Bi-Wiring/Bi-Amping With Onkyo 605...Viable? - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 214 Old 11-19-2013, 02:57 PM - Thread Starter
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Not sure what the "correct" reference is to what I'm asking about here but I understand the process has often been referred to as "Fool's Bi-Amping" (if I'm not mistaken) -- what I'd like to know is if it would yield any discernable improvement if I were to utilize the "back surround" channels of my Onkyo 605 AVR (which aren't being used because I'm running 5.1) to "add more dynamics" to my Polk RTi12 front mains (the receiver can be configured so that the unused channels can be "combined" with the front main channels for what the manufacturer claims results in added power though many argue this cannot be because the same power supply of the receiver is being tapped)...

If so, I would need to remove the jumpers on my RTi12s, correct, and then feed the bottom terminals the leads from the back surround terminals on the receiver and the top terminals of the speakers the leads from the receiver's front mains? In theory, this is merely getting "better separated signal" to the highs and lows of the Polks, right?

At any rate, is this "passive bi-amping/bi-wiring" method recommended or does it basically do nothing? Should I just leave it the way it is, set up in the "standard" way of one front channel of the amp going to one speaker and the other going to the second? In my 605's setup menu, the Speaker Type is set to "Normal" not "Bi-Amp," which would have to change if I decided to try this...

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post #2 of 214 Old 11-19-2013, 03:07 PM
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waste of time as far as i am concerned.

see this thread for recent discussion on the topic.

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post #3 of 214 Old 11-19-2013, 03:14 PM - Thread Starter
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Thank you for the prompt reply, Jason. Yes, I noticed Ollie's thread about this, but there are so many pages I couldn't really find where the thread specifically addressed the setup I'm referring to (that is, just running the back surround channels to one input of the speaker and then the main front channels to the other)...

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post #4 of 214 Old 11-19-2013, 03:25 PM - Thread Starter
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Also, Jason, with regard to the link to the Polk forum in your signature, while I feel the same (about why one wouldn't want to be any part of that community -- it's beyond brutal), what was the motivation for putting that there?

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post #5 of 214 Old 11-19-2013, 03:32 PM
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Originally Posted by IntelliVolume View Post

Also, Jason, with regard to the link to the Polk forum in your signature, while I feel the same (about why one wouldn't want to be any part of that community -- it's beyond brutal), what was the motivation for putting that there?

pm sent as not to derail this thread.

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post #6 of 214 Old 11-19-2013, 03:39 PM
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Originally Posted by IntelliVolume View Post

Thank you for the prompt reply, Jason. Yes, I noticed Ollie's thread about this, but there are so many pages I couldn't really find where the thread specifically addressed the setup I'm referring to (that is, just running the back surround channels to one input of the speaker and then the main front channels to the other)...

yeah you are talking about passive biamping with an avr which has been touched on in that other thread. its a waste of time and wire. you need active crossovers between the amp and speakers (and the removal of the speakers crossover) in order for it to be worthwhile.

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post #7 of 214 Old 11-19-2013, 04:05 PM - Thread Starter
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Again, thanks Jason...figured it wasn't worth it but wanted to ask...

With regard to this passive bi-amping: Is it true that by leaving those two back surround channels "dormant" if I'm running 5.1, the receiver can run a bit more efficiently as the power supply can concentrate on just powering the main five channels only? Some say there will be "increased dynamics" that can be enjoyed by running a receiver as 5.1 and leaving the two back surrounds "off"...do you agree?

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post #8 of 214 Old 11-19-2013, 04:05 PM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by 67jason View Post

pm sent as not to derail this thread.

Thank you; responding to it now...

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post #9 of 214 Old 11-19-2013, 04:25 PM
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Originally Posted by IntelliVolume View Post

Again, thanks Jason...figured it wasn't worth it but wanted to ask...

With regard to this passive bi-amping: Is it true that by leaving those two back surround channels "dormant" if I'm running 5.1, the receiver can run a bit more efficiently as the power supply can concentrate on just powering the main five channels only? Some say there will be "increased dynamics" that can be enjoyed by running a receiver as 5.1 and leaving the two back surrounds "off"...do you agree?

i dont know for sure, but i do know that when avrs are measured with sine waves, the 2 ch rating is always higher then the 5 ch rating, so there may be some merit in the claim you mention.

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post #10 of 214 Old 11-19-2013, 05:23 PM - Thread Starter
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Thank you, sir, once more...

