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Amplifier recommendations for Elac Carina bookshelf

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swevictor

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From personal experience, I can recommend the Sabaj A30a. The sound is really good, the performance is good and the measured values should correspond to those of the VMV A2.
Also one of the few "real" digital amplifiers, so you don't have to worry about a DAC or a DAC upgrade. It has a built-in ADC for analog sources.
A friend recently brought his new WiiM amp to show me that I had spent far too much on "just" an amplifier. The next day he ordered a WiiM Pro and a Sabja A30a. The WiiM Amp isn't bad at all, from memory I would classify it as similar to a Fosi V3, but the better is the enemy of the good.
And before anyone shouts, when making such comparisons I adjust the volume, whether headphones or speakers, to 3 decimal places with a 1 kHz signal.
Very interesting!

Since you took care to match the signals and really compare, what do you put the differences down to? Since more power is not supposed to bring more control or better sound (see above).

Do we know if the WiiM Ultra will have USB in (from computer)? The system will use computer sounds quite a bit and the USB to Optical to WiiM doesn't feel like a great solution honestly.
 
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Roland68

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Very interesting!

Since you took care to match the signals and really compare, what do you put the differences down to? Since more power is not supposed to bring more control or better sound (see above).

Do we know if the WiiM Ultra will have USB in (from computer)? The system will use computer sounds quite a bit and the USB to Optical to WiiM doesn't feel like a great solution honestly.
You know that the “sound” of devices is a difficult topic here in the forum.
Personally, I find it amazing that an all-in-one device like the WiiM AMP, which supplies all sections such as digital, small signal analog and the amplifier from one power supply, where everything is housed in such a small space, has such good sound performance . However, I prefer separate devices and the Fosi V3 also achieves something similar and, in conjunction with the WiiM Pro Plus, is also in the same price range.
The devices/boards from Topping with the PA5(ii), 3e Audio, SylphAudio, XRK Audio etc. show that the TPA3255 is not exhausted.
I can also use other integrated amplifiers/power amplifiers/monoblocks from my shelf, even in completely different price ranges, but the A30a is a really good complete package, especially with digital sources. In terms of price/performance, I really don't know of any alternative, especially in terms of sound. But that is just my personal opinion.

But that doesn't answer your actual question and there are too many factors that influence it.
As long as we can't measure sound, you have to listen to it and decide for yourself. Measurements are a good start and very useful, but in my opinion not everything. However, you should avoid poorly measuring devices.

However, in my opinion and experience, there is one very important difference with the Sabaj A30a compared to most other devices. The signal is only processed digitally until it is converted via PWM. Any influences such as usual D/A conversion with DAC chips, preamplifier, small signal processing/amplification, power supply small signal processing, volume control (pots, ICs, resistors, etc.), several gain stages in the amp, time shifts in the analog signal, etc, are not available.
 
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swevictor

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You know that the “sound” of devices is a difficult topic here in the forum.

Personally, I find it amazing that an all-in-one device like the WiiM AMP, which supplies all sections such as digital, small signal analog and the amplifier from one power supply, where everything is housed in such a small space, has such good sound performance . However, I prefer separate devices and the Fosi V3 also achieves something similar and, in conjunction with the WiiM Pro Plus, is also in the same price range.
Agree with both points. The "only" downside I see with separates is the (typically) analog interconnects and the multiple boxes needed for one task. And of course, the inability to upgrade. To a new streamer, a new DAC, or a new AMP.

... the A30a is a really good complete package, especially with digital sources. In terms of price/performance, I really don't know of any alternative, especially in terms of sound. But that is just my personal opinion.
Yes, it's a very interesting design and one that seems very reasonable as the "modern way". Is it better? Conceptually yes, but it today has the drawback that it's one of very few devices working this way meaning it's almost impossible to replace parts-wise (similar to the WiiM Amp I'd say).

It would be "easier" to aim for WiiM Ultra + (DAC) + Analog power amp to be able to handle each component separately and not caring about "what if the power in the WiiM amp is not enough after all".

But that doesn't answer your actual question and there are too many factors that influence it.
As long as we can't measure sound, you have to listen to it and decide for yourself. Measurements are a good start and very useful, but in my opinion not everything. However, you should avoid poorly measuring devices.

...
Yep, agreed.
 

Roland68

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Agree with both points. The "only" downside I see with separates is the (typically) analog interconnects and the multiple boxes needed for one task. And of course, the inability to upgrade. To a new streamer, a new DAC, or a new AMP.
In this particular case it's just a digital cable from the source to the A30a.
In general, I prefer individual devices, on the one hand when there are defects and because individual sections can be replaced.

Yes, it's a very interesting design and one that seems very reasonable as the "modern way". Is it better? Conceptually yes, but it today has the drawback that it's one of very few devices working this way meaning it's almost impossible to replace parts-wise (similar to the WiiM Amp I'd say).
Only normal components are installed, so they can be repaired just as well or badly as any other amplifier built in SMD. It is also not very densely populated and has important measuring points, which also allows for quick error diagnosis. I find other boards much more difficult, just look at the bottom of an IcePower, Hypex or Purifi amplifier.

It would be "easier" to aim for WiiM Ultra + (DAC) + Analog power amp to be able to handle each component separately and not caring about "what if the power in the WiiM amp is not enough after all".
The WiiM Ultra USB audio output would be perfect for the A30a, there are still 2 x digital and 1 x analog available ;o)
The only way to be more Spartan is with one device.
 
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swevictor

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Reading the above I realize we have another contender, the Lyngdorf TDAI 1120

Well over $2000 here in Sweden, but Room perfect!

