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Best Receiver/Integrated Amplifier for Classical Music with Klipsch Epic CF-3's

post #1 of 22
Thread Starter 
I've spent four days now researching receivers and integrated amplifiers and have come to ask for your collective wisdom. With a budget of $500 (maybe $700 if pushed) what is the best receiver or amplifier setup for strictly classical music. I have a collection of thousands of classical CD's which is all I use this stereo for. Speakers specs are:

Frequency Response: 35Hz-20kHz±3dB
Sensitivity: 100dB 1watt/1meter
Power Handling: 250 watts maximum continuous, 1000 watts peak
Nominal Impedance: 8 ohms
HF Crossover: 1500Hz

Thanks in advance.

-Andrew
post #2 of 22
I would recommend looking at the HK 3490. 120w RMS into 8 ohms, phono preamp, built in DAC. I picked up mine from Craigslist brand new in the box for $265. You can get it at J&R for $349.

http://www.jr.com/harman-kardon/pe/HK_3490/
post #3 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by droid10 View Post

I've spent four days now researching receivers and integrated amplifiers and have come to ask for your collective wisdom. With a budget of $500 (maybe $700 if pushed) what is the best receiver or amplifier setup for strictly classical music. I have a collection of thousands of classical CD's which is all I use this stereo for. Speakers specs are:

Frequency Response: 35Hz-20kHz±3dB
Sensitivity: 100dB 1watt/1meter
Power Handling: 250 watts maximum continuous, 1000 watts peak
Nominal Impedance: 8 ohms
HF Crossover: 1500Hz

Those specs look to me like speakers for a sound reinforcement system, more so than a home audio system. What is keeping you from telling us their make and model?

As far as powering them goes, your best choice in general is a modern 5.1 channel AVR. It is one of the crazy ironies of modern times that you can buy an AVR, turn off 3 of its internal power amps for the foreseeable future, and still have something that is far better from a system SQ basis than an actual stereo receiver.
post #4 of 22
I second the recommendation of the Harman-Kardon 3490 receiver.

It is very hard to equal for the money; very nice-sounding.

If you think you might want to go to 5 channels in the future, the Harman-Kardon 1700 would be another option, but for just 2 channels I would say the 3490 is the best you can get for anywhere near that price.

I am not sure that the CF-3 speakers are what you want for classical music listening.

From what I have read, they may tend to be rather harsh-sounding for classical music, but only you can judge if the sound quality is what works for you.

The best way to check that is to do a direct listening comparison to some other speakers.

KEF, Wharfedale, and PSB make speakers that have repeatedly been judged to be very good for listening to music by experienced listeners.
Edited by commsysman - 5/3/13 at 6:45am
post #5 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by commsysman View Post

I second the recommendation of the Harman-Kardon 3490 receiver.

It is very hard to equal for the money.

That's because it is so easy to surpass for much less money. ;-)

What the 3490 lacks as compared to just about any modern AVR:

(1) Connections for more than just 2 speakers and a subwoofer
(2) HDMI inputs and outputs
(3) LAN/WAN connection
(4) Connections for more than just L & R speakers
(5) Bass Management, not just a dumb connection for a subwoofer
(6) Graphic equalizers
(7) Automated system optimization facility such as Audyssey, MCACC or YPAO.

http://www.harmankardon.com/images/media/HK3490_OM_EN.pdf



A competitive AVR (Denon 1613):

post #6 of 22
I see you took a wrong turn again Arny. Lost?

Why do you keep coming to the Two-Channel forum and insisting that HT receivers are better because they offer 5 channels?
post #7 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by commsysman View Post

I see you took a wrong turn again Arny. Lost?

Why do you keep coming to the Two-Channel forum and insisting that HT receivers are better because they offer 5 channels?

Because the relevant facts seem to support that conclusion.

