• WANTED: Happy members who like to discuss audio and other topics related to our interest. Desire to learn and share knowledge of science required as is 20 years of participation in forums (not all true). There are daily reviews of audio hardware and expert members to help answer your questions. Click here to have your audio equipment measured for free!

Advice on power amplifier and upgrade

Redan94

Member
Joined
Oct 16, 2021
Messages
27
Likes
4
Hello,



First post in the forums. Recently discovered AudioScienceReview and this is just amazing. Great work @amirm and all contributors!

My current set-up is:
  • DENON AVC-X3700H
  • 5.1.2 home theater with KEF speakers: KEF Q950 Tower Speakers x 2 • KEF Q350 Bookshelf Speakers x 2 • KEF Q650 Centre x 1 • KEF's Cutting Edge Kube 10 Subwoofer x 1 and • SVS Prime Elevation speakers in ceiling x 2
  • Turntable: Rega Planar 3 with Exact cartridge
  • Pre-amp: Rega Fono MM (connected the the Denon)
I don’t have the option to separate the music dedicated equipment from the movie equipment in separate rooms.

I would like to improve both the movie experience and music listening experience.

I thought (based on what I have read online) that adding separate amplification would be the best way to achieve that and I am looking for recommendation from the experts in this forum.

I have shortlisted the Audio Control Savoy G4 as power amp. I cannot find any good review or feedback on what seems a good product on paper.

I considered several other amplifiers during the process (ATI, Emotiva, McIntosh, NAD, Monolith, etc). I am open to considering other amplifiers (including from the brands listed above) as well if you think one of their product is better suited to my use case.

The best amp from @amirm reviews seems to be the Benchmark ahb2 but it’s only for 2 speakers. Is it worth considering for my setup (and use case) a mix of ahb2 and 7 channel amplifier?

I am based in Dubai and not all equipment from US is available here. But I can place an order from US online and get it imported if it is required.
Any advice or shared experience would be very helpful.

Thanks in advance.
Redan94
 

alex-z

Senior Member
Joined
Feb 19, 2021
Messages
476
Likes
805
Location
Canada
Adding an external amp to your setup will make no actual difference, only placebo effect. The X3700H has good DAC + amp quality already, and can provide nearly 170 watts of clean power into a 4 Ohm load.

The best thing you can do for your system is get acoustic treatment for your room. No amount of money spent on your speakers or electronics will fix bad room acoustics, and every room without treatment falls into the "bad" category.

Also beneficial is a better subwoofer setup. The KEF Kube 10 is far from cutting edge, all small subs have performance compromises. Dual subwoofers are also worth considering for the purpose of reducing room modes. Room modes are too low in frequency for normal absorption panels to work, multi-sub allows you to remove some of them by placing the subs in parallel locations.
 

Trdat

Addicted to Fun and Learning
Forum Donor
Joined
Sep 6, 2019
Messages
685
Likes
281
Location
Armenia "Sydney Born"
For every new upgrade thread I'm just going to copy paste my previous response. So mind the lack of direct connection to your question but it answers it indirectly.

1. Subs, more subs, and more subs. In my triamp system I have 6 drivers producing low extension of some sort. For my standard direct radiating system I have two subs and can add more, just prefer my triamped horn system so I allocate my subs for that system in particular.
2. Going active, with digital computer based filters{DSP} with no passive crossover.
3. Horn high efficiency system. (This is not to say that a well designed controlled directivity speaker will not be considered an upgrade)
4. Reducing decay in my small room between .2 and .5 (can't wait for diffusion)

These are conidered upgrades not what you mention.
 

David Harper

Senior Member
Joined
Jul 7, 2019
Messages
359
Likes
415
Unless your speakers are very power-hungry a separate amp won't make an audible difference. In my case I did need one since my maggie speakers are very power hungry. My Yammy AVR just couldn't cut it. Kept overheating and shutting down.
 

Koeitje

Major Contributor
Joined
Oct 10, 2019
Messages
1,729
Likes
2,702
Get better speakers first, that's the biggest upgrade.
 
OP
R

Redan94

Member
Joined
Oct 16, 2021
Messages
27
Likes
4
Adding an external amp to your setup will make no actual difference, only placebo effect. The X3700H has good DAC + amp quality already, and can provide nearly 170 watts of clean power into a 4 Ohm load.

The best thing you can do for your system is get acoustic treatment for your room. No amount of money spent on your speakers or electronics will fix bad room acoustics, and every room without treatment falls into the "bad" category.

