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  1. #1
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    Time to Amp it up!

    I just recently bought an OPPO BDP-105D and Samsung UN65JS8500 TV as a start to a complete HT system overhaul of my aging Kenwood "HT-in-a-box". For now, I'm going to treat the OPPO as a pre-amp (which may or may not change in the future). So now, I'm looking at amplifiers. The OPPO supports 2.0, 5.1 and 7.1 speaker configurations. For now, the 5.1 is what I'm looking at with the thought that I can always add a 2-channel amp to drive the other two speakers should I decide I want to change to a 7.1 configuration in the future. I'm currently looking at the Emotiva XPA Gen3 which is a modular system where you get to select how many channels to build into the amp. It outputs 300watts RMS per channel. I'm betting that 300w is overkill for a surround sound speaker so I was thinking of getting a smaller amp to drive the surround speakers. Several questions come to mind:


    1. Should I configure a 2- or 3-channel amp for the front three speakers (It's $200 per added channel from the base of $899)? The OPPO supports two balanced output connections for the L/R stereo speakers and all others are unbalanced RCA connections. 300w should do just fine for driving the stereo pair but is it too much for a center speaker? Should I tack the center speaker onto the amp that would also drive the surrounds?


    2. What's the minimum wattage per channel I should look for to drive surround speakers?


    3. Sub-woofers - From my research, I understand that two is better than one. However, there's only one SW output coming from the OPPO. Does that mean I can't support two SW's? Is there a way to split one output into two and drive them through a two channel amp or two powered SWs?

    Mike

  2. #2
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    Ok, I've answered question #3. I can use a Y-splitter to split the SW output from the OPPO into two signals from which I can then attach two powered SWs. Cross that one off.

  3. #3
    Senior Member k0rww's Avatar
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    Hi Mike,

    Some quick thoughts:
    The amount of Wattage is not a simple question to answer. Your questions are really open-ended without further information. I would start with the purchase of the most expensive speakers you can afford and then you can then zero-in on what amplifiers to consider. Speakers are the most influential part of a HT. The amount of money you're willing to spend is another key ingredient missing from your questions. I hope you're not planning to use the speakers in a HT-in-a-box .

    For a WAG, 200W per channel is probably all you will need, since you're planning on using sub-woofers which will reduce the load on the amplifier.
    Richard

  4. #4
    Administrator Tracy Rainwater's Avatar
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    Richard, you can never have too much wattage.
    You do have valid points about the speakers being the most important thing to consider.

    As for the front amp, I would get all three channels the same. The center will be just as important as the left and right in a home theater set up, and I think 200 watts is a good place to be unless the speakers are really inefficient, like less than 85 db.

    Rears can require less, but I like all channels to be as identical as possible.

    Outlaw has some great deals on 7 channel amps. They may have some 5 channel models left as well. However, the Emo build your own concept certainly sounds interesting. I'm wondering if each channel has its own power supply and if it is a toroidal power supply.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by k0rww View Post
    Hi Mike,

    Some quick thoughts:
    The amount of Wattage is not a simple question to answer. Your questions are really open-ended without further information. I would start with the purchase of the most expensive speakers you can afford and then you can then zero-in on what amplifiers to consider. Speakers are the most influential part of a HT. The amount of money you're willing to spend is another key ingredient missing from your questions. I hope you're not planning to use the speakers in a HT-in-a-box .

    For a WAG, 200W per channel is probably all you will need, since you're planning on using sub-woofers which will reduce the load on the amplifier.

    What???!!! Are you saying my 20 year old, $500 HT-in-a-box speakers are going to sound like crap if I add a really nice amp? I'm shocked, I say, shocked! LOL! No, I wasn't going to use them. With as much reading (and Youtube watching) about stereo, home theater, audiophile, etc, etc (so many bunny holes to go down) as I've been doing lately, I have learned that speakers are one of the most important aspects in the sound system. I guess I need to start researching loudspeakers.....

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tracy Rainwater View Post
    Richard, you can never have too much wattage.
    You do have valid points about the speakers being the most important thing to consider.

    As for the front amp, I would get all three channels the same. The center will be just as important as the left and right in a home theater set up, and I think 200 watts is a good place to be unless the speakers are really inefficient, like less than 85 db.

    Rears can require less, but I like all channels to be as identical as possible.

    Outlaw has some great deals on 7 channel amps. They may have some 5 channel models left as well. However, the Emo build your own concept certainly sounds interesting. I'm wondering if each channel has its own power supply and if it is a toroidal power supply.

    I was thinking along the same lines, specifically, getting (at minimum) a three channel configuration to power the front three speakers and maybe adding two more for the surrounds. From what I can tell, all the channels are driven by one power supply which features Emotiva's new high performance universal switched mode power supply (SMPS).

    From their marketing:

    "...The new XPA Series utilizes a high-current switch mode power supply. It's a power supply capable of delivering over 3Kw of continuous power with absolute reliability and extremely high efficiency. It shares the dynamic attributes of a classic transformer-based design with none of the downside. It's lightweight, intelligent, and extremely powerful!

    Massive old school transformers and giant filter capacitors are rendered obsolete. They just can't compete. It's a revolution in power design, and it's the backbone of the new XPA modular amplifier system. It's the way of the future, and it's here now..."

    Also, I like that you can add channels on at any time, but to do so, you have to send it back to them (or an authorized dealer) to get the extra channels added in. That would be a hassle which would make me think about just configuring for 5 channels right from the start.

    "The new XPA Series amplifiers are fully modular and configurable at the time you order them. You can choose any configuration you want, from two to seven channels. All configurations are built on the same chassis, sharing one very robust power supply. If your needs change in the future, you can easily have more channels added. No need to get rid of a perfectly good two channel amplifier when you want to move up to surround sound. Why should you have to buy another amplifier when you’re perfectly happy with your current one, but you need a few more channels?"

    But, like Richard alludes to, