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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
My uses:

80% of the time I'm just watching cable TV. 10% is spent watching DVDs, and the remaining 10% is spent listening to music via MP3 or CDs.


My current system:

Sony Bravia

Yamaha RX-V661

ADS HT400LCR speakers

Mirage subwoofer


For those that are not familiar with the speakers, they are dual 5.25" with a 1" silk tweeter, and are recommended for a maximum of 120W and they are 8ohm


I am interested in upgrading my amp for now (using the pre-outs of the Yamaha), and then eventually replacing the Yamaha altogether. Obviously a bigger TV and subwoofer would be nice but this is not my main movie room and the subwoofer bothers the floor below anyway!


Right now I'm leaning towards a Parasound Halo A52. However, I don't know how to tell if that amp is a "good match" for my speakers. How can I tell that before I buy it? However, I think that it is important to get an amp with XLRs on it so that it will be compatible with any high-end gear I end up with later on.


I am hoping to get some opinions of the amp, or suggestions of another similarly-priced amp. I can get dealer pricing on NAD and Parasound through work though so that definitely makes those brands favorable.


Also, I am worried that if I get a 5ch amp now, then everything will move to 7ch in a few years. Can I use a 2ch amp off the other outputs of my preamp to achieve the 7ch or will I need to get rid of the 5ch and get a 7?


Thanks for the help!
 

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You could certainly add a two channel amp in conjunction with a five channel amp for seven channels of amplification.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by madmanmax3000 /forum/post/15594137


Right now I'm leaning towards a Parasound Halo A52. However, I don't know how to tell if that amp is a "good match" for my speakers. How can I tell that before I buy it? However, I think that it is important to get an amp with XLRs on it so that it will be compatible with any high-end gear I end up with later on.

Well I'm of the "Amp is an Amp" and if you hear "adjectives" from the amp, something is wrong with it's design, school of thought. So if you mean "match" in terms of "airy", "detailed", etc... you'd need to trial the amp. Unless you can find someone with that exact setup (not likely).


In technical terms, your speakers are moderately efficient (don't require huge amounts of power), easy to drive (8 ohm resistance) and lack large woofers, (thus they aren't going to generate a lot of bass). So you shouldn't need a "monster" amp for them.


In fact, I have serious doubt as to if it would make a difference if you get an amp. Your AVR (or pretty much any other) should be able to do a perfectly decent job of driving the speakers you have.


The only reason I can think of offhand that it wouldn't, would be that some AVR makers play games with their AVR's amp power ratings. Where they tell you it's 110 wpc x7, but if you check the technical specs it says something like "110 wpc with 2 (or 1) channel driven" meaning that if you are actually using all 7 channels, you don't actually get 110 wpc x 7. You might only be getting 85 wpc or 75 wpc, something like that. Yamaha does list it in the tech specs as 90 wpc x 7. So maybe they aren't playing games, but you'd have to do some poking around to see if it actually delivers that.


XLR connections are not generally that useful even if you have them. They basically reduce noise in the connection and have increased resistance to induced noise (from say a transformer near by). But the noise in the cable is generally considered to be insignificant with runs of less than 15' between your Pre-pro and amp. The induced noise is also really not an issue in most home setups. Basically what it gets you in most home situations is more expense, because the cables cost more and you probably don't have any already.

Quote:
Originally Posted by madmanmax3000 /forum/post/15594137


I am hoping to get some opinions of the amp, or suggestions of another similarly-priced amp. I can get dealer pricing on NAD and Parasound through work though so that definitely makes those brands favorable.

NAD and Parasound make perfectly decent amps from everything I have heard or read. In fact the Halo A52 is a really nice looking piece of hardware. I'd get one if they were more affordable.


Emotiva is worth looking at and is certainly a LOT less expensive than Parasound. I think they advertise there. I have their XPA-5 (5 x 200 wpc) and have been quite pleased with it, but I had 4 ohm, 88db efficiency speakers, that are notorious for being power hogs. The XPA-5 is $800 IIRC.


They are out of stock on the XPA-5 at the moment, but should get more in sometime in feb.


They do have a seven channel amp the UPA-7 (7 x125 wpc) that's on sale at the moment for $550 w/t $25 shipping (they are quite heavy so shipping isn't cheap normally). But it doesn't represent that much of an increase in power over the Yamaha, so it's not likely that you are going to hear that much of a difference (you need to double the power to get a 3 db difference, which is considered the minimum audible).