Since you seem very remiss in the relevant facts department I'll repeat the advantages that I cited in my last post and that you do not seem to have adequately rebutted yet:

Advantages of modern AVRs over most 2 channel receivers:

1) Connections for more than just 2 speakers and maybe a subwoofer

(2) HDMI inputs and outputs

(3) LAN/WAN connection

(4) Connections for more than just L & R speakers

(5) Bass Management, not just a dumb connection for a subwoofer, hope its crossover is right

(6) Built in graphic equalizers

(7) Automated system optimization facility such as Audyssey, MCACC or YPAO.

That is seven (7) points, just in case you forget how big your homework assignment is! ;-)
post #8 of 22
And every one of them is irrelevant to the typical person who is interested only in 2-channel audio.

You just don't get it. Your ideas on what is "relevant " here are laughable.

Your basic position seems to be that 2-channel audio is inadequate, so you are here as a salesman for something else; home theater and its questionable array of bells and whistles.

That is totally inappropriate to THIS forum and disrespects its purpose.

My 2-channel system has NONE of those things, and is one of the best-sounding systems I have ever heard. Who needs or wants them? Not me... that's for damn sure!

I suggest that you limit yourself to the other forums until you realize how irrelevant your ideas are to this one.
Edited by commsysman - 5/3/13 at 8:05am
post #9 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by commsysman View Post

I suggest that you limit yourself to the other forums until you realize how irrelevant your ideas are to this one.

Too bad theres not a 1970's tech thread we could refer you too, since your ideas and opinions seem stuck in the past.

Some look toward the future and try and future proof their purchase. Nothing and I mean nothing is wrong with using a multichannel receiver for strict 2ch listening.
post #10 of 22
I have a 2-channel system that I have developed and refined over a period of 40 years to deliver superb sound quality for listening to music.

If you find that idea archaic, then your values are simply different than mine. I value sound quality.

There are many audio dealers that only sell top-quality 2-channel equipment, and much of that equipment is THE state-of -the-art (as opposed to the inferior mass-market home theater dross).

You may find it instructive that many of the most technically advanced speaker manufacturers that make the very highest quality speakers only make them for 2-channel systems. They ignore the home theater market completely.

You might want to consider what what THAT says about your arrogant assumption that home theater is the future, as opposed to an mere alternative that many are simply not interested in.

The idea that those of us who prefer good two-channel sound to something that has more "bells and whistles" but does not sound as good are somehow "stuck in the past" is arrogant in the extreme and not particularly intelligent.

You seem to think that home theater is somehow better because it employs various "gee-whiz" sonic practices that I consider damaging to the sound quality. If that lowering of sound quality is the "future", then it sucks.

I have listened to many many home theater systems, and find the sound quality very much inferior to my system. I blame excessive sound processing through low-quality digital circuits for much of the loss of quality.

Please tell me why I should abandon something that sounds better for something that sounds inferior.
Edited by commsysman - 5/3/13 at 8:42am
post #11 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by commsysman View Post


And every one of them is irrelevant to the typical person who is interested only in 2-channel audio.

According to whom?

Got any independently-certified public opinon survey results to back yourself up?

I think that what you post here is your opinion, and of course you are welcome to continue to post it.

This is a marketplace for ideas, and anybody who wants to ignore my posts is free to do so.
Quote:
You just don't get it. Your ideas on what is "relevant " here are laughable.


My ideas about what is relevant are based on sound quality. Since when did sound quality become laughable?
Quote:
Your basic position seems to be that 2-channel audio is inadequate,

Based on what? The systems I recommend are designed to handle 2-channel sources, and contain 2 main speakers. No center channel speakers, no surround speakers. Primary sources are 2-channel such as audio CDs and other 2-channel digital and analog sources. OK, they may work well with surround formats, but somehow I feel no need to apologize for that.
Quote:
so you are here as a salesman for something else; home theater and its questionable array of bells and whistles.

