View Full Version : Amp frustrations
08-08-2002, 10:27 AM
I have the 800i's, 400i, and a Denon 3802. I thought surely a fine B&K amp would bring these puppies to life. The model I chose was a new ST1403 (140x3) to power the fronts, with Signal Cables for the Interconnects (good price, so good place to start I thought). Everything is hooked up, I put on some well worn music (Denon CD player also with Signal cables), and I'll be damned!!
It sounds almost exactly the same! What the deuce? 110w from the Denon, 140 from the B&K, Ok, not much change there, but it is a dedicated amp, with good interconnects. So I thought maybe it's not getting enough power, so I tried straight in to the wall, and on it's own UPS, no difference. Granted I'm happy with the sound, and it's very clear and powerful, but it was that way with the Denon, too. To my ears, the mid's-highs- lows sound about the same. It seems weird to me that 2 different power sources would sound so close.
The only audible difference I can hear between movies (2 now) and CD's (my very familiar material ones) is that the TV sounds distant and the voices aren't as distinct (so in the end it's worse).
I've tried biwiring from the amps, and just one run with a cable jumper. Not much difference there. So my thoughts are:
1) Would the amp/ cables sound that much better after 20 or so hours of breakin to warrant the price? It would need to have a substantial increase in performance to warrant the $$.
2) The speaker cables are the bottleneck? Home Depot's finest. But isn't there a big percentage of people with HD's cable out there? I've tried 12 and 14 guage.
3) The 800/ 400i's have gone as far as they can with the power upgrades, and it's being lost on them (the Mantis theory?).
Ron had noticeable improvement on a similar speaker (the 55's) with good power, so I'm a little stumped. So either the Denon is a better unit than I thought, or the differences are lost on me. With dedicated power, I was expecting that 'amp sound', increased clarity, clear at low volume levels, new detail, etc.
08-08-2002, 10:43 AM
Only thing I can think of is that maybe the preamp of the Denon is not a good match for driving your amp.
I have a 3801 and Rt800i's, and for a while I had a 250wpc Carver TFM35 that I used (from the pre-outs on the Denon) to drive the fronts. I thought it made a fairly noticable difference (and I was using the "premium" (ha-ha) Radio Shack interconnects :eek: ). The Carver seemed to bring out the voices and really tightened up the bass. I was surprised at how much bass the 800i's seemed to produce with that amp.
Since my wife had trouble figuring out how to turn it all on :rolleyes: I have since removed the Carver and wired the fronts back to the Denon. At an equivelent volume setting on the 3801, the sound is louder when using its built-in amps. I guess the sensitivity of the Carver is a little lower. I think it would really shine with a good preamp. I'm using it in my super-modest two-channel rig now using an older Kenwood DPL receiver for a preamp (anyone wanna have pity on me and send me a good preamp??) and driving RT55i's.
To my ears, the Denon receivers have very good-sounding internal amps, and seem to do especially well with the RT Polks.
08-08-2002, 11:15 AM
Hey Dylan, how do you like the Signal Cables? Have you tried any other interconnects besides those? I'm just curious as I'm sure you remember, I didn't have good luck with them. They seemed to hamper the sound more than improve it.
Sorry to hear of your frustrations, I know exactly how you feel, luckly mine was an easy fix (the interconnects).
08-08-2002, 08:54 PM
Check it out man,
when you use a receiver as a preamp, you introduce all the same exact sonic siginature from the Denon.If you want to hear that amp sing your speakers, you going to need a Ref30 preamp.
The voltage out of the Denon is low untill you crank it up.It has a terrible sound when driving seperate amps other then there own.
I have tried 2 different amps on my denon avr3801 and had piss poor results.
B&K amp and a Rotel amp.....both had a much better sound quality when driven with there matching pre amps.
The amp can give you more head room but the sound quality doesn't improve that much..........You heard it so you can understand what I say.
08-08-2002, 10:13 PM
So Dan, you think the improvement Ron noticed was more directly related to going to the bi-amped configuration than to the amps themselves?
From my experience I can say that I agree with you, to some extent, about using the Denon3801's preamp to feed another power amp. The Carver actually seems happier now using the Kenwood receiver as a preamp. I did, definitely hear an improvement though, even using the amp with the Denon. Perhaps it was due to the increased headroom and better current capability of the 250 wpc amp.
