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  1. #1

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    Default My used separates nightmare (or how I went Emo)

    Some of you know my ridiculous journey with separates over the last year, but here's a quick recap. It started with an Adcom GFA-5503 that I got off eBay that lasted only a month or so before the right channel started crackling. It spent 6 weeks in a local shop and they could never figure out the problem.

    Then, I bought a Parasound HCA-2003 from Inspector 24 here at the forum, as well as a Parasound HCA-1206 from swegyptian, thinking I could put all 9 channels on separate amplification. The 2003 seemed to work at first, but quickly developed noise/crackling issues that you could resolve by powering the amp off and back on... though the noise in one channel would reappear after a few hours of use. The 1206 had an obviously bad 5th channel along with a constant low-level hum from the other channels. Not a knock on either member of the forum, as I believe both of them that the amps were in working order when shipped.

    So all three amps spent the last few months with a tech, who believed that he had all the issues resolved and returned all three amps to me. The 2003 again seemed fine... for a day or two, at which point the noise came back. The 1206's hum seemed to be gone, but the 5th channel still sounded bad... and then the 2nd channel randomly dropped +10dB in level for no apparent reason. So I swapped the surrounds back to my receiver and put the Adcom back in place... and the right channel is now perfectly fine. However, the LEFT channel is now crackling.

    The last few weeks, I have been trying to coordinate with the tech to get the amps back to him, after getting some advice from Parasound on what the problems could be (speaker output relays on the 2003, which is supposedly a cheap fix... and several things to check on the 1206 - Tony with Parasound is awesome). Unfortunately, it looks like it may be several weeks before I can even get the amps back to the tech (he's located an hour away from me and is currently out of town).

    So this morning, I said to hell with it and bought an XPA-3 from Emotiva. I figure I'm fine running the surrounds off my AVR, but my mains and center really sound better when given some decent power (as I learned when I first got the Adcom). Perhaps I should have remained blissfully unaware and never ventured into separates in the first place... but after roughly $1,200 of used amps with no joy, I'm determined to have something that works... and the Emo seems like a fair bet, despite all the animosity the name seems to engender here. Not sure what I'm doing with the other three amps yet. I guess I'll give them back to the tech and see if he can get them running. If not, I'm thinking the Gulf of Mexico may get a new amp-based fishing reef.

    Of course, given the luck I've had with amps thus far, I'm already steeling myself for the moment when I learn that it was somehow my AVR to blame. I've done everything I could to rule that out... but at this point, it seems I'm just cursed. Will report back when the Emo arrives!
    Equipment list:
    Onkyo TX-NR3010 9.2 AVR
    Emotiva XPA-3 amp
    Polk RTi70 mains, CSi40 center, RTi38 surrounds, RTi28 rears and heights
    SVS 20-39CS+ subwoofer powered by Crown XLS1500
    Oppo BDP-93 Blu-ray player
    DarbeeVision DVP5000 video processor
    Epson 8500UB 1080p projector
    Elite Screens Sable 120" CineWhite screen

  2. #2

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    Default

    That may very well be the problem. I had a Yamaha 992 that I never used the pre-outs on but I got my SDA2a's I knew I would need better power as the yammie would shut down when I tried to use it. I brought out my TFM25 that had been serviced 3yrs before and used very little. When I hooked it up to the Yamaha several days later I started to get some static issues that would go away after the amp seemed to warm up. When I called Roland up at Hitech he also agreed that he found it hard to believe it was the amp but told me if I wanted to send it in he would do a quick check to see if something went south. 3 weeks later he confirmed it WAS NOT the amp itself but was most likely a bad cap on the pre-out section or something as the Yammie never had any issues at all until this time. Sure enough I bought another Denon 3805 from a forum member here hooked it up and what do you know no problems at all. I tore that Yamaha completely apart to try and find the problem. I now know why many service centers do not want to work on them unless they are under warranty I would of had 600.00 in bench fees just to get it fixed as all boards had to come out to get the the pre-out section. I found nothing out of the ordinary cleaned all up but still had the problem. A local tech I know very well told me that something downstream from that pre-out section was the problem but in order to find it I could go buy new for less than the fees to fix the Yamaha. Lesson learned.