I think the only bells and whistles I advocate are subwoofers, bass management, compatibility with digital sources, and various manual and automated means for tuning a system to work well in a listening room. Analog sources are still supported. All of those are basic concepts and facilities that have been around since the 1970s, that I've been using in 2 channel systems since the 1980s.
Quote:
That is totally inappropriate to THIS forum and disrespects its purpose.

So the purpose of this forum is not sound quality with stereo sources and playback via two main speakers?
Quote:
My 2-channel system has NONE of those things, and is one of the best-sounding systems I have ever heard. Who needs or wants them? Not me... that's for damn sure!

I need only allow that your system sounds good to you and not necessarily anybody else, just like my system may sound good to me and nobody else. But that gives me no right to tell people what not to put into their systems!
Quote:
I suggest that you limit yourself to the other forums until you realize how irrelevant your ideas are to this one.

It appears that others disagree with you, as well.

It also appears that you are unwilling to engage in a dialog about sound quality in stereo systems in Y2K. That's fine, but attacking people because they live work and buy equipment in the current millennium seems unfair and shortsighted.
Edited by arnyk - 5/3/13 at 8:51am
post #12 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by gtpsuper24 View Post

Too bad theres not a 1970's tech thread we could refer you too, since your ideas and opinions seem stuck in the past.

Some look toward the future and try and future proof their purchase. Nothing and I mean nothing is wrong with using a multichannel receiver for strict 2ch listening.
Here's a bit of background info: http://www.avsforum.com/t/1455620/nad-c-356-vs-outlaw-rr2150-vs-marantz-pm8004#post_22924275
post #13 of 22
Thread Starter 
I've had the Klipsch Epic CF-3's for about 15 years now and have been very happy with them for classical music, so there's no change for them in the future. Also, as argued above, there is zero chance of me ever using this receiver/amp for any other speaker combination, so the idea of one day needing extra channels is moot.

However, I have been curious if getting a 5.1 would be a good move because then I could (I think) bi-amp the speakers. I still don't know enough about the details of bi-amping, but it seems that most 2 channel systems don't have 2 seperate amps inside whereas most 5.1's do, allowing me to bi-amp my system. Is this true or have I gone off the wrong path? Thanks for the help.
post #14 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by commsysman View Post

If you think you might want to go to 5 channels in the future, the Harman-Kardon 1700 would be another option

http://www.hometheater.com/content/harman-kardon-avr-1700-av-receiver
Quote:
The Harman Kardon AVR 1700 is a mixed bag. On the positive side, its Apple and network audio functionality is comprehensive if you include the optional Bluetooth adapter, and the Harman Media Manager app is a unique plus. When used strictly as a two-channel amp, the receiver had its moments of beauty. But it also has troubling weaknesses: Its room correction works poorly, at least in my room, and the only way to get around it is with a full system reset, which wipes out all your settings. The lack of a pure audio mode that bypasses the room correction only exacerbates the problem. Also frustrating is the remote’s inability to switch surround modes on the fly unless you’re willing to obliterate whatever you’re watching with the onscreen interface. Uncluttering the receiver is a worthy goal, but Harman seems to have thrown out the baby with the bath water.
post #15 of 22
2 channel receivers are today a niche product. The few mediocre offerings that have been brought to market exist only to appease old school consumers who feel they don't need anything more. With exception to LAN connectivity they are simply regurgitations of years past, still ignoring where the market has been going the last decade. And unless networking capabilities, HDMI, a full suite of codecs, bass management and room optimization capabilities start becoming features they will soon be obsolete. I would also argue for multiple zones and preamp outputs.

