I am trying do decide on cost /benefit of two options to upgrade from my current integrated amp. Presently, I am using a Marantz PM-8005 (70w@8ohm / 100w @4 ohm) IA to drive a pair of Focal 836V speakers which are rated at 91.5db @8 ohm, but dip down to a 3.3 ohm load at around 100 hz. Room is medium sized with no treatments other than wall to wall carpet and upholstered furniture, and music is mostly classic rock, blues, jazz and female vocals. I listen primarily through a Music Hall MMF 9.1 TT with a Dynavector 10x5 cart. I also listen 20% of the time through a Marantz Sa-8004 SACD player.
I plan to sell the 8005 to offset cost of the replacement IA. Cost below represent my cost net of selling the 8005. I have two used options ( both in excellent condition) available in my area:
Hegel H100 ( 120w@8 ohm / 22w@4ohm) plus Musical Surroundings Nova Phenomena phono amp - this is a $1,200 option
Marantz PM-11s3 (110w@8ohm / 220w@4 ohm) (built in phono amp) - this is a $2,200 option
Simple question - is the Marantz worth $1,000 more than the Hegel in terms of improvement to SQ, or am I at the point of diminishing returns. I have already spent more than I planned a year ago when I first decided to put a system together, but I have learned a lot since then, so see the value in some upgrade My hope is that either of these can compensate for the 100hz dip when I want to listen at lower volume levels. I know I like the Marantz sound with the Focals, I am considering the Hegel because so many recommend the brand in combination with Focal speakers. I do not plan on running a sub or replacing speakers in the near future. The next big move would be a major upgrade of all components and that is not in the cards for now..
Simple question - is the Marantz worth $1,000 more than the Hegel in
terms of improvement to SQ, or am I at the point of diminishing
Unfortunately, only you can answer this question, as the value of an extra $1,000 sunk into any component will only have subjective responses. Some may feel it worthwhile, while others may not. Since it is YOUR money, YOUR opinion is the only one that really matters.
That said, you seem familiar enough with the Marantz sound, and enjoy it, is there anyway you can find a place to listen to the Hegel amps?
My subjective thought is that I would be inclined to lean toward the Marantz. This based on your budget concerns, you like the Marantz sound with your speakers, it has a phonostage, and the Hegel is almost twice the upgrade cost.
That said, if at all possible I would want to hear both with my speakers as a way to evaluate the cost differential of the Hegel and the need for phonostage.
Mesch - not sure I follow. The Hegel is the cheaper of the two options and comes with the MS phono stage.
Kingshead - I assume you mean keep the 8005. Not familiar with the B&K st-140 amps,but this seems to be a 20 year old + amp. Any reason you specifically recommend this or are you suggesting any decent power amp is a better option and easier on the budget?
The B&K ST 140 is/was one of Stereophile’s favorite amps at any price, and can be had for a song used. Check out the reviews by multiple Stereophile writers, they can’t all be wrong.
But if that doesn’t float your boat, and you want to spend more then there are a plethora of power amp options out there. Either way I’m inclined to believe this is a sonically better and more economical option than just replacing the existing amplifier. Just my opinion though.
Going this route allowed me to shorten my speaker wire to 18", and that’s always a good thing. Plus the benefits of having the bass driver further divorced from the high frequency driver’s signal path, not sharing the same filter cap, etc.
but still would like opinions on the big Marantz vs Hegel. Thanks.
Both are fine integrated amps and will certainly get the job done with your speakers. The Hegel is more of a minimalist design while the Marantz is more full featured. And while power output is nearly identical, especially into 4 ohms where it counts, the Marantz gets the nod for being heavier and larger transformer.
One last word and only if it matters to you...The Marantz is built at their reference factory in Japan while the Hegel is built in China despite it saying Oslo, Norway on the rear panel. This created quite a flap a few years back when discovered as it could be deemed as very misleading advertising. Again, only if it matters to you.
As a PM15S2 owner, I would go with the Marantz. You are already familiar with its sound and its build quality is second to none - it is an heirloom piece of equipment.
If you are just looking at the two options (Hegel/Marantz), I would also vote for the Marantz.
The Focal speakers are generally very easy to drive. However, I don't think the Focal's really do well in the lower frequencies - definitely not as strong/solid as other speakers (such as B&W, etc.)
In general terms and in my experience, the 100Hz dip (due to the speaker's lower impedance at these frequencies) really require a huge amount of amplifier current. This means, the more power supply you have, the better the amp will support these dips.
That being said, going from 70W to 110W is not a huge step in power. If it were me, I would actually look at getting a separate high-current amp first and use the 8005 as a preamp. Something in the 400-500 watt range (maybe even monoblocks). And then start putting in high-gauge power cords using rhodium plated connectors. As I have evolved my system over many years, I have had increased bass/midbass each time I focused on increasing amplifier power and power cord configuration. You are really not going to use all 500 watts, but it is the brute force / current you need to push these bass waveforms at the specific speaker impedance.
I should have mentioned in my previous post, I have absolutely no personal experience with the B&K ST -140 amplifier other than recently considering purchasing one. This led me to investigate the amplifier and was about to pull the trigger when a Belles I serial #260 saw it's way into my home instead. Still wondering if I should pick up the B&K, and from what I've heard the model with the champagne handles is the one to own
Please consider the Parasound Halo 2.1 Integrated Amplifier. AudioAdvisor currently is selling them for $2149. It was down to a Hegel H 160 or the Parasound and in the end the functionality, versatility and sound of the Parasound sealed the deal for me.
It is built like a tank so it should last a while.
I think you have hit the nail on the head with the low impedance issue of the Focals. I believe the correct amplifier for you would be the one with the higher current delivery. Also as davida above suggests you can look further afield. I have just completed a long journey (about 4 months) in search of a new power amp and Parasound was on my shortlist.
You made the right choice. The Japanese make some of the best amps. I owned a Hegel H200 and now an Accuphase integrated and as it should considering the price difference, absolutely crushes the Hegel in my system. The difference is shocking and i'm beginning to wonder if the magazines that review componants aren't just as corrupt as managers working for publicly held corporations.