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Question Amp for Dynaudio Focus 160

tbitblula

Active member
Oct 27, 2020
13
2
25
Hello everybody, it’s been several years of happy listening since I posted in any hifi forums. I am now at a loss deciding for an upgrade and so I turn to you fine folks for some advice.

My current setup consists of a pair of Dynaudio Focus 160 (incredible speakers, btw!) powered by a Roksan K3 sourced via a Project Tube Box S from a Rega RP3 with an Ortofon 2M Bronze cartridge.

When I upgraded from my NAD T755 recevier to the Roksan K3 integrated amp I knew I will soon think about another amp upgrade - and the time has come. Roksan delivers very clean and responsive sound through my Focus 160 but I miss a bit of warmth that my NAD had, although it lacked in soundstage and transparency and speed. So I am somewhat content with the Roksan K3, very clean, pretty analytical, transparent and large... but I would like something more for my Focus 160.

Any suggestions? I’ve scoured the net far & wide and I do have some options in mind, such as: Roksan Blak, Parasound Hint 6, Hegel H190, something from Naim (though Naims seem a bit underpowered for my application). Anyway, that would be my price point. I am very curios what, in your experience, would be a good match with the Dynaudio Focus 160. Unfortunately because I live in Romania and here hifi dealers are few and rather arrogant, I think a home demo is out of the question. I won’t take my speakers for dealer demos, but I could take the Roksan for comparison. No dealer sadly has the Focus 160 but some of them have the Special 40s... I don’t know wether the sound is similar or not.

I’m also ok with going used... but many people talk about “servicing” old amps and I don’t expect to easily find people that can do that in Romania, another sad point. Otherwise I would have no problems with second hand.

Thanks a lot for your advice!
 

tbitblula

Active member
Oct 27, 2020
13
2
25
You want a reply in 16 minutes?
You're going to have to be a bit more patient than that, even as a new member.
Welcome by the way.
If it was my money, and I am sorely thinking about getting one myself, I would say go for the Parasound Halo Hint 6.
Haha, one day + 16 mins :)
Thanks for the reply & good to be here.
Also happy you suggested something from my list, u know how it feels whenever you think you have a shortlist and then people recommend to people asking a lot of totally different brands and it never ends :) I have decided to take the speakers out for demo, actually, and will be able to audion Parasound Hint 6 vs Roksan Blak vs my Roksan K3 and in a different store Hegel H190 vs Yamaha S2200 vs some Naim vs Roksan K3. Taking the K3 as a reference, sort of. This will happen earliest end of November though. I’ll post back here my experience.
 

tbitblula

Active member
Oct 27, 2020
13
2
25
Yes, some limitations locally, sadly. Anyway, I’m not really a fan of Class D design, I would definitely be interested in hearing out an amp that could change my mind in that regard... stiil, the discretisation of audio signal in the amplification process is something I’d prefer to avoid. I almost only play vinyl ever since I got the bug and started collecting records, sometimes I play digital but usually that’s only movies.
 

Al ears

Moderator
Yes, some limitations locally, sadly. Anyway, I’m not really a fan of Class D design, I would definitely be interested in hearing out an amp that could change my mind in that regard... stiil, the discretisation of audio signal in the amplification process is something I’d prefer to avoid. I almost only play vinyl ever since I got the bug and started collecting records, sometimes I play digital but usually that’s only movies.
Pity you cannot hear Primare then as I am sure, when listening, you wouldn't be able to tell what class of amplification it was using.
 

tbitblula

Active member
Oct 27, 2020
13
2
25
Pity you cannot hear Primare then as I am sure, when listening, you wouldn't be able to tell what class of amplification it was using.
I’m sure it sounds great, I’ve seen a lot of positive reviews. It’s more of a... feeling based reasoning in this case, for me. Having an entire analogue chain from start to finish, I feel I would be more pleased with Class A - A/B amplification. Nevertheless if I’ll ever have the possibility to audition Primare or other high quality Class D amps, such as the premium offerings from NAD M series, I won’t hesitate. I’m a curious and technical person :)
 
