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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi everyone. I have a Marantz SR-5003 receiver (7x90W), and I'm considering upgrading to a separate amp (I'd still use the SR5003 as my pre/pro for a while, since it has RCA pre-outs). I like the sound of the Marantz, but it'd be nice to have more accurate imaging. I don't want to throw money away though, so if there won't be a huge sound improvement, let me know, since the money could go toward other stuff. (I need room treatments too, and I want to upgrade my sub, but that's another story.)


I'm looking for something 5- or 7-channel, around 100-150W/channel. Speakers are Paradigm bookshelfs (see below), so I don't need crazy power levels. Price must be under $2k, and I'd be happier if it was around the $1k range. I'm not in a rush to buy, and will probably wait a year or so before getting anything. (I figure it's good to see what's available though.) Usage is ~60/40 music/movies.

Speakers:

Front L/R: Paradigm Studio 20 v5 (recommended 110W max amp power)

Center: Paradigm CC-590 v5 (recommended 170W max)

Surround: Paradigm Mini Monitor v5, rec. 80W (will eventually upgrade to ADP-590, rec. 130W)

(Sub: HSU STF-2, not that it matters now - I'd love to upgrade to something like a ULS-15)


So, amps... I've done a bit of reading, and here are a few amps that got my attention:

Possible amps:

Emotiva XPA-5 (5x200W, $900) - really more power than I need

Outlaw 7125 (7x125W, $1k)

Rotel RMB-1565 (5x100W, $1300)

Marantz MM7055 (5x140W, $1200)

Adcom GFA-7605 (5x125W, $1200)


I've heard good things about Outlaw, Emotiva, and Rotel. As I said, I like my Marantz receiver, but I'm worried that the MM7055 wouldn't be a huge upgrade for me. Haven't read about Adcom at all, but they showed up after some searching online. I'm certainly open to other suggestions too. I guess I'm not totally opposed to buying a used amp, but I like the idea of having a warranty, and with a used amp, I'd be concerned that somebody abused it previously.


So, any suggestions/advice? Thanks!


Oh, one more quick question: When do you need to start being concerned about drawing too much power and tripping a breaker? I currently run all my A/V gear off the same circuit in the house. (HTPC, TV, receiver, sub.) My house is actually only wired with 15A breakers, but I am looking to move soon...
 

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Discussion Starter · #2 ·
Update: After more reading, I'm definitely leaning toward the Outlaw 7125. I figured something new would've come up in the ~3 years since I last looked into separate amps, but it sounds like the 7125 is still the way to go (unless I'm missing something). Emotiva has discontinued the UPA-7, which seemed to compete with the 7125. The XPA-5 doesn't sound bad, but I like the idea of having 7 channels. Plus, I'm not as confident about the way Emotiva rates the power on their amps, and the XPA-5 only has a 1200VA transformer, vs the 1600VA one on the 7125. I've read a few people claim the Emotivas are less warm-sounding than the Outlaws too. Considering how neutral my Studio20's already are, I don't want to go any further in that direction or I think they'd be harsh and fatiguing.


(On a related note, I've been reading about subs too. Right now it's between a HSU ULS-15 and a Rythmik F15, maybe the F15HP. Definitely leaning toward something sealed I think. My STF-2 isn't bad, but it can sound muddy and muffled, and it's definitely the "weak link" in my system. I'd mainly like something cleaner sounding/tighter/faster responding, and maybe with a bit more extension. Then again, I wouldn't mind more impact for movies too...)
 

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There is no need to get a multi-channel amplifier.


The front two speakers require the most power and are the main thing that determine system sound quality, and adding a high-quality amplifier to those two channels takes a lot of load off of the receiver and lets it do a much better job with the remaining channels.


The Marantz MM7025 is only $800, and should make a huge improvement in your system. It has 140 watts per channel, and with that on the front 2 channels they will sound much better and the receiver will drive the other 5 with no problem at all (and they will also sound better as a result).


The Vincent SP-331 is even better and goes for $1300.


By adding either one of those amplifiers to your system, you will more than double the total power available to drive the system, compared to what you have now. That is all you need for a huge improvement in performance.


There are some very good subs out there, but I also definitely prefer the sound of a sealed sub. I think they are much more linear and cleaner.


I use the NHT B12D subwoofer, which goes for around $600-700 and am extremely happy with its performance. I have yet to hear anything better for a comparable price, and it is also relatively compact and attractive in piano black.


A single dedicated 20 ampere circuit is plenty for almost any system, until you get into 600 watt amplifiers etc.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
Thanks for the reply. I hadn't thought about it, but I suppose the front L/R speakers are doing a fair amount of the work in movies (aside from the dialogue), and they obviously do all the work for music (along with the sub). I suppose it makes sense to stick to a 2-channel amp. But those amps you suggested aren't really much cheaper than the Outlaw 7125 I mentioned. I'm not sure how their performance compares though. It definitely makes sense how that would free up headroom for the remaining channels that the receiver amplifies, since they all share the same transformer.