Yes, I'm aware many of the manufacturers such as Onkyo post their specs with two channels driven as it makes the number look higher on paper, and because it's easier to drive as opposed to five -- but five channel simultaneous driving continuously isn't a realistic situation anyway. I always scratch my head about those companies that advertise their receivers' specs with ONE channel driven...

Anyway, I would think there would be some "greater dynamics" to be had by leaving the surround back channels off and just running the receiver in 5.1; getting back to the RTi12s, so you think it's perfectly fine to run them "normally" through the 605's front main channel terminals and allow them to get "normal power loads" from the AVR that way as opposed to bothering with this "passive bi-amping" thing?

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post #11 of 214 Old 11-19-2013, 05:33 PM
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Thank you, sir, once more...

Yes, I'm aware many of the manufacturers such as Onkyo post their specs with two channels driven as it makes the number look higher on paper, and because it's easier to drive as opposed to five -- but five channel simultaneous driving continuously isn't a realistic situation anyway. I always scratch my head about those companies that advertise their receivers' specs with ONE channel driven...

Anyway, I would think there would be some "greater dynamics" to be had by leaving the surround back channels off and just running the receiver in 5.1; getting back to the RTi12s, so you think it's perfectly fine to run them "normally" through the 605's front main channel terminals and allow them to get "normal power loads" from the AVR that way as opposed to bothering with this "passive bi-amping" thing?

yes. thats the way speakers and receivers are intended to operate. if your setup cant do this adequately then something is wrong.

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post #12 of 214 Old 11-19-2013, 05:36 PM - Thread Starter
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Thank you.

One last thing: What is it exactly that doesn't "yield any performance increase" when doing this passive bi-amp thing? You mentioned it's a "waste of time and cable," but from your experience, it merely sounded the same as running the mains normally, was that it?

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post #13 of 214 Old 11-19-2013, 05:51 PM
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Originally Posted by IntelliVolume View Post

Thank you.

One last thing: What is it exactly that doesn't "yield any performance increase" when doing this passive bi-amp thing? You mentioned it's a "waste of time and cable," but from your experience, it merely sounded the same as running the mains normally, was that it?

it adds nothing. there is a common myth that you double the power going to the speaker, but this is not true. having 80 watts available in a standard hook up scheme is no different then having 80 watts going to the woofers and 80 watts for the tweeter. you still only have 80 watts. now adding an active crossover between the speaker and amp then you could manipulate the frequencies being sent to either the woofer or tweeter and since the amp would only have to provide power to a smaller frequency band you can use your total available power more efficiently. but since it is assumed that reputable speaker manufacturers have already optimized the passive crossover this is all moot outside of diy builds and pro audio.

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post #14 of 214 Old 11-19-2013, 07:51 PM
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Originally Posted by 67jason View Post

Quote:
Originally Posted by IntelliVolume View Post

Again, thanks Jason...figured it wasn't worth it but wanted to ask...

With regard to this passive bi-amping: Is it true that by leaving those two back surround channels "dormant" if I'm running 5.1, the receiver can run a bit more efficiently as the power supply can concentrate on just powering the main five channels only? Some say there will be "increased dynamics" that can be enjoyed by running a receiver as 5.1 and leaving the two back surrounds "off"...do you agree?

i dont know for sure, but i do know that when avrs are measured with sine waves, the 2 ch rating is always higher then the 5 ch rating, so there may be some merit in the claim you mention.

However measuring amps with sine waves usually results in a serious understatement of the power available when playing music. Music has what is known as a larger crest factor which means that its ability to drain power supplies is reduced by quite a bit as compared to sine waves. Measuring an AVR with sine waves creates the false impression of problems with delivering power to all channels that don't occur with music.

To confirm the answer to IntelliVolume, what you (IntelliVolume) described in the OP is indeed the useless passive biamping which does not help sound quality and does not help measured performance, either.
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post #15 of 214 Old 11-21-2013, 03:55 PM - Thread Starter
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Thank you very much for the confirmation, Arny; why do AVR manufacturers include this so-called "feature"? Is it just to "market" the units with more "benefits" so to speak? This passive bi-amping equates to no improvement of sound through the main channels?

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post #16 of 214 Old 11-21-2013, 04:34 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by IntelliVolume View Post

Anyway, I would think there would be some "greater dynamics" to be had by leaving the surround back channels off and just running the receiver in 5.1; getting back to the RTi12s, so you think it's perfectly fine to run them "normally" through the 605's front main channel terminals and allow them to get "normal power loads" from the AVR that way as opposed to bothering with this "passive bi-amping" thing?