OTOH, there's quite a few people in the Emotiva thread who've gotten one for a similar setup and have raved about how big an improvement it was over using their AVR's amps. So your millage may vary.


The XPA-5 has XLR connectors, but the UPA-7 does not. If you have your heart set on those.

Quote:
Originally Posted by madmanmax3000 /forum/post/15594137


Also, I am worried that if I get a 5ch amp now, then everything will move to 7ch in a few years. Can I use a 2ch amp off the other outputs of my preamp to achieve the 7ch or will I need to get rid of the 5ch and get a 7?

Yes you can just add a 2 channel amp later.


Unless you have some other reason for doing so, there's never a reason why you'd have to get rid of a 5 channel external amp in order to move to a 7 channel system.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·

Quote:
Originally Posted by TPnBobcats /forum/post/15594615


In fact, I have serious doubt as to if it would make a difference if you get an amp. Your AVR (or pretty much any other) should be able to do a perfectly decent job of driving the speakers you have.


The only reason I can think of offhand that it wouldn't, would be that some AVR makers play games with their AVR's amp power ratings. Where they tell you it's 110 wpc x7, but if you check the technical specs it says something like "110 wpc with 2 (or 1) channel driven" meaning that if you are actually using all 7 channels, you don't actually get 110 wpc x 7. You might only be getting 85 wpc or 75 wpc, something like that. Yamaha does list it in the tech specs as 90 wpc x 7. So maybe they aren't playing games, but you'd have to do some poking around to see if it actually delivers that.

Thanks for the detailed answer! It worries me, however, that you are unsure that I will notice any difference using an external amplifier. I am not looking for increased SPL, the 90W from the Yamaha is plenty to fill my room with deafening sound. What I am most concerned with is the quality of the power and subsequent sound. Are you suggesting that with such an efficient speaker I wouldn't be able to tell if it were being driven by an AVR or an $8k rack or separates?


My speakers are the most expensive components in my setup right now and I want to make sure that I am getting the most out of them. I recently put a nice system in my car and now my car sounds better than my home system, so I'm looking to fix that!
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by madmanmax3000 /forum/post/15594765


Thanks for the detailed answer! It worries me, however, that you are unsure that I will notice any difference using an external amplifier. I am not looking for increased SPL, the 90W from the Yamaha is plenty to fill my room with deafening sound. What I am most concerned with is the quality of the power and subsequent sound. Are you suggesting that with such an efficient speaker I wouldn't be able to tell if it were being driven by an AVR or an $8k rack or separates?


My speakers are the most expensive components in my setup right now and I want to make sure that I am getting the most out of them. I recently put a nice system in my car and now my car sounds better than my home system, so I'm looking to fix that!

In many respects that is the $64,000 question of home audio/video. The problem is that so much is subjective (who else can tell you how something sounds to you?) and there's so many variables that are nearly impossible to either control for or eliminate. The room Equalization in most current hardware is helping, but it can't eliminate it.


Your ability to hear factors into it. There's how the room interacts with sound either deadening or reflecting it. There's where you are sitting in the room. The widely varying quality of source material, etc...


Then there's the very, very human desire to justify having spent large sums of cash on an expensive piece of hardware.


Try looking up sometime, all the factors that go into conducting a true randomized double blind test (the only kind that can be considered an honest test of different pieces of equipment). Most people never bother to do anything more than swap out Part A for Part B and then claim some long string of adjectives as a "difference".


I'm of the sort who just can't see how you can get those sorts of changes out of something who's job it is to take signal A and reproduce that exact signal at level B.


Of course there are hundreds of people on this board who will claim they can do exactly that.


So, "Your Mileage May Vary".


For what it's worth. I would typically recommend spending at least twice as much on your speakers as on your hardware, probably more if possible. Your system can't possibly reproduce a signal your speakers can't generate
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by madmanmax3000 /forum/post/15594765


... I am not looking for increased SPL, the 90W from the Yamaha is plenty to fill my room with deafening sound. What I am most concerned with is the quality of the power and subsequent sound. Are you suggesting that with such an efficient speaker I wouldn't be able to tell if it were being driven by an AVR or an $8k rack or separates?...

It will depend on how loud you listen to material and how large your room is. But the short answer is that you probably would hear no difference in quality. The "quality" of power you mention makes no sense. While the "amount" of power in your Yamaha receiver may be less than what you might get with a seperate amp, the "quality" of that power will certainly be no better. If you are unhappy with the sound you are getting you should look to your room and your speakers, look at an outboard amp last.
 

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There are a few schools of thought. One says that any properly made modern amplifier will have very low distortion. So low, that you would not be able to reliably tell two amps apart in blind testing.


