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Question Will a Roksan Power amp be a worthwhile addition?

jonbhoy67

Well-known member
Jan 6, 2016
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Hi guys,

I'm wondering whether the addition of a Roksan Caspian m2 power amp will yield enough of an improvement in sound quality to justify the outlay.

I have the Caspian m2 CD and integrated amp driving a pair of Proac Response D18. I do already love the sound as it is but I'm wondering if splitting the amplification will open up the soundstage even more. The addition of the power amp would afford me the opportunity to bi-wire the speakers (with matching speaker cable), something I have never been able to do in previous systems.

They are in a 5m x 4m room facing breadth wise, if that helps anyone to understand environment a bit more.

Does anyone have experience of the benefits of (or lack thereof) adding a Caspian m2 power amp to the m2 integrated?

Thanks in advance for any advice, it is much appreciated.

John.
 

Al ears

Moderator
It would be an option but economically does not make sense unless you can get it at a really good price.
As they both offer 85 wpc I would say it's pointless
if you sold the integrated and bought the M1 Preamp to go with the power amp then you might gain a benefit
 

jonbhoy67

Well-known member
Jan 6, 2016
14
1
10,525
Thanks for the reply, Al ears.

Fair point about the price. Realistically, I'm looking at £1500 new or £900 pre-owned. I would also need to factor in around £100-140 (used or new cost) for additional speaker cable to bi-wire.

I'm definitely keeping the integrated amp, as I only recently bought it new to upgrade from a Primare i22 and I'm blown away with the improvement. My main goal is not for improvements at high volumes, rather improvements in the expansiveness of the soundstage and overall detail.

Having never bi-wired before, I'm not sure if the change will yield the benefits I'm hoping for. (or even if the speakers are sufficient to rise to that challenge. My feeling is that they probably are.)

I hope that helps to explain my goal in a bit more detail, I should have made that clearer in my original post.

Many thanks,
John

Update:

I have read quite a few posts on other forums saying that they found passive bi-amping with the m2 integrated and power amps to be a waste of time. Any opinions agreeing with or disagreeing with this, I would be delighted to hear. Thanks.
 

12th Monkey

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Aug 31, 2015
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I did this with some Arcam gear a few years ago, and I'd suggest trying in two configurations:

1) Bi-amp, with integrated driving one set of speaker terminals and the power the others. This should give more control over the drive units as the bass is being subcontracted to another amp.

2) If the Integrated has pre-out terminal, use those and don't connect it directly to the speakers, and use the power for that job alone. It won't give you any more 'control' over the drive units (unless the power amp is of a higher spec than the power section in the integrated), but should prevent any interaction between the pre and power sections, so you'd expect maybe a little more delicacy and detail.

I ended up with an integrated as pre- and two power amps, but have become a fan of the dedicated pre-/power route, personally - but it seems there are few absolutes in hifi.

Be interesting to see how you get on...
 

jonbhoy67

Well-known member
Jan 6, 2016
14
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10,525
So I've had the power amp for a couple of weeks worth of listening now, with some very interesting (and surprising!)results.

I was sent along a couple of free lengths of Atlas Hyper 1.5 to try out bi-amping. My current Hyper 2.0 is 2m in length but that wasn't of any concern, given that it would only make about 0.0025ms of a difference. Where I did have a little concern was that the 1.5 generally presents a slight loss in bass when compared with the 2.0.

No matter, I thought, I'll be using the 1.5 purely for the treble, so it shouldn't matter...

The results were pretty awful! The treble was suddenly bright, harsh and WAAAAY too much in the forefront of the music. It suddenly overpowered everything else and shattered the balance to the extent that it was unlistenable. I wondered if it was just an initial reaction to the change and tried with several genres of music to see if it would improve. Sadly not.
Another thing I noticed was that the coherence of the music felt compromised. Tracks felt a little disjointed compared to previously and this also took away from the experience. Overall a hugely disappointing experience with bi-amping.
I do have to say that there was, however, a marked improvement in the overall soundstage. It was far easier to pinpoint exactly where instruments were. It also brought some of the instruments further forward, to the middle of the room whilst pushing some further back, beyond the rear wall behind the speakers. Impressive as that is, it simply isn't worth it if the result as a whole is less enjoyable.

I then decided I would see how things changed with the addition of the power amp in a single wired setup. I went into this very skeptical, given my previous disappointment, thinking that there would be zero improvement. How wrong I was!
I noticed a definite expanse in the soundstage and in how easy it was to place instruments (not as marked a difference as the bi-amping but significant nonetheless.) The best way I could describe it is that all instruments had a bit more breathing space.

Listening to John Williams theme from Raiders of the Lost Ark, I could pinpoint the positions of each brass section with far more ease, I heard parts from the harp which were previously a little lost and I could even separate the positions of lead violin and 2nd on stage.

These benefits, along with the decent deal of £150 off list price, a free £100 interconnect for my headphone amp and a couple of (admittedly dodgy) Hyper 1.5 speaker cable, have convinced me there is a place in my system for the power amp.

I'll eventually get round to trying the bi-amp configuration using the thicker cable for the treble to see if that eliminates the harshness but I'm not going to hold my breath. Besides, I'm still too busy enjoying it as it is right now!

Thanks for the advice from everyone, as always, much appreciated.

John
 
Last edited:

12th Monkey

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Aug 31, 2015
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Interesting. You could do a quick try of the system using the original cable for the treble, just to see whether that made it palatable.

Also, if using the integrated just as a pre (as you are now), some integrateds have an 'off' switch for the inbuilt power part - in theory it should work slightly better as a pre with this done.
 

jonbhoy67

Well-known member
Jan 6, 2016
14
1
10,525
Yeah, that's the plan 12th, I'll switch the cables around and see how it sounds.

As for the power amp section within the integrated, my understanding is that it has to be switched off internally but I have no idea how to do it (or even if that is correct, tbh.) I certainly wouldn't want to be voiding my warranty by opening it up myself if that was the risk involved. I do think it would help though, would be interesting to find out how it can be done. I'll perhaps contact Monitor Audio directly for advice on that one.
 

jonbhoy67

Well-known member
Jan 6, 2016
14
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10,525
So I managed to get JPS speaker cable matching my interconnects to try out in comparison to the Atlas Hyper 2.0.
It sounded great but unfortunately one of the banana plugs is bent, so I'll be sending them back.

Decided while I had another good cable here it would make sense to try out bi-amping again, before I return it.... WOW!!
The difference compared to the last time is incredible. The leap from my single amp setup is astounding. The Hyper 1.5 was clearly the broken link in the chain.

As such, I have taken the plunge and ordered JPS Labs Superconductor Q Bi-wire cable from the US and can't wait for the delivery!!

Going back to my original question in the thread;
"Will a Roksan Power amp be a worthwhile addition?"
Absolutely!!!
 

12th Monkey

Well-known member
Aug 31, 2015
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Good to hear. It seems impossible for an amp to have too much control over its drivers.

Btw, I expect you might get some ribbing about cables and deluding yourself, but as your experiences with the amps described above have run contrary to expectation you don't seem too obvious a candidate for 'expectation bias.'
 
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