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post #1 of 15 Old 11-23-2019, 11:27 AM - Thread Starter
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Pre-Amp/Amp Matching Question

I don’t think I’m getting the most of my Focal Supra 3s and I’m wondering if it’s a pre-amp/amp mismatch. I’m using a NAIM NAC-N 272 preamp that has an output of 772mV. See specs here: https://www.naimaudio.com/sites/default/files/products/downloads/files/NAC-N%20Series%20Ref%20Manual%20English%20Issue%203F.p df

And a VAC 200iq (single one) that has an input impedance of 200k Ohms. I can’t find the input sensitivity. The specs are here:

http://www.vac-amps.com/productPages/Signature200.html

It seems based on an old forum article that I really need a pre-amp with at least 2 V or greater output into an amp with that high of an input impedance to get the most out of it.

Am I totally wrong? My room is big - tons of open air and I have to play everything louder than I want to get the sound is like to get. Prob 17x25 25’ high ceilings and worse, open to the kitchen behind. It’s my family room essentially. I don’t have an alternative listening room.

NAIM makes an external power supply (not an amp). I can’t tell if this is just a power conditioner that regulates (i.e., filers) the power supply or also increases the output voltage - bc it seems to have multiple output voltage options. Here’s the link:

https://www.naimaudio.com/product/555-ps

If anyone can give me advice, about whether I might have a mismatch, whether the external power supply does increase the voltage output and any ideas, I’d be grateful!! Many of you guys are super technical and I know just enough to be dangerous!!

Thanks, Jonathan
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post #2 of 15 Old 11-23-2019, 11:46 AM
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Are you hearing issues with the sound of your system or are you just theorizing? I don’t know the answer to your question about matching components but for certain you have excellent products. Can you tell us about your setup, listening position and room treatment if any if you are having playback issues?

Jolida Fusion Preamp, Jolida JD1000P Amp, VPI Scout turntable with Dynavector 10X5 cartridge, Paradigm Studio 100 v.5 speakers, Sonica DAC streaming lossless files. Furman Elite 15 Power Conditioner.
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post #3 of 15 Old 11-23-2019, 12:02 PM
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I would worry much more of your power amp than the preamp. I have a pair of JM Lab Spectral 913.1, it's a little lower model than yours. It's a hard to drive speaker. I tried a single ended tube power amp and it absolutely bombed. You need to try a solid state amp to compare.



Your VAC 200iq is a tube amp, damping factor is inherently lower, if you speakers is as difficult to drive as mine, you have to watch out tube amps cannot control the speakers. Also, for hard to drive speakers, speaker cable is very important as it will lower the damping factor even if you amp has high damping factor.



The preamp is the last thing I would concern. I don't even use preamp, I use a passive volume pot built into the power amp ( like integrated amp) and it gives me the best sound in comparison.

Own designed power amp, own designed preamp, JM LAB Spectral 913.1 speakers, Rythmik F12SE sub.
Not hooked up: Nakamichi Stasis PA-7 power amp, Velodyne VA1210 sub, Kef Reference Series center, Kef Bookshelf speaker, Monitor Audio bookshelf speaker, Infinity rear speakers. Acurus 3X200W amp.
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post #4 of 15 Old 11-23-2019, 12:16 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by alan0354 View Post
I would worry much more of your power amp than the preamp. I have a pair of JM Lab Spectral 913.1, it's a little lower model than yours. It's a hard to drive speaker. I tried a single ended tube power amp and it absolutely bombed. You need to try a solid state amp to compare.



Your VAC 200iq is a tube amp, damping factor is inherently lower, if you speakers is as difficult to drive as mine, you have to watch out tube amps cannot control the speakers. Also, for hard to drive speakers, speaker cable is very important as it will lower the damping factor even if you amp has high damping factor.