  3. #3

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    That really sucks! The only problems I've had are with some dried out caps on a NAD integrated that was only 5 years old when I bought it and the seller never said anything. Those were easily replaced. Otherwise, of the amps I own (NAD 214, Adcom GFA 545, 555) everything is fine (and to my knowledge none has had ANY recent servicing--but then again nothing is more than a two channel power amp?). I've never owned a multi-channel amp, so I wonder, if they are more problematic (don't see why they should be).

    But if I had been burned as many times as you have, I, too, would be thinking I might need something "new" as opposed to old!

    So good luck with that! Hope the Emo proves to be the solution.

    cnh
    Onkyo TX-SR 805 System #1 HT AVR
    Office Two Channel: LSi-7s (Nakamichi CA-5, NAD 214, Pioneer BDP51fd)
    Vintage Polks: Polk Monitor 5As, Monitor 7Bs [HK 730], Monitor 10As [Marantz 2265], SDA-2Bs [Jolida JD-303, Jolida MV-MK4]
    Headphones: HD600, Q701, ATH-M50s etc. Bravo Audio Ocean amp., Onkyo P-304, Adcom GFA-555, Technics Direct Drive TT

  4. #4

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    Yeah... I've thrown my hands up at this point. Not sure what I'll end up doing with the 6 brand new BJC interconnects I have now. Guess I should hold onto them in case the tech miraculously fixes the 1206 somehow. But in the meantime, fingers crossed that the Emo arrives in working order!
    Equipment list:
    Onkyo TX-NR3010 9.2 AVR
    Emotiva XPA-3 amp
    Polk RTi70 mains, CSi40 center, RTi38 surrounds, RTi28 rears and heights
    SVS 20-39CS+ subwoofer powered by Crown XLS1500
    Oppo BDP-93 Blu-ray player
    DarbeeVision DVP5000 video processor
    Epson 8500UB 1080p projector
    Elite Screens Sable 120" CineWhite screen

  5. #5

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    Quote Originally Posted by pitdogg2 View Post
    That may very well be the problem. I had a Yamaha 992 that I never used the pre-outs on but I got my SDA2a's I knew I would need better power as the yammie would shut down when I tried to use it. I brought out my TFM25 that had been serviced 3yrs before and used very little. When I hooked it up to the Yamaha several days later I started to get some static issues that would go away after the amp seemed to warm up. When I called Roland up at Hitech he also agreed that he found it hard to believe it was the amp but told me if I wanted to send it in he would do a quick check to see if something went south. 3 weeks later he confirmed it WAS NOT the amp itself but was most likely a bad cap on the pre-out section or something as the Yammie never had any issues at all until this time. Sure enough I bought another Denon 3805 from a forum member here hooked it up and what do you know no problems at all. I tore that Yamaha completely apart to try and find the problem. I now know why many service centers do not want to work on them unless they are under warranty I would of had 600.00 in bench fees just to get it fixed as all boards had to come out to get the the pre-out section. I found nothing out of the ordinary cleaned all up but still had the problem. A local tech I know very well told me that something downstream from that pre-out section was the problem but in order to find it I could go buy new for less than the fees to fix the Yamaha. Lesson learned.
    Yeah... I've done everything I can to rule out my Onkyo 1007 as the problem. When static arose in one channel of the amp, I would swap a different speaker/IC to that channel to see if it followed the channel from the pre-out or showed up in the new channel I had connected. Every time, it stayed with the amp channel, even if I connected a different output and speaker. I also tried using different ICs to see if it was a wiring issue. Pretty sure it's the amps at this point... though it would suck if it isn't, 'cause my cheapest option to get back to 9.1 would be around $1,500 open box (though that would get me Audyssey XT32... so don't think I'm not eyeballing an Onkyo 3010 anyway).
    Equipment list:
    Onkyo TX-NR3010 9.2 AVR
    Emotiva XPA-3 amp
    Polk RTi70 mains, CSi40 center, RTi38 surrounds, RTi28 rears and heights
    SVS 20-39CS+ subwoofer powered by Crown XLS1500
    Oppo BDP-93 Blu-ray player
    DarbeeVision DVP5000 video processor
    Epson 8500UB 1080p projector
    Elite Screens Sable 120" CineWhite screen

  6. #6

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    Used equipment is a lot more attractive, from my perspective, when one can rehab/refresh/restore oneself and (ideally) troubleshoot/repair when and if the time comes.

