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Integrated >10 yrs old. Newer=upgrade?

post #1 of 12
Thread Starter 
By the extraordinarily generous gesture of giving me a classic Carver CM 1090 integrated amp, Jewel convinced me that amplification can have a real audible impact on sound quality. I was wondering if advances in the 10+ years since it was made imply that a new integrated amp or receiver could sound even better. I was also wondering what price level would be required to obtain such an improvement.
In particular, would the Denon DRA 685 ($450 and matches my CD player) or the Cambridge Audio 640A ($550) be better, worse, or about equal? Would it take a much bigger jump in price than that to outperform the Carver?
post #2 of 12
Thread Starter 
Bump (only because this was about to end up on page two.)
post #3 of 12
A brand new piece of mass market junk will still sound worse than a 10-yr-old high end unit. The new one simply has cheaper parts in it. The DACs that were state of the art 10 years ago can still sound superior, even if their specs suffer in comparison with newer units, because the rest of the old unit's design reduces the noise floor, increases signal-to-noise and separation, etc.
post #4 of 12
I seriously doubt the Carver has any DAC in it. This is a stereo integrated amp, not a HT receiver.

Obviously the only way to know for sure is to audition these amps....A/B them if possible. Short of that, I think the Cambridge Audio will give the Carver a serious run, even with the Carver's superior power output.
post #5 of 12
The Carver I'm sure was a nice upgrade from the cheap Onkyo you had, but that amp is on par soundwise with all the many different amps I've tried, so to replace it with a cheaper Denon or CA integrated would yield probably no audible improvement, the BEST you could hope for would be equal quality, but then you just threw your money out the window. There's a reason vintage amps are still highly sought after on the used market. Until you suck it up, and get out of those mass market Infinity speakers, keep your money, you've hit your max, sorry to say. The Primus 360s have a seperate midrange, so if that's the best you can afford, that'll probably be a big upgrade from your 250s. If the speaker is well balanced and placed, the bass shouldn't be a problem. Most reviews on the 360s still complain of a lack in bass anyway. I know you always say you can't imagine how you could possibly get a better sounding speaker, we all have at one point, until you actually hear one, then you'll get it. Forget the amp upgrade for now, upgrade the speakers!
post #6 of 12
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by jewel5 View Post

Forget the amp upgrade for now, upgrade the speakers!

As you read in the Speaker Forum, I have taken your advice and upgraded to B&W. The fact that these sound as great as they do proves conclusively that the Carver "has what it takes".
By the way, I returned my Denon CD player to the store. It was a piece of junk compared to my Onkyo changer. I don't think I will be trying anything else from Denon, ever.
post #7 of 12
That Carver is a wonderful little integrated, and really the only way you will improve on it is if you go to separates. If you ever need more power(it won't run 4-ohm speakers w/o clipping), just get a separate amp, and use it as a preamp, it sounds great!
post #8 of 12
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by jewel5 View Post

That Carver is a wonderful little integrated, and really the only way you will improve on it is if you go to separates. If you ever need more power(it won't run 4-ohm speakers w/o clipping), just get a separate amp, and use it as a preamp, it sounds great!

As soon as I got the Carver, I hooked it up and have been using it ever since. The one thing I have not tried is listening to the Onkyo again. This weekend, I may try this just as an experiment (I love experimenting.) Should be interesting to see what differences I hear (or don't hear, as the case may be.)
post #9 of 12
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by PULLIAMM View Post

As soon as I got the Carver, I hooked it up and have been using it ever since. The one thing I have not tried is listening to the Onkyo again. This weekend, I may try this just as an experiment (I love experimenting.) Should be interesting to see what differences I hear (or don't hear, as the case may be.)

Tried it last night. No contest, the Carver is far better (my new speakers make the difference much more obvious.) The Onkyo sounded "thin" by comparison, and had under-damped bass.
post #10 of 12
Thread Starter 
The longer I listen to the Carver CM1090, the more I appreciate it. I realize now that it didn't "stand out" initially precisely because it is perfectly neutral. This gives it flawless synergy with my equally neutral B&W speakers, and makes instruments sound utterly lifelike. Imaging is particularly deep and articulate.
Probably what impresses me the most, however, is the cleanness of the sound. By this I mean not just ultra-low background noise, but a lack of "residual" noise surrounding individual sounds, together with an utterly grainless smoothness.
The concept of ever replacing this is no longer something I even toy with. If you can find one, buy it.
post #11 of 12
It is enjoyable watching your attitudes evolve. There are so many people around here who simply KNOW stuff (stuff I usually disagree with) who never actually try something different because they just KNOW it doesn't matter.

You at least are willing to try, to listen, and to re-evaluate your positions.

It's refreshing.
post #12 of 12
Claiming things without ever having experience behind your words always sounds a bit silly and makes it hard for anyone to take you seriously. This is just a general statement.
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