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plastic penguin

Well-known member
Apr 28, 2008
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I’m sure it sounds great, I’ve seen a lot of positive reviews. It’s more of a... feeling based reasoning in this case, for me. Having an entire analogue chain from start to finish, I feel I would be more pleased with Class A - A/B amplification. Nevertheless if I’ll ever have the possibility to audition Primare or other high quality Class D amps, such as the premium offerings from NAD M series, I won’t hesitate. I’m a curious and technical person :)
If you like the Roksan presentation then the Blak seems the obvious choice. If you can source one, Leema Tucana will be a wonderful match for the Dynaudio.

Whatever amp you choose make sure it has a 'Returns', just in case...
 

tbitblula

Active member
Oct 27, 2020
13
2
25
The Leeema seems a nice choice, yes. Sadly it’s another one I can’t seem to find locally.

I do like the Roksan presentation but I also have a very limited experience. Apart from my older NAD, that the Roksan K3 beats in most aspects but not all, a really old AKAI of one of my friends that delivers warm powerful sound but lacks speed and dimension, some Regas I audionned when I bought the Roksan K3 and didn’t like (though they were bellow Roksan’s price point) and a Sugden that blew my mind (but a version powerful enough for my speakers is well above my price range)... I never critically listened to any other hifi amp.

I’ll post my feedback here when I get to audition my shortlist :)
 

Jota180

Well-known member
May 14, 2010
22
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18,525
How about a Hegel amp?

AVstore.ro (Qube Net SRL)
Atanasie Demosthen nr 22, Sector 5
Bucuresti 050503
Phone: 021-232-40-77


I have the H160 (the latest version is the H190) and it's really good. Plenty power for the Dynaudio's.
 

tbitblula

Active member
Oct 27, 2020
13
2
25
Yes, Hegel H190 is on my shortlist, I will audion at AVSotre alongside an Yamaha and a Naim :) Thanks a lot for the confirmation.
 

tbitblula

Active member
Oct 27, 2020
13
2
25
As promised, coming back to you with a conclusion, and a story actually, one that turns out totally unexpected.

I ended up with a brand new Sugden 21SE which was not even on the shortlist :) The reason none of the amps on the shortlist were chosen was that because of Covid I couldn’t audition anything. And now I am glad for that :)

Now let me get this right: Sugden was not on the shortlist but it had been in my heart, so to speak, for a while, ever since I chance auditioned one. Though I had always apprectiated, I had dimissed “affordable” (by their standard) class A and valve amps because they have less power. A lot less! Yes, I know, it’s just a rating still...

+ my Dynaudio Focus 160 are rather less sensitive at 85 dB/m/W

So I couldn’t audition any amps on the list, wasn’t sure... Sugden popped up. A lot less power, 40 W, I know, waaay less than my 200W max Dynaudio Focus 160. But that sound + same price + really, ANYBODY in any forum talking about Sugden has nothing but good words + researching a bit more... long story short, I got the Sugden.

And then, another long story short, it really blew my mind :) The Sugden sounded - right out of the box with just a bit of warmup (30 mins) and no run-in - incredible. I mean, really, a total different level so to speak that the old amp. Thing is, when this was happening, I was actually listening the new Sugden at a friend & producer, on a different setup than mine, coming straight from the shop - a sort of tradition. He has even LESS sensitive speakers (Onkyo D302 or something), but in a smaller room that is also better treated. The sound was suddenly deeper, for once, but I don’t mean more bass, the whole image was deeper, mids & highs too. Each sound, each instrument, had its place in a room and was really idependent from the others more than with the previous amp (an old & great AKAI). The suddent difference in dynamics, also, how at one moment some voice fades away and suddenly a trumpet or violin apprears loud & in a different area, it can ever scare you :) The sound was more organic could be another expression, I guess. Not more aggresive, more present. More nuanced and more wide.

