, Mad -- though it's often seen as "not the same thing" when comparing the scenario to audio/electronics (as evidenced by the reply below yours)....however, I know what you're trying to say is that like extra horsepower in a car, the extra headroom is nice to have with a power amplifier so you know it's there to crank when you want it to...biggrin.gif
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5.1:
ONKYO TX-SR605B - oppo BDP-83 - SONY KDS-50A2020 SXRD
polkaudio RTi12 - polkaudio CSi30 - SpeakerCraft Preinstalled In-Ceiling Surrounds - polkaudio PSW350
2-CHANNEL:
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post #42 of 213 Old 11-24-2013, 01:06 PM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Audiophile2k View Post

Your car analogy isn't very accurate since cars accelerate at different speeds. Power amps will all "accelerate" the same. The ONLY difference is their "top speed". It is better to think of them as small ponds being fed by stream. The same stream is feeding two ponds, one slightly larger than the other. Hook the same pump up to either pond and you'll get the same amount of water pumped, until you hit the limit of what the small pond can hold. Until that point, both were giving you the EXACT same amount and quality of water. As to your claims of a sonic difference, have you set up a controlled double blind test to make sure the difference is real and not imagined? It has been proven over and over and over and over...there is NO audible difference between any two solid state amplifiers when operating within their limits in ANY double blind test I've ever seen published. Amplifiers don't change the quality of the sound, only the quantity (within the parameters I explained above). To believe anything else you are literally fooling yourself and wasting money. But the choice is yours. You can believe in proven science, or you can believe in voodoo....and in my experience once someone goes down the voodoo path no amount of facts will get in the way of their beliefs.

From the OP "Okay, a couple of things here: First, there's no way I'm trading up these RTi12s for "more efficient" models because we got a great deal on 'em and there's nothing wrong with them. I'd like to perhaps wring a bit more "sing" out of them (as other owners have talked about) but based on what everyone is telling me here, now I'm not so sure. With regard to the comments about the "snake oil" theories surrounding the power cords and such, I never bought into the whole "power cords make a sound difference!" fiasco; however, I don't think this is the same camp that contains folks that are running power amplifiers in their systems...I mean, is there NO situation that can benefit from power amplification outside of running low impedance/efficiency speakers? It would merely be a need to run, as we have been discussing, power-pig giant speakers at full range?"

That pretty much sums it up. Unless you need more volume or more channels, there is NO benefit of running an external amp. End of story. It will not change the sonic characteristics of your speakers at all. This has been shown in so many controlled scientific studies it should even be discussed any more, but we still have the people like you've seen in the reviews you mention who want to claim otherwise without any proof at all. The term for what they are hearing (or think they are hearing) is called "expectation bias".

Thanks for your summation, 2k.

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post #43 of 213 Old 11-24-2013, 01:18 PM
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Just for the record my preference is separates. Many may feel it's overkill, but I run 4 different power amps. One for the front, one to drive 2 centers and 2 five channel amps for the height, back and side surrounds. I have a few unused channels for future growth. Currently the system is a 9.2 configuration.

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post #44 of 213 Old 11-24-2013, 01:21 PM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by duc135 View Post

Yea, I don't know the setups and how they did their testing so I can't say how many are valid comparisons and how many can be explained by my first three scenarios. If you let us know how far you sit from your speakers that would give us a better idea of power requirements.

These are far from "professional reviews" of any kind with regard to the links I provided; they were just of owner experiences in which they felt a LOT of power NEEDED to be fed to the RTi12s as I have been hinting at is making me nervous about using my current AVR with 'em...

I sit 12 feet from the front soundstage and display...
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I didn't start off with an external amp. I added the amp thinking, like all the other posters, that I would get an improvement. I had all nine of my speakers powered by my 4311. At the time, I had Revel Performa2 F52s which have the same sensitivity as my current speakers. So I did have my receiver powering all my speakers at once. Remember, my relatively low sensitivity speakers were only drawing less than 10W at reference levels when crossed over to a sub. Any receiver can easily push 10W to all channels without a problem.

Was your Denon "handling" the duties of powering all your speakers prior to getting the amp? Did you mention earlier that the only reason you got the amp was because you "didn't have to pay for it" or am I confusing you with another member?
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You also need to keep in mind that when many of these third parties test the receivers they are usually using a constant sine wave. This puts a load many times higher than real life usage.

