Differences You'd Notice In Higher Quality Amp?

Witterings

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Sep 17, 2020
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What differences are the most obvious you'd notice with a higher quality amp?

I currently have a Denon M39 in one room, I've recently upgraded the speakers to B & W 607's and new "reasonable" quality speaker cable (was old rubbish on there) and added a sub (Q Acoustics 3060s) and am using a WiiM mini streamer via the optical in.

I thinking about "upgrading" to say a Bluesound Powernode which would also keep "The Boss" happy as she likes picking up a remote control and pressing one button to turn the radio on (I do as well as this is a high percentage of it's use) but wonder how noticeable the difference would be as they're predominently a streamer with an amp added as opposed to targeting a higher quality amp market.

The next step up, my alternatives could be a Topping PA 5 (probably with a E50 DAC) a Marantz PM 6007 or a Denon PMA-800E .... again would I notice much difference and if so what might those differences be?

If there was likely to be a very noticeable jump again I may also consider a Quad Vena II, Rega Brio or Cyrus One (last 2 would also require a DAC).

Really just trying to get a feel for whether it's worth spending the extra and "how much" difference it'd make and of them would make, opinions may be the speakers then become the limiting factor and it's not worth going to one of the last 3 suggested.

My preference would be for the Bluesound PowerNode but probably for the wrong reasons ... due to convenience for it's use and keeping the mrs happy ... but I feel it'd probably be the least gain in comparison to the others and whether that'd even be worth doing at all?

My query although there are some details of an immediate chnage I'm considering are also broadly based as if in general there really is a big difference, longer term I may look at going to a dedicated stereo amplifier in the lounge as well as oopposed to an AVR.

Really interested to hear people's thoughts.
 
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I am going to slightly skirt your question about differences.

The powernode is actually a decent bit of kit. I heard this at the UK Audio Show in the Blusound room. They had some PMC 25/24i (~£6k speakers) on the end of a PMC Cor amp, playing BS Node streams.

Then at the end of the demo promptly whipped off the hidden box at the back of the desk and the Cor was not driving the speakers, it was actually a powernode which had been hidden under the box - and it sounded pretty decent.

They then plugged in the Cor and of course there was a difference, quite noticeable. However, not the price difference you would expect. The Powernode did a decent enough job.

My point is don't knock it. It was alright. In fact it was better than alright, much better.

Differences, if you spend more, yes...

Is a powernode good at it's job and adequate for many people? Absolutely imo.
 
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plastic penguin

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Realism.

After listening to so many of the popular sub-£1000 integrated amps, all of them had their merits. Once you get above that 1k threshold a few sonic traits are audible, stereo imaging/realism. No doubt once you go above the 2.5k threshold you get even more....

This was based on my own experiences when I was looking to upgrade the A65 Plus.
 

plastic penguin

Well-known member
I would add to plastic penguin's traits transparency. In fact I'd lump imaging and realism as part of transparency, and once you reach that listening is improved at lower volume too.

For me transparency is not more clarity, but clarity at another level.
Yep.
Also add in control over speakers but it was how real the music and films sound that really hit me. Obviously control is important but as I only play at lower levels most of the time, it's secondary to our needs.
 
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It's a bit like asking someone else to go to a fancy new restaurant to see if you would like the food there....
You need to hear the difference for yourself and then decide if it is worth the extra money....🙂
I would agree, if keeping those speakers and your sub then you aren't going to need a hugely muscular amp but you would benefit from one with adequate power to suitably drive and control your speakers.
Differences are more apparent when it comes to the type of amplification whether it be Class A/B or tube Class A etc, etc.
As long as it also has the facilities you may require then there is no point in spending large amounts, however only you can determine the point where diminishing returns becomes too much.
 

Witterings

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The bluesound powernode doesn't come with a remote it's an aftermarket purchase.
I knew it was a £50 aftermarket but I believe you can also take any old remote you have and program the Node to recognise it and I'd set one of the pre-sets to switch it onto the preferred radio station.
 
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plastic penguin

Well-known member
It's a bit like asking someone else to go to a fancy new restaurant to see if you would like the food there....
You need to hear the difference for yourself and then decide if it is worth the extra money....🙂
Keeping with the food analogy, I have been to specialist burger restaurant, and to be honest, price increase aside, I prefer McDonalds (other fast food burger chains are available). The only thing I preferred at the expensive restaurant was the fries/chips.

What's this to do with the subject I hear you ask. One aspect I unsure about is whether the more expensive amps have better detail. Again, this is based on my own experience. Because the A65 have tone controls, these tone controls make the treble and bass more prominent, but whether it's better I really can't say for sure -- it's been many, many years since I've heard one with bass & treble.
 

Witterings

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Sep 17, 2020
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It's a bit like asking someone else to go to a fancy new restaurant to see if you would like the food there....
You need to hear the difference for yourself and then decide if it is worth the extra money....🙂
I get that but I'm not going to find one restuarant with everything in my "menu" and with no HiFi shops on my doorstep it's doing some research to see if it's even worth my while hauling myself miles away to see for myself.

There's also the ... "some people" like Michelin Star restuarants and would say they're great .... personally I'd give them a very wide birth, I'm really not into fussy places serving minimalist portions with pretentious names ... but I love somewhere that serves a really decent filet steak or maybe even crab / lobster.

Joy of the internet and with the help of some "nice people" you can at least start doing so research to find out which of the restuarants may be worth a visit and which are a waste of money :D
 

nopiano

Well-known member
Having recently changed power amps I’d say that I noticed a few things:-
1. Singers sounded more like human beings with a chest, head and mouth rather than just a voice.
2. The hall or room ambience was clearer and different venues were more obviously different shapes.
3. The preamp volume setting seemed less critical as more music sounded good even if slightly louder or quieter.
4. Certain details, like the crowd singing along in the background on a live album, revealed themselves for the first time.

