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Stereo Setup for Music

Audiolab 6000CDT Dedicated CD Transport

forever.pramod

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I do have a setup for HT : Denon X2000 and Dali Zensor 7 (5.1 setup). For listening Music I am interested for a stereo amplifier.

I will use downloaded 320kbps MP3 files as source. So will it make any difference if I choose a stereo amp rather than listening the same from my AVR.

My budget is around 50K for amplifier. Should I use my existing Zensor speakers for this stereo amp or I need another different speaker setup with new amp.

I am sorry to ask if it's a very common question, but what's the difference between integrated amp and stereo amp. Googled it but got confused answers.
 

Murlidher

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I have one basic question:

I am sure, you might have spent a lot of money in setting this dali zensor speakers & denon AVR. Are you not satisfied with the audio quality it produces when you hear your downloaded music files?
 

forever.pramod

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Being frank I am happy with your question Murli. And I am very satisfied with my setup. I just want to know, if it will make that much huge difference in Sound Quality, as I have heard a lot Listening Music through Stereo Amp is far superior than AVR. I have not decided to buy a stereo amp, but may be answer to this questions will gain my knowledge.
 
M

mpw

Guest
take an amp from a friend on a loaner or there is a PM 6004 deal on now at HFV for a very reasonable amount.

mpw
 
M

mpw

Guest
purely looking at specs... it should be able to unless you are a high volume listener or have a large room.

but at the sound from the combination in your room - i cant tell.

try for an audition.

regards
mpw
 

Ambio

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Speakers will make huge difference compared to any other equipment you got. Also, room treatment and correct speakers placement overrides anything else before an upgrade. There is only so much you could get from Stereo no matter how much you spend
 

Sumanta

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Simple, if you can afford in terms of money and space, have two sound system.

I have three setup now as I am making more speakers and want to listen to them. I like some music played in 7.1 setup (rare though).

To me listening through speaker is better than listening headphone (my personal preference only). I love having the 3D feel. I am lucky that my family loves listening music at any hour of any day or night. Music must match mood and essence of that time, that's all.
 

Ambio

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I love having the 3D feel. ....
With apologies to the OP for hijacking your thread to promote my preferance.

Sumanta, please try ambiophonics for true 3D feel. Once you get it right you will never go back to stereo. :)
 

soulforged

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I think you already have a pretty good setup considering the format of music you will be using predominantly. PCH>X200>Dali should keep most people happy. What you may want to consider is to add a separate DAC and check...

A dedicated stereo setup would defintely sound better but the question is by how much? In this case I doubt it would be by a lot...
 

asliarun

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I do have a setup for HT : Denon X2000 and Dali Zensor 7 (5.1 setup). For listening Music I am interested for a stereo amplifier.

I will use downloaded 320kbps MP3 files as source. So will it make any difference if I choose a stereo amp rather than listening the same from my AVR.

My budget is around 50K for amplifier. Should I use my existing Zensor speakers for this stereo amp or I need another different speaker setup with new amp.

I am sorry to ask if it's a very common question, but what's the difference between integrated amp and stereo amp. Googled it but got confused answers.
Just marketing terms. Audio amplifiers are usually either 1-channel (mono), or 2-channel (stereo) or multi-channel (5.1, 7.1 etc). Amplifiers have two main parts - pre-amp and power-amp. Preamp accepts inputs from your audio or video sources, and mildly amplifies the source signal (active preamp). Volume control is implemented at the pre-amp stage.

The power amp is the real workhorse and the real meaning behind the term "amplifier". It amplifies the signal from the preamp.

Most entry level amplifiers integrate the preamp and power amp - hence are called integrated amplifiers. This is true for stereo integrated amps as well as multichannel integrated amps (AVRs). As you go higher end, you can also get separate preamp/poweramp. In most such cases, you will find that a discrete power amp will be a lot more powerful and robustly built, even at a lower price!

So to answer your question, an integrated amp and stereo amp are usually referring to the same thing. If you add a radio or streaming audio support to the device, it is usually called a receiver, and a multi-channel version that also supports video (HDMI input) is called an AVR or audio video receiver.

I don't know about you sound answer. On paper the Denon doesn't have a great poweramp section - and that is usually the let down of most AVRs. My guess would be that it can deliver about 50 watts of decent quality power to two channels for stereo listening. Which seems okay for your speakers considering they are 90db sensitive. Unless you like listening to high volumes and/or like authoritative bass.

You might be even better off getting a better quality (not volume) bass, and improving your speaker placement and maybe some room treatment. Especially if you are already reasonably happy with your current combo. Just my two cents. This is very subjective - so please also take this with a grain of salt. Maybe my assumptions are wrong.
 

shibashis

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As already suggested if you can get an integrated amplifier that will give you clear answers. Listen to a few test tracks (in downloaded 320 kbps as that will be your primary source) in pure stereo mode on your Denon (in pure stereo mode) and Dali, and then listen to the same tracks on the stereo integrated amplifier keeping everything else the same, i.e. the source, the player and the speakers.
If your ears are ready which almost certainly they are you will be able to perceive appreciable difference in sound quality. Then if you are a music lover you will invest in the amplifier, simple! :)
I was in much the same position as you, although with much smaller budget. Even my very basic Sonodyne Sia 320 integrated was able to make me notice what the difference is between an AVR and a dedicated amplifier for stereo music, and the gulf you may find between the two is bigger than bay of Bengal.