Also beneficial is a better subwoofer setup. The KEF Kube 10 is far from cutting edge, all small subs have performance compromises. Dual subwoofers are also worth considering for the purpose of reducing room modes. Room modes are too low in frequency for normal absorption panels to work, multi-sub allows you to remove some of them by placing the subs in parallel locations.
Thanks for the detailed response. I thought that with 7 speakers it would be a positive to take some power off the Denon and allocate it to an extra amp. I don’t have any audio science and it is purely based on internet posts. Which subwoofer do you recommend based on your experience? Thanks again
 
OP
R

Redan94

Member
Joined
Oct 16, 2021
Messages
27
Likes
4
Get better speakers first, that's the biggest upgrade.
I will in due course. This is my first system and I took advantage of an offer to buy the KEFs and start my journey.
 
OP
R

Redan94

Member
Joined
Oct 16, 2021
Messages
27
Likes
4
Unless your speakers are very power-hungry a separate amp won't make an audible difference. In my case I did need one since my maggie speakers are very power hungry. My Yammy AVR just couldn't cut it. Kept overheating and shutting down.
I though adding external more power amplifier would make a difference during movies if they have higher dynamic headroom than the Denon. Also if I get better external amplifiers, shouldn’t I get better hifi sound when I listen to my vinyls (Rega Planar 3 TT + Rega phono pré-amp)? I have no audio science, so sorry if my questions do not make sense…
 
OP
R

Redan94

Member
Joined
Oct 16, 2021
Messages
27
Likes
4
For every new upgrade thread I'm just going to copy paste my previous response. So mind the lack of direct connection to your question but it answers it indirectly.

1. Subs, more subs, and more subs. In my triamp system I have 6 drivers producing low extension of some sort. For my standard direct radiating system I have two subs and can add more, just prefer my triamped horn system so I allocate my subs for that system in particular.
2. Going active, with digital computer based filters{DSP} with no passive crossover.
3. Horn high efficiency system. (This is not to say that a well designed controlled directivity speaker will not be considered an upgrade)
4. Reducing decay in my small room between .2 and .5 (can't wait for diffusion)

These are conidered upgrades not what you mention.
Thanks for your technical response. Unfortunately I am just starting my audio journey and I cannot understand the recommendations at this stage. I will do some more research and come back to you once I have more audio science with me to be able to understand the recommendations. Cheers
 

MarkS

Senior Member
Joined
Apr 3, 2021
Messages
370
Likes
480
An extra amp would be a complete waste of money and make no audible difference.

Better subwoofer(s) would be best bang-for-buck for movies.

Are using the Audessy equalization in the Denon? If not, that's a free sound improvement.

Any "improvements" beyond that will be very subtle, IMO, given a fixed room size. Having been in and out of audiophilia for decades, IMO any decent system these days (and yours certainly qualifies) provides near state-of-the-art sound, and audiophiles are mostly chasing either non-existent (placebo effect) differences, better measurements that make no audible difference (this one is very popular here at ASR), or small but real changes that are random, one not being "better" than the other, just a little different. Getting truly better sound requires major attention to room acoustics.
 
Last edited:

alex-z

Senior Member
Joined
Feb 19, 2021
Messages
476
Likes
805
Location
Canada
Even when the X3700H is driving 9 channels it can still provide 60 watts per channel, which is more than enough unless you have a huge room.

A better external amp will not improve sound quality because you will be limited by the quality of the DAC inside the X3700H. However, it is important to understand that once you reach a certain threshold, a better DAC doesn't improve audio quality, our ears aren't good to detect the distortion. The X3700H easily meets this threshold, an extra 10 or 20dB of SINAD won't make the slightest audible difference.
 

Beershaun

Major Contributor
Forum Donor
Joined
Oct 3, 2019
Messages
1,414
Likes
1,422
I think the first thing you can do, if you have not already, is purchase the audyssey app and change the target curve to your choosing then rerun the audyssey room correction. Like Amir's Harman target curve for example. That should demonstrably improve your sound.

I disagree with the others that more power won't make a difference. More power will give you more woofer travel for your larger drivers in your speakers giving you more sound pressure from your woofers. 60 watts is not enough to get the most from your speaker's woofers.

Here is a good example of how the music and movie sound track really determine the amount of power you need more than the speakers do.

Same speakers, same amplifier. The amount of power used for one song is 10-20watts, the amount of power used for another song is up to 400watts. Because there was much more demand for bass notes. Which includes notes above your subwoofer crossover.

 

Ataraxia

Active Member
Joined
Sep 22, 2019
Messages
135
Likes
73
You have done very well with the initial decision to buy those KEF's and the Denon 3700 as the AVR.

In addition to KEF being an excellent choice of speakers the Q950's are fairly easy to power. This is shown by the 91 db sensitivity rating in the specs section here:


The Q650 is 87 db sensitive, not real power hungry.


Also, when you set up your sub with Audessey the 3700 will have more power reserves for the main speaker frequencies.

In 2 channel music listening with only the Q650's and sub in play you should have more than enough power for excellent audio..
 

