Separate Amplification Upgrade Query: Which Way Would YOU Go? - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 213 Old 11-19-2013, 02:44 PM - Thread Starter
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I have been thinking of adding some external muscle amplification to my setup if only to get my monstrous Polk RTi12 mains some more juice (these things can handle a max IIRC of 500 watts each); right now, an Onkyo 605 is running the whole shebang with absolutely no issues at all (the RTi12s are crossed over at 60Hz with a sub taking care of the rest; the center and surrounds see 80Hz crossovers) but I'm simply tempted to feed these bad boys some more power...

That said, I am in a bit of a dilemma in terms of which way I should go; I realize I have to upgrade my receiver to one with preouts or buy a separate pre/pro, but beyond that I'm pondering what configuration I should run with...

The way I see it, here are my options:

1. Get a new (preferably Onkyo) AVR and let it run the surround channels while the front three channels are run by something like Emotiva's three-channel amp.

2. Let the new AVR run the surround channels, like above, as well as the center while powering only the two RTi12 mains with a two-channel muscle amp.

3. Let the new AVR run the surround channels, like above, while powering EACH speaker of the front stage with its own monoblock amp (probably not financially feasible for me, but throwing it out there).

4. Get a five-channel muscle amp and let the whole thing power the 5.1 setup, also adding a separate (preferably Onkyo) pre/pro.


Of course, I could always let a new more powerful AVR power the whole system too, but then where's the fun in upgrading the power for the RTi12s? Also, what I will probably do first is get a new AVR with the preouts and see how a new one runs the whole system as compared to the 605 I have now...amps can be added after that so long as there are preouts anyway so I'm covered there...

Anyone with any thoughts?

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post #2 of 213 Old 11-19-2013, 05:35 PM - Thread Starter
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Anyone?

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post #3 of 213 Old 11-19-2013, 06:04 PM
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if you are able to achieve the desired spl levels in your room with out clipping then an amp is not necessary......now if you wanna be cool then gt the biggest baddest amp you can afford. tongue.gif

as for upgrading your avr, id say look into an onkyo 818, 929 or denon x4000. all have audyssey xt32 and the capability of adding an amp later on if the need arises.

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post #4 of 213 Old 11-19-2013, 06:55 PM - Thread Starter
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As always, thanks J...

Yes, at the moment I'm achieving the SPL levels I want with no clipping or distortion -- most of the time I can't even wring my 605 of all its power because the wife is routinely telling me to turn it down -- but I suppose I just wanted to see what the RTi12s "can do"...wink.gif

Thanks for your suggestion about which new Onkyo AVR to go with if I decide -- but what course of action would you take in this situation? Three channel amp just for the front stage? Two channel amp just for the RTi12s? Monoblocks for each of the front three?

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post #5 of 213 Old 11-19-2013, 07:08 PM
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As always, thanks J...

Yes, at the moment I'm achieving the SPL levels I want with no clipping or distortion -- most of the time I can't even wring my 605 of all its power because the wife is routinely telling me to turn it down -- but I suppose I just wanted to see what the RTi12s "can do"...wink.gif

Thanks for your suggestion about which new Onkyo AVR to go with if I decide -- but what course of action would you take in this situation? Three channel amp just for the front stage? Two channel amp just for the RTi12s? Monoblocks for each of the front three?

ee m pm...and id say update yourr avr first then see if the amp is needed. i would go with either an emotiva xpa-3 or 5 (or similar other brand) if you wanted to go the amp route.

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

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post #6 of 213 Old 11-19-2013, 07:28 PM - Thread Starter
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ee m pm...and id say update yourr avr first then see if the amp is needed. i would go with either an emotiva xpa-3 or 5 (or similar other brand) if you wanted to go the amp route.

So you don't think three monoblocks are necessary? Or a two-channel just for the RTi12s? (I suppose that last option isn't ideal as then the center would be a bit "mismatched" with all that other power going to the mains...)

The reason I was skeptical about doing a full-blown five-channel amp is because in my opinion, AVRs have more than enough juice to power surround channels (which aren't utilized as often as the main channels in HT soundtracks, typically) so why buy a new AVR and leave all the channels unconnected and idle? Then, there's the five-channel "concentration" factor -- wouldn't it be logical to assume a five-channel amp isn't really going to feed the channels that really could use some current, the RTi12 fronts, as well as a dedicated one, two or three-channel model would because it has to "spread" its current around the room? Or am I off base on this assumption?

