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Old 01-23-2017, 02:52 AM   #1
IntelliVolume IntelliVolume is offline
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Default Not Sure if This is the Correct Place in the Forum, But...How Would YOU Go About This

I wasn't sure if this was the proper place in the forum to ask this query, as it could probably fit in the Receivers, Speakers or even general audio setup areas, but my apologies if it wasn't...

Here's what I'd like to know from anyone who's had any experience with power amps (specifically connected to AVRs): As we get ready to move into the UHD/4K realm, I am considering upgrades (of course, the 4K display would be first, then Oppo's 203 UHD player) with one of them being a new AVR that can handle the Atmos and DTS:X "enhanced" codecs. My current AVR, an Onkyo 605 that has been an absolute beast since day one and still soldiers on with ZERO problems, does not have preamp outputs, and I'd be looking to feed my front speakers (monstrous Polk RTi12 towers) with some external amplification...

The question is, I don't really know the best way to go about this; I know the new AVR needs preouts, of course, to take advantage of the power amp hookup, but would it be best to get a three-channel amp (say, like an Emotiva) to power the RTi12s and my center, or a two-channel model just to power the RTi12s? The speakers can take 500 watts RMS each (though of course I don't need to feed them absolute max power) so I'm looking to get some serious juice to them.

I figured I would get a new receiver and use its surround channel amps to power my surrounds, while letting a big power amp take care of the front...would this make sense, or should I just look into a five or seven-channel amp model and skip the receiver's amps altogether? Always seemed to be a "waste" of a receiver's amplifiers by "ignoring" them and using it as a standalone processor, but...

So, would it make sense to power all three of my front stage speakers with an amp, or just drive the RTi12s with a two-channel model, leaving the center and surrounds to be driven by a new receiver?

Also -- being that I'd be moving from Onkyo's "rated" 90 watts-per-channel spec on my current AVR to bigger numbers on an external amp, what kind of power increase do I need to look at here? I understand that simply doubling the stated wattage doesn't yield "double" the power, so what kind of jump would I need to make in order to really perceive an output change at least into my RTi12 mains?

I suppose what I'm asking is, if my AVR is "rated" at 90 watts-per-channel (not getting into what I'm ACTUALLY getting with the receiver), how much power in an amp -- and which models -- do I need to be looking at to really get these RTi12s to sing? Would an Emotiva make a difference, or do I need to look at something much, much bigger? How about Emotiva models that can be "bridged" to produce more power?
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Old 01-23-2017, 08:17 PM   #2
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Currently I'm interested in some input myself on this topic as well. I have the Polk RTi 12s up front with the Denon 4520c.i. AVR rated at 150 wpc. I know that I'm not getting that kind of power from the AVR, and by itself it does not push the RTi 12s hardly at all. I run a 5.2 set up would love to know if Outlaws 5-channel Model 5000 " 125 wpc " would be enough to open these speakers up. The reviews on this $600.00 amp is outstanding. Just curious.
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Old 01-23-2017, 09:22 PM   #3
IntelliVolume IntelliVolume is offline
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Originally Posted by Dwayne View Post
Currently I'm interested in some input myself on this topic as well. I have the Polk RTi 12s up front with the Denon 4520c.i. AVR rated at 150 wpc. I know that I'm not getting that kind of power from the AVR, and by itself it does not push the RTi 12s hardly at all. I run a 5.2 set up would love to know if Outlaws 5-channel Model 5000 " 125 wpc " would be enough to open these speakers up. The reviews on this $600.00 amp is outstanding. Just curious.
Hi Dwayne,

Surprising that you feel your Denon is "driving the RTi12s hardly at all;" my Onkyo is rated at 90 watts-per-channel, and my system does indeed rock when I turn it up, most likely because I'm using a sub with my RTi12s crossed over at 60Hz, thus letting the receiver more easily power the mid-range and high areas of the signal...

Based on what you said, you are running two subwoofers in your system, so it's even more bewildering that you find the Denon doesn't push your RTi12s at all; you should be getting SOME kind of performance out of them...

From what I understand, it's not that receivers such as ours CAN'T power the RTi12s adequately (they are, after all, 8 ohm nominal speakers with a slightly above-average efficiency rating), it's that if you REALLY want to shake your house to the ground at reference levels, a power amp is needed to feed these beasts...also, it would be much more beneficial to use a big power amp (or amps) on speakers like the RTi12s if you're not using a subwoofer, as these things need a lot of juice to pump out the bass.