I totally understand that -- as do I understand the fact that real-world scenarios when playing multichannel content don't have all the channels taxed at once and that when reviews of amps and AVRs are done, they're stressed in ways we wouldn't stress them when powering a 5.1/6.1/7.1 system...
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Ordinarily, real life usage is 1/8th (IIRC) of sine wave loads. So if an independent test shows that a receiver can push out 90W/CH with all channels driven then that's usually a constant 90W. With that in mind also note that when playing MCH content, the lions share of the content is in the front three channels with minimal content in the surround channels. If you have a digital multimeter you can measure it for yourself.

Yes -- I also understand that the majority of information in a multichannel soundtrack mix comes through the front three channels, with the surrounds/surround backs basically representing "support" and as such not that much power is really needed to drive them at all...thus why I wanted to know if it made more sense to merely go with a three-channel muscle amp for just the front stage or if I should just go with a full-blown five-channel model...which brings me to this:
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If you insist on trying it for yourself then yes, put the front three channels on an external amp and let your receiver drive the remaining speakers. Just be sure to properly level match the setups if you try to compare the two. If you do get an external amp, Emotiva is a good, solid choice. The offer a 30 day money back guarantee. You just have to pay for return shipping which can get pretty expensive to ship a huge, heavy box back. Just keep that in mind.

The first thing I need to do is upgrade my AVR to one with preouts though...mad.gif
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You can try and see if you have a Fry's or best Buy or some other local shop that you can test with one of their amps. If you were local to Southern CA I would even be willing to bring my amp over for testing. Well, that's assuming that my shoulder is strong enough lift a 90lbs amp out of the rack.

I indeed have a Fry's near me -- it's where we got the awesome deal on the RTi12s AND the Infinity Primus 363s! wink.gif Best Buy doesn't carry power amps like we're talking about, do they? Even through their Magnolia division?

Thank you for your offer; I appreciate it -- I actually don't live too far from you.

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post #45 of 213 Old 11-24-2013, 01:25 PM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Maddmaster View Post

Just for the record my preference is separates. Many may feel it's overkill, but I run 4 different power amps. One for the front, one to drive 2 centers and 2 five channel amps for the height, back and side surrounds. I have a few unused channels for future growth. Currently the system is a 9.2 configuration.

Wow...that's a lot of amperage!

See, this is where I get in over my head and just get more confused...all throughout this thread, the theme of "you don't need a power amp when your AVR's amps are fully adequate" and such run rampant and the general concensus is that external power amplification is NOT neccesary...then someone like you comes along with the preference for complete separates and can completely tell a difference between a single receiver powering a system and separate amps doing the same job (not saying there's anything wrong with your perspective, at all, just saying it makes the decision harder for me) and I'm left to wonder if adding more power to my mains could be beneficial...

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post #46 of 213 Old 11-24-2013, 02:27 PM
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Originally Posted by IntelliVolume View Post

Wow...that's a lot of amperage!

See, this is where I get in over my head and just get more confused...all throughout this thread, the theme of "you don't need a power amp when your AVR's amps are fully adequate" and such run rampant and the general concensus is that external power amplification is NOT neccesary...then someone like you comes along with the preference for complete separates and can completely tell a difference between a single receiver powering a system and separate amps doing the same job (not saying there's anything wrong with your perspective, at all, just saying it makes the decision harder for me) and I'm left to wonder if adding more power to my mains could be beneficial...

I truly understand you being confused. I have been doing this for more years than I care to remember and spent so much money in it I have loss track. I have several friends that were in the same situation as you. The most recent, one is using a Yamaha RX-A3020 and the other a B&K Reference 30 AVR. Both still wanted more improvement. Instead of spending a mint both added an external power amp for the front (L& R) speakers. I installed them in both systems and did not tell them when it was done. They just walked in the rooms when I was done and listening while tweaking the level adjustment. Both were like "WOW" I am hearing things I never heard before. It was as if the speakers had been awakened and that was just at a normal listening volume. I recently did a 3rd and had the exact same result as the other two. The difference was he was using a mid to low end Yamaha AVR.

As before it really comes down to personal preference, but yes it does make a difference.

