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Schiit, PS Audio or Marantz in Alaska

Erikland

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Hello from Alaska!

I'd like to buy a new amplifier for my stereo system. My budget is $1200 US.

Right now, I have it narrowed down to 3 choices:

1) Schiit Vidar 2 > $950 shipped > https://www.schiit.com/products/vidar2

2) Marantz MM7025 > $999 shipped > https://www.crutchfield.com/p_642MM7025/Marantz-MM7025.html?tp=180

3) PS Audio Stellar S300 > $1999 - $800 trade-in = $1199 shipped > https://www.psaudio.com/products/stellar-s300-power-amplifier?variant=43692321079586

Here's my current system:

Wiim Pro streamer > PS Audio Sprout integrated amp > JBL L100T 3-way floor standing speakers (rated to 150 watts) - https://www.hifi-classic.net/review/jbl-l100t-167.html

The PS Audio Sprout is the first one, not the newer Sprout 100, so it puts out 33 watts into 8 ohms.

The JBL L100T loudspeakers are from the late 80's. I bought them locally and completely restored them (new surrounds, replaced faulty crossovers, refinished the cabinets).

I have a Schiit Modi+ dac that will be put into my new set up, and my wife bought me a Schiit Saga S preamp that's ready to be put to work.

So all I need is a power amp to fit into the new system.


From the three choices (Schiit Vidar 2, Marantz MM7025, PS Audio Stellar S300) which would you choose? And of course, I'm open to other suggestions as well that fit the budget.

Thanks!
Erik


p.s.- Not sure if this is applicable, but here is some of the music that I listen to > Prince, Siouxsie & the Banshees, XTC, Peter Gabriel, James Brown, The Knife/Fever Ray, Little Dragon, Erykah Badu, Janelle Monae, Kraftwerk, Bauhaus/Tones on Tail/Love & Rockets, Billy Bragg, Joni Mitchell .....
 
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Erikland

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And I'm not sure if any of the following info helps but the room is our main living space that is 12 X 20 feet. Our sit on the couch and listen position is about 8 feet from the speakers.
 

amadeogt

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The Sprout has a massive, 7.5 dB, bass boost built in (see measurement at https://www.stereophile.com/content/ps-audio-sprout-integrated-amplifier-measurements).

Your new amp, whichever one you choose, will not have this. It will be flat response - you will notice the difference, which you may not like.

Of course you can add bass by using EQ. Just something to be aware of (the Sprout, by design, is nowhere close to flat).
 
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Erikland

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The Sprout has a massive, 7.5 dB, bass boost built in (see measurement at https://www.stereophile.com/content/ps-audio-sprout-integrated-amplifier-measurements).

Your new amp, whichever one you choose, will not have this. It will be flat response - you will notice the difference, which you may not like.

Of course you can add bass by using EQ. Just something to be aware of (the Sprout, by design, is nowhere close to flat).
That's funny because one of the reasons I'm changing the system is to get better bass response. A few friends have advised me that the 33 watts from the Sprout aren't enough for the 12" woofers of the JBL L100T. Interesting.

The other reason is that I'd like to use the PS Audio Sprout with some smaller speakers in another room.

Is there an amp that you could recommend to plug into this system?
 

amadeogt

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That's funny because one of the reasons I'm changing the system is to get better bass response. A few friends have advised me that the 33 watts from the Sprout aren't enough for the 12" woofers of the JBL L100T. Interesting.

The other reason is that I'd like to use the PS Audio Sprout with some smaller speakers in another room.

Is there an amp that you could recommend to plug into this system?
Maybe a Fosi Audio V3 or Aiyima A07? They only cost $70 on Aliexpress, have at least double (with their standard power supplies) the power of the Sprout, and good SINAD levels - check Amir's reviews.

They also have no bass boost, which you may or may not like.

According to the link you provided, your speakers have high, 92 dB, sensitivity. You dont need a ton of power to drive them. So your issue with bass might be a result of the Sprout excessive, and probably distorted, 7.5 dB boost.
 
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CDMC

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Either the Vidar or Marantz will work well. Personally, I would save a little money and get a Hypex Class D offering which offer even better performance (measurably better, but will not sound any different past a bit more power capability if you were to start clipping the other amplifiers). Those speakers are pretty efficient (92db/w) and easy to drive with a minimum impedance of 5.3 ohms, so unless you are listening very loud, I doubt you are running into clipping with your current amp. There are many great choices:



 
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Erikland

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Thanks for the replies and recommendations. I've been reading about them, and I've fallen back down the black hole of research. I'm new to all of this, and it's tricky to decode all the advertising and review hype to make an informed choice. Normally, the shipping costs to and from Alaska make it so that it's cost-prohibitive to audition equipment within the return window.

