Is my Amp OK?


I recently bought brand new speakers - Revel f208. Using them with Cary Audio DMS-500 DAC and Rotel RB-1590.

While I love the sound I am getting, and I am 100% sure the speakers and DAC are great, I feel that I can do better with the Amp. True? If so, what do I get to replace the Rotel RB-1590?
thyname
You say you "love the sound." Why, then upgrade from a Rotel RB-1590? Maybe a case of "upgradeitis?"))
We don’t know, what we don’t know...meaning the only way to find out if your amp is okay is to have home auditions of other amps. I love my amp and preamp also, yet I’ve been going back and forth asking myself if I can improve my current amp and preamp within my allotted budget. I’m going to get a home audition of a couple amps/preamps to answer my own question.
Yep! that's exactly right. I don't know what I don't know. There are known unknowns and unknown unknowns :-)

While it sounds good, I wonder if there is anything I can make it sound better. The everlasting quest for holy grail!
Work on the room acoustics ( if you have not done so yet ).
Work on the room acoustics ( if you have not done so yet ).
Yes of course. Use REW also. But probably not enough. I would need to hire some professionals. 
I have the F208 on order and should be breaking them in soon with a Red Dragon Audio S500. 
Will let you know then. 
This is the fun part...try some different amps and see what it does. Your about to go on a fun journey and remember if it sounds great, it is! Trust your ears. Speakers need to break in for at least 50 -100 hours before they open up and sound good and you said your revels are new.

Matt m
Sonic differences between well designed amplifiers are minimal at most. All relevant measurements of good amplifiers show imperfections that are well below human hearing acuity. The only remaining things that matter are the potential for gain mismatch on the input (not infrequent) which can lead to clipping and a harsh (some say lively) sound, clipping of the output because of insufficient power (not an issue in your case) and load sensitivity (not likely with this combination). In short, relax.
The only potential sonic issue is room acoustics  and it will be many many orders of magnitude larger than any minute differences between this and another good amplifier. Of course, if you compare it with an other amplifier you may hear differences, but that will be because many audiophile amplifiers are far worse, even if more expensive.
What makes you hear that its not?

What, in the sound would you want to hear/feel different? Subwoofer?

I've heard these are great amps/speakers and you should have more then enough power so tell us what is missing!  Have you tried other amps to compare?  If not, haul those speakers down to a good shop and let them help you.  You only want to buy from somebody that cares enough about audio that you get what you need.  We would all like to have 100s of thousands in our gear but that is  "Stupid Crazy". Friend of mine coined the phrase...

these and other exciting ideas.

jhv
Whoa! Hey! What?! Minimum differences between amplifiers at best? Is someone channeling Julian Hirsch, the bullet headed dude from Stereo Review?
You can read all the magazines out there that audiophiles like. 

SS vs tubes and all that crap can be discussed until said "cows come home" but nothing works as good as your ears. 

Take care trusting reviews but use them as a guide to help direct you what to trial.  Everyone hears uniquely, likes different types of music, and what you like might not work for someone else.

What works best with your budget and existing gear?

Take your time to do it right and you won't be upgrading for a long while...

jhv
But do I really need to upgrade?
Of course not.
Of course not
Why?
See my earlier post. Additionally I just checked the output level of your DAC and there is no chance that the DAC's output will clip the Rotel's input. You are absolutely fine with this much clean power.
willemj, not trying to get into a debate or anything but you seem to be convinced that all "good" amplifiers sound the same. Just out of curiosity, can you please list the names of these so called good amplifiers that you have owned or auditioned extensively, and compared under the same identical conditions? Many of us seem to have a different experience and wondering why that is the case. Thanks.
I think that quite possibly the quality of your speakers and that of your DAC might be of superior quality than your Rotel amplifier.  Revel and Cary I believe are generally of a superior quality than Rotel audio products.  So maybe an amplifier upgrade should be considered.
“I think that quite possibly the quality of your speakers and that of your DAC might be of superior quality than your Rotel amplifier. Revel and Cary I believe are generally of a superior quality than Rotel audio products. So maybe an amplifier upgrade should be considered.”

that’s what I am thinking. But what do I upgrade to?


No speaker is ever better than a decent amplifier. Frequency response of even the best speakers is at best within +/- 2dB for the central part of the spectrum. Good amplifiers stay within 0.2 dB, or even far less. Distortion figures are a similar story.
The explanation is very simple: speakers have mass that can resonate, is slow, behaves in a non linear way etc. Good amplifiers have been sonically perfect for decades, and cannot be distinguished from each other in a double blind test.
See here for the classic and legendary test: http://www.keith-snook.info/wireless-world-magazine/Wireless-World-1978/Valves%20versus%20Transistor...
And here for a hilarious one: http://matrixhifi.com/ENG_contenedor_ppec.htm
If you google you will find quite a few more.
I personally attended a private demonstration by Quad's designer Peter Walker. He had this set up where you could listen blind to his three famous amplifier designs (using studio master tapes). I thought I could hear a difference, but he just grinned: I had been no better than random. That was a lesson learned.
There are a few proviso's and I have listed those in my earlier post. If those apply, there will be sonic differences because one of the amplifiers does not meet the criterium of 'properly designed and used within its specification'. This is why many tube amplifiers fail the test.
If that is not the case, the perceived sonic differences are the product of level differences (the brain interprets louder as better). For a listening test levels should be kept within 0.2 dB, and that is such a small difference that you can only achieve this with a decent Volt meter (and not with an SPL meter, let alone with a smartphone app). Did you ever see a dealer equalizing levels in the demo room using a Volt meter?