Given you have Dalis I would suggest to get a Cambridge Audio amp, they pair really well with the Dalis I have found.
 

Naturelover

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Using a stereo amp will not make a huge difference, but definitely a perceptible one. Whether it be worth the investment is what only you can decide.
Best to connect with some friends or local FMs for a loaner as mpw suggested. You could ask some dealers if they would give a home demo but that is rare in India.
If you would like to check out a tube setup, Mr Viren Bakshi of Lyrita Audio in Delhi is very helpful.
 

forever.pramod

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I think you already have a pretty good setup considering the format of music you will be using predominantly. PCH>X200>Dali should keep most people happy. What you may want to consider is to add a separate DAC and check...

A dedicated stereo setup would defintely sound better but the question is by how much? In this case I doubt it would be by a lot...
That's the thing I wanted to know. Thank u so much for your explanation. Because the quality difference should be that much more compared to spending extra bugs, which I think waste of money.
 
M

mpw

Guest
but in any case you need to try stereo and judge for yourself and not go by hearsay.

The trial will be worth it and an eyeopener for you.

go ahead on a weekend when free it will be an interesting experience.

IMO, even the pure direct mode in an AVR does not do full justice to the music.

anyways... have fun !

mpw
 

forever.pramod

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Just marketing terms. Audio amplifiers are usually either 1-channel (mono), or 2-channel (stereo) or multi-channel (5.1, 7.1 etc). Amplifiers have two main parts - pre-amp and power-amp. Preamp accepts inputs from your audio or video sources, and mildly amplifies the source signal (active preamp). Volume control is implemented at the pre-amp stage.

The power amp is the real workhorse and the real meaning behind the term "amplifier". It amplifies the signal from the preamp.

Most entry level amplifiers integrate the preamp and power amp - hence are called integrated amplifiers. This is true for stereo integrated amps as well as multichannel integrated amps (AVRs). As you go higher end, you can also get separate preamp/poweramp. In most such cases, you will find that a discrete power amp will be a lot more powerful and robustly built, even at a lower price!

So to answer your question, an integrated amp and stereo amp are usually referring to the same thing. If you add a radio or streaming audio support to the device, it is usually called a receiver, and a multi-channel version that also supports video (HDMI input) is called an AVR or audio video receiver.

I don't know about you sound answer. On paper the Denon doesn't have a great poweramp section - and that is usually the let down of most AVRs. My guess would be that it can deliver about 50 watts of decent quality power to two channels for stereo listening. Which seems okay for your speakers considering they are 90db sensitive. Unless you like listening to high volumes and/or like authoritative bass.

You might be even better off getting a better quality (not volume) bass, and improving your speaker placement and maybe some room treatment. Especially if you are already reasonably happy with your current combo. Just my two cents. This is very subjective - so please also take this with a grain of salt. Maybe my assumptions are wrong.
Thanks Arun for your explanation
 

Amitkg

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I saw that deal and then this query raised in my mind. Is the PM6004 able to drive my Zensor 7 ?
--------------------------------------------------------------
No matter, whoever says what! PM6400 is not fit for driving any FS. Though, this amp is one of the best; with 45 watts/channel, it is meant for BS :)
 

zendya

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Thanks forever.pramod for asking that question about stereo amps and THANKS asliarun for explaining the basics in detail. I have a follow-up (again basic) question -

Why two stage amplification is better (preamp + amp) than one amp? Is the difference because of the components involved?

Also, since we're talking about mp3s being the source, I had a couple of basic queries on DACs -

1. Does adding external DAC really make a lot of difference? AVRs such as Denon X2000 or Marantz SR5009 should be using a very good DACs, right?

2. What does 192-kHz/24-bit signify in DAC spec? Is that best that a DAC can do? I have a 8 year old Yamaha with the same number specified as the new Denons (192-kHz/24-bit) - hence wondering is they technically do the same kind of conversion. The quality of DAC is probably different but wondering why the numbers have not gone up (assuming they are related to conversion quality).

3. Also how does this number (192-kHz/24-bit) relate to mp3 sampling rate of 320 kbps.

Sorry if these are basic questions but since this thread has already clarified some base concepts, I'm trying to get few more things clarified. Thanks.

- Pramod (Yes, my name is also Pramod :) )
 

asliarun

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Thanks forever.pramod for asking that question about stereo amps and THANKS asliarun for explaining the basics in detail. I have a follow-up (again basic) question -

Why two stage amplification is better (preamp + amp) than one amp? Is the difference because of the components involved?

Also, since we're talking about mp3s being the source, I had a couple of basic queries on DACs -

1. Does adding external DAC really make a lot of difference? AVRs such as Denon X2000 or Marantz SR5009 should be using a very good DACs, right?

