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amp/preamp help

post #1 of 35
Thread Starter 
It's time for everyone's favorite thread.... Help Me Spend My Money!!!!!!

I'm fairly new to the audiophile hobby, and just purchased my first pair of Song Tower RT along with a 10" TC Sounds Sub.

I'm planning on setting up a 2.1 system strictly for music, and plan to predominately use it for Vinyl.

I've looked at Amps and Pre-Amps from Emotiva, but have also been recommended the Crown XLS 2000. I'm leaning towards the Crown right now.

I'm looking to spend ~$1000 for the Pre Amp and Amp combined. Any suggestions, especially for PreAmps?

I appreciate it!
post #2 of 35
Well, with your budget Emotiva might be a good fit with the USP-1 preamp and XPA-200 for $998. If you could spend a bit more the Parasound Classic 2100 ($650) preamp and 2125 stereo amplifier ($775) would be a very nice combo. Also, have you considered the more economical route with an AVR?
post #3 of 35
Thread Starter 
Upping the budget around those marks wouldn't be out of the questions, assuming there is going to be a significant difference going with that set up over the USP -1 and the Crown XLS 2000.

Reason for not going with the AVR is that I will down the road upgrade the Pre-Amp to something significantly better; however, after spending the money on the speakers there is no way the wife is going to approve spending a few thousand on a Pre-Amp. I got her to agree to the ~$1000 range, but am sure I could sweet talk (aka buy her a puppy) to get my budge increased, lol
post #4 of 35
The Crown amp is basically a PA amplifier, not what you want for a home sound system. You will not get decent sound quality with it; totally inappropriate.

The cheaper Parasound stuff is also not very good at all IMO.

For your price range, Emotiva is really the only game in town for separates, and I think its sound quality is mediocre.

Those are very good speakers which will not perform at their best with that kind of gear.

At that price level you will get better sound quality than the Emotiva gear IMO with an integrated amplifier from Cambridge.

I recommend that you look at the Cambridge 651A integrated, which will sound WAY better than the options you have mentioned. It costs $800. It also has preamp outputs, so you could add a larger power amp and use it as your preamp later if desired. You would probably have to spend at least $2000 to improve much on its preamp section.

It has plenty of power and very good sound quality; you will probably not feel any need to upgrade if you get it. It could be the ideal solution, at least for now.

There are really very few good preamps for under $2000.

I usually don't recommend separates unless you have at least $4000-6000 to spend.

If you really really want separates, the cheapest I could recommend to do justice to your speakers would be the Vincent SP-31MK preamp, which is $1600, and the Vincent 331 power amplifier for $1400. That IS very good stuff for the money.
Edited by commsysman - 4/2/13 at 2:42am
post #5 of 35
Quote:
Originally Posted by commsysman View Post

The Crown amp is basically a PA amplifier, not what you want for a home sound system. You will not get decent sound quality with it; totally inappropriate.

Very old school thinking.

It has been shown for decades that a good clean amplifier is a good clean amplifier no matter what its pedigree and what alleged magic it may lack.
Quote:
The cheaper Parasound stuff is also not very good at all IMO.

I've done DBTs comparing Crowns and cheaper Parasounds to say medium and large Brystons. Match the levels, base the comparison on just listening, and it is all the same.
post #6 of 35
Thread Starter 
I realize the crown is a pro style amp, but from everything I'm reading it would work just fine in a home set up. Is there something I'm missing on that?

I'm interested in the Vincent pre amp and trying to do some more research on it. Not opposed to it if I can find a deal or REALLY sweet talk the wife lol
post #7 of 35
Quote:
Originally Posted by ernest787 View Post

I realize the crown is a pro style amp, but from everything I'm reading it would work just fine in a home set up. Is there something I'm missing on that?

Old school prejudices.
Quote:
I'm interested in the Vincent pre amp and trying to do some more research on it. Not opposed to it if I can find a deal or REALLY sweet talk the wife lol

Vincent preamp? That means a preamp with bottles, right? .

The shortest most direct route to audio nirvana no longer includes a trip though expensive electronics city. They recently installed a bypass route through the green meadows of room acoustics.
post #8 of 35
Quote:
Originally Posted by commsysman View Post

The Crown amp is basically a PA amplifier, not what you want for a home sound system. You will not get decent sound quality with it; totally inappropriate.



