Can a new amplifier affect speaker placement?

Hi all,

So I went out and got me a shiny new amp. One thing I'm certain I've noticed is the bass isn't as rich as with the old amp. The new amp is well-known for its bass response. The old one may have been too (don't remember) - but it's less than half the power and a fourth the cost of the new one. Both amps are overachievers in their price category. In short - I've trouble believing my little Creek 5350SE has bigger bass than my NAD M2. I wonder if something else is going on. Has anyone had to re-position their speakers, following a new amp purchase?

this sort of thing is half the hobby

system synergy is very important but so is speaker placement

go for it!

btw what speakers and how big a room?

As spoken, system synergy, does play an important part in the sound you get. The 'system' is a chain, changing one part of the chain will change the overall result. The interconnects and speaker cable will always play an important part of the sound you get. So, the 'hobby' can drive you to frustration, especially when you realize a change has not produced 'better sound'. Do you have return privileges?
Years ago I replaced my amp with one that was three times the price and the lesser one sounded better.You can't go by price and power with this stuff,as a matter of fact I generally prefer the sound of lower power amps.Many things come into play like damping factor,type of output (I prefer fets)power into different loads,etc.I would try to return it because you will never enjoy it.
Another solution is get a small inexpensive subwoofer to supplement the bass. There are plenty offerings from SVS, SUNFIRE, PARTSEXPRESS, PSB, etc.
The issue might be related to the nature of amp. The NAD is a digital amp, which I believe is called a class "D". The Creek is a hi-current type, probably "AB". From what I've been reading digital amps can be a bit thin sounding. Some of the positive points about "D" types are little to no heat and low electric consumption. The NAD might not be the best amp for you at this time. NAD makes more convention designed amps that are well reguarded too. You might want to look into one of those if you're looking exclusively for that brand - good luck.
Another way of viewing the problem: your new amp may be "showing" you that your speakers weren't optimally to begin with.

As Philjolet rightly points out, this is part of the fun!
I'd give it some time to settle -- more than anything, in your own mind. Get used to the sound, and why it's different. (That is, unless you're looking at a return window in which you need to make decisions, but even then, give it as much as you can). When you say that the bass isn't as rich, what do you mean. Leaner, less boomy, tighter, faster, less extension, less textured, less energy...? Some of these things can be good thing, some of them less so. Could be that the amp is simply less capable of controlling your woofers. Could be that it is more capable, and that what you're hearing less of is actually a product of better control and more accuracy. Could be that, whichever it is, it really doesn't matter because you prefer the sound of the Creek. So, sure, can happen -- any of those things. Could also be that moving your speakers will give you better (or worse) results. I'd experiment with all that. And put in some time with the new one -- as much as you can or have patience for -- then switch back. I've always found that switch back to be the most enlightening moment regarding whether the change was worth it. Just my two cents.
How long have you had the amp? You need a good 100-200 hours of burn in before making any critical decisions. As stated synergy is a big factor the other amp could of had beefier or bloated mid bass which your speakers may be more sensitive to whereas the new amp may be tighter and deeper reaching which your speakers don't duplicate as much. every speaker placement formula i have seen is based on room size and response not the equipment itself. Moving a tad closer to the wall or a corner can beef up bass but this is usually associated with a unnatural bloat or bloom that is typically not desired. U can also try a power cord thats known for bass response in amps, tho my experience with power cords is that it makes a huge dif on some gear and very little on others, depends on design of power supply i guess c if u can borrow one.
+1 Mezmo.
Both amps are overachievers in their price category.

Yes, all amps in specific, and equipment in general, are overacheivers in their price category. LOL! I'm sorry, but that just sounds like sales-speak to me. A component's performance and price are not directly linked.

Don't buy the hype, listen with your own ears, and let them be the judge. If the NAD is brand new, give it some time to burn in, but just because it cost more does not mean it will be better than your old amp.
Absolutely yes, it can.

Each amp change I have made in recent years has required changes in speaker placement for best results. The biggest was moving to current Class D amps from prior Class A. That produced a startling change in soundstage, imaging and dynamics that required subsequent tweaks to get tuned back in.
Well, Stereophile specifications for each amp:

Creek 5350SE: Maximum current: >30A
NAD M2: Maximum output current: >27A

Could this explain what you're hearing? I don't know.

