Question More power or better fidelity?

azmadu

Member
Hi guys,

I'm trying to decide what would be better, subjectively or objectively, between including a dedicated power amp into an a/v setup, or an integrated stereo amp that can act as a power amp that allows for bi-amping of the front stereo speakers.

So, I currently have a Marantz slimline A/V receiver NR1603 which is driving my current setup of Mission 754s, 75c, 731s, and 754s in a 7.0 setup (no sub as yet) and I'm considering which route to go between adding either an MM7025 with 140W or PM8006 with 70W. The MM7025 only has a pair of speaker binding posts and no bi-amping is possible where as the PM8006 has 2 pairs of binding posts which allows for bi-amplification.

There are other factors that could sway me one way or another (price, phono stage to add a turntable at a later date etc) but for now I'm interested in the sonic abilities of one compared with the other, and so I welcome any experience and knowledge you can share to help me decide what is better, subjectively/objectively of course.

Thanks

NB: The SR8012 has the ability to bi-amp all speakers in a 5.1 setup (as do the Denon counter parts) but are both considerably more expensive than either of the options I mentioned plus are significantly more hefty, plus only do 5.1. If they allowed for 7.x then I might look at these instead.
 

ShanePJ

Well-known Member
AVForums Sponsor
I feel the obvious option here is to purchase an amp with HT Bypass, this will mean you can use it as a power amp for cinema (so long as you're amp has the capacity to line-out for the front two speakers. From that point, every thing that is being used for cinema will be plugged into the av receiver whereas the stereo product plug into the stereo amp's inputs.

So, I have an illustration which I'm using at home. My PC is plugged into my AV Receiver via HDMI for movies whereas I use a USB output to the Lyngdorf for music and it bypasses the av receiver giving you the best of both worlds when enjoying music and movies

Prior to this, I did the same, but using a separate high quality DAC and using the amp via the direct input with a very similar result. The main difference between the two is the RP has brought something extra to the table

If you are going down the HT Bypass route, then something like the Musical Fidelity M2Si would be a great starting point, If you have more to pennies to play with, then look at better components that offer the same feature. If its a better DAC, then look towards something like the AudioLab M-DAC+

The DAC option enables you to better whats inside the av receiver, its important to keep it in direct or pure mode and helps if you don't have an av receiver which has pre-outs.

One thing to note that you cannot better what you put in if it's poor quality and the same is true if the component across the front are note up to the standard of the other components at the back end

I wouldn't get worked up on the bi-wiring thing to much if its coming from the same amp, you may as well use bi-wire cable and have it single ended at the amp end. The reason behind this is you usually find that many amps uses an inferior option internally for this method which will reduce the overall quality.

The only time I would use it is if I was to add a subwoofer which used a high level output as this just makes it easier to set up

With everything I've read above, I feel your best option would be an amp with HT bypass as this will also enable you to enjoy your turntable :smashin:
 

gibbsy

Moderator
I agree with @ShanePJ that a stereo amp with HT by-pass would be your best option especially so you have a TT and that is always going to sound far better into a stereo amp than into a receiver. If you add a power amp then the pre-amp of the receiver is always to exert it's signature into the power amp and audio may not be any better in fidelity.

As for bi-amping, or rather passive bi-amping from the same receiver, then that is simply not worth it as all the receivers channels draw power from the same PSU so rather than increasing power you are virtually diluting it.

I have a very simple set up with a Denon X6500 which is connected to a Rega Elicit-R via pre-outs to drive the front left and right speakers. My important music source is an SACD player and this goes directly into the Rega for a superior stereo music performance. The Rega, via it's HT circuit, is used as a power amp for film and TV with the Denon in control.

 

azmadu

Member
I feel the obvious option here is to purchase an amp with HT Bypass, this will mean you can use it as a power amp for cinema (so long as you're amp has the capacity to line-out for the front two speakers. From that point, every thing that is being used for cinema will be plugged into the av receiver whereas the stereo product plug into the stereo amp's inputs.

