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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I need some help here. I am new to the separates world of pre amps and amps so I could use some help.


I have a Yamaha RXV 3200 receiver which is the second from the top of the line as far as Yamaha receivers go. It outputs 120 watts per channel RMS times six channels.


I am wanting to go the separates route and get a nice amp and use the Yamaha for the Pre/Pro for now as it is a good processor and I need to save up until the next unpaged.


I was able to demo a Sunfire Cinema Grand Signature series II in my house against the Yamaha. The Sunfire is rated at 425 watts per channel times 5. Now don't get me wrong I am not trying to down any particular product, I just need some input as to weather I should go a different route.


I was expecting a big improvement as the Sunfire retails for about $4000. I did not hear that much improvement. I do have to say that at very loud levels like 100db It was cleaner and more detailed, but at normal levels of about 80 db I did not hear much difference between the two. Not enough to justify the investment.


I used an SPL meter and the DTS dvd of the Eagles, Hell freezes over which I think is very well done. I played both at the same levels and like I said at high levels like 100db the sunfire was much cleaner and detailed but I will not be listening that high very often, but I do want the headroom to be able to get great clear high volume when I want it .


My question is what other amplifiers do people use that can really shine over my Yamaha receiver ? Am I expecting too much ? It seems that either I have a very nice amp in the Yamaha already or the Sunfire is not all I hoped it to be.


At 400 watts per channel and $4000 I would expect a very big improvement and I just don't hear it.


Can anyone explain this or recommend what other equipment I should look into ? I would also consider something used from audiogon if it really made an improvement.


Thanks in advance for any help you can offer. By the way I will be running Rocket 750's all around which are 6ohm and about 89 sensitivity.


MIKE
 

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Frankly, your expectations are too high.


With an outboard power amp, all you are really getting is cleaner output at high levels, like you saw. Below -15 from reference, I notice ZERO difference in sound between my Elite 45TX and my Sunfire Cinema Grand I (200wx5). However, when I crank it up higher than that, the sound quality doesn't change, only the volume. Before I added the Sunfire, when I cranked it to ref, it sounded thin. Our experiences are the same; it is just that I knew before hand that at low volume, there is no difference in sound.


Look for a Cinema Grand on audiogon or ebay. I picked mine up for a bit over a grand (and overpaid, but I love the amp for those occasions when I do "crank it to 11"). When you have the ability to play loud and clean, you will likely end up playing loud more often. I know I did. :D


Sorny
 

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i have a rxv-1, i use odyssey extreme mono blocks(300watts at 8ohm) for my mains- the yamaha didnt like my speaker load(89db, 4ohm)i have custom 3.5 ways that arent amp friendly- first amp i tried was a carver pm-350(350 watts at 8 ohm) it didnt have any life or tight bass, the extremes are so far ahead of the carver its stupid. this might be because the odyssey's are class a for the first 50 watts or so.

i didnt get amps for other channels because i listen to 2 channel more than movies.very happy with this set up.

it all comes down to what you hear not my opinion or anyone elses-trial and error sucks(i got lucky on my second try and love my amps).

good luck hope i helped
 

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Mike, I used to have a Yamaha 992 (80w X 5 channels). It drove my mains (Nautilus 804s) pretty good. Then I bought a Bryston 4B ST to drive the mains.


All of a sudden, it was like I had a new pair of speakers! Much better bass, cleaner highs, etc, etc, at ALL volumes, not just high volumes. Now you have to take into account that certain amps are known to sound good with certain speakers. Krell, Classe and Bryston are reputed to sound good with Nautilus speakers, for instance.


I'm not cutting down the Sunfire amp, but I'd recommend trying at least one other brand. You might want to try a 3 channel amp, BTW. Most of your demands are for the center first, then mains, then surrounds...
 

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I went from a mid range JVC receiver ( i think 120 w/channel) to sunfire cinema grand II, and it was like night and day on my cdm9nt's. Incredible improvement.


My opinion is that definately amps can sound different than one another, but once you get past a certain point, they are all going to sound good, and the exta power just gives you some higher quality (reduced clipping at higher levels) volume as you experienced. Always gotta try another brand for comparison sake. Maybe try a sunfire CGII (not signature) as well. It costs less and has pretty much the same quality but just with less juice.
 

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Back when I switched from my Yamaha to separates to drive my Magnepans, I noticed exactly what Sorny did. When driving a power amp from the Yamaha's preamp outputs, the difference in sound quality was not apparent at low volume levels, and increased as the volume increased. At the time, I had tested a Sunfire amp, Adcom amp, and one other which I can't remember.


iamnotmad is also right. Unless you're switching from a poor amplifier, you shouldn't expect a big difference at low power levels. However, there is a big improvement at high output levels, and this is what you pay for. Yamahas amplifier stages are well known for their excellent musical quality, but they can run out of steam at high output levels.


Now switching to a good high-end preamp should net you that improvement in sound quality at all levels you're looking for, and is the next logical step. Have faith, Mike - you're not experiencing anything out of the ordinary!


- Chris
 

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Your system is only as good as its weakest link. Some time ago when I went from a very good receiver to separates, I had a relatively inexpensive preamp and amp in my sytem for a short while. My next step was to add a very good amp. It made a subtle difference, but not what I would have expected, pretty much like what has been described here. I was somewhat disappointed by this, but soon added a proper preamp. This had an enormous effect on my system, and the wow! factor was definitely there. The preamp had obviously been holding back the amp.