I really like my Onkyo TX-8050 receiver. Paired with a decent external amp it does a fine job, that it is on my network and controllable via mobile app keeps me smiling. Yet I don't for one moment pretend that it isn't inferior to an AVR with comparable features. I knew this from the beginning but at the time network features was a priority that few AVRs could fill. All it took was adding a sub to realize just what I'm sacrificing. I would not recommend 2 channel receivers as a viable option to anyone these days.
post #16 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by Nethawk View Post

2 channel receivers are today a niche product. The few mediocre offerings that have been brought to market exist only to appease old school consumers who feel they don't need anything more. With exception to LAN connectivity they are simply regurgitations of years past, still ignoring where the market has been going the last decade. And unless networking capabilities, HDMI, a full suite of codecs, bass management and room optimization capabilities start becoming features they will soon be obsolete. I would also argue for multiple zones and preamp outputs.

I really like my Onkyo TX-8050 receiver. Paired with a decent external amp it does a fine job, that it is on my network and controllable via mobile app keeps me smiling. Yet I don't for one moment pretend that it isn't inferior to an AVR with comparable features. I knew this from the beginning but at the time network features was a priority that few AVRs could fill. All it took was adding a sub to realize just what I'm sacrificing. I would not recommend 2 channel receivers as a viable option to anyone these days.

The Onkyo looks nice for a two channel setup. If it had some form of room correction it would be perfect.

I go back and forth on the AVR vs 2 channel device. I have just a 2.0 setup and currently use a denon AVR-3311ci. It does everything i want and more. My room is also a little on the bright side and audyssey takes care of it nice. I could probbaly tone the treble on a two channel integrated a wee bit with just simple tone controls, however I do like dynamic eq for listening to music at varying volumes and dynamic volume for movies to enhance dialog and reduce special effect noises. I rarely use, if ever, the network features other than to just play around and see if they work properly. I have two internet stations of hundreds actually in presets, that I never listen to. About the only network feature I use is airplay to steam itunes and playing flac on a usb device. I could do all the networking and usb playback with my oppo bdp as well. All in all, I'm happy with my avr.

OTOH, there is something to be said for the simplicity of a two channel integrated. I hate all the binding posts on my avr, it's actually hard to get a good 12 to 14 guage speaker wire properly in place they are all so close together. I like the cleanliness and ease of just two speaker connections in the back. I can probably easily tone my room down with a simple tone control. And they won't suffer a network card failure or lockup talking to the router, necessitating either a router or avr reset. A good integrated is not a disposable commodity like most of the mid priced AVRs seem to be.

On occasion I look and see what's available in a good integrated. I was excited when the hk990 came out. A two channel with room correction. I was hoping it would begat others doing the same, but it has not. I still hope that others will come out with them, but as yet no one has. So in this thread I've had my internal debate again, and I'll stick with my AVR a while longer....
post #17 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by droid10 View Post

I've had the Klipsch Epic CF-3's for about 15 years now and have been very happy with them for classical music, so there's no change for them in the future. Also, as argued above, there is zero chance of me ever using this receiver/amp for any other speaker combination, so the idea of one day needing extra channels is moot.

However, I have been curious if getting a 5.1 would be a good move because then I could (I think) bi-amp the speakers. I still don't know enough about the details of bi-amping, but it seems that most 2 channel systems don't have 2 seperate amps inside whereas most 5.1's do, allowing me to bi-amp my system. Is this true or have I gone off the wrong path? Thanks for the help.

You've got the channel count right, but don't jump down that rabbit hole called passive biamping, which is what you get when you use different power amps to drive the upper and lower frequency sections of the same speaker with its passive crossovers still in place.

The real advantages of using an AVR nicely described in this post:

"I have just a 2.0 setup and currently use a denon AVR-3311ci. It does everything i want and more. My room is also a little on the bright side and Audyssey takes care of it nice. I could probably tone the treble on a two channel integrated a wee bit with just simple tone controls, however I do like dynamic eq for listening to music at varying volumes and dynamic volume for movies to enhance dialog and reduce special effect noises. I rarely use, if ever, the network features other than to just play around and see if they work properly. I have two internet stations of hundreds actually in presets, that I never listen to. About the only network feature I use is airplay to steam itunes and playing flac on a usb device. I could do all the networking and usb playback with my oppo bdp as well. All in all, I'm happy with my avr."