The preamp is the last thing I would concern. I don't even use preamp, I use a passive volume pot built into the power amp ( like integrated amp) and it gives me the best sound in comparison.
Just looking at specs, the 3’s shouldn’t be that hard to drive but you do have a big room. Another one used as mono blocks would help a lot. Tube amps do have deficits on the low end compared to SS with similar specs.

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post #5 of 15 Old 11-23-2019, 12:44 PM
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Originally Posted by MSchott View Post
Just looking at specs, the 3’s shouldn’t be that hard to drive but you do have a big room. Another one used as mono blocks would help a lot. Tube amps do have deficits on the low end compared to SS with similar specs.
I just know the SE tube amp really suck with my speakers. I don't know how it compare to his. JM Lab had less models at the time compare to now, I know mine was a line lower than the Utopia line. My speakers are very hard to drive, that's the reason of my suggestion.

Tube amps "works" with the speakers, not controlling the speakers, so one has to pay attention whether the amp match the speakers. You can have a good tube amp, a good pair of speakers, but they might not match. So that would be one thing I would look into. Of cause they might be a match from heaven too.


Actually I am thinking about borrowing my friend's Jolida and try it on my speakers to see whether I like it or not.

Own designed power amp, own designed preamp, JM LAB Spectral 913.1 speakers, Rythmik F12SE sub.
Not hooked up: Nakamichi Stasis PA-7 power amp, Velodyne VA1210 sub, Kef Reference Series center, Kef Bookshelf speaker, Monitor Audio bookshelf speaker, Infinity rear speakers. Acurus 3X200W amp.
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post #6 of 15 Old 11-23-2019, 01:06 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by alan0354 View Post
I never own or seriously listened to a tube power amp.

Quote:
Originally Posted by alan0354 View Post
I just know the SE tube amp really suck with my speakers.

How does one "just know" without personal evaluation?
Give it a try and let us know afterwards.



If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough – Albert Einstein
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post #7 of 15 Old 11-23-2019, 01:11 PM
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How does one "just know" without personal evaluation?
Give it a try and let us know afterwards.
Didn't I said I have a SE tube amp?


You won't understand the theory I said.

Own designed power amp, own designed preamp, JM LAB Spectral 913.1 speakers, Rythmik F12SE sub.
Not hooked up: Nakamichi Stasis PA-7 power amp, Velodyne VA1210 sub, Kef Reference Series center, Kef Bookshelf speaker, Monitor Audio bookshelf speaker, Infinity rear speakers. Acurus 3X200W amp.
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post #8 of 15 Old 11-23-2019, 01:23 PM - Thread Starter
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Well, I still have my B&K 507 and could try to hook it up and set it to 2 channel mode (I think there a way to do that). It’s ~150wpc into 7 ch but I think in 2 ch mode it would be substantially more and it’s a class A MOSFET which is substantially diff than a tuna amp. At least I’d have a comparison. The NAIM site coincidentally (I just looked) lists the sopra 3s aa recommended equipment (prob just a co-marketing thing at that price point). The audio store where I bough everything had the sopranos with diff tube amps. They sell them all the time with VAC - of course they always want you to buy 2, but at the price, I could barely afford one. Maybe I should have gone SS but once in my life I wanted to try tube.

Does everyone thing the B&K would make a diff bc of the SS power output? Or is it just a taste diff? My objective listening opinion is part fidelity and part that they lack low end punch in my room which they don’t lack in a closed room. I have no good room treatments. Area rug, sectional, an open back (no back wall) and a high ceiling with a V shape. So lousy acoustics. There’s only so much one can do about that other then sound panels. But I can’t help but feel that the speakers are large enough to move more air and have more low end fidelity - they are sensitive enough. That’s why it seems like the system lacks low end power or something.
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post #9 of 15 Old 11-23-2019, 03:18 PM
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Now, I want to emphasize, I am NOT saying your tube amp won't work, I just draw attention to this. Maybe it's a perfect match, that would be great. I hope I don't scare you.

