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recommend a powerful amp with sub out <$1200

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#1
Current desk setup = Schiit modi 3 > garage 1217 project sunrise (as pre but mostly for use with HD6xx) > SMSL SA98E (class D [email protected]) > Elac Ub5. I want to add a sub. I live in New Zealand so has to support 230v. ~$1200 USD to spend on just the amp. in that price range and with the power requirements of the UB5's would it be better to stick to class D or look at a class a/b integrated design? most that have sub outs r probably in the latter category right? also am i likely to get (technically) better sound with a $1000 amp vs a $100? i find that if i dont use the right tube in the sunrise or if i try turn the gain up on the SMSL the speakers sound super shouty in what i am perceiving as the upper mids (its certain snare-like drum beats and tracks with overbearing vocals that tend to hurt my ears). this could be just a trait of the speakers i guess, but i wouldnt have expected such highly rated speakers to get this shouty in a desktop setup like 3ft away from my ears. dont have many related shops around so i kindof just have to pull the trigger on things. i just want a nice sounding system for gaming/music. am willing to sell stuff and rebuild from scratch.

also i noticed with the modi, using the optical input partially alleviated the problemed area allowing me to turn them up a bit, though seemed to reduce clarity slightly. would this have something to do with realtek drivers vs schiits usb driver?
 
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#3
The analog outputs on this could probably be used for a subwoofer, and it's probably the best performing amp you'll be able to purchase new in New Zealand for under $1,000NZD - with the current exchange rate it comes in at $932NZD:


https://www.aliexpress.com/item/32834564523.html

P.S. I'm in New Zealand also... :cool:
So the dac rca outputs? So id just plug either left or right into the sub? Can u get integrated amps that handle crossover like an AVR? I feel like i could get more out of the elacs and make them more efficient by not forcing them at full range. But dont really want an avr cause dont want to pay for unnecessary functionality and size. just need the audio side of things. Anything along those lines? Could go up to bout 1600nzd.
 

BillG

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#4
You'd connect it with something like this, if it only has one line level input:

https://www.amazon.com/KabelDirekt-Analogue-Shielded-supports-Subwoofers/dp/B00RXNV74K/ref=sr_1_3?qid=1558383135&refinements=p_n_feature_keywords_browse-bin:2889529011&s=aht&sr=1-3

However, even the rather inexpensive powered subwoofers I've seen have stereo input.

As for a crossover with that particular amp, it doesn't have one. As for others that might, I don't know. However, most subwoofers have crossover filtering, and it may be possible to loop back into the SMSL A8 via the subwoofer's analog outputs.


https://www.crutchfield.com/S-8Tsq9tj8prs/learn/reviews/audio_explorations/2007/0327.html
 
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#5
You'd connect it with something like this, if it only has one line level input:

https://www.amazon.com/KabelDirekt-Analogue-Shielded-supports-Subwoofers/dp/B00RXNV74K/ref=sr_1_3?qid=1558383135&refinements=p_n_feature_keywords_browse-bin:2889529011&s=aht&sr=1-3

However, even the rather inexpensive powered subwoofers I've seen have stereo input.

As for a crossover with that particular amp, it doesn't have one. As for others that might, I don't know. However, most subwoofers have crossover filtering, and it may be possible to loop back into the SMSL A8 via the subwoofer's analog outputs.


https://www.crutchfield.com/S-8Tsq9tj8prs/learn/reviews/audio_explorations/2007/0327.html
Ah k so if i get a sub that i can pass through back to the inputs on the amp.. Does the sub then apply its crossover filter to the speakers? So optical or usb to the dac. Dac out to the sub, back to the amp and then speakers. Wait so how will that work assuming i can only use one input/output at a time? Oh wait run the sunrise to the sub and then to the amp? Then i could get an amp that doesnt have a dac right? Or just grab a sub with said feature and use it with my current amp. Which brings me back to whether or not a bigger more expensive amp will likely sound better.
 
