What a great post! Thank you. I looked at Parasound, too $$ for now. I have been mostly checking out Emotiva, Monoprice, and Anthem. With needing 9 channels to power, 5.1.4 set up, it's hard to find everything in one box. I figured I'd need two amps. I'll check out Rotel and others as well.I am on the same journey of figuring out what amps for for my HT and gaming system to pair with a Audiocontrol X7 or X9 here is what I discovered I have reached out to owners of them and watched every review I can find. A few questions you have to ask for yourself is this
So one of the most important parts of building a home theater is having a amplifier that can drive your front stage with authority (Left center and right) your amplifiers is where you get your headroom and dynamics from skimp on this and you will regret it later I can’t tell you how many guys I have seen buy for example a Emotiva XPA3 for their front stage and are now selling it to get a DR3. There is a saying in the HT community “you buy once you cry once” buying great quality amps is important because it will be something you will own for many years so buy something that will last you get the best you can get. One issue people encounter is that there can be some harshness and strain coming from your speakers running them full range from certain scenes in movies and that’s from running certain receivers without enough power or running cheaper amps so the great thing about having a lot of power on hand is that you may not need a full 300 watts but you will have enough CLEAN power to render as much dynamics as you need whether it be a quite atmospheric moment or a bass heavy action scene that way those scenes in movies won’t sound strained from not having enough juice. Also it’s not all about bass but whether a amp can also handle the subtle moments and details.
- What are your goals? Are your current speakers your end game? Or do you plan to upgrade your current speaker setup?
- What speakers are you using for your home theater system and what are there Power ratings?
- What impedance are your speakers?
- How much money do you plan on spending on amps
- How many channels of amplification do you need?
- Do you want a toroidal transformer supply which is going to be a heavy ass box or a SMPS power supply which is more lightweight? And how much space do you have to work with? In other words are seeking only a one box amp solution
- Do you like the amplifier to be more warm, neutral or bright?
Of all the amplifier brands out there Emotiva is one of the best budget friendly options and makes good amps their XPA and DR line use a SMPS (switch mode power supply) which makes their amps more efficient as it regulates voltage power. I don’t know how reliable this topology is meaning I don’t think these type of amps will outlive a well built amp with some big heat sinks?! Emotiva amps use a class H topology with class a/b sound and are very lightweight as their amps don’t have big heat sinks or toroidal transformers so if you are a wuss you can lift their products with ease LOL haha Their XPA line is fairly neutral and their DR series are on the brighter side of neutral Emotiva’s flagship models the DR1 (monoblock) , DR2, and DR3 are fully balanced offer amazing low noise floor no hiss or hum in your speakers through the XLR inputs and are much more powerful than the XPA line the DR series hit hard and are amazing amps feedback is high on these. I’m guessing that their power ratings are semi questionable and are not necessarily conservatively rated? I would personally stay away from their XPA9 ,XPA11 or anything with what they call “stereo modules” as those are only rated at 65watts per channel and will not drive your surrounds or Atmos very well and are not very revealing! As far as reliability (based on user feedback) and build quality I wouldn’t say they are the best on this list but I’m sure they will last ya a while. Their amps have a 5 year transferable warranty.
Next we have Monoprice which is a ATI design they have 1 heat sink in 2-3 channels and 2 heat sinks in anything above 3 channels and weigh more than the Emotiva’s they are rated for power conservatively in their ALL channels driven ratings and are very budget friendly side note they do sell out of certain models so it may be difficult trying to find a certain amp wait times can be frustrating. Sound is neutral and good similar to Emotivas XPA line but not as powerful as Emotiva’s DR series however. The difference between the XPA line and Monoprice are Emotiva has a few extra goodies like channel lights and stuff These Monoprice amps have a great build quality
Next there are Rotel amps the rmb- 1585 and the rmb-1590 these amps are not fully balanced but are very reliably built like a tanks the sound is slightly warmer than the Emotiva DR series and the Rotels are very musical sounding and are awesome for HT as well not sure about 4ohm power specs as Rotel only rated them for 8ohm? The price point is kinda high.
next we have Outlaw audio and Outlaw offers some amazing amps for the price points one of those is a ATI designed amp that is their flagship the Outlaw 7220 this amp is more potent than the Monoprice 7x200 amp many people don’t know how amazing this one is it is a powerful 7 channel audiophile amp IF you hook it up to a dedicated 20 amp outlet it can put down nearly 270 watts times 7 into 8 ohms ALL channels driven this amp runs very cool and never runs outta steam the sound signature is neutral to slightly warm slightly rich but mostly neutral amp and is FULLY balanced so if you run it through the XLR it’s super clean sounding. It has 2 massive heat sinks and weighs 96lbs. Outlaw also offers the 5000x and 7000x amps which are great for Atmos and surrounds NOT for front stage amps these amps have great prices the 5000x and 7000x has Slightly more power than its stated ratings when bench tested by Audioholics and both amps now offer XLR inputs they are not fully balanced amps.
Next is Parasound and they are not budget friendly and are Audiophile grade Amps that are multi purpose for HT and music you can run 4ohm and 8ohm speakers with them they are known for a slightly warm sound signature that has a rich beautiful airy crisp sound. Very elegant and delightful sounding musical amps that can also deliver the goods the A51 5 channel has 250watts into 8ohm and 400 watts into 4ohm These amps are built to last have a 5 year non transferable warranty and are amazingly reliable and have a class A to class A/B circuitry which means for the first 8-10watts of power it runs on class A mode so if you have efficient speakers with a high dB sensitivity it will stay in class A then when the volume is high enough it switches to class A/B for their higher price tag it would be nice to see a fully balanced design but they are not. These amps run hot you would probably have to purchase a separate cooling fan as there are no fans internally that cool it.
And last we have the King Kong of amplifiers the ATI Signature series 6000’s. These amps are not budget friendly but are the most versatile amps you can get music, HT, gaming it doesn’t matter what you use it for this amp does it all. You can run 8ohm or 4 ohm impedance speakers with this amp it can handle any speaker you throw at it. The sound signature is neutral to slightly warm they are known to be very natural sounding and extremely clean sounding they don’t color the sound they are FULLY balanced with a extremely low noise floor and will put some monoblocks on the market to shame. Some people just buy this amp 6002 2 channel or 6003 3 channel just for their front stage instead of monoblocks. These amps run extremely cool and are rated at 300 watts into 8 ohms and 450 in 4ohm but measure higher than their stated ratings ATI amps are bullet proof and bomb proof built like battle tanks and offer a 7 year transferable warranty they do cost some coin however you get a amazing quality amp that will last you many many years. The dynamics and soundstage is HUGE their 5-7 channels amps need dual 15 or 20 amp breakers/cords just to run them lol if you have some reference speakers they will sound killer action scenes will scare the crap out of you and this amp won’t break a sweat no matter how hard you push it Weight is 96 to 143lbs depending on model
Usually you would want to stick with the same brand for amplifiers however I think it would be safe to mix match the ATI made products ATI,Outlaw,Monoprice. Hope this info helps
I didn't even think about wall power. I'm pretty sure all the plugs on my HT wall are on 15amp breakers. Thank you