Ah, the old volume control nonsense, again.
The first and most important thing that needs to be understood is that an amplifiers volume control is more closely linked with input level rather than output level. A source with a high output level will need a much lower setting than a source with a lower level, this makes a much bigger difference than different loudspeakers.
Secondly the 'law' that the volume control follows, ie how loud it gets and how quickly is entirely in the hands of the designer, it can really be anything at all so 'normal' listening levels can be 8 o'clock or 4 o'clock, the amplifier 'output' is the same.
Some years ago, some manufacturers worked out that if you fit a volume control that has a 'law' that means that the amplifier goes loud very quickly, many uninformed customers are very impressed, something along the lines off "wow, if it goes this loud with the volume at 10 o'clock, just think how loud it will go at full volume". That such an amplifier will be in hard clip before the volume gets to 12 0'clock will not be discovered till much later.
Even quite sophisticated listeners can be caught out by this, amplifiers of this type tend to get played at louder levels than those with a more gentle volume control, maybe people are wary of turning up the volume control too far and this makes a huge difference.
Under such circumstances the louder amplifier invariably sounds better, completely skewing the demonstration.
We do so many shows in a row,
And these towns all look the same,
We just pass the time in our hotel room
And wander 'round backstage,
Till the lights come up, and we hear that crowd,
And we remember why we came.
Thank you so much for this input, davedotco! I wasn't aware of such issues!
The room is almost 50m2, and the speakers are positioned almost in the centre of the room, thus very far from the walls.
Yes, according to specs, they handle 500Watts RMS Max.
Given the size of the room and essentially no restrictions in terms of volume at which I can listen to them (my closest neighbours are some 200 meters away from my house), I like to push the volume quite loud. With my current amp rated at 85 Watt, the sound starts distorting or 'choking' at volumes around 10 o'clock. That's why I'm avoiding Naims, given their low power rate.
As for the sound, tight and controlled bass is one of the things I want, yet with a considerable punch as well. So, definitely not the 'slow' bass as you put it, or a boomy bass. Also, I want large scale soundstage in both width and depth. And detail, especially in the highs, of course.
I guess ultimately what I want is not to have the impression I'm listening to recordings, "whose sound is coming from two speakers".
thats a big room to fill with enough power...you defnitely would benefit with a higher power integrated or a pre power combo.. In this case, yes... There are better amps than the M6i.
El Hefe, do you mean 200Watt per channel are not enough in my situation?
With Rotels (total 320Watt/channel), the results were terrible, but it was not due to lack of power, rather RA's pre-amp section.
you got me confused there as you mentioned your current amp at 85 wpc which I thought u were referring to the Rotel, and also the power in Naim will not do it for you, you are looking at a more powerful amp than the M6i. My room is just 20 m2 and the M6i is sufficient.
nevertheless... Your Heco can handle higher power rating, no harm to go for higher powered amp.
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amp input level = source output level is it?
I kind of agree to your statement...my normal listening level on the volume knob varies and dependant on the source...
9 o clock for the DAC via XLR
10 o clock for the CDP via RCA
12 o clock for the phono stage
Oh, sorry El Hefe, I should have been clearer on this. Well, the current amp (85Watts/channel) is an old Yamaha AX-492 (1997). As for Rotels, I had to send them back to the store, after a week of sonic torture.
Well, many people have referred the warm sound character of the M6i. Although, in principle, I am not against such a character, the fact is that my Hecos already have a rather smooth and cozy sound character, though a very imponent one as well. Their sound is not an intrusive one. Rather, it's like an emperor sitting on his throne, wise, powerful, authoritative and, therefore, somewhat unemotional.
What I want to achieve with a matching amp is to make the emperor start dancing in euphoria, to free himself from his own supreme status. (Perhaps it's a silly description and comparison, but that's what occurs to me re what there is and what I would like to hear).
What about something from Storm Audio, like the V35.
"Everything has been said before, but since nobody listens we have to keep going back and beginning all over again." André Gide
Unavailable in Portugal, ie no service, no guarantee, expensive shipping (my system is in the Azores). Not an option.
Sorry to go on and apologies to those who know all this, but it is clear thar some do not.
Gauging effective amplifier is a difficult issue, there are many factors to take into account, it kind of helps if you have a basic idea of how an amplifier works in practice.
Modern integrated amplifiers have 3 stages, firstly an input selector, secondly an input attenuator (volume control) and finally a power amplifier.
The power amplifier is a fixed gain device, ie it is at full power all the time, the gain is the difference between the input voltage and the output voltage, expressed in dbs and typically between 10 and15 db. So lets put some numbers to this.
Let's say we have an amplifier that has a gain of 10db, lets also say that it has a sensitivity of 1 volt (a typical if slightly high value), ie 1 volt input gives maximum rated output. So 1 volt subjected to a gain of 10db gives you an output voltage of 10 volts, into an 8 ohm loudspeaker that is 12.5 watts (V squared divided by load impedence). OK so far?
But 12.5 watts is the maximum output of the amplifier, so what happens when we connect a CD player that has a standard output of 2 volts to our amplifier? Simple, we have to use the input attenuator to reduce the level of the incoming signal by half, ie from 2 to 1 volt so that the power amplifier works within in rated power.
