Are high-end speakers needed for a high-end amp? - AVS Forum | Home Theater Discussions And Reviews
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post #1 of 20 Old 09-27-2014, 05:15 PM - Thread Starter
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Are high-end speakers needed for a high-end amp?

Hello,

First off, when I say "high-end" in the title I'm referring to "high-end" to me; I cannot afford a $10K system. Anyway, I recently upgraded my system's amp and while I'm happy with my purchase some of my LPs seem to lack a little something with the new amp.

Equipment: Rega RP3 turntable, Cambridge Audio s30 speakers, Cayin A-88T MK2 integrated amp, and Bellari VP-130 phono pre-amp.

My old amp was a dated (1993!) Sony STR-D865 receiver.

Anyway, when using the Sony receiver I never felt that the Cambridge s30 speakers were fatiguing. When hooked up to the Cayin, I couldn't even complete side one of Pearl Jam's Ten (reissue LP). The sound was too bright and a little harsh (sounded as if I was listening to it in a hall way).

I certainly hear little nuances of various albums that I couldn't hear before... is the Cayin just showing "imperfections" in recordings that the Sony masked?

I was planning on replacing my speakers this winter but am curious how much I'm missing (I guess I'll never fully know unless I demo a pair of new speakers on my system).

The KEF LS50 & Dynaudio Excite x12 speakers interest me. I'll be at the Rocky Mountain Audio Fest next month and am excited to check out new stuff (not excited to be tempted to spend money though).

p.
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post #2 of 20 Old 09-27-2014, 05:55 PM
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Your speakers are the most important part of your system. They produce the actual sound. Audyssey (or similar technologies) and your room will matter much more than changing your amp, unless you are clipping.
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post #3 of 20 Old 09-27-2014, 06:50 PM
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Have you tried turning down the treble?

"After silence, that which best expresses the inexpressible, is music" - Aldous Huxley
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post #4 of 20 Old 09-27-2014, 06:55 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kirth View Post
Your speakers are the most important part of your system. They produce the actual sound. Audyssey (or similar technologies) and your room will matter much more than changing your amp, unless you are clipping.
Yes speakers are key
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post #5 of 20 Old 09-27-2014, 07:23 PM - Thread Starter
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I agree that speakers are important but if the signal you're sending them isn't a good signal then you wont have good sound.

Using my Pearl Jam example, I am wondering why the sound was, in my opinion, for the worse when changing the amp.

No room correction on the Cayin...

Thanks.

Last edited by pieper53; 09-27-2014 at 08:18 PM.
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post #6 of 20 Old 09-27-2014, 07:48 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pieper53 View Post
Anyway, when using the Sony receiver I never felt that the Cambridge s30 speakers were fatiguing. When hooked up to the Cayin, I couldn't even complete side one of Pearl Jam's Ten (reissue LP). The sound was too bright and a little harsh (sounded as if I was listening to it in a hall way).
Fatiguing sound is usually an indication of high THD, and using a low power tube amp with low sensitivity speakers is a high THD recipe. You don't necessarily need very expensive speakers, but higher sensitivity is a must. But you must beware of spurious sensitivity claims. For instance, a Crutchfield catalog page for the S30 says they have 90dB sensitivity. They don't. No 4.5" speaker is capable of the combination of sensitivity and low frequency response that they claim.
Adding a separate powered sub would relieve the load from both the Cayin and S30s, provided you have a high pass filter on the Cayin.
It's also possible that you have gain structure issues that are causing high THD.
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post #7 of 20 Old 09-27-2014, 08:23 PM - Thread Starter
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Thanks, Bill.

When you say:
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bill Fitzmaurice View Post
It's also possible that you have gain structure issues that are causing high THD.
Are you referring to the "output level" on my Bellari phono pre-amp?

p.
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post #8 of 20 Old 09-27-2014, 10:26 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bill Fitzmaurice View Post
Fatiguing sound is usually an indication of high THD, and using a low power tube amp with low sensitivity speakers is a high THD recipe. You don't necessarily need very expensive speakers, but higher sensitivity is a must. But you must beware of spurious sensitivity claims. For instance, a Crutchfield catalog page for the S30 says they have 90dB sensitivity. They don't. No 4.5" speaker is capable of the combination of sensitivity and low frequency response that they claim.
Adding a separate powered sub would relieve the load from both the Cayin and S30s, provided you have a high pass filter on the Cayin.
It's also possible that you have gain structure issues that are causing high THD.

Hey Bill, what speakers do you have?
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post #9 of 20 Old 09-28-2014, 02:05 AM
 
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I wouldn't pair a high end amp with low end speakers, nor would I pair a low end amp with high end speakers.
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post #10 of 20 Old 09-28-2014, 03:56 AM
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Wink

Quote:
Originally Posted by pieper53 View Post
Hello,

First off, when I say "high-end" in the title I'm referring to "high-end" to me; I cannot afford a $10K system. Anyway, I recently upgraded my system's amp and while I'm happy with my purchase some of my LPs seem to lack a little something with the new amp.