As stated above, what speakers are you using?
Wow - that's a lotta feedback. Thanks, all. Let me start by saying I prefer the M2 in nearly every way over the Creek. While I could still return it, I doubt that I will. The top-end and midrange are noticeably more spacious and detailed. The soundstage is certainly wider (though perhaps not deeper). Transients are much more obvious - you can really hear the pluck of a string with this thing! (sorry) There's more music there, or the pacing's better, or... something - I just want to sit and listen, where I'd find myself getting a little bored with the Creek in the mix. You know what's really cool? Space. In music where there's lots of space (I'm mostly a jazz guy), instruments are set against an utterly black background. I've never heard anything like it, never knew I wanted it, and it's awesome. In short, The M2 addresses many of the "problems" I was hoping to solve in purchasing a new amplifier - and gives me some extras I didn't even know I "needed". I like it - a lot. I just wasn't expecting a perceived bass deficiency, I guess because a) my speakers are pretty sensitive, b) when I heard the amp prior to purchasing, it certainly did not seem bass-shy to me, and c) reviewers had specifically commented on the quality of its bass.

I burned-in the amp for about a hundred hours before paying much attention to its sound - though it may be that it could use more. I'm still running it continuously, so we'll see if the bass opens up some as a result.

I run Pangea power cables for all my equipment. The one I use for my Creek made a huge difference. I never bothered with the stock cable on the NAD. Maybe changing my power cable will help here - hadn't thought of that.

I've had the Creek for quite a few years, and am probably used to its sound. Synergy is the reason I own the speakers I own. When I decided to upgrade from my Totem Acoustics a few years ago, I didn't want to go upgrading my amp as well. I chose the speakers that sounded best to me with the Creek: Paradigm Reference Studio 60v5's. These were not my favorite speakers, but the Aerials I fell in love with lost their magic with the Creek - and I did (and do) really like the Paradigms.

To Mezmo and Winoguy's point, I do kinda think I need to give myself more time to settle in with the M2. FWIW, I spent a LOT of time on speaker placement, chair placement, room treatments, even equipment placement (sidewall!) when I built out my listening room (I'm one of those Jim Smith disciples who believes the room and positioning are exceptionally important factors - and this is where I've spent a healthy amount of resources, while allowing myself to purchase what some might call "budget" equipment (a la Creek and Paradigm), instead of, perhaps, vica verca). So my biases tend to lead me towards fixing problems by optimizing the room first - then looking at everything else.

It's possible the bass coming off the Creek has been a little bloated all along. I "voiced" my (Creek) system using a combination of headphones, room treatments and RTA to get pretty flat in-room response from the Paradigms. BUT I never heard the kind of texture through the Creek that I do through the NAD. The bass is just (seemingly)... bigger through the Creek. It may not be better. Hmmm... could it all be in my head? Could be, could be.

Like Mapman, I'm moving from a Class A to a Class D. More and more, it's sounding to me like I need to let the M2 burn-in some more, sit and listen some more, and then potentially suck it up and go through the whole room optimization process again. I hadn't really anticipated that, but like many said, it's part of the "fun" right? Then perhaps start looking at my cables. Then possibly optimize again. Rinse, repeat!

Thanks everyone.

Ithink you are on the right track.
if you switch back to the Creek the answer will present itself

did that sound wise?

I said it anyway!


Sturgl you are all over it

have fun
If there is one component I still kick myself in the ass for selling, it was my 5350SE. Sure my Ayre V5's are a little better, but the Creek was just the most fun and useful audio component I think I've ever had. In all fairness to your NAD, it probably does need some time to break in. Also, with a new amp, its possible you may have to move your speakers a little to compensate for differences there are between the 2 amps and how they effecr your speakers.
03-08-13: Mezmo
Could be that it is more capable, and that what you're hearing less of is actually a product of better control and more accuracy.
This has been my experience with more powerful amps with good bass control
There is a feature on the amp called a
"5 Position Digital Impedance Compensation Filter"

Have you used this and what if any effect did it have on the speaker's bass performance?
Hi all,

I'll start with the last first:

Foster: Early on, I did use the compensation filter - to great effect. Bringing it down from the default 8 ohms (and my speakers are mostly an 8-ohm speaker) to 5 ohms (which the Paradigms run at in the higher frequency range, according to John Atkinson's tests in Stereophile's coverage of the speakers) definitely made for better sound. NAD claims, in the manual, that using the filter achieves measurable - but inaudible - results. I completely disagree - results were definitely audible. All that said, making the adjustment did not affect bass performance (insofar as I could tell).

Hasse and Mezmo: I think I agree - at least partially. The bass is somehow cleaner, more textured. Bass instruments are more easily defined (though I don't think the Creek was a slouch in this area).

Zd: Yep, the Creek's a great little integrated. I may find a way to press it into service elsewhere, rather than selling it. Between the solid headphone amp, its passive pre, and its amplification section, this thing's been a winner for me all the way.

On with the show:
Over the weekend, I did some tinkering with speaker placement. After moving the speakers a full foot back, the bass snapped right into place! Tracks that I knew to have robust bass lines sounded how I knew they should, without sounding wooly or bloated. Imaging seemed to be unaffected.

