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Stereo Amp Suggestions

post #1 of 24
Thread Starter 
Hey everyone, so I've been planning to get a couple of floor standing speakers for a 2.1 system (I'll be getting the sub a few months later though). I recently went to a local audio store, and I'm 95% sure I'm getting klipsch rf-85s, the only thing I'm not sure about is what amp/receiver to get. Eventually (probably a few years from now) I'll be filling it out to 5.1, so rather than getting an expensive stereo amp now only to replace it with an even more expensive 6 channel amp/receiver later, I want to spend as little as possible on the stereo amp while still getting reasonably decent sound.

The guy at the audio store suggested the NAD C316BEE, which is only 40w per channel. It was used for the demo though and it sounded pretty good to me, probably because of how efficient the speakers are. I have a couple issues with it though. First, there's no sub-out so I would have to use the high level outputs for the speakers. Second, one of the sources I would like to use the system with only has optical out for audio, and the amp only takes rca. After looking around a bit I found the HK 3390 from harman kardon.which has both, plus the power output is twice as high. Has anyone had any experience with this receiver? Do you think it would perform about as well as the NAD? Also, would the am/fm tuner (not important to me since I'll probably never use it) have a noticeably negative impact on sound quality? Any help would be appreciated.
post #2 of 24
I'd just get a competent multi channel receiver now. They're relatively cheap compared to dedicated stereo stuff just due to the economies of scale involved and they'll work quite well in 2ch mode and will have at least one sub preout (and I'd get one with preouts for all channels). Be sure when comparing that you're doing so with matched levels and without differing dsp. Also consider most salesmen of audio gear are useless.
post #3 of 24
Thread Starter 
Thanks lovinthehd. I did consider just getting a multi channel receiver now, but if I did I would probably have to get the cheapest one I could find (a good one is way out of my price range right now) and I don't want to skimp on anything for the surround system I'll eventually build. If you had some particular receiver in mind I'll take a look at it, but odds are it's out of my price range.
post #4 of 24
Well, you would actually have to share your price range, and any features that might be interesting to you now and in the future to get good suggestions on an avr. Personally I'd look on craigslist for someone upgrading and getting rid of an older receiver (and maybe even speakers) if money's an issue, but I have huge choice that way because I live in a big metro area. Buying and selling electronics as "investments" can be dicey and "upgrading" is just plain expensive doing it piecemeal, so if you know you want something particular then I'd suggest just saving up for it and getting it and avoid the whole upgrading thing.
post #5 of 24
Thread Starter 
Well I don't have any solid plans for the 5.1 other than that at some point in the somewhat distant future I'll be getting one, plus I don't even have a good space for the rears where I'm living right now, so I guess I shouldn't have even mentioned that. I appreciate the suggestion to check craigslist for used equipment, but I don't want to buy anything used since I probably wouldn't know what condition it's in until I took it home. If someone I knew personally was selling their old receiver that would be one thing, but I doubt most people where I live would demo their stuff before selling it.

Really all I'm asking about is the stereo amp and receiver I first mentioned. I had no problems with how the NAD performed in store, it was just missing a couple features I would like. Before blindly buying the HK though (it isn't available to test in the store), I wanted to find out if it would perform reasonably well. Also, I wanted to make sure that there's no downside to getting a receciver when I would never use the tuner.
post #6 of 24
Both the NAD and HK are nice integrated amps. I don't think you would be disappointed with the HK over the NAD and it's cheaper even if you don't plan to use the tuner. However, if you plan to upgrade later I agree with loveinthehd that it would make sense to get the AVR now. I believe the C316BEE retails for $380 and the HK 3390 for @ $250(Amazon). You could pick up the Denon 1613 or 1713 right now for $350 or $450 respectively.
post #7 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by postrokfan View Post

You could pick up the Denon 1613 or 1713 right now for $350 or $450 respectively.

Right, and I believe both have Audyssey MultEQ which can help significantly in integrating a sub and blending your eventual 5.1 system. I've always used Audyssey in one format or another even for 2ch listening.
post #8 of 24
A problem with getting the multi channel receiver now is that when he's ready to upgrade to it a couple of years down the road, it will no doubt be out of date. It could well be at that time that most AVRs might have the upper level Audyssey or even XT32, plus other upgrades not available now.

