First foray into separate 2-channel amp, 200wpc

Hi, I am thinking of purchasing my first powerful 2-channel amp, to use with my Yamaha RX-V1800 receiver. This is kind of an experiment, so I don't want to spend a fortune. I need to see if a powerful amp will take better control than the Yamaha of my Monitor Audio Silver 9i speakers I just picked up. I am thinking of a minimum of 200 watts/channel. I am looking at spending up to around $500. I will probably want to find something used here on Agon.

So far, I am most drawn to an Adcom GFA 5500 here on Agon, although I am aware there are many other brands in that level of amp. I am aware of Emotiva, and wonder if anybody feels a new or newish Emotiva will be better in any significant way than the 5500. This will need to be a good performer on both music and movies.

Or, since the Yamaha is fairly powerful for a receiver, is there a likelihood that the Adcom of something similar will not make a detectable improvement?

Any other suggestions? Thanks.
You might get more dynamics or control over your speakers by hooking up a higher quality amp to the receiver using its pre-amp level outputs, but your sound quality will be quite limited by the pre-amp section of the receiver and all of it's internal circuitry. This would not be the best way to get the full sonic benefits of a higher quality amp.
I am using a Adcom 5200, Sonic Frontiers Line 2, Dali Grands. Sounds pretty good for a ebay special being that my Classe amp is out of order.
You might try an Acurus amp - plenty of power, even the 150 watt version - a high-current design that sounds very good for the price. I've also owned a B&K amp around that price that was surprisingly good. You will be limited by the pre-amp, but it might be a good start.
2nd the B&K. Very good sound for not much $$$

That plus an inexpensive passive will come in at or below budget.

Also, don't think in terms of watts=better sound quality. Better gear=better sound.
Thanks! OK, Adcom, Acurus, B& would anyone characterize the "house sound" differences between these?

Also, is there much difference between the Acurus A150 and A250? They actually seem to be about the same size and weight.
Consider this: current vs. Watts. Watts is not as important, current controls the speakers. Speakers are wild and current keeps them in check. That being said, look for a good used Rotel RA-1070 integrated amp. Lots of current and rates 100 watts per channel. And as a bonus great phono stage.
get the Emotiva used. The big one. The pre amp section of your receiver will just be a switch box and volume control, unless you listen to LPs.
get the Emotiva used. The big one. The pre amp section of your receiver will just be a switch box and volume control, unless you listen to LPs."

Rok, are you talking about the mono monster, or the XPA-2? I can't afford two of the mono amps. I would jump on a XPA-2, but they rarely show up for sale used.

BTW, I don't have my turntable in action now and my receiver has a phono input, so I am good there as well.
I was speaking of the XPA-2. should be able to drive any speaker. When I get my new speakers, I plan to get the xpa-2 and use my harman kardon hk-3490 as the pre.
mtrot, the above posters are all giving you good advice. to pile it on, your speakers are 91db@8ohm, which is pretty sensitive; i don't know why you'd need a monster 200w amp to drive 'em and you're much better served by focusing on quality than quantity of power. that said, at your price point, i like parasound hca (good bass control) and acurus, though i think you'll see a significant improvement with any of the models touted above.
11-02-11: Mtrot
"Thanks! OK, Adcom, Acurus, B& would anyone characterize the "house sound" differences between these?"

IMO, the Adcom can be on the bright side of neutral, the Acurus is very punchy and fast down low with detailed highs, and the B&K is warmish with a midrange to die for.

"Also, is there much difference between the Acurus A150 and A250? They actually seem to be about the same size and weight."

I have owned both but currently am enjoying my A250 everyday. The A150 is very punchy and lively but doesn't have the low impedence driving capabilities and headroom as the A250. The A150 responds well in most situations but just doesn't have quite the ooomph as the A250. I have considered getting (2) A150's and running them as monoblocks just to see how they perform.

The tightest amp for bass I've had in my system was a Bryston 2BSST. If bass control is what you're looking for this might be a brand worth exploring. They won't mellow out or make anything seem warm and fuzzy, but they sure get an iron fist control over woofers in my experience. There's a 3BST on sale here for a little more than your looking for, but ain't that always the way?

