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Amplifiers (Mono, Stereo & Multi-Channel) Go on a power trip talking about everything to do with power amplifiers.

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Old 04-23-2008   #7
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Smile Re: Pairing Amps with Speakers

While I am not familiar with your amps, I will say that more power is usually needed than is assumed, since the accoustic power of concert/orchestras is pretty high and that is what you are trying to imitate. Even horn loaded speakers need more than the few watts mentioned in order to produce a rich, undistorted sound (notice I did not mention "loud").

Generally, so-called "inefficient" speakers are smoother - the "inefficiency" is caused by smoothing out the peaks, which reduces the total volume. So, generally, avoid "efficient" speakers. Horn loaded speakers tend to be peaky and have a tonal quality which might become irritating over time, though some people do swear by them.

The prevalence of small woofered speakers in tower configurations tends to result in fairly poor bass response, making a subwoofer necessary for a true balanced sound, as the so-called subwoofers in these systems are actually more 'woofer' than subwoofer, if you check the specs. They merely provide the bass that is needed and should actually be called "woofer modules". This is often sufficient for music listening. Just listen carefully and choose speakers that have clean bass, balanced and clear midrange, and with tweeters that can provide a sweet, "airy" sound with cymballs and triangles of orchestras. You won't hear much of the lower register of pipe organs, but you will be within the frequency range of most music. A great help is to have the front, center, and surround speakers identical. This is more than a theory, it does sound better, even though few manufacturers, other than the higher priced ones, admit this.

However, if you want to really be moved while watching movies, or a pipe organ, you need a true subwoofer, since the sound effects often are lower frequency than music
This means subwoofers that really do go below 40 Hz with authority and low distortion.
These are not cheap. But the drama of listening to, say, the cannons below decks of "Master and Commander", is very impressive and can be quite realistic!! Also, the sound is smoother and more "relaxed", a lot more pleasurable than systems that are working hard to produce the sound necessary, but fail, producing a constricted sound with distortion products.

If you have the money, more than one subwoofer will provide better sound. Even one subwoofer per channel. The problem with very low frequencies, those below about 50 Hz, is the pattern of waves and nulls, kind of like dropping a stone in a pond except you can only hear them. So, placement of a single subwoofer is important. With more than one subwoofer, you get an improvement somewhat like dropping more than one stone at once into a pond - the wave patterns become diffused, the more subwoofers, the more diffused the waves, having the effect of smoothing out the low frequencies. A few speaker companies, such as Genesys, address this problem by having subwoofers enclosed within each speaker.

So, I would look for speakers with woofers that actually "woof", and then use at least one true subwoofer, preferably two, for the very low sounds. I prefer at least 12" speakers in subwoofers, with sufficient power to drive them properly. I have two 18" and one 15" (for rear) subwoofers. The sound effects of movies sound better in my home than in the theaters, and can be genuinely startling in realism.
So, enjoy your search. You evidently have a good start with amps of sufficient power, so that makes your choice actually broader than if you had less power. Too many try to "tailor" power to speakers and rooms, as they did in the bad old days of hifi when 150 watts total was considered more than enough, which proved to be a gross fallacy. There really is no such thing as "too much" power, as long as there is a volume control. A lot of power simply means a richer sound with reserve for peaks, allowing very low distortion and getter protection from tweeters, which are very vulnerable to distortion. Most people are unaware that a low powered system is a lot more likely to blow a tweeter with distortion products than an extremely high powered system producing music with very low distortion. This is a proven fact.
Of course, one must temper power with practicality and affordability.
Enjoy!
Dave Ladely in Seattle
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Old 04-24-2008   #8
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Default Re: Pairing Amps with Speakers

The only method is to listen for yourself to as many combinations as you can find in your price-range. Someone may gush over a particular combination and it might sound like fingernails on a chalkboard to you.