I'd suggest that if the thread starter likes the sound of the NAD, it's a good solid purchase.
post #9 of 24
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by postrokfan View Post

You could pick up the Denon 1613 or 1713 right now for $350 or $450 respectively.

I just checked Denon's site for the 1613 and it seems like a solid receiver for the price. I had no idea multi channel receivers could be so cheap. Runnin' brought up a good point though, by the time I do get a center and rear speakers, there might be something better for the same price. I still might get one of the Denons though, thanks for the suggestion!

One more question: when I was in the store, the salesman said that NAD uses a different type of circuit (or something like that) that results in lower RMS power, but much higher dynamic power which would be better for music. Is there any truth to this or was he just trying to get me to buy it? If it's true, how noticeable do you think it would be for music? Enough to get the NAD if I'll mostly be listening to music?
post #10 of 24
It sounds like he was blowing smoke. The truth is the amp section of a 5 channel receiver like Denon is pretty wimpy compared to a NAD amp. All of the receivers today can not put out their rated power for all channels. So if it's rated at 75 watts per channel, it will do maybe half that with all channels driven, while the NAD can do rated power with all channels driven. Only a few receivers out there can actually do rated power, and they would probably be north of 1500 or more.
post #11 of 24
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by runnin' View Post

It sounds like he was blowing smoke. The truth is the amp section of a 5 channel receiver like Denon is pretty wimpy compared to a NAD amp. All of the receivers today can not put out their rated power for all channels. So if it's rated at 75 watts per channel, it will do maybe half that with all channels driven, while the NAD can do rated power with all channels driven. Only a few receivers out there can actually do rated power, and they would probably be north of 1500 or more.

Wow, I did know about that but I didn't realize it could be so much less than the rated power. Is the higher output of the NAD a result of it being a stereo amp (as opposed to 5 channel), or does NAD just make generally better quality products? Do you think I could expect the HK to be closer to rated output since it's stereo too?
post #12 of 24
Yes, the HK would be at rated output too. NAD tends to make very robust receivers too, but for sure the 2 channel will be fine.
post #13 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by runnin' View Post

It sounds like he was blowing smoke. The truth is the amp section of a 5 channel receiver like Denon is pretty wimpy compared to a NAD amp. All of the receivers today can not put out their rated power for all channels. So if it's rated at 75 watts per channel, it will do maybe half that with all channels driven, while the NAD can do rated power with all channels driven. Only a few receivers out there can actually do rated power, and they would probably be north of 1500 or more.

NAD is very good about listing rated power with all channels driven I agree. However, the weaker AVR will absolutely deliver the rated power for 2 channels. With efficient speakers the all-channels driven spec is not really that important unless listening at very high volume.
Quote:
Wow, I did know about that but I didn't realize it could be so much less than the rated power. Is the higher output of the NAD a result of it being a stereo amp (as opposed to 5 channel), or does NAD just make generally better quality products? Do you think I could expect the HK to be closer to rated output since it's stereo too?

The HK will absolutely deliver the 80W rated power and probably a bit more.
post #14 of 24
The HK 3390 is a very capable receiver. So are NAD integrated amps starting with the 316 BEE all the way up. One of the things that make them so capable and robust is that they are all 4 Ohm rated, high current amps. AVR's have their place but the reality is their power supplies are compromised in the low to mid range models and cannot put out their rated power. This is well known, even among AVR advocates but often when they are recommended, there are caveats, such as "when used with 8 Ohm speakers and at moderate listening levels" and "not driven to high volumes", or "when operated within spec",etc.

What if someone wants to listen at high volume? What if someone wants a higher spec? Also, I know the OP is thinking about Klipsch that are 8 Ohm and highly efficient, but what if he changes his mind? What happens if he gets the Klipsch and decides to upgrade? What happens if he hears a pair of 4 Ohm speakers and decides these are the ones for him? If this happens, the HK or the NADs are ready to accommodate now.