These days the "bells and whistles" on an AVR are implemented digitally which means that if you don't use them, the signal doesn't have to pass through idle circuits that may detract from reliability or sound quality.
post #18 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by arnyk View Post

These days the "bells and whistles" on an AVR are implemented digitally which means that if you don't use them, the signal doesn't have to pass through idle circuits that may detract from reliability or sound quality.

This is what Commsysman doesn't get, as soon as you have something with "features" he thinks its detrimental to sound quality. Very old school outdated approach to audio. I say its nice to have them for future use or to experiement to get the sound the way the listener wants it. Instead of being boxed in by 30yr old thinking that less is better.
Edited by gtpsuper24 - 6/8/13 at 11:33am
post #19 of 22
Network capabilities are a convenience that I appreciate. The receiver and amp are in my office closet, a media server is directly connected. I never have to touch the equipment - power, volume, zone control for two rooms, my library and streaming services are all accessible from tablet or smartphone. The best benefit by far is the great apps for playback management. The foobar2000 app is fantastic.

What I lack, the most important of all, is that without those additional capabilities of an AVR I am not getting the best from my speakers.

With these two priorities nothing else exists. Denon 2113CI will be the Onkyo replacement.
post #20 of 22
I have a set of Grado 500 headphones and want to upgrade my amplifier so I can get the full benefit of those phones and any other equipment I might buy (my current receiver is an old low-end Technics). I want to stay under $500 for an integrated amp, if possible. I listen to classical music almost exclusively and have a large LP collection. But I'd also like to hear audio dvds and flac files. You sound like you've been around the block a few times, so I'd appreciate your suggestions.

Thanks.

-Tom
post #21 of 22
I have a set of Grado 500 headphones and want to upgrade my amplifier so I can get the full benefit of those phones and any other equipment I might buy (my current receiver is an old low-end Technics). I want to stay under $500 for an integrated amp, if possible. I listen to classical music almost exclusively and have a large LP collection. But I'd also like to hear audio dvds and flac files. You sound like you've been around the block a few times, so I'd appreciate your suggestions.

Thanks.

-Tom
post #22 of 22
Quote:
Originally Posted by commsysman View Post

I have a 2-channel system that I have developed and refined over a period of 40 years to deliver superb sound quality for listening to music.

If you find that idea archaic, then your values are simply different than mine. I value sound quality.

There are many audio dealers that only sell top-quality 2-channel equipment, and much of that equipment is THE state-of -the-art (as opposed to the inferior mass-market home theater dross).

You may find it instructive that many of the most technically advanced speaker manufacturers that make the very highest quality speakers only make them for 2-channel systems. They ignore the home theater market completely.

You might want to consider what what THAT says about your arrogant assumption that home theater is the future, as opposed to an mere alternative that many are simply not interested in.

The idea that those of us who prefer good two-channel sound to something that has more "bells and whistles" but does not sound as good are somehow "stuck in the past" is arrogant in the extreme and not particularly intelligent.

You seem to think that home theater is somehow better because it employs various "gee-whiz" sonic practices that I consider damaging to the sound quality. If that lowering of sound quality is the "future", then it sucks.

I have listened to many many home theater systems, and find the sound quality very much inferior to my system. I blame excessive sound processing through low-quality digital circuits for much of the loss of quality.

Please tell me why I should abandon something that sounds better for something that sounds inferior.

I have a set of Grado 500 headphones and want to upgrade my amplifier so I can get the full benefit of those phones and any other equipment I might buy (my current receiver is an old low-end Technics). I want to stay under $500 for an integrated amp, if possible. I listen to classical music almost exclusively and have a large LP collection. But I'd also like to hear audio dvds and flac files. You sound like you've been around the block a few times, so I'd appreciate your suggestions.

Thanks.

-Tom
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