If you don't have space limitations, consider a 2 channel amp or monoblocks for your 2 front speakers and keep the Rotel for surround duties. You'll spend less and should be able to get better sound.
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There are no really good 5 channel amps. There are no really good 5 channel anything. 5 channel is Home Theater. HT is a wasteland.
Already you have noticed. No multi-channel anything sounds as good as 2 channel. You know this from listening. All you need to do now is take the next logical step and transition off the whole HT train.
Start like big_greg suggests with stereo components. From here on out simply upgrade only the stereo elements of your system. Let the surround crap go. If you feel the need, upgrade to a Swarm type distributed bass array that will improve both movies and music. But let the HT dreck go. You know you want to. Your ears are already telling you this. Don't listen to the marketing. Listen to your ears.
Yup, @big_greg and @millercarbon are giving you sage advice. If stereo is important to you, then focus your money there and don't waste big bucks on powering your surrounds. The other issue is the Arcam -- its preamp section is sucking the life out of your 2-channel performance, probably even more than the amp.
So two choices -- get a good stereo integrated amp, or get a separate stereo amp and preamp. Either will work fine, but the integrated obviously saves you space and a pair of interconnects and will likely be a better value too. A HT bypass function, while not necessary, is nice to have in a hybrid system like this.
Now, all you do is run the front L/R pre outs from the Arcam to the HT bypass input on the integrated (or any unused line-level input). When you want to do HT just choose this input, and when stereo choose the appropriate input on the stereo pre/integrated. Obviously your DAC or whatever stereo music source is now hooked to the stereo pre/integrated instead of the Arcam.
The real beauty of this setup, other than only having to flip one switch to toggle between HT and stereo, is that in stereo mode the Arcam is now completely out of the system and has no affect on the sound. I suspect you'll hear a not small improvement in what you get from your Dynes in 2-channel. Anyway, best of luck.
BTW, here's a really nice integrated I'd bet would sound fantastic with your speakers. Not sure what your price range is.
Wow, everybody just started pushing 2-channel amps on a guy who does 50% home theater. Wow. Okay, yeah, they have some good points. 2 channel amps are typically much better than 5 channel (bigger power supplies, more output transistors, etc.), but it really depends what he wants.
A slow transition could be to do a 2-channel amp first, but keep in mind that sonic signature could be different and that could kill the HT sound quality (between left - center - right). If you want to do this, you could look at a really nice 2 channel Rotel RB-1590. Or look at a nicer 5 channel. There's a SimAudio Moon Aurora 5 on audiogon for $2740. Or look at other possibilities, ATI, Bryston or even Emotiva.
I am interested in a used Audi RS6 or an E53 AMG and some of you are recommending me a honda accord ’sport’ or suggesting I switch to a motorcycle (2ch amp). Common guys seriously !?
Hmm, I find that a little condescending and more than a little ignorant. Ok, clearly we’re not understanding here so let me put it in words maybe you can understand. Buying a better amp while continuing to use the preamp section of your Arcam is like putting an RS6 engine in a Honda Civic . Got it? Sure you can do it, but it’s a huge mismatch and largely a waste. And especially your 2-channel performance -- 50% of your listening -- will continue to be SEVERELY compromised. You minimize the importance of a preamp in your system at your own peril. And let me be perfectly clear here -- the preamp section of your AVR absolutely SUCKS. IT SUCKS! PERIOD!!! Sorry if this hurts your feelings, but it’s an absolute fact. Many of us here are pointing you toward incorporating stereo components into your HT system because we’ve already been where you are, and we are trying to pass on some hard-won experience and advice in trying to help you avoid our past mistakes. But apparently we don’t know what we’re talking about and you and your 40 posts here know better, so you go ahead and do what you want. It’s your money.
to all - once again WOW. Way to go, make a new person feel like crap because their budget cannot afford more and their equipment is total junk and they are completely wrong (according to what you all are saying). Wow, way to go guys. He just wants to upgrade what he has for a better sound and still has a 50% priority on home theater. It's what we all desire here on this forum.
Parasound RULES! I use a pair of A52's with my Linkwitz Lab lx521.4's and paid less than $900 for each. There are several discontinued Parasound 5 channel amps at varying power ratings and they all sound fine! Arcam and Rotel are in value leader positions. They make fine sounding products at affordable price points! Yes, I also have audiophile approved Pass Labs electronics. Remember that multichannel is a pain in the rear for most high end manufacturers to market. Just call Pass Labs about their X-3 and X-5 multichannel amps. By the way, if you know about a X-5 for sale please contact me.
