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Amps for Kef XQ40s

post #1 of 25
Thread Starter 
I recently replaced my Kef 103/4s with XQ40s and added the XQ50 center. I have an Onkyo TX-NR1008 receiver with this system (Denon 4310 for other) and biamp the XQ40s but would like to use a dedicated amplifier(s) for these instead. Don't want a bright amp as I believe that could make the Kef's a bit harsh and am looking to control the budget. Considering Emotiva UPA-1s but am open to about $1500 if I can do better. Another factor is to reduce heat output (i.e. no class A) so class D would be nice if sonically worth it. I am very aware that a good amp can make a big difference, especially in bass definition.

Anyone familiar with these speakers and know what amplifiers match well with them?
post #2 of 25
Thread Starter 
I have narrowed down my choices to either two Emotiva UPA-1s, a Emotiva XPA-2 or a NAD C 275 BEE. The Emotiva's are currently on sale. I am leaning to UPA-1s as great price and may be a better match to the XQ-40s than the XPA-2. Any input on these?
post #3 of 25
I would pick up 1 of each(NAD/Emotiva) and return the one you like least. You might have to pay a restock and return shipping, but that is better than second guessing.

Read my thread...

Not Quite "ad nauseum"
post #4 of 25
Thread Starter 
I had to get to my laptop to find your thread - interesting read. Those are some very interesting speakers you went with - look amazing. I am surprised the UPA-7 hung with the much more powerful Sunfire (seriously different price). I am not in the position to buy the NAD at this point (having recently bought 2 Kef XQ40s, an XQ50c, 2 Kef IQ10s, 3 B&W685s, 4 B&W ceiling speakers (6.5& 8), an Onkyo TX-NR1008 and a Denon 4310 receiver) - need to put some time before the next serious purchase. The sale on the Emotiva's go until the 15th of July so they are an outside possibility. Otherwise I am looking towards year end to approach the wife with something else.
post #5 of 25
Thread Starter 
Almost forgot, also bought Denon DBP-2010CI and Samsung BDC7900 Blu-ray players and a Velodyn Optmum 12 Subwoofer within the past year. Have a Def-Tech Powerfield 2500 sub (15" 250 w) which is about 20 years old but still a great sub. More reason to tread lightly on the "need for a dedicated amp for the XQ40s" at this point.
post #6 of 25
Considering that, yes, the Sunfire outgunned it by almost twice the power...

The real difference between the two was, when listening at reference level, the Sunfire just had a tad more to give. The room itself(you should see the heat bill) is a complete sound waste. Yes the room looks really cool, but you get weird reflections from the windows if the shades aren't drawn. Even when drawn it can only help so much. I think the Sunfire(unrelated to power to an extent) just had more control over the room dynamics. If it is just me and the wife in the sweet spot, the UPA would have been fine. We had 2 other couples over one night, with kids in tow, and we watched UP. The UPA was hooked up that night and with 6 adults and 7 kids in the room...it seriously had trouble at times.

If this had been a normal purposed room with actual walls(not an open space with 1 wall nothing but glass) the UPA would have had sound reinforcement to work with. But, in this room, once sound leaves a speaker, it doesn't come back.

Think about this one. Last year I found a McIntosh MC1000 that needed work. I bought it at a bargain price. I scoured the Interwebs and found two more that had issues. I had all three, fixed their various issues. When the wife was gone one weekend with our daugher, and my sons were at their various practices...I took them home. I had them hooked up to the Denon AVR 4810, running my OHM Walsh 5(and center). One weekend she decides to "really clean"(you know, move stuff and clean underneath)...

She stumbled across them and asked how long they'd been there. Told her 4 months. About a week later she calls me at the office kind of livid. "I just googled those amps....and what the $#$%$^$%*^*$@)@*%*&@&!(*@()$*$&@&@(#$($*(#"

I told her(showed her as well) what I paid for them, and what it cost to fix each(had a total of $7000 in the 3 amps). Let's just say I made a pretty good profit on them and they paid for a week at Hedonism II...

