I am trying to decide between the Emotiva xpa5 or the Rotel 1095. The xpa is slightly less $$ but that is not the deciding factor. Any last comments or recommendations on either amp before I flip a coin???
"General rule of thumb in my book, is that speakers yield a much bigger bang for the buck than amplification." (BobR)
Indeed, I agree with Bob here, BUT, problem is you already have a complete setup speakers and a receiver. I think the EASY step, since you have a foundation already is to simply try seeing what more of a separates approach yields, and do what other here recommended and hinted at - which is to add an amp, yes!
Part of the issue here is that receivers are limited in dynamics and power distribution, mostly. So substituting better speakers (potentially), with maybe the same or even less sensitivity and efficiency - while they may improve many aspects of your sound - will still be left dynamically restricted if you're using the same inept receiver to drive them!! Get my point?
So, yes, I like you adding an amp here first. STILL, I'm strongly recommending that you configure your speakers as "small" or 80hz! (key is making sure your speakers and seats are set in the right place so that the speakers and sub are coupling well at 80hz reigion, so there's no "hole in the middle" sound you get with speaker/sub combo's)
Another issue here is, yes, acoustics. You are DEFINITLELY compromising your immaging, detail, soundstage solidity, transient attack, and overall dynamics when you are hearing too many first order reflections from your listening seat. And, with your speakers you're using, and how far back you sit, how low your ceiling is, etc, you are compromising your sound, somewhat. That should be adressed.
More controlled dispersion speakers should be used, ultimately, with multiple mid/bass drivers, possibly multiple tweeters, and more "movie oriented speaker designs", etc - ideally.
Your options right now, which will help greatly, will be to either put some absorption on the reflection point on the ceiling between you and the listening seat, or add diffusion there. your only other options, if you can't change speakers (although turning your speakers up-side-down will help control your ceiling reflection somewhat with your speakers), the technology offered in the Denon, Onkyo, Integra, and Sherwood receivers in the "Audyssey MultEQ" room correction device, helps solve all these type of acoustic problems! For your Yamaha (which only corrects bass modes with it's EQ), this isn't a benefit.
So, all I'm saying is that these sort of things all add up to pull down your sonic experience. That's all.
Also, sitting closer to the speakers helps you heare more "direct sound", increasing sonic quality.
If I were you, I'd try placing some acoustical foam on the ceiling, in the spot(s) where a mirrored reflection on the ceiling can see your speakers from your chair(s), to see what I'm saying. I think you'll find the sound quality change dramatic!
Anyway, i'd try amp first, then tweak a little - maybe try inverting your speakers, also. Infact, I personally would be getting a VERY NECESSARY Radio Shack sound level meter, a test tone disc or two, and finding out what the measured response is from ALL your speakers and sub from the listening possition(s)! This is a basic step from proper system setup. If you don't get rid of the bass humps and holes you and your speakers are place in, and get relatively flat response as a foundation, you can forget about getting high fidelity, accurate sound! - just won't happen.
Anyway, If you don't want to do that kind of stuff, something down the line for you to consider is to upgrade into the Audysssey pre's and receivers! While it won't get you or your speakers out of "holes" in the sound, it will do wonders for acoustical problems. This is ANOTHER LARGE improvement in your systems performance. Research is more and more available in reviews with the Audyssey products.
So, amp first, then some easy tweaks. I'd then look into other speakers, yes, in the near future, as budget allows.
Then, also better preamp technologies and processing will do wonders!
Wow, that you for your advice. Trying to pick up on all of the basics is a bit challenging as every thread or magazine or website I can find the discussion begins with so much already being understood. I do realize at some point it gets crazy with nutty technology, $500 cables, $50,000 speakers ,etc., but I also realize that buying an all in one receiver and hooking it up to 5 entry level B&W speakers leaves me a lot of room for upgrading my system. I'm new to the spl thing and wouldn't even know where to begin with it without some serious instructions and understanding what I am trying to accomplish.
I took the advice and bought an amp, the new Emotiva XPA-5 and will use my Yammy receiver as the pre/processor for now. It should arrive on Tuesday and I will be back at it again. I will also invert my speakers tomorrow, I never even heard of that or even thought of it before.
Again, thanks for the advice and keep it coming!