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post #7 of 213 Old 11-19-2013, 07:30 PM
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Personally I'd upgrade to the Denon X4000, people seem thrilled with it. But you sound like you are a fan of Onkyo so you may want to go 818 and get the 135 wpc at a reduced rate from the 929. Right now Crutchfield has the 818 for $700. The 929 at Crutchfield is $1300. Then, if you insist on getting an amp (and who can blame somebody for wanting to have a power amp even if not needed?) take the $600 you saved and apply it to the XPA-3 on sale for $719 right now I believe. 

 

But, I don't think you will hear any difference with the amp. However, sometimes this hobby doesn't need to be logical, it just needs to be fun. So if you have the funds and if it makes you happy than go for the amp and enjoy!:D 

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post #8 of 213 Old 11-19-2013, 07:35 PM - Thread Starter
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Personally I'd upgrade to the Denon X4000, people seem thrilled with it. But you sound like you are a fan of Onkyo so you may want to go 818 and get the 135 wpc at a reduced rate from the 929. Right now Crutchfield has the 818 for $700. The 929 at Crutchfield is $1300. Then, if you insist on getting an amp (and who can blame somebody for wanting to have a power amp even if not needed?) take the $600 you saved and apply it to the XPA-3 on sale for $719 right now I believe. 

But, I don't think you will hear any difference with the amp. However, sometimes this hobby doesn't need to be logical, it just needs to be fun. So if you have the funds and if it makes you happy than go for the amp and enjoy!biggrin.gif  

Thanks so much for lending your opinion and thoughts, Hopinater -- much appreciated!

Yes, I'm kinda an Onkyo fan boy so I'd like to stick with the brand -- that said, I would definitely consider a Denon, as to me these are the two best brands doing AVRs for many, many years now. Thanks for the recommendation on new Onkyo AVR models (as Jason had provided as well); do you think either of these models, the 818 or 929, will yield noticeable differences by themselves over my current 605? I know this is all mainly subjective...

Also -- with regard to amp configuration opinions, you'd go with the three-channel Emotiva over a five-channel or two-channel? Monoblocks are probably overkill, huh?

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post #9 of 213 Old 11-19-2013, 07:35 PM
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So you don't think three monoblocks are necessary? Or a two-channel just for the RTi12s? (I suppose that last option isn't ideal as then the center would be a bit "mismatched" with all that other power going to the mains...)

The reason I was skeptical about doing a full-blown five-channel amp is because in my opinion, AVRs have more than enough juice to power surround channels (which aren't utilized as often as the main channels in HT soundtracks, typically) so why buy a new AVR and leave all the channels unconnected and idle? Then, there's the five-channel "concentration" factor -- wouldn't it be logical to assume a five-channel amp isn't really going to feed the channels that really could use some current, the RTi12 fronts, as well as a dedicated one, two or three-channel model would because it has to "spread" its current around the room? Or am I off base on this assumption?

Most power amps are all channels driven so each channel has its own watts where as an AVR is usually 2 channels driven so the watts get spread out amongst the speakers. So if the amp says 300 wpc that means each channel gets its own 300 watts of pure clean power. The AVR makes the channels share .

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post #10 of 213 Old 11-19-2013, 07:39 PM
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ee m pm...and id say update yourr avr first then see if the amp is needed. i would go with either an emotiva xpa-3 or 5 (or similar other brand) if you wanted to go the amp route.

So you don't think three monoblocks are necessary? Or a two-channel just for the RTi12s? (I suppose that last option isn't ideal as then the center would be a bit "mismatched" with all that other power going to the mains...)

The reason I was skeptical about doing a full-blown five-channel amp is because in my opinion, AVRs have more than enough juice to power surround channels (which aren't utilized as often as the main channels in HT soundtracks, typically) so why buy a new AVR and leave all the channels unconnected and idle? Then, there's the five-channel "concentration" factor -- wouldn't it be logical to assume a five-channel amp isn't really going to feed the channels that really could use some current, the RTi12 fronts, as well as a dedicated one, two or three-channel model would because it has to "spread" its current around the room? Or am I off base on this assumption?

i feel if one is going to amp the front stage then all three speakers should have the same or similar power available to them....just how i feel.

the xpa-5 is overkill, but only cost around $100 more then the 3 so why not? it is true that an avr can power the surrounds just fine, and most of the time the mains as well....its just if you are going to amp up i say go big or go home....logic be damned. tongue.gif its part of the fun.

but really, start with the avr first the decide if an external amp is necessary for you.