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post #47 of 213 Old 11-24-2013, 04:59 PM
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Intellivolume do you find yourself in the land of the dazed and confused? :)

 

Most of the time when a thread like this starts it ends up here, some people telling you there is no difference in sound quality when a power amp is added and one or two others swearing there is. The difficult reality is that the people who tell you that there is a sound quality difference have not really run a true double blind test (described earlier in this thread). That's a really important fact that can't be ignored. Because the results of properly run non biased testing can't be considered as subjective or opinion, especially when taken from decent sized samplings.

 

On the other hand, the results of those who have not conducted properly designed tests are nothing but personal opinion. And that's fine, because ultimately whether someone likes their HT or not is subjective. You might hate my system while I love my system. So if someone says they experienced a difference in SQ when they added a power amp, I'll say I'm sure they did, in their opinion. But that doesn't mean anyone else would hear a difference. I just wish when people argued with the results of double blind tests and scientific results (as in this case) they would acknowledge that their point of view is their subjective opinion. Because that's what it is. 

 

By the way, I have the Polk RTi-a7s and I also have seen multiple posts and even heard personal accounts that say: "they require a lot of power to really open up". So I understand your thought process and your questions. In fact, that's why I was looking at the Emotiva amps earlier this year but decided (after reading threads like this) I would be better served putting my money into subwoofers. I think you can see that there are two views when it comes to power amps and no matter how much you want to get to the bottom of this question and find the definitive answer you never will, as this thread verifies. Personally I decided to go with the results of the studies and blind tests. But some people decide to listen to personal anecdotes (personal opinions).

 

In the end, you'll have to decide who you want to listen to. And Emotiva does have a trial period so for the risk of a shipping fee you can you can experiment and see for yourself. Personally I would love to hear what you discovered. 

 

Good luck and have fun with the decision process. 

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post #48 of 213 Old 11-24-2013, 05:36 PM
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Hopinater...I agree with most of your post, except one major error. You state "I just wish when people argued with the results of double blind tests and scientific results (as in this case) they would acknowledge that their point of view is their subjective opinion. Because that's what it is. " A point of view that comes from the scientific method is an objective opinion, the exact opposite of a subjective opinion. The whole idea is to take subjective opinions out of the mix and find the real truth. As you stated and I stated earlier, it is indeed someones right to ignore the facts and have their own opinion, but it becomes more harmful when these untruths are spread to others who might not know any better...then the cycle of ignorance continues. They can be happy in their ignorance, but it is still ignorance. (meant in the true definition and not as in insult)
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post #49 of 213 Old 11-24-2013, 06:57 PM
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I for one did not run a blind test so Hopinater's statement is true, it is my opinion. I too have said the same and totally agree that what I like about the sound of my system could sound like crap to someone else looking for something different. We all have our likes, dislikes and personal references to what we think is good sound. However in several cases where I did install a power amp for a few people they did not know I had already installed it in their systems when they were listening. Both heard differences without me ever saying anything.

Now in support of what you said, I can truly say back in the past separates were definitely better than Receivers. However, the improvements in technology used in the AVR has come a long way and many can rival and some equal a system of separates. I have tried both ways and having been doing this for almost 50 years. I have sat in blind test and always been able to identify the differences. It's not as easy now that my ears have aged, LOL, but I still can. As good as I may feel my system is I am not naive enough to think it can't be improved or out performed. For me I have come to the end of throwing my hard earned $'s in the black hole. That's a benefit of separates. I can replace or upgrade specific pieces without retiring a perfectly good but out dated AVR.

This topic I agree can go on forever. Too much is subjective and only the person looking for an upgrade or new system knows what they are looking for. Our opinions are just that. Process and use what information that helps in your decision is what I tell everyone. There is no right or wrong, just make a purchase that satisfies your individual taste. A word of caution is not all power amps are equal so make sure you look for quality.

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post #50 of 213 Old 11-24-2013, 07:22 PM - Thread Starter
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Thank you, all. I appreciate all your input, opinions and attempts at making me see both sides...

At this point, let me put it this way so the thread doesn't further degrade into a "manhood waving contest" between amp supporters and amp "deniers" (LOL):

If I were to add external amplification to my setup, is the concensus that the best way to go about it would be adding a three-channel amp, like Emotiva's XPA-3, just to amp the RTi12s and CSi30 center while a (new) AVR powers the two surrounds? Or, would it make more sense to get a two-channel stereo amp to power just the RTi12s, letting the AVR power the center and surrounds on its own?