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TimW

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#6
You could get a subwoofer with stereo inputs and high-pass filtered stereo outputs. These are less common in my experience but I do own one with this feature; it uses the Dayton Audio SPA250DSP plate amplifier with built in DSP. You have to control the volume before the sub which could be your preamp with analog volume control or DAC with software volume control. Keep in mind that sub amps like this digitize the analog input, apply DSP, and then convert back to analog so an extra ADC/DAC stage is added to the system. This is unlikely to degrade the sound quality of your system, and surely the addition of a subwoofer will outweigh any degradation, but then again I haven't seen any measurements of subwoofer dsp amps. You could use the SMSL amp after the sub or get something with higher power and/or lower distortion. More power will probably make more of a difference.

The other option is to get a more traditional receiver or integrated amplifier with a subwoofer output and a high-pass filter. Then you can get just about any regular sub to use with it. There aren't a whole lot of devices like this that actually apply a high-pass filter to prevent your speakers from playing low bass frequencies. At least that I can find. On top of this, integrated devices like this that have been reviewed here have performed fairly poorly with low power and high distortion. With that being said I have high hopes for the Paradigm PW Amp which will hopefully be reviewed soon. It includes ARC room correction DSP.

If I were you I would definitely get something that can do DSP so that you can do some room correction and get the most out of a subwoofer. And pair that with a high power amplifier like one from March Audio out of Australia. I wouldn't hesitate to use the Minidsp 2x4 HD or DDRC-24 as DAC and preamp. It doesn't measure excellently but having DSP functionality and the ability to integrate your new sub well will have a greater impact on sound quality then DAC performance or even a higher power amplifier. Idk what kind of subs are commonly available to you in NZ but here in the US I always see SVS, Rythmik, and HSU subs being recommended.
 
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#7
You could get a subwoofer with stereo inputs and high-pass filtered stereo outputs. These are less common in my experience but I do own one with this feature; it uses the Dayton Audio SPA250DSP plate amplifier with built in DSP. You have to control the volume before the sub which could be your preamp with analog volume control or DAC with software volume control. Keep in mind that sub amps like this digitize the analog input, apply DSP, and then convert back to analog so an extra ADC/DAC stage is added to the system. This is unlikely to degrade the sound quality of your system, and surely the addition of a subwoofer will outweigh any degradation, but then again I haven't seen any measurements of subwoofer dsp amps. You could use the SMSL amp after the sub or get something with higher power and/or lower distortion. More power will probably make more of a difference.

The other option is to get a more traditional receiver or integrated amplifier with a subwoofer output and a high-pass filter. Then you can get just about any regular sub to use with it. There aren't a whole lot of devices like this that actually apply a high-pass filter to prevent your speakers from playing low bass frequencies. At least that I can find. On top of this, integrated devices like this that have been reviewed here have performed fairly poorly with low power and high distortion. With that being said I have high hopes for the Paradigm PW Amp which will hopefully be reviewed soon. It includes ARC room correction DSP.

If I were you I would definitely get something that can do DSP so that you can do some room correction and get the most out of a subwoofer. And pair that with a high power amplifier like one from March Audio out of Australia. I wouldn't hesitate to use the Minidsp 2x4 HD or DDRC-24 as DAC and preamp. It doesn't measure excellently but having DSP functionality and the ability to integrate your new sub well will have a greater impact on sound quality then DAC performance or even a higher power amplifier. Idk what kind of subs are commonly available to you in NZ but here in the US I always see SVS, Rythmik, and HSU subs being recommended.
. Dsp sounds good but i want a dac that measures well if im gonna get a new 1. How do most people run 2.1 setups? I feel like what i want should be pretty simple to acheive. So with the dsp thingy i would output the same signal to the sub and speaker pre amp, but then id have to adjust the amp and speakers seperately right. Unless i use the dsp as the preamp for both, then set the sub reletive to the speakers and use source to adjust volume?