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

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post #11 of 213 Old 11-19-2013, 07:41 PM
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Personally I'd upgrade to the Denon X4000, people seem thrilled with it. But you sound like you are a fan of Onkyo so you may want to go 818 and get the 135 wpc at a reduced rate from the 929. Right now Crutchfield has the 818 for $700. The 929 at Crutchfield is $1300. Then, if you insist on getting an amp (and who can blame somebody for wanting to have a power amp even if not needed?) take the $600 you saved and apply it to the XPA-3 on sale for $719 right now I believe. 

But, I don't think you will hear any difference with the amp. However, sometimes this hobby doesn't need to be logical, it just needs to be fun. So if you have the funds and if it makes you happy than go for the amp and enjoy!biggrin.gif  

Thanks so much for lending your opinion and thoughts, Hopinater -- much appreciated!

Yes, I'm kinda an Onkyo fan boy so I'd like to stick with the brand -- that said, I would definitely consider a Denon, as to me these are the two best brands doing AVRs for many, many years now. Thanks for the recommendation on new Onkyo AVR models (as Jason had provided as well); do you think either of these models, the 818 or 929, will yield noticeable differences by themselves over my current 605? I know this is all mainly subjective...

Also -- with regard to amp configuration opinions, you'd go with the three-channel Emotiva over a five-channel or two-channel? Monoblocks are probably overkill, huh?

just by having audyssey xt32 the 818, 929 and x4000 have the potential to offer a superior listening experience over your 605.

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

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post #12 of 213 Old 11-19-2013, 07:42 PM
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Also -- with regard to amp configuration opinions, you'd go with the three-channel Emotiva over a five-channel or two-channel? Monoblocks are probably overkill, huh?

If it were me, and someday it most likely will be as I have been considering this upgrade myself, I think I would go the XPA 3 to power the front channels and leave my surround channels to the AVR because they don't need much power due to the material they play. 

 

I almost bought the XPA-3 two months ago but decided to upgrade my subwoofers instead. But I considered the Emotiva XPA-2, 3 and 5 and in the end decided the three channel made the most sense for the reasons mentioned above. 

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just by having audyssey xt32 the 818, 929 and x4000 have the potential to offer a superior listening experience over your 605.

Absolutely! Great point and makes the upgrade worthwhile. I think the 818 makes the most sense price wise but I confess I haven't sat down and done a thorough comparison between all of three.

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post #14 of 213 Old 11-19-2013, 07:45 PM - Thread Starter
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Most power amps are all channels driven so each channel has its own watts where as an AVR is usually 2 channels driven so the watts get spread out amongst the speakers. So if the amp says 300 wpc that means each channel gets its own 300 watts of pure clean power. The AVR makes the channels share .

Thank you...

But are you certain about the fact that even though the receiver is RATED into just two channels it also means it really can't be measured into five or more?

I see what you're saying about the five channel power amps though; realistically, if I were to do that, I think I'd go with a pre/pro instead of a receiver because why waste all those amp channels just for a switching and processing device?

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i feel if one is going to amp the front stage then all three speakers should have the same or similar power available to them....just how i feel.

the xpa-5 is overkill, but only cost around $100 more then the 3 so why not? it is true that an avr can power the surrounds just fine, and most of the time the mains as well....its just if you are going to amp up i say go big or go home....logic be damned. tongue.gif its part of the fun.

Appreciated. smile.gif
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but really, start with the avr first the decide if an external amp is necessary for you.

That's what I'm gonna do, when it's time...

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post #16 of 213 Old 11-19-2013, 07:48 PM - Thread Starter
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just by having audyssey xt32 the 818, 929 and x4000 have the potential to offer a superior listening experience over your 605.

I actually don't run Audyssey on my system(s) because I prefer the sound of the AVR/speakers and prefer to dial in my distances, levels and crossovers personally (I leave EQ off)...