It seems at this point monoblocking is going to be overkill from all accounts and input here (and out of my budget) and the way I feel about buying a brand new AVR and running it to a full five-channel power amp, completely bypassing its internal amps, is that it would be a bit silly and counter-productive because at that point I should probably just buy a pre/pro and five-channel amp if I'm not going to use ANY of a new AVR's amp channels...

Does any of this train of thinking make sense to anyone? eek.gif

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post #51 of 213 Old 11-24-2013, 07:27 PM
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The three channel amp makes the most sense if you are going to amp up.

Personally I would upgrade your avr then decide if an additional amp makes sense....I know I said it before, but it is what makes sense and is the route I took

I don't need snobs to tell me how to think, thank you!
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post #52 of 213 Old 11-24-2013, 07:35 PM
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Originally Posted by Audiophile2k View Post

Hopinater...I agree with most of your post, except one major error. You state "I just wish when people argued with the results of double blind tests and scientific results (as in this case) they would acknowledge that their point of view is their subjective opinion. Because that's what it is. " A point of view that comes from the scientific method is an objective opinion, the exact opposite of a subjective opinion. The whole idea is to take subjective opinions out of the mix and find the real truth. As you stated and I stated earlier, it is indeed someones right to ignore the facts and have their own opinion, but it becomes more harmful when these untruths are spread to others who might not know any better...then the cycle of ignorance continues. They can be happy in their ignorance, but it is still ignorance. (meant in the true definition and not as in insult)

I think you miss read what I was saying or perhaps I did not word it well, but I was not saying that the scientific method resulted in a subjective opinion, that would be impossible due to the nature of the test. Any findings coming out of a properly executed scientific test can only result in objective data. Perhaps it would have been more clear had I worded it: "I just wish when people argue against the results of double blind tests and scientific results (as in this case) they would acknowledge that their argument is based on their point of view or subjective opinion."

 

In other words, anyone disagreeing with the results of the scientific findings can only do so using their personal subjective opinion. 

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post #53 of 213 Old 11-24-2013, 07:37 PM
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Originally Posted by IntelliVolume View Post

If I were to add external amplification to my setup, is the concensus that the best way to go about it would be adding a three-channel amp, like Emotiva's XPA-3, just to amp the RTi12s and CSi30 center while a (new) AVR powers the two surrounds? Or, would it make more sense to get a two-channel stereo amp to power just the RTi12s, letting the AVR power the center and surrounds on its own?
 

If you were to do it I would go with a three channel amp.

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post #54 of 213 Old 11-24-2013, 07:51 PM
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The three channel amp makes the most sense if you are going to amp up.

Personally I would upgrade your avr then decide if an additional amp makes sense....I know I said it before, but it is what makes sense and is the route I took

Quoting myself lol....

The evolution of my system was like this:
90 watt per channel avr - had clipping and tweeter issues at my desired SPL requirements

135 watt per channel avr - still had clipping and tweeter issues.

5 channel 200 watt per channel amp - no more clipping or tweeter issues. I intended to get a 3 channel amp, but the cost of the 5 channel amp was only a small amount more and the additional channels offered greater expandability in the future should the need arise.

Added a 2 channel 300 watt per channel amp- I didn't need it, but wanted it for no other reason then to have it. Plus it was used and a really good deal.

Intillivolume, since you don't have any clipping issues the added amp may not do much or anything at all for you, but it wouldn't hurt.

Once you get an avr with preouts revisit this topic, you may find that your desire to try an additional amp is no longer present.

I don't need snobs to tell me how to think, thank you!
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post #55 of 213 Old 11-24-2013, 10:09 PM
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Originally Posted by IntelliVolume View Post

These are far from "professional reviews" of any kind with regard to the links I provided; they were just of owner experiences in which they felt a LOT of power NEEDED to be fed to the RTi12s as I have been hinting at is making me nervous about using my current AVR with 'em...

Yea, they fall into any one of the four reasons I had noted as to why they hear a difference. If they are not in the fourth category, then I would bet that the difference they heard would be non-existent if they performed proper blind and level matched testing.

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I sit 12 feet from the front soundstage and display...