Own designed power amp, own designed preamp, JM LAB Spectral 913.1 speakers, Rythmik F12SE sub.
Not hooked up: Nakamichi Stasis PA-7 power amp, Velodyne VA1210 sub, Kef Reference Series center, Kef Bookshelf speaker, Monitor Audio bookshelf speaker, Infinity rear speakers. Acurus 3X200W amp.
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post #10 of 15 Old 11-23-2019, 03:40 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by alan0354 View Post
I just know the SE tube amp really suck with my speakers. I don't know how it compare to his. JM Lab had less models at the time compare to now, I know mine was a line lower than the Utopia line. My speakers are very hard to drive, that's the reason of my suggestion.

Tube amps "works" with the speakers, not controlling the speakers, so one has to pay attention whether the amp match the speakers. You can have a good tube amp, a good pair of speakers, but they might not match. So that would be one thing I would look into. Of cause they might be a match from heaven too.


Actually I am thinking about borrowing my friend's Jolida and try it on my speakers to see whether I like it or not.
I assume your SET amp is fairly low power and runs Class A. If this is so, surely the Focal speakers are not a good match. I’m sure his VAC tubes run in push-pull mode. Maybe it has a triode option.

FYI I have the Jolida JD1000 power amp. It’s rated at 100 WPC and runs in AB mode. My speakers are rated at about 89dB vs the Sopra 3’s 91. Plenty of power from the Jolida. It’s a nice amp, a great value.

Jolida Fusion Preamp, Jolida JD1000P Amp, VPI Scout turntable with Dynavector 10X5 cartridge, Paradigm Studio 100 v.5 speakers, Sonica DAC streaming lossless files. Furman Elite 15 Power Conditioner.
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post #11 of 15 Old 11-23-2019, 03:58 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MSchott View Post
I assume your SET amp is fairly low power and runs Class A. If this is so, surely the Focal speakers are not a good match. I’m sure his VAC tubes run in push-pull mode. Maybe it has a triode option.

FYI I have the Jolida JD1000 power amp. It’s rated at 100 WPC and runs in AB mode. My speakers are rated at about 89dB vs the Sopra 3’s 91. Plenty of power from the Jolida. It’s a nice amp, a great value.

Yes, I actually up the power of the SET amp ( I don't care whether it burn in one hour, just want to try it). It still not good. But yes, it might not be a good comparison, it's just a warning.


It's not whether the power is enough, it's whether the amp can control the speaker or match the speaker.



It might already be a match in heaven. I just throw it out as a concern that OP might want to look into as he is asking for matching preamp to power amp. I would be more concern matching between power tube amp to speakers......Just saying. Not at all saying it's a problem.


In fact, I am planning to ask my good friend to bring his Jolida over to see how it match with my speakers. How do you like your Jolida? I look at their design, it's newer design than the ones I read of Cary. A lot of the tube amps seems to keep the design from the 60s, really old.

Own designed power amp, own designed preamp, JM LAB Spectral 913.1 speakers, Rythmik F12SE sub.
Not hooked up: Nakamichi Stasis PA-7 power amp, Velodyne VA1210 sub, Kef Reference Series center, Kef Bookshelf speaker, Monitor Audio bookshelf speaker, Infinity rear speakers. Acurus 3X200W amp.

Last edited by alan0354; 11-23-2019 at 04:02 PM.
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post #12 of 15 Old 11-23-2019, 08:33 PM
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Originally Posted by alan0354 View Post
Yes, I actually up the power of the SET amp ( I don't care whether it burn in one hour, just want to try it). It still not good. But yes, it might not be a good comparison, it's just a warning.


It's not whether the power is enough, it's whether the amp can control the speaker or match the speaker.



It might already be a match in heaven. I just throw it out as a concern that OP might want to look into as he is asking for matching preamp to power amp. I would be more concern matching between power tube amp to speakers......Just saying. Not at all saying it's a problem.