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If it were me, and someday it most likely will be as I have been considering this upgrade myself, I think I would go the XPA 3 to power the front channels and leave my surround channels to the AVR because they don't need much power due to the material they play

Right -- that's exactly what I was saying to Jason... 
Quote:
I almost bought the XPA-3 two months ago but decided to upgrade my subwoofers instead. But I considered the Emotiva XPA-2, 3 and 5 and in the end decided the three channel made the most sense for the reasons mentioned above. 

It seems like the Emotiva three-channel model is going to be the best bet...does anyone else make a three-channel model? Outlaw?

Interesting both you guys aren't talkin' about monoblocks after I brought them up -- shouldn't three separate amps to three separate speakers truly rock as compared to a three-channel model for all three?

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post #18 of 213 Old 11-19-2013, 07:51 PM
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But are you certain about the fact that even though the receiver is RATED into just two channels it also means it really can't be measured into five or more?
 

Not sure what you mean here. But if you're looking to see how the power of a receiver is shared among all the channels I believe there are some posts where some guys do a good job of breaking it down. But what makes amps so attractive is that each channel gets it's own power. 

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If it were me, and someday it most likely will be as I have been considering this upgrade myself, I think I would go the XPA 3 to power the front channels and leave my surround channels to the AVR because they don't need much power due to the material they play

Right -- that's exactly what I was saying to Jason... 
Quote:
I almost bought the XPA-3 two months ago but decided to upgrade my subwoofers instead. But I considered the Emotiva XPA-2, 3 and 5 and in the end decided the three channel made the most sense for the reasons mentioned above. 

It seems like the Emotiva three-channel model is going to be the best bet...does anyone else make a three-channel model? Outlaw?

Interesting both you guys aren't talkin' about monoblocks after I brought them up -- shouldn't three separate amps to three separate speakers truly rock as compared to a three-channel model for all three?

i dont buy into the monoblock hype....now you are starting to delve into the realm of inaudible differences. competent 2 or more channel amps keeps cross talk to a minimum to the point of inaudibility. i dont worry about havimg a shared power supply either, because a) they are huge and b) even if they lost a tad bit of power per channel its not a whole lot, not enough to be audible anyway.

if you want to pour over specs emotiva offers up independant tests reults on their website.

xpa-5 8ohm
xpa-5 4ohm

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post #20 of 213 Old 11-20-2013, 07:26 AM
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Right -- that's exactly what I was saying to Jason... 
It seems like the Emotiva three-channel model is going to be the best bet...does anyone else make a three-channel model? Outlaw?

Interesting both you guys aren't talkin' about monoblocks after I brought them up -- shouldn't three separate amps to three separate speakers truly rock as compared to a three-channel model for all three?

 

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i dont buy into the monoblock hype....now you are starting to delve into the realm of inaudible differences. competent 2 or more channel amps keeps cross talk to a minimum to the point of inaudibility. i dont worry about havimg a shared power supply either, because a) they are huge and b) even if they lost a tad bit of power per channel its not a whole lot, not enough to be audible anyway.
 
 

I agree with jason on everything he said. IMO mono blocks are way overkill and just a good way to spend a lot of money for little to no discernible difference. That said, if you do a batch of reading you should find that power is power and unless you are driving your AVR or amp beyond their capabilities and they start clipping (which is how you can quickly blow your speakers) then you should not really ever notice a difference in sound quality between amps. Some people swear they heard a difference others swear they never heard a difference when they upgraded from an AVR to running amps. But almost all seem to agree they were happy with the upgrade because of the peace of mind of the extra headroom and knowing their speakers won't take the assault inflicted by a clipping AVR being pushed to hard. 

 

One of the guys here in the forum shared this link about some interesting theories on audio. Topic #3 may be of interest to you. 

http://numeralnine.wordpress.com/2013/10/09/a-brief-guide-to-audio-for-the-skeptical-consumer/

 

I don't believe Outlaw has a three channel amp.

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post #21 of 213 Old 11-21-2013, 03:52 PM - Thread Starter
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Thank you VERY much, Hop and Jason -- I appreciate all your input and will chew on everything you guys mentioned...

