Would adding a power amp to my integrated amp improve the sound?

albireo

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Oct 6, 2011
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Hi,

I'm using an integrated amp with the following specs

POWER OUTPUT (both channels into 8Ω) 85 WattsPOWER OUTPUT (one channel into 8Ω) 100 WattsPOWER OUTPUT (one channel into 4Ω) 170 WattsPEAK OUTPUT CURRENT INTO 1Ω > 10 Amps RMSTOTAL HARMONIC DISTORTION < 0.1%(20 Hz to 20 kHz)FREQUENCY RESPONSE 5 Hz to 50 kHz - 1 dBSLEW RATE > 25 V per μSGAIN x 68INPUT SENSITIVITY - One channel driven/8Ω 415 mV line inputPRE-AMP OUTPUT LEVEL Follows input signal level via volume controlX 2SIGNAL TO NOISE RATIO (‘A’ weighted) > 96 dBSEPARATION (line inputs) > 60 dB at 1 kHz

POWER OUTPUT (both channels into 8Ω) 85 Watts

POWER OUTPUT (one channel into 8Ω) 100 Watts

POWER OUTPUT (one channel into 4Ω) 170 Watts

PEAK OUTPUT CURRENT INTO 1Ω > 10 Amps RMS

TOTAL HARMONIC DISTORTION < 0.1%(20 Hz to 20 kHz)

FREQUENCY RESPONSE 5 Hz to 50 kHz - 1 dB

SLEW RATE > 25 V per μS

GAIN x 68

INPUT SENSITIVITY - One channel driven/8Ω 415 mV line input

PRE-AMP OUTPUT LEVEL Follows input signal level via volume control X 2

SIGNAL TO NOISE RATIO (‘A’ weighted) > 96 dB

SEPARATION (line inputs) > 60 dB at 1 kHz

This integrated drives a pair of standmounts, that are by all accounts rather difficult to drive (86db/4ohm). I do like the sound of the combo, however I'm left wondering if "fatter" amplification would drive my speakers even better. I don't want to get rid of the integrated just now - I love its interface, the display, the choice of inputs. I noticed it has pre-outs. So I was wondering if it would be a good idea to use the integrated as a preamplifier and feed its preouts into a more powerful power amp. Just to be clear - I do NOT want to biamp (I actually cannot - my speakers only have two binding posts each).

I searched around a bit and I found a power amp (same brand of the integrated) going very cheap, which has the following specs:

POWER OUTPUT (both channels into 8W) 90 Watts

POWER OUTPUT (one channel into 8W) 110 Watts

POWER OUTPUT (one channel into 4W) 180 Watts

PEAK OUTPUT CURRENT INTO 1W > 25 Amps RMS

TOTAL HARMONIC DISTORTION < 0.05% (20 Hz to 20 kHz)

FREQUENCY RESPONSE 3 Hz to 25 kHz - 1 dB

SLEW RATE > 50 V per micro second

GAIN (Power amp only. Passive pre) x 48 or 33.6 dB

INPUT SENSITIVITY - One channel driven/8W 620 mV

SIGNAL TO NOISE RATIO (‘A’ weighted) > 105 dB

SEPARATION (line inputs) > 60 dB at 1 kHz

Would my integrated theoretically work OK as a pre for this power amp? I know improvements are subjective - however could this solution represent an upgrade possibility?
 
A

Anonymous

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I've gone from a 60W integrated amp (Audiolab) to adding a 100w per channel power amp. So far I've just powered evertything from the power amp -but today I've just acquired to new speaker cable to enable me to bi -amp everything (HF from integrated and LF from power) to see if there is (hopefully!) any benefit to utilising both.
 

gregvet

Well-known member
Dec 24, 2008
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There are plenty of factors that may affect the answer. In theory it should sound better, as it will provide more power, especially current, to the speakers. However, there are other factors to consider. If the pre outs are an afterthought and not up to the standard of the rest of the internals of the amp, then passing the signal out through them may degrade it in some way. Is the power amp just the same make, or is it in the same range? If its the same make but in a different range the sound quality (the voicing of the amp) may be similar, nicer, or not as nice.

The long and the short of it, is you need to try it to know for sure.

Let us now how you get on. What make are the amps BTW?
 