    Thus do I stick primarily to vaccum tube equipment myself - much easier to understand, troubleshoot, and to repair. Plus, high quality repair parts (tubes, passives) are readily available, new or used, 'spensive or cheap.

    The SS stuff is more complicated, far less tolerante of minor (or major) amateur repair goofs, and parts can be difficult to impossible to find (newer equipment being worse than old in this latter regard, due to "continuous progress" and/or really aggressive planned obselence). I think it says a lot about electronics that I can still buy high quality new production 2A3s (a tube available since at least the 1930s) but I'd be hard pressed to buy many of the ICs and transistors in a 10 year old Sony amplifier (e.g.).

    I'd argue that if one would think twice about buying, say, a used 1970 Plymouth Barracuda, one should also think hard before buying a used, older piece of hifi equipment.
    Last edited by mhardy6647; 02-27-2013 at 12:59 PM.
    all the best,
    mrh

  7. #7

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    Default

    Had a simliar experience. Bought an Adcom 5400 on eBay. Distortion in both channels. Thought about buying another used amp and then got sick of worrying about it. Bought the Emotiva UPA-200 (5-year warranty) and can breathe easy again. Sounds great with the LSi7s in the home theater. Only cost $349.

  8. #8

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    Default

    Yeah, most of the time, used gear works out... but after being 0 for 3 on used amps and waiting months only to find that they still don't work, it was time to go new. Sadly, even if the guy gets them working again, I don't think I could sell them for much in good conscience. I would basically have to pray that I could find someone who thinks they can restore them somehow and take what I could get.

    Lesson learned... Don't get into used amps unless you've got double the money to burn on getting them restored. I don't... hence the XPA-3 so I can stop this madness!
    Equipment list:
    Onkyo TX-NR3010 9.2 AVR
    Emotiva XPA-3 amp
    Polk RTi70 mains, CSi40 center, RTi38 surrounds, RTi28 rears and heights
    SVS 20-39CS+ subwoofer powered by Crown XLS1500
    Oppo BDP-93 Blu-ray player
    DarbeeVision DVP5000 video processor
    Epson 8500UB 1080p projector
    Elite Screens Sable 120" CineWhite screen

  9. #9

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    I think you ran into those issues because you bought something with known liability issues (that you or the sellers didn't know) . old Adcom and parasound amps have issues, especially since they run hotter than others. I bought 3 HK Citation 7.1 , 2 Citation 5.1, 1 HK PA5800, 1 Signature 2.1 on audiogon since last yr and all in great working order.

    but yeah, if I am in your situation. I would do the same to buy Emotiva and call it a day.
    Last edited by nhhiep; 02-27-2013 at 01:43 PM.

  10. #10

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    Enjoy that Emo! I know they get beat up around here, but I owned an XPA-5 for a while and thought it did a great job for the price.
    2-Channel:

    Source 1: PC
    Source 2: Rega Apollo CDP
    USB > SPDIF Converter: Stello U3
    DAC: Audio GD NFB-7
    Preamp: Audio Research LS-15
    Power Amp: BAT VK-500
    Speakers: Magnepan 3.7's

    HT:

    Source 1: HTPC
    Source 2: Oppo 103
    Pre/Pro: Marantz av8003
    Power Amp: Rotel RMB-1095
    Fronts: LSiM-705's
    Center: LSiM-704c
    Surrounds: LSiM-702's
    Subs: Dual SVS PC12-NSD's

  11. #11

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    Lets inject a little common sense too. When it comes to electronics, anything getting up in age is going to need some work done, period. It may sound fine now, but the risk factor increases with age. So when buying used, you have to accept that, or buy used less than 10 years old. Heck, even new gear at times craps out. It's just a machine guys, some better than others but all have a shelf life.

    As long as your happy with the Emo's, rock on.