Still waiting for the list of amplifiers from personal experience. If we were to only use measurements and hearsay as the criteria for "good" sound, most people here would be buying the same brand(s).

As for the OP, no budget was stated so I'd think any model from the usual suspects like Pass Labs or Mark Levinson with more than 100 wpc should sound real good with the 208. I recently heard one of the higher powered Belles amps with a mid line Focal and it sounded real weighty and engaging.


Sonic differences between well designed amplifiers are minimal at most.

 No speaker is ever better than a decent amplifier. 

I have to disagree with these statements.  Anytime you want to swing by and hear some custom built amps and speakers let me know.

Happy Listening.


willemj
Good amplifiers have been sonically perfect for decades, and cannot be distinguished from each other in a double blind test.
Julian Hirsch proclaimed that too, at Stereo Review back in the ’70s. He was so wrong then that he helped give birth to virtually the entire high-end audio industry. Some people credit publishers such as Harry Pearson and J. Gordon Holt with helping to establish high end audio, which is valid. But without Hirsch’s "it all sounds the same" dogma, it would never have happened the way it did.

As Hirsch was wrong then, so are you mistaken now.



Well, I am a scientist and I cannot accept uncontrolled sighted experiments. There are rules to distinguish fantasy from fact, and in my book alternative facts are just fantasies. So why do people put more faith in their owned flawed experiences than in properly controlled experiments?
As for my own listening experiments, I can refer you to my participaption in Peter Walker's test. For me, that and the many similar experiments that you can read have clinched the argument. I am not an audio hypochondriac.
For years since the 1970's my own gear has consisted of Quad ELS 57 speakers driven by the Quad 33/303 amplifier (periodically refurbished). Some years ago I replaced the ELS57's with the (less efficient) Quad 2805's. Since we had also moved to a larger house with a far larger listening room, the 2x45 watts of the 303 were no longer enough, so I replaced it with a refurbished 2x140 watt Quad 606-2. Interestingly, and predictably, there was no audible difference at lower volumes, but the sound was/is now cleaner at higher volumes - I had been driving the 303 outside its comfort zone. More recently I added a B&W PV1d subwoofer, with Antimode 8033 room equalization. In short, the speaker system is revealing enough to show up any weaknesses earlier in the chain.
My desktop system used to have LS3/5a speakers driven by a variety of smallish amplifiers. Some time ago I replaced the LS3/5as with the far better Harbeth P3ESR mini monitors, and I acquired a completely refurbished 2x100 watt Quad 405-2 power amplifier to drive them (having learned the importance of power). Sufficient power is indeed important, and as I wrote earlier, does make a sonic difference, so I am pondering 2x260 watt Quad QMP monoblocks.
Very recently I bought my son a 2x250 watt Yamaha P2500S for his birthday (he is saving for a pair of Harbeth M30.1s, and currently uses my LS3/5as). Again, as was to be expected, the sound is absolutely fine, and indistinguishable from the Quad 303 that he had borrowed from me before. And for now the power limits of the LS3/5a do not allow him to experience what big power does.
So all in all, a lot of happy listening is going on.
Ah cleeds raises his head again. Do you have experimental data?
willemj
... I am a scientist and I cannot accept uncontrolled sighted experiments ... why do people put more faith in their owned flawed experiences than in properly controlled experiments?
If you are a scientist, you should be careful to apply proper logic. In your statement above, you’ve committed the logical fallacy of "begging the question," also called circular reasoning ( circulus in probando). It happens when an argument is supported by the premise. In this case, you support the proposition that only your controlled experiments are valid with the premise that all other tests not meeting your criteria are "flawed experiences." You then demand experimental data, which only furthers your ill logic.
Its the method that counts, and what makes science science. Do you have data?
willemj
Its the method that counts, and what makes science science
If you seek to pursue scientific method, you must also apply proper logic. Your repeated demand for data only proves your circular logic.