Koeitje

Major Contributor
Joined
Oct 10, 2019
Messages
1,729
Likes
2,702
I will in due course. This is my first system and I took advantage of an offer to buy the KEFs and start my journey.
Then save your money, because that's the only way you will get a noticeable improvement.
 

Enchy

Member
Joined
Feb 23, 2021
Messages
40
Likes
41
The only reason to add an amp to your setup would be if you wanted to go to a 7.1.4 system.

As others have stated you're probably best off doing either room treatments or getting a pair of better subwoofers.
 

Chrispy

Major Contributor
Forum Donor
Joined
Feb 7, 2020
Messages
3,710
Likes
2,876
Location
PNW
Just how loud do you listen and how far away is your listening position from the various speakers?
 

MarkS

Senior Member
Joined
Apr 3, 2021
Messages
370
Likes
480
I disagree with the others that more power won't make a difference. More power will give you more woofer travel for your larger drivers in your speakers giving you more sound pressure from your woofers. 60 watts is not enough to get the most from your speaker's woofers.
He has a subwoofer with a 300 watt amp built in. 60 wats per main speaker above the crossover (presumably 80 Hz or so) is plenty.

And if it's not, there will be clearly audible clipping distortion on peaks.
 

Trdat

Addicted to Fun and Learning
Forum Donor
Joined
Sep 6, 2019
Messages
685
Likes
281
Location
Armenia "Sydney Born"
Thanks for your technical response. Unfortunately I am just starting my audio journey and I cannot understand the recommendations at this stage. I will do some more research and come back to you once I have more audio science with me to be able to understand the recommendations. Cheers

The above mentioned points are revered upgrades which you only really become versed in after the initial journey of the typical thinking of how an amp upgrade will give you sonic differences. Regarding multiple subs, Audioholics has a lot of basic videos on the topic and its benefits. DSP is a little more complicated depending which way you head with it (Room Correction on AVR is easy) and might take years to totally comprehend but you can check out Mitch's articles on the Audiophyle style forum, you might as well get started now because DSP is the future of audio and passive crossover speakers are already obsolete. You can read a lot about high efficiency horn type speakers on the DIY forum although there are some great threads here on ASR, like I said horn type speakers aren't neceserally an upgrade but controlled directivity has been covered heaps on this forum as well as the controlled spectral content of reflections from this type of speaker which is key to a good sounding system that in itself can be an upgrade depending on your current loudspeaker. Lastly, general room acoustics has been thouroughly covered in the Room Acoustics section on this forum in particular "Perpetual Effects of Room Reflections" which is an ongoing thread that goes back and forth between the concepts of how to treat a room. Reducing decay, controlling SBIR and room modes(can be done by multiple subs) is key for a small room, I leave lateral reflections untreated and work towards as many reflections after around 6-12ms not an easy task in a small room well at least that's the goal.
 
Last edited:

Walter

Addicted to Fun and Learning
Joined
Aug 25, 2020
Messages
776
Likes
1,033
In order, I'd recommend the following:
1. Audyssey
2. Room treatment
3. Upgraded subs. Rhythmik or Monoprice Monolith, maybe?
4. 2 or 3 channel external amp (not sure what the preamp out options are on this particular AVR).
5. Better speakers

1 & 2 will trequire research and learning but will give the most benefit, especially for music, and possibly for clarity of dialog in movies. 4&5 are almost a tie. You already have plenty of power for 2 channel listening with efficient speakers in a typically sized living room, and I'm not sure how much improvement is really needed for movies when you have powered subs. Your speakers are already good. Not saying they can't be improved, but unless they are just a poor match for your room, it is likely to be a serious case of diminishing returns.
 

Rottmannash

Major Contributor
Forum Donor
Joined
Nov 11, 2020
Messages
1,992
Likes
1,577
Location
Nashville
I think the first thing you can do, if you have not already, is purchase the audyssey app and change the target curve to your choosing then rerun the audyssey room correction. Like Amir's Harman target curve for example. That should demonstrably improve your sound.

I disagree with the others that more power won't make a difference. More power will give you more woofer travel for your larger drivers in your speakers giving you more sound pressure from your woofers. 60 watts is not enough to get the most from your speaker's woofers.

Here is a good example of how the music and movie sound track really determine the amount of power you need more than the speakers do.

Same speakers, same amplifier. The amount of power used for one song is 10-20watts, the amount of power used for another song is up to 400watts. Because there was much more demand for bass notes. Which includes notes above your subwoofer crossover.

I agree-why heat up the innards of the AVR when you can offload some of the amplification to an outboard amp or 2 or 3? Your AVR will run cooler and potentially last longer. And more power is always safer to speakers if driven hard-many a speaker has been blown by underpowered and overstressed amps/AVRs at high volumes due to distortion.
 
Top Bottom