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Help a newbie with preamping?

post #1 of 14
Thread Starter 
Hello, I need help upgrading my audio setup. I have an Onkyo 709, polk tsi400, cs10, tsi200 (rears), owm3 (front heights), and hsu vtf3. I want to improve my systems musical performance. Ive been told I need a seperate amp for my font 3, but I listen to music in 7 channel stereo ,and movie watching is secondary for us. Do I really need more power to my center for music? What about amping just the front 2? Or should I spend the money on upgrading my fronts?
post #2 of 14
You're much better served spending the money on upgrading the fronts to better quality speakers. If you're not playing your setup at reference level volume, it's unlikely adding an amp will be of any benefit in regards to improved audio fidelity. Also note that using speakers with just a 3db higher sensitivity rating (eg. going from 87db to 90db) would be comparable to going from your 110W amp (709) to a 220W amp.
post #3 of 14
You have a good receiver and some fairly good speakers, except that your CS10 center speaker may be a weak link in the current setup. The CSi A4 is much better IMO.

Your front speakers have 91 db/ watt sensitivity, so more power is not a primary issue.

A high-quality 2-channel amplifier would IMO improve the sound quality, and improving your front speakers also will, but what you have now is good enough that you are looking at an expensive step up for a major audible improvement.

For a power amplifier upgrade, I would suggest a Vincent SP-331 power amplifier, which goes for $1299. It was voted Amplifier of the Year by the editors at The Absolute Sound a couple of year ago. That award usually goes to amplifiers costing 3 or 4 times as much.

Putting a good power amplifier in the front 2 channels not only improves the sound quality there, but allows your receiver to deliver more peak current to the other 5 channels as needed.

If the Vincent is more money than you want to spend, the Marantz MM7025 is $799, and might be a good choice.

The speaker upgrade could be any number of speakers, but one I would recommend is the KEF iQ90, which you can get for $450 each at KEF Direct. Those were selling for $1500 per pair, and they are a great deal now since that line is being gradually phased out. They are excellent speakers. The Q200c center channel speaker should be used with them ($449).

If you prefer to stay with Polk speakers,I would put in the CSI A4 center speaker first and see how much of an improvement that makes. Then I would consider the TSi 500 speakers.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Badblue6 View Post

Hello, I need help upgrading my audio setup. I have an Onkyo 709, polk tsi400, cs10, tsi200 (rears), owm3 (front heights), and hsu vtf3. I want to improve my systems musical performance. Ive been told I need a seperate amp for my font 3, but I listen to music in 7 channel stereo ,and movie watching is secondary for us. Do I really need more power to my center for music? What about amping just the front 2? Or should I spend the money on upgrading my fronts?

Edited by commsysman - 8/12/12 at 6:29am
post #4 of 14
Thread Starter 
So are you saying to add an apm only if I upgrade my speakers? Or will my current speakers benifit from an amp aswell? How about a more budget friendly amp?
post #5 of 14
I would definitely say that an amplifier will be a good investment, and a better center speaker should be very helpful.

I would put in the new center speaker first, and then the Marantz amplifier.

I do think those are the two upgrades that will make the greatest difference in sound quality.

Is that in the budget range?
Edited by commsysman - 8/12/12 at 6:39am
post #6 of 14
Thread Starter 
Marantz MM7025 @ $800, I can do that. New center channel,hu, never realized it mattered that much for music? What about the CS20? Just for sake of keeping everything the same. I gotta ask, for the price of the new amp, I can upgrade to the TSI 500's. Would that give me better performance than amping my 400s?
Edited by Badblue6 - 8/12/12 at 6:56am
post #7 of 14
I think the amplifier will be a big step up in sound quality. It has a power supply that can deliver way way more peak current than any receiver, and that makes a difference in dynamics and SQ. It "opens up" the sound and makes it more like live music, especially the bass.

Since you have a good sub, the 500s might or might not be a major improvement. Your current speakers should give you good bass down to 50-60 Hz, and more low bass might be the main improvement with the 500s, which maybe you don't need.

I think that the CSi A4 is the center channel that will make a big difference, not the CS20.

It will matter more for 5-channel sound, obviously.



Quote:
Originally Posted by Badblue6 View Post

Marantz MM7025 @ $800, I can do that. New center channel,hu, never realized it mattered that much for music? What about the CS20? Just for sake of keeping everything the same. I gotta ask, for the price of the new amp, I can upgrade to the TSI 500's. Would that give me better performance than amping my 400s?

Edited by commsysman - 8/12/12 at 7:27am
post #8 of 14
Quote:
Originally Posted by Badblue6 View Post

Or should I spend the money on upgrading my fronts?

Definitely, upgrade the fronts. There's no point in up-Amping if the mains haven't been upgraded first. Speakers, than Amp, if you even need an Amp.

And yes, speakers are a lot more expensive than up-Amping.

Speakers, speakers, speakers. Did I mention the need to upgrade your speakers? tongue.gif

rolleyes.gif
post #9 of 14
Quote:
Originally Posted by jdsmoothie View Post

Also note that using speakers with just a 3db higher sensitivity rating (eg. going from 87db to 90db) would be comparable to going from your 110W amp (709) to a 220W amp.

Now you're talking.

biggrin.gif
post #10 of 14
Quote:
Originally Posted by commsysman View Post

I would put in the new center speaker first, and then the Marantz amplifier.

Contrary to popular convention, I place the center channel as "THE" most important speaker in a HT system and then a pair of quality subs. Yes, I agree with the above, a better center channel is always a good thing. But for music, I put mains over the center channel and then a pair of quality subs.

Are you a rocker or are you into classical? If classical, soft rock or jazz, check out speakers with ribbons in the speaker box. If loud rock, than check out speakers with in your face horns. Horns are also really good for room filling HT sound.
post #11 of 14
His current main speakers already HAVE a 90 db/watt sensitivity, according to Polk.


Quote:
Originally Posted by BeeMan458 View Post

Now you're talking.
biggrin.gif
post #12 of 14
Quote:
Originally Posted by commsysman View Post

His current main speakers already HAVE a 90 db/watt sensitivity, according to Polk.

And we both have to admit, that it takes a doubling of power to go up 3db. As to the 90 dB/w/m measurement, is that in the wide open, raised ceiling expanse of a room where many may be sitting four meters from the speakers, with all those room reflections doing battle with each other or the soft, warm, predictably friendly enclosed space of an anechoic chamber? tongue.gif

As many have taken the time to accurately (?) point out, my 100dB Klipsch, Epic, CF-3's are more like real world 80dB speakers once room re-enforcement and distance are subtracted.

eek.gif

(Crest fallen as he finds out, they're not 100dB speakers)

frown.gif

-
Edited by BeeMan458 - 8/12/12 at 8:15am
post #13 of 14
Thread Starter 
What about a emotiva UPA-200, for just the fronts? I here when your powering 5 and 7 speakers your receiver cuts down to 20 or 30 watts a channel? You guys think this will give me any increase in sound quality when running 7 channel sound, for a meager $350 upgrade?
post #14 of 14
I hear that Vincent amps are pretty amazing, but are expensive. I never got to hear one. I have heard positive things about Emotiva on this site.
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