Cheap Amplifier for Expensive Speakers (modern gear only)

Discussion in 'Audio Hardware' started by MC Rag, Jan 12, 2019.

  1. MC Rag

    MC Rag Forum Resident Thread Starter

    I was wondering if anyone here is using a cheap (but well regarded) amplifier (eg. Onkyo A9010, Yamaha A-S501, Marantz 6006, etc) with significantly more expensive speakers (like 10x the price).

    If yes did you try more expensive amps but think the cheaper one was sufficient?

    Only thinking about modern gear.
  2. tmsorosk

    tmsorosk MORE MUSIC PLEASE

    Alberta Canada
    Not much use having good speakers if your not going to drive them right. Waste of money. And the bigger question why would anybody want to ?
  3. Steve0

    Steve0 Audio Banana

    I have driven 500 dollar vintage speakers with 30k in amplification, does that count?

    they sounded pretty good fwiw :D
    BayouTiger, Kyhl and SandAndGlass like this.
  4. MC Rag

    MC Rag Forum Resident Thread Starter

    What speakers?
  5. Brother_Rael

    Brother_Rael Forum Resident

    Scottish Borders
    I used a £33 Sansui AU217 with £500 (1992 prices) Mission 752 speakers. Worked an absolute treat. This was around ten years ago.
    Last edited: Jan 12, 2019
    Bingo Bongo and MC Rag like this.
  6. spartree

    spartree Forum Resident

    There was quite a commotion around the $40 Sonic Impact T-amp for a while, which started a massive DIY movement on such chip amps. I’ll admit I bought a few back in 2005 and it actually did sound good. People were pairing them with high efficiency speakers costing many, many times more. It was reviewed by 6moons, stereophile, tnt, etc.
    T-Amp - Class T integrated amplifier - [English]

    Nowadays there are obviously many options for this style of chip amp, with prices ranging from $50 to over $1000 depending on the parts quality.
    MC Rag likes this.
  7. Steve0

    Steve0 Audio Banana

    Infinet RS4's
  8. 5-String

    5-String Forum Resident

    Sunshine State
    In the past, I have driven various affordable in price but excellent in performance speakers, like Kef LS50, various PSB, etc. with expensive amplification like Mcintosh, AR, Jadis etc. with great results. I have never done the opposite and I agree with those that believe that it makes no sense.
    The best amplification will carry your speakers to the edge of their performance limits, even taking them beyond their limits, while a great speaker can never go beyond the limitations of an inefficient, inexpensive amp.
    SandAndGlass likes this.
  9. Fedot L

    Fedot L Forum Resident

    To me personally, the question has no sense.

    Real objective quality parameters in selection of components, and their competent use, not PRICES, that are of importance.
    Fishoutofwater and timind like this.
  10. Wasabi

    Wasabi Well-Known Member

    Lutz, FL
    What about a Yamaha A-S501/701/801?
    johnny q likes this.
  11. Bingo Bongo

    Bingo Bongo No music, no Life

    I feel the opposite. Crappy speakers will not sound good with the best amp in the world.... They will still be crappy speakers.
    willboy, BayouTiger, somnar and 5 others like this.
  12. MC Rag

    MC Rag Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Agreed. If I was going to choose I'd go with expensive speakers and cheap amp, rather than the other way around. As I feel speakers dictate the sound of a setup.

    I suppose I'm just interested to see if anyone feels a much lower priced amp gets their higher priced speakers to their full potential. Assuming the amp is a good power match with the speakers.
  13. MC Rag

    MC Rag Forum Resident Thread Starter

    Is has some sense in that I have speakers which when new were about £2500 and I'm now needing a new amp as my old one died. I've previously used a £1500 SS amp and more recently a £600 tube amp with them. The tube amp probably sounding a bit better at my usual low to medium listening levels.

    I'm probably not the most discerning listener, and I certainly don't need super high levels of detail. Just wondering if a £200-400 SS amp could be sufficient? My wife would certainly be happier.

    I have to say though if I was to buy an amp in the cheaper range I'd probably always be wondering "what if?". I'll probably end up spending £1000 plus on something like a Sonneteer Alabaster or a Hegel.

    I'm not really into demoing loads of amps - it would probably drive me mad. Though I know many of you will think I'm mad for not doing it. Speakers are a different story.
    timind likes this.
  14. tmsorosk

    tmsorosk MORE MUSIC PLEASE

    Alberta Canada
    I think you missed my point. A system thats been price balanced will be the most soniclly optimal way to allocate his money.
    ghostofzuul likes this.
  15. stereoguy

    stereoguy Its Gotta Be True Stereo!

