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Thread: Amplifier upgrade

  1. #1
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    Default Amplifier upgrade

    I have all my music in digital format on a Mac mini/external hard drive and, until now have used a Naim Supernait with Hi-cap2 into a pair of Neat Mystique speakers.

    After many years of using Naim gear, and feeling vaguely dissatisfied with its reproduction of orchestral pieces, I have decided to jump ship. While I have enjoyed the way this brand handles rock/electric/jazz music, I do feel that it gives an unnatural presentation of classical stringed instruments which results in a very forward, steely tone.

    I am looking for an alternative which will give me a less forward presentation, an open soundstage with natural sounding tone and sweeter treble.

    Currently, I am tempted by the new Hegel 160 and wonder if anyone has any experience of this amplifier. Alternatively, does anyone have any recommendations which I could follow up?

    Thanks for your help

    Barnaby

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    Senior Member fjf's Avatar
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    Modern amplifiers do not have any sound. They are transparent, and amplify the signal they are given. If you are dissatisfied, you should change the speakers. Those do have personality of their own.

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    Wow, no, fjf, that really goes against all my experience in listening to amplifiers, both of the same and different brands. The differences between many amplifiers are in no way subtle.f

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    It sounds like you have a frequency response imbalance. Not surprising, because just about every combination of speakers and room affects the sound differently. The solution is to equalize. I have a Yamaha AV receiver with a built in digital five band parametric equalizer. I've calibrated the response in my room and string tone is completely realistic and every frequency is properly balanced.

    Specifically, you probably have a response spike between 2 and 4kHz. A slight dip in that neighborhood would probably tame your string harshness.
    Last edited by bigshot; Jan-29-2015 at 19:33.

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    TBH I'm pretty sure it's just a characteristic of my amplifier. I will try a few and see how I get on

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    Quote Originally Posted by fjf View Post
    Modern amplifiers do not have any sound. They are transparent, and amplify the signal they are given. If you are dissatisfied, you should change the speakers. Those do have personality of their own.
    This is often true for power amplifiers, perhaps, as long as they are good match for the speakers and they aren't driven too hard. Pre-amplifiers can make substantial changes to the sound, usually by design. However there's no doubt that the speaker and room contribute far more to the sound, so get these right first.

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    I'm always amazed at how people worry about trivial things that don't make any difference but never address the things that actually do significantly improve the sound of their system- room treatment and equalization.

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    Hi bigshot. If my playback has a spike at a certain frequency and that is the cause of my problem as you suggested earlier, and I do not have a way of equalising the output of my amplifier, the solution would surely be to change my amplifier as I have no way of doing with my current equipment.

    Sadly, no amount of room treatment will address this situation.

    I cannot understand the argument that amplification does not affect sound. This is completely contrary to my experience of listening to a considerable number of amplifiers over the years, and I doubt it is a commonly held view by most people who regularly listen to recorded music. I am not arguing that there are people who cannot tell the difference, but I would be surprised if they were in the majority.


    EDIT:

    Hah! Just had a quick look at some other threads on here and I noticed some entrenched views on the subject of music reproduction in general. That's not an argument I'm interested in having so I will just say thanks to everyone who has contributed and I will continue my search
    Last edited by Barnaby; Jan-30-2015 at 08:24.

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    As it usually happens, you already know the amp is guilty, and although you ask for opinions, you dismiss all of them, and you will try some new amps.

    I keep saying to myself that I should not post any opinions anymore, but I do not seem to be able to learn!

    In any case, it is either the speakers or (as Bigshot told you), an interaction between the equipment and your room that creates some sort of echo at some frequency.

    If you want it easy, some AV receivers use an auto-equalization feature that helps with that. I have a Denon AVR3310 that does it. They use sound pulses in front of a supplied microphone and supposedly correct for that. There are other, more complicated ways to do that manually using software, a mic and equalization, but that requires some learning.

    Now get yourself another amp!. The placebo effect dictates that the more expensive, the better will work!

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    Hi fjf. I asked for some opinions on alternative amps and instead received responses saying that amps make no difference. I understand that is what some people believe but I profoundly disagree with this as is not my experience. I don't want to fall out with anyone and I appreciate we all see the world ( and hear it ) in our own way. There is no point in quarrelling about it and I won't do that.