In fact, I am planning to ask my good friend to bring his Jolida over to see how it match with my speakers. How do you like your Jolida? I look at their design, it's newer design than the ones I read of Cary. A lot of the tube amps seems to keep the design from the 60s, really old.
I like the Jolida a lot but it’s the only amp I’ve used with my speakers so I have nothing to compare. It uses 8 EL34 tubes which are strong in the midrange. It has Jolida’s factory upgrades with matched tubes and Rike caps. My system is a bit light on bass but the Paradigm Studio 100 speakers don’t go extremely deep. I think they are rated down to 46Hz.

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post #13 of 15 Old 11-24-2019, 04:27 PM - Thread Starter
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Somehow, I don’t feel like I got an answer and I’m the OP. Can one of you guys please help with the original question? Is it worth my trying the B&K and seeing if I can put it in 2 channel mode - which I think it has and would boost the output to something far north of 150wpc to I thin k 500wpc in a class A output? I defiantly can’t afford a 2nd VAC amp. I don’t recall how much I paid new, but even used, I’m sure they’re $10kish.

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post #14 of 15 Old 11-24-2019, 04:53 PM
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Originally Posted by nahtanoj View Post
Somehow, I don’t feel like I got an answer and I’m the OP. Can one of you guys please help with the original question? Is it worth my trying the B&K and seeing if I can put it in 2 channel mode - which I think it has and would boost the output to something far north of 150wpc to I thin k 500wpc in a class A output? I defiantly can’t afford a 2nd VAC amp. I don’t recall how much I paid new, but even used, I’m sure they’re $10kish.

Try it, you don't have to ask us for opinions. As long as you have all the stuffs and don't have to buy anything, nothing wrong to just try it. I don't think anyone can give you a definitely yes or no. The VAC amp is plenty powerful, you don't need a second one. Your speakers are very efficient, you don't need much power to power the speakers. I am using a 110W/channel for mine, it's plenty loud.


Whether the output of the preamp is 2V or 0.7V is NOT important as long as you get the loudness you want. You just crank the volume up a little more. A preamp with more output voltage is NOT better, the maximum loudness of the system is governed by the power of the power amp. In fact I think the best position of the volume knob is at 12 to 1 o'clock position at your listening level ( assume minimum at 7o'clock and max at 5o'clock).



Your average power needed is mostly less than 5 or 6W from the amp, all the extra power ( your 150W/ch) is to give you headroom so you don't clip the amp at the peak. I heard people here told me even when he was running disco level, he seldom see the power meter go over 10W or so. That's how loud is 10W average.

Own designed power amp, own designed preamp, JM LAB Spectral 913.1 speakers, Rythmik F12SE sub.
Not hooked up: Nakamichi Stasis PA-7 power amp, Velodyne VA1210 sub, Kef Reference Series center, Kef Bookshelf speaker, Monitor Audio bookshelf speaker, Infinity rear speakers. Acurus 3X200W amp.
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post #15 of 15 Old 11-24-2019, 04:57 PM
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If your Naim preamp provides sufficiently loud volume (that is, as loud as you will ever use) with its volume control still having some travel remaining, you are fine.

Of course, feel free to try the B&K.


(Edit: Fixed awkward sentence)

Music room: Cary SLI-80 tube integrated amplifier, McIntosh MA6500 integrated amplifier, Quad 99 preamp, Quad 909 power amp, Acoustic Research AR9 loudspeakers, Yamaha CD-N500 CD player, Teac UD-503 DSD DAC, Phase Linear 8000 II linear-tracking turntable.
Theater room: Panasonic 65S60 plasma television; Yamaha RX-A2020 (preamp section); Adcom GFA-5503 and GFA-5400 amplifiers; Polk LSi25, LSiC, and LSiF/X loudspeaker system; Velodyne FSR-18 servo-subwoofer.

Last edited by Alex F.; 11-24-2019 at 06:51 PM.
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