    A system should never have one component thats light years better than the rest...thats a system that is out of balance and will never reach its potential.
    KT88 and ghostofzuul like this.
  16. MC Rag

    MC Rag Forum Resident Thread Starter

    I'm using a Trends 10.1 T amp at the moment. It doesn't cut it. Probably too low powered.
  17. 5-String

    5-String Forum Resident

    Sunshine State
    To the OP:
    save as much money as you can, buy the best amp that your money can buy, end of story.
    KT88, vinylontubes and spartree like this.
  18. Clay B

    Clay B Forum Resident


    Because of remodeling of my condo, I have been using a Naim Nait 5i with my Wilson Sasha 2s. Amazed at how good it sounds. Before he retired, I used to help a friend at his audio store. We used to run Naim integrateds, with Wilson Audio Sophias, Duettas, and Sabrinas and get lovely sound. Used within their power constraints, well designed electronics at various cost levels are not the big difference makers in audio IMO. Naim, Parasound, Yamaha, Rotel and many others make great reasonably priced electronics
  19. SandAndGlass

    SandAndGlass Twilight Forum Resident

    I am a speaker centric person. While all things matter, ultimate no matter what "sound" you create upstream, it will only be the speakers that actually reproduce the "sound".

    In the end, how something is going to ultimately sound is up to the speakers, more than any other factor.

    That being said, it is important to have the right amplifier to power the right speakers.

    If a particular amplifier is up to the task, then fine. If it is not...
    Ezd, Ntotrar, Fishoutofwater and 5 others like this.
  20. McLover

    McLover Forum Resident

    East TN
    The Infinity RS series are demanding to drive. And 4 ohm load which is on the reactive side. Not very efficient, high current best. Don't do it with those choices.
    KT88 and Mad shadows like this.
  21. spartree

    spartree Forum Resident

    Yeah unfortunately with your speakers you’ll need real power. Perhaps an Odyssey Audio Cyclops would fit the bill, or something from NAD like the C375BEE. Actually I think at moderate levels the C326BEE would be fine, and much cheaper.

    Odyssey Audio: Cyclops integrated amplifiers. Call us (317) 299 5578. IN, USA.
    Last edited: Jan 12, 2019
    MC Rag likes this.
  22. Doctor Fine

    Doctor Fine Forum Resident

    Lewes, DE
    I ran my $10K speaker arrays off a $500 pro-audio power amp and thought it was wonderful and exciting and oh so very clear and revealing.
    A month later I realized my ears were ringing and felt "burned" and I hadn't turned on my set for a couple weeks which is weird as I normally listen all day and celebrate a couple albums with in depth sessions once a day.
    But with that amp apparently my reaction was like being sorry I married a girl after the first date.
    Better amps tick all the right boxes AND have a magical sweetness just like real instruments do.
    And they don't give you "ear fester."
    The best entry level "great" amps I know currently are from Parasound (A21).
    Used to be Adcom was filling that slot with the GFA550.
    So I bought two of them.
    And the PA amp went back in my PA rack where it belongs.
    My two cents.
    SandAndGlass and MC Rag like this.
  23. Socalguy

    Socalguy Forum Resident

    A $179 Tube Cube will do a fine job driving speakers costing 10x as much.
  24. Ezd

    Ezd Forum Resident

    I currently have have two systems setup in the same room and have been deciding if I prefer listening to high powered solid state or low-wattage tube system.... In both instances the amplifiers are certainly respectable, but the speakers are of a higher quality and much more expensive. I agree with @SandAndGlass earlier comments about speakers.
    On the solid state side I used a NAD C375bee to drive 4 ohm, 89db speakers, eventually I decided the speakers wanted more a powerful amp and went that direction... I have only good things to say about NAD and in England you can probably get a good deal on the model that works best for you.
    ggjjr, MC Rag and SandAndGlass like this.
  25. Fedot L

    Fedot L Forum Resident

    They all have no more MONITORING function. Very important for who appreciates it. The MONITORING function can be inserted in a system with an amp that hasn’t it, but in a much more complex way.

    The PHONO input is for “MM” type cartridges only (no “MC” type who needs it in the amp itself).

    In the rest, I’ve used the “Yamaha AX-397” for years, with MONITORING function, by the way.

    With its max “0.009% THD” at half power and “Damping Factor 20 Hz to 20 kHz, 8 Ω 240 or more”, absolutely clear, “transparent” sound, to say more correctly, NO sound from the amp itself, i.e., it adds NOTHING as distortion in the signal it treats.

    The objective electro-acoustical parameters of the “Yamaha A-S501/701/801” look, with regard to my personal comment about one of their predecessors by Yamaha, very decent.

Share This Page