So, for now, monoblocking is being taken out of my personal equation...instead, if I'm understanding you fellas right, I will concentrate on:

1. A new AVR with preouts and more power to begin with...

2. A three-channel amp for the front stage, using the receiver's surround channel amps only...

3. A five-channel amp with a separate pre/pro...


Any other considerations for configuration?

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post #22 of 213 Old 11-21-2013, 03:52 PM - Thread Starter
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Not sure what you mean here. But if you're looking to see how the power of a receiver is shared among all the channels I believe there are some posts where some guys do a good job of breaking it down. But what makes amps so attractive is that each channel gets it's own power. 

Never mind; I knew what I was trying to say but it didn't come out right....just ignore. LOL.

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post #23 of 213 Old 11-21-2013, 04:50 PM
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i dont buy into the monoblock hype....now you are starting to delve into the realm of inaudible differences. competent 2 or more channel amps keeps cross talk to a minimum to the point of inaudibility. i dont worry about havimg a shared power supply either, because a) they are huge and b) even if they lost a tad bit of power per channel its not a whole lot, not enough to be audible anyway.

Monoblocks are a triumph of intuition over reason.

Intuition says that separate amps have more separation and therefore better soundstaging. As you say, reason points out that there is no problem getting about 100 times more separation than you can actually hear in the same room with multiple channels in one chassis.

Intuition says that separate amps have more power but reason says that the opposite is true. The channels in a multiple channel power amp do not nbormally play signals that are identical with each other. Normal multichannel signals have channels that are different from eachother. Since the channels are different one can easily require more power than the other. If the power supplies are split only so much power is available to each channel anything that is not needed remains in each amp's power supply. If the power supplies are shared, than any power that might be used to power the channels that are using less power, is available for the channel(s) that need it. If the channel signals are the same, the amp is still no worse off than it would be if it was a pair of monoblocks.
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Your speakers' sensitivity is 90dBs. That means that it takes all of 1W to drive them to 90dBs at 1m. To get to 90dBs at 2m it takes about 2W. To get to 105dBs at 2m means you will need around 64W of power. Any decent mid ranged AVR can easily push 64W/CH with all channels driven. I don't know about you, but 105dBs is VERY loud to me. This is not taking boundary gains or gains from multiple speakers into account either. Most people do not play their speakers at that level. Even by dropping that down to 102dBs means you will only need 32W.

If you subscribe to the science that all properly designed amps will sound the the same when used within their limits (which I do) then getting a 2000W monoblock for each of your speakers will not make a bit of audible difference. You say your speakers can handle 500W, but that's just how much it can handle, not what it requires. It just means that you can push that much power to them before something in them gives. I have much less sensitive AND more difficult speakers to drive and can't hear a difference between my AVR's internal amps and my Emotiva XPR-5 amp until I push them well over reference levels. The only reason I have an external amp is that 1. I didn't have to pay for it and 2. I have more speakers than internal amps in my AVR so I needed an external amp anyway.

Without knowing anything else about your situation or setup, I would recommend a good sub or a second sub if you already have a good sub. Either that or acoustic treatments for your room. Upgrading to a receiver with automatic room correction may or may not be to your liking. I like it, but you may not. All that being said, if buying an external amp make you feel good, then that's all that matters. Our opinion means nothing in your setup. Whatever you decide, I wish you luck and hope you achieve what you are looking for. I can only give advice based on facts presented.
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post #25 of 213 Old 11-21-2013, 05:06 PM
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I don't know if you've done the math, but if you go with a separate 300w power amp you are going to spend a lot of money to only gain 3db at the most. Even if you went with a 500w amp, and assume the polks could take every bit of that power without any clipping or distortion, you would gain at most 5db. Just a sanity check for you to see if "barely able to notice it is louder" is worth the money you are thinking about spending.

Edit...looks like duc135 had the same idea while I was reading and posting. +1 to everything he said.
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post #26 of 213 Old 11-21-2013, 10:06 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by duc135 View Post

Your speakers' sensitivity is 90dBs. That means that it takes all of 1W to drive them to 90dBs at 1m. To get to 90dBs at 2m it takes about 2W. To get to 105dBs at 2m means you will need around 64W of power. Any decent mid ranged AVR can easily push 64W/CH with all channels driven. I don't know about you, but 105dBs is VERY loud to me. This is not taking boundary gains or gains from multiple speakers into account either. Most people do not play their speakers at that level. Even by dropping that down to 102dBs means you will only need 32W.

