Considering my first Power Amp - AVS Forum | Home Theater Discussions And Reviews
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post #1 of 28 Old 01-11-2020, 09:40 PM - Thread Starter
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Considering my first Power Amp

So I have never dabbled in separates or external amps but I think that might be the next step in my Home Theater Journey.

I have a Denon X4400H driving a 5.1.4 configuration, which is the max it can do with it's built-in amp. I am thinking of getting some kind of amp to drive my Mains. I just replacement my mains, which where SVD Prime Sats, with Prime Towers. All the other speakers in my setup are small (Prime Sats and Elevations.)

Not knowing what is out there, what is some amp brand I would want to look at? I want something of comparable quality to my Denon, but not an Amp that costs more than it did. But not something super cheapo either. Somewhere in the middle.

Is a decent quality 2 channel amp for say $300 a reasonable idea?

The brands I have heard of are Crown, Emotiva, Panamax, Arcam, AudioSource, Monolith, and Outlaw. Maybe a few more. But I don't know where they fall in the pecking order of quality. Class D is the type of amp I would want, correct?

Appreciate any advice. Thank you.
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post #2 of 28 Old 01-11-2020, 10:29 PM
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If the 4400 isn't clipping at high signal levels, you probably don't need an add-on amp. However...

For movies, I'd suggest a 3 channel amp, as the center does a lot of the work. Unfortunately, 3 channel amps tend to be more expensive than stereo (2 channel) ones.

Class D amps use switching mode. (Sometimes erroneously referred to as digital. They are not; analog input, analog output. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Class-D_amplifier Some audiophiles wouldn't touch them, but they are the most efficient amps available.

Crown makes "pro" audio gear. That's not primarily intended for home audio, but people use it for that.

I'm using an Emotiva XPA3 Gen 3 with an AVR-X4300H (immediate ancestor of the 4400). I'm happy with it, but it's expensive. It's basically a class A/B amplifier, but it uses an active PSU to improve its efficiency significantly.

A Monoprice Monolith 3X200 amp is slightly cheaper, but not much.

A Crown XLS series amp (https://www.crownaudio.com/en/produc...ecore-2-series) would be easier to use than some "pro" amps: it has RCA inputs and binding post outputs, in addition to its XLR inputs and Speakon outputs. I haven't used one. They are only stereo, so you'd need two (and not use 1 amp channel), Or, you could buy 3 and use them as monoblocs in bridged mode.

Later: one drawback to the Crowns: no 12V trigger, to allow them to be controlled on/off by the AVR. There may be a way to achieve that using the "aux" port.

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post #3 of 28 Old 01-11-2020, 10:48 PM
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Originally Posted by bobknavs View Post
If the 4400 isn't clipping at high signal levels, you probably don't need an add-on amp. However...

For movies, I'd suggest a 3 channel amp, as the center does a lot of the work. Unfortunately, 3 channel amps tend to be more expensive than stereo (2 channel) ones.

Class D amps use switching mode. (Sometimes erroneously referred to as digital. They are not; analog input, analog output. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Class-D_amplifier Some audiophiles wouldn't touch them, but they are the most efficient amps available.

Crown makes "pro" audio gear. That's not primarily intended for home audio, but people use it for that.

I'm using an Emotiva XPA3 Gen 3 with an AVR-X4300H (immediate ancestor of the 4400). I'm happy with it, but it's expensive. It's basically a class A/B amplifier, but it uses an active PSU to improve its efficiency significantly.

A Monoprice Monolith 3X200 amp is slightly cheaper, but not much.

A Crown XLS series amp (https://www.crownaudio.com/en/produc...ecore-2-series) would be easier to use than some "pro" amps: it has RCA inputs and binding post outputs, in addition to its XLR inputs and Speakon outputs. I haven't used one. They are only stereo, so you'd need two (and not use 1 amp channel), Or, you could buy 3 and use them as monoblocs in bridged mode.

Perfect timing for this thread for me. Just bought Canton Vento towers and center channel and i'm also looking for an amp. I have a Denon X4300 as well. Any thoughts on outlaw amps? The Emotiva amps seem to be very popular but expensive. It seems that a 3 channel amp would be the sweet spot. When would one consider a 5 channel amp? Large rooms or theater rooms?
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post #4 of 28 Old 01-11-2020, 11:10 PM
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Funny this came up. I have a Marantz SR6012 running 9 and expanding to 11, so I needed external amplification. I found myself thinking I am good with volume and sound when running in Stereo. I was considering the Outlaw Monoblocks and they are currently running a special on the front stage (3 amps). I was thinking of running a 7 channel amp for the base layer and using the receiver for Atmos. I ended up finding the Marantz MM7025 stereo amp refurbished through Accessories4less that appealed to my cheapness. I ended up getting that yesterday and tracking says I will have Monday.

