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Integrated Amp Upgrade - Separates or Integrated?

Jackob2545

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I'm looking to upgrade my current integrated amp after upgrading a few other pieces in my system. Currently, I'm running the following for both home theater and music listening;

- Emotiva TA-100 Integrated Amp
- Revel Concerta2 M16 Bookshelves
- SVS Micro 3000 (Connected via SVS Wireless module)
- LG G1 OLED (Connected to TA-100 via Toslink)
- Technics SL-1700 mk1 w/ Nagaoka MP110 (Connected to TA-100 built in Phono Preamp)

There are some specifics on the wish list I would like to gain when moving forward/planning the upgrades to the amplification side of my system. Ideally I would like the following to be available to me either via separates or all in one box, once all is said and done.

- Streamer with at least 24/196 playback (Currently using Roon setup on my desktop for local library and HiRes streaming through Qobuz integrated into Roon)
- Phono stage or ability to add one
- DSP Room correction (Preferably Dirac)
- Subwoofer out Options (Currently running 2.1 but have played with and may look to go to a 2.2 in the future.)
- Video/Audio Processing for the HT side of my system
- Power headroom
- Upgrade pathways

Starting the hunt for the all these things, I gave the Arcam SA30 a trail run. I have had the unit for about 30 days and like its sound a lot! The streaming features are great, but where it lacks is in the subwoofer integration (No sub outs) as its a pure 2 channel amp. This also hampers the Dirac as its only the 2 channel version. I had acquired as second sub (SVS PB 1000 Pro) from my friend and was looking to play around in the 2.2 world. I was able to get the subs connected via the Pre Out on the SA30 and ran DIRAC with success keeping in mind its seeing the subs as extensions of the speakers. I love what Dirac can do for my room and the overall sound but the 2 channel version is truly just for that, 2 channels. Although the SA30 is great, with around a 3k budget I feel moving to separates could get me more of what I am after in full, with opportunity to upgrade or add going forward in a more focused manner.

This has led me to looking into a fully separates based system that incorporates Dirac via some of MiniDSP's option. Here's the setup I am currently considering;

- Marantz SR6015
- Bluesound Node
- MiniDSP DDRC-24
- Emotiva XPA-2 Gen 3 or Monoprice Monolith 2x200

Now please correct me if I'm wrong or way out in left field on this but the configuration would have the AVR and the Bluesound going to the MiniDSP. I would run my Shield Pro and LG G1 into the AVR to handle all the audio/video processing as I have a large Blu-ray library I stream through plex and utilize major streaming services. I would also run my SL-1700 turntable into the Marantz phono stage. The Marantz would be set to Preamp mode to disconnect the power amp section, essentially acting as a pre processor. The Node would be utilized for all my HiRes streaming needs specifically. With both of these going into the MiniDSP DDRC-24 I should be able to send a DSP corrected signal out from the DDRC-24 to my power amp and 1 or potentially 2 subs.

I know the Marantz may be overkill in this situation but I like the idea of being able to remove it form the equation to run a home theater independently if we ever move gaining more space or I decide to switch to a separate music system. Current situation has me restricted to having both HT and HiFi Listening through one room/setup.

I know this is a lot of info but I'm ultimately looking to all of you amazing people for confirmations that my planned approach isn't crazy and will lend me with a well rounded system for both HT and HiFi. My biggest concern is losing quality in the music listening by implementing an AVR, even if its only as a preamp/processor. I haven't lived in the AVR world so not sure if I will see a drastic difference moving from away from integrated product geared for stereo.

As mentioned my budget is around $3k and I would love to hear any alternate setups or pieces you may recommend to get me to my end game... for now, system.


Thank you all!
 

VMAT4

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Have you considered a RPi running Volumio for streaming? Then maybe you could move up to a miniDSP Flex? You're currently set up for 2.1. I'd not start out on the path to a dedicated HT set up until new living quarters are secured. But, as Marantz has not tested well here at ASR, you'd be better off with a Dennon AVR.

Your best bet might be the RPi running Volumio and a balanced miniDSP Flex with a BuckEye power amp of your preference.
 

VMAT4

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Have you considered a RPi running Volumio for streaming? Then maybe you could move up to a miniDSP Flex? You're currently set up for 2.1. I'd not start out on the path to a dedicated HT set up until new living quarters are secured. But, as Marantz has not tested well here at ASR, you'd be better off with a Dennon AVR.