I understand; thank you duc. Yes, I realize my speakers are of slightly above average sensitivity and are therefore not "difficult" to drive...the thing is, if you Google the Polk RTi12s you'll be absolutely bombarded with messages, posts and blogs from people who SWEAR that these MUST be run with massive amounts of watts driven by insanely huge pro amps designed to rock a commercial stadium...rolleyes.gif And so that's why I was concerned about my particular setup (the way I understand it, there's really no reason to "worry" about speakers being able to "handle all that juice" when it comes to clean amp power, but more a matter of an amp being able to "handle all that loudspeaker" if it's ANYTHING -- and that there is no such thing as "too much" power going to a speaker so long as it's clean power without clipping or straining...it's distortion and trying to play an amp past its limits that will fry a speaker WAY before power will).

Which brings me to your comments here:
Quote:
If you subscribe to the science that all properly designed amps will sound the the same when used within their limits (which I do) then getting a 2000W monoblock for each of your speakers will not make a bit of audible difference.

I understand; I'm beginning to drop the whole "monoblock" option now I think...
Quote:
You say your speakers can handle 500W, but that's just how much it can handle, not what it requires. It just means that you can push that much power to them before something in them gives.

I completely understand; as a matter of fact, I was advised by someone on the Polk forums that I don't "HAVE to drive the RTi12s to their peak performance" especially given the fact that I'm crossing them over at 60Hz now, letting a sub handle the rest (thus drastically decreasing the load on the receiver). I totally understand what you're saying above -- that just because the RTi12s CAN handle a "max" of 500 watts IIRC doesn't mean that's what MUST feed them...and that realistically speaking, something would fly right off the speakers and crack if 500 PURE, untouched watts were being fed to them...eek.gif There were two trains of thought I had here about this, though:

1. I keep reading about how owners of these speakers SWEAR that RAW, MASSIVE GOBS of power MUST be fed to these things in order to even "experience" them "properly" and that a "measley" AVR like mine rolleyes.gif will in NO WAY power them "right"...

2. I was just curious as to what these speakers "could do" with heavy amplification current behind them due to the extra headroom that normally comes with separate amping...cool.gif
Quote:
I have much less sensitive AND more difficult speakers to drive and can't hear a difference between my AVR's internal amps and my Emotiva XPR-5 amp until I push them well over reference levels. The only reason I have an external amp is that 1. I didn't have to pay for it and 2. I have more speakers than internal amps in my AVR so I needed an external amp anyway.

What kind of AVR and speakers do you have?

Your comments about the amp and AVR sounding identical at "non-reference" levels conerns me -- are you saying a power amp or amps really yield no discernable improvement over (decent, like Onkyo) AVRs at normal volume ranges and that perhaps big power amps are more suited for running power-pig giant speakers at full range (as opposed to a more standard speaker-and-sub setup most people have, driven by an AVR crossed over at a certain frequency)?
Quote:
Without knowing anything else about your situation or setup, I would recommend a good sub or a second sub if you already have a good sub.

I suppose it would make more sense to clue you in on the rest of the setup (tongue.gif) -- the RTi12s are crossed over, inside the Onkyo 605, at 60Hz (with the understanding this would allow the towers to "flex more of their muscles" while still giving my sub a good workout with all content 60Hz and below) while a Polk PSW350 handles sub-bass duties (the sub is connected to the AVR via the sub preout connection, of course). Now, I KNOW I need to upgrade the sub -- but this is what I'm running now...rolleyes.gif

The surrounds are SpeakerCraft in-ceilings (2) and the center is a Polk CSi30 (not the perfect mate for the RTi12s, but Polk customer assistance assured me it's a reasonable enough match for a cohesive sonic soundstage); both the center and surround channels are crossed over at 80Hz...
Quote:
Either that or acoustic treatments for your room. Upgrading to a receiver with automatic room correction may or may not be to your liking. I like it, but you may not. All that being said, if buying an external amp make you feel good, then that's all that matters. Our opinion means nothing in your setup. Whatever you decide, I wish you luck and hope you achieve what you are looking for. I can only give advice based on facts presented.