Edit: After looking a bit more in detail the small Lyngdorf does not have USB audio in either. Sigh. The 3340 does have it though, but then we're both in a big chassi and north of $6000

Thoughts?
 
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swevictor

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Looking a bit further I see three (plus one) very convenient all in one offerings with sub management and room correction
- Lyngdorf 1120
- Nad M10
- MiniDSP SHD Power
(WiiM Amp)

Maybe they all represent a somewhat worse than optimal sound quality compared to separates, but they all really speak to me form factor and convenience wise. They all seem to have had some software/firmware issues, but maybe most are resolved now?

Given the discussions above all probably have more than enough power for the intended room.

The Lyngdorf is probably the one I like the most looks wise. Understated design with no display. Also Room Perfect which seems really great for stereo.

The Nad may be a better choice for sound quality potentially, but that didn't get glowing reviews here either.

MiniDSP seems like the best reviewing of the bunch sound quality wise but with some issues driving 4ohm (the intended speakers are 4.8-6 ohms). Also a bit less sure about the streaming platform, but does have native USB in which I see as a major plus. ... and a WiiM would be easy to add down the line if needed. Probably impossible to try before buying.


I have read quite a few threads talking about these, but would appreciate any thoughts if you have any. Sounds quality and power? Do you think any of them would have longevity issues?
 
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swevictor

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Connecting back to those potentially interested.

Spent some time auditioning Nad M10 V2 vs Lyngdorf 1120 at a local dealer (HifiKlubben Sweden). Both ran in standard settings with as little processing as possible. No Dirac/Roomperfect.

Somewhat surprising the Lyngdorf was clearly better on almost everything. Brought forward a lot more brilliancy than the Nad. Both had the power/base needed to pay LOUD. The differences were especially obvious on lower volumes. And no, it was not blind and it was not volume matched. It was however surprisingly obvious.

So, since this is ASR - can this be true? Assuming both are fairly competent amps, are we talking "secret" eq curves or is there something else at play here? Technically, the Nad should be more powerful/capable than the Lyngdorf, so personally I'm fairy surprised by the outcome...
 

Roland68

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Connecting back to those potentially interested.

Spent some time auditioning Nad M10 V2 vs Lyngdorf 1120 at a local dealer (HifiKlubben Sweden). Both ran in standard settings with as little processing as possible. No Dirac/Roomperfect.

Somewhat surprising the Lyngdorf was clearly better on almost everything. Brought forward a lot more brilliancy than the Nad. Both had the power/base needed to pay LOUD. The differences were especially obvious on lower volumes. And no, it was not blind and it was not volume matched. It was however surprisingly obvious.

So, since this is ASR - can this be true? Assuming both are fairly competent amps, are we talking "secret" eq curves or is there something else at play here? Technically, the Nad should be more powerful/capable than the Lyngdorf, so personally I'm fairy surprised by the outcome...
Such listening comparisons at dealers are not very useful, except for a first listening impression.
There are too many things that can bother or distract you and an experienced dealer knows how to put devices at the forefront.

Take the devices home and listen to them at your leisure. However, level matching is essential and can be done with any multimeter.
 
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swevictor

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Such listening comparisons at dealers are not very useful, except for a first listening impression.
There are too many things that can bother or distract you and an experienced dealer knows how to put devices at the forefront.

You're off course entitled to your opinion, and I mine

From my perspective I'm 100% certain there was an objective difference. Not subtle and something both me and the dealer were very surprised to hear. The Nad, being $1000/50% more expensive should if anything have had the Lyngdorf beat comfortably.

I would personally describe the difference as the Lyngdorf producing a sound with more brilliancy in the treble. Especially apparent for acoustical instrument such as guitar and piano. Could be as something simple as an eq bump, but raising the volume on the Nad did not bring it making me wonder if there could be other factors. Thoughts?

To be clear, I personally very much like this type of brilliant treble sound. I chose the Elac speakers with their folded ribbon tweeter over Dynaudio and others due to this. I get a similar brilliancy tone, although even more extreme, from the B&W 705 S3 (with the cone tweeter on top) but not from the 706 S3 (which to me sound a bit more muffled in a direct comparison) if that comparison helps someone understand what I mean.


During the test I could verify the Lyngdorf was set to bypass (no room perfect and no eq as far as I understand). The Nad i was assured by the dealer was without Dirac and any eq but I can't be 100% sure. I am certain the dealer was honest about him thinking it was disabled though. The volume was not matched but the difference was clear no matter which amp played the loudest. Switching A/B was instant but again not blind.
 
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swevictor

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In a more controlled environment (home) I have now compared the Lyngdorf which I bought to the (old) Sonos Connect Amp. No EQ for sure here.

A much worse A/B test if I'm being completely honest. Switching required rewiring the speakers and was not quick.

Anecdotally my sense was that the Sonos sounded a bit 'shrill' and had less control at all volume levels. It could clearly could not drive the Elacs loud with retained sound quality.

But again, in this instance I wouldn't credit my own amount too much. I am very happy with the sound from the Lyngdorf and felt it lacking from the Sonos. Maybe this time it's expected tough given there Sonos is known to be pretty weak power wise and presumably does not measure great either...
 
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Willem

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The desktop speakers in my 18 sqm study (Harbeth P3ESR) have a similarly low sensitivity and I happily drive them with a refurbished 2x100 watt Quad 405-2 power amplifier. The only source is my fanless PC (with a basic DAC and a cheap Emotiva passive volume control) using Equalizer Apo for some equalization because the speakers are pretty close to the desk. The sound quality is excellent.
 
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