    Perhaps in theory all amplifiers should sound the same but they do not. I do not know the reason for this but I have often noted it. my own amplifier gives an noticeably emphasised upper middle bass but it is slightly woolly compared with other amplifiers from the Naim whose base is leaner but tighter. There is a world of difference between every amp that Naim make and Linn's amplifiers. As I say I do not know the reason for this but it is plain to hear with even a casual listen.

    I believe there is room sound - optimising software which does a pretty similar thing to the auto-equalisation feature you mention and I don't doubt it would be beneficial. However, having heard different amps in otherwise identical systems/rooms I believe my first move will be changing the amp.

    I do not agree re your notion of the placebo effect being in operation here but I sense argument is futile and anyway I am not interested in arguing the toss about it (BTW I have rejected expensive upgrades to amps in the past on sonic grounds so expensive is not always best in my experience.)

    I am grateful for everyone's opinions and will update you on any progress I make. Live and let live is my motto so I will go ahead with my plan. if anyone is interested I will report my findings in due course. But I'm not sure any differences I hear will be believed

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    Quote Originally Posted by Barnaby View Post
    Hi fjf. I asked for some opinions on alternative amps and instead received responses saying that amps make no difference. I understand that is what some people believe but I profoundly disagree with this as is not my experience. I don't want to fall out with anyone and I appreciate we all see the world ( and hear it ) in our own way. There is no point in quarrelling about it and I won't do that.

    Perhaps in theory all amplifiers should sound the same but they do not. I do not know the reason for this but I have often noted it. my own amplifier gives an noticeably emphasised upper middle bass but it is slightly woolly compared with other amplifiers from the Naim whose base is leaner but tighter. There is a world of difference between every amp that Naim make and Linn's amplifiers. As I say I do not know the reason for this but it is plain to hear with even a casual listen.

    I believe there is room sound - optimising software which does a pretty similar thing to the auto-equalisation feature you mention and I don't doubt it would be beneficial. However, having heard different amps in otherwise identical systems/rooms I believe my first move will be changing the amp.

    I do not agree re your notion of the placebo effect being in operation here but I sense argument is futile and anyway I am not interested in arguing the toss about it (BTW I have rejected expensive upgrades to amps in the past on sonic grounds so expensive is not always best in my experience.)

    I am grateful for everyone's opinions and will update you on any progress I make. Live and let live is my motto so I will go ahead with my plan. if anyone is interested I will report my findings in due course. But I'm not sure any differences I hear will be believed
    I've written elsewhere about the rather idiosyncratic views of some of the TC people that post here, and I will just say that I am fully in agreement with your posts, Barnaby.
    I haven't heard the Hegel Amps in question.
    I agree with you that Nait is better for a Pop oriented sound.
    My amp and pre amp are Parasound, the JC line, which give a great sound stage and plenty of detail. There is real space between the instruments and great Hall resonance and do not sound overly clinical.
    Are you looking for just a power amp, or an integrated?

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    Hi triplets,

    Thank you for the post. I am looking for an integrated amp as after years of having separate power supplies, pre-amplifiers, power amplifiers and all the clutter that goes with it I want to simplify things. I had hoped the Supernait would fulfil this wish, and although sweeter and less aggressive than many of Naim's offerings, it was difficult to get away from their "house sound", which, as we know is great for rock/blues styles of music but not so good for others.

    I have not heard the brand you mention, although I know they are well-respected manufacturer. I'm not sure if there is a dealer near me or not but I will look into it.

    Thanks again for your post and help

  18. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by Barnaby View Post
    Hegel 160
    Good grief that's some money!!! My paltry amp wouldn't even cover the cost of the plug!!


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    Hi dogen,

    It isn't cheap, certainly, but you do get a DAC included as well as the ability to use it with a variety of sources. It is less expensive than my current Naim amp (sorry about that fgf ) and so if I bought it, proceeds of selling my current gear would virtually cover the cost.

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    I have heard Ayre integrated Amp and been very impressed. I have not heard Amps that have the dac built in. My bias would be to keep a separate dac
    Last edited by Triplets; Jan-31-2015 at 00:17.

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