I would go with Classé. They are, for me, the best sound quality. I think they have power enough for big explosions e and are soft enough for songs when it come to hearing. I have had NAD (AB class) M25. Super top quality. 160watt.
that is a option too. Brand new they are for sale for about 3500usd. Another option would be the Classé AMP5. Despite it is a class D amplifier, it does not sound like anything that is D. These 2 amplifiers are top quality and you can find a lot on used markets. I would visit a showroom to to listen to them before go out and buy. See what you prefer. Both of them will be top sound quality.
Your situation seems similar to mine. I had a Rotel 5-channel amp and an emotiva home theater processor. I decided to add two emotiva mono-blocks to drive the front left and right channels. This made a BIG improvement in sound, the first thing I noticed when playing 2-channel music. The next upgrade I did was to add a CD player for music and not to use my Blu Ray player. I connected the CD player using the RCA analogue connection verses using the HDMI. This created an even bigger improvement with the 2-channel music sound. When watching TV or Blu Ray movies I go through the HDMI cables and activate all 5.1 channels however if I am strickley listening to 2-channel music I go through the RCA and put the processor to direct and the enjoyment factor goes way up as opposed to listening to 2-channel through my Blu Ray player the way I used to. The addition of driving the front left and right channels through their own amplifier also improved greatly the sound in 5.1 channel listening as an added bonus.
danimaz, I've got previous gen Krell, and Emotiva. Frankly, Emotiva performs better than their specs would lead you to believe. You can get new Gen3 amps which will perform very well, with a 30 day money back return if not happy. It'll do great for home theater, and probably do very well for music with most speakers.
Stepping up, the DR series amps sound better for music but only go to 3 channels, so you'd need a 2 more channels. Frankly, for me, the surrounds don't need much of an amp for movies, I use a very old 2 channel receiver for my back surrounds, but that's because I care most for 2 channel music. It's different if you want to listen to multi-channel music because matched-set of amps and matched-set of speakers makes more sense.
So if it's 50% "2 channel" music and 50% movies, maybe get the quality for the 2 channels and get the not as great amplification for the surrounds. Just a thought.
Finally, taking the time to help someone oughta be to do just that, help.
@loomisjohnson -- shame on you man. Your AVR’s preamp section sounded good COMPARED TO WHAT? It’s a $3400 AVR that includes multichannel amp, signal processing, tuner, preamp, DAC, internet connectivity, etc. etc. With all that, how much money do you think they have to dedicate to the stereo preamp section? Think they put some high-level quality parts in there do ya? I think not. And how well shielded do you think the stereo pre is from the rest of the electronic morass going on all around it? No, IT’S CRAP. At this price it can’t be anything BUT crap, especially relative to any half-decent stereo pre or integrated. And to me, letting the OP think the pre section of his AVR’s is anything more than CRAP is doing him a great disservice. You gonna tell me putting in a better 5-channel amp is gonna do anything close to improving his stereo performance compared to putting in a good integrated amp instead? PHOOEY! But I bet those rear surrounds are really gonna sing with all that high-quality, expensive power from the 5-channel amp. What a waste. The Rotel is more than fine for that. Comes down to that -- you want to feed those surrounds with lots of expensive power, or would you rather get a huge boost in stereo performance by feeding the C20s with both a high quality amplifier AND preamp? To each his own, but I choose the latter 7days a week and twice on Sunday.
@danimaz -- hey man, sorry if I’m coming off like a jerk, but I’m (and a few others here) sincerely trying to help you here rather than just telling you what you want to hear. Sometimes the better thing to do isn’t the easiest or most obvious thing. I guarantee you if you slip a decent integrated amp into your system you won’t believe what comes out of your Dyn C20s. They’re great little speakers and will reward you hugely the better the electronics with which you feed them. Maybe you can borrow or demo one just to see what you could potentially have? Once you hear it, you’ll know.
So you guys keep feeding the guy 5-channel amps he can blow his money on. I firmly stand by my recommendation as someone who was in the exact same position as the OP many years back. If he had mediocre L/R speakers I wouldn’t care so much, but his speakers are capable of providing so much more I think it’s sad to choke them off with the pre section of a mass market AVR. Peace out.
If you get a chance to listen to the ATI amps, you might be surprised at how good they can be. You could go for an AT 1505 for 5 channel, or pick up a model with less channels and get a good stereo amp of whatever make you like for the mains. The 1505s are bullet proof and I used one for several years in my AV system for the surrounds. You can probably pick one up for $500 or so used.
Other modestly priced but very decent sounding multichannel amps can be had from Adcom and Rotel.
I stand by my recommendation to get separates for 2 channel listening, but if you're stuck on getting a 5 channel amp, the best sounding and most "musical" one I have owned is my Lexicon LX-7 which I still own and use for surround duty. Others I have owned are Emotiva XPA-5 Gen II, Sunfire Signature, Rotel RMB-1095, Krell Showcase, possibly one or two others I've forgotten. They were all left pretty far behind when I went to a dedicated 2 channel amp for the mains, then monoblocks, and then a good 2 channel preamp.