The other school of thought says that amplifiers definitely sound different, and that you need to account for this when purchasing.


Maybe the truth is somewhere in between. One thing is for sure though, in a number of blind amplifier comparison tests I have read, people could not reliably tell the difference. In sighted tests, people often hear differences. You can decide for yourself what that means
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by MichaelJHuman /forum/post/15595290


There are a few schools of thought. One says that any properly made modern amplifier will have very low distortion. So low, that you would not be able to reliably tell two amps apart in blind testing.


The other school of thought says that amplifiers definitely sound different, and that you need to account for this when purchasing.

I agree. Although, I put myself in the latter catagory, but only when dealing with significant power differences in amplifiers. Still, the benefits often don't outweigh the cost. I'd spend my money elsewhere (speakers, room treatment, etc) if I were looking for a significant impovement.
 

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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
This is all very good to know. I'm glad I decided to post on the forum before spending $2k on an amplifier expecting amazing gains from it.


I guess the issue that I have with my sound is its flatness. In my car I have an audiophile grade system and things sound very rich and have a warmth to them. The things I play on my home system have plenty of volume and range but lack the tonality that I get in the car. I'm looking to get a more lifelike sound.


The speakers I have are excellent at not influencing the signal in any way, so I know they aren't the problem. I assumed the issue was the amplifier in the AVR, but now I'm learning it isn't. What options might I consider at this point? I'm not sure what you mean by room treatment but essentially it is a studio apartment so it functions as a living room/bedroom and I'm not looking to put foam on the walls. I'm definitely interested in improving the sound quality over anything else.
 

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I hate to say this, as I am not anywhere near an audiophile. But I have never really cared for the sound of the Yamahas. My ears lean more towards Marantz and some of the Denons, considering that they are in the price range that I live in. Maybe that is your weak link.


Just a thought and my .02, for what it is worth.


Mike
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by madmanmax3000 /forum/post/15595645


This is all very good to know. I'm glad I decided to post on the forum before spending $2k on an amplifier expecting amazing gains from it.


I guess the issue that I have with my sound is its flatness. In my car I have an audiophile grade system and things sound very rich and have a warmth to them. The things I play on my home system have plenty of volume and range but lack the tonality that I get in the car. I'm looking to get a more lifelike sound.


The speakers I have are excellent at not influencing the signal in any way, so I know they aren't the problem. I assumed the issue was the amplifier in the AVR, but now I'm learning it isn't. What options might I consider at this point? I'm not sure what you mean by room treatment but essentially it is a studio apartment so it functions as a living room/bedroom and I'm not looking to put foam on the walls. I'm definitely interested in improving the sound quality over anything else.

Well, "room treatment" is basically stuff like putting foam on the wall. "Audiophile grade" is basically marketing verbiage though.


Unfortunately, there isn't necessarily a simple fix/answer. Part of it is that your car is a very different environment from your house. The good part is that since it's a much more "Fixed" environment, it's easier to compensate for the vagaries of the listening environment. The bad is that it is noisier and that causes problems of it's own and or may be affecting your perceptions of the sound.


It is entirely possible for example that the sound in your car is actually a less accurate reproduction of the source, than your home is, but that it is "bad" in a way that you actually prefer. Tube amps are kind of like this, they actually cause more distortion than transistor based amps, but it's a "warm" distortion that some people find pleasing.


Have you used the Room Equalization function on your Yamaha? It's called "Yamaha Parametric Room Acoustic Optimizer (YPAO)". That can help, possibly significantly.


You might want to double check the setting on things like if your speakers are set to "large" or "small" (they should be small). If they are trying to produce low bass, that could rob you of power for the midrange.


It might be worthwhile, picking up a Radio Shack SPL meter (sound pressure level) and a calibration disk like Avia (that can help improve your video configuration as well).


I'm not sure what to suggest beyond that.
 

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To play Devils Advocate, there is a large school of thought that says you can not tell what something sounds like by reading a spec sheet. If it were that easy then the manufacturers would just target the specs and all would be well in the audio industry.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Snowmanick /forum/post/15596259


To play Devils Advocate, there is a large school of thought that says you can not tell what something sounds like by reading a spec sheet. If it were that easy then the manufacturers would just target the specs and all would be well in the audio industry.

There are lots of people who honestly and completely believe in ghosts, UFOs and many other things that have no scientifically verified basis. Who will swear that they have personally encountered X, Y or Z and they probably honestly believe it. The simple fact that many people believe something does not make it true. Especially when there is a significant amount of scientific evidence that it is not true.