It seems like I am answering my own questions with my reply to you, but in my situation, I would just like to see what the RTi12s are capable of doing beyond my AVR -- as I said, the Onkyo powers them just fine and we never experience ANY distortion or clipping in our room, but I have been thinking about upgrading to an amp, or amps, and wanted to know what kind of wattage I would need to seemingly experience a jump from the AVR's power.
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Old 01-27-2017, 01:39 AM   #4
IntelliVolume IntelliVolume is offline
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Anyone have any input on this?
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Old 01-27-2017, 07:42 PM   #5
Dwayne Dwayne is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by IntelliVolume View Post
Anyone have any input on this?
Looking back on saying that the Denon 4520 not hardly being able to push the RTi-12s was probably not the best way to describe what I felt about the audio output of my set up. My front sub is a robust ACOUSTECH 12" PL 200 with max rating of 1000 watts, my rear sub is a very modest Polk PSW 110 with not much juice at all. My Denon will power these RTi 12s, it just does not have the dynamic range of sound which an external amp would give me. I have heard these speakers with an Emotiva XPA-3 for the fonts along with an Onkyo TX NR 818 pushing them and that opened up these speakers big time. Sorry on my part for saying that my Denon would not push these speakers at all, it will but with no dynamics in sound to really open them up.
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Old 01-27-2017, 09:19 PM   #6
IntelliVolume IntelliVolume is offline
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Originally Posted by Dwayne View Post
Looking back on saying that the Denon 4520 not hardly being able to push the RTi-12s was probably not the best way to describe what I felt about the audio output of my set up. My front sub is a robust ACOUSTECH 12" PL 200 with max rating of 1000 watts, my rear sub is a very modest Polk PSW 110 with not much juice at all. My Denon will power these RTi 12s, it just does not have the dynamic range of sound which an external amp would give me. I have heard these speakers with an Emotiva XPA-3 for the fonts along with an Onkyo TX NR 818 pushing them and that opened up these speakers big time. Sorry on my part for saying that my Denon would not push these speakers at all, it will but with no dynamics in sound to really open them up.
Thanks for the clarification, Wayne; I didn't want to think your Denon couldn't push any sound out of the 12s!

What you said about the Emotiva XPA-3 powering the RTi12s is of great interest to me, as you have actually heard this combination; with regard to the Onkyo 818 in the mix, did you mean that the 818 was driving the REMAINDER of the system (the surrounds)?
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Old 01-27-2017, 10:00 PM   #7
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I would think the answer depends on your budget and what receiver you are looking at. When I made the move from 7.1 to 7.1.4, I got a refurbished Yamaha RX-A3050, which required a minimum of a 2-channel external amp to get me to 7.1.4. I already had a 5-channel Emotiva amp, and I use it to drive the five main channels. Everything else is driven by the receiver.

I'm really happy with this arrangement, but I think a 3-channel amp to drive the mains and center would sound basically the same, so an XPA-3 would be a good solution for you. As far as the receiver goes, I would just be sure to get one that allows for 7.1.4 given a 3-5 channel external amp, even if you don't plan to do the full 7.1.4 now. It would suck to decide two years from now that you want to do that, but have to upgrade your receiver as well as getting more speakers.
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Old 01-29-2017, 02:02 AM   #8
IntelliVolume IntelliVolume is offline
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Originally Posted by kansashoops View Post
I would think the answer depends on your budget and what receiver you are looking at. When I made the move from 7.1 to 7.1.4, I got a refurbished Yamaha RX-A3050, which required a minimum of a 2-channel external amp to get me to 7.1.4. I already had a 5-channel Emotiva amp, and I use it to drive the five main channels. Everything else is driven by the receiver.

I'm really happy with this arrangement, but I think a 3-channel amp to drive the mains and center would sound basically the same, so an XPA-3 would be a good solution for you. As far as the receiver goes, I would just be sure to get one that allows for 7.1.4 given a 3-5 channel external amp, even if you don't plan to do the full 7.1.4 now. It would suck to decide two years from now that you want to do that, but have to upgrade your receiver as well as getting more speakers.
I appreciate your input; for the time being, I don't see me needing more than 7.1 (with the four channels in the rear; don't really know where I stand regarding height/side or Atmos channels) -- that said, what I was really after was knowing how to power the mighty mains in my system, the Polk RTi12s...they can get 500 watts a piece, and even though no one needs to feed that much juice to them in an ordinary room, I wanted to experiment with powering 'em with an external amp.

Thus, I wanted to know what the best way to go about this would be...

