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post #1 of 8 Old 02-28-2020, 02:30 PM - Thread Starter
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Noob question: using external amps with AVR

Howdy:


Hypothetical question to set expectations.



I am looking to replace my existing 20 year old RF-3's that where damaged when I moved to my new house. My new listening / game room is an open concept, oddly shaped ~2000 sq feet / 9.5 foot ceilings, 80% covered with very thick carpet. In the event my current AVR is unable to drive the mains to sufficient volume I am looking at adding 3 additional mono-blocks for the front center and mains.



What my main question is when running 5.1 system (or 9) how does the adjust / balance? I know that's poorly worded but when watching a movie and the wife tells me to adjust the volume by 10db will the surrounds decrease in volume in a linear fashion to the mains / center (still balanced with room adjustments) or is it an issue of setting a sweet spot of volume and expect any changes in level are going to adjust the front / rear balance.



My current AVR is a Pioneer SC-95 135w class D with RCA outs (no balanced) so if needed i was looking at picking up 3x Outlaw 2200m currently on sale if you buy 3. (The reviews and measurements are all positive). I have not finalized speaker selection yet but I am 90% sure I will go with a high-ish sensitivity tower and use existing sub.


Looking very hard at the Sierra Tower with Raal upgrade.
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post #2 of 8 Old 02-28-2020, 03:21 PM
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Power amps are sexy, however, most people don't need a separate amp. Use the money to upgrade your speakers, Think about towers from Power Sound Audio (PSA). The towers from PSA are about $2,350/pair.
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post #3 of 8 Old 02-28-2020, 05:54 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by spyboy View Post
Power amps are sexy, however, most people don't need a separate amp. Use the money to upgrade your speakers, Think about towers from Power Sound Audio (PSA). The towers from PSA are about $2,350/pair.

I agree with your comment 100%, this is an exploration of "what if".


My current RF-3 are full towers and supposed to have a sensitivity of 98db with 2x8 inch drivers and horn tweeter. With no EQ and 2 channel the system is not able to generate anything moderately louder than normal listening, i spin the dial and no more DB and Vanna White is not giving me a prize. This is not conclusive test as both speakers have at least minor damage to one or more of the 8 inch drivers. I have a second very old Sony AVR (class b) @85 watt per channel and confirmed it's not the wires or the Pioneer. In my old house and before the speaker damaged I could vibrate glasses off a table with these speakers and the Pioneer.



In my new house the basement / listening room is crazy and was designed for entertaining. It has a full 12 person bar, full size pool table, an area that looks for a DJ stand (wtf?), a full size poker table, 8 foot open fireplace, a second fireplace with a wood stove insert, a full kitchen and a wine room. The basement is nicer then my entire old house and at a crazy good price! The basement does have 8 ceiling / wall JBL speakers that I power with the Sony AVR. They sound good but they are all located in the other end of the room. From old wires it's clear the prior owner had at least a 5.1 system in this end of room and used it as a home theater. The room is also an acoustic nightmare and I need to do some measurements. But this is getting away from the main question.



Question: I would assume I would need 5 blocks to have a level volume output with a 5.1 system and mixing the AVR with an external amp would have a non linear output?


Thank you
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post #4 of 8 Old 02-28-2020, 07:58 PM
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Surround speakers typically don't need as much power as the LCR fronts. Also, if you don't use the receiver to power the fronts, the AVR will have more potential power for the surrounds. (AVRs tend to have identical amps for all channels, but the power supply isn't powerful enough to drive all channels at maximum power simultaneously.)

If you get efficient speakers (like the PSAs), the amps may be redundant. I don't own them, but they have a good reputation.
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post #5 of 8 Old 02-28-2020, 10:52 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wozzz View Post
What my main question is when running 5.1 system (or 9) how does the adjust / balance? I know that's poorly worded but when watching a movie and the wife tells me to adjust the volume by 10db will the surrounds decrease in volume in a linear fashion to the mains / center (still balanced with room adjustments) or is it an issue of setting a sweet spot of volume and expect any changes in level are going to adjust the front / rear balance.
When you run the Pioneer's EQ program (MCACC Pro), it will set the level of every speaker to output the same volume for a given source level (regardless of whether just using the internal amps or both internal and external amps). When you adjust the master volume level, all speakers are adjusted accordingly. When using an externals amp, if there is a volume control on the external amp, set it to at least 80% of maximum prior to running MCACC Pro.
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post #6 of 8 Old 02-29-2020, 04:31 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by wozzz View Post
...

What my main question is when running 5.1 system (or 9) how does the adjust / balance? I know that's poorly worded but when watching a movie and the wife tells me to adjust the volume by 10db will the surrounds decrease in volume in a linear fashion to the mains / center (still balanced with room adjustments) or is it an issue of setting a sweet spot of volume and expect any changes in level are going to adjust the front / rear balance.
Your Pioneer's MCACC Pro auto-calibration routine will take care of this by taking any (slight) differences in amplifier gain into account when setting individual channel level trims. In fact, auto-cal routines are amp agnostic; it doesn't "know" an external amp channel is in the audio chain... it simply goes ahead and sets the trims to target the required SPL at the mic/listening position for an input signal of known digital amplitude (typically, a -30dBFS input to produce a measured 75dBSPL).

If your question stems from the difference in rated power between the Pioneer's amps and any prospective external amp, that's simply not an issue. Amplifier's don't output their rated output 100% of the time during program playback; their output rapidly rises and falls as it tracks the incoming program signal from the pre-amp section. For example, if a program peak calls for say a 20dBW (100W) "burst" of power from the amp channel, that's what will be generated regardless of if the amp is rated at 135W or 200W output.

Quote:
Originally Posted by wozzz View Post
... But this is getting away from the main question.

Question: I would assume I would need 5 blocks to have a level volume output with a 5.1 system and mixing the AVR with an external amp would have a non linear output?
Per above, you don't need five or more external amp channels. A mix of on-board and external amps (if required) is perfectly fine.

Your Pioneer Elite SC-95 has a fairly stout amp section. Unless you routinely listen at very high levels &/or will have an inordinately long seated distance, external amps would probably be "surplus to requirements" for driving speakers with sensitivity of around 90dB/1W/1m and upwards.
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post #7 of 8 Old 02-29-2020, 07:58 AM
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Use your equalization program with mic and it should do it for you. Otherwise levels can be adjusted for each individual speaker manually
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post #8 of 8 Old 03-01-2020, 05:03 PM - Thread Starter
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thank you all, question answered.
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