(by the way, I design rooms for a living. I buy and sell used equipment all the time)
post #7 of 25
Thread Starter 
I recently got Emotiva UPA-1s and while the verdict is still out, the initial impression has been very disappointing. I need to let them break in and rerun setup on my Onkyo 1008 before fully deciding. I was worried that I may not tell the difference, but I did not expect a step backwards. There has been a lot of great customer press on these amps so I have to believe there is something out of sorts that is not the norm.
post #8 of 25
Thread Starter 
I returned the UPA-1s as my XQ40s sounded lean and less dynamic in Stereo than with the Onkyo 1008 biamping them. They seem to help in 7.1 mode, the center channel seemed a bit better (taking load off the Onkyo?). Emotiva was great to work with just unfortunate the UPA-1s did not work for this.

Right now I am considering the NAD 275, Anthem MCA 20 and an ATI 2002 (all about the same price on line within $100). Realize I will be using the Onkyo TX-NR1008 as the front end. From the Kef Owners thread there is someone who has who has Kef XQ40s with the NAD and he likes it, although he is using a proper preamp.

Any recommendations? I am concerned that none of these may be a big enough move to make a notable improvement - I want to be impressed by this next purchase.
post #9 of 25
Thread Starter 
Still on the quest. Considering Red Dragon M500 or possibly M1000 mono blocks (will have to wait a little while for the Mk II s to be available) or a Parasound Classic 2250. Does anyone have experience with either of these, especially the Red Dragons?
post #10 of 25
Thread Starter 
Strongly considering the Parasound Halo A21 which kind blows my initial budget. Negatives: Price (almost double), silver (everything else is black), more heat. Positives: Possibly better sound, of course. Unknown: Preamp outs on the Onkyo, will it matter if that is the weak link? Long term, perhaps I will upgrade to a proper per/pro in the future.... Still would like to compare the Red Dragons but not sure to go Classic 2250 vs M500s or A21 vs M1000s? Has anybody heard both the Classic 2250 and the Halo A21?
post #11 of 25
Thread Starter 
Things came up that put my purchase plans on hold. I have some slight hope that I may be able to do something before year end, just depends on how some things fall.

Is there any amp that can compete with the Parasound Halo A21? Is there anything that can match it sonically with less class A bias? My search has come up empty, the A21 seems to be superior to anything for the price. Minimizing heat is a concern but not at the expense of SQ. As an alternative I am considering ATI AT2003 or AT3003 as these are strictly AB so they should use much less wattage at normal volumes but I am not sure if they would be as good for two channel (would go three channel if going ATI route). I am certain they would be awesome for HT.
post #12 of 25
I had some xq30s and a xq50 running with a NAD T955 and it sounded great. Better than the Marantz receiver I was originally using.
post #13 of 25
Stop buying more. Biamping does not help much unless you use an external crossover. You dont need more than the Onkyo and Denon receivers that you already have.

BTW there is no such thing as "bright" or "warm" amp. Unless you buy an amp from BestBuy or Walmart, they are all neutral :-)

Stop wasting money on things that you really don't need.
post #14 of 25
Thread Starter 
I definitely had the NAD C 275BEE on my radar for awhile, nice piece and a great brand for sure. I would guess it would be comparable to the Parasound NC 2250? From what I've been able to read, the A21 seems like it might be a step or two above those, but I don't know if the rest of my system would be able to take advantage of the Halo.

However, I am hoping this next amp will be the heart of future upgrades...one can dream, right?

Thanks for sharing your 1st hand experience!

post #15 of 25
Thread Starter 
Originally Posted by Mupi View Post

Stop buying more. Biamping does not help much unless you use an external crossover. You dont need more than the Onkyo and Denon receivers that you already have.

BTW there is no such thing as "bright" or "warm" amp. Unless you buy an amp from BestBuy or Walmart, they are all neutral :-)

Stop wasting money on things that you really don't need.

I appreciate your input. I have seen quite a bit of this thought on other threads - that you can not tell the difference in amps unless you exceed their wattage limits. Trust me, I don't want to spend money unless it truly makes a difference, especially if it puts more heat in my room then what I already have.