I've actually been really happy with the Sprout (I bought it used from a friend) but with those big speakers, the bass is ....weird. It's either too much and a little bit fuzzy and undefined, especially with bass-forward music like reggae, or the bass is buried in the mix with other types of music.

Folks have suggested that the problem is that the 33 watts can't drive those 12" woofers, regardless of the sensitivity of the speakers. Could it be that I need more power? Or is that not the probable issue?
 

Joe Smith

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I think it's quite possible that they will sound better with some more power, e.g., having an amp that can do ~100 wpc so you have decent headroom.

Your cheaper Class D solution would be to get a Hypex-based 2-channel amp from Buckeye or VTV (around $580), or from Audiophonics (Fr) (a bit more, I forget how much). Or, for the same price range as other AB amps in your consideration set, a Purifi amp from Buckeye or VTV.

I have lower end Schiit gear and like it. I've been tempted by the Vidar 2 for myself, but am still leaning towards waiting a bit longer and getting a Buckeye Hypex amp.
 

CDMC

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Thanks for the replies and recommendations. I've been reading about them, and I've fallen back down the black hole of research. I'm new to all of this, and it's tricky to decode all the advertising and review hype to make an informed choice. Normally, the shipping costs to and from Alaska make it so that it's cost-prohibitive to audition equipment within the return window.

I've actually been really happy with the Sprout (I bought it used from a friend) but with those big speakers, the bass is ....weird. It's either too much and a little bit fuzzy and undefined, especially with bass-forward music like reggae, or the bass is buried in the mix with other types of music.

Folks have suggested that the problem is that the 33 watts can't drive those 12" woofers, regardless of the sensitivity of the speakers. Could it be that I need more power? Or is that not the probable issue?

Part of the potential issue you are suffering is the bass boost built into the amplifier (7.5 db at 67hz) which massively changes the output and sound. Basically this boost is requiring a 6x the power from the amplifier in that mid 60hz range as other parts of the audio spectrum, so you may be experiencing clipping when listening to bass heavy music. It is not that the speakers are demanding more power into the bass, it is that the bass boost is increasing the power demanded.

https://www.stereophile.com/content/ps-audio-sprout-integrated-amplifier-measurements

You will never be able to tell if your speakers can put out the amount of clean bass that you want at the levels you want without switching amplifiers. Building a fixed bass boost into an amplifier like the Sprout is just idiotic, the job of an amplifier is to amplify the signal without changing anything else. The good news is that whether you choose the Vidar, Marantz, Buckeye, Nord, VTV, or Audiophonics (or even the S300 which most on this group, myself included don't like because we believe it to be overpriced and PS Audio to be pedaling a lot of snake oil), all will sound the same and work well with your current speaker. More importantly, all of foregoing amps will work well with any decently designed speakers you may purchase in the future (there are a few very inefficient and/or hard to drive speakers that might need more power).

Get your new amp, see how it sounds. If you want to further improve the sound, the best thing you can do is spend your time reading about room acoustics and how to measure and equalize in the digital domain. The software to do so is free and it is $75-125 to purchase a calibrated microphone to use. The room has the largest effect on the sound of your system, the speakers the next largest effect, everything else in the system, assuming of competent quality, has virtually no effect.

 

Joe Smith

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If you use the Sprout in a different room (secondary) and play at quieter levels, the bass boost may be enjoyable. Perhaps. I think that amount of fixed bass boost in an amp is, well, strange...but PS Audio does things a bit differently.

I agree with what CMDC wrote above. But, depending on your room and where you listen, you may or may not want to or need to go down the measurement and EQ refinement route. I've never done that and I like my setups just fine, but I have pretty easy rooms and listen semi-nearfield a lot of the time.
 

Waxx

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It seems that you want a clean neutral sound with decent bass, and that speaker should be able to give that when amped right. A friend uses those with a vintage Luxman C-03 preamp and M-03 power amp (200w/8R) since he inherited that setup from his uncle when he was 13 years (about 35 years ago) and it's a great setup...