  12. #12

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    when I had XPA-5, well built and worked well too...I would recommend them to anyone who's buddget minded and want to get into separates.....
    Video: LG 55LN5100/Samsung LNT4065F
    Receiver: HK AVR445
    Source: OPPO BDP-93
    HT: POLK SPEAKERS RTi6, FXi3, CSi5 - Sub SUB-1200
    2Ch system: MC2105, C-26, AR-XA, MR-80, AR-2A, AR9, BX-300

  13. #13

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    Quote Originally Posted by tonyb View Post
    Lets inject a little common sense too. When it comes to electronics, anything getting up in age is going to need some work done, period. It may sound fine now, but the risk factor increases with age. So when buying used, you have to accept that, or buy used less than 10 years old. Heck, even new gear at times craps out. It's just a machine guys, some better than others but all have a shelf life.

    As long as your happy with the Emo's, rock on.
    Oh, I knew used gear was a roll of the dice... but seriously... 0 out of 3 (and that's with two different techs checking the Adcom and one tech spending months with the Parasounds). And they all look like they were taken care of, none of the caps are bulging (which is what I expected to have to deal with), and all three were supposedly in working order before shipping. I was extraordinarily unlucky.
    Equipment list:
    Onkyo TX-NR3010 9.2 AVR
    Emotiva XPA-3 amp
    Polk RTi70 mains, CSi40 center, RTi38 surrounds, RTi28 rears and heights
    SVS 20-39CS+ subwoofer powered by Crown XLS1500
    Oppo BDP-93 Blu-ray player
    DarbeeVision DVP5000 video processor
    Epson 8500UB 1080p projector
    Elite Screens Sable 120" CineWhite screen

  14. #14

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    Extraordinarily unlucky describes it well. Hard to image three amps being bad after you received them.

    Guess I've been lucky with used amps since the only one I've had an issue with so far was with my 5ch Sony ES amp. Well packed and shipped across the country. I received it with a power supply cap bouncing around inside the amp. Root cause was a cold solder joint which was an easy fix for me to do.

    Good luck with the EMO. Having a warranty is a good piece of mind.

  15. #15

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    That really sucks. Hope it all works out.

  16. #16

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    If its just HT your doing then that emo will serve your needs and hold its price if its not for you. I had one for HT but did not go well with my electrostats

  17. #17

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    Quote Originally Posted by polkfarmboy View Post
    If its just HT your doing then that emo will serve your needs and hold its price if its not for you. I had one for HT but did not go well with my electrostats
    Well, I also tend to sit in the dark and listen to music... sometimes straight 2-channel, sometimes cheating and using DPL-IIx Music w/ DSX. And it isn't like I have needy speakers - I'm still using RTi70s for my mains. They just get flabby below 70Hz unless you have some power behind them. But yeah, this will primarily be used for watching Blu-ray/cable, so the XPA-3 should be a nice fit so long as meshes well with the sound of my speakers. Will have to re-run Audyssey this weekend when things are quiet.

    Since I'm in Alabama and Emotiva is in Tennessee, it looks like the XPA-3 may actually get here tomorrow, so I should have some sense of it by tomorrow night. Will report back.
    Equipment list:
    Onkyo TX-NR3010 9.2 AVR
    Emotiva XPA-3 amp
    Polk RTi70 mains, CSi40 center, RTi38 surrounds, RTi28 rears and heights
    SVS 20-39CS+ subwoofer powered by Crown XLS1500
    Oppo BDP-93 Blu-ray player
    DarbeeVision DVP5000 video processor
    Epson 8500UB 1080p projector
    Elite Screens Sable 120" CineWhite screen

  18. #18

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    Quote Originally Posted by tonyb View Post
    Lets inject a little common sense too. When it comes to electronics, anything getting up in age is going to need some work done, period. It may sound fine now, but the risk factor increases with age. So when buying used, you have to accept that, or buy used less than 10 years old. Heck, even new gear at times craps out. It's just a machine guys, some better than others but all have a shelf life.