I would love to believe that Axe Body spray will instantly have lots of hot women trying to jump my bones, but reality and logic dictate that such claims are basically just marketing BS.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by localnet /forum/post/15595735


I hate to say this, as I am not anywhere near an audiophile. But I have never really cared for the sound of the Yamahas. My ears lean more towards Marantz and some of the Denons, considering that they are in the price range that I live in. Maybe that is your weak link.


Just a thought and my .02, for what it is worth.


Mike

This is exactly what some take issue with. There is zero data that supports that there is any difference in sound between any of the excellent receivers mentioned above, yet the poster believes that he can tell a difference between Yamaha, Marantz, and Denon. I used to believe the exact same way and years ago posted such. But having participated in several blind tests what I, and others, found was that none of us could pick between different brands of receivers. Sound advice is to pick the one that has the features and power requirements you want, at the best price, and don't worry too much about brand. Although there are still many, like the quote above, that still hold onto their beliefs. But none have any unsighted data to back up any of their claims.


Room treatments can be as simple as a large area rug over a hard floor surface, heavy drapes over windows and glass doors, a few throw pillows at corners, and some wall hangings, etc. You don't always have to add sound absorbtion panels to your walls. Anything in a pinch!


Also the advice on running your EQ is sound as well.
 

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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Thanks for the replies. I will certainly make sure that everything is set and calibrated correctly and see if I can get the system to sound more pleasing. Maybe what I'm looking for is an EQ. On my stereo receiver I have dedicated treble and bass control, do I need to adjust those sorts of things to get my room to sound right?


Also, the speakers are only 5.5" and 1", should I be looking at a subwoofer upgrade? I can't pump it too loud, but if quality will make a big difference with the subwoofer I'd be willing to change it. Right now it's a +/-100W Mirage that I got for around $150 about 10 years ago, I'm assuming that is is no longer (and never was) cutting edge.


I know that for a subwoofer suggestion you need to know the room size and type so in case you think a sub is what I need. The room is 30x18 with plenty of damping, and I'm looking for a subwoofer on the smaller side (width shouldn't be more than 15"). I don't have a price range per se but around $700 would be a good place to start. If there's a good one for cheaper I'm happy to hear about it. Once again if you don't think the sub is the problem, I'm happy to leave the one I have! Thanks again...
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by madmanmax3000 /forum/post/15601649


Thanks for the replies. I will certainly make sure that everything is set and calibrated correctly and see if I can get the system to sound more pleasing. Maybe what I'm looking for is an EQ. On my stereo receiver I have dedicated treble and bass control, do I need to adjust those sorts of things to get my room to sound right?

Your Yamaha should have come with a microphone of some sort. There is a function in your AVR that analyzes the sound it picks up from test tones it will generate that it can use to help correct how the sound the speakers output interacts with the room. It should be covered in your owners manual.

This is something far, far more advanced and sophisticated than just screwing around with the bass and treble controls.


So before you do or buy anything else you should use that room EQ function I mentioned in an earlier post. If you buy something new you should also run it again after that.

Quote:
Originally Posted by madmanmax3000 /forum/post/15601649


Also, the speakers are only 5.5" and 1", should I be looking at a subwoofer upgrade? I can't pump it too loud, but if quality will make a big difference with the subwoofer I'd be willing to change it. Right now it's a +/-100W Mirage that I got for around $150 about 10 years ago, I'm assuming that is is no longer (and never was) cutting edge.


I know that for a subwoofer suggestion you need to know the room size and type so in case you think a sub is what I need. The room is 30x18 with plenty of damping, and I'm looking for a subwoofer on the smaller side (width shouldn't be more than 15"). I don't have a price range per se but around $700 would be a good place to start. If there's a good one for cheaper I'm happy to hear about it. Once again if you don't think the sub is the problem, I'm happy to leave the one I have! Thanks again...

AFAIK, a sub shouldn't help with the sorts of things you are describing. However, diagnosing "warmth" and "lifelike" isn't my strong point. But that is a pretty old sub, so you may be able to benefit from a newer more powerful sub anyway.


I have an SVS subwoofer that I've been very pleased with, but you might want to try asking over in the subwoofer and/or speaker forum. They might have some better advice/suggestions.

http://www.svsound.com/products-sub-box-sb12plus.cfm
http://www.svsound.com/products-sub-cyl-pc12_nsd.cfm


They are VERY powerful though if you have sensitive neighbors.
 
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