Now really, I may not have the experience of most here, but I had listened to fine amps for a while, so wasn’t jumping from mp3, so to speak :)

So, to conclude, I definitely recommend Sugden and Class A in general to anyone who has the budget, and really good amps start at prices similar cu good Class AB and D (if that’s your thing) amps. This amp instantly feels like a reference element in the system. Instantly! :)

So, to conclude, I definitely recommend Sugden and Class A in general to anyone who has the budget. I know Class A and valves are thought of as something that is maybe a bit too much value wise... And that may be the case but this amp costs as much as a good class AB. And the way it sounds...

// PS. The Watts dilemma? Hmm. Over the course of few days I spent several hours on discussions strictly about class A and sensitivity of speakers and room size and the fact that for every 3dB increase in SPL you double de power so that a headroom of 10 dB requires 10 times the power. I have clearly failed to grasp a proper scientific perspective but one thing is clear: it’s not the rated (maximum continuous, rated in RMS) power that matters... it’s the one that you use! And it’s definitely also not the maximum power your speakers cand handle without being destroyed that matter. Better ask yourself - at what power am I listening now? Power * Speaker Sensitivity translates to Volume! So Power = Volume in a way. The answer, unless u got a big room turned out pretty loud, will be from 500 mW to 2 W, maybe 4 - but an average of 4 W is getting loud for a less sensitive speaker and is very loud for a sensitive one! On the other hand, keep in mind that just 10dB of headroom means getting from 4W to 40W for the transients. And 20 dB headroom means 400W! Still, this magical (heavy & solid!) 40W into 4ohm amp delivers incredibly!

In the end, in a quasi-technical conclusion, I belive it has something to do with2 facts:

1. 99% of the time (maybe more) you are below 4 W. In a class A single ended (“pure”) design this is a beautiful sound: coherent, very low distortion, no feedback active, sound as pure and detailed as possible in the SS world

2. In the transients where rated power is exceeded than the distortion can even be worse than in other amps but... is somehow pleasant.

So it may be the combination between listening 99% of the time in the purest form + 1% pleasant distorsion.

I also may be totally wrong :)

Nevertheless the 40W Sugden A21SE and the 85d/m/W max 200W Dynaudio Focus 160 are an incredible match! (as long as your room is not too big).
 
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MUSICRAFT

Well-known member
As promised, coming back to you with a conclusion, and a story actually, one that turns out totally unexpected.

I ended up with a brand new Sugden 21SE which was not even on the shortlist :)

Nevertheless the 40W Sugden A21SE and the 85d/m/W max 200W Dynaudio Focus 160 are an incredible match! (as long as your room is not too big).
Nice one (y) however I hope you'll not mind me asking but did you also consider their Masterclass ANV-50 please? 50w into 8 ohms and doubles in text book fashion into 4 ohms with 100w, high current and is stable down to 1 ohms. Fwiw, with the current lockdown for a couple of weeks at home I was using the Masterclass ANV-50 with DM 2/7's and the match is stunning. Great synergy.
 
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tbitblula

Active member
Oct 27, 2020
13
2
25
Nice one (y) however I hope you'll not mind me asking but did you also consider their Masterclass ANV-50 please? 50w into 8 ohms and doubles in text book fashion into 4 ohms with 100w, high current and is stable down to 1 ohms. Fwiw, with the current lockdown for a couple of weeks at home I was using the Masterclass ANV-50 with DM 2/7's and the match is stunning. Great synergy.
I did consider the ANV-50, yes... but by the time I was considering Sugden I was also hooked on the idea of pure Class A :) The ANV-50 is a different topology, using 2 amp stages actually. That being said, I’m sure it sounds incredible and I can see it’s very well regarded. There was also the price tag issue. I got the A21SE for Black Friday and it had a 40% (!!) discount. It was the only Sugden on discount, so the ANV-50 was actually more than double the price.

But because I am now hooked on the Sugden sound... I am considering moving the SE into my future studio and replacing the amp at home with none other than the ANV-50. I’d love to get a deal on it, though :)
 

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