A

Anonymous

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marafunman said:
I've gone from a 60W integrated amp (Audiolab) to adding a 100w per channel power amp. So far I've just powered evertything from the power amp -but today I've just acquired to new speaker cable to enable me to bi -amp everything (HF from integrated and LF from power) to see if there is (hopefully!) any benefit to utilising both.
Noticed a significant upgrade from the power amp alone. A lot more transparency and a wider soundstage :)
 
A

Anonymous

Guest
marafunman said:
I've gone from a 60W integrated amp (Audiolab) to adding a 100w per channel power amp. So far I've just powered evertything from the power amp -but today I've just acquired to new speaker cable to enable me to bi -amp everything (HF from integrated and LF from power) to see if there is (hopefully!) any benefit to utilising both.
Noticed a significant upgrade from the power amp alone. A lot more transparency and a wider soundstage :)
 

albireo

New member
Oct 6, 2011
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gregvet said:
There are plenty of factors that may affect the answer. In theory it should sound better, as it will provide more power, especially current, to the speakers. However, there are other factors to consider. If the pre outs are an afterthought and not up to the standard of the rest of the internals of the amp, then passing the signal out through them may degrade it in some way. Is the power amp just the same make, or is it in the same range? If its the same make but in a different range the sound quality (the voicing of the amp) may be similar, nicer, or not as nice.

The long and the short of it, is you need to try it to know for sure.

Let us now how you get on. What make are the amps BTW?
Hi thanks a lot for your answer. The brand is Creek. At the moment I have an Evolution Integrated. The power amp would be a Classic A53 - this is basically the power amp section of a 5350SE Classic. So the power amp is slightly older in design than the Integrated - but the latter is probably one tier below and its specs are worse. Do you think it would work?
 

gregvet

Well-known member
Dec 24, 2008
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I'm not that familiar with creek products, so don't feel qualified to give definite answers. As ever some amps have synergy with some speakers, and others, even from the same make, might not.

However, having said that, in my experience it is rare for there to be massive jumps in quality between the same manufacturers amps when they update ranges. For eg, I am sure the new Cyrus 8a sounds very similar (although slightly improved no doubt) to the outgoing 8xp (just to use my own amp as an example!). On this basis, I would assume that an older example of an amp higher up the creek range would still sound better than a newer amp lower down the range.

On the other hand tho, the specs you posted suggest that while the power amp has more power, the proportional increase going from 8ohm to 4ohm isn't much better, if any. So it remains to be seen how much better it while drive your difficult load speakers. Can you find a rating for either amp at 2ohm? That would tell you more about their abilities than the figures you posted IMO, especially with a speaker rated at 4ohm, as it will almost certainly dip to 3.2ohm if not lower at some point in the frequency range.

If you are buying second hand, just make sure you get a good deal, and if it doesn't give the expected improvement you should be able to sell it on for minimal loss. You will need the croft pre amp then tho really to maximise the system >)
 

albireo

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Oct 6, 2011
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gregvet said:
If you are buying second hand, just make sure you get a good deal, and if it doesn't give the expected improvement you should be able to sell it on for minimal loss. You will need the croft pre amp then tho really to maximise the system >)
Thanks, sound advice. Actually, I'm considering the following two alternative possibilities:

1- I find the added power amp does not provide clear improvements. I sell it.

2- The power amp does represent a clear improvement. In this case, the integrated becomes somehow redundant - better, the power amp section in the integrated is wasted basically. So I could sell the integrated and try to get a dedicated preamp.

If 2 was the case, what sort of preamp should I be looking at? I know Creek makes (or used to make) a passive preamp: a couple of inputs and a volume attenuator. Would that work? I'm a bit unsure whether passive or active is better.

The preamp in the Creek Evolution is active (judging from the specs - 2x which should be 3db if I'm not wrong). Are active preamps a better choice in general? And what is this Croft amp you recommend?
 

gregvet

Well-known member
Dec 24, 2008
128
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18,595
Croft was my mistake, I meant creek, sorry!

Sounds like a sensible plan, and what I would do in your situation.

My understanding is that passive pre amps can be a better option, as they have less effect on the signal than an active amp. I haven't compared the two tho, and as ever it all depends on the implementation and synergy with other parts of the system. A good start would be the creek pre amp but you should try and demo other options once you have a budget in mind, assuming you decide the power amp is a keeper of course ;)
 

albireo

New member
Oct 6, 2011
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gregvet said:
Croft was my mistake, I meant creek, sorry!

Sounds like a sensible plan, and what I would do in your situation.
Cheers actually do you know anything about Croft pre-amps? Seems like a respectable old-style British maker from what I can read..
 

drummerman

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Jan 18, 2008
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gregvet said:
There are plenty of factors that may affect the answer. In theory it should sound better, as it will provide more power, especially current, to the speakers. However, there are other factors to consider. If the pre outs are an afterthought and not up to the standard of the rest of the internals of the amp, then passing the signal out through them may degrade it in some way. Is the power amp just the same make, or is it in the same range? If its the same make but in a different range the sound quality (the voicing of the amp) may be similar, nicer, or not as nice.

The long and the short of it, is you need to try it to know for sure.

Let us now how you get on. What make are the amps BTW?
It is important for an amplifier to swing volts if peaks demand it. This is one of the reasons good valve amplifiers can sound dynamic compared to Transistor amplifiers with stiff power supplies. Only within their power envelope of course, which is often low.

Confusing old salad this whole thing is

regards
 

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