What kind of amp should I upgrade to?

Discussion in 'Audio Hardware' started by 12" 45rpm, May 17, 2018.

  1. 12" 45rpm

    12" 45rpm Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    New York City
    For 20+ years I've used mostly low-end Onkyo/Yamaha type of receivers. I am ready to upgrade to the next best thing . I listen mostly to vinyl . I also listen at "low" volumes. I never crank it. My speakers are 4 ohm floorstanding ones, see specs here:

    http://www.hometheaterequipment.com...da563780b312190&attachmentid=506&d=1324048190

    Should I consider tube amp? Or is that ruled out since I listen at low volumes? Would a simple 20W integrated amp be enough? Or some pre-amp/power amp combo?
     
  2. arley

    arley Forum Resident

    I have a couple of tube amps, and they do sound quite musical and mellow. However, do understand they take a fair amount of care. Tubes go bad, you need to bias them every so often (not a major deal, but you still have to do it), and in general are more finicky than solid state. But you're a vinyl enthusiast, so you already know about finicky :D. Tubes are fine for listening at low volumes; your speakers are reasonably efficient and could be driven by either tubes or solid state, and a 20w integrated amp would probably do fine.

    A few years back I built a VTA-70 (Vacuum Tube Audio's version of the venerable Dynaco ST-70) and I've been pleased with its musicality. Of course, you'd still need a preamp for it. Some receivers have a 'pre-out' which allows you to use the receiver as a preamp and connect it to a power amp, so you could get just a power amp and use your existing receiver as a preamp and upgrade to a better preamp in the future if you so desire.

    tubes4hifi home page
     
    Last edited: May 17, 2018
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  3. ls35a

    ls35a Forum Resident

    Location:
    Eagle, Idaho
    Since you're a vinyl guy consider a Rega amp - they have nice built in phono preamps. I like tube gear, I own tube gear. Having said that it's a PITA and I don't plan on ever buying another tube amp again. There's just too much good solid state gear out there.

    For example my main system has a benchmark AHB2 and it clobbered the tube amp I used to have.
     
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  4. Synthfreek

    Synthfreek Please label the photos you post

    Location:
    Austin, TX
    If you want a decently priced, low maintenance, auto-biasing integrated tube amp then check out the offerings from PrimaLuna. Don't think that every piece of tube gear requires constant maintenance. One with their optional phono board would be ideal and sounds quite good.
     
  5. arley

    arley Forum Resident

    One other consideration: if you play mostly vinyl you might consider a standalone phono preamp. I found that the $129 Schiit Mani really made an audible difference in soundstage and imaging. (Plug the turntable's output into it, plug the Mani's output into an AUX input on your receiver, thereby bypassing the phono section of your receiver)

    Schiit Audio, Headphone amps and DACs made in USA.
     
  6. Catcher10

    Catcher10 I like records, and Prog...duh

    I would not worry about the # of watts as a detail in your search, since you are not listening at moderate to loud levels, watts are cheap. Look for quality of parts and power supply, especially, to help you hear all the dynamics at low volumes. Also changing to an integrated amp for example might require to get a phono preamp, unless you get one with internal phono preamp which are more common now.
    And of course lastly is your budget will dictate your selection.
     
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  7. arley

    arley Forum Resident

  8. Strat-Mangler

    Strat-Mangler Forum Resident

    Location:
    Toronto
  9. Otlset

    Otlset Forum Resident

    Location:
    Showlow
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  10. Ken Clark

    Ken Clark Forum Resident

    Location:
    Chicago Suburbs
    The Rogue Audio Sphinx V2 is an integrated with a nice phono stage. Forget that it has more power than you're looking for, it's a great sounding amp with tubes in the preamp section, and there's nothing wrong with having more power than you need. I've had the first version for about a year now and love it.
     
  11. 12" 45rpm

    12" 45rpm Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    New York City
  12. Strat-Mangler

    Strat-Mangler Forum Resident

    Location:
    Toronto
    I know @Helom really likes the Yamaha AS series. It does seem like a solidly-built line of amps and a good bang-for-the-buck value. Some of them sell used at great discounts.

    You likely wouldn't need to spend 1K to get better sound than the low-end Onkyo you're used to listening to. All depends as to how much of an upgrade you want it to be. Some people will buy a $400 amp, then the next year, they buy a $500 amp with marginally better sound. And then the year after that, a $700 amp. You see where I'm going with this. In some cases, they're lateral moves. In others, it's a slight improvement. A marked improvement might cost more.

    The Outlaw RR2160 is another candidate. At $800, it's got plenty of power and features but the loooong thread on this board about it has tons of people raving about its sound. Might be a good place to start. They also have a B-Stock for sale at $50 off for $749, if you're OK with that and want to save a bit more.
     
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  13. 12" 45rpm

    12" 45rpm Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    New York City
    I will buy something used on Audiogon or here so will keep an eye out for the brands you mentioned. Another way of looking at this is asking what is wrong with my $180 Onkyo receiver? What corners were cut to make it so cheap? What qualities do the mid-priced amps have that the Onkyo lacks?

    Like I said, I like the sound and find nothing to complain about.
     
  14. 12" 45rpm

    12" 45rpm Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    New York City
  15. 12" 45rpm

    12" 45rpm Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    New York City
    Thanks, I did not even know Rega made amps!
     
  16. Strat-Mangler

    Strat-Mangler Forum Resident

    Location:
    Toronto
    It's almost impossible to describe great sound to somebody who might never have experienced it before. The best way I could describe it is you're merely happy to see even if it's blurry and you can hardly make out what's in front of you, whereas fantastic sound will be like having the proper contact lenses popped into your eyes and everything will be much sharper, detailed, interesting, fun, and seem much more real.

