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Thread: Best ~$2000 Amplifier - ATI, ParaSound, Emotiva, Outlaw, Theta

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    Default Best ~$2000 Amplifier - ATI, ParaSound, Emotiva, Outlaw, Theta

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    My 15 yrs old Kenwood VR-4090 receiver died recently & now I've an opportunity to upgrade my setup. I usually watch movies (80%) & listen to music/tapes (20%) since I've several old tracks. I'm planning to use the Oppo BDP-105 as Pre/Pro in 5.1 setup.

    I read tonnes & tonnes of reviews & forums and am considering the following, similarly priced ($1500-$2000), 5 channel used/refurbished Amplifiers. The objective is to break the barrier between Tube & SS:
    1.) Parasound A 51
    1.) Emotiva XPR-5
    2.) ATI 2005
    2.) Outlaw 7500 or 755
    2.) Parasound A 52/ 5250/ 5125
    2.) Theta Digital Intrepid
    3.) Anthem MCA-50
    3.) MARANTZ MM8077
    3.) Onkyo PA-MC5500,

    Current Setup:
    • Room 20x18x9 with open area, so sound can bleed
    • Speaker: Tyler Acoustics Linbrook System II (L, R,C)
    • Speaker: JBL S312 (RL, RR)
    • BD: Oppo 105
    • Tape Deck: Nakamichi RX-505

    I know that I don't need a lot of Power. However, it's my understanding that the overall SQ in high-end Amps gets better & better. The above list is created based on responses in a few forums, with no actual listening experience. Since most of them are old, I don't think I will have that opportunity anyway.

    Please let me know what do you think & do you agree? Which one would you personally recommend based on your actual listening experience. Otherwise, it's like a blind leading a blind.

    Hey, and any good place to buy? Are you selling? PM me.

    Thank you!

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    Default Re: Best ~$2000 Amplifier - ATI, ParaSound, Emotiva, Outlaw, Theta

    When solid-state amplifiers actually sound different from tube amps, it's almost always because the high output impedances (low damping factors) of typical tube amps lead to the amplifier's frequency response pulling to the shape of the attached speaker's impedance-versus-frequency curve. This is most noticeable in the vicinity of the speaker's low-frequency resonance, where its impedance peaks sharply. Hence that warm tube sound. But assuming flat frequency response into the load (routine for SS amps), adequate power to prevent prolonged clipping (rarely an issue these days), and sufficiently low noise and distortion (almost never a problem, and certainly not for anything on your list), amplifiers sound the same. I know there are 16 gillion reviews out there claiming otherwise, but they're all based on uncontrolled listening tests performed by people predisposed to expect differences. I'm not familiar with your speakers, but if they have unusually low impedances, you should probably look for an amp with a good 4-ohm power rating.

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    Default Re: Best ~$2000 Amplifier - ATI, ParaSound, Emotiva, Outlaw, Theta

    Quote Originally Posted by MDRiggs View Post
    When solid-state amplifiers actually sound different from tube amps, it's almost always because the high output impedances (low damping factors) of typical tube amps lead to the amplifier's frequency response pulling to the shape of the attached speaker's impedance-versus-frequency curve. This is most noticeable in the vicinity of the speaker's low-frequency resonance, where its impedance peaks sharply. Hence that warm tube sound. But assuming flat frequency response into the load (routine for SS amps), adequate power to prevent prolonged clipping (rarely an issue these days), and sufficiently low noise and distortion (almost never a problem, and certainly not for anything on your list), amplifiers sound the same. I know there are 16 gillion reviews out there claiming otherwise, but they're all based on uncontrolled listening tests performed by people predisposed to expect differences. I'm not familiar with your speakers, but if they have unusually low impedances, you should probably look for an amp with a good 4-ohm power rating.
    MDRiggs: I have no clue what you're talking about. Can you please explain it in English?

    Here are the specs for Tyler Acoustics Linbrook System II speakers:
    Frequency Response: 32-25k
    Sensitivity: 89db
    Impedance: 8 ohm
    Power: 30-250wpc
    Size: 10 x 12 x 41
    Weight: 90lbs ea.

    Thank you!

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    Default Re: Best ~$2000 Amplifier - ATI, ParaSound, Emotiva, Outlaw, Theta

    When tube amps sound different from solid-state amps it's because the tube amps are misbehaving in a particular way. Based on those speaker specs, just about any decent solid-state amplifier should be fine and will sound exactly like any other in a properly conducted comparison. For a speaker with 89-dB sensitivity, 100 watts in will deliver 109 dB out, which is extremely loud and just one speaker. Each doubling of power above that will give you an extra 3 dB of maximum output, but 120 dB is threshold of pain, so ... And each halving of power will reduce max output by 3 dB.

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    Default Re: Best ~$2000 Amplifier - ATI, ParaSound, Emotiva, Outlaw, Theta

    MDRiggs: Thanks for breaking it down for me. Makes sense.

    Glad to know that I'm on the right path with my Amp journey. Personally, I've shortlisted Parasound A 51 first, & if not then A 52. But they're very hard to come by.

    Thanks for stopping by.

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    Default Re: Best ~$2000 Amplifier - ATI, ParaSound, Emotiva, Outlaw, Theta

    Parasound makes great stuff.

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    Default Re: Best ~$2000 Amplifier - ATI, ParaSound, Emotiva, Outlaw, Theta

    Quote Originally Posted by HitsOfMisses View Post
    MDRiggs: Thanks for breaking it down for me. Makes sense.