"Inappropriate"? What a gas! You obviously don't know much about amps - especially pro amps. I've owned several pro amps over the years including a Crown XLS1500 that I recently sold. It has plenty of power and it sounds excellent.
post #9 of 35
Well, the suggestion of the Cambridge 651 was a good one. Huge toroidal transformer, full dual mono... Basically the Emotiva stuff in one box with better sound.
I sell these, and have heard them with Focals, $8k Klipsch, jbl LS series, Polk lsim, and others. They drive and sound good with near anything
post #10 of 35
Quote:
Originally Posted by Knucklehead90 View Post

Quote:
Originally Posted by commsysman View Post

The Crown amp is basically a PA amplifier, not what you want for a home sound system. You will not get decent sound quality with it; totally inappropriate.

"Inappropriate"? What a gas! You obviously don't know much about amps - especially pro amps. I've owned several pro amps over the years including a Crown XLS1500 that I recently sold. It has plenty of power and it sounds excellent.

There appear to be people who believe that when the audio signal enters the amp, it somehow knows that the amp has appeared in the catalogs of companies that sell to the live sound market, and then the audio signal sort of shrivels up and starts sounding bad. ;-)

Those of us who know that these amps have great frequency response and low distortion are sorely deceived when we think that this somehow matters for sound quality.
post #11 of 35
Thread Starter 
alright..

I've been researching for what feels like forever, lol

I'm pretty sure I'm going with the Crown XLS 2000 to power my set up, but haven't decided on the pre-amp.

I've found a Audio Research LS1 that I can purchase and then found a Pro-Ject Tube Box that I could pair with it for the phono stage to run my turntable. I figure I can get this set up for roughly $1000

I've also found a Audio Research SP14 that I also believe I can get for roughly $1000.

I know these are both older preamps, but everything I have read says they are both very good. I am correct that these set ups would be better than the Emotiva? If so, which would you recommend?
post #12 of 35
Quote:
Originally Posted by ernest787 View Post

alright..

I've been researching for what feels like forever, lol

I'm pretty sure I'm going with the Crown XLS 2000 to power my set up, but haven't decided on the pre-amp.

I've found a Audio Research LS1 that I can purchase and then found a Pro-Ject Tube Box that I could pair with it for the phono stage to run my turntable. I figure I can get this set up for roughly $1000

I've also found a Audio Research SP14 that I also believe I can get for roughly $1000.

I know these are both older preamps, but everything I have read says they are both very good. I am correct that these set ups would be better than the Emotiva? If so, which would you recommend?

Asking for "better" on an audio forum will get you different replies. This site has a bend towards science (AVS s is for science) and much of the science recorded has concluded that solid state amps that rate the same in specs sound the same. It sounds like you've decided on an amp.

Please explain, are you interested an a tube pre-amp?
post #13 of 35
Quote:
Originally Posted by ernest787 View Post

I'm fairly new to the audiophile hobby, and just purchased my first pair of Song Tower RT along with a 10" TC Sounds Sub.

Welcome. The hobby is based on music, I think many of us forget that aspect.

I had a pair of STRT's back on 2009, loved 'em. I too had a SS amp and a tube pre-amp. I still have the amp but my pre-amp has changed a few times, in my opinion, a tube pre-amp will benefit your system. I believe I am able to hear an audible difference between a SS pre-amp and a tube pre-amp and I prefer tubes in my pre-amp.

CREATOR: gd-jpeg v1.0 (using IJG JPEG v62), quality = 85

Photo above is STRT's and PMC monitior's.
post #14 of 35
Thread Starter 
haha. Yeah, I know whenever discussing anything music related and using that lovely term "better" you can expect 1000 different answers. I kinda enjoy all those replies though to see why someone thinks x is better than y.

I've always preferred the Tube sound and the warmth it brings. I'd prefer a tube preamp, but am finding that the options are limited with my current budget.
post #15 of 35
Quote:
Originally Posted by ernest787 View Post

It's time for everyone's favorite thread.... Help Me Spend My Money!!!!!!

I'm fairly new to the audiophile hobby, and just purchased my first pair of Song Tower RT along with a 10" TC Sounds Sub.

I'm planning on setting up a 2.1 system strictly for music, and plan to predominately use it for Vinyl.

For what you've got in speakers, an AVR is your best bet.

I've got a house full of amps, crossovers, equalizers and preamps and my main system is centerpieced with an AVR.
post #16 of 35
Ernest, the Emotiva XSP-1 gets some pretty decent reviews but one thing to consider is that you can trial it for 30 days with no obligation.
Even if you don't like it, it can give you a baseline for comparison at least for features and flexibility.
Plus you can decide for yourself in your home with your own system whether its sound is to your liking.
i'd recommend reading the online manual as well.
HTH
post #17 of 35
Thread Starter 
That's a great point milt. Honestly hadnt even considered the home trial. Im going to keep that in mind as I keep looking.

Good news is the wife agreed to let me up the budget, so I'm looking at approx $1k for the pre amp... Give or take.

