In a previous thread ( https://www.avsforum.com/t/1534372/av-separates-emotiva-marantz-or-something-else ), I was trying to decide which pre-amp/amp setup I wanted to use. I have decided that I'm going to start with Emotiva equipment, and move to something else if I don't care for it.
Focal Aria 936 floorstanding speakers (
Focal Aria 906 bookshelf speakers
Focal Aria CC900 centre-channel speaker
REL T-9 sub (might be replacing with the S series once available)
Transparent MusicLink/Wave cable
Panasonic 55" VT50
A Linux music server (using MPD) that I built using optical out
As I mentioned in the previous thread, music is FAR more important to me than surround. Basically, I'd say it's about 95% music, 5% surround.
I'm going to start with the UMC-200, and likely upgrade to the XMC-1 when it's available.
For amps, what are the recommendations here for speakers listed above (Aria 936s with 92dB sensitivity, and recommended power of 50-300W)
- 1x XPR-5 to power everything
- 1x XPA-5 to power everything (probably not, I would imagine)
- 1x XPA-2 for the floorstanders, and 1x XPA-3 for center/rears
- 2x XPA-1s for the floorstanders, and 1x XPA-3 for the center/rears
I am wondering if there is a sound quality difference between the XPAs and the XPRs. Money is always a limiting factor, but these setups are not TOO different in price. That being said, any recommendations for the best sound quality for my equipment?
I never noticed an improvement over my Yamaha Z7 when I added an XPA-3. I think of an XPA an insurance, just in case the built in amp section came up short in a few loud scenes in a movie. Unless you have a huge room, seriously inefficient speakers or a desire to ruin your hearing or the more power is always better attitude, get the XPA.
I, like so many people, love to build high end gaming PCs ( my current one having dual GTX 780 cards.) I realize this is blatant excessive overkill and accept that. But I could not recommend anyone else do the same
Thanks for the recommendation. I was leaning more toward the XPA possibilities as well, considering the XPR did seem like a bit much. Would you think that the 1x XPA-2 and 1x XPA-3 would be the way to go, or do you think it is dramatically better to have the 2x monoblocks for the floorstanding speakers?
I don't need snobs to tell me how to think, thank you!
There’ll be no discernable difference in sound quality between any of the options you've listed. Minute measured differences (if any) between solid state amps are orders of magnitude below what our hearing system can reliably detect and are also totally swamped by the effects of the room and the placement of the speakers in it. Generally speaking, as long as the chosen amps can cleanly (i.e. not clipping) power your speakers to your preferred maximum volume levels, you'll be good as gold.
Rather than speculate, let’s make some conservative assumptions and run a few numbers...
What's the loudest level you like to listen at? A single speaker producing 100dBSPL peak output at your listening position (LP) is considered by most to be quite loud, particularly within the confines of an average sized living room. Assuming a 4m (approx. 13ft) listening distance (for easy maths), and given there's an SPL attenuation of 3 to 4dB per doubling of distance in typically furnished/sized domestic rooms, the speaker will be required to produce 107dBSPL peaks at 1m from the baffle to achieve 100dBSPL peaks at the LP. Your Aria 936's claim a sensitivity of 92dB/2.83V/1m (or /1W/1m into 8Ω nom.), but let's be conservative and discount that a bit for “optimism” to say, 90dB/1W/1m. This means that a gain of 17dB (107 - 90) is required from the amp to produce those peaks. This equates to 50W peak from the amp. (See this calculator.) On music material with an average program level that's say 15dB below the peaks, or 85dBSPL average at the LP in this case, 1.6W average is required from the amp. If you're set on Emotiva, this peak figure is well within the continuous power capabilities of the UPA series. Alternatively, a mid-tier AVR like the Denon AVR-X3000 would be fine. (Although I'd recommend a step up to the X4000, purely for the top-of-the-line Audyssey MultEQ XT32.) Also, bear in mind that these are full bandwidth (20Hz - 20kHz) amplifier power ratings and if the system is run crossed over to a sub or two, power demands on the amplifiers are significantly reduced.
If you’re inclined to push the volume to VERY LOUD 110dBSPL peaks (subjectively twice as loud as 100dBSPL in the mid frequencies), with an 95dBSPL average level, those power figures theoretically increase tenfold to 500W peak and 16W average. As good as the Aria's are, they will be feeling the strain and more than likely exhibiting power compression at these levels and probably not sounding particularly flash. Power-wise, you're in Emotiva XPR territory here. But you’d have to question, firstly: if you’d ever attempt to listen at this level, and secondly: why you’re buying the power if it's actual use is beyond the reasonable capabilities of your speakers.
If you listen at around 0dB master volume on a reference calibrated system (such as set up by Audyssey etc.), the theoretical maximum peaks from a single speaker are about 105dBSPL at the LP (theoretical 0dBFS input signal). The power figures for this scenario work out to 160W peak and 5W average. Again, if you’re set on Emotiva, this peak figure is easily within the continuous power capabilities of the multichannel XPA's. If not, look to higher end AVR's such as the Denon AVR-4520CI and Onkyo TX-NR3010. Given the the quality and expense of your Focal speakers, this is a sensible level of investment and probably a reasonable level of amplification capability for your situation. (Keeping in mind that I don’t know your listening habits and specifics of your room.) Personally, I would keep it simple and go for the Denon AVR-4520CI. Crutchfield have open box units for less than $2300. A4L have Denon factory refurbished units for $1300 plus shipping, which is excellent. With a phone call, AVS' own jdsmoothie will also quote you a very competitive price on a new, in box unit. If you’re searching for better sound quality, save your cash in this area and put the difference towards a pair of more capable subwoofers when the time comes. This is where the real gains can be found.