So to hit reference levels at your seat you would need at most 128W from one speaker run full range. You'll probably get at least a 3dBs gain from multiple speakers and boundary reinforcement. That brings your power requirement down to 64W/CH when running your speakers full range. Since you're running them small and crossing the low frequencies to a sub then you'll need considerably less.

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Was your Denon "handling" the duties of powering all your speakers prior to getting the amp? Did you mention earlier that the only reason you got the amp was because you "didn't have to pay for it" or am I confusing you with another member?

Yes, my Denon was powering my original 5 satellite speaker system prior to me adding the amp. Like you, I heard how much of an improvement an external amp would make for me. It would "open up the sound, remove the veil, expand the soundstage, let me hear things in recordings I've never heard before, etc". Well, I can honestly say I spent close to a grand and didn't get any of that. All it did was allow me to play my speakers at higher SPLs before I started hearing distortion in the high frequencies. Of course, I never really turned the volume to the point of distortion to begin with, but it's the only difference I was able to detect.

Is it possible I just have bad hearing? Could be. I won't deny I'm not a golden ear audiophile. I just like to think that now I understand much more about the science behind this hobby of ours than I did when I first started. It's this science that backs up my experience.

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Did you mention earlier that the only reason you got the amp was because you "didn't have to pay for it" or am I confusing you with another member?

Good memory. That is indeed me. I didn't have to pay for my XPR-5, but did have to pay for my previous amp that it replaced. I had an XPA-2 that my father took and he bought the XPR-5 for me to replace it. The XPR-5 was too expensive for me to purchase for headroom I would use only on occasion. Any of the lower cost XPA amps would have been more than enough for me had I been the person paying for it. Since he insisted I get something better than what he was taking from me that's what I chose. He's actually using the XPA-2 to power a couple of passive subs I built for him.

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thus why I wanted to know if it made more sense to merely go with a three-channel muscle amp for just the front stage or if I should just go with a full-blown five-channel model...which brings me to this:
The first thing I need to do is upgrade my AVR to one with preouts though...mad.gif

IMO, neither option has a clear advantage of the other. For the same money, you can get a better 3CH amp or a lesser 5CH amp to provide external amplification for more channels. I suppose it really boils down to your budget and what you are truly expecting to get out of your investment. Based on your setup, the most lacking facet of your system would be your sub system. I don't know your room setup, but I would also look into acoustic treatments before spending money on a new receiver and external amps. If you really want new electronics I would start with a higher end receiver with analog outputs so you have the option of external amps, but skip the amp for now. Get a new receiver and a better sub system.


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I indeed have a Fry's near me -- it's where we got the awesome deal on the RTi12s AND the Infinity Primus 363s! wink.gif Best Buy doesn't carry power amps like we're talking about, do they? Even through their Magnolia division?

Funny you should ask. I just happened to be near a Best Buy today and stopped in. You are correct, they have no amps to speak of. They had a few receivers and speakers, but nothing to write home about. The last time I was in a Magnolia store they had some very high end equipment including amps.

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Thank you for your offer; I appreciate it -- I actually don't live too far from you.

When you're ready, hit me up. We'll try to set something up.
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post #56 of 213 Old 11-24-2013, 10:33 PM
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Originally Posted by IntelliVolume View Post

Thank you, all. I appreciate all your input, opinions and attempts at making me see both sides...

At this point, let me put it this way so the thread doesn't further degrade into a "manhood waving contest" between amp supporters and amp "deniers" (LOL):

If I were to add external amplification to my setup, is the concensus that the best way to go about it would be adding a three-channel amp, like Emotiva's XPA-3, just to amp the RTi12s and CSi30 center while a (new) AVR powers the two surrounds? Or, would it make more sense to get a two-channel stereo amp to power just the RTi12s, letting the AVR power the center and surrounds on its own?

It seems at this point monoblocking is going to be overkill from all accounts and input here (and out of my budget) and the way I feel about buying a brand new AVR and running it to a full five-channel power amp, completely bypassing its internal amps, is that it would be a bit silly and counter-productive because at that point I should probably just buy a pre/pro and five-channel amp if I'm not going to use ANY of a new AVR's amp channels...