You might also consider the Proceed AMP5, I use mine to fill out my rear surrounds, its 125wpc @8 but doubles to [email protected], massive power supply, 3 trans formers, [email protected] are basically single chassis monoblocks, the Center and surrounds share one. Currently In my system I use Classe monoblocks ( (2)omega and CAM400)) to my LCR but the AMP5 was used for years in this roll. Its based on a Mark Levinson design. It is very heavy and high A biased, so runs a bit warm. I thought as a 2ch amp, the proceed was very nice, liquid and dynamic, a nice analog sound to it.
@danimaz Try to ignore the members who equate money with performance, or those who worship the alter of 2-channel above all else.
Yes, 2-channel, being dedicated audio, is going to make your Dynaudios sing, but you want the whole theater package so stick to your original quest. Again, as many on this thread have recommended:
Classe (the Sigma is pretty good)
So, to balance out all these "pushing 2-channel or monoblock" opinions, I will definitely agree that 2-channel amps and monoblock amps are going to be far suprerior to the 5-channel amps. That is primarily because "power supply" is the biggest most important fact in an amp (it’s 65% of the sound). The size of the primary power supply as well all the power supply filtering that goes on in the amp is a HUGE determining factor of how good the amp sounds. The remaining 35% is a combination of circuit design, such as pre-driver, input stage, Class A biasing, etc.
That being said, danimaz would have to understand that this would be a staged approach, as he can probably only afford to get only one 2-channel amp or set of monoblocks now. Which means he would ultimately be spending $6-10K in the end if he wants that type of sound. Plus, he would probably have to deviate away from Rotel as an amp choice which means left/right and center/surrounds would now have completely different sonic signatures. This may or may not be an overall sound-killer depending on how the new amp integrates into the system - a whole other problem to consider.
So, with less than $4k desired on an amp upgrade, we have limited choices here. (unless he really wants to use this as a LONG TERM stepping stone). I will re-iterate some suggestions and agree with others on some things:
SimAudio Moon Aurora 5 on audiogon for $2740 - this was my original suggestion for a 5-channel amp that was less than Krell/Classe. The SimAudio gets good reviews and I think it’s a good resolution amp that is not as warm/dark as Parasound (which the OP has specifically stated he doesn’t like).
ATI - has very good attack, can be a good suggestion. Their Hypex n-core Class D amps are probably very excellent choices because ATI is one of the few that use a true linear power supply for the n-core modules (instead of switching power supply like most others). However, the nature of Class-D will not have the very high frequency resolution/air. Sound is extremely smooth and accurate though.
Emotiva - they definitely shoot above their paygrade, but they still do have compromises. I am very experienced with all generations of Emotiva. The "Gen 3" is good, but the main problem is that darn switching power supply. Lot’s of power, but a little bit hollow sounding bass and the sound isn’t as realistic. Their linear power supply amps are much better in my opinion (gen 2 or gen 1). XPR is pretty much their best amp. I can definitely get into a long discussion on the pros/cons and compromises of these amps.
Anthem - can be good, but I feel it’s lacking high frequency resolution (maybe not the new models).
Classe - could be good. However, my experience testing M300 monoblocks was that the sound was all there with the resolution, but it just sounded flat with no emotional engagement. Could be me, as others have loved their Classe, so don’t take my opinion as gospel.
Krell Chorus 5200 - excellent amp and excellent resolution, but the newer "sliding Class A bias" amps have a very smooth and liquidy sound. Very excellent if that’s what your after, but they are not necessarily a "realistic" or "resolution beast".
Lower cost Krell (such as Showcase or 2250) - very nice amps with excellent resolution, but sometimes could come across as thin/bright - depending on system.
Bryston - excellent resolution and extremely fast. Can sound thin/bright in systems that are too fast - would be an excellent pairing with a warm/slow preamp processor.
That being said, danimaz would have to understand that this would be a staged approach, as he can probably only afford to get only one 2-channel amp or set of monoblocks now. Which means he would ultimately be spending $6-10K in the end if he wants that typeof sound. Plus, he would probably have to deviate away from Rotel as an amp choice which means left/right and center/surrounds would now have completely different sonic signatures.
No. Not at all. My thought was to add a stereo integrated and done. Period. $2200 for something like a Hegel H200 and let the Rotel handle center and surrounds. Done. The H200 will scale the C20s to soaring new heights and HT still sounds great. The center speaker doesn’t match the L/R anyway, so worrying about matching amps is useless. My guess is, after adding the integrated the OP won’t even feel the need to upgrade further, but that’s just my guess. At least the C20s will finally be driven by proper stereo components, and since 50% of his listening is stereo, that’s a pretty big deal. If he wants, he can always sell the Rotel and buy a good-quality 3-channel amp, but I wouldn’t. The Rotel is fine. BTW, there’s a nice H200 available now, and it’s got a HT bypass so will just drop nicely and seamlessly into the existing system.