    As for which corners got cut, that's another tough one to explain. Most lower-end amps are marketed based on features. Companies will use the cheapest components possible to make their amp produce sound. In lower-end models/brands, they'll do what they can but realistically speaking, using low-end components will only provide so much sound quality.

    Same with pretty much anything. TVs, for instance. Why is one costing so much more than another one? They both display a picture but one will have a much clearer picture with better colors, better black/gray detail, faster image transitions, etc. Some people just want a picture regardless of quality, whereas others want the extra quality. The components are of higher quality such as the panel, the video chipset, and everything else, therefore granting that higher-priced TV with more capabilities in terms of crafting a beautiful picture.

    Very similar to most other components.
     
  17. Strat-Mangler

    Strat-Mangler Forum Resident

    Location:
    Toronto
    That's what I'm referring to in terms of lateral moves. Not only that but that's a hard-wired 8-ohms amp and your speakers are 4 ohms. Plus, buying vintage components opens you up to potential issues which will require a tech to fix. If you buy that amp and a year later, you need to pay a tech another $200 for a cap job, I'm sure you wouldn't be happy.

    By "budget", what I meant was the very maximum amount of money you would be willing to spend to ensure you get something better. I would also recommend you get something new if possible so that you have a warranty as a safety net.

    YAMAHA A-S500 170-watt stereo Integrated Amp $400 List ! AUTHORIZED-DEALER | eBay

    This is far more like it! A much better-sounding amp with a 2-year warranty and the ability to support your speakers, no problem. Plenty of power, too.
     
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  18. 12" 45rpm

    12" 45rpm Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Location:
    New York City
    Interesting, I was not aware amps have a 4/8 ohm switch! So I take it something like this would be out for same reason?

    Rega Brio-R | Solid state | Fullerton, California 92832 | Audiogon
     
  19. timind

    timind Bushy

    Location:
    Brownsburg, IN USA
    Here's another Brio R at a reasonable price: Rega Brio R

    I've bought from Canadian sellers a few times without problem. And the favorable exchange rate helps too.
     
  20. Fedot L

    Fedot L Forum Resident

    “Low-end” is NOT a “type” of receiver, and more, NOT a “base” for a question. What “plays”, it’s technical quality parameters.

    Doesn’t matter. Equipment treats SIGNALS that must fit its parameters. An amp is to choose by “price/quality” ratio within the bounds of reasonable money to spend. And not to satisfy vinyl, tape, Edison phonograph cylinders etc. etc. etc.

    The type of amplifying elements is not a reason for choice, to all my personal experience. The real technical quality parameters are.

    It’s not a problem of an amplifier. To get an habitual perception of bass, especially “extra-low” bass, there is, for more than 60 years, the “loudness compensation”.

    Well, they can “deliver” a good potential, I think.

    Finally, what isn’t good for you in your existing amps?
     
  21. portisphish

    portisphish Forum Resident

    Location:
    Pasadena, CA
    This is the telling statement for me. Why upgrade if you're happy? Buy more records!
     
  22. Strat-Mangler

    Strat-Mangler Forum Resident

    Location:
    Toronto
    *Some* have the ability to support multiple ohms whereas others, like that NAD you mentioned, are hard-wired to supporting a single value. Very important to match this stuff correctly.

    The Brio-R wouldn't be out of the question as it supports both 4 and 8 ohm speakers.

    http://www.rega.co.uk/brio-2017.html

    Under Technical Specification is where you'll see that info and loads more. In your case, it'd pump 73 WPC into your speakers. It does feature a DAC and phono preamp which supports your cart. It is also $200 more than the Yamaha I mentioned. The tone of your replies insinuated you were trying not to spend much but if you're OK with swinging that extra $200, the Rega Brio-R would be a terrific upgrade while being quite practical.

    Be aware that Rega's warranty isn't transferable so if there's an issue with a used Brio-R, you're on your own. The Yamaha would save you $200 and would carry a 2-year warranty. The only feature you'd be forfeiting would be the DAC.

    For the DAC version of the Yamaha, it's the AS-501 (instead of 500) selling roughly for $550, new.

    Brand New Yamaha A-S501 Stereo Integrated Amplifier AS-501 A-S501BL AS501 | eBay

    Either the Rega or the Yamaha will be a huge upgrade over what you currently have so there's no bad decision picking between these two. Personally, I'd go with the Yamaha because they're built like tanks and that AS line of Yamaha amps has a long history of being very pleasing to listen to. The warranty doesn't hurt, either. ;)

    Although true, the shipping fees will be higher than expected and he might be taxed once he receives it. It's a chance only he can decide whether he'd like to take.
     
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  23. 14 Cheerleader Coldfront

    14 Cheerleader Coldfront Forum Resident

    Location:
    USA
    Second vote for Rogue Sphinx V2. Very smooth, sweet sound from the tube pre-amplifier, and lots of slam from the solid state power amp. Runs quiet and cool. Also has a MM phono stage, and it sounds good at low volume. I will eventually move to all-tubes but definitely plan to keep the Sphinx around! It is easy to like...

    Rega is also nice. I have an Elicit-R in my upstairs system which I like a lot.
     
    displayname likes this.
  24. Strat-Mangler

    Strat-Mangler Forum Resident

    Location:
    Toronto
    The Rogue Sphinx appears to be more money than the OP is willing to spend, hence why he's exploring choices hovering around the $400-600 range.
     
  25. 14 Cheerleader Coldfront

    14 Cheerleader Coldfront Forum Resident

    Location:
    USA
    oops, missed that detail.
     
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