So, I have an illustration which I'm using at home. My PC is plugged into my AV Receiver via HDMI for movies whereas I use a USB output to the Lyngdorf for music and it bypasses the av receiver giving you the best of both worlds when enjoying music and movies

Prior to this, I did the same, but using a separate high quality DAC and using the amp via the direct input with a very similar result. The main difference between the two is the RP has brought something extra to the table

If you are going down the HT Bypass route, then something like the Musical Fidelity M2Si would be a great starting point, If you have more to pennies to play with, then look at better components that offer the same feature. If its a better DAC, then look towards something like the AudioLab M-DAC+

The DAC option enables you to better whats inside the av receiver, its important to keep it in direct or pure mode and helps if you don't have an av receiver which has pre-outs.

One thing to note that you cannot better what you put in if it's poor quality and the same is true if the component across the front are note up to the standard of the other components at the back end

I wouldn't get worked up on the bi-wiring thing to much if its coming from the same amp, you may as well use bi-wire cable and have it single ended at the amp end. The reason behind this is you usually find that many amps uses an inferior option internally for this method which will reduce the overall quality.

The only time I would use it is if I was to add a subwoofer which used a high level output as this just makes it easier to set up

With everything I've read above, I feel your best option would be an amp with HT bypass as this will also enable you to enjoy your turntable :smashin:
Thanks for your reply Shane but I think my question wasn't really clear enough so let me try to simplify it. :(

I have an AV receiver running all my speakers but now want to run the front speakers from a stereo amp using the audio out L/R from the AV amp into one of:
a) A power amp with 140W (2 binding posts per speaker)
or
b) an integrated amp with 70W (4 binding posts per speaker allowing for bi-amplification, not bi-wiring).

Given the choice between a) and b) above, which addition to my setup would most enhance my front speakers? More oomph or more swoosh? :)
 

azmadu

Member
I agree with @ShanePJ that a stereo amp with HT by-pass would be your best option especially so you have a TT and that is always going to sound far better into a stereo amp than into a receiver. If you add a power amp then the pre-amp of the receiver is always to exert it's signature into the power amp and audio may not be any better in fidelity.

As for bi-amping, or rather passive bi-amping from the same receiver, then that is simply not worth it as all the receivers channels draw power from the same PSU so rather than increasing power you are virtually diluting it.

I have a very simple set up with a Denon X6500 which is connected to a Rega Elicit-R via pre-outs to drive the front left and right speakers. My important music source is an SACD player and this goes directly into the Rega for a superior stereo music performance. The Rega, via it's HT circuit, is used as a power amp for film and TV with the Denon in control.

Hi gibbsy, thanks for your reply also and hopefully my reply to Shane's initial response is clearer now. I'm probably in a bit of a conundrum because I'm thinking long term and don't want to get caught holding a turkey. The Marantz PM8006 has been on the market for several years now but is it likely that a replacement is around the corner (all things considered currently) or do I go the fidelity route regardless and allow myself the ability to plug in a turntable later on?

I'm still drawn to the MM7025 because of the power rating, and synergistically it will fit with my current Marantz NR1603 (I might upgrade this to the NR1710 to add wi-fi and new codecs which mine doesn't currently have.

The power amp is £300 cheaper but could be a false economy in the long run, but the "Power, Unlimited Power". Sorry, I got a bit of the Palpatines just then....😆
 

Rambles

Distinguished Member
Thanks for your reply Shane but I think my question wasn't really clear enough so let me try to simplify it. :(

I have an AV receiver running all my speakers but now want to run the front speakers from a stereo amp using the audio out L/R from the AV amp into one of:
a) A power amp with 140W (2 binding posts per speaker)
or
b) an integrated amp with 70W (4 binding posts per speaker allowing for bi-amplification, not bi-wiring).