I'm a big fan of dedicated 2 channel, my two channel system has tubes... Tubes do have their issues but they transduce complex harmonics better than SS unless... you spend some serious cash.
So back to your question, I also have a dedicated HT in a different room, todays movies need no less than 5.1 channels and can do very nicely on 7.1 (movies on 2 channel system using phantom mode for center... YUK!). Consider NAD and/or B&K for amplification on HT, B&K is a little bit on the warm side of neutral. NAD, underrated and the real deal when it comes to power... great impact for HT. You can get NAD's used at a reasonable price, consider 'bridge mode' for some serious power.
No multi-channel anything sounds as good as 2 channel.Not true. The Balanced Audio Technology VK-6200 sounds as good as any 2-channel amp in stereo - and there’s a reason for this. The VK-6200 is a chassis that you populate with the number of channel amplifiers you want, up to a maximum of six channels.
Each amplifier channel is it’s own separate amplifier with it’s own power supply. The amplifier sounds as good as any two channel amp when used for stereo because you’re using two separate amplifiers - one for each channel. The amp was so good, that BAT made a two channel version for stereo only use.
The downside to the amp is that it is BIG. My six channel version weighs a little over 220 pounds. The chassis weighs about 80 pounds and each amplifier weighs about 24 pounds.
Okay, I'm going to go back and through your original post. I think it's going to be extremely hard to beat or come close to the Krell Chorus 5200. Even though it's going to be slightly liquidy, it's an extremely clean and refined sounding amp. Anything lower cost, such as Emotiva, ATI, Anthem are going to sound harsh and grainy in comparison. Just throwing that out there.
To the OP. I fully support what others have said about the Lexicon. If you can get a good LX-7 or GX-7 go for it. I think most of them will be older so keep that in mind. I got a used GX-7 and did something stupid and blew 2 channels. When I took it in for service found out two more channels needed repair. Swollen capacitors and so forth. I figured because of the age not worth it and started looking in other directions. It is a power hog and hot but really good sound.
Now I am responding to this because you mentioned Classe. So a quick summary of my systems to help in your decision. In my home theater setup I have Sonus Faber Venere 5 channel with Martin Logan SLM for heights. Marantz pre amp, I will talk about the amp in a min. The heights are on a separate amp and 2 subs, but irrelevant for this conversation.
In the other room for music, new B&W 804 d3’s, marantz pre amp, recently added Classe ca-d200. I have only been focused on my music system. I had the new Rotel 1582. It sounded really good and I was skeptical being a class D but decided to try the Classe. Good decision, better in every way. So I moved the Rotel back to the home theater just for the main floor standers.
Here is where it got a little more interesting. Since I was so impressed with the Classe I started looking at the Sigma Amp5 for my home theater. Got one last week and just hooked it up to the main Sonus Faber’s as I was waiting on better interconnects before hooking up the others. So I just tried it out listening to music. Now my B&w’s should sound better that the SF, they cost twice as much. But better is subjective. I found that on a few songs the SF actually sounded better. That was very encouraging.
Got my interconnects today. Watching movies now. I will say the sound is fantastic. The Classe amp5 is better sounding than the Rotel, Lexicon and Parasound. I cannot speak to the Krell. Never had one.
So I suppose my conclusion is on the Classe class D amps, there marketing is no bullshit like most companies. However they tuned them they just sound beautiful in the way you would want it to.
Hope this helps your decision.
Thank you everyone for so many suggestions! Guys its just a hobby and everyone has different tastes and budgets.
I have moved my Dyn C20s out of my theater and am now powering them via simaudio 600i amp (found used). This was always my plan. I just didnt have the budget to do so earlier.
For my home theater setup i have put in paradigm studios v4 for fronts and studio center. In the back I have my old paradigm monitors. I still have the rotel / arcam combo going and thinking of either getting a used Classe or Krell chorus 5200. I am sure there are tons of amps out there that might be better sounding for a little less or more money but I just do not have the time to keep on researching. I think krell 5200 or classe 5200/5300 would sound pretty damn good compared to my rotel rmb 1075! Lets see if i can find one for really cheap $$ and can convince the wife to let me upgrade again!
I recommend the Krell Chorus 5200 as do several others. I’ve been fortunate enough to own some great high end gear and think this piece will fit your bill for a long time. I’ve seen some very good used prices and there is some fairly heavy discounting available. I’m not sure if it was updated to their HD revision or not. Good luck.