    As long as your happy with the Emo's, rock on.
    Agreed, purchasing something that 10-20 years old for "good money" you are taking chances. After reading all the issues with used equipment unless I could work on it, or knew someone personally who could do the work, I wouldn't chance the older stuff anymore. Don't get me wrong, I see stuff that's 10+ years old and am tempted but I eventually pass, except for speakers, that is.

    Hope you are happy with your new amp!

  19. #19

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    Welcome to Emo Land, XPA-3 is a beast.
    It's more than a match for your Polks and then some..

  20. #20

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    The output rely issue on the parasound is not unusual (as my tech has told me, he is a retired macintosh and parasound field tech) they are easly replaced at about 25.00 ea + labor and should be available from parasound.wish u the best.
    Main Rig:
    Krell KAV 250a
    McIntosh MC 2120 bi-amped
    Into JBL L123 drivers
    Rane external crossover.
    MIT exp 1 ic's
    Perreaux SA33 class A preamp
    AQ kingcobra ic's
    ADCOM GDA 700 DAC ( MODDED)
    YAMMY CDC-665
    Marantz 6100 tt w/pickering XV-15/625E cart.
    Monster HTS 3600 power conditioner
    POLK RTA-12C'S W/ RDO194 TWEETS, clarity ESA caps mills risistors (full mod)
    MIT exps2 speaker cable

  21. #21

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    Quote Originally Posted by soundfreak1 View Post
    The output rely issue on the parasound is not unusual (as my tech has told me, he is a retired macintosh and parasound field tech) they are easly replaced at about 25.00 ea + labor and should be available from parasound.wish u the best.
    Yeah... my guy says that shouldn't be a problem to fix, IF that's what the problem is. I just can't keep waiting on what-ifs anymore. I want to go back to ENJOYING my system instead of worrying about it all the time. Heh...
    Equipment list:
    Onkyo TX-NR3010 9.2 AVR
    Emotiva XPA-3 amp
    Polk RTi70 mains, CSi40 center, RTi38 surrounds, RTi28 rears and heights
    SVS 20-39CS+ subwoofer powered by Crown XLS1500
    Oppo BDP-93 Blu-ray player
    DarbeeVision DVP5000 video processor
    Epson 8500UB 1080p projector
    Elite Screens Sable 120" CineWhite screen

  22. #22

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    Quote Originally Posted by kuntasensei View Post
    Yeah... my guy says that shouldn't be a problem to fix, IF that's what the problem is. I just can't keep waiting on what-ifs anymore. I want to go back to ENJOYING my system instead of worrying about it all the time. Heh...
    I hear you on that. I gave up trying to buy used gear and started focusing on saving for some new toys. About a month after I made that decision, my Usher's popped up on CL....


    Needless to say, I gave up that resolution quick!
    Usher CP-6311, Shuguang S200MK, Shuguang S845MK, Pioneer BDP-51fd, Essence Audio HDACC, Douglas IC's, Douglas Alpha bi-wire SC's, Pangea/Douglas PC's, Epson 8100

  23. #23

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    I look at it like this...the only way I will ever own Krells or Boulders short of winning the lottery is through deals in the used market.
    But then I am pretty good with a soldering iron and patience hehe.
    "Unwad those panties and have a good time man. We're all here to help each other, no matter how it might appear." DSkip
    I may have an addiction... RTA-15TL, SDA 2, LSi25, LSi15, LSi9, LSi7, LSiCx2, LSiFX, LS/FX, RT/FX, DSW MP2000...and that's just the Polks...

  24. #24

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    You might need to find a new tech.

    The local guy here in Vegas fixed an Adcom GFA 555 without issue (and is in fact the authorized Adcom repair spot).

    The company had some trouble with my Sunfire that had serious noise in all channels (some worse than others). After holding tech's hand and showing him the problem, he changed out all of the caps ad that seemed to reduce (though not completely eliminate) the noise significantly.
    Do you hear that buzzing noise?

  25. #25

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    Yeah... there's no one else close to me that I can find. This guy was kind of a roll of the dice, though he seems to know what he's doing. It's just that the problems are intermittent, so hard to figure out. Before he brought them back, all the amps were testing perfectly for him (and he showed me the tests).