2. What does 192-kHz/24-bit signify in DAC spec? Is that best that a DAC can do? I have a 8 year old Yamaha with the same number specified as the new Denons (192-kHz/24-bit) - hence wondering is they technically do the same kind of conversion. The quality of DAC is probably different but wondering why the numbers have not gone up (assuming they are related to conversion quality).

3. Also how does this number (192-kHz/24-bit) relate to mp3 sampling rate of 320 kbps.

Sorry if these are basic questions but since this thread has already clarified some base concepts, I'm trying to get few more things clarified. Thanks.

- Pramod (Yes, my name is also Pramod :) )
Hahaha, Pramod, here are my answers:

- Generally speaking, when one gets a component that does one specific job, all the attention and engineering budget is put on getting that part right. Like, if you see most power amps, they will have rating of 100W RMS (and upwards) whereas integrated amps will generally have 45W, 60W etc. The other interesting thing I have found is that power amps are available for far lower prices in the used market. Not sure why. Maybe because supply/demand - people generally prefer integrated amps so they are priced higher and command higher prices?

I had a Parasound power amp that I bought for a ridiculously low price ($350 for a 6 month old amp - new was costing $850). That amp was so powerful (while being fairly compact as well) - it would drive any speaker with ease and not even get heated up. Generally, the strong amps - you will see power rating scale linearly. Like if an amp does 50W in 8 ohms, it will do 100W in 4 ohms (and even 200W in 2 ohms for really difficult to drive speakers). Amps with weak power supplies will only do 70W in 4 ohms for example - or will even state upfront that they cannot support anything below 8 ohms or 6 ohms.

Now most speakers cleverly only state nominal impedance. Your speakers are 6 ohms nominal - but I can bet that in reality, it dips down to 4 ohms in some audio frequencies. This means that your amp needs to have a powerful/robust enough power supply that it can handle the 4 ohm load with ease as well. Many, if not most speakers, dip down to 4 ohms routinely. With weak amps, they start failing to provide adequate power at these impedance dips and in extreme cases, start clipping (pure DC signal) which can damage your speaker drivers. That is also why overkill on the amp side is actually not a bad idea. My old Parasound amp for example would do 125W in 8 ohms, 200W in 4 ohms, and up to 400W for 2 ohms.

- External DAC - From personal experience, AVR DACs are decent enough. A discrete DAC would still be better of course, but now it depends how much quality or musical flavor one wants. My Audio GD DAC was significantly superior to my Marantz slimline AVR, but I am happy enough with the Marantz inbuilt DAC for now. M room and speaker placement is suboptimal anyway.

2 - 24/192 - that is mostly bragging about features - it is about high-resolution audio formats. It has become the new buzzword. It refers to the DAC's ability to process audio that has been encoded in high bitrate formats (24 bits at 192 khz). CD audio is encoded at 16 bits at 44KHz. That is actually supposed to be more than sufficient for human hearing, but as you know, audiophile loves overkill in everything. Personally, I find it irrelevant.

Truth be told, this is marketing gimmick. DAC quality is largely governed by the quality of its power supply, the quality of implementation (design), quality of parts used (not just the DAC chip, but even capacitors, etc). But that is unfashionable - so marketers sell DACs by bragging about bitrate support instead.

In fact, many people prefer older DACs because most of the money in old DACs was spent on power supply etc. and matter of fact, some people even prefer the older DAC chips (they feel the newer ones sound more artificial).

- The ability of a DAC to process high resolution audio (24/192, 32/384, etc.) has nothing to do with mp3 bitrate. This is difficult to explain but I will try. When analog audio is converted to digital audio in the studio, it is stored as uncompressed digital samples. The 24/192 indicates that they use 24 bits to store each sample, and sample the audio signal 192,000 times a second. (Audio CD stores audio sampled at 44,100 times a second, with 16bits to store the value of each sample). This is uncompressed digital bitstream.

However, this takes up a lot of space - CDs take up 600MB to store 60 minutes of (uncompressed) audio. High resolution audio like 24/192 takes way more (several GB) for the same. To save space, mp3 came up with a lossy compression format (a zip file is a lossless compression format). The bitrate of mp3 determines how lossy the compression is - i.e. how much sound quality do you care to lose to achieve more and more space saving). 320kbps gets really really close to original CD quality (16/44) - and for entry level systems like ours, or rooms that are not properly setup/treated, I don't think we will even notice much difference. But again, like everything, this is subjective, right?!

Ultimately, mp3 or any other format has to be converted back into the original (24/192 or 16/44.1) digital bitstream. DACs only understand this. If you feed mp3 into a DAC, it will not know what to do. This conversion is usually done in software (mp3 player like winamp or foobar in a computer, or a device/audio player that supports mp3).

So think of mp3 like a zip file. The real digital audio is the file inside the zip file. The zip file has to be unzipped for you to feed it into a DAC.
 

zendya

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asliarun - Once again THANKS for patiently explaining all this. Your detailed post has clarified several concepts. Both your posts should ideally go to a FAQ/Concepts section so as to help others benefit from it.

BTW, how does one analyze any mp3/flac file and get the encoding details? I guess there would be tools available. VLC etc players seem to just show the mp3 compression (320kbps etc) info.
 
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