Given the choice between a) and b) above, which addition to my setup would most enhance my front speakers? More oomph or more swoosh? :)
Both. :)

Are you happy with how music sounds at lower volumes? If so buy a power amp then music and movies will sound better at higher volumes.

If you think music could / should sound better at all volumes, then add an integrated amp. You can't bi amp with it though as you use it on its own for listening to music, AVR switched off, so you need it to be powering all of the front left and right speakers.

Option B - Buy an Arcam AVR550 for £1500. Sounds good for both movies and music, and has a 1500 watt power supply compared to the 220 watt one in your Marantz NR1603.

Or, your other option B of the Marantz 8012 is also a good one, forget the bi-wiring idea and just single wire all 7 speakers to it.
 

gibbsy

Moderator
b) an integrated amp with 70W (4 binding posts per speaker allowing for bi-amplification, not bi-wiring).
Simply not worth it. Only consider bi-amping if you have two separate 70W amps not drawing power from the same PSU as you would with passive bi-amping.
 

DT79

Well-known Member
b) an integrated amp with 70W (4 binding posts per speaker allowing for bi-amplification, not bi-wiring).
That is not bi-amping, those are 2 sets of speaker terminals connected to the same single power amp section in the integrated amp. What you will achieve is biwiring which is pointless.
 

ShanePJ

Well-known Member
AVForums Sponsor
I would firstly say, don’t get eaten up by watts. I’ve heard 25w amps deliver better musical ability than 140w products

It’s more about the quality of those watts which is important. As a rule, if the first watt is poor, every dB increase will amplify that poor watt, producing an ever decreasing quality level whereas if it’s an accurate watt, then the increases will be more forgiving with every dB incremental increase

As I mentioned before and it seems everyone above also agrees, bi-wiring from a single amp can decrease the quality of sound to the speakers. So using a single output is ideal unless you go the full hog and use a pre-integrated/power amp two piece combo driving HF from one amp and LF from the other

My speakers are tri-wire and I still only use the front left and right channel out to them. I do bi-amp, but as I mentioned, this is purely as a feed for my sub which has a high level input

I hope that answers the question for you
 

azmadu

Member
Thanks Shane, yes that makes sense.

👍
 

3rdignis

Active Member
These spirit 11 are good as is the edge amp.
Exchange rate seems favourable?
 

Khazul

Well-known Member
Adding a power amp wont change the elephant in the room - ie the AVR's pre-amp. You may get better controlled bass in whatever direct/full range mode it has, but is about it.

As for bi-amping, particular with amps in the same chassis that share a PSU, I don't see that is likely improve anything. If anything, it could make the sound worse due to mismatches between the amps changing the tonal balance due to different gain between the tweeter and woofer amps (I have come across this before with an AVR's bi-amp setup). TBH with bi-amping, I would just make sure you have a decent quality speaker cable (ie the typical relatively cheap and common 2.5mm2 copper) and forget about it.

As for HY bypass amp, I echo what other have suggested - look for a hifi amp with HT bypass.

I would just add that it is worth choosing an amp where the HT bypass can be easily engaged automatically (input related) or via remote (I believe the PM8006 is a bit of a fail in that regard). Kind of a pain having to get up and switch stuff over when everything else AV related works on a remote.

I am currently using a Yamaha A-S2100 as an HT bypass amp for my AVR - it has AV trigger driven input selection (for AVR that have a trigger out for switching the sub and amps etc on), so it doesnt even really need a remote to switch it when the TV is switched on. Of course it is an excellent stereo amp for music.

Also recommend looking at logitech harmony remote control to get everything fully intergreated (assuming your choice of amp has remote control).
 
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gibbsy

Moderator
(I believe the PM8006 is a bit of a fail in that regard).
You have to push a button on the unit's fascia and hold it for three seconds to engage HT by-pass. Same to come out of it.
 

Khazul

Well-known Member
You have to push a button on the unit's fascia and hold it for three seconds to engage HT by-pass. Same to come out of it.
That is the one - a bit of a fail if everything else has remote copntrol :)
 

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