    He may be able to fix them once he gets back in town, and he says now he's taking it as a personal challenge... so eventually, maybe the used gear will pay off. In the meantime, I want something that works. The Emo's on its way here today, so I should get to hook it up tonight when I get off work.
    Equipment list:
    Onkyo TX-NR3010 9.2 AVR
    Emotiva XPA-3 amp
    Polk RTi70 mains, CSi40 center, RTi38 surrounds, RTi28 rears and heights
    SVS 20-39CS+ subwoofer powered by Crown XLS1500
    Oppo BDP-93 Blu-ray player
    DarbeeVision DVP5000 video processor
    Epson 8500UB 1080p projector
    Elite Screens Sable 120" CineWhite screen

  26. #26

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    (Disclaimer: I don't know you or your tech...only what you have posted here so take this all with a grain of salt)

    Do you know what kind of testing methodologies he is using? I mean you have stated that the issues resurfaced after listening for a while. I would question whether the tech is giving them a good hard workout for multiple hours at a time if they work fine for him then develop issues once you give them a go.
    Personally, I like to give anything I am working on a good full 8 hours of bench testing before considering it fixed. Granted, I work on a much smaller scale and I understand than this probably isn't his primary income source but good testing practices are key when troubleshooting/repairing intermittent issues.
    If he can't give them a full 8 hours of testing (I consider overclocking a computer very similar in that you can have issues that crop up after 2 hours or you can have a solid overclock that will stand up to a 24 hour "burn in".) then I am not sure what to tell you.

    I know you have moved on but don't discount used gear out of hand. You have had a run of bad luck but that doesn't mean you can't find good quality used deals out there. You just have to be very diligent or be willing to take on the task of repair yourself. It's scary at first but after you have knocked out your first repair or upgrade, you begin to realize that with a little patience and some knowledge, you can save yourself tons of money and still have stuff you can be proud of.
    "Unwad those panties and have a good time man. We're all here to help each other, no matter how it might appear." DSkip
    I may have an addiction... RTA-15TL, SDA 2, LSi25, LSi15, LSi9, LSi7, LSiCx2, LSiFX, LS/FX, RT/FX, DSW MP2000...and that's just the Polks...

  27. #27

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    That is a bummer! I have only had good luck with used gear with the exception of an adcom pre that need some minor work. I took a loss (small) and just sold it as-is. Knocking on wood as i type.

  28. #28

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    Zltful, he did everything I would expect him to do. Ran them under dummy loads for an entire weekend with them attached to a Variac in case there was a major fault... looped them through his mixing gear and recorded the waveform to look for any inconsistencies after several hours... oscilloscope... and hooked them to his 4 ohm monitors and ran them (which you would think would make a problem appear sooner than on my 8 ohm speakers). And the problems appear so randomly for me that it makes no sense why they aren't showing up during his testing. It's very odd. He wants to come out and check them in my setup to make sure there's not some other equipment issue going on (which means my AVR's pre-outs, basically, which I've tested by swapping ICs and speaker cables to different amp channels to see if the problem follows the IC/speaker)... but I'm pretty sure if the Emo runs trouble-free, that will definitively rule out my Onkyo as the problem. I'm using LC-1 ICs all the way around and 10AWG speaker cables with locking banana plugs from Blue Jeans Cable for my front three speakers, so I'm pretty sure cabling isn't the issue either.

    Like I said... I don't know that I'm giving up on the Parasounds just yet. If he can fix them, then awesome. But at least once I have the Emo in place, I can relax and just let the guy handle the Parasounds on his own time until he gets them 100% fixed. If he can't fix them, well... I may sell them off cheap to people who know what they're doing with them more than I do.
    Equipment list:
    Onkyo TX-NR3010 9.2 AVR
    Emotiva XPA-3 amp
    Polk RTi70 mains, CSi40 center, RTi38 surrounds, RTi28 rears and heights
    SVS 20-39CS+ subwoofer powered by Crown XLS1500
    Oppo BDP-93 Blu-ray player
    DarbeeVision DVP5000 video processor
    Epson 8500UB 1080p projector
    Elite Screens Sable 120" CineWhite screen

  29. #29

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    So, I got the XPA-3, hooked it up (damn, this thing's big... bigger than the Parasound HCA-2003 or the Adcom GFA-5503), then pulled out the SPL meter to get levels matched up. As expected, I had to dial the front three down 3dB, since the Emo is 32dB gain and the Parasound/Adcom are 29dB gain. No shock there, but it put my speaker trims down to -6 for mains and -8.5 for the center. Note: I did not have time to do a run-through of Audyssey, so the following impressions are based on the sound of the amp as-is. I will do a full 8-position runthrough of Audyssey over the weekend.