Option 1: Three-channel model to power the RTi12s and my center
Option 2: Two-channel model to power just the RTi12s (leaving the center and surrounds/remaining channels to be powered by a new AVR with pre-outs)
Option 3: Individual monoblocks to power each RTi12 (this would probably not be financially feasible; the remainder of the speakers would be powered, again, by a new AVR's amps)
Option 4: Buying a five or seven-channel amp and bypassing an AVR's internal amps altogether
Option 5: Going totally separate, with a new pre-pro and multichannel amp

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Old 01-29-2017, 01:10 PM   #9
callas01 callas01 is offline
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There's really no right or wrong answer. The main thing to consider is are you experiencing distortion or having trouble filling your room with sound? If the answer is no to both of the questions then really there is no purpose to using an amp. Consider that the speakers are 90db sensitivity rated and an 8 ohm load, meaning they shouldn't be a burden to most well designed receivers. Then if you consider your room size (which I don't know) is moderate, say 15x17x8 (about avg) then filling the room with a well built 100w receiver is probably not that difficult.

For reference, in my setup I use a very well built integrated amp (2-ch pre and amp) to power my system. It's rated 70/110w into 8/4 ohms. My speakers are 86 dbs and 4 ohm. My room is 15x25 with vaulted ceilings open to the 2 story. In my room I can play extremely loud with no distortion, using just my 2.1 setup. (I have a surround sound setup as well but my receiver died and all I can use right now is my integrated). I had a Marantz 7007 that just recently died on me.

So I'd say buy a good AVR first and then decide, do you really need a power amp? Do I turn up the volume and get distortion? Do I turn the volume knob but it ceases to elevate in volume? (Aka Run out of power).

The RTi12's actual recommended amplifier power rating is 50-500 watts, so as little as 50 watts can get these speakers hummin'. Also remember most of our listening is done with about 15-50 watts of power (given spl at the listening position, room size, speaker load/sensitivity); we typically use a lot less power then we think we do, or that we think we need.

Receivers with really good power supplies (Cambridge, Anthem, NAD, Arcam) are lesser known but shouldn't require an amp for most speakers. Marantz, Denon, Onkyo are pretty good as well and well known (however I'd avoid current Onkyos they're hdmi boards fail quite often). Can't speak to Yamaha or pioneer never used them. But typically once you get into the $1300-2000 price range the power supplies and circuit designs are built well enough to handle 4 ohm loads, which is good news for higher sensitivity 8 ohm speakers as well.

Oh and lastly, if you're going all 4K with everything, make sure that everything you buy is hdcp2.2 compliant!
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Old 01-29-2017, 08:04 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by IntelliVolume View Post
From what I understand, it's not that receivers such as ours CAN'T power the RTi12s adequately (they are, after all, 8 ohm nominal speakers with a slightly above-average efficiency rating), it's that if you REALLY want to shake your house to the ground at reference levels, a power amp is needed to feed these beasts...also, it would be much more beneficial to use a big power amp (or amps) on speakers like the RTi12s if you're not using a subwoofer, as these things need a lot of juice to pump out the bass.
There is this constant misnomer that you need huge watts to produce sufficient bass response. That's not true. I can get a 50 watt integrated amp from and push bass through those speakers with ease. Now it might run outta steam as it approaches higher volumes but I can guarantee there will be incredible bass response.

Amp circuit design and the speakers motor structure and crossover design will play big parts in the bass response you hear. An amp can only manufacture so much bass from a speaker.

Again, from my previous post, if we are typically using 15-50 watts at a time, when do you expect to use 300 watts? If 100 watts can produce 110 dbs from 10 ft away with your speakers, when will you find the need to get to 114.5 dbs from 300 watts? In a moderate sized room you will probably do more damage to your ears then it's even worth.

Some people will scoff at what I'm saying (that's probably because they've never heard a 30 watt amp slam), but companies like Pass Labs, Naim, NAD, Exposure, Octave, Audio Research, and many others have been producing low wattage amps that have incredible bass response for decades.

Wattage gives you headroom and allows you to play louder for a given space. But it doesn't equal bass.
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Old 01-29-2017, 08:48 PM   #11
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Old 01-29-2017, 09:50 PM   #12
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You need 1kw or nothing at all.
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Old 01-29-2017, 10:30 PM   #13
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Originally Posted by IntelliVolume View Post
Thanks for the clarification, Wayne; I didn't want to think your Denon couldn't push any sound out of the 12s!

What you said about the Emotiva XPA-3 powering the RTi12s is of great interest to me, as you have actually heard this combination; with regard to the Onkyo 818 in the mix, did you mean that the 818 was driving the REMAINDER of the system (the surrounds)?
Yes on the Onkyo 818 driving the surrounds for a 5.2 set up.
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Old 01-29-2017, 11:05 PM   #14
Dwayne Dwayne is offline
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Originally Posted by callas01 View Post
There is this constant misnomer that you need huge watts to produce sufficient bass response. That's not true. I can get a 50 watt integrated amp from and push bass through those speakers with ease. Now it might run outta steam as it approaches higher volumes but I can guarantee there will be incredible bass response.

