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westerniser's picture
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Audiolab 8200 upgrade to pre/power combo - worth it?
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Hello all!

I'm listening to my new Spendor A5 / Audiolab 8200a / Arcam rDac system, playing mostly from my macbook. 

It's sounding really good - nice and warm, realistic sounds, deep bass, clear vocals and nice stereo effects. I would describe it as a comfortable, warm sound, I would say I'm used to a brighter, sweeter top end but I'm guessing I'm just used to a lower quality set up with forced brightness. 

Volume is not an issue - I haven't been past around 40%, but I have heard that adding the Audiolab 8200 power amp will add an even better sound to what I have. 

Just wondering, is this true and how would it improve the sound over the integrated set up I have? Obviously, the 8220a can be set to become a pre amp for the 8200p power amp. It;s not super expensive for the power amp - around £600, just wondering what diffence it will make.

Thanks in advance!

 

Anonymous
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RE: Audiolab 8200 upgrade to pre/power combo - worth it?

See if you can get the Audiolab 8200P power amp on a home demo and see how you like it; use the integrated to power the HF and the power amp to power the LF on the speakers

 

IMO this is better than a pre/power combo as I feel you get better control over the speakers then allowing the soundstage to be more full and dynamic with with better controlled bass, midrange and highs

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RE: Audiolab 8200 upgrade to pre/power combo - worth it?

The 8200P is said to be the best of the power amps in the current range.

So give it a listen.

Audiolab is said to be releasing new power amps model designed by the designer of the CDQ.

May want to watch out for that as well.

westerniser's picture
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RE: Audiolab 8200 upgrade to pre/power combo - worth it?

But what would you expect the difference in sound to be with the pre/power vs the integrated?

Anonymous
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RE: Audiolab 8200 upgrade to pre/power combo - worth it?

IMO not that much really; the handy thing with a decent pre though is that you could have either 2 power amps running the speakers (i.e. one power amp per speaker) or a pair of monoblocks etc...

 

I've heard a good few integrated vs pre/power combo's and never really felt that it made that much differece. People feel that it's a better route for the signal & gives a clearer soundstage but IMO you get better results from an integrated/power combo OR a pre/x2 power amps

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RE: Audiolab 8200 upgrade to pre/power combo - worth it?

hifilover1979 wrote:

IMO not that much really; the handy thing with a decent pre though is that you could have either 2 power amps running the speakers (i.e. one power amp per speaker) or a pair of monoblocks etc...

 

I've heard a good few integrated vs pre/power combo's and never really felt that it made that much differece. People feel that it's a better route for the signal & gives a clearer soundstage but IMO you get better results from an integrated/power combo OR a pre/x2 power amps

It does make a difference but whether it's sufficient enough to justify the extra outlay is down to the individual. What was the difference when you had the Alpha 9 and 9P?

Amp; CDP; Turntable; Tuner; Speakers

westerniser's picture
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RE: Audiolab 8200 upgrade to pre/power combo - worth it?

Yes, it would be an intergrated/power combo, not pre/power (my error.)

It's probably worth a try, it's only another £600 or so, and I'm returning my other Yamaha amp for a refund!

The other option was to go for the Audiolab 8200cd (with the built in dac) and sell the arcam rdac. I have heard this works as a pre amp, is it just a case of adding the power amp to this? Where would the volume control be in that case?

Would the 8200 dac be better than the rdac. Plus I will have the bonus of a cd player should I ever need one!

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RE: Audiolab 8200 upgrade to pre/power combo - worth it?

The 8200CDQ is the one with the built in pre amp.

The pre amp section is the weak link in the 8200A.

Get the CDQ if possible and use the 8200A as power amp (pre power av position).

Use the digital vol control on the CDQ to control the volume.

The 8200P betters the 8200A (power amp mode) in the bass department.

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RE: Audiolab 8200 upgrade to pre/power combo - worth it?

The A5's are a single wired speaker, so the option of using the 8200A and a power amplifier to drive the A5's will be out of the question, unless the 8200A was only used as a pre-amplifier. I find integrated amplifiers acting as pre-amplifiers do a good job, but not the best - after all, it's been designed as an integrated amplifier.

Adding the 8200P will certainly drive the A5's better than the 8200A, and give greater grip over what the speaker is doing. Dynamically, the 8200P will be noticeably better than the 8200A too. To get these benefits, you'd have to use your 8200A as the pre.

As already mentioned, the 8200CDQ will do away with the analogue pre-amplifier section (although you can use the 8200CDQ in digital or analogue pre-amplifier mode), and supply the 8200P (or A, acting as a power amplifier) with a higher quality signal. You'll find the internal DAC will perform better than the rDAC too, and you'll still have plenty of digital inputs to use for other sources, as well as a couple of analogue inputs.

If you're not in a position to change any of your products, then adding the power amp and using your 8200A as a pre will be the way forward - as I've said, the A5's will lap up the extra current.

DavidF @FrankHarveyHiFi, Coventry.

"Long is the way, and hard, that out of hell leads up to light"

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RE: Audiolab 8200 upgrade to pre/power combo - worth it?

westerniser wrote:

Yes, it would be an intergrated/power combo, not pre/power (my error.)

It's probably worth a try, it's only another £600 or so, and I'm returning my other Yamaha amp for a refund!

The other option was to go for the Audiolab 8200cd (with the built in dac) and sell the arcam rdac. I have heard this works as a pre amp, is it just a case of adding the power amp to this? Where would the volume control be in that case?

Would the 8200 dac be better than the rdac. Plus I will have the bonus of a cd player should I ever need one!

Tend to agree with David - because of the obvious limitations with bi-amping, I'd be looking at other areas before power amp. Here's the reason why: From my experience of power amps (fairly limited TBH), I heard Arcam Alpha 7 and Rotels bi-amped. They certainly do improve the overall SQ, but it isn't night and day difference. TBH, if you're using a power amp you'll notice a slight improvement over control and bass definition. The treble is marginally improved, but... and it's a BIG but... whether it's enough to justify the extra outlay and adding of an additional boxe is altogether another issue.

I toyed with the idea of adding a power amp to my old A65 to give it extra oomph at higher volumes, but decided - correctly - that going for a much better integrated was the better option.

I would try placing the speakers in a different position: For example, if you have 'toe-in' try and face them straight out. I've personally found that gives the overall sound a little openness...

At worst I'd look at the source. I've been told by reliable dealers the rDAC isn't as sparkly as other price compatible DACS, although how one interpretes 'Sparkly', that's down to the individual I suppose.  

 

Edit - Remembered a thread I started a while ago which may help you: http://www.whathifi.com/forum/hi-fi/oooo-the-trouble-with-treble

Amp; CDP; Turntable; Tuner; Speakers

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