I have a NAD 316BEE in a secondary system in about a 275 square foot room. It is driving vintage 6 Ohm nominal, 4 Ohm minimum ADS L520 speakers and it does a remarkable job allowing me to get these speakers up to significantly high levels. It has never clipped, over-heated or gone into protection mode. At only 40 wpc, it is a true 40 wpc and generates the high current needed from its fairly large power supply. I would recommend this amp or the HK over an AVR at twice the price.
post #15 of 24
At the listed price the HK 3390 is a pretty sweet deal. Refurbished but with the factory 2 year warranty and bought directly from HK. I've had one for over 2 years and it delivers sweet music every time I turn it on. I'm currently using it to drive a pair of 46 year old Harman Kardon HK-20 speakers that i bought at a local Good Will store for $20. I had to re-cap them. The combo sounds very nice.
post #16 of 24
I owned a 3490 for a time and it was a great receiver. The nice thing about the 3490 is that it has an onboard DAC. Unfortunately, none of the mentioned integrated amplifiers or receivers features bass management.
post #17 of 24
Power-schmower! It's one of the more missleading specs of an amplifier when it comes to actual performance. The actual power you need is dependant on four things, listening distance, speaker efficiency, room dimensions and intended listing levels related to those parameters. There's an amplifier FAQ sticky at the top of this section that gets into specifics. You'll be surpirse at how little you actually need in real rooms with typical speakers, and that reduces even further by adding a powered sub.
Edited by rnrgagne - 1/6/13 at 10:30am
post #18 of 24
If you could get the 3490 rather than the 3390, the onboard DAC is nice. Either NAD or HK are fine quality.
post #19 of 24
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by rnrgagne View Post

Power-schmower! It's one of the more missleading specs of an amplifier when it comes to actual performance. The actual power you need is dependant on four things, listening distance, speaker efficiency, room dimensions and intended listing levels related to those parameters. There's an amplifier FAQ sticky at the top of this section that gets into specifics. You'll be surpirse at how little you actually need in real rooms with typical speakers, and that reduces even further by adding a powered sub.

Yeah I know power isn't as important as a lot of people think. The 40w from the NAD should be fine especially considering how efficient the rf-82s are. I was just considering the HK because it has a sub preout and optical in, and the NAD has neither. Any extra power is just a bonus.
Quote:
Originally Posted by lespurgeon View Post

If you could get the 3490 rather than the 3390, the onboard DAC is nice. Either NAD or HK are fine quality.
I'll consider getting the 3490 if I can find a good deal on it, I'm just not sure if the DAC is worth the extra $100. In any case, I'll either be getting the 3390 or 3490 since everyone seems to be saying they're good quality receivers. Thanks for the help!
post #20 of 24
If you don't need the internal DACs in the 3490 the 3390 would be just fine. Like rnrgagne mentioned - power is overrated. And your RF-82s are very efficient. I hear all the time from Klipsch owners that their speakers 'crave' power. That is BS! Sensitivity ratings cannot be ignored - 50wpc is more than enough for those speakers. And if you want bass control get a decent AVR. Most all of them come with some form of bass control these days. Too bad stereo receivers do not.
post #21 of 24
Quote:
Originally Posted by enm260 View Post

I'll consider getting the 3490 if I can find a good deal on it, I'm just not sure if the DAC is worth the extra $100. In any case, I'll either be getting the 3390 or 3490 since everyone seems to be saying they're good quality receivers. Thanks for the help!
.
Its been a while since I've had an HK and their EZ-Set EQ but I don't think its on par with Audyssey. I dont know if NAD has any modestly priced receivers with it but might be worth a look. The NAD preamp I had was one of the best I've heard, they seem to make really good stuff. The HK's I've had sounded great but had quality control issues. Hopefully thats no longer the case.
post #22 of 24
Just so you know, the Hk3390 does not have an optical in. The Hk3490 has the optical in
post #23 of 24
They also don't have EZ-set EQ since these are their 2 channel stereo receivers. By all accounts they have been rock solid in regards to QC, unlike their theater receivers.
post #24 of 24
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by ducky6 View Post

Just so you know, the Hk3390 does not have an optical in. The Hk3490 has the optical in

Just checked their website again and you're right. I guess I saw the line that said "Digital Inputs (2-Ch PCM) (Coax/Optical)" and completely skipped where it said "0" RIGHT NEXT TO IT, lol. Thanks for pointing that out.
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