What you are saying is that the power supply is capable of supplying sufficient power to 7 amplifier channels and if you are only using 5 channels that there must be power left over. Yes, using fewer channels will allow the power supply to feed more power to the channels that are being used - just like the higher 2 channel rating that you mentioned - a large shared power supply has more headroom when driving fewer amplifier channels.

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One last thing: What is it exactly that doesn't "yield any performance increase" when doing this passive bi-amp thing? You mentioned it's a "waste of time and cable," but from your experience, it merely sounded the same as running the mains normally, was that it?

It is actually worse than that. As that other thread mentions at post 384 (see below for Arny's post - one of the best in that huge mess of a thread - applies directly to your question) the amplifiers actually run less efficiently at lower power so running two additional amplifier channels will actually lower the maximum amount of power a shared power supply can deliver. As you suggest, this is just a useless feature added for marketing purposes.

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It doesn't stay exactly the same because amplifier efficiency varies with output. However, estimating that it remains the same is a good first estimate.

This is a plot of the efficiency of a typical 150 class AB power amp versus output:



The amp's efficiency is 65% from the chart at 150 watts output, which means that it draws about 230 watts from its power supply when supplying 150 watts to the speakers.

If we split the 150 watts up equally among two amps, their efficiency from the chart at 75 watts output each drops dramatically to 45%, so each amp draws 166.7 watts for 333.3 watts total. 333 watts > 230 watts and not by just a little bit!

In this case if the passive biamping splits the power equally between the two amps, it would put greater stress on its power supply and is possible it may even somewhat decrease the actual maximum power available, total. This is because passive biamping tend to significantly decrease the efficiency of the power amp. Class AB power amps are most efficient near full output and passive biamping reduces power output per channel.

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post #17 of 214 Old 11-21-2013, 07:13 PM
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Thank you very much for the confirmation, Arny; why do AVR manufacturers include this so-called "feature"? Is it just to "market" the units with more "benefits" so to speak? This passive bi-amping equates to no improvement of sound through the main channels?

There are two AVRs on the shelf, one has more features (even though some are questionable like passive biamping) than the other.

Which one does the more poorly informed purchaser buy?

How well informed does one have to be to realize which alleged benefits are questionable?

I'm sitting here wondering how many audio forums have people posting on them who understand these features in sufficient detail to reveal some uncomfortable truths?
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post #18 of 214 Old 11-21-2013, 09:01 PM - Thread Starter
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it adds nothing. there is a common myth that you double the power going to the speaker, but this is not true. having 80 watts available in a standard hook up scheme is no different then having 80 watts going to the woofers and 80 watts for the tweeter. you still only have 80 watts. now adding an active crossover between the speaker and amp then you could manipulate the frequencies being sent to either the woofer or tweeter and since the amp would only have to provide power to a smaller frequency band you can use your total available power more efficiently. but since it is assumed that reputable speaker manufacturers have already optimized the passive crossover this is all moot outside of diy builds and pro audio.

Thanks; so, in theory, would it be "more efficient" to leave those back surround channels "dormant" and better to just enjoy the "extra dynamics" from the five standard channels? NOTHING would be gained by wiring up those back surrounds to a set of terminals on the RTi12s, huh?

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post #19 of 214 Old 11-21-2013, 09:04 PM - Thread Starter
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What you are saying is that the power supply is capable of supplying sufficient power to 7 amplifier channels and if you are only using 5 channels that there must be power left over. Yes, using fewer channels will allow the power supply to feed more power to the channels that are being used - just like the higher 2 channel rating that you mentioned - a large shared power supply has more headroom when driving fewer amplifier channels.

Thank you, MTN...
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It is actually worse than that. As that other thread mentions at post 384 (see below for Arny's post - one of the best in that huge mess of a thread - applies directly to your question) the amplifiers actually run less efficiently at lower power so running two additional amplifier channels will actually lower the maximum amount of power a shared power supply can deliver. As you suggest, this is just a useless feature added for marketing purposes.

Thank you, once again...

So, the bottom line is I'm better off just leaving the setup as it is now...that is, driving the RTi12s with the "standard" front channel amps of my Onkyo 605, going into just one individual set of speaker inputs on the speakers with their jumpers attached?

And...if I DO feel I somehow NEED more power, go about it by externally amping the 12s via an outboard muscle amp?