How gear sounds is probably as subjective as which woman is the hottest - after Vida Guerra of course.
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Old 04-24-2008   #9
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Red face Re: Pairing Amps with Speakers

In my experience as a salesman of high quality audio gear, speaker selection is not all that subjective, at least sound-wise. Appearances, yes. It is true that some prefer different speakers for different music. Some speakers sound better with rock 'n roll than others, but most listeners would pick out the same or similar speakers when listening to that music. Then, switching to jazz, a different set of speakers may be preferable, but, again, most listeners will show similar choices. The same goes for classical music. So, those that prefer rock 'n roll are more likely to pick the speakers that brought out the best in rock 'n roll over those that may have sounded better with jazz and/or classical.
The problem I see there, is that one is literally imposing "instrumentality" on speakers, that is, making them into a type of musical instrument rather than accurate transducers of musical reality. So, some may sound "warm", others "clean", others have "punch".
In my opinion, the best speakers are those which can handle the very low bass to the very high treble of classical instruments with accuracy while being able to provide the dynamism of rock 'n roll and the intimacy of jazz, without significant compromises. In other words, have the quality of components that allow the speakers to provide the realness of all music in an accurate replication. That is a tall order, so it eliminates pretty much all but quite expensive speakers, speakers that can handle the entire audio spectrum well while having quick responses to dynamic demands.
If a speaker soiunds great to one person, but terrible, like "chalk on a chalkboard" to another, something is amiss unless one or other of the individual have problems with their hearing. Screechy, distorted treble, for instance, sounds like screechy, distorted treble unless a person can't hear above about 800 hz. In listening tests, I would tend to assume the listeners do not have serious hearing deficiencies, and if they did, I likely would find out while conducting the tests.
I caution customers who say they prefer a system that sounds good, say, only with jazz, since that is their favorite music.
I suggest that if they do want to buy them, that they listen to them at home carefully, and also try different music with them. If, after a reasonable time, they decide that the speakers doe seem to impose their own sound too much, and may make all music sound too much alike, they can exchange them. Most good audio stores will provide this service, and not leave a customer stuck with their first impressions. I have found that customers who purchase "box" systems wind up not listening to them much due to "listener fatigue", caused by distortion, lack of smoothness, and a general sense of stressed sound.
A good audio store will allow customers to relax and listen, and encourage customers to bring their own disks to audition speakers. Since speakers provide by far the most important contribution to quality of sound, they should be chosen carefully.
regards
Dave
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Old 04-24-2008   #10
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Exclamation Re: Pairing Amps with Speakers

Nuforce may have garned some good reviews, but I am providing a link that may give pause to those considering a purchase of a Nuforce amplifier:


http://www.hardwareanalysis.com/cont...-02-amplifier/

This review appears to be unbiased and the reviewer's description of both the earlier amplifier and the newest version, as well as photographs of the internal structure, seems to be accurate and discomfiting for a recent, rather expensive class D amplifier.
I wonder if purchasers actually audition the Nuforce amps with direct comparison with other amplifiers?
cheers
Dave
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Old 04-24-2008   #11
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Default Re: Pairing Amps with Speakers

Dave,

I know Jim Swantko (AKA Silver Supra) had the Mark Levinson 335 amp and once he bought (yes, he bought them before reviewing them) he sold his 335.

I hope Jim chimes in on this one, he has a lot to say about this topic, and I have to admit, the NuForce amps are a great deal. Digital amps have really come a long way, they once were only for subwoofers, now the technology has made its way to the upper end (the new ML amps are digital with linear power supplies, Jeff Rowland has digital amps, Bel Canto too among others. Krell hasn't made the jump, and in so many ways I hope they never do as to me a Krell amp needs to break your back!!!

We'll see with CEDIA only a few months away who else jumps into the digital amp domain.......

I agree with what you said on speaker choice, I would say they are the first thing to pick when starting from scratch and work back from there (WOW, this from a former Linn guy who used to be source first.....)
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Old 04-25-2008   #12
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Default Re: Pairing Amps with Speakers

When considering an audio system, the most important and immutable component is the listening room.

As such, I have always worked back from this component.

After deciding on the listening area, I would then select speakers that both suited my ears AND were compatible with the listening area.

ONLY THEN I would select amplification that worked well with the speakers I decided.
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