So, you can conclude from the above that the size of amplifier you need is dependent on your preferred maximum volume level, the (genuine) sensitivity of your speakers, your listening distance and the characteristicsof your room. If you sit closer &/or prefer lower volume levels, your power needs will be significantly reduced.
Finally, if you find yourself second-guessing about the extra power of the XPR’s vs the XPA’s, remember that the differences in continuous power output only equate to 3dBSPL, or a few presses of the volume button!
Hope that helps!
Last edited by GIEGAR; 06-12-2014 at 01:37 AM. Reason: Increase text size.
Actually, you could just get a Cambridge 751R receiver, and forget all of the amp/preamp baloney.
It has great sound quality (better than the Emotiva stuff IMO), and way more power than you can ever use.
Nothing Yamaha makes is in the same ballpark for low distortion and outstanding sound quality.
Having gone with or without it I would not recommend a receiver without some kind of room correction - especially since "most" individuals do not have the ability to treat their rooms - see WAF. Other options like using REW require a serious investment in time to reap their full potential.
+1 on the Denon with XT32, I can't recommend Onkyo after a HDMI board failure on one I owned along with a number of other AVSers with similar experiences.
The Cambridge Audio Azur 751R is certainly a beautifully crafted and powerful AVR. However, it runs the lowest Audyssey implementation: 2EQ, which provides only basic resolution filters to the satellites and NO equalisation filters whatsoever where it's needed most - the subs. In addition, it has no networking capability or connectivity for new media such as DLNA, AirPlay, WiFi or Bluetooth.
In contrast, the Denon AVR-X4000 and AVR-4520CI (and the Onkyo TX-NRx010's) run top of line Audyssey MultEQ XT32 with SubEQ HT, which provides 512x resolution filters to satellites and subs and equalises dual subs as one. Extensive networking and wireless media connectivity is provided.
See: Flavours of Audyssey. The quality and execution of the room correction technology is widely regarded as the single biggest determinate of sound quality in modern AVR's and processors and Audyssey XT32/SubEQ HT is acknowledged as among the best.
Cambridge Audio's claims of superior audio quality is simply marketing fluff for the gullible. From these S&V measurements you can see that, below clipping (where the AVR's operate 99.9% of the time), the 751R operates with no less (probably more) THD+N than the Denon 4520 or a predecessor to the Denon X4000, the 3312CI. Measurements for the Onkyo TX-NR3010 are a similar story. All this is quite academic though, as the connected speakers routinely operate at levels of distortion that are 100's if not 1000's of times greater in magnetude.
Finally, at $2999 retail, the 751R is considerably more expensive than the higher end Denons and Onkyos - money that is far better put towards a high performance sub (or two) from Rythmik or SVS.
Last edited by GIEGAR; 06-13-2014 at 06:56 AM. Reason: Spelling
Thank you VERY much for the reply, Giegar! That's an excellent explanation, and one that I'll have to read many more times to fully understand. I haven't been in the "audiophile" club for all that long, and still have a lot of learning to do. I am really thinking about 2x XPA-1s for the 2-channel, since that will be WAY more than enough for my needs (likely for years and years to come).
Note the list of comparative loudness at the bottom of the page. I find 80 dB average very loud personally; YMMV. - Don
Get back to us if there's anything that's unclear in that post. What I've really done is work longhand in reverse to what the very good SPL calculator provided by DonH above does. The difference to note is that I worked on a net 3 - 4dBSPL attenuation with distance, giving a 7dBSPL attenuation at 4m distance. The calculator OTOH, allows the full Inverse Square Law attenuation of 6dBSPL per doubling of distance but allows for room reinforcement via selecting either of the radial buttons. At a 4m (13ft) distance, the method I used gives an answer somewhere between the two reinforcement options provided by the calculator. Of course, if your listening distance is significantly less (or more) than what I've assumed, your power needs will be reduced (or increased) accordingly.
As I indicated above, for reference level listening (0dB master volume; VERY LOUD) in that scenario with your speakers, a higher end AVR like the Denon 4520CI would be perfectly fine. An Emotiva XPA-5 (say) or the Crown pro amps that DonH mentioned would be more than enough capability. The XPA-1 monos only offer the potential to drive your Arias to extremely loud levels if you choose to. (2 x 600W into 90dB/1W/1m speakers gives >120dBSPL!) I suspect though, that these power/volume levels will be beyond the reasonable operating range of the Aria's and they will be exhibiting power compression and heavy distortion by this stage.
I see in your other thread you're seeking opinions on a new pair of subs, which is great to see. I'd encourage you to allocate more of your budget to high performance subs rather than large, mono power amps, as I firmly believe that's where real, tangible improvements to audio quality can be made, especially in your largish space. I'll make make a recommendation or two in the other thread though.