Your best bet might be the RPi running Volumio and a balanced miniDSP Flex with a BuckEye power amp of your preference.
Hold on a minute! The miniDSP SHD Series is a Roon end point. Go with that $1300, about, and a BuckEye amp of your preference.
 
OP
J

Jackob2545

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Hold on a minute! The miniDSP SHD Series is a Roon end point. Go with that $1300, about, and a BuckEye amp of your preference.
The MiniDSP SHD was the pathway I was on before I brought AVR's as a preamp into the mix. I was also considering the Dennon X3700H as I saw it tested better on here and is a little cheaper. I know I wont be expanding past 2.2 anytime soon and currently focused on 2.1, so am I out of line thinking I need the AV processing for my Dolby/DTS movie watching on a 2.1? Would there be any benefit to having those capabilities in a 2.1/2.2 environment over just using the toslink to the TV on the with SHD?

In addition to streaming HiRes for music listening, independent of the TV/Shield, I was trying to find a solution of getting the full passthrough audio capabilities of the Shield incorporated as they are currently getting down sampled by the TV due to a chain of Shield>(HDMI)>LG HDMI Input>(HDMI)>Arcam HDMI ARC. The Shield only has one HDMI out and no way to split the audio out from the Video thus my desire for the AVR component. This would all then cascade down to a power amp but first running through a MiniDSP device.

If all this is negligible in a 2.1/2.2 I will definitely be going the route of the SHD and power amp combo. I'm not to familiar with BuckEye no class D amps. Any specific reason to look their way? any better option in the power amp category to suit the Revel M16's with say a $1800 budget?

Thanks!
 

curiouspeter

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Streamer with at least 24/196 playback
Why 24/192? You know that many DSP engines probably run 24/96 internally, right?

Room Correction is essential, even if you are stuck with 24/96. Anything higher is just wasting processor cycles anyway.

Have you looked at the Lyngdorf TDAI-1120 (120W to 4 Ohms) or TDAI-3400 (400W to 4 Ohms)?

Lyngdorf RoomPerfect is as good as Dirac Live, if not better. (However, Dirac shows you more graphs, which can be useful if you want to play around.)

The TDAI has excellent bass management if you want to add one or two subs.
 

Waxx

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Why 24/192? You know that many DSP engines probably run 24/96 internally, right?

Room Correction is essential, even if you are stuck with 24/96. Anything higher is just wasting processor cycles anyway.

Have you looked at the Lyngdorf TDAI-1120 (120W to 4 Ohms) or TDAI-3400 (400W to 4 Ohms)?

Lyngdorf RoomPerfect is as good as Dirac Live, if not better. (However, Dirac shows you more graphs, which can be useful if you want to play around.)

The TDAI has excellent bass management if you want to add one or two subs.
The Lyngdorf is very expensive and did not test that good neighter. It's not absolute bad but for that price i would expect more. I think it's better to use the SHD and a bunch of good measuring cheaper amps like the Audiophonics HPA-400ET. Even if you need 2 amp (for mains and subs) of them it's still cheaper than the 6K lyngdorf and better measuring.

So in that scenario, the SHD is 1300€, the Audiophonics 1500, so total setup is less than 3K. The amp is just an example of what is possible, it's too powerfull for what you need, but it measures well. You can easely replace it with something else. But that Emotiva amp isnot that good neighter if you want a neutral low distortion sound.
 

curiouspeter

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The Lyngdorf is very expensive and did not test that good neighter. It's not absolute bad but for that price i would expect more. I think it's better to use the SHD and a bunch of good measuring cheaper amps like the Audiophonics HPA-400ET. Even if you need 2 amp (for mains and subs) of them it's still cheaper than the 6K lyngdorf and better measuring.

So in that scenario, the SHD is 1300€, the Audiophonics 1500, so total setup is less than 3K. The amp is just an example of what is possible, it's too powerfull for what you need, but it measures well. You can easely replace it with something else. But that Emotiva amp isnot that good neighter if you want a neutral low distortion sound.
The Lyngdorf 1120 is only 2000 Euros I think. I had to pay $2500 in the US. Still, it is unbeatable for the price.

Features and usability beat measurements because the difference will not be audible anyway.

Or you can look at the NAD C399, which costs slightly more. I will not put up with BluOS simply because it may measure better.

The benefits of room correction is far greater than 20-30 dB of SINAD.
 