    Glad to know that I'm on the right path with my Amp journey. Personally, I've shortlisted Parasound A 51 first, & if not then A 52. But they're very hard to come by.

    Thanks for stopping by.
    For your application, I wouldn't discount something like the Emotiva XPA-5. I dont think you need the power the XPR-5 brings, and the XPA is on sale right now on Emotiva's site, likely for far less scratch than the Parasounds will cost. Not sure the Parasound amps are worth the extra money. I have Emotiva products, the USP-1 and XDA-1, and have appreciated their value and quality. Just a thought.

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    Default Re: Best ~$2000 Amplifier - ATI, ParaSound, Emotiva, Outlaw, Theta

    Thank you guys! I finally bought Parasound Halo A 51 from AudioGon. Visually there are a few blemishes & it trips-off in Auto 12V setting. I paid $2100. My first impression is that it's very heavy (95 lbs) & it gets really hot fast.

    Anyway, currently listening to various types of music (stereo, XLR) & movies (5.1, RCA) & comparing notes. In a few scenes, I did hear the background music that I never heard/noticed before but nothing significant while listening to music in stereo. In defense of my previous Kenwood VR-4090 receiver (MSRP 1200/ Used 450) which I was never so attached with, I must now admit that though it's 1/4th the price of A51 (MSRP 4500/ Used 2100) it was no slouch in terms of SQ & imaging.

    It's almost 24 hrs since I first plugged in. Still exploring & justifying whether my purchase was worth 4 times. Will keep you posted.

  9. The Following 3 Users Say Thank You to HitsOfMisses For This Useful Post:

    cajieboy (07-14-2013), GOS (07-14-2013), RichB (07-19-2013)

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    Default Re: Best ~$2000 Amplifier - ATI, ParaSound, Emotiva, Outlaw, Theta

    Great post. Many times I've toyed back and forth wondering just how much better a first rate amp was REALLY worth the big bucks when compared to say a new Pioneer receiver or similar mid-priced gear. Look forward to more of your evaluations after you've had some playtime with the Parasound. A51. The audio critics love that amp, and hope it works out for you too.
    Faster than a speeding bullet...more powerful than a locomotive...able to leap tall buildings in a single bound...

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    Default Re: Best ~$2000 Amplifier - ATI, ParaSound, Emotiva, Outlaw, Theta

    I'm with you Cajie - often wondered if leaping into the premo amp section would make my Klipsch sound any different....will always wonder, cause I doubt I'll go there....still curious.


    Quote Originally Posted by HitsOfMisses View Post
    Thank you guys! I finally bought Parasound Halo A 51 from AudioGon. Visually there are a few blemishes & it trips-off in Auto 12V setting. I paid $2100. My first impression is that it's very heavy (95 lbs) & it gets really hot fast.

    Anyway, currently listening to various types of music (stereo, XLR) & movies (5.1, RCA) & comparing notes. In a few scenes, I did hear the background music that I never heard/noticed before but nothing significant while listening to music in stereo. In defense of my previous Kenwood VR-4090 receiver (MSRP 1200/ Used 450) which I was never so attached with, I must now admit that though it's 1/4th the price of A51 (MSRP 4500/ Used 2100) it was no slouch in terms of SQ & imaging.

    It's almost 24 hrs since I first plugged in. Still exploring & justifying whether my purchase was worth 4 times. Will keep you posted.
    Quote Originally Posted by cajieboy View Post
    Great post. Many times I've toyed back and forth wondering just how much better a first rate amp was REALLY worth the big bucks when compared to say a new Pioneer receiver or similar mid-priced gear. Look forward to more of your evaluations after you've had some playtime with the Parasound. A51. The audio critics love that amp, and hope it works out for you too.
    Denon AVR-X4000 * Harmony ONE
    Klipsch RF-82 II front * RC3 center * RP3 surrounds * KEF HTS1001 rear
    Rythmik Audio DS1501 CI sub
    Oppo BDP-103
    Samsung LN46B550 LCD


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    Default Re: Best ~$2000 Amplifier - ATI, ParaSound, Emotiva, Outlaw, Theta

    Quote Originally Posted by HitsOfMisses View Post
    Thank you guys! I finally bought Parasound Halo A 51 from AudioGon. Visually there are a few blemishes & it trips-off in Auto 12V setting. I paid $2100. My first impression is that it's very heavy (95 lbs) & it gets really hot fast.

    Anyway, currently listening to various types of music (stereo, XLR) & movies (5.1, RCA) & comparing notes. In a few scenes, I did hear the background music that I never heard/noticed before but nothing significant while listening to music in stereo. In defense of my previous Kenwood VR-4090 receiver (MSRP 1200/ Used 450) which I was never so attached with, I must now admit that though it's 1/4th the price of A51 (MSRP 4500/ Used 2100) it was no slouch in terms of SQ & imaging.

    It's almost 24 hrs since I first plugged in. Still exploring & justifying whether my purchase was worth 4 times. Will keep you posted.
    Very nice amp, congratulations on your purchase! I will also be interested in your impressions on how it compares.

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    Default Re: Best ~$2000 Amplifier - ATI, ParaSound, Emotiva, Outlaw, Theta


    Quote Originally Posted by GOS View Post
    I'm with you Cajie - often wondered if leaping into the premo amp section would make my Klipsch sound any different....will always wonder, cause I doubt I'll go there....still curious.
    Short answer: No. As long as there is not something wrong with your current amp or receiver and it is not underpowered or otherwise deficient as regards driving the speaker load (highly unlikely with a Klipsch), it will sound just like any other competently designed solid-state amplifier attached to those speakers.

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