A great more pwerful amp isn't always the end to all ends.So much of what comes out out of the speaker;isn't "all" about the amp.Good front end stuff/ cabeling/power conditioning/power cords/--Componant Isolation/ and room treatment/All have just as much to "say" about the music coming out of the speaker,as the amp driving the speaker.
Difficult to answer simply. A bigger amp will not necessarily add more warmth. The marketing of more and more "power" as watts is misleading. A bigger amp, IF WELL DESIGNED will sound more "warm" at lower levels because it will probably be able to push more current when the music requires it, transient response. This is a major reason a larger amp is needed and its often a matter of current, not watts. A solid state amp will clip and send a square wave through the system and this sounds rough. One reason a tube amp sounds warmer is that do to its design it does not clip in htis fashion when it is momentarily pushed to its limits. Other that this power does not translate directly or easily to sonic differences.
As you noted tubes are great for warmth and many of the SET amps have no more than a few watts.(of course they use effecient speakers too)
Don't buy into the power thing. Not that it cannot be a factor but it is more a matter of design. Quite frankly, the way wattage is advertised I think it is mostly a macho marketing devise more than anything else. If you like to read about this stuff there is a great article on SS power amplifier supply on the Chicago Audio Society's web page. I do not have the page handy but just do a search on that name to get it.
Also, have you done eveything you can as far as speaker placement?
Good luck listening.
I understand that obviously all of the components affect the sound of the system. I am going to experiment with some tweaks, then if I'm still not happy, the front end. I guess I
have misstated my question here. Aside from the other problems, I guess I am looking for a more dynamic, balanced sound at low volume; the kind of sound I get when I turn it up. I am wondering if, in general, a more powerful amp will provide this, or should I look to upgrade some other component. Thanks for your help.
Dburdick: what's the rest of the system?
To add to others' posts, don't fret too much yet; keep in mind that our ears are not very sensitive to lows & (very) highs at low volume levels (remember those "loudness" controls? They added low mids & mid-highs to compensate for this)...
Maybe a component other than your amp -- which performs to yr satisfaction at higher levels, as you say -- could be upgraded. Speaker placement, equip support and pre-power combos are important here.
My system is:
Theta Miles (Balanced but using SE)
HT Pro Silway II
AP Oval 9
I've spent a lot of time on speaker placement and tried a couple of other amps (Classe, Bryston) but preferred the McCormack, even though it doesn't have the balanced inputs.
Craigklomparens, I agree, the ability to deliver an abritrary amount of current instantaneously is probably the biggest factor, and as you stated this may or may not be true with a "more powerful" amp. I guess this is what we call a "faster" amp? It looks like you have answered my question... thanks again.
The Spark is rather a lean speaker to begin with. Maybe you should look at a sub woofer.
as far as ss amps the amp you have is about as warm as ss gets. conrad johnson owns them now.[ great company] as far as tube mantinence, they are not hard to keep running if well built. if a ss amp wears out its outputs thats not cheap. if a tube amp wears out tubes just pop in some new tubes. most tubes will last a long time though. just buy a good tube amp and never look back. i am sure you can trade that ss in on one, are someone might do some trading with you. i might even take it towards some tubes i have.
A second thought on the never ending shuffle of equipment. You say you don't want tubes but me thinks its going to haunt you. You sound like me a few years back! (no insult intended and I apologize in advance.) I have found that the best soft dynamics I have ever heard have always been with well designed horn speakers. Oh Oh,- there goes the whole system! There is a discussion about this at audioasylum.com in the effecient speaker forum (dated 12-15-01) called "Higher effeciency=Better dynamic impact?". I think I agree with the general drift of the discussion there. Check it out and keep listening to some good high effecient horn speakers with tubes. God Damn the Pusher!
The HT Pro Silways introduced too much shrillness/brightness/sibilance into my system. The Truthlinks were a lot warmer sounding at the expense of some rolled off highs, but worth it to me. I currently use something else, but possibly you could experiment with some different cables before changing gear.
If you like the overall sound of the McCormack but want to make a significant upgrade, you might try the SMc Audio upgrades. I went from a 0.5 DLX to 0.5 Rev B and the improvement was very significant, across the board. You might want to talk to them about your associated equipment. Another thought, if you are using the Theta as a digital volume control, others have reported loss of dynamics and overall "thin" sound when using digital sources without an active pre-amp. Maybe try borrowing one and see if it helps (tube pres work well with McCormack amps; I am using a BAT VK3i).
Try experimenting with different upgrade AC cords; there's no mention of cable tweaking above so I don't knoiw if you've tried this yet, but never underestimate what cables & tweaks can do for you. You'll never know the full capabilities of your existing equipment until you thoroughly investigate further. Might already have all that it takes, but you just don't know it yet...