Amp circuit design and the speakers motor structure and crossover design will play big parts in the bass response you hear. An amp can only manufacture so much bass from a speaker.

Again, from my previous post, if we are typically using 15-50 watts at a time, when do you expect to use 300 watts? If 100 watts can produce 110 dbs from 10 ft away with your speakers, when will you find the need to get to 114.5 dbs from 300 watts? In a moderate sized room you will probably do more damage to your ears then it's even worth.

Some people will scoff at what I'm saying (that's probably because they've never heard a 30 watt amp slam), but companies like Pass Labs, Naim, NAD, Exposure, Octave, Audio Research, and many others have been producing low wattage amps that have incredible bass response for decades.

Wattage gives you headroom and allows you to play louder for a given space. But it doesn't equal bass.
I'm very happy with my bass response, but what you say makes good sense, thanks.
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Old 01-30-2017, 05:28 PM   #15
IntelliVolume IntelliVolume is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by callas01 View Post
There is this constant misnomer that you need huge watts to produce sufficient bass response. That's not true. I can get a 50 watt integrated amp from and push bass through those speakers with ease. Now it might run outta steam as it approaches higher volumes but I can guarantee there will be incredible bass response.

Amp circuit design and the speakers motor structure and crossover design will play big parts in the bass response you hear. An amp can only manufacture so much bass from a speaker.

Again, from my previous post, if we are typically using 15-50 watts at a time, when do you expect to use 300 watts? If 100 watts can produce 110 dbs from 10 ft away with your speakers, when will you find the need to get to 114.5 dbs from 300 watts? In a moderate sized room you will probably do more damage to your ears then it's even worth.

Some people will scoff at what I'm saying (that's probably because they've never heard a 30 watt amp slam), but companies like Pass Labs, Naim, NAD, Exposure, Octave, Audio Research, and many others have been producing low wattage amps that have incredible bass response for decades.

Wattage gives you headroom and allows you to play louder for a given space. But it doesn't equal bass.
I see the logic behind your statement; it's been my experience, however (and perhaps I was just not driving speakers with esoteric-esque brand amps), that big tower-loaded drivers require some real power behind them in order to get their built-in woofers going...when passing the bass duties off to a powered sub, it seems I was able to get away with less power from the amplification stage I was using.

Still, as I said, there's some logic to your statement.
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Old 01-30-2017, 05:42 PM   #16
IntelliVolume IntelliVolume is offline
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Whenever I've asked questions like this, the responses almost always come back to one common theme: You don't need that kind of power to get a system truly cooking. And, of course, there's the notion that if I'm fine with the perceived sound levels in my room and there's no distortion, the system picked is just fine.

And I totally get that.

The thing I want to know is, if I wanted to experiment with external amplification to at least feed my RTi12s (because they can handle it...of course, I understand I don't have to feed them all the power they can handle), what kind of power would I be looking at in order to notice a difference?

In other words, my AVR I'm running now puts out a "stated/rated" 90 watts per channel. I'm running a 5.1 system, not a 7.1 setup (the AVR boasts amplification for seven channels; I'm hoping I'm getting some additional "dynamics" from the five channels I am running via the Onkyo's internal amp)...so what kind of power rating would I be looking for in order to really discern an output difference -- 200 watts per channel? 250 watts per channel? More?

Then, I wanted to know what the best possible way of going about it would be -- would it make sense to power just the RTi12s with a two-channel amp, or should the entire front soundstage be amplified together with a three-channel model? What about powering individually with monoblocks? Would that make any difference?

Quote:
Originally Posted by callas01 View Post
There's really no right or wrong answer. The main thing to consider is are you experiencing distortion or having trouble filling your room with sound? If the answer is no to both of the questions then really there is no purpose to using an amp. Consider that the speakers are 90db sensitivity rated and an 8 ohm load, meaning they shouldn't be a burden to most well designed receivers. Then if you consider your room size (which I don't know) is moderate, say 15x17x8 (about avg) then filling the room with a well built 100w receiver is probably not that difficult.
Quote:
For reference, in my setup I use a very well built integrated amp (2-ch pre and amp) to power my system. It's rated 70/110w into 8/4 ohms. My speakers are 86 dbs and 4 ohm. My room is 15x25 with vaulted ceilings open to the 2 story. In my room I can play extremely loud with no distortion, using just my 2.1 setup. (I have a surround sound setup as well but my receiver died and all I can use right now is my integrated). I had a Marantz 7007 that just recently died on me.
I saw the pics of your system with the Marantz; did it do fine for HT use?