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post #20 of 214 Old 11-22-2013, 12:02 AM
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Originally Posted by IntelliVolume View Post

So, the bottom line is I'm better off just leaving the setup as it is now...that is, driving the RTi12s with the "standard" front channel amps of my Onkyo 605, going into just one individual set of speaker inputs on the speakers with their jumpers attached?

That is correct.

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And...if I DO feel I somehow NEED more power, go about it by externally amping the 12s via an outboard muscle amp?

Right, but you are probably not going to be able to hear any difference with an external amp even if it has significantly more power. Even doubling the power will give you only a moderate gain. You might see some improvement on the other channels by relieving your AVR of having to drive the mains but this would also be minimal.

I have separate amps, but only because I don't have an AVR. Since you already have an AVR with very capable amps built in you may as well use them. You would probably notice bigger differences buy upgrading your center channel or sub.

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post #21 of 214 Old 11-23-2013, 03:00 PM - Thread Starter
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Thank you mtn and everyone else for your assistance in this thread.

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post #22 of 214 Old 11-23-2013, 03:14 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mtn-tech View Post

It is actually worse than that. As that other thread mentions at post 384 (see below for Arny's post - one of the best in that huge mess of a thread - applies directly to your question) the amplifiers actually run less efficiently at lower power so running two additional amplifier channels will actually lower the maximum amount of power a shared power supply can deliver. As you suggest, this is just a useless feature added for marketing purposes.
As you know, I corrected that conclusion in the other thread. The assumptions Arny had used do not apply here: http://www.avsforum.com/t/1492314/question-on-bi-amping/480#post_23981911. Likewise the efficiency conclusions are not a concern as I explained in that post. In addition we have identified some situations where passive bi-amping helps reduce distortion. See here for the start of that discussion: http://www.avsforum.com/t/1492314/question-on-bi-amping/420#post_23968107

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post #23 of 214 Old 11-23-2013, 03:42 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by IntelliVolume View Post

Quote:
Originally Posted by mtn-tech View Post

What you are saying is that the power supply is capable of supplying sufficient power to 7 amplifier channels and if you are only using 5 channels that there must be power left over. Yes, using fewer channels will allow the power supply to feed more power to the channels that are being used - just like the higher 2 channel rating that you mentioned - a large shared power supply has more headroom when driving fewer amplifier channels.

Thank you, MTN...
Quote:
It is actually worse than that. As that other thread mentions at post 384 (see below for Arny's post - one of the best in that huge mess of a thread - applies directly to your question) the amplifiers actually run less efficiently at lower power so running two additional amplifier channels will actually lower the maximum amount of power a shared power supply can deliver. As you suggest, this is just a useless feature added for marketing purposes.

Thank you, once again...

So, the bottom line is I'm better off just leaving the setup as it is now...that is, driving the RTi12s with the "standard" front channel amps of my Onkyo 605, going into just one individual set of speaker inputs on the speakers with their jumpers attached?

And...if I DO feel I somehow NEED more power, go about it by externally amping the 12s via an outboard muscle amp?


There are ways to determine exactly that you do or do not need more power. Unfortunately they are somewhat technical.

There are web sites that have interactive power estimation calculators. Have you tried any of them?
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post #24 of 214 Old 11-23-2013, 03:56 PM
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...which would have to change if I decided to try this...
The correct answer is "don't try it".

Or maybe the rule should be like the rules of handling firearms: "only try it on something you're willing to kill".

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post #25 of 214 Old 11-23-2013, 08:35 PM - Thread Starter
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There are ways to determine exactly that you do or do not need more power. Unfortunately they are somewhat technical.

There are web sites that have interactive power estimation calculators. Have you tried any of them?

Thanks Arny; I think at this point I'm probably just going to go with the instinct that suggests "I'm not anywhere near running out of steam, perceivably, with my current AVR and as such there's no distortion, clipping or issues related to that..." wink.gif

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post #26 of 214 Old 11-23-2013, 08:36 PM - Thread Starter
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The correct answer is "don't try it".

Or maybe the rule should be like the rules of handling firearms: "only try it on something you're willing to kill".

Huh?

I believe I was referring to, in the quote you posted above, the "Normal/Bi-Amp" speaker selection in my AVR...

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post #27 of 214 Old 11-23-2013, 08:40 PM - Thread Starter
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Okay, fellas, so to summarize the thread (before it goes off the proverbial track of increasingly technical jargin)...

No discernable performance (i.e. perceived power) increases can be verified by doing this "passive bi-amping" which, one more time, I was referring to was:

Taking the "back surround" channels of my AVR and using them in conjunction with the main front channels of the receiver in order to feed the two terminals on my bi-ampable Polk RTi12s...