These speakers are a bit power hungry and like clean high damping factor amps, not amps like that ps audio that is low power and not clean. I would take neighter of those you suggested as you have that preamp. Get one of the NCore or Purifi based power amps that can give at least 200w at 8R, that is what that speaker needs. Something like the audiophonics LPA-S500NC or similar builds by buckye or Nord with that Hypex NC502MP module would be perfect. Purifi builds of the Hypex Nilai or NX500x based builds also (and even better), but they will be over budget.

I as nerd did test my NC252MP based amps (75w/8R) with that JBL (also because the owner's amp is old and getting unreliable) and it was not enough to feed these speakers right, even if sensivity is at 91dB. They need big reserve in power to play unstressed, and i suspect that that JBL 2214H woofer (the 12") is the one with the big demands... (it's known that it's a hard to drive woofer).
 
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CDMC

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It seems that you want a clean neutral sound with decent bass, and that speaker should be able to give that when amped right. A friend uses those with a vintage Luxman C-03 preamp and M-03 power amp (200w/8R) since he inherited that setup from his uncle when he was 13 years (about 35 years ago) and it's a great setup...

These speakers are a bit power hungry and like clean high damping factor amps, not amps like that ps audio that is low power and not clean. I would take neighter of those you suggested as you have that preamp. Get one of the NCore or Purifi based power amps that can give at least 200w at 8R, that is what that speaker needs. Something like the audiophonics LPA-S500NC or similar builds by buckye or Nord with that Hypex NC502MP module would be perfect. Purifi builds of the Hypex Nilai or NX500x based builds also (and even better), but they will be over budget.

I as nerd did test my NC252MP based amps (75w/8R) with that JBL (also because the owner's amp is old and getting unreliable) and it was not enough to feed these speakers right, even if sensivity is at 91dB. They need big reserve in power to play unstressed, and i suspect that that JBL 2214H woofer (the 12") is the one with the big demands... (it's known that it's a hard to drive woofer).
Did you read the actual test of that speaker? It is sensitive, at a measured 92db/w and the impeadance never drops below 5.3 ohms. That is an easy to drive speaker. At a 10 foot listening distance with 100 w that is 108 db, i.e., 3db above THX reference. There is no need to spend more money to buy a 200w amp to get another 3db of headroom or 400w amp to get another 6db. All of his proposed amp already have more than enough power.
 

Waxx

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Did you read the actual test of that speaker? It is sensitive, at a measured 92db/w and the impeadance never drops below 5.3 ohms. That is an easy to drive speaker. At a 10 foot listening distance with 100 w that is 108 db, i.e., 3db above THX reference. There is no need to spend more money to buy a 200w amp to get another 3db of headroom or 400w amp to get another 6db. All of his proposed amp already have more than enough power.
It's not a low impendance that is the problem here (and make speakers hard to drive), it's big impendance swings. And that JBL L100T had that. I measured it (but i'm on holiday so not near the computer with the measurments) and it has peaks over 80R on certain frequencies.

If the impendane is too low, it may short the amp (on very low impendance), or can't deliver the power (and goes in distortion), but it will drive the driver easely on lower volume when it does not short. Heavy impendance peaks not. You need a lot of spare power capacity to conquer those, even on low volume.
 

CDMC

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It's not a low impendance that is the problem here (and make speakers hard to drive), it's big impendance swings. And that JBL L100T had that. I measured it (but i'm on holiday so not near the computer with the measurments) and it has peaks over 80R on certain frequencies.

If the impendane is too low, it may short the amp (on very low impendance), or can't deliver the power (and goes in distortion), but it will drive the driver easely on lower volume when it does not short. Heavy impendance peaks not. You need a lot of spare power capacity to conquer those, even on low volume.
What big swings?

“The impedance of the L100T was at a minimum of about 5.3 ohms at 120 Hz and 5 ohms from 15,000 to 20,000 Hz. It peaked at 24 ohms at 50 Hz and varied between 5.5 and 13 ohms over most of the audio range.”

“Although our tests showed that the L100T can handle very large peak-power inputs without damage or obvious distortion, it is considerably more sensitive than most speakers of comparable quality and can be driven to very high volume levels with any good 80-watt amplifier. As with any speaker whose woofer operates in a vented enclosure, it is advisable to limit the infrasonic output of the amplifier used with the L100T (although you are unlikely to damage this speaker with any signal that your hearing can tolerate).”
 

Waxx

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What big swings?

“The impedance of the L100T was at a minimum of about 5.3 ohms at 120 Hz and 5 ohms from 15,000 to 20,000 Hz. It peaked at 24 ohms at 50 Hz and varied between 5.5 and 13 ohms over most of the audio range.”