Heres what i think im gonna do. Im gonna get me a nice phat quality sub. Im gonna plug the pre into the line input. Ima trust that the stuff inside the sub does its job. High pass to speaker amp. Thanks. Done. This will be a couple weeks from now so i have time to think about it. Seems like the only other option would be an avr which im not doing. How do the pros do it thats what i wanna know.
 
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TimW

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#8
How do most people run 2.1 setups? I feel like what i want should be pretty simple to acheive.
I think most often people use either a receiver or integrated amplifier with a subwoofer output. If it is an AV receiver then there is usually built in DSP to add a high-pass filter to the speaker outputs and perform room correction. This means any analog signal you feed to the AVR is being converted to digital and then back to analog. There is nothing inherently wrong with this extra ADC/DAC stage and it is probably inaudible. But if you feel better you can bypass this stage by feeding the AVR a digital signal. Or you could get a stereo receiver or integrated amplifier that has a subwoofer output but lacks DSP. They won't perform room correction or cut bass frequencies to your main speakers but they are an easy way to power speakers and control a sub. Usually these kinds of devices are large class AB designs, and although there haven't been many tested here, the ones that have are quite mediocre. The large companies that produce these kinds of products don't seem to put a lot of effort into making high performance products. Most of what they sell is just made to check boxes on a feature list at a given price-point with little attention paid to objective performance.

The reason I recommend DSP is because it will allow you to properly set a low-pass filter for the sub, a high-pass filter for the Elac UB5's, and perform room correction on the low frequencies. The bass quality of a system is the largest determining factor of sound quality for most people. It is quite possible that your UB5's sound shouty in the upper mids because your system is actually lacking bass, and when you turn up the volume to get good bass volume the upper mids are too loud in comparison. If you use a high-pass filter on the UB5's their woofers will no longer be asked to play bass frequencies and can perform mid range duty with lower distortion. The Subwoofer can obviously do a much better job of producing the low bass frequencies but the room will cause peaks and dips in the bass response that makes it uneven and less satisfying. That is why room correction is almost a must have for good bass performance in a room.

With DSP being such a powerful tool, it can also be quite complicated and difficult to do right. Many people will recommend using a calibrated microphone such as a MiniDSP UMIK-1 or Dayton Audio UMM-6 with the free software Room Equalization Wizard (REW). This takes some learning and the first few times you try to use it probably won't result in the best possible outcome. However once you have learned how to take measurements and make room correction filters well it is very satisfying. With this kind of manual room correction you can use either software or hardware to modify the signal being sent to your speakers. The miniDSP 2x4 HD is a relatively inexpensive and effective piece of hardware for this task. Unfortunately it does not measure excellently well, and I can understand why you wouldn't want to "downgrade" to it from your Modi 3. On the other hand the DSP it brings to the table will improve your system far more then it's lackluster DAC performance degrades it.

Seems like the only other option would be an avr which im not doing. How do the pros do it thats what i wanna know.
An AVR gives you basic DSP power with easy to use automated room correction. But yeah they are big, ugly, expensive, have unnecessary features, objectively poor performance, and their automated room correction usually sucks. Good automated room correction is probably the best option for you though, since it doesn't have the learning curve of using software like REW. A product I use mostly just for its room correction is the Paradigm PW Link. I picked it up for around $150 and just use its optical input and output. It comes with a usb microphone for use with ARC Genesis room correction software to quickly and easily improve your sound. You could feed it an optical signal, use the optical output to feed your Modi 3 which would connect directly to your speaker amp, and use the analog output of the PW Link to feed signal to a sub. The downsides are that there would be no high-pass filter on the UB5's and you would have to use the buttons on the PW Link or software for volume control. You could also get the Paradigm PW Amp which has the same room correction but also has a dedicated subwoofer output meaning it will high-pass filter the speaker outputs. It only has a low power amplifier though and will add an extra ADC/DAC stage.

As far as pro equipment goes, I don't know a lot about it but I have seen the Behringer Ultracurve Pro DEQ2496 recommended for automated room correction.
 