...correct? I wouldn't perceive the mains as being "louder, punchier" or otherwise "better powered" in any way, would I?

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post #28 of 214 Old 11-24-2013, 01:27 AM
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Theoretically, on paper, you may see a measurable difference. But you'd be hard pressed to hear any difference, and that would only come on the naked edge of clipping, and that's no fun.

To put all other arguments aside, the reason why I want to have more amplifier power is not so much to be louder, but to feel safe and confident when I turn the volume up. If you're playing right at the ragged edge of what your system can do, you're not likely to become satisfied by adding just a thin margin of safety or loudness. According to the specs, your receiver's power section is on the weak end of the scale (90W/ch.) for your speakers (up to 500W/ch.). A 4-fold increase in amplifier power could really wake up your system. But it's not going to come from the receiver. Think about a new power amp. It might change your life.

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post #29 of 214 Old 11-24-2013, 05:23 AM
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Originally Posted by Speed Daemon View Post

Theoretically, on paper, you may see a measurable difference. But you'd be hard pressed to hear any difference, and that would only come on the naked edge of clipping, and that's no fun.

The "May see a measurable difference" clause is dependent on the amplifier distorting due to excess current draw. which is unlikely. Furthermore, the excess current draw must be activating a problem with just the power amp circuit. because if it affects the shared power supply, it affects all of the amplifiers and there is no source of undistorted power.
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To put all other arguments aside, the reason why I want to have more amplifier power is not so much to be louder, but to feel safe and confident when I turn the volume up.

If you agree that there are no tangible benefits, then I will agree that you have obtain intangible benefits.
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If you're playing right at the ragged edge of what your system can do, you're not likely to become satisfied by adding just a thin margin of safety or loudness.

Agreed.
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According to the specs, your receiver's power section is on the weak end of the scale (90W/ch.) for your speakers (up to 500W/ch.). A 4-fold increase in amplifier power could really wake up your system. But it's not going to come from the receiver. Think about a new power amp. It might change your life.

Actual specs from the owner's manual:

http://www.uk.onkyo.com/downloads/1/1/7/3/6/21507518_65197b9e73.pdf

Rated Output Power (FTC)
All channels: 90 watts minimum continuous power
per channel, 8 ohm loads, 2 channels
driven from 20 Hz to 20 kHz, with a
maximum total harmonic distortion of
0.08%
105/110 watts minimum continuous
power per channel, 8 ohm loads,
2 channels driven at 1 kHz, with a
maximum total harmonic distortion of
0.7/0.9%
110 watts minimum continuous power
per channel, 6 ohm loads, 2 channels
driven at 1 kHz with a maximum total
harmonic distortion of 0.1%
Rated Output Power (IEC)
7 ch u 140 W at 6 ohms, 1 kHz, 1 ch
driven
Maximum Output Power (JEITA)
7 ch u 175 W at 6 ohms, 1 kHz, 1 ch
driven
Dynamic Power 210 W + 210 W (3 :, Front)
180 W + 180 W (4 :, Front)
110 W + 110 W (8 :, Front)
THD (Total Harmonic Distortion)
0.08% (Power Rated)
0.08% (1 kHz, 1 W)

The most realistic of the bunch are probably the 110 wpc, 2 channels driven.

All of these specs except the ones for "Nynamic power" fail to be representative of performance with music and movies because they are obtained with pure sine waves which significantly understate performance as typically used.

Speaker power ratings are generally not obtained in standard ways. Your best shot at obtaining power requirements is one of the amplifier power calculators that are based on speaker efficiency, listening distance and etc.
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post #30 of 214 Old 11-24-2013, 05:50 AM
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Originally Posted by arnyk View Post
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Speed Daemon View Post

Theoretically, on paper, you may see a measurable difference. But you'd be hard pressed to hear any difference, and that would only come on the naked edge of clipping, and that's no fun.


All of these specs except the ones for "Dynamic power" fail to be representative of performance with music and movies because they are obtained with pure sine waves which significantly understate performance as typically used.

Speaker power ratings are generally not obtained in standard ways. Your best shot at obtaining power requirements is one of the amplifier power calculators that are based on speaker efficiency, listening distance and etc.

 

@ Intellivolume here's one you could use:

 

http://www.crownaudio.com/elect-pwr-req.htm

 

And here's another:

 

http://myhometheater.homestead.com/splcalculator.html

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