“Although our tests showed that the L100T can handle very large peak-power inputs without damage or obvious distortion, it is considerably more sensitive than most speakers of comparable quality and can be driven to very high volume levels with any good 80-watt amplifier. As with any speaker whose woofer operates in a vented enclosure, it is advisable to limit the infrasonic output of the amplifier used with the L100T (although you are unlikely to damage this speaker with any signal that your hearing can tolerate).”
you're quoting one of those subjective review sites about this driver, but without source or data. I'm speaking from real live experience myself with a set i listened to a lot for years (as it was owned by one of my youthfriends). But the real thing would be that the OP measures his speaker. If it has big impdance swings like i saw, then he needs to a powerfull amp. if it is like you say (which i doubt) not. But even then the amps i suggest are cheaper than those the OP mentions so...
 

CDMC

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you're quoting one of those subjective review sites about this driver, but without source or data. I'm speaking from real live experience myself with a set i listened to a lot for years (as it was owned by one of my youthfriends). But the real thing would be that the OP measures his speaker. If it has big impdance swings like i saw, then he needs to a powerfull amp. if it is like you say (which i doubt) not. But even then the amps i suggest are cheaper than those the OP mentions so...
I am quoting measurements from a reprint of the original review from Stereo Review written by Julian Hirsch (which is linked by the OP), as far as you can get from a subjective review. You appear to misunderstand objective and subjective, as you continue to state you opinion is based on your years of listening, and how you believe different amplifiers sound with them, which are subjective impressions.

If you have measurements of the same complete speakers (not raw drivers, as the OP is not powering raw drivers, but a speaker with multiple drivers a crossover network that has completely different electrical characteristics than a single raw driver) please post them. Until then, I think relying on measurements from a verified reliable source is reasonable.
 
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Erikland

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Hello,

I ended up buying the Schiit Vidar 2.

So my system consists of: Wiim Pro streamer > Schiit Modi+ dac > Schiit Saga S preamp > Schiit Vidar 2 amp > JBL L100T speakers.

And it sounds great! The bass is much better than when I had been using the PS Audio Spout. The bass is tighter and more accurate.

This is my first real stereo system, and I'm really happy with it.

I listened to the Charles Mingus album, The Black Saint and the Sinner Lady, and I was dumbfounded by how great it sounded. I've heard that album before, but I've never heard it like that.

Bob Marley & the Wailers, The English Beat, Peter Gabriel, Joni Mitchell, Prince, Kraftwerk, Rush..... I sat down and listened to music like I was watching a movie.

What a treat!
 

DiN

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I am quoting measurements from a reprint of the original review from Stereo Review written by Julian Hirsch (which is linked by the OP), as far as you can get from a subjective review. You appear to misunderstand objective and subjective, as you continue to state you opinion is based on your years of listening, and how you believe different amplifiers sound with them, which are subjective impressions.

If you have measurements of the same complete speakers (not raw drivers, as the OP is not powering raw drivers, but a speaker with multiple drivers a crossover network that has completely different electrical characteristics than a single raw driver) please post them. Until then, I think relying on measurements from a verified reliable source is reasonable.
CDMC, The "real-world" JBL L100T speaker swings Waxx is speaking of are coming from under-powered amplifiers used with the JBL L100T speakers, especially underpowered class-D amplifiers such as the OP's original PS Audio Sprout, class-D & rated at only 33Wpc at 8-ohms.

CDMC, You're quoting a lab review using a maximum output 1,400 watt amplifier, most-likely class A, on a JBL-recommended 200W-max amplifier speaker. From your Julian Hirsch lab review, quote: 'The woofer took "550 watts at 100 Hz into its 5.5-ohm impedance. The 8-ohm midrange driver handled the full 1,400-watt output of the test amplifier at 1,000 Hz with-out distortion, and the tweeter began to show nonlinearity when driven with 300 watts at 10,000 Hz (into its 6-ohm impedance).' end quote.

Note, Julian Hirsch, says in his L100T lab review: "...it is considerably more sensitive than most speakers of comparable quality and can be driven to very high volume levels with any good 80-watt amplifier."
Hirsch was not likely referring to class-D amplifiers, but class-A or -AB.

The PS Audio Sprout was tested by Herb Reichert in 2015,
"With both big classical and demanding rock, I began to notice climaxes fading as they approached their peaks."