Does any of this train of thinking make sense to anyone? eek.gif

All things being the same that would be true, but all things are not the same. Today's AVRs are VERY capable and rival even the best pre-pros. Pre-pros, unfortunately, still have the reputation (deserved or not) of being high end. Add that to the perception of many that higher price must equate to better performance and it's a recipe for the unknowing being relieved of their money needlessly. Manufacturers know this so they price them accordingly. For considerably less, I would get a high end AVR with analog outputs and run an external amp if necessary. Because manufacturers know AVRs are more in the mainstream, they pack many more features into an AVR than you will see in most pre-pros. Whether or not you use all or even any of them is up to you. I have two Denon 4311s. The more expensive of the two was $1K out the door from an authorized dealer a year ago. No haggling involved. That was their advertised price. The other was $200 less, but I got lucky on that one. A shout out to Crutchfield for hooking me up. Their customer service is exemplary. Both were brand new. I challenge anyone to find a pre-pro that has close to the same features at that price.
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post #57 of 213 Old 11-25-2013, 04:40 AM
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Originally Posted by IntelliVolume View Post

Thank you, all. I appreciate all your input, opinions and attempts at making me see both sides...

At this point, let me put it this way so the thread doesn't further degrade into a "manhood waving contest" between amp supporters and amp "deniers" (LOL):

If I were to add external amplification to my setup, is the concensus that the best way to go about it would be adding a three-channel amp, like Emotiva's XPA-3, just to amp the RTi12s and CSi30 center while a (new) AVR powers the two surrounds? Or, would it make more sense to get a two-channel stereo amp to power just the RTi12s, letting the AVR power the center and surrounds on its own?

It seems at this point monoblocking is going to be overkill from all accounts and input here (and out of my budget) and the way I feel about buying a brand new AVR and running it to a full five-channel power amp, completely bypassing its internal amps, is that it would be a bit silly and counter-productive because at that point I should probably just buy a pre/pro and five-channel amp if I'm not going to use ANY of a new AVR's amp channels...

Does any of this train of thinking make sense to anyone? eek.gif

To answer your question I would say if you use your system mainly for movies add the 3 channel amp. If it is mostly used for music add a 2 channel.

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post #58 of 213 Old 11-25-2013, 04:47 AM
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I think you miss read what I was saying or perhaps I did not word it well, but I was not saying that the scientific method resulted in a subjective opinion, that would be impossible due to the nature of the test. Any findings coming out of a properly executed scientific test can only result in objective data. Perhaps it would have been more clear had I worded it: "I just wish when people argue against the results of double blind tests and scientific results (as in this case) they would acknowledge that their argument is based on their point of view or subjective opinion."

In other words, anyone disagreeing with the results of the scientific findings can only do so using their personal subjective opinion. 

No I understood what you were saying. My response was I have sat through many of the blind test you are referring to so I understand your point. We could go on forever so I will back away from the table for there are too many variables in this discussion. I laugh because no matter where this subject pops up it always ends up a tit for tat battle.

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post #59 of 213 Old 11-25-2013, 05:02 AM
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Originally Posted by 67jason View Post

Quoting myself lol....

The evolution of my system was like this:
90 watt per channel avr - had clipping and tweeter issues at my desired SPL requirements

135 watt per channel avr - still had clipping and tweeter issues.

5 channel 200 watt per channel amp - no more clipping or tweeter issues. I intended to get a 3 channel amp, but the cost of the 5 channel amp was only a small amount more and the additional channels offered greater expandability in the future should the need arise.

Added a 2 channel 300 watt per channel amp- I didn't need it, but wanted it for no other reason then to have it. Plus it was used and a really good deal.

Intillivolume, since you don't have any clipping issues the added amp may not do much or anything at all for you, but it wouldn't hurt.


You reminded me of a good point. Anyone upgrading for the reasons you did should at a minimum double the power output of their AVR or Power Amp, otherwise it's a waste. I think somebody touched on it lightly. Each time we actually hear a difference in loudness the power is doubled. Most of us cannot hear a difference in loudness unless there is a 3db increase in volume which doubles the output. So in your case you solved your problem when you more than doubled the 90 wpc of the original AVR. You got extra headroom and enabled yourself to play a little louder.

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post #60 of 213 Old 11-25-2013, 05:05 AM
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To be faiir mad, I had to upgrade to the 135 watt per channel avr in order to have a unit with preouts. But yeah going from 90 to 200 watts per channel did solve my problems. The 300 watt amp is nothing but vanity for me. smile.gif

I don't need snobs to tell me how to think, thank you!
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