Question 5.1 / 2.1 system upgrade

Dworan

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Sep 1, 2021
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I currently have an Onkyo Tx-Nr646 and Klipsch RF-82 front speakers. I'm trying to get better sound from my system (most importantly when playing vinyl), and am trying to find the best solution.

The Onkyo works well enough for movies, but I feel like the speakers have more to offer when playing music. The Onkyo is rated for 100W RMS, 2 channels, 4ohm, while the speakers are 150W RMS, 8ohm...
Yes, I probably shouldn't have bought this receiver, but it was on sale, I was on a budget and didn't know better.

I guess the best solution would be to get a HT-passthrough pre-amp to power the front speakers(?). The Onkyo of course doesn't have pre-outs though.
Next idea was to get something like a Denon AVZ-X4700H, and although this would probably improve my whole surround system, it isn't the primary objective.

Last idea so far is to get a separate power amp, and connect front and sub to both avr and power amp using switches. Unsure of how much better quality stereo sound I can expect from a 2.1 amp than an avr? This also feels much more like an improvised "DIY" solution than the other options, and I'm not sure if it's at all viable? I expect switches would introduce more noise or degrade the signal, but don't think their are other "safe" options to connect the same speakers/sub to two separate amps?

Full specs :
Turntable - Rega Planar 3 (2016)
Riaa - Nad PP 2e
Receiver - Onkyo Tx-Nr646
Front - Klipsch RF-82
Surround - Klipsch RP-240S
Center - Klipsch RP-440C
Sub - Klipsch R-112SW
 
Not too sure how to answer your question as, to my mind, an AV set-up and a stereo one should be kept separate. However I would like to point out that a pre amp isn't going to power anything.....
what is your budget?
 

shadders

Well-known member
Nov 19, 2009
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Hi,
The speakers are 98dB sensitivity. So for 10watts power from your amplifier, you will be achieving 108dB SPL, which is quite loud.

At 100watts you will be at 118dB SPL - hearing damage levels.

You are probably using no more than 10watts from an amplifier, as per the Onkyo website, which has 160watts power output, for 1% THD, 1 channel driven. Essentially, at normal listening levels, you are not using more than 10watts, so the THD reduces considerably too, to 0.08% maximum up to 100watts.

The amplifier is more than adequate performance and power to drive your speakers.

There is a snobbery about Hifi, in that people think that AV amplifiers are less than capable, despite that they probably have very similar circuitry as per class A/B implementations.

So, it is not about not knowing better, your amplifier is fine, and perhaps don't let the hype of Hifi separates are better than AV amplifiers, when driving two channels.

Regards,
Shadders.
 

Dworan

Member
Sep 1, 2021
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However I would like to point out that a pre amp isn't going to power anything.....

It's possible using HT-bypass with a compatible AVR and integrated/pre-amp. My AVR isn't compatible though so it doesn't really matter.

My budget is sort of flexible, but I was originally planning to spend ≈2000$ for a new AWR, but if I decide to go with a different solution I might have to change the budget/timeframe.

I realize that having two separate systems is preferable, but its not really an option with the space I have available. It will probably be some sort of compromise either way, but trying to make things as good as possible.
 
It's possible using HT-bypass with a compatible AVR and integrated/pre-amp. My AVR isn't compatible though so it doesn't really matter.

My budget is sort of flexible, but I was originally planning to spend ≈2000$ for a new AWR, but if I decide to go with a different solution I might have to change the budget/timeframe.

I realize that having two separate systems is preferable, but its not really an option with the space I have available. It will probably be some sort of compromise either way, but trying to make things as good as possible.
I think you need to look again at what a pre amp does. You cannot connect speakers directly to it.
are you referring to an integrated amp and an A V multi channel amp?
 

Tinman1952

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May 19, 2021
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The Onkyo is rated for 100W RMS, 2 channels, 4ohm, while the speakers are 150W RMS, 8ohm...
The 150W is the maximum power rating for your speakers…not the REQUIRED power. The Onkyo will drive them just fine. Your AVR does not have a pre out for L and R channels so an HT bypass input on a separate integrated amp is not possible. You could I suppose try the Zone 2 line outs into a separate amplifier but I doubt it would be satisfactory…..
 
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Sliced Bread

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Jul 28, 2010
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I can only write from my experience, but if you are not that fussed about movies but treasure your music then adding a stereo amplifier is likely the best £ per performance route.