    First, the noise floor of the Emo is lower than the Adcom, but not as dead-quiet as the Parasound was. That said, you can only hear a slight hiss if you put your ear right up to the tweeter, and from a foot away, it seems dead silent. On noise floor, I would rank them: Parasound, Emo, Adcom.

    Second thing I noticed with the Emo was that highs are a bit more forward than I'm used to. It isn't unpleasant, but there's a crispness that wasn't there with the Adcom or the Parasound, without being shrill at all. However, with a little more listening, this really works nicely with vocals and stringed instruments, especially with bluegrass. The byproduct of this is that it made my speakers image really wide... and cross-speaker pans were very cohesive. I can see why people say the Emo is primarily good for home theater instead of music, as there is a definite clarity in the highs with movies. I threw Skyfall at it at about -18dB from reference (I'll get louder this weekend), and I was fairly impressed. As far as the quality of voices and highs, the Parasound has the more laid back sound to it while maintaining a nice purity to highs, and the Adcom has a slightly grainy sound to highs. The XPA-3 doesn't have the graininess of the Adcom at all (and no honking with violins like I sometimes got with the Adcom or while running off my Onkyo AVR), and (yeah, I'm gonna say it) I actually think voices come across cleaner on the Emo than on the Parasound. Strictly for movies, I think the Emo actually meshes better with my older RTi70/CSi40 setup than the Parasound, so I would rank them: Emo/Parasound (tie), Adcom.

    Musically, the Emo doesn't have the mid-bass so far that the Parasound did. The Parasound just has a warmer sound to it overall, whereas the Adcom and Emo seem more neutral. The best way I can explain it is that the Parasound comes the closest to the way tube amps tend to sound... whereas the Emo sounds like you'd expect a solid state amp to sound, with the Adcom kinda' falling somewhere in between the two. However, I think some of this may be resolved when I get a chance to re-do Audyssey. My musician brother happened to come over after I got it all set up, and I played some Herbie Hancock tracks that he was very familiar with, as well as Norah Jones' Sinking Soon (which our buddy Walt plays trombone on). He said he heard details on those tracks that he hadn't heard before, and that the seperation was definitely improved over the Adcom. I'd rank this Parasound, Emo, Adcom.

    So is it the be-all end-all? No. However, I'm surprised that a $600 amp actually seems to sound better than the more expensive Adcom, and hold its own in many ways with the Parasound (more so with movies than with music). I gotta' give it to 'em... This thing definitely performs better than the price tag would imply. And honestly, if I had started with the Emo in the first place without ever hearing the Parasound, I think I could have been perfectly happy with it for a very long time. And I still may. If the Parasound ends up being a lost cause, I really won't be too heartbroken sticking with the Emo, especially if Audyssey addresses some of the minor niggles I have with the sound.

    Now, off to sleep... and then to spend the weekend throwing listening material at this thing and watching movies!
    Equipment list:
    Onkyo TX-NR3010 9.2 AVR
    Emotiva XPA-3 amp
    Polk RTi70 mains, CSi40 center, RTi38 surrounds, RTi28 rears and heights
    SVS 20-39CS+ subwoofer powered by Crown XLS1500
    Oppo BDP-93 Blu-ray player
    DarbeeVision DVP5000 video processor
    Epson 8500UB 1080p projector
    Elite Screens Sable 120" CineWhite screen

  30. #30

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    FWIW I've never understood the fascination with Adcom amplifiers; I'd describe their sonics as workmanlike; OK but hardly inspiring based on those I've heard (albeit mostly older models).
    all the best,
    mrh

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