I've not heard the amp, but the CD player is definitely not the problem. I once ran the Opus21 with a SS Simaudio integrated, Cardas NR and Totem Sttaf speakers; this combo was very good with rock music.
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I have a full RA system as my second system using the s30 amp which is not a digital amp. A lot of rock music is engineered differently than other music, so that is one consideration. The system is not lacking in musicality or detail. It will play loud when needed (I am using a 4 ohm speaker). I have gotten very good results with Crimson, DNM, Jorma Design and Analysis Plus speaker wires. The Cardas may be too polite for your installation. If you call RA and talk with Jeff he can further direct you.
Thanks Cellorover! I have considered the speaker cable and it may be a synergy thing. I just ordered a Yamaha A-S2000 integrated amp which is class A/B. I'm very curious with the pairing of the Opus21 CD player and class A/B amp with more power than the s80. For the time being I'm steering away from the british class A/B integrateds as they (I have experience with Arcam/Cambridge Audio) are a little too relaxed for my liking.
I owned an Opus 21 & S30 system for years and recently upgraded to the Cantata Music center and First watt M2. RA makes very musical gear that is an extremely good value. In my experience, RA amps tend to struggle a little bit driving harder loads (less efficient loudspeakers). The Fritzspeaker Carbon 7 loudspeaker is a somewhat small two-way loudspeaker that utilizes a 7-inch bass/midrange driver. The design is not the most efficient at 87 db. The RA s80 might not be the best match to dynamically wake them up. You should experiment with different amps to see what design would alleviate the issues you're having. Good luck!
I suggest that you call the Cable Company and try out different speaker wire combinations before you go crazy over the amp. There is no disagreement that you can keep the Opus 21 and move up the amp food chain. But to do that, you will need to spend more money than you may think. If the Opus is you only source, then you can look at power amps and use the Opus 21 direct. Also remember the capabilitry of a monitor when playing rock.
The Yamaha A-S2000 integrated puts out 90 watts of power into 8 ohms, while according to RA's website the RA s80 is conservatively rated at 80 watts into 8 ohms. Not much of a difference. I'm not disputing what you're hearing, but why is the Yamaha providing more punch and dynamics? Is there a significant gain difference between the two set-ups?
I read an article which tested the Yamaha and rated it's actual output at over 100w @ 8 ohms. You are correct, it's not that much difference in actual loudness compared to the s80, maybe 1db more but what I'm hearing just may be the simple difference of an class A/B vs. D design. I'm not yet sold on the Yamaha although it sounds surprisingly good. Also, thanks Cello for your input with the speaker cable suggestion. Experimentation: That's what makes this hobby enjoyable & frustrating at the same time.
I have never been a huge fan of class D amps. I admit I haven't heard all of the class D offerings, but the few that I did hear sounded dry & lifeless. Jeff Kalt from RA has avery good ears and makes very musical gear. I'm be willing to bet that his class D s80 amp is very musical. You might want to look at amplifiers with a high damping factor.
As far as cables are concerned, I respectfully disagree with Cellrover's assessment that the Cardas Neutral reference is the culprit for the lack of punch and dynamics. The Cardas Neutral Reference line of cables is a very neutral & revealing cable. In fact, many Cardas fanatics actually dislike the Neutral Reference line of cables because it is so revealing and not thick, rich & warm like other popular Cardas cables such as: the Cross and Golden Cross. Good luck!