Quote:
So I'd say buy a good AVR first and then decide, do you really need a power amp? Do I turn up the volume and get distortion? Do I turn the volume knob but it ceases to elevate in volume? (Aka Run out of power).
Again, I understand that this is essentially "how it works" -- and no, the system we have now, using the Onkyo 605, wails just fine when we turn it up with no strain, clipping or distortion. But my plan was to first buy a new AVR with preouts (and Dolby Atmos/DTS:X decoding for future-proofing) and use its surround channel amps to power the back soundstage, while powering the front stage with something a lot more "ballsy."

Quote:
The RTi12's actual recommended amplifier power rating is 50-500 watts, so as little as 50 watts can get these speakers hummin'. Also remember most of our listening is done with about 15-50 watts of power (given spl at the listening position, room size, speaker load/sensitivity); we typically use a lot less power then we think we do, or that we think we need.
I totally understand that; and I'm sure I'm feeding them just fine with the AVR I have. I just wanted to see if these really open up and wail with some serious power behind them.

Quote:
Receivers with really good power supplies (Cambridge, Anthem, NAD, Arcam) are lesser known but shouldn't require an amp for most speakers. Marantz, Denon, Onkyo are pretty good as well and well known (however I'd avoid current Onkyos they're hdmi boards fail quite often). Can't speak to Yamaha or pioneer never used them. But typically once you get into the $1300-2000 price range the power supplies and circuit designs are built well enough to handle 4 ohm loads, which is good news for higher sensitivity 8 ohm speakers as well.

Oh and lastly, if you're going all 4K with everything, make sure that everything you buy is hdcp2.2 compliant!
Yes, I plan on buying an AVR that's 2.2 compliant so I can take advantage of 4K passthrough; thanks for the reminder.

Indeed, those quasi-esoteric receiver brands you mentioned -- along with the players from the Pacific Rim (Onkyo, Denon, et al) -- can probably do just fine in the amp department. I was just hoping to perhaps begin looking into separates to see what a power amp can do for at least my two front mains. I am an Onkyo fan through and through, and I'm aware of their HDMI board failures (incredibly, my 605 has not failed once in this regard...we still get full 1080p passthrough with no dropouts or problems)...however, I didn't know they were still experiencing these issues.

The new Onkyos are having HDMI board failures?
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Old 01-30-2017, 05:45 PM   #17
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Yes on the Onkyo 818 driving the surrounds for a 5.2 set up.
I see; and the 818 did just fine for that?
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Old 01-30-2017, 05:52 PM   #18
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You need 1kw or nothing at all.
I'm wondering if there's some truth to that (at least in terms of powering my particular two mains)...
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Old 01-30-2017, 08:54 PM   #19
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Originally Posted by IntelliVolume View Post
I see; and the 818 did just fine for that?
It sounded good to me, and I am very critical when it comes to audio. He was using Polk Monitor 60s for surrounds. IMHO when it comes to my ear, its been my experience that a decent external amp will provide better audio because the amps in the Onkyos, Denons, Pioneers etc. lack a little in that area because of the transformers used in most AVRs will not match up to the large Toroidal transformers used in alot of external amps. Now we are not talking about AVRs such as Anthem, Cambridge Audio, etc. as they put alot of emphasis on their audio. 100 wpc coming from a decent external amp will always sound better to me than 100 wpc from the popular brand AVRs. Thats just how my ears hear it. How much power you need sounds to me like we will just have to purchase one and give it a try. If not happy return it for whatever reason and get your money back.
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Old 01-30-2017, 09:00 PM   #20
IntelliVolume IntelliVolume is offline
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It sounded good to me, and I am very critical when it comes to audio. He was using Polk Monitor 60s for surrounds. IMHO when it comes to my ear, its been my experience that a decent external amp will provide better audio because the amps in the Onkyos, Denons, Pioneers etc. lack a little in that area because of the transformers used in most AVRs will not match up to the large Toroidal transformers used in alot of external amps. Now we are not talking about AVRs such as Anthem, Cambridge Audio, etc. as they put alot of emphasis on their audio. 100 wpc coming from a decent external amp will always sound better to me than 100 wpc from the popular brand AVRs. Thats just how my ears hear it. How much power you need sounds to me like we will just have to purchase one and give it a try. If not happy return it for whatever reason and get your money back.
Who did you mean by "he" when you mentioned the Monitor 60s?

I appreciate your feedback regarding your personal feelings about amps versus receivers.
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