This idea that amps driven within their limits will all sound the same (unless cheap) made me think back to my experiences where I thought I heard differences in electronics and in most cases there was never a straight A vs B comparison with only an Amp change. However, my recent experience with the UPA-1s help convince me you can hear a difference. I was expecting to have trouble telling any difference, but over time I did and it was not as good. Before making the decision to return them, I went back and forth a couple times between just the Onkyo and then with the external amps to be sure of what I was thinking. Note this was not AB switching as I had to unhook and reconfigure setups. I believe these differences in amps are often subtle and may not show up until you hear certain pasages or perhaps only after you have heard enough material for your brain to make a judgement. I have accidently recorded I-Tunes in 256 kbps vs Lossless and did not realize until a certain passage came on that I knew well and had some impact to my memory, I guess.

I would think with the correct setup you should be able to measure this impact. Start with a digital recording and play it through a very high end system (speakers, preamps, DACs) and record the output with a high end digital recorder. Then take this recording and play it back through the system and record it again. Do this several times and compare the final recording to original. There should be some difference. Now repeat this with a different amp in system with levels matched the best as possible. If final recordings match (except perhaps a slight change in overall level), then I would guess the amps are equivalent. Just a thought.
post #16 of 25
First of all, bi-amping off of a single transformer does nothing, you need to separate amps to properly bi-amp, otherwise it's just a marketing gimmick, horse and pony show the companys put as a selling feature,. Yes you CAN bi-amp but it won't make any difference on the sound unless you're using 2 separate amps. K?

I have the Red Dragon M1000's and they are beasts!!! They will power any speaker you can find to their fullest. Ryan of Red Dragon is a good dood too
post #17 of 25
Thread Starter 
I can not say bi-amping added any gain as I never tried to evaluate it with and without on my receiver. I seen feedback from professionals in the field say it does not help so I would have to guess it doesn't.

My Onkyo does not have main 12V triggers (only zones 2&3) and the Red Dragons have power switches in back so a challenge to use. I may need to work that out and give them a try.

post #18 of 25
You don't have to turn off the Dragons. Ryan said to leave them on 24/7. They only use 7 watts on sitting idle. Mine have never been turned off since the day I got them about 8 months ago.
post #19 of 25
Thread Starter 
For sure! I have Def Tech sub that has been pretty much on for the past 20 years and still works great. Got to give the Red Dragons a try. Thanks! :-)
post #20 of 25
Hey Jima4a, what did you decide on a power amp and did they help with the sound at all? I bought the xq30's without hearing them and i can't get a well balanced sound out of them or a good center overall image.
So, i'm hoping maybe you found an amp that helped them. I'm not worried about the bass or the highs, more the mids. Hoping to get something that brings the center image in a little more and make them a little smoother
post #21 of 25
Thread Starter 
Switched speakers before getting the amp. Now have a Bryston 4Bsst2 with my 205/2s. A friend currently has my XQ40s to try out. I would recommend looking at Parasound or ATI. For ATI a AT200x from ClassicAudioParts, where x is the number of channels from 2 to 7. Parasound Halo would be great
post #22 of 25
Thread Starter 
I would recommend the XQ50c and a sub before springing for an amp as that would provide the most bang for the buck, IMO.
Edited by jima4a - 2/20/13 at 2:07am
post #23 of 25
thanks. Thinking i need to do the same with my speakers. To bad i can't afford the 205/2's lol. That would be amazing. how big of a gap was there going from the xq to the reference? Did you enjoy listening to you music even more?
post #24 of 25
Thread Starter 
There is a pretty good step up but part of that is twin 8" woofers. Although when we set up the XQs at my friend's house they showed me again that they still are pretty amazing. For a lot of music I would guess they sound similar, I think that is true for any good speakers. It is just certain passages where differences show. The XQs were a pretty good step above the 685s which are good for their price point.
post #25 of 25
You made a very large jump price wise lol
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