Equipment: Rega RP3 turntable, Cambridge Audio s30 speakers, Cayin A-88T MK2 integrated amp, and Bellari VP-130 phono pre-amp.

My old amp was a dated (1993!) Sony STR-D865 receiver.

Anyway, when using the Sony receiver I never felt that the Cambridge s30 speakers were fatiguing. When hooked up to the Cayin, I couldn't even complete side one of Pearl Jam's Ten (reissue LP). The sound was too bright and a little harsh (sounded as if I was listening to it in a hall way).

I certainly hear little nuances of various albums that I couldn't hear before... is the Cayin just showing "imperfections" in recordings that the Sony masked?

I was planning on replacing my speakers this winter but am curious how much I'm missing (I guess I'll never fully know unless I demo a pair of new speakers on my system).

The KEF LS50 & Dynaudio Excite x12 speakers interest me. I'll be at the Rocky Mountain Audio Fest next month and am excited to check out new stuff (not excited to be tempted to spend money though).
Since you are going to the RMAF, I highly recommend you go take a look at Funk Audio. Their speakers are non-fatiguing and easy to drive.
If you decide to go for an active version of them you don't need to worry about them being powered. Here's the link to my thread:
https://www.avsforum.com/forum/89-spe...ld-thread.html

The equipment list is on my Sig.

Fatigue can come from the following:
1. Amp from not being able to handle the loads
2. Driver distortion
3. Bad recording, source

Take at look at the tiny one, it will surprise you and easy to drive.


Don't under estimate that bookshelf what they can produce phenomenal for it's price.
I use them in my Line Array Build
Here's a little pic


Equipment List: Preamp/Processor: Sherbourn PT-7030 [] Speakers: Funk Audio - Line Array(2kW),18.2 Subwoofer (9.6kW)[]Projector: Epson 5020ub []Screen: Elunevision Reference 150"
PC/HTPC: Intel Q6600 [] GTX670 [] 4 GB Ram [] Windows 8.1 x64
Cabling: Interconnects: HDMI - Redmere Cable 50 ft
Audio Cable: XLR - From Orange County Speaker - 50ft
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post #11 of 20 Old 09-28-2014, 07:48 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bill Fitzmaurice View Post
Fatiguing sound is usually an indication of high THD.
Some of the THD-related issues around gain/volume settings on sources are worth checking. At high to max volume settings, some sources distort.


There are other things that may cause it as well. It's perceived by people in situations where THD isn't the likely answer. Too much treble appears to be a typical cause, sometimes due to reflections.


As others have noted, the speakers are the key. But it isn't just the speaker - it's how they are placed relative to the listening position. They can interact with the room in unpleasant ways. If you really want to isolate the sound of your speakers - try them temporarily positioned all about 6-8 feet from you at ear height and see if it seems like it's the system or the positioning (or both).


Also, if the speakers are toed-in (aimed toward the listening position), try aiming them somewhat away. That's another way to reduce the treble and change the room interactions.


Finally, double check all your settings on the amp and the source.

Last edited by buzzy_; 09-28-2014 at 07:55 AM.
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post #12 of 20 Old 09-28-2014, 08:20 AM
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Great speakers should perform well off axis as well as on axis with low levels of THD.

This seems to be forgotten.

I have found a good amp can help significantly if the speaker needs it. Of course if one has room to move the speaker around it would help. In my case mine stayed but toed in slightly.

I agree with bill on the matters of sensitivity.

Will post something up later.

Equipment List: Preamp/Processor: Sherbourn PT-7030 [] Speakers: Funk Audio - Line Array(2kW),18.2 Subwoofer (9.6kW)[]Projector: Epson 5020ub []Screen: Elunevision Reference 150"
PC/HTPC: Intel Q6600 [] GTX670 [] 4 GB Ram [] Windows 8.1 x64
Cabling: Interconnects: HDMI - Redmere Cable 50 ft
Audio Cable: XLR - From Orange County Speaker - 50ft
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post #13 of 20 Old 09-28-2014, 10:54 AM
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What if.. .after 20+years your Sony amp has gradually been losing its formerly (I assume) flat FR and you've gotten used to it? Now you stick in a brand new amp without those issues and things kinda don't sound the same. They sound the way they're supposed to. There's ways you could check for that if you've got a CDP, can burn some test tones to a CDr, and a multimeter. If its not a FR issue, then you need to figure out the reason for your dissatisfaction. Might be you've outgrown your speakers. Might not be.

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post #14 of 20 Old 09-28-2014, 12:14 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NAIM101 View Post
Hey Bill, what speakers do you have?
I run TLAH left/right, SLA CurveArray center, a pair of non-descript surrounds and Table Tuba sub.
Quote:
When you say:
It's also possible that you have gain structure issues that are causing high THD.
Are you referring to the "output level" on my Bellari phono pre-amp?
Yes, it the output of the pre is clipping the input of the amp it will sound harsh.
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post #15 of 20 Old 09-28-2014, 11:50 PM
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Originally Posted by kirth View Post
Your speakers are the most important part of your system. They produce the actual sound. Audyssey (or similar technologies) and your room will matter much more than changing your amp, unless you are clipping.
well, all gear in chain contribute to sound, but speakers are most important because it's at the forefront of the chain. Closest thing to your ears.
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post #16 of 20 Old 09-29-2014, 12:00 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pieper53 View Post
I agree that speakers are important but if the signal you're sending them isn't a good signal then you wont have good sound.