I VERY MUCH appreciate your input and opinion here (they DO mean something to ME smile.gif); my Onkyo 605 does have Audyssey 2EQ, but I set the receiver up myself and leave the EQ off per my preference...

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post #27 of 213 Old 11-21-2013, 10:11 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Audiophile2k View Post

I don't know if you've done the math, but if you go with a separate 300w power amp you are going to spend a lot of money to only gain 3db at the most. Even if you went with a 500w amp, and assume the polks could take every bit of that power without any clipping or distortion, you would gain at most 5db. Just a sanity check for you to see if "barely able to notice it is louder" is worth the money you are thinking about spending.

Edit...looks like duc135 had the same idea while I was reading and posting. +1 to everything he said.

Thank you 2K; appreciate your input and opinions. I understand the science behind the "increase in wattage" scenario but that begs to ask the question...what's the point of separate power amps then anyway? Wouldn't ANY receiver -- as bare bones as possible -- on the planet be able to drive ANY speaker system then?

If the scientific approach to the wattage increase thing is indeed true, what kind of power would I need to "experience" a definite performance increase through my RTi12s over the "90 watts" they're supposedly getting now?

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post #28 of 213 Old 11-21-2013, 10:56 PM
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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.
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. 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.
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.
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.
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post #29 of 213 Old 11-22-2013, 11:00 AM
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I had a fairly lengthy, detailed reply to this yesterday, but lost it somehow. mad.gif

Let's try this again.
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Originally Posted by IntelliVolume View Post

1. I keep reading about how owners of these speakers SWEAR that RAW, MASSIVE GOBS of power MUST be fed to these things in order to even "experience" them "properly" and that a "measley" AVR like mine rolleyes.gif will in NO WAY power them "right"...

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.

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.

Quote:
Originally Posted by IntelliVolume View Post

1. I keep reading about how owners of these speakers SWEAR that RAW, MASSIVE GOBS of power MUST be fed to these things in order to even "experience" them "properly" and that a "measley" AVR like mine rolleyes.gif will in NO WAY power them "right"...

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.

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Originally Posted by IntelliVolume View Post

2. I was just curious as to what these speakers "could do" with heavy amplification current behind them due to the extra headroom that normally comes with separate amping...cool.gif

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.

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Originally Posted by IntelliVolume View Post

What kind of AVR and speakers do you have?

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.

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Originally Posted by IntelliVolume View Post

Your comments about the amp and AVR sounding identical at "non-reference" levels conerns me -- are you saying a power amp or amps really yield no discernable improvement over (decent, like Onkyo) AVRs at normal volume ranges and that perhaps big power amps are more suited for running power-pig giant speakers at full range (as opposed to a more standard speaker-and-sub setup most people have, driven by an AVR crossed over at a certain frequency)?
I suppose it would make more sense to clue you in on the rest of the setup (tongue.gif) -- the RTi12s are crossed over, inside the Onkyo 605, at 60Hz (with the understanding this would allow the towers to "flex more of their muscles" while still giving my sub a good workout with all content 60Hz and below) while a Polk PSW350 handles sub-bass duties (the sub is connected to the AVR via the sub preout connection, of course). Now, I KNOW I need to upgrade the sub -- but this is what I'm running now...rolleyes.gif

The surrounds are SpeakerCraft in-ceilings (2) and the center is a Polk CSi30 (not the perfect mate for the RTi12s, but Polk customer assistance assured me it's a reasonable enough match for a cohesive sonic soundstage); both the center and surround channels are crossed over at 80Hz...
I VERY MUCH appreciate your input and opinion here (they DO mean something to ME smile.gif); my Onkyo 605 does have Audyssey 2EQ, but I set the receiver up myself and leave the EQ off per my preference...

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.

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.

Quote:
Originally Posted by IntelliVolume View Post

my Onkyo 605 does have Audyssey 2EQ, but I set the receiver up myself and leave the EQ off per my preference...

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.

Quote:
Originally Posted by IntelliVolume View Post

I understand the science behind the "increase in wattage" scenario but that begs to ask the question...what's the point of separate power amps then anyway? Wouldn't ANY receiver -- as bare bones as possible -- on the planet be able to drive ANY speaker system then?

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.
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post #30 of 213 Old 11-22-2013, 11:28 AM
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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.

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.

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

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