About the NHT subwoofer - a roommate back in college actually turned me on to NHT products. In fact, I have him to thank for getting me started on all this audio gear. He had a pair of Take 2 bookshelves that I thought sounded really good. Didn't like their sonic signature quite as much as my then-new Paradigm Mini Monitors, but they still sounded good - had more well-rounded mid-range and better bass than my Mini Monitors, but lacked the high-frequency clarity that I love about Paradigms. Also listened to their tower speakers a few years later and was thoroughly impressed with their performance for the price. My only complaint with those was how the subwoofer was integrated into them (I actually didn't care for the bass it put out, thought it was muddy - could've been the room acoustics or the enclosure though).
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by cjv998  /t/1427337/5ch-amp-upgrade-from-marantz-sr5003#post_22375475


But those amps you suggested aren't really much cheaper than the Outlaw 7125 I mentioned.

In the game of which outboard Amp to choose, the price and looks of the Emotiva series keeps drawing me back to their web site. And then reality sets in as I realize that even the modest eighty or so true watts, all channels driven in the Marantz, SR5007, is more than enough to drive our room to loud, satisfying listening levels and I look away. And then I start peeking again and then I listen to our system and look away and then find myself peeking again, over and over and over. The point, many time we want that what we don't need just because it's nice to peek at new toys like outboard Amps.


FYI, our main speakers are nineteen year old Klipsch, Epic, CF-3's (100dB 1w/m sensitivity with a more probable 86dB 1w/4m at the main listening position) with a RC-64 II for a center channel and a pair of similarly aged, nineteen year old (need to be updated) 12" subs on the side of the Epic, CF-3's. What this means is, with a realistic eighty watts, all channels driven and a realistic sensitivity at the main listening position of 86dB 1w/4m, with less than the AVR is capable of, all channels driven and decent ventilation of course, the system can easily sustain reference levels.


If you decide, for your system you do need (must have) an outboard Amp, how many watts do you want/need to drive your system to "LOUD!" listening levels? In real terms, how loud are you trying to drive your system?


FWIW, if I do break down and buy an outboard Amp, the Emotiva XPA-5 will get the nod, just so I can say I have one and I'll stop this incessant peeking. Oooooh, looky, looky, looky, it's an Emotiva, XPA-5 amplifier.......oooooooh, and it's only $900.00, mmmmmmmmmm, pretty blue lights. I do try to be mature about these issues.



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a new amp will not get you "more accurate imaging"...


unless you are going into protection now, adding an amp will not accomplish anything...
 

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Discussion Starter · #7 ·

Quote:
Originally Posted by BeeMan458  /t/1427337/5ch-amp-upgrade-from-marantz-sr5003#post_22376415


In the game of which outboard Amp to choose, the price and looks of the Emotiva series keeps drawing me back to their web site. And then reality sets in as I realize that even the modest eighty or so true watts, all channels driven in the Marantz, SR5007, is more than enough to drive our room to loud, satisfying listening levels and I look away. And then I start peeking again and then I listen to our system and look away and then find myself peeking again, over and over and over. The point, many time we want that what we don't need just because it's nice to peek at new toys like outboard Amps.

FYI, our main speakers are nineteen year old Klipsch, Epic, CF-3's (100dB 1w/m sensitivity with a more probable 86dB 1w/4m at the main listening position) with a RC-64 II for a center channel and a pair of similarly aged, nineteen year old (need to be updated) 12" subs on the side of the Epic, CF-3's. What this means is, with a realistic eighty watts, all channels driven and a realistic sensitivity at the main listening position of 86dB 1w/4m, with less than the AVR is capable of, all channels driven and decent ventilation of course, the system can easily sustain reference levels.

If you decide, for your system you do need (must have) an outboard Amp, how many watts do you want/need to drive your system to "LOUD!" listening levels? In real terms, how loud are you trying to drive your system?

FWIW, if I do break down and buy an outboard Amp, the Emotiva XPA-5 will get the nod, just so I can say I have one and I'll stop this incessant peeking. Oooooh, looky, looky, looky, it's an Emotiva, XPA-5 amplifier.......oooooooh, and it's only $900.00, mmmmmmmmmm, pretty blue lights. I do try to be mature about these issues.


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Exactly! That "don't need it, but want it" factor.


My SR5003 (very similar to your 5007) can drive my Studio 20's (~87dB anechoic, 90dB in-roon efficiency - nowhere near the Klipsches) well past my comfortable listening levels.


The XPA-5 is definitely second on my list. It's quite a bit bulkier and heavier than the 7125 though. (Which I suppose is a good thing and a bad thing.)
Quote:
Originally Posted by ccotenj  /t/1427337/5ch-amp-upgrade-from-marantz-sr5003#post_22376807


a new amp will not get you "more accurate imaging"...

unless you are going into protection now, adding an amp will not accomplish anything...

Man, I'm surprised at the overwhelming consensus against getting a separate amp. I know I don't necessarily need -more- power than what I have, but I certainly figured the improvement in other key areas (less crosstalk, lower THD and IMD, better SNR, higher damping factor, higher slew rate, more headroom for extra dynamic range, etc.) would improve things.
 

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Unless you are driving you AVR to the point of distortion / clippings there's not anything a more powerful amp can do for you.

Modern amplifiers (even those in AVRs) specifications far exceed the requirements of human hearing.

I occasionally think about adding an outboard amp to my system but it's just because I want one.

If I get an amp I want a Parasound or maybe a McIntosh.
 
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