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Hello Once Again


I have the Klipsch RF-3 II speaker system ran off a Yamaha HTR-5460. This is my first home stereo system. I'm only 20 years old, and also a college student. So funding is limited of course.


My reciever is rated at 100 watts RMS per channel. The RMS rating of my floorstanding speakers are 150 watts.


Here is my question: Would I be able to tell the difference between using external amplification versus my reciever?


Like 100 watts from reciever and 100 watts from external amplifier.....will it make a difference?


I want a 2 channel stereo amplifier for my RF-3 II's........do I need what they call a "preamplifier"? Also, considering I'm a newbie, what does a "preamplifier" do?


What kind of amplification would you recommend for 150 watts x 2? Please keep in mind that I'm on a budget.


Thanks a million!!!!!! :p
 

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Your receiver does three things--it's a tuner (captures AM/FM signals), its a pre-amp (switches sources, ramps signal levels/volume, etc.) and its an amp (amplifies the signal from the pre-amp section fo your receiver to drive your speakers). Since everything is in one box and key components (e.g., chasis, heatsink, power supply, etc.) are shared, receivers are more affordable than separates. As for sound differences, everything is relative--in general, one would expect separates to sound better than a receiver, but that's not always the case.


Going the separates route whole hog is likely going to be out of your budget--at the very least, you'd need a pre-amp and an amp, and even used, you could easily hit $1,000...quite simply, separates are *usually* built with more care, better components, etc. and thus are targeted at more affluent buyers. If your receiver has pre-outs (i.e., you can bypass your receiver's amp section by taking a variable level signal and connecting it to an external amp), though, that could be a first step towards "going separate"...if effect you'd be turning your receiver into a pre-amp, as it would only be handling things like source selection (e.g., FM, CD, tape, etc.), tone controls and volume.


As for the whole speaker wattage rating, keep in mind that those figures are for the "maximum" recommended wattage for the speaker--e.g., a speaker rated at 150 watts IN THEORY should not be hooked up to a receiver/amplifier rated above 150 watts per channel, to "protect" the speaker from damage. In reality, 90% of the time, speakers are damaged by too little power--you're listening to a CD with a lot of bass, it drives your receiver/amp into clipping (where your receiver/amp basically "gives up") and your speaker's tweeter goes kaboom. Most speakers can handle well more than they are rated for--and also, keep in mind that even though you have a 100 watt receiver, it's not sending 100 watts to the speaker all the time...at normal volume levels, you're probably using about 1-2 watts, with only very brief spikes to 100+ watts (e.g., heavy bass, cymbals, etc.). The difference--in terms of power--between a 100 watt receiver/amp and a 150 watt receiver/amp is very small...to get a +3 db gain in sound pressure level (SPL), you have to double the wattage rating...to create a signal that's twice as loud, you have to increase the wattage 10x.


All that said, are you unhappy with the "sound" of your receiver? Moving to separates--even using the receiver as just a pre-amp and buying an external amp--likely would change the overall sound, but maybe not as much as changng the speakers. I'm not advocating changing your speakers, just noting that speakers have the most influence on what a system will sound like. I'd rather have great speakers and a so-so receiver than so-so speakers and great separates...your mileage may vary!


If you do decide to get an external amp, you're really going to be hard pressed to find anything for less than $400-500, even used. Some names to look for include Parasound, Aragon, Acurus, Rotel, NAD, etc. If you want to get a feel for what pre-amps and amp cost, go to www.audigon.com and browse around...they are like eBay, but for high quality (usually!) used audio and video gear. You'll see that even used, most of the listing for pre-amps and amps are over $1,000.


Good luck--and try to listen to any equipment before buying. If you can't hear the difference it makes, don't buy it.
 
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