Also, you may experiment with different interconnects and speaker cables that could tighten things up as well. I once had the Zu Cable Julian speaker cables in my system, and they also damped and tightened up the bass considerably. Just another avenue to consider.

Oh, and last but certainly not least and also the least expensive option, have you experimented with speaker placement yet? The further out you get the speakers from the corners and away from the front and side walls will tend to make bass less boomy. Even if you don't plan to keep the speakers out that far into the room, it's instructive just to play around with it to see what happens.

Best of luck.
Soix, thanks for the tips. Yeah, I just saw some of those Brystons on Agon. With the 3BST not being rated particularly high in watts, I wasn't sure about how much improvement it might make. Sounds like you are saying even those Bryston amps that are rated lower than 200 wpc can deliver powerful response. Will take another look at 3BST if the Agon classifieds start working again.

Regarding cables, I am researching that now as well.

Regarding room placement, the Monitor 9is have to be out 2 feet from the wall because they sit on the left and right sides of a desk that is about 2 feet deep. I don't have a whole lot of leeway in where they can sit. I know they would have more bass if they were 8 inches from the wall, but besides the fact that they cannot be there, I am looking more for quality than quantity of bass.
Again, don't get caught up in the watts game. I've had amps that were rated 100 watts & less that were better sonically than bigger pieces. Unfortunately, they are not in your budget, however, they are not out of reach either.

My suggestion is to go to the search feature on the home page and search by price range in the amp category. You can stick to your budget & get a good idea of what's out there. Of course, it may take a few tries to get it right but I don't think you can go wrong if you do your homework.

As for house sounds, the B&K is on the warm side of neutral. The older Adcom's are not as refined & tend to be somewhat grainy. I haven't heard any newer Adcom stuff in a long time so will withhold comment on these. The Bryston ST series does have excellent bass control but is more on the analytical side.

That's it in a nutshell.
"The pre amp section of your receiver will just be a switch box and volume control, unless you listen to LPs."

It's quite obvious you haven't heard what preamps do (or better yet don't do) in a system.

They're more than a switchbox and volume control. The most under-rated component IMO. They can have just as much influence on the final sound as an amp, in my experience.
'They can have just as much influence on the final sound as an amp, in my experience.'

Save the phono amp, enlightened me as to how.
BTW, your statement is absolutely correct. Your point is just wrong.
I'm with Loomisjohnson, the 9i is a very good speaker and also a easy load, it doesn't need a lot of power to make it sing, a good quality power amp like the parasound A23 @125W/8ohm will do. You also can fill the 9i with 20lbs+ lead shot to improve sound.
Imhififan, Yamaha receiver I am driving them with now is rated for 130 wpc in stereo mode. The only reason I was thinking of a separate amp was that the person I bought the 9is from stated they sounded better with more power and that he had been using a McCormack amp with them. Do you think a separate amp is not going to improve much over the receiver?

Also, I filled the 9is with sand. Do you think lead shot will be noticeably better than sand?
If you want to experiment if the 9is will benefit with more power than 130w, you can assign two more channel from the rxv1800 to bi-amp the 9is.
To answer your questions:
1. a higher quality separate amp will improves sound,
2. fill with lead shot then add sand to fill up gaps will be the best way for mass-loading.
Hope this help

Thanks, I am already bi-amping them with the bi-amp feature of the 1800. Using Morrow SP2 for the HF terminals, and some regular copper zip cord for the LF terminals. Mike Morrow says his cable will improve the bass quality(not quantity) if I wire the LF terminals with his wire as well as the HF terminals. Not sure if I want to spend $200-300 in order to find out!

