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Best ~$2000 Amplifier - ATI, ParaSound, Emotiva, Classe

post #1 of 12
Thread Starter 
My 15 yrs old Kenwood VR-4090 receiver died recently & now have an opportunity to upgrade my setup. I'm planning to get Oppo BDP-105 & use it as Pre/Pro in 5.1 setup.

I'm considering the following similarly priced ($1500-$2000) 5 channel used/refurbished options:
Amplifier: ATI 2005, Outlaw 7500, Classe ???, ParaSound Halo 51/52, Emotiva XPR-5, MARANTZ MM8077, Onkyo PA-MC5500, etc.
OR
Receiver: ONKYO TX-NR5010, Onkyo TX-NR3010,YAMAHA RX-A3020, DENON AVR-4520CI & MARANTZ SR7007.

I do understand that the separate Amp would provide better sound & upgrade path & receivers provide better functionality & features. They're listed here since I've tested & loved sound separation & clarity of Yamaha RX-A series (forgot the specific model) compared to Denon & Marantz receiver.

I usually watch movies but at times listen to tapes since I've several old tracks.

Which one would you recommend? I'm open to any other model than the ones listed above.

Thanks for your time.

Current Setup:

  • Room 20x18+ with some open area, so sound can bleed
  • Speaker: Tyler Acoustics Linbrook System II (L, R,C)
  • Speaker: JBL S312 (RL, RR)
  • BD: Oppo 105
  • Tape Deck: Nakamichi RX-505
post #2 of 12
The Denon 4520CI, Onkyo 3010/5010 all feature the most advanced version of Audyssey MultEQ XT32 + Sub EQ HT (dual subs) while the Marantz 7007 only features the lower version of Audyssey MultEQ XT with no dual sub calibration feature therefore the 7007 would come off the list.
post #3 of 12
Of the amp choices I like the Outlaw 7500 as best for money (if still $1600) and the Parasound Halo A51 as best. If using the 105 as the prepro you must be certain you check the volume after firmware updates to be sure it does revert to 100%. They may have resolved that but not sure.
post #4 of 12
IMHO I would look at the ATI 2000 series, I have a ATI AT 2007 and a ATI AT 2004 (for a total of 11 channels at 200 watts each) and they work flawlessly. They are also a truly balanced design with soft start up to alleviate unwanted speaker thumps on startup to your speakers. If you start with the ATI 2005 or 2007 then you can use the oppo as a prepro and further down the line if you get a dedicated prepro the amps are there for use with it also. At there price, purchasing another amp (like I did) will provide for further channel expansion. Just a side note that ATI makes amps for other companies i.e. outlaw, mark levenson, theta ect.

My Gear

Yamaha RX-A3010 (to be replaced by CX-A5000 in Aug)
Oppo BDP-95
ATI AT 2007
ATI AT 2005
Atech fabrication 7000 silent HTPC
Sony 200 Disc DVD changer
Carver TDR 1530 tape deck
Sony MD player/recorder
X-box 360s
Aquos 70" LCD TV
2 Panamax 5400 Power units
klipsch RF 63 (Front)
klipsch RC 62 II (Center)
klipsch RB 61 II (Front Heighth)
klipsch RS 52 II (Surround)
Klipsch RS 52 II (Surround Back)
Rythmik 15" self made sealed sub
Polk Audio 505 sub

Happy listening!!
post #5 of 12
Quote:
Originally Posted by jdsmoothie View Post

The Denon 4520CI, Onkyo 3010/5010 all feature the most advanced version of Audyssey MultEQ XT32 + Sub EQ HT (dual subs) while the Marantz 7007 only features the lower version of Audyssey MultEQ XT with no dual sub calibration feature therefore the 7007 would come off the list.

I'd go for the best EQ you can buy as well.

Modern amps, if working properly, should all be acoustically transparent to humans, so unless you have some unusual power requirements, there is little purpose to those (Tyler Acoustics makes generally reasonably efficient speakers).

If you can put up with a minor quirk or two, for my $$$, at the closeout price still available, Sherwood R-972 is a steal and you get to experience Trinnov at a bargain-basement price (better than Audyssey, IMHO). Look for the thread here.

Good luck, whatever you chose.
post #6 of 12
Thread Starter 
Thank you all for providing your valuable responses. I built on yours & started digging further. Read tonnes & tonnes of reviews & forum discussions.