Bottom line, the things that make the biggest differences in sound are in order: speakers, preamp, amp. Your receiver's processing may be holding back some of the big gains you are expecting from a separate amp.
 

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I currently have the Pio49TXi and am also interested in adding a separate amp for higher play levels using 7.1 setup.

I am not willing to give up the digital SACD/DVDA link for another preamp so...

Question is how many channels should I replace 2,3,5 or all 7?

Don't surrounds get minimal juice anyway?
 

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I use to do business with a Hi-Fi buys warehouse we had here in atlanta back in the early 90's.I bought Carver Hr-772 and Klipsch Ch II's from him.


The subject came up about increasing the quality per dollar.He said you might spend say $2000 and have about 90% quality in your system.Then that last 10% may go up substantially.He came up with a system that cost 50K, bear in mind this was back in 1994. And we agreed we were at 95% with that system.

I miss that kind of "Clarity" in the home entertainment world.


Now it's 2003 and many of you are at the 90-95% range.And i think you can get to 99% perfection in your system but it's gonna cost you.


Nelson is experiencing this a little.

Pioneer Denon Rotel Yamaha and many other companies have really steped up to the plate in recent years and producing really good HT systems.To go to the next level it starts to get more exspensive.

You will spend more time and money.

Spending time on this board is something we didn't have back in 1994 or i would have opted for a pair of Magneplaner MMG's and a HSU VTR-2!!!!!!
 

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"Question is how many channels should I replace 2,3,5 or all 7?"


I'd recommend a good 3 channel amp.


"Don't surrounds get minimal juice anyway?"


I'd say your internal amp ought to do just fine for surrounds. The internal amp in my 45TX powers my Nautilus HTM1 center just fine. If it can drive a HTM1 this well, it should drive just about any surround.
 

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"Pioneer Denon Rotel Yamaha and many other companies have really steped up to the plate in recent years and producing really good HT systems."


That's so true. I'm amazed at the sound of my new 45TX.


"To go to the next level it starts to get more exspensive."


A lot more expensive...
 

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Quote:
Originally posted by cajunlab
I currently have the Pio49TXi and am also interested in adding a separate amp for higher play levels using 7.1 setup.

I am not willing to give up the digital SACD/DVDA link for another preamp so...

Question is how many channels should I replace 2,3,5 or all 7?

Don't surrounds get minimal juice anyway?
Movie mixes these days are including a lot more full range activity in the surrounds. Additionally, since you are listening to DVD-Audio discs, they contain plenty of full range sound in the surrounds. I highly suggest you get a 5 channel amp to cover the main channels, and then use the Pioneer channels for your rear surrounds (for 7.1). This will leave you some amp power to put speakers in another zone if you so choose.


I personally run the Sunfire CGII Sig for my 5 main channels, and then have an older Sunfire CG for my rear surrounds. I run outdoor speakers with 2 channels from the older CG, and I still have one channel to spare (thinking about hooking it up to a tactile transducer).


R8der
 

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Thanks for the advice!

Will the heat generated by the 49TXi reduce significantly with an outboard amp?

It gets pretty hot now (when on) with no signal whatsoever running through it.
 

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Quote:
Originally posted by cajunlab
Thanks for the advice!

Will the heat generated by the 49TXi reduce significantly with an outboard amp?

It gets pretty hot now (when on) with no signal whatsoever running through it.
The heat is due to the amp power being stored. Keep in mind that the amp is basically a reservoir of power, waiting to be unleashed. Not using the channels doesn't diminish the reservoir stored there, so the amp will still be warm even with an outboard amp running your speakers.


R8der
 

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R8 is slightly wrong (whatever that means). Most of the heat from an amp is generated by the current passing through the output transistors. When using the receiver as a preamp, there will be little or no additional heat generated while in use.


With no output current, such as when using the receiver as a preamp, the output transistors do not get hot, as when idling (no signal). The idling temperature is from the power supply, any panel lighting, etc.


If your receiver is that warm idling, it needs better ventilation. The higher the ambient (environmental) temperature, the hotter the output transistors will run, due to poorer heat sink performance.


Also, for every channel driven by an external amp channel, there will be more reserve power for each of the receiver's amplifier channels, which will allow them to be slightly more powerful.
 

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I "upgraded' from using the amps in my Yammy 2092 to a Citation 7.1. I certainly heard a difference was "better" to my ears. Than I tried a B&K, which sounded different than the Citation. It was more "accurate" but didn't have the same bottom end oomph. (I was surprise that I actually heard differences and that I began to describe those differences like others on this forum and in the magazines.) Then I upgraded to a Bryston 6B which is superior to all the other amps. It may or may not be worth the cost as there are diminishing returns, but it sounds best to me. I also upgraded the pre/pro to a Lexicon which also made a positive difference. The problem we have in this hobby is spending more and more for only incremental improvement. But, I'm looking for the next piece....


Greg
 

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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
Thanks for all your input everyone.


R8DER: What are you using as a pre amp with your Sunfire Cinema grand Sig II ?

MIKE
 
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