How do I know if I need an amp?

My system is as follows:

Marantz SR8200 AV Receiver
Totem Mites bookshelf speakers
Totem storm subwoofer
Onkyo DX-C330 Analog ouput disc changer

I've got the speakers wired directly into the sub and treat the bookshelfs and sub as "large main, left and right" in the receiver's output setup.

My living room is quite small, I listen to the system from about 8 feet away on the couch.

What kind of changes to listening quality could I expect from buying an amplifier for the system at this stage? I don't plan on buying new speakers anytime soon, so I am more interested in the incremental clarity that I could achieve over a need for any additional power.

I'm not an avid movie watcher, so I wonder if a 2 channel amp would make more sense, though the marantz PM5003 I saw ($600 is about my price range) only puts out 40watts, whereas my speakers are rated up to 80 watts, and the receiver I have now puts out 120watts.

Is there a big quality difference between the SR8200's 120w per channel and a stand alone amplifier's 40watts? Would a 120w amp, used in a stereo set up, make a big difference?

Unless your planning to do separates, that is a preamplifier and amplifier what you may be looking for is an integrated amp. That is a receiver minus the radio.
Ratings of watts of a speaker are more a guide as to how much to limit yourself to. Will playing a 40 watt amplier loud equal a 120 watt played lower? Maybe. How loud do you listen to music? Are we talking rock concert levels or maybe chamber music levels? More power is more power but is it needed is something you have to ask. Just how loud do you want that crescendo to be? How dynamic do you want things. Maybe the best bet would be to see what a 40 watt amp sounded like in your system and go from there. A good audio store might let you have one on a demo to find out.
I would get an amp - it would improve the sound noticeably - but I would go with a different one than the Marantz PM5003. By the way, you can get one for $449 on

I would consider getting it used here at the
You will end up with more quality for the buck.

Take a look at these :

These have more power than the Marantz, and would sound better in my humble opinion. I would recommend the Acurus especially.

Your ears will thank you if you upgrade the amp...

Another possibility is going with adcom saperates.

These will give you plenty of power - 200 watts per channel.
Thanks for the amp recommendations. A question about installation and setup-

Right now, I am using my receiver inputs for my digital cable and dvd player for surround sound. If I bought, say the Acurus DIA 100 amp, or any other stereo amp, would I be able to run the amp to the CD player, and still maintain my surround sound and stereo output for my DVD and Cable?
given that you have a two channel set-up, i'm not sure why you need surround sound--it seems to me that you should be listening to each source in (2ch) stereo. that being said, i concur with the foregoing that you'd be better served by ditching the avr and going to either an integrated or remote-controllabe seperates such as the above-recommended adcoms. you would then connect all your sources--cable, dvd, cd--directly to your integrated or preamp.
when You ask "when" is clear what you currently own,is
failing to satisfy, otherwise, the thought would never enter
your mind."The bloom is off the rose"?IMHO that is.

Love Your Music!
Why do you think ditching the capability for surround sound is a good idea? Because I am treating the bookshelfs and sub as mains together?

Ultimately I would like to move towards a home theater setup that will also do stereo. I understand though that the bass on the Mites is limited. I'm starting to feel like getting the Mites was a mistake, because theyre too nice to relegate to surrounds, but not big enough to power stereo listening.

Would something like the Marantz MM8003 provide a bridge to future growth in a home theater setup, but still provide power for the mock "surround" setup I have now?
I wouldn't change a thing except for the way you have the speaker system connected. You are missing an opportunity to use bass management in the AV receiver, as well, as level matching and time delays. You'll lose those capabilities if you go with an integrated amp. You could use a separate multichannel amp using the receiver as a pre/pro and you *may* hear a difference. I wouldn't bother. You're room is small and you're probably not stressing the amp section.

If I understand your current setup and the capabilities of the sub correctly, you're running the main speakers full range. You'll be much better off high passing them. The little 5.5" driver in the Mite can not make clean bass -- let the sub handle that chore and let the Mite handle what it's good at.
Bob, Can you explain what you mean by "high passing" the Mites (from an execution stand point). I assume you mean to reduce the frequency levels they play - can this be done via my receiver?

I am gathering you recommend that I hook the sub directly up to the receiver as a "sub", and do the same with the fronts. How do I "high pass" the mites?

I want to also thank everyone for their help. I have a lot of fun with this, there is so much to learn, and this site is a great resource especially for us newbies. Thanks!
What cables are you using ?

If you are using thin ones that came with the receiver, you might want to upgrade the cables first - and then see if you like what you are hearing.

You can get Ixos gamma RCA cables and Ixos gamma speaker cables at That's what I use, and I like them. They got good reviews on hifi magazines.

Also, you can add this inexpensive power surge protector - improves the sound, and protects your electric gears :

Your present setup is not bad - should sound pretty good, with the right cables.

I would go with a different amp than the MM8003 - there are better sounding ones out there for the same money.

I just listen to 2 channel set up even for movies - I don't miss other speakers. Since you are trying to improve the sound of music, I would consider getting the adcom preamp and adcom power amp.

They would improve the sound in a noticeable way. Also, the culprit might be your source - amp can't improve the sound a lot if the source is not good.

I would upgrade the wires (if you haven't already), then the CD player (or DVD/CD player), and then add a 2 channel adcom amps to your Marantz SR8200 for the fronts.

You can connect the adcoms to your present Marantz receiver, to power the fronts. That would be better than getting MM8003 - I would consider other brands than Marantz.
Yes, you're assumption is correct about the connection of the speakers (sub and mains) to the receiver. By telling the receiver (in the speaker setup) that the Mites are "small" that will engage a high pass filter (usually at 80 Hz by default) for them. Thus, frequencies below 80 Hz go to the sub and frequencies above 80 Hz go to the Mites. This takes the bass load off of the Mites (and the amp channels they are connected to), which are not designed to produce bass. You'll end up with less distortion from your speaker system. It allows each speaker to what it does best.

When you tell the receiver that the speaker is "large" it will send the full range signal to that speaker.

Hope that helps.