Originally Posted by Skullbros
I have to disagree with you on this one. I just replaced a 2-year old, $400 Yamaha integrated amplifier with a Creek Evolution 50a and it's the only part of my system that I upgraded. The improvement in sound quality is really remarkable. I've been listening to a Django Reinhardt record I've had for over 30 years (and listened to hundreds, if not thousands of times). The new amp reveals subtleties and textures that I had never heard before. It's a pretty dramatic improvement.
Well, that depends.
Take a new CD of some rock group that plays so loud that your ears bleed. But when it comes to hearing all the subtle details your power amp is sure to enhance and bring forward, they are not even recorded. So, it does not matter if you have a super power amp. The source (the master tape) was created for mass market that mostly uses iPhones or PC speakers, not your McIntosh MC2KW power amp. The only possible complain of this target market listener group is that "it isnt loud enough when I work out in the gym".
But then again, if you have an excellent master recording - then it is another story. Then you are right. Power amp is the next important upgrade to the speakers. But still, I enjoy a good recording even without my power amp, directly from the receiver.
Let me give you an example. Michael Franks (smooth jazz) released a CD "Barefoot on the Beach". In 1987, if I am not mistaken. It sounds very detailed. Every background sax, cymbal crashes, background solos, every whisper is very vivid and distinct. You can enjoy it on almost any source, with or without a power amp (good speakers notwithstanding). Then he releases some kind of a retrospection 5 CD collection for a hundred bucks a year or two ago. Some of the old 1987 songs included as well. You would have thought the sound is going to be better, but hell no. It sounds louder, yes. But quality wise - not so much. Its like you are listening with pillows over your ears. It does not matter what sort of power amp you add into the mix. If source has no details for the power amp to accentuate, to bring forward, it will still sound dull. Listening to the older version without a power amp beats the new version with one by a mile! You dont need a spectroscope to pickup the difference. You can catch it from another room, that is how dramatic it is.
That is why I am listing good master audio recording after the speaker upgrade and before the power amp.
See my thread "A Perfect CD to Showcase Your Speakers - Does it Even Exist
?"Edited by grigorianvlad - 10/6/13 at 9:10pm