It's worth saying that I had a helluva time getting the bass right in my little room with the Creek. My assumption at the time was that the Paradigms were a little too much speaker for my 16'x12'x8'h room (never gave you my room size, Philjolet - there it is), but I resolved to make it work. I had the fronts of my speakers 53" from the rear wall. Now they're 41" - a more "normal" distance. I'm sure I'll tweak their positions some more (I've lost my transients somewhat), but I think I'm pretty close. The treble is still sparkly, imaging is still excellent (possibly improved?), midrange is rich and detailed.

For giggles, I threw in an orchestral work the other night. I'd forgotten this was one of the reasons I bought the amp: dynamic swings with the Creek were just never quite what I thought they should be. Good golly! With HUGE dynamics like this, I could get into this whole classical thing!

Long & short of it: thanks all. I'm a bit dismayed that an amplifier change would require such a big change in speaker position, but there you have it. I'm now well on my way to being a very, very happy camper with my new M2.
"With HUGE dynamics like this, I could get into this whole classical thing!"

Funny how that works! Dynamics is a big part of how classical music impacts us. When it is not there as it should be, things suffer.
I just thought of something you may want to try. Every NAD integrated that I've seen jumps the amp and preamp sections with an external rca jumper, just like your Creek. I would use the Creeks preamp and go directly into the amplifier section of the NAD. This may sound like an odd thing to do, but on several occasions I've seen loss of bass was due to the preamp, and not the amp.

That would be an interesting exercise - I could try the Creek as my pre and the M2 as my amp. The M2 is quite an unusual integrated though. It takes digital feeds directly from sources, and effectively amplifies them. That's not to say it's an amp with a DAC built-in a la Peachtree or similar. Rather, one might think of it as a DAC with amplification capabilities. One might do even better to think of the DAC as non-existent - to think of it as a "digital" amplifier (note that Class D does not mean 'digital' - this is a misnomer), yielding a similar purity of signal that an analog source might achieve with just about any other amplifier. No digital to analog conversion takes place, just a sort of re-mapping if you will.

Conversion in the M2 actually comes in to play in converting analog sources to "digital" (I'll use/abuse 'digital' here rather than getting further than I'm qualified into pulse wave modulation and NAD's efforts to map the digital signal to PWM (which also essentially operates as a 1/0 or on/off, similar in concept to digital). The amp's architecture is similar in concept to units from TacT or Lyngdorf - though its sonics purportedly surpass these (I admit I wouldn't know personally!).

It's quite a feat of engineering really - and a bit surprising I think to come from NAD of all companies. I'd be very surprised if we don't see many similar products coming to market in the next few years, particularly in the world of home theater. The M2 is still ugly looking - NAD hasn't completely forgotten its roots! So... while I'll probably take on this exercise (I'm a tinkerer) for the helluvit, I think it would negate the M2's raison d'etre. ...and if I like the sound better, well, god help me!
You could not try the Creek as your pre and the M2 as your amp because the M2 has no preamp and therefore no preamp outs.
I doubt the M2 is designed to take an input from an external analog pre-amp and would think twice about even trying that unless absolutely sure.

FOster, how are you liking the M2? WOuld love to hear that on my OHMs someday.
The M2 can indeed take an input from an external pre - well, at least according to the manual it can. It says: "FIXED: This setting should be selected when M2 is connected to the output of a preamplifier and is used primarily as a power amplifier. Output level is fixed and the M2’s Volume Control is bypassed. Adjust the level using the source signal’s preamplifier volume or input level control."

Again, I think doing so would be to bypass the M2's reason for being - but it does at least appear capable of acting as an amplifier only. Using the M2 as pre of course isn't possible, since as you said Foster, it doesn't have the outs. I wish it did - would like to be able to connect a headphone amp to it.
Hey Foster, I think you were onto something, btw, with regard to current earlier. Perhaps the Creek's high current required me to place my fairly-sensitive speakers further into the room to reduce bass bloat than the M2? Dunno, but it's a theory!
Hey Map, the M2 is still on the way.
Hey there Foster -

Plan on a loooong break-in for the M2. More than 200 hours in (I've lost track at this point), I sat down to listen to the Branford Marsalis Quartet's new disc: Four MFs Playin' Tunes. While traveling recently, I'd listened to it a lot through headphones and was anxious to hear it at full resolution in the cave. Long & short: the bass was lumpy! I was obviously getting more bass energy than I wanted from closer placement to the rear wall.

After all that earlier foolin' around with speaker placement, I wound up moving the speakers 6" back into the room. I'd tried this very placement a week ago, and the bass wasn't right. Now it is. Sigh.
Sturgl, my M2 is not new.
Mine neither (it's a refurb). So... whadya think so far?
Sturgl,I like it. It is has a unique sound; detailed yet musical and very clear, transparent.