Re: Amps for dummies
There is a way to dip your toes in the water without completely bankrupting yourself, and that is to look into some of the modular amps that allow one to purchase a chassis with the ability to add channels as needed. Emotiva and ATI come to mind. This is the path I wanted to take but couldn't get an opportunity to audition them before purchase.
In my last post I said that I had an internal debate about whether or not the external amp was worth the bucks. Well, the debate ended this weekend. Its worth every nickel! We had a cold rain all day Saturday and I spent the whole morning, afternoon and evening playing everything from Amadeus Mozart to ZZ Top. I watched Master And Commander, U-571, and We Were Soldiers. There is a scene in U-571 where the German U-boat descends to 200 meters and the boat begins to creak. One of those creaks starts in the right rear channel and moves to the left rear then to the front left and then through the center and over to the right front. I had goosebumps it was so real. I never noticed that kind of realism from the receiver alone. The crew does a lot of whispering when the German destroyer is looking for them. In the past, I would raise the level of the center channel in order to hear the dialog lost in the rest of the sound effects. Not so any more.
When listening to Norah Jones, I was always bothered by the way her voice seemed to move slightly from left to right and back again. Certain instruments seemed to play some frequencies from the right speaker and others from the left speaker making, for instance, an acoustic guitar sound as if there were 2 of them playing simultaneously. It was difficult to imagine exactly where at on the stage the guitarist was. I am amazed at the difference in imaging this amp has made. Vocals are locked into place; be it center stage or 2 feet left of center, you can hear exactly where they're at. 2-channel music seems to emanate from beyond the boundaries of the speakers. Multi channel SACD now has the chance to usurp 2 channel as my favorite music medium. Until now, I have not understood what it meant when someone said that, "instruments are separated in space".
Now, I'm left wondering, "If a $3K amp improves the sound this much, what would a $6K amp do?" Ah well, first things first. I want a pre-pro to replace the receiver.