Thanks for the tip on lead + sand.
What about between a McCormack DNA 0.5 and an Aragon 2004 Mk II? Both rated at similar output, but the McCormack going for several hundred dollars higher. There is also a McCormack DNA 0.5 Deluxe, that runs a bit higher. Not sure how much better it is than the regular 0.5.
B&K 200.2 or B&K 200.1 monoblocks. Your Monitor Audio speakers will benefit from the mosfet output stage. Not sure if both amps are in current production. On the used market these are a steal.
I can't speak for the McCormack, but the Aragon 2004 Mk II is a lot of amp for the money and should drive and control your speakers with no trouble. It certainly outclasses the Adcom, IMO, as I've owned both. You should be able to find it for less than your $500 budget as well.
What about between say, B&K Ref 2220, Adcom 5500, Acurus A250? Only thing on the B&K is that owner is asking $650 and can get new Emotiva XPA-2 now for $699. As of now, no good Aragons listed on Agon.
How much do you want to spend or what is your budget? Personally I would go with the Bryston over the amps you have mentioned. I had a GFA-5500 many moons ago and it ran very hot but was an upgrade over my old receiver thats for sure. The 3BST you mentioned will sound much better than the Adcom.
Thanks, Samzx12, I prefer from about $350 to $450. In that range, the most common units I am finding are the Adcom 5500, Adcom 555 Mark II, and Acurus A250. What about between Adcom and Acurus? There was an Aragon 2004 II, but it is gone now.
I would go for the Aragon/Acurus or maybe an older PS Audio digital amp. The digital amp has a lot of power and control.
I would opt for the Acurus A250. I am loving mine more and more each day. I never knew my Klipsch RF-63's had as much low end punch as they do with the Acurus. Very fast and controlled bass with detailed highs. A lot of amp for little $$$.

If you want a smooth velvety midrange, go for the B&K Ref. 2220, EX4420, or the Ref. 200.2.

I have now found and bought a McCormack DNA-1 Rev.A here on Agon. In the course of researching amps, I read so many good things about this amp that I decided to give it a try. I should be receiving it soon and will report back my experience.
I I'm also thinking of getting the Rev AI McCormach DNA 1.....and perhaps the Gold Version if I can find it. II think I will place an ad for it on Audiogon soon
Please please please let me know your experience with this amp
Sounds like a nice amp but isn't that way over your price range of $350-450 or did you get a bargoon? I was going to suggest the Yamaha P-S Series:

The P2500S and P3500S are in your price range new. They are powerful, cheap, reliable, sound good and run quiet without fan noise. Later you could get balanced preamp or DAC and run balanced.

Buying new with warranty means you don't have to worry too much about recapping costs, amp drifting out of spec, humming transformers, solder joints going bad, etc. Not sure if you would like the sound better or worse since I haven't compared directly to DNA-1.
So what's your experience with the McCormack DNA-1 RevA ???
So what's your experience with the McCormack DNA-1 RevA ???"

Well, that's a long story. I had bought the DNA-1 here on Audiogon last December, but shortly after hooking it up, it blew up. I think something was amiss with the amp from the start, because even when I first hooked it up, it produced a horrible raspy, scratching sound from the speakers. And upon turning it off and on, both would produce a huge pop from the speakers. Now, I did use Goertz MI-2 Veracity speaker cables, and failed to connect the Zobel networks, which I am told could destabilize wide bandwidth amps.

So, I sent the amp off for repair to SMC Audio in January, where it stayed for about 6 months. Apparently a lot of stuff blew out, and there was a lot of difficulty in repairing it for a reasonable price.

I just finally got the amp back last week, and have only done limited listening to the amp, but I do think it sounds pretty good. I actually am not now using the DNA-1 with the Yamaha receiver, but rather I have swapped out the DNA-1 with a Sherbourn 5/1500A multi-channel power amp that was in the family room, with my Onkyo NR-809 Receiver as a pre-pro. It was immediately apparent that the DNA-1 has a greater bandwidth than the Sherbourn. There is just a greater sense of "presence" of the music or dialog, more clarity. One area I think may be sounding significantly better than with the Sherbourn is vocals, which seem very tonally nice and enjoyable. Instruments just have more of a "signature" to them, if that makes any sense.

I have not played enough dynamic content yet to tell anything about dynamics or bass impact, compared to the Sherbourn. But I will soon be cranking up some jazz, classical, and movies to find out.
This thread has some longevity but caught my eye because I was in the same situation with the same Yamaha AVR - still have my V1800 as the center of my HT system.

I went with an external amp from my 2-channel rig - Carver m-1.0t with gobs of power.

Did it make a difference? Yup - sure did.

Did I stay satisfied? Nope - cuz an AVR will always be a compromise sonically, imo as a pre.

So, I went with a hybrid setup - kept the AVR, but added an integrated amp with HT Bypass.

Consider that....