CDMC, again, using your own selected quote from the L100T lab tests: "It peaked at 24 ohms at 50 Hz and varied between 5.5 and 13 ohms over most of the audio range.”
24-ohms at 50 Hz is a lab result on a specific frequency, far from a real-world music listening test. That 24-ohms at 50 Hz is going to be at significantly less than the peak 33-Wpc at 8-ohms of the Sprout, resulting in the missing bass that both the OP & Herb Reichert noticed, causing the real-world music listening swings that Waxx is referring to.

JBL L100T:
Frequency Response: 35Hz to 20kHz
Recommended Amplifier: 200W (maximum)
Impedance: 8Ω

PS Audio Sprout:
Frequency Response(@2.83V 0+dB): 50Hz to 10kHz.
35 Hz(@2.83V): -10dB
Low Frequency(@2.83V): 32Hz at -12dB
Maximum output power: 33Wpc into 8Ω

Original L100T lab review, using the 1,400-watt maximum output test amplifier:
 

CDMC

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CDMC, The "real-world" JBL L100T speaker swings Waxx is speaking of are coming from under-powered amplifiers used with the JBL L100T speakers, especially underpowered class-D amplifiers such as the OP's original PS Audio Sprout, class-D & rated at only 33Wpc at 8-ohms.

CDMC, You're quoting a lab review using a maximum output 1,400 watt amplifier, most-likely class A, on a JBL-recommended 200W-max amplifier speaker. From your Julian Hirsch lab review, quote: 'The woofer took "550 watts at 100 Hz into its 5.5-ohm impedance. The 8-ohm midrange driver handled the full 1,400-watt output of the test amplifier at 1,000 Hz with-out distortion, and the tweeter began to show nonlinearity when driven with 300 watts at 10,000 Hz (into its 6-ohm impedance).' end quote.

Note, Julian Hirsch, says in his L100T lab review: "...it is considerably more sensitive than most speakers of comparable quality and can be driven to very high volume levels with any good 80-watt amplifier."
Hirsch was not likely referring to class-D amplifiers, but class-A or -AB.

The PS Audio Sprout was tested by Herb Reichert in 2015,
"With both big classical and demanding rock, I began to notice climaxes fading as they approached their peaks."

CDMC, again, using your own selected quote from the L100T lab tests: "It peaked at 24 ohms at 50 Hz and varied between 5.5 and 13 ohms over most of the audio range.”
24-ohms at 50 Hz is a lab result on a specific frequency, far from a real-world music listening test. That 24-ohms at 50 Hz is going to be at significantly less than the peak 33-Wpc at 8-ohms of the Sprout, resulting in the missing bass that both the OP & Herb Reichert noticed, causing the real-world music listening swings that Waxx is referring to.

JBL L100T:
Frequency Response: 35Hz to 20kHz
Recommended Amplifier: 200W (maximum)
Impedance: 8Ω

PS Audio Sprout:
Frequency Response(@2.83V 0+dB): 50Hz to 10kHz.
35 Hz(@2.83V): -10dB
Low Frequency(@2.83V): 32Hz at -12dB
Maximum output power: 33Wpc into 8Ω

Original L100T lab review, using the 1,400-watt maximum output test amplifier:
What does an amp being a Class AB or D have to do with anything in the discussion. OP asked about several potential amps, I explained why any of his proposed choices would work fine and that anything over 100w/ch would likely be overkill. He bought one of his choices, and guess what, it works great and the OP is happy. The end.
 

Jaudio7

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Hello,

I ended up buying the Schiit Vidar 2.

So my system consists of: Wiim Pro streamer > Schiit Modi+ dac > Schiit Saga S preamp > Schiit Vidar 2 amp > JBL L100T speakers.

And it sounds great! The bass is much better than when I had been using the PS Audio Spout. The bass is tighter and more accurate.

This is my first real stereo system, and I'm really happy with it.

I listened to the Charles Mingus album, The Black Saint and the Sinner Lady, and I was dumbfounded by how great it sounded. I've heard that album before, but I've never heard it like that.

Bob Marley & the Wailers, The English Beat, Peter Gabriel, Joni Mitchell, Prince, Kraftwerk, Rush..... I sat down and listened to music like I was watching a movie.

What a treat!
Cool! Great to hear you like your amp choice. I have a similar setup… Vidar 2, Saga S and Modius DAC. Great sound. I replaced a PSAudio Sprout100. I wanted to listen with headphones so I added the new Midguard headphone amp. It sounds incredible. I plan to use my Sprout for better TV sound in another room.
 
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