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post #5 of 28 Old 01-11-2020, 11:11 PM
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Originally Posted by chemist323 View Post
Perfect timing for this thread for me. Just bought Canton Vento towers and center channel and i'm also looking for an amp. I have a Denon X4300 as well. Any thoughts on outlaw amps? The Emotiva amps seem to be very popular but expensive. It seems that a 3 channel amp would be the sweet spot. When would one consider a 5 channel amp? Large rooms or theater rooms?
I was considering this for front three. The three monoblocks at bottom.

https://www.outlawaudio.com/mofcart/promospecial.html

7.3.4 Setup---TV: LG OLED 65B7A, Receiver: Marantz SR-6012, External 2-channel amplifier: Marantz MM7025, Blu-Ray Player: LG UBK90, Fronts: JBL S312, Center: JBL S-Center, Surrounds: JBL S38, Surround Back: JBL S36 ,Top: JBL S36 (4), Subwoofer: 2 PSA S3000i and one PSA XS-30se
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post #6 of 28 Old 01-11-2020, 11:35 PM
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Originally Posted by Joshua Chmiel View Post
I was considering this for front three. The three monoblocks at bottom.

https://www.outlawaudio.com/mofcart/promospecial.html
That's a good price. They even have 12V triggers.

Monoblocs are one way to assure full power for each channel: each amp has its own power supply.

The only downside I see is the need to mount them so that each amp gets adequate airflow. (Rack mounting would be good.)
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post #7 of 28 Old 01-11-2020, 11:45 PM
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Originally Posted by Joshua Chmiel View Post
I was considering this for front three. The three monoblocks at bottom.

https://www.outlawaudio.com/mofcart/promospecial.html
I don't think you can do better than that for a 3 channel amp. That would be my choice.
If the OP wants to stick closer to $300, there is this stereo Emotiva:
https://emotiva.com/collections/amps/products/a-300
If his speakers are 8 ohm, you can get 3 off these, and bridge them: About $420.
https://www.crutchfield.com/p_543P75...75.html?tp=180

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post #8 of 28 Old 01-12-2020, 10:39 PM
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(snip)
If his speakers are 8 ohm, you can get 3 off these, and bridge them: About $420.
https://www.crutchfield.com/p_543P75...75.html?tp=180
Or this one: https://www.parts-express.com/dayton...ifier--300-593 Sadly, the sale that had them at less than $100US seems to be over. They are Class D: maybe a bit more distortion, and a bit less room heating. 12V triggers are nice.
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post #9 of 28 Old 01-13-2020, 10:01 AM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by bobknavs View Post
If the 4400 isn't clipping at high signal levels, you probably don't need an add-on amp. However...

For movies, I'd suggest a 3 channel amp, as the center does a lot of the work. Unfortunately, 3 channel amps tend to be more expensive than stereo (2 channel) ones.

Class D amps use switching mode. (Sometimes erroneously referred to as digital. They are not; analog input, analog output. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Class-D_amplifier Some audiophiles wouldn't touch them, but they are the most efficient amps available.

Crown makes "pro" audio gear. That's not primarily intended for home audio, but people use it for that.

I'm using an Emotiva XPA3 Gen 3 with an AVR-X4300H (immediate ancestor of the 4400). I'm happy with it, but it's expensive. It's basically a class A/B amplifier, but it uses an active PSU to improve its efficiency significantly.

A Monoprice Monolith 3X200 amp is slightly cheaper, but not much.

A Crown XLS series amp (https://www.crownaudio.com/en/produc...ecore-2-series) would be easier to use than some "pro" amps: it has RCA inputs and binding post outputs, in addition to its XLR inputs and Speakon outputs. I haven't used one. They are only stereo, so you'd need two (and not use 1 amp channel), Or, you could buy 3 and use them as monoblocs in bridged mode.

Later: one drawback to the Crowns: no 12V trigger, to allow them to be controlled on/off by the AVR. There may be a way to achieve that using the "aux" port.
I appreciate the reply and advice.

So to clarify a few things: A Class D is what I would want? If Crown is Pro Audio, what brand would I be better off looking at?

Forgive my ignorance but how would I know my X4400H is clipping? I just got my SVS Prime Towers over the weekend and haven't really run them high yet. I'm actually going to run audyssey today. When my wife and kids are not home. I listen at about 65 absolute volume. I definitely don't listen at reference if any of that matters. I am maxing out the channels my AVR can drive but before now all my speakers were "small." They still are except the towers now of course, which I will probably set to small unless I decide to mess with "Main + LFE" for movies.