So that should open a few more options for me.
post #18 of 35
Quote:
Originally Posted by ernest787 View Post

alright..

I've been researching for what feels like forever, lol

I'm pretty sure I'm going with the Crown XLS 2000 to power my set up, but haven't decided on the pre-amp.

I've found a Audio Research LS1 that I can purchase and then found a Pro-Ject Tube Box that I could pair with it for the phono stage to run my turntable. I figure I can get this set up for roughly $1000

I've also found a Audio Research SP14 that I also believe I can get for roughly $1000.

I know these are both older preamps, but everything I have read says they are both very good. I am correct that these set ups would be better than the Emotiva? If so, which would you recommend?

The LS1 is a hybrid design that doesn't sound "tubey." I'm not sure if the 14 has a "better" phono than the outboard you are looking at, but the older AR preamps I've heard are quite enjoyable. AR makes some beautiful gear.

You are right, they are 20 years old, so make sure to get a new tube/set.

B.
post #19 of 35
The SP-14 is also a hybrid design which uses just one 6DJ8 tube. An excellent preamp for vinyl. One feature I like it has separate gain & attenuation knobs w/can fine tune your vinyl records. It has an excellent phono stage so you won't have to worry about an outboard unit. Also w/only one tube not much cost involved w/replacing tubes. I have an SP-16 w/out a built in phono & I'm using a Pro-ject tube box II w/a Linn TT and I've been very happy w/the setup.smile.gif
post #20 of 35
Quote:
Originally Posted by ernest787 View Post

I've always preferred the Tube sound and the warmth it brings. I'd prefer a tube preamp, but am finding that the options are limited with my current budget.

Check out this Prima Luna pre-amp. It's below the new approved budget.

http://app.audiogon.com/listings/tube-prima-luna-prologue-3-tube-pre-amp-black-finish-2013-03-28-preamplifiers-10001-new-york-ny

post #21 of 35
Thread Starter 
Does the prima Luna have a phono stage or would I need to purchase one? I'm trying to research it at work and keep getting blocked haha.
post #22 of 35
Quote:
Originally Posted by ernest787 View Post

Does the prima Luna have a phono stage or would I need to purchase one? I'm trying to research it at work and keep getting blocked haha.

The Prologue 3 has a phono option however the Agon unit doesn't list a phono stage he would if he had one.
post #23 of 35
Thread Starter 
Update.

I believe I've narrowed it to the ARC SP-14 and the Prima Luna Prologue 3 paired with a Project tube box.

Hopefully I'll know for sure tomorrow which ends up winning out!
post #24 of 35
Having been a former Prima Luna owner I was never impressed w/the lower end models. The detail wasn't there. I had the higher end Dialogue 3 which was good but the warm sound was not a good match for my Aerial 6's w/are also warm. The Arcs' are more neutral and will give you better dynamics. Also the stock tubes you get from Prima Luna have a hard edge to them. I replaced them w/Nos military grade RCA Black Plates and got a big improvement. Also remember the Audio Research will keep it's value much better than the Prima Luna. And even though it's 20yrs. old Audio Research will still service it.smile.gif
post #25 of 35
Thread Starter 
Well I was able to win the eBay auction for the SP14. I'm super stoked and can't wait to get it. Now I just need to purchase the amp.
post #26 of 35
Congrats! I'm sure you'll enjoy it. Also if you've got any questions Audio Research is just a phone call away.smile.gif
post #27 of 35
Quote:
Originally Posted by ernest787 View Post

Well I was able to win the eBay auction for the SP14. I'm super stoked and can't wait to get it. Now I just need to purchase the amp.

You should be stoked, great purchase! You'll be happy with ARC, what is your budget for the amp?
post #28 of 35
Thread Starter 
I ate a large portion of the budget on the ARC, so I don't really want to spend more than another 5-600 right now, so I'm still leaning towards snagging the crown xls2000 and checking that out. From what I'm seeing I can resale it for close to retail if I don't like it and then grab something else if necessary.
post #29 of 35
The Crown xls series is reportedly a very clean sounding amp. You can save some money by getting the xls1500 or even xls1000 which are still quite powerful. I'm looking at the xls1000 to mate with my Hafler preamp for music and movies in a 2 channel system. I will be replacing an amp that runs too hot in an enclosed Salamander av cabinet. The crown can be left on 24/7 because it draws so little current and runs cool to the touch because it is a class d amp.
post #30 of 35
Thread Starter 
i purchased the xls2000, it actually just arrived today.

my new Turn Table should get in tomorrow, and then I'll just be waiting on my speakers to arrive!!!

Also really stoked that Jim said he has actually run the Crown Amp on the Salks and thought they did an excellent job. So I can't wait to get this all set up
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