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#9
I think most often people use either a receiver or integrated amplifier with a subwoofer output. If it is an AV receiver then there is usually built in DSP to add a high-pass filter to the speaker outputs and perform room correction. This means any analog signal you feed to the AVR is being converted to digital and then back to analog. There is nothing inherently wrong with this extra ADC/DAC stage and it is probably inaudible. But if you feel better you can bypass this stage by feeding the AVR a digital signal. Or you could get a stereo receiver or integrated amplifier that has a subwoofer output but lacks DSP. They won't perform room correction or cut bass frequencies to your main speakers but they are an easy way to power speakers and control a sub. Usually these kinds of devices are large class AB designs, and although there haven't been many tested here, the ones that have are quite mediocre. The large companies that produce these kinds of products don't seem to put a lot of effort into making high performance products. Most of what they sell is just made to check boxes on a feature list at a given price-point with little attention paid to objective performance.

The reason I recommend DSP is because it will allow you to properly set a low-pass filter for the sub, a high-pass filter for the Elac UB5's, and perform room correction on the low frequencies. The bass quality of a system is the largest determining factor of sound quality for most people. It is quite possible that your UB5's sound shouty in the upper mids because your system is actually lacking bass, and when you turn up the volume to get good bass volume the upper mids are too loud in comparison. If you use a high-pass filter on the UB5's their woofers will no longer be asked to play bass frequencies and can perform mid range duty with lower distortion. The Subwoofer can obviously do a much better job of producing the low bass frequencies but the room will cause peaks and dips in the bass response that makes it uneven and less satisfying. That is why room correction is almost a must have for good bass performance in a room.

With DSP being such a powerful tool, it can also be quite complicated and difficult to do right. Many people will recommend using a calibrated microphone such as a MiniDSP UMIK-1 or Dayton Audio UMM-6 with the free software Room Equalization Wizard (REW). This takes some learning and the first few times you try to use it probably won't result in the best possible outcome. However once you have learned how to take measurements and make room correction filters well it is very satisfying. With this kind of manual room correction you can use either software or hardware to modify the signal being sent to your speakers. The miniDSP 2x4 HD is a relatively inexpensive and effective piece of hardware for this task. Unfortunately it does not measure excellently well, and I can understand why you wouldn't want to "downgrade" to it from your Modi 3. On the other hand the DSP it brings to the table will improve your system far more then it's lackluster DAC performance degrades it.


An AVR gives you basic DSP power with easy to use automated room correction. But yeah they are big, ugly, expensive, have unnecessary features, objectively poor performance, and their automated room correction usually sucks. Good automated room correction is probably the best option for you though, since it doesn't have the learning curve of using software like REW. A product I use mostly just for its room correction is the Paradigm PW Link. I picked it up for around $150 and just use its optical input and output. It comes with a usb microphone for use with ARC Genesis room correction software to quickly and easily improve your sound. You could feed it an optical signal, use the optical output to feed your Modi 3 which would connect directly to your speaker amp, and use the analog output of the PW Link to feed signal to a sub. The downsides are that there would be no high-pass filter on the UB5's and you would have to use the buttons on the PW Link or software for volume control. You could also get the Paradigm PW Amp which has the same room correction but also has a dedicated subwoofer output meaning it will high-pass filter the speaker outputs. It only has a low power amplifier though and will add an extra ADC/DAC stage.

As far as pro equipment goes, I don't know a lot about it but I have seen the Behringer Ultracurve Pro DEQ2496 recommended for automated room correction.
alright thanks. i think the smart thing would be to start with the svs sb1000 sub cause its on sale locally and i can integrate it with just an extra rca or speaker cable pair. then i can move forward from there if its not blending quite right with either of those cabling options. was listening to the elacs today and they actually sound really nice on a lot of tracks, but missing some kick. the lack of sub is definitely why i feel like i need to turn them up too loud. thanks guys.
 

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