Anyway thanks for the advice and I am glad to see this thread is helping others as well.
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post #10 of 28 Old 01-13-2020, 10:46 AM
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Originally Posted by zeonstar View Post
I appreciate the reply and advice.



So to clarify a few things: A Class D is what I would want? If Crown is Pro Audio, what brand would I be better off looking at?



Forgive my ignorance but how would I know my X4400H is clipping? I just got my SVS Prime Towers over the weekend and haven't really run them high yet. I'm actually going to run audyssey today. When my wife and kids are not home. I listen at about 65 absolute volume. I definitely don't listen at reference if any of that matters. I am maxing out the channels my AVR can drive but before now all my speakers were "small." They still are except the towers now of course, which I will probably set to small unless I decide to mess with "Main + LFE" for movies.



Anyway thanks for the advice and I am glad to see this thread is helping others as well.


When it starts to sound harsh or stressed you might be close to clipping or at the edge of the speakers comfort zone. (Or the room is too hard/bright/echo-y)
The Denon might ery well do fine on its own and you will not get any better sound with those cheap class d amps, you might be able to play louder though.
Having good subs and generous crossover settings will also help the Denon a lot so even less chance of needing an amp.


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post #11 of 28 Old 01-13-2020, 12:47 PM - Thread Starter
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When it starts to sound harsh or stressed you might be close to clipping or at the edge of the speakers comfort zone. (Or the room is too hard/bright/echo-y)
The Denon might ery well do fine on its own and you will not get any better sound with those cheap class d amps, you might be able to play louder though.
Having good subs and generous crossover settings will also help the Denon a lot so even less chance of needing an amp.


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In that case my AVR Is probably fine for the time being. Even though I just got Towers, I do have them set to small. I have a PB-2000 which I believe is considered a good sub.

I thought I understood something but I may actually have it backwards. Are Class D amps actually not that good?
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post #12 of 28 Old 01-13-2020, 12:54 PM
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In that case my AVR Is probably fine for the time being. Even though I just got Towers, I do have them set to small. I have a PB-2000 which I believe is considered a good sub.



I thought I understood something but I may actually have it backwards. Are Class D amps actually not that good?


There are good ones and not so good ones but your denon is pretty good so unless getting an external amp to power the atmos speakers or rear surrounds its good not to cheap out too much.


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post #13 of 28 Old 01-13-2020, 02:15 PM - Thread Starter
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I forgot to ask. A monoblock is an amp for ONE speaker correct?
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post #14 of 28 Old 01-13-2020, 02:23 PM
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I forgot to ask. A monoblock is an amp for ONE speaker correct?


Yes
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post #15 of 28 Old 01-13-2020, 02:51 PM - Thread Starter
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Thanks.

I may hold out until I really need an amp. Either when I want to add 2 more channels to process since my Denon is maxed out as far as what speakers it can drive, or if I notice any issues with my current speakers.

Setting my towers to small is going to help with strain in my AVR, correct?
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post #16 of 28 Old 01-13-2020, 06:35 PM
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Originally Posted by zeonstar View Post
I thought I understood something but I may actually have it backwards. Are Class D amps actually not that good?

Modern class D amps are excellent and typically offer you a lot of power with greater efficiency (less heat), in a routinely smaller, lighter package. (Your subwoofer actually uses a class D amp...) Love my class D amps.
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post #17 of 28 Old 01-13-2020, 07:26 PM - Thread Starter
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Modern class D amps are excellent and typically offer you a lot of power with greater efficiency (less heat), in a routinely smaller, lighter package. (Your subwoofer actually uses a class D amp...) Love my class D amps.
Good to know. Thank you!
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post #18 of 28 Old 01-13-2020, 08:12 PM
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“Class D Audio” has stereo class D amps in the ~$500 price range, and they have a “lot” of power for the $.

External amps will give you better dynamics than the amps in the receiver, because they usually have “much” better power reserves. Also receivers fudge ratings, so even a 100W external amp will likely be significantly better and more powerful than a Denon rated at 100W (it’s not really 100W all channels driven and other fudges to boost the number).

Also note that amps have a lifespan that is measured in decades - not years. Thee technology also doesn’t really get outdated, so you could easily hold on to a decent amp for 20-25 years before the capacitors need to be serviced - extending the life even more.

This means that if you buy an external amp now, going forward - you can buy lower powered receivers (so long as they have pre-outs). The amp will pay for itself even with one receiver purchase.

15 years ago, I spent 3 times the price of my receiver (Denon 3xxx series) on a 5 channel amp, and haven’t regretted it one bit. It sounds amazing and 3 receivers later, I’ve never felt the need to upgrade the amp
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post #19 of 28 Old 01-13-2020, 08:32 PM
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Originally Posted by zeonstar View Post
In that case my AVR Is probably fine for the time being. Even though I just got Towers, I do have them set to small. I have a PB-2000 which I believe is considered a good sub.