Using my Pearl Jam example, I am wondering why the sound was, in my opinion, for the worse when changing the amp.

No room correction on the Cayin...

Thanks.

Are you getting harsh sound from different cds/albums or just pearl jam?

Usually going from EQ from Sony reciever to pcm through seperates you will hear the speakers for itself. Going without eq, you would have to invest time in speaker placement, component synergy, room treatments etc.

There is the positive and negative e from reciever eq to straight pcm without eq.

Without EQ, you will notice you have better staging and air, details and more natural sound. Downside, with your speakers, it's harsh speakers.

Cayin amp is a tube amp, don't know why you are still getting harshness even with harmonic distortion. Most likely, it's either your 300.00 speakers or your room. Most likely your speakers. If not, I can bet you have lots of windows/glass and hardwood in you room.

if so, get a long thick carpet that fills atleast 3/4 of your room.

If it was just harshness from your pearl Jam album only and not any other albums, then it's how the album was recorded, and you should be glad that it sounded the way it did. It tell you your system is now closer to source, meaning transparency gained.

Last edited by NAIM101; 09-29-2014 at 12:06 AM.
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post #17 of 20 Old 09-29-2014, 04:16 AM
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Originally Posted by NAIM101 View Post
well, all gear in chain contribute to sound, but speakers are most important because it's at the forefront of the chain. Closest thing to your ears.
No, speakers are most important because it is they that generate the sound quality. It is they that have almost all of the distortion in the system. It is they that have a sound quality that is easily distinguishable from other speakers. The rest of the signal chain is fairly inconsequential.
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post #18 of 20 Old 09-29-2014, 04:42 AM
 
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The rest of the signal chain is fairly inconsequential.
In your opinion.
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post #19 of 20 Old 09-29-2014, 05:02 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FMW View Post
No, speakers are most important because it is they that generate the sound quality. It is they that have almost all of the distortion in the system. It is they that have a sound quality that is easily distinguishable from other speakers. The rest of the signal chain is fairly inconsequential.
+1. There are major differences in speakers, primarily because they are as much mechanical devices as they are electrical. The differences in electronic devices are of far less consequence. Both have a point of diminishing returns where additional money invested shows little, if any, improvement in performance, but that point with electronics is at a far lower price than with speakers.
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post #20 of 20 Old 09-29-2014, 01:35 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FMW View Post
No, speakers are most important because it is they that generate the sound quality. It is they that have almost all of the distortion in the system. It is they that have a sound quality that is easily distinguishable from other speakers. The rest of the signal chain is fairly inconsequential.
I don't think "fairly inconsequential" is the appropriate descriptive, at least not the one I would use. But comparatively speaking, I understand the point. I'm sure many of us have heard both crappy signal source through great speakers and excellent signal source put through crappy speakers. The experiences are in many ways similar, but not the same. And while the law of diminishing returns in electronics holds true after a certain point, being at that certain point is not always guaranteed, nor I dare say, the same in everyone's system. But yes, in the final analysis, speakers and the room they operate in are certainly the greatest determinants of what we actually hear and appreciate ... or likewise, hear and critique ... within the limits of our own hearing profile, of course. The last is likely the most overlooked of all, especially as we age.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Bill Fitzmaurice View Post
+1. There are major differences in speakers, primarily because they are as much mechanical devices as they are electrical. The differences in electronic devices are of far less consequence. Both have a point of diminishing returns where additional money invested shows little, if any, improvement in performance, but that point with electronics is at a far lower price than with speakers.
Bill,

[posting this here since I believe you don't respond to PMs]

Thanks again for your posts as regards the cancellation issues many of us may suffer from without knowing the proper way to correct it. I took your advice and pushed the sub back to the wall and brought the FR it was next to out as far as I could, nearly matching the FL. Couldn't reach the baffle difference from the wall you prescribed for 80Hz but did the best I could. After the usual trial and error experimentation post-Audyssey for room, space, layout issues EQ cannot fully correct, I settled on Full range for the towers and Double bass with the sub on. Remarkably my Bass is back in full swing and a slew of previous negatives like localized resonance, unruly concussiveness felt in the walls, especially in the FL corner ... and yet at other times, lost/indistinct Bass etc, have disappeared. But the speaker levels, on-sub level, distances, etc. are exactly the same. It appears my previous layout had both cancellation and reinforcement issues, frequency dependent.

FYI, I like using the low Bass from my towers due to timbre, speed differences with the sub. I know, just buy a better sub. I will later.

Last edited by ClarkeBar; 09-29-2014 at 01:39 PM.
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