DVDdoug

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You know that many DSP engines probably run 24/96 internally, right?
The actual digital signal processing is normally done in floating-point which for "audio purposes" can be considered to have infinite resolution and infinite dynamic range. DSP is just "easier" in floating point.

Usually the sample rate would just stay the same as whatever is fed-in unless resampling is intentionally part of the processing, or unless the DSP processor can't handle a high sample rate.
 

curiouspeter

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The actual digital signal processing is normally done in floating-point which for "audio purposes" can be considered to have infinite resolution and infinite dynamic range. DSP is just "easier" in floating point.

Usually the sample rate would just stay the same as whatever is fed-in unless resampling is intentionally part of the processing, or unless the DSP processor can't handle a high sample rate.
I am not entirely sure but I think both Lyngdorf and Trinnov Altitude 16 are limited to 96 kHz. So what comes out of the DSP engine will not exceed 96 kHz. Yes, internally it uses floating point.
 

iulianm

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@Jackob2545 : What did you end up getting?

I am pretty much having the same question as I'm looking to upgrade from PSAudio Sprout100 to Rotel A14 MKII or Schiit Vidar/Saga S combo in a budget of ~$1.5k.

I have a PS Audio Sprout100 powering Revel M106 speakers and two SVS subs; I'm using this for stereo listening and I have a Schiit DAC (connected to a Bluesound Node 2i) and phono preamp.

My two main reasons of looking to replace the Sprout100 are:
  • it sends a loud thunk to the subwoofers every-time that I power it off and I hate that (what I am trying to do is to stop the music, let the subs go on stand-by and then switch off the Sprout).
  • not enough inputs to use the external DAC and phono preamp and I have to switch cables (and looking to add a CD player as well)
The main reason for Rotel is that I would be inclined to get a CD player from them as well and with Schiit.... I already have a DAC and phono preamp.

I think I like more the idea of an integrated unit and I might sell the Schiit DAC/Phono PreAmp then continuing with separates as most of the on/off switches for Schiit products seems to be in the rear.

PS Audio Sprout100 also has 50 watts per channel at 8 ohm and Revel specifies 50-150 recommended amp power. They get plenty loud with the Sprout but I'm curious if I can do any better with a modest upgrade from the Sprout.

My current setup:
IMG_6257.jpeg
 
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Recommend looking at the minidsp flex and Wiim mini streamer instead of the SHD. I switched and the Wiim is a much better streamer. Way better UX, More integrations and regular updates
 

Waxx

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First, keep the dac, dac's in amplifiers are getting outdated fast, and make the amp less appealing when you want to sell it, upgrading the dac is also impossible and mostly the dac's in amps are not that great. If you want dsp, keep it on the digital side before the dac.

But if you still insist on having it all in one, take a look at the NAD C388. It's a fairly neutral amp using Hypex amp modules with a NAD frontend, much like the beloved M22 system. And it gives 150W like your speakers ask...

Otherwise, look at the more traditional NAD builds, or the Yamaha A/S701 could be fit also. It's, like the whole A/S a well build fairly neutral and low distortion amplifier in my experience, and cheap compared to the other big brands for the quality it has. Denon and Marantz are also good quality in that priceclass, but a bit less, and Marantz got the typical Marantz colouration (read: harmonic distortion), that is very subtile, but it's there and you may like it or not. Most of those big brands are not tested a lot here i'm affraid (they are probally scared about Amir and his hard facts judgement).
 

curiouspeter

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@Jackob2545 : What did you end up getting?

I am pretty much having the same question as I'm looking to upgrade from PSAudio Sprout100 to Rotel A14 MKII or Schiit Vidar/Saga S combo in a budget of ~$1.5k.

I have a PS Audio Sprout100 powering Revel M106 speakers and two SVS subs; I'm using this for stereo listening and I have a Schiit DAC (connected to a Bluesound Node 2i) and phono preamp.

My two main reasons of looking to replace the Sprout100 are:
  • it sends a loud thunk to the subwoofers every-time that I power it off and I hate that (what I am trying to do is to stop the music, let the subs go on stand-by and then switch off the Sprout).
  • not enough inputs to use the external DAC and phono preamp and I have to switch cables (and looking to add a CD player as well)
The main reason for Rotel is that I would be inclined to get a CD player from them as well and with Schiit.... I already have a DAC and phono preamp.

I think I like more the idea of an integrated unit and I might sell the Schiit DAC/Phono PreAmp then continuing with separates as most of the on/off switches for Schiit products seems to be in the rear.