All that said, my previous amp retailed at about one-quarter of the price and I didn’t feel it was especially lacking. But like certain things, once you’ve enjoyed something you can notice if it is absent.
 

Witterings

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Sep 17, 2020
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Having recently changed power amps I’d say that I noticed a few things:-
1. Singers sounded more like human beings with a chest, head and mouth rather than just a voice.
2. The hall or room ambience was clearer and different venues were more obviously different shapes.
3. The preamp volume setting seemed less critical as more music sounded good even if slightly louder or quieter.
4. Certain details, like the crowd singing along in the background on a live album, revealed themselves for the first time.

All that said, my previous amp retailed at about one-quarter of the price and I didn’t feel it was especially lacking. But like certain things, once you’ve enjoyed something you can notice if it is absent.
Thanks for that ... do you mind if I asl what the 2nd amp cost, just interested to know whatyou need to spend to notice that sort of difference.
I did have similar in a car years back, had a new stereo fitted and suddenly heard sounds I'd never heard on stero at home before, many years later I boughat new car that had a Bose upgrade stereo fitted .... it wasn't a patch on what was in the car I sold.

I am going to slightly skirt your question about differences.

The powernode is actually a decent bit of kit. I heard this at the UK Audio Show in the Blusound room. They had some PMC 25/24i (~£6k speakers) on the end of a PMC Cor amp, playing BS Node streams.

Then at the end of the demo promptly whipped off the hidden box at the back of the desk and the Cor was not driving the speakers, it was actually a powernode which had been hidden under the box - and it sounded pretty decent.

They then plugged in the Cor and of course there was a difference, quite noticeable. However, not the price difference you would expect. The Powernode did a decent enough job.

My point is don't knock it. It was alright. In fact it was better than alright, much better.

Differences, if you spend more, yes...

Is a powernode good at it's job and adequate for many people? Absolutely imo.
Thank you for that and kind of puts a perspective on it, does make the Bluesound look more appealing although I'd be paying a lot for a streamig servive I don't neccessarily need.

Wish I could find a decent amp / receiver that was one click for radio, it'd probably have more invested in the amp if there was no streamer.
 

nopiano

Well-known member
Thanks for that ... do you mind if I asl what the 2nd amp cost, just interested to know whatyou need to spend to notice that sort of difference.
My previous power amp was a Nord One Up NC500DM mark 1. I think it was about £1300 new; I paid £800 used. (The approximate equivalent today is £1600 ish).
The current Pass Labs XA25 is £4795 new; I paid £3000 used.
 

Witterings

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Sep 17, 2020
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My previous power amp was a Nord One Up NC500DM mark 1. I think it was about £1300 new; I paid £800 used. (The approximate equivalent today is £1600 ish).
The current Pass Labs XA25 is £4795 new; I paid £3000 used.
Thank you for that and much appreciated .... that's not for this immediate room but as mentioned I'm also looking at longer term upgrade in the lounge and that's possibly where I'd head and do the same as you buying 2nd hand.
 

Tinman1952

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Thanks for that ... do you mind if I asl what the 2nd amp cost, just interested to know whatyou need to spend to notice that sort of difference.
I did have similar in a car years back, had a new stereo fitted and suddenly heard sounds I'd never heard on stero at home before, many years later I boughat new car that had a Bose upgrade stereo fitted .... it wasn't a patch on what was in the car I sold.



Thank you for that and kind of puts a perspective on it, does make the Bluesound look more appealing although I'd be paying a lot for a streamig servive I don't neccessarily need.

Wish I could find a decent amp / receiver that was one click for radio, it'd probably have more invested in the amp if there was no streamer.
If you mean FM radio you could look at the Cambridge AXR100. It has 30 radio presets and at 100 watts per channel would be quite a step up from your Denon....


This reviewer preferred it to the highly regarded Yamaha AS801!


The AXR100D adds DAB radio.
View: https://youtu.be/xugAsD27OSM
 
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abacus

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Sep 24, 2008
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As a general rule of thumb, the more expensive the amp the better the quality of the components, thus giving lower noise and distortion which can transfer into a perceived cleaner, wider and open sound.
The second is that the power supply and output stages will have much more current reserves, therefore will not be affected by the speakers as much, (This is why for entry and mid-fi you need to hear the speakers and amp in combination to see how well they work together) if you go high end (The old Krells are a case in point) then the power supply and output stages are so powerful that you only hear the speaker differences, as they can run any speaker as if they weren’t even there and thus the sound from them will not alter.

Bill
 

PlastermanOG

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Sep 2, 2020
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I knew it was a £50 aftermarket but I believe you can also take any old remote you have and program the Node to recognise it and I'd set one of the pre-sets to switch it onto the preferred radio station.
Yes you can use any spare remote you have to hand and use the IR learning function on the node/powernode. I have the node myself and used this function and it works a treat.
 

robdmarsh

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Jun 28, 2015
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If you mean FM radio you could look at the Cambridge AXR100. It has 30 radio presets and at 100 watts per channel would be quite a step up from your Denon....


This reviewer preferred it to the highly regarded Yamaha AS801!


The AXR100D adds DAB radio.
View: https://youtu.be/xugAsD27OSM
I think I heard this in Richer Sounds when auditioning some speakers. Not very impressed with the sound to be honest. I think my Denon pma 800ne has a punchier more open sound. I think the speakers were Oberon 3.
 

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