Data are only data rather than factoids if arrived at by proper method. That is not easy, but imperative. What would be your method?
By the way,  I did my classes on the philosophy of science, and I did my 10 hours a week of Latin at school, so no need to impress me.
As for the effect on the high end market, that requires a rather different analysis. The economic theory behind that analysis is that of monopolistic competition, first developed by the late Joan Robinson in her 1933 The Economics of Imperfect Competition. Profits in a full competition market of homogeous goods are quite restricted, and only possible for the most efficient producers who can benefit most from economies of scale. As a result small cottage producers could only survive by persuading their clientele that their products were in fact different. Hence, if you can indeed persuade customers that a particular product is not a homogeneous good but has some unique properties, you have created a monopoly, and increased your profitabilty accordingly. You are no longer competing on price, and your higher manufacturing costs no longer matter that much. All that this requires is a powerful strategy of persuasion, usually attained by large brand advertising budgets, but increasingly also by a blurring of the distinction between editorial and advertising pages in the media (the audio press is a very good example). The internet has magnified the impact of such strategies significantly.
In short, the growth of the small scale high end industry is the product of precisely the fact that the electronic link of the audio chain had become a homogeneous good sold in a very competitive market, with facilties, power etc the only real differences.
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Hi thyname,

The short answer is that there is always better. 

Are you interested in the best sound/ music replication, OR are you interested in having the coolest/sexiest gear. If you have the scratch
you can get both. It's seldom that any one does - I certainly don't.

The Human sensory spectrum with regards to hearing falls within a frequency response of 15 hz - 150 Khz. When putting your system together use that as a guide to the end goal.

There are several unseen factors involved  some of which have been mentioned by others in this post - Room Treatments (can be expensive), Cabling, Power Delivery, all are often overlooked in favor of the readily seen, Pre Amps, Power Amps, Dacs etc. 

Build a Solid Foundation around the gear you already have.  Since you are already pleased with the sound maximize on the performance by    Investing in Power chords, Interconnect cables and a Power distributor. Your system will reveal where you are falling short.

As you go along you can make better choices based upon your preference of Tube gear, Solid State gear, Analog, Digital  or a combination. What ever you decide, Stay within your budget and have fun.

IMHO Solid / reasonably priced products to invest in 
 
MTB -6  R-1
http://www.oyaide.com

Power Oval 2
https://www.analysis-plus.com

Speaker Cables / Interconnects - a little more $$ but for the money the best and last you would ever invest in
www.tonarm.ch









Don't wory about cables and power cords. Properly designed electronics do not need any of these snake oil products. Benchmark supply excellent pro audio cables for a modest price, and so do other pro audio companies. Fancy power cords are even more voodo stuff.
Thyname,

I thought the Rotel amps I have heard sounded ok. They are a little ragged in the highs, but you are the only one who can decide what is "Good enough" for you, and I don’t know anything about your specific Rotel amp. There is always something better or newer, on the horizon. If you enjoy changing things to see what it sounds like, in your system, borrow different amps, or buy used on this site, and experiment, till you are happy.

If the changing of things causes your anal side to be unhappy, stop now and enjoy the Rotel. This supposed to be fun, HAVE FUN !

I have several amps I mix in and out of my system. They all sound different, and give a different perspective of the music. If you want to be scientific, listen to different cables, not nessesaraly expensive ones. You can borrow cables from a dealer very easy. If they all sound the same, you can always come back and make fun of me/us.

Look in the Virual systems, for your speakers, and see what amps they have had luck with. Contact them on Audiogon, and discuss with them. 

The only Revels I have heard were powered by top level Anthem set up. I don't remember the actual models, but I was impressed, enough to keep the Revel Studio's on my radar.

What is “virual systems”? A Google search came with nothing
@thyname here you go
https://systems.audiogon.com/systems?utf8=✓&q=Rotel+rb-1590

these are all the systems posted by AudioGon users that have your amps
Sorry thyname, I meant Virtual systems on Audiogon. I was being rushed to finish my post and did not proof read. 

Thanks folkfreak for the assist.
Any opinions on Bel Canto REF600M Mono blocks?
It is well respected, measurements here: https://www.stereophile.com/content/bel-canto-eone-ref600m-power-amplifier-measurements
The question is: will you hear a difference (and is that difference an improvement)? My guess is that if you compare them under controlled conditions, you will not hear any difference, and that is how it should be: straight wires with gain.
ricred1:We don’t know, what we don’t know...meaning the only way to find out if your amp is okay is to have home auditions of other amps. I love my amp and preamp also, yet I’ve been going back and forth asking myself if I can improve my current amp and preamp within my allotted budget. I’m going to get a home audition of a couple amps/preamps to answer my own question.
+1, couldn't agree more.
Although the Adcom GFA-575 and Yamaha P3500S share very similar specs, but actual audition with Thiel CS2.4 tell the difference, especially on heavy bass notes...  
Any opinion on Cary Audio SA-200.2 power amp?

https://www.caryaudio.com/products/sa-200-2/

Would this be a step up compared to my Rotel RB-1590, or just a lateral move? My speakers are Revel f208 (just as a reminder). I am using the Cary DMS-500 DAC / Streamer on that setup.

Thanks!