PS Audio Sprout100 also has 50 watts per channel at 8 ohm and Revel specifies 50-150 recommended amp power. They get plenty loud with the Sprout but I'm curious if I can do any better with a modest upgrade from the Sprout.

My current setup:
View attachment 231773
The difference between 50 and 150W is less than 5 dB. If it is loud enough for you now out should not be a huge problem.

You can get much more with Room Correction. Get the miniDSP SHD and stream with Roon.
 

iulianm

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Most of those big brands are not tested a lot here i'm affraid (they are probally scared about Amir and his hard facts judgement).
I've noticed indeed that there aren't much measurements here from those brands.
But if you still insist on having it all in one
Not really insisting but I was just thinking if I could get something similar from a modern integrated and not have many Schiit boxes that don't even have a on/off switch in the front or any sort of trigger.
take a look at the NAD C388
Thanks; this was also in my list as it was at a discount but kinda out of stock for now.
The difference between 50 and 150W is less than 5 dB. If it is loud enough for you now out should not be a huge problem.
To my ears, speakers get pretty loud with Sprout100 now which is why I was surprised that Revel recommends 50-150W; without having another one more powerful for A/B test it's difficult to tell if Sprout has any limitation for these speakers at the volume I'm usually listening.
 

curiouspeter

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I would say just get a Lyngdorf 1120 or 3400 and be done with it.

Measurements are interesting but features and usability are much more important. To me, room correction is easily worth 30+ dB or SINAD.

I have a top-rated DAC (Gustard) sharing the same speakers with a Sonos Amp in my other system. Most of the times, I just use Sonos.
 

iulianm

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I just placed an order for the Schiit combo and I'll try to take them out carefully as they have a 15 days money back in case something is not right.
I went with Saga S pre-amp and will connect my two subs in there.
saga S slv frt 2022 1920.jpegsaga s back 1920.jpeg
The amp is the Vidar:
vidar-front-1920.jpegvidar-rear-1920.jpeg
And I've got as well two 1m cables:
pyst-rca-short-1920.jpeg
I have already have a smart power strip so I'll plug them all into this and turn then off/on in one go.
61PI8akrKOL._AC_SX679_.jpg
 

iulianm

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My gear arrived and some first impressions:
  • I was expecting it to be much louder when I first powered it up as the Vidar has double the power compared with Sprout100 but I needed to keep turning the volume to about 50% on Saga S to get similar level with ~20-25% on Sprout100; at max volume it's way too loud for me but it was just something I've noticed
  • the obvious change was in sound-stage; I don't know how an amp can change the sound stage, I've tried to figure it out if it's placebo but it just sounds like my speakers are toed a bit out but I still get that good imaging; Sprout100 by default had a bass boost (that it's turned off when subs are plugged in) and I'm not sure if it's doing any more processing or not; overall I feel that the sound is a bit more cleaner now
  • Saga S has a motorized volume knob which can be heard and a ticking sound as it's not a potentiometer but a relay based so if you press five times on the volume button, you hear five clicks; it's a bit annoying in it's operation
    • Volume Control: relay-switched stepped attenuator with discrete thin-film resistors, 64 1dB steps
    • The benefits of a relay-switched stepped attenuator for volume are clear. Compared to a potentiometer, they give you essentially perfect channel matching and near-unmeasurable distortion. However, some preamps with relay-stepped attenuators confuse you with buttons and screens. Not Saga S. Saga S has a volume knob that works just like a volume knob—just grab and turn. And if you use the remote control, the motorized potentiometer changes to match the remote setting
  • Preamp also has a discrete JFET buffer stage but apart from a slight increase in volume, I don't notice anything else
  • My OCD is now being triggered with not having two Vidars :(
Saga S + Vidar Front:
IMG_7086.jpeg
Saga S + Vidar Rear:
IMG_7087.jpeg
Since it has four outputs, I can connect both of my subs and get rid of Y adaptor:
IMG_7091 (1).jpeg
I'm gonna get another media storage with more space but for now they are stacked like this:
IMG_7089.jpeg
Cables, cables, cables:
IMG_7092.jpeg
Amp is lower down:
IMG_7090.jpeg
Overall photo:
IMG_7088.jpeg
 