I thought I understood something but I may actually have it backwards. Are Class D amps actually not that good?
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Class-D_amplifier Class D amps use a switching mode, where the output transistors are either on or off. They are highly efficient.

They still require power supplies, but those can be switching mode as well.

Just don't call them digital amps. Their inputs and outputs are analog, and their circuitry may not include any digital parts.
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post #20 of 28 Old 01-13-2020, 09:21 PM
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Here’s an affordable Class D amp, that gets very positive reviews on various forums.

https://www.classdaudio.com/cda-500c...amplifier.html

To take advantage of most of the class D advances and innovation you will have to stretch to the $1000 price point, where class D gets into the “extremely” good territory and people claim them to be equal or better than of many of the best amps on the market - at many times the price.

https://www.nordacoustics.co.uk/prod...r-amp-in-black
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post #21 of 28 Old 01-14-2020, 08:02 AM
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Here’s an affordable Class D amp, that gets very positive reviews on various forums.

https://www.classdaudio.com/cda-500c...amplifier.html

To take advantage of most of the class D advances and innovation you will have to stretch to the $1000 price point, where class D gets into the “extremely” good territory and people claim them to be equal or better than of many of the best amps on the market - at many times the price.

https://www.nordacoustics.co.uk/prod...r-amp-in-black
The efficiency of the Class D amps is very impressive. That nord amp lists 92% efficient, which is amazing. For the power output ill bet it runs quite cool. And if using multiple amps for powering a full atmos setup you wouldnt need dedicated power circuits just for the amp line up.
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post #22 of 28 Old 01-14-2020, 08:22 AM
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Nord will also custom build multi channel amps based on your needs. The incremental cost for adding other channels is reasonable, and you could potentially use a lower powered module for the surround channels to reduce cost further.

Apollon is a similar vendor, with similar offerings and maybe slightly cheaper prices. Nord makes it a point to advertise ease of ordering from the US, I would ask Apollon to see if it is similarly easy
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post #23 of 28 Old 01-14-2020, 10:28 AM - Thread Starter
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If I may ask what exactly does efficiency mean? In the context of amps of course.
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post #24 of 28 Old 01-14-2020, 10:49 AM
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If I may ask what exactly does efficiency mean? In the context of amps of course.


It’s the difference between what a Kill-a-what would read (actual power utilized) vs the power that goes into the speakers. 92% Efficiency means, 92% of what is utilized goes into the speakers. The rest is heat. Class A speakers have very low efficiency, so even an amp with 30 watts or so can utilize hundreds of watts of wall power, most of which is heat - hence they are called room heaters that happen to produce music
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post #25 of 28 Old 01-14-2020, 01:53 PM
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Originally Posted by zeonstar View Post
If I may ask what exactly does efficiency mean? In the context of amps of course.

What thebrieze01 already stated. And just to add to that - the various classes of amps refer to the power topology - the more you know, right?


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most of which is heat - hence they are called room heaters that happen to produce music

Ha, I like that.... I would literally start sweating in one of my local dealer's showrooms with all of their class A amps fired up....

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post #26 of 28 Old 01-14-2020, 06:05 PM
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The reason why efficiency was mentioned in this thread - is that powerful or well implemented class A or class AB amps (which are inherently inefficient) are very heavy and hence very costly to deal with all the heat they produce.

Since class D is inherently very efficient (almost no heat produced), they don’t need heavy heat sinks etc, so manufacturers can make them very powerful and very good (low noise etc) for a relatively small increase in cost. Leading to 1-2k class D amps measuring similar to 5-10k Class A or AB amps.
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post #27 of 28 Old 01-20-2020, 07:27 PM
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I am using this Niles Class D amp to power my front speakers. This amp is very efficient and sounds really good, lots of power. My fronts are Klipsch RP280F
https://www.nilesaudio.com/product/1...ridged-FG01703
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post #28 of 28 Old 01-20-2020, 08:07 PM
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Considering my first Power Amp

I have ATI Class D amp NC522 running my Revel F206 fronts with ease.. very energy efficient & lots of punch.. sounds great + 7 year warranty
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Primary set-up 5.2.4; Yamaha A2050, Paired w/Parasound P5 & ATI 522NC 2 channel amp
Revel F206 fronts & Revel M16 rears; 2 Outlaw X12 Subs & 4 RSL C34e in-ceilings

Secondary 5.1: Denon S900W, Polk LSiM703/704C, Polk RC80i in-ceiling rears, RSL Speedwoofer 10s
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