If you have a CD player that has an output higher than 2 volts, quite common, you need to attenuate the signal more, ie a lower volume setting for the same volume but if you are using something like a phono stage that might only have an output of 1 volt then no attenuation is required, in this case full volume really is full power.
So you can see the setting on the volume control is more indicative of the input level rather than the output level, important to understand this.
I suppose you wrote this for me, davedotco. It's also a very useful info indeed, but not that necessary, since your previous explanation about the 'volume' issue was sufficient enough for someone who simply enjoys listening to music, not aspiring to become an expert in hifi electronics.
Yet if you have any experience listening to Rock/Metal with the amps being discussed and would like to share your opinion about them, it would be much appreciated.
Sort of, but for anyone interested really.
Let me turn it around, if you have a requirement to play certain styles of music, rock/metal in this case, then what do you need in an amplifier?
If you know what that is and what type of amplifier will give it to you then it makes your choice a lot easier.
My post above was an attempt to explain why the setting on the volume control is no real indicator of amplifier power, in fact the only thing that matters here is whether your quietest input can be played loud enough for your needs without maxing the volume 'knob'.
Now I am going to mke a big assumption here, you can probably give me plenty of exceptions, but in general terms rock /metal music is designed to be played quite loud, has substantial bass content and limited dynamic range. What this means is that it requires an amplifier that can deliver reasonably high power over a sustained period of time. Once again lets put some numbers on this.
Take the Marantz M-CR610, a highly regarded system with a power rating og 60 watts into 6 (?) ohms and compare it to the PM 6004 amplifier, rated at 45 watts into 8 ohms.
Adjusting for the difference in impedence, these are pretty much the same rated power so should be comparable in their capabilities, but, you know what, they are not even close.
Why? The simple answer is power supply, the micro system can pull a maximum of 55 watts from the mains to 'service' its amplifiers, the amplifier 150 watts, quite a difference. Drive either quite hard on, say, rock/metal music, and which one do you think is going to cope better?
I am a big fan of the Creek 50a amplifier, still only 50 watts and roughly 3 times the cost of the PM 6004, why is it so good? Well a number of reasons, but perhaps the biggest is that this amplifier has a power supply that can pull 350 watts!
OK these examples while correct, are only examples and you can find others that may tell a slightly different story, but if you have a decent understanding of the basics, you will find it a lot easier working out the best amplifier for you and why some amplifiers are better and some worse than you expect.
Well, yes, in principle Rock/Metal is supposed to be listened to at considerable volumes (it's a bit of a nonsense to me having some Metal playing as background music..)
As for the amp, I'm pretty much sure I know what kind of an amp I am looking for. This concerns not only the sound character (or the lack of it) per se, but also the amp's capability to drive HTNS at considerable volume levels effortlessly, thus preserving a consistent sound at such levels. This is especially important given the large space the speakers are in. I suppose power rating is central here. Yet, for example, the Rotels combination I had for test, totalling 320Watt RMS 8Ohm per channel begun sounding terribly at around mark 60, probably when entering into Class B mode. (By the way, they sounded bad at lower levels as well, but the higher the volume, the more hiss and less definition appeared).
Another crucial issue is the availability of different brands and the respective services, in Portugal. Re this matter, valve amps are out of question (too long to explain, but I had my share of waiting for months for valve equipment to be serviced...).
As for the sound character I am looking for, I have already addressed this a few posts above. I suppose MF M6i might not be what I am looking for.
I've been looking in this forum for discussions of good amps for Rock/Metal, but more often than not people begun discussing bands, etc, and not the amps most suitable for such genres... Some said Naims were good; someone else said Rega is good..
Are there any Metalheads who tested amps around 2000GBP?
Can you list the brands you have access to?
eg What about Creek, Bel Canto, Primare, Leema, Densen and Moon etc
Apart from brands, I guess it would be good to list specific amps I am interested in:
Other (seemingly problematic or inadequate) options include:
Musical Fidelity M6i (warm sound character; slow bass)
Yamaha A-S2000 (output power rating; 'lower class'?)
TEAC AI-3000 (no users' information; dealer says "it's hard to get it.."; other magazine review says it's not for headbangers)
Naim Supernait 2 (output power rating)
Exposure 3010 (lack of sharpness, bite; output power rating; reliability)
Unison Research UNICO 50 (warm sound character; service)
Krell S-300 (some say sound is too anemic; service)
Any thoughts for a non-mellow, tight, sharp and fast sounding, detailed amp, with deep and wide soundstage?
Primare would get my top vote, and the Nad might prove interesting as well.
I had some involvement with Primare product about 10-15 years ago and one thing that stands out is that they make serious, well specced and well built product. If they do what you want them to do I am sure they will work well, I know you are talking about the Pre-power, but the big integrated looks great value, in the UK at least.
Modern Primare amps are class D, so tight and fast is what they are all about, very transparent and neutral they will drive pretty much anything and allow you to choose the speaker that best delivers what you are looking for.
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