Taiga

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My gear arrived and some first impressions:
  • I was expecting it to be much louder when I first powered it up as the Vidar has double the power compared with Sprout100 but I needed to keep turning the volume to about 50% on Saga S to get similar level with ~20-25% on Sprout100; at max volume it's way too loud for me but it was just something I've noticed
  • the obvious change was in sound-stage; I don't know how an amp can change the sound stage, I've tried to figure it out if it's placebo but it just sounds like my speakers are toed a bit out but I still get that good imaging; Sprout100 by default had a bass boost (that it's turned off when subs are plugged in) and I'm not sure if it's doing any more processing or not; overall I feel that the sound is a bit more cleaner now
  • Saga S has a motorized volume knob which can be heard and a ticking sound as it's not a potentiometer but a relay based so if you press five times on the volume button, you hear five clicks; it's a bit annoying in it's operation
    • Volume Control: relay-switched stepped attenuator with discrete thin-film resistors, 64 1dB steps
    • The benefits of a relay-switched stepped attenuator for volume are clear. Compared to a potentiometer, they give you essentially perfect channel matching and near-unmeasurable distortion. However, some preamps with relay-stepped attenuators confuse you with buttons and screens. Not Saga S. Saga S has a volume knob that works just like a volume knob—just grab and turn. And if you use the remote control, the motorized potentiometer changes to match the remote setting
  • Preamp also has a discrete JFET buffer stage but apart from a slight increase in volume, I don't notice anything else
  • My OCD is now being triggered wi
Saga S + Vidar Front:
View attachment 233046
Saga S + Vidar Rear:
View attachment 233047
Since it has four outputs, I can connect both of my subs and get rid of Y adaptor:
View attachment 233051
I'm gonna get another media storage with more space but for now they are stacked like this:
View attachment 233049
Cables,
My gear arrived and some first impressions:
  • I was expecting it to be much louder when I first powered it up as the Vidar has double the power compared with Sprout100 but I needed to keep turning the volume to about 50% on Saga S to get similar level with ~20-25% on Sprout100; at max volume it's way too loud for me but it was just something I've noticed
  • the obvious change was in sound-stage; I don't know how an amp can change the sound stage, I've tried to figure it out if it's placebo but it just sounds like my speakers are toed a bit out but I still get that good imaging; Sprout100 by default had a bass boost (that it's turned off when subs are plugged in) and I'm not sure if it's doing any more processing or not; overall I feel that the sound is a bit more cleaner now
  • Saga S has a motorized volume knob which can be heard and a ticking sound as it's not a potentiometer but a relay based so if you press five times on the volume button, you hear five clicks; it's a bit annoying in it's operation
    • Volume Control: relay-switched stepped attenuator with discrete thin-film resistors, 64 1dB steps
    • The benefits of a relay-switched stepped attenuator for volume are clear. Compared to a potentiometer, they give you essentially perfect channel matching and near-unmeasurable distortion. However, some preamps with relay-stepped attenuators confuse you with buttons and screens. Not Saga S. Saga S has a volume knob that works just like a volume knob—just grab and turn. And if you use the remote control, the motorized potentiometer changes to match the remote setting
  • Preamp also has a discrete JFET buffer stage but apart from a slight increase in volume, I don't notice anything else
  • My OCD is now being triggered with not having two Vidars :(
Saga S + Vidar Front:
View attachment 233046
Saga S + Vidar Rear:
View attachment 233047
Since it has four outputs, I can connect both of my subs and get rid of Y adaptor:
View attachment 233051
I'm gonna get another media storage with more space but for now they are stacked like this:
View attachment 233049
Cables, cables, cables:
View attachment 233052
Amp is lower down:
View attachment 233050
Overall photo:
View attachment 233048

Hi,

Do you have an update on your gear. I‘ll probably be ordering a Saga, but still doing my homework. I have a Hypex Ncore NC502MP amp arriving tomorrow. Thanks!
 

iulianm

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Vidar is now back to $699, btw.
Not much of an update on the sound quality which I think it's great but more of day to day usability:
  • I have all Schiit gear plugged in a smart power strip that I turn it on/off using Alexa (and this helped a lot) and I still dislike that I need to wait 60 seconds for Saga S to be able to play any sound
  • I still don't like the relay clicks that volume knob on Saga makes but got more used to
  • When I power on Vidar it sometimes makes my lights flicker and it doesn't do this all the time
  • Vidar it's much more sensible to power as even some small shocks makes it cut sound for a couple of seconds; Saga still works as subwoofers still produce sound; typically power is pretty stable at my place (I also have a UPS that keep tracks when it kicks in).
 
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