First of all, Receiver route is definitely out. I do know that I don't need very High Power. But I anticipate SQ to go up too in high-end Amps.

So, here are the final few contenders with my preference level. Let me know if I am going off (I could be, after burying myself in Laptop for the last 3 days) smile.gif
1.) Parasound A 51
1.) Emotiva XPR-5
2.) ATI 2005
2.) Outlaw 7500 or 755
2.) Parasound 5250 or 5125
2.) Theta Digital Intrepid
3.) Anthem MCA-50

Now, it all boils down to what I can get in my budget & in a decent condition. What do you think?
post #7 of 12
If you are not concerned about high power, one amp that comes to mind is the ATI AT 1800 series. They can be purchased as "B" stock from http://www.classicaudioparts.com/index.php/amplifiers.html for a reasonable price. These units are pretty much brand new and carry the same warranty as if bought from ATI. In fact they are the ATI outlet store. I purchased a "B" stock ATI AT 2004 and it was in a sealed box and was in fact brand new.
post #8 of 12
The 1800 is not a differential amp like the 2000 and 3000 series. OP - I think you have a pretty good list. If you are using a receiver as a prepro I would suggest the A31 and run the rest from the receiver. Either way, you have good plans.
post #9 of 12
Quote:
Originally Posted by HitsOfMisses View Post

...But I anticipate SQ to go up too in high-end Amps.
..

Nope, it doesn't, as long as both amps compared are functioning properly and neither is pushed into distortion.

As I said above, virtually all mainstream modern amps are sonically transparent to humans. As long as you are not clipping, there will not be any difference between level matched amps (old-wives' SQ tales and sales talk notwithstanding). There is a good reason why not a single "high end" amp manufacturer is willing to conduct proper double-blind tests, but rely instead on the "reviews" of shills writing for dying magazines on life support from "high end" manufacturers advertising and the spiels of "high end" stores salesmen.

Again, the main differentiating factor, other than your speakers and your particular room environment, will be room equalization, which is where you should really spend your money, IMO (since most people do not have the option of room treatment).

If your amp is functioning as intended and is still affecting SQ, then it's not transparent. This doesn't mean that distortion may not be more to your personal liking -- for instance, many tube lovers love the distortion and "warmth" added by their amps. Just don't call it transparent, or "high end."
Edited by Ryan1 - 7/2/13 at 5:33pm
post #10 of 12
I wouldn't touch a onkyo , to many hdmi board failures.
post #11 of 12
Thread Starter 
Hey guys! I finally bought Parasound Halo A 51 from AudioGon for $2100. Visually there are a few blemishes & it trips-off in Auto 12V setting. My first impression is that it's very heavy (95 lbs) & it gets really hot fast.

Anyway, currently listening to various types of music (stereo, XLR) & movies (5.1, RCA) & comparing notes. In a few scenes, I did hear the background music that I never heard/noticed before but nothing significant while listening to music in stereo. In defense of my previous Kenwood VR-4090 receiver (MSRP 1200/ Used 450) which I was never so attached with, I must admit that though it's 1/4th the price of A51 (MSRP 4500/ Used 2100) it was no slouch in terms of SQ & imaging.

It's almost 24 hrs since I first plugged in. Still exploring & justifying whether my purchase was worth 4 times. Will keep you posted.
post #12 of 12
Quote:
Originally Posted by HitsOfMisses View Post

In a few scenes, I did hear the background music that I never heard/noticed before but nothing significant while listening to music in stereo.

Very nice! I also use my Oppo BDP-105 as a Pre-Pro connected directly to amplifiers and love the simplicity of the system.

I also have Parasound and ATI amps (actually the Outlaw 7700 version of the ATI 2007) and they are both superb amps. I have never owned a Halo amp but would love to have one some day - but at this time I don't know where I would fit it into my system. As you mention, the Parasound amps run fairly hot (Halo probably even more so) - the ATI amps run cool unless you push them really hard with low sensitivity speakers at insane levels.

Don't worry if you can't prove there is an audible difference between an AVR and your Halo amp. If you can hear more detail that is all that matters. And now you have amplifier channels that are no longer tied to a throw away AVR with its built in obsolescence (video switching, surround decoding, etc). When there is a technology upgrade you can just buy a new Pre-Pro (or a new Oppo Blu-Ray player!!) and enjoy the new tech with your fully capable amp - again and again.
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