08-08-2002, 10:48 PM
Ron's improvements are his own..Id talk to him about it.Bi amping?????I'm not into it.Id rather buy a better single monoblock or dual mono stereo amp then use lower quality amps.It's a personal thing ,I don't feel the need to go down the bi amping road as of now.Ive seen many great systems sound unbelievable with using one amp per speaker.
My opnion remains about using a receiver as a preamp,I heard it many times in my house and more times in others.
Buying a preamp will make the amp the best it can be.Using the preamp made for that amp is always best.
Hearing an improvement by adding a amp to a receiver setup is noticable,but then add the correct pre amp and.......well experience it for your self and post the difference.
08-17-2002, 10:44 AM
I can finally answer the question about the cables, since I've tried 2 others over the course of this week. I've been using Monster MK II 400's and some Stinger cables for the hell of it. Differences were subtle at best. The Monster's sounded a touch bit flatter, so I'd give a slight edge to the Signal's. This was mainly for music though, I've only watched Lord of the Rings for DVD. Also with some wire switching, I've found that the difference between the Denon and the B&K were also subtle at best. The B&K had very small improvements, but I almost had to strain to hear them (voices were clearer, instruments sounded more separate). Subtle is not going to justify the $$, it needed to knock me on my butt.
Once knock I do have on the Signal's is they don't have the tightest connection, they almost seem to fall on and off. When I pulled the Monster's off, it put strain on the back panel it clamped on so hard to the plug-ins. Somewhere between the 2 would be good.
I'll watch a few more movies this weekend, but at this point the B&K and cables are being sent back. All in all, it was worth a shot, I had to give it a try.
If it helps anyone, I'm a lot more impressed with my Denon now. It stood it's ground, at least with my system. My next step is either going to be getting a matching amp/ preamp at the same time, or upgrade the speakers... the Quest continues...
08-17-2002, 10:44 PM
dude keep the amp sell the Denon and get a B&K pre amp ..enter into the ref30//you will hear a world of difference.Cables inbetween???If your gonna go Monster your gonna need to step up as well.M1000i's or at least M950i's,the 400's are budget cables and have no right on B&K.I'm not kicking your wires dude, there just way out classed by B&K.
If you can get your hands on some Transparent Musiclinks,now hear your B&K and B&Kref30 peramp..........you might fall out of your chair and out of the room.Transparent can even help out your current setup for the time being........upgrading can be fustrating at times.....I know I have been going threw it for quite some time.....
08-17-2002, 11:31 PM
Dude, it can become a quest, one that will take all your time and most of your money.
Step back and ask yourself what is important to you.
Upgrading, after a point becomes a game of diminished returns. If you have decent stuff, and in my opinion you do, spend some money on the things that go into your system,
as in DVD's and some new CD's.
You'll get far more enjoyment doing that,
than straining your ears to hear that .1% gain in
"musical texture, and imaging and..."
all the other terms guys with way too much money or time on their hands use.
08-17-2002, 11:49 PM
You'll get far more enjoyment doing that, than straining your ears to hear that .1% gain in "musical texture, and imaging and..." all the other terms guys with way too much money or time on their hands use.
Is that your experience speaking or your ass?
08-18-2002, 02:45 AM
...that would be my experience.
ego will hear whatever it tells itself it hears
08-18-2002, 03:52 AM
08-18-2002, 09:32 AM
You may have hit on a group of components which do not blend well together. Certainly the B&K is a high quality machine. I would try to borrow a preamp from someone just to get an idea what that will do. I wonder if you explained the problem to the dealer if they would allow you to experiment with some of their other equipment? The combination required to "knock you on your butt" is not always the most expensive but does require a good match of components. Sometimes that takes a lot of legwork and talking.
08-18-2002, 10:29 AM
...that would be my experience.
I would love to hear more about your experience. Your statement sounds absolutely ridiculous in its context. There is a lot of improvement to be gained over an RT system powered by a receiver. If we were talking LSi's and separates, I might agree with you.
08-18-2002, 10:53 AM
I hate to say it but I agree with Aaron no that one.
B&K and the rt line is well extreme.It will sound unbeliveable but the B&K is capable of so much more......just my opnion.
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