I went down the other path which is sticking with av amplifiers as movies are also a high priority for me and I worked my way through six av receivers before settling on one that was good with music but I had to go up to a JBL Synthesis to get there. Music now finally sounds good, but from what I read you can get the same music performance for under 2k if you go stereo. It just depends whether you also want that uptick on movies. Sounds like you don’t.

Just remember to plug your record player directly into the stereo amp and not run it though the avr then the stereo amp as the stereo amp will likely have a cleaner pre amp.

In terms of amplifers sounding the same as noted above I would suggest you try a few to see if that is indeed the case for your speakers. It certainly wasn’t for mine. The thing is a speaker can have a published rating (mine are 87db sensitivity at 8 ohms), but at some frequencies it actually drops to 3.2 Ohms. Some amplifiers handle this better than others and it’s not always clear as speaker manufacturers do not always publish the minimum Ohms and amplifier manufacturers are not always very clear about their measurements. Measurements taken at just 1kh isn’t very helpful and especially when it is 1 channel driven too. Often we get 8 ohm measurement details but only some provide 4 ohms and even less provide 2 ohm ratings. Ohm ratings across 20hz to 20kz? Only a few publish this.
On top of this amplifiers have slew rates and damping factors which the manufacturers tweak to give their “house sound” and they’ll impact timing and how well the drivers are gripped. Lower damping ratings will sound fuller but are less accurate than higher damping ratings which will grip the drivers better, especially in the bass,. Higher slew rates will give more punch and improve leading edges of notes etc, but requires better quality amplification. I’m sure there are many other factors I am not aware of. In either case at this price point amplifiers can sound very different for all sorts of reasons. I hear this becomes less the case when you start going into high end power amplifiers, but for most of us we should certainly have an open mind and home demo :)
 
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shadders

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Nov 19, 2009
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Hi,
One of the most annoying aspects of AV amplifiers, is that the cheap ones are circa £600+ with 7 channels, more than sufficient decoding for what i want, and they don't provide pre-outs.

From the same manufacturer, an audio processor, same capability required as per AV amplifier, costs £2k+. It is cheaper to purchase the AV amplifier, and waste the use of the amplifiers, than it is to purchase the audio processor.

As above, the speakers sensitivity is 98dB for 1 watts. This is reasonably loud for just 1watt use. If the speaker impedance dips to 3.2ohms, then for 98dB SPL, you are using 2.67watts as opposed to the 1watt. The original posters amplifier is rated at 160watts. Impedance for their setup is not an issue.

As such, the issue of damping factor and slew rate are somewhat reduced in importance.

There is too much negativity about AV amplifiers. I am surprised no one has stated that the Klipsch speakers are primarily home cinema designs, and not real hifi stereo speakers.

If the original poster is unhappy with the sound, then by all means upgrade, but the hifi amplifier route means money spent on equipment with pre-outs, means less money spent on the stereo amplifier. The anti-AV comments are unjustified, and leads a person to ignore the obvious solution, which is a higher specified AV amplifier.

Regards,
Shadders.
 

Tinman1952

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May 19, 2021
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Klipsch speakers are primarily home cinema designs, and not real hifi stereo speakers.
When Paul Klipsch developed his ‘corner’ speaker in 1946 I doubt it had anything to do with home cinema……! It was meant to deliver the sound quality of an orchestra in the home! Get your history facts straight please…..
 

shadders

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Nov 19, 2009
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When Paul Klipsch developed his ‘corner’ speaker in 1946 I doubt it had anything to do with home cinema……! It was meant to deliver the sound quality of an orchestra in the home! Get your history facts straight please…..
Hi,
I stated :
I am surprised no one has stated that the Klipsch speakers are primarily home cinema designs, and not real hifi stereo speakers.
As such, your response is not valid.
Regards,
Shadders.

 

Sliced Bread

Well-known member
Jul 28, 2010
453
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18,970
Hi,
One of the most annoying aspects of AV amplifiers, is that the cheap ones are circa £600+ with 7 channels, more than sufficient decoding for what i want, and they don't provide pre-outs.

From the same manufacturer, an audio processor, same capability required as per AV amplifier, costs £2k+. It is cheaper to purchase the AV amplifier, and waste the use of the amplifiers, than it is to purchase the audio processor.

As above, the speakers sensitivity is 98dB for 1 watts. This is reasonably loud for just 1watt use. If the speaker impedance dips to 3.2ohms, then for 98dB SPL, you are using 2.67watts as opposed to the 1watt. The original posters amplifier is rated at 160watts. Impedance for their setup is not an issue.

As such, the issue of damping factor and slew rate are somewhat reduced in importance.

There is too much negativity about AV amplifiers. I am surprised no one has stated that the Klipsch speakers are primarily home cinema designs, and not real hifi stereo speakers.

If the original poster is unhappy with the sound, then by all means upgrade, but the hifi amplifier route means money spent on equipment with pre-outs, means less money spent on the stereo amplifier. The anti-AV comments are unjustified, and leads a person to ignore the obvious solution, which is a higher specified AV amplifier.

Regards,
Shadders.
I wouldnt go so far as to say I am negative regarding av receivers, I use one at the moment, but £ for £ you will get better stereo performance from a well built stereo amplifier when playing stereo music.
With regard to the factors being less relevant, it is just impossible to say unless the OP demo’s a selection of amplifiers with his speakers. There are too many factors and we do not have all the measurements/information. I suspect it will make an improvement though. Remember too that these amplifiers have a house sound and that sound may complement a particular set of speakers or it may conflict.
Demo demo demo…there is no substitute ;)
 
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shadders

Well-known member
Nov 19, 2009
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I wouldnt go so far as to say I am negative regarding av receivers, I use one at the moment, but £ for £ you will get better stereo performance from a well built stereo amplifier when playing stereo music.
With regard to the factors being less relevant, it is just impossible to say unless the OP demo’s a selection of amplifiers with his speakers. There are too many factors and we do not have all the measurements/information. I suspect it will make an improvement though. Remember too that these amplifiers have a house sound and that sound may complement a particular set of speakers or it may conflict.
Demo demo demo…there is no substitute ;)
Hi,
It was not specifically aimed at you, but as a general comment.

For stereo to AVR, i would assess it as the stereo amplifier is low volume, and AV amplifier with 7 channels higher volumes, so potentially a smaller difference for similar specification.

The OP has $2,000 to spend, and that can purchase a very high specification AV amplifier, with the latest processing options.

The amplifier design in an AV will not be very different to the design of a stereo amplifier. It will be the power supply where the differences are greatest, which is why they specify performance for 2 channels driven.

The Marantz SR7015 has 0.05% THD across the 20Hz to 20kHz frequency range, 2 channels driven. The 0.05% will be at 20kHz at 125watts, and through the lower audio range, will be much smaller. The 20kHz figure is what specifies the worst case.

I agree that if anything, listening is the key aspect here, but it would be less optimal to select a new AV amplifier with pre-outs, and purchase a stereo power amplifier, without considering and listening to an AV amplifier running with 2 channels for the same money.

Regards,
Shadders.
 

Sliced Bread

Well-known member
Jul 28, 2010
453
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18,970
Hi,
It was not specifically aimed at you, but as a general comment.

For stereo to AVR, i would assess it as the stereo amplifier is low volume, and AV amplifier with 7 channels higher volumes, so potentially a smaller difference for similar specification.

The OP has $2,000 to spend, and that can purchase a very high specification AV amplifier, with the latest processing options.

The amplifier design in an AV will not be very different to the design of a stereo amplifier. It will be the power supply where the differences are greatest, which is why they specify performance for 2 channels driven.

The Marantz SR7015 has 0.05% THD across the 20Hz to 20kHz frequency range, 2 channels driven. The 0.05% will be at 20kHz at 125watts, and through the lower audio range, will be much smaller. The 20kHz figure is what specifies the worst case.

I agree that if anything, listening is the key aspect here, but it would be less optimal to select a new AV amplifier with pre-outs, and purchase a stereo power amplifier, without considering and listening to an AV amplifier running with 2 channels for the same money.

Regards,
Shadders.
Oh not to worry I know it wasn’t targeted :)

Yes I agree you can get a good receiver for that money, though I just replaced a £2000 (Yamaha) receiver to improve the music (albeit with anotherAV receiver:) ) and music continued to improve, That may prove to be sufficient for the OP but maybe a stereo amplifier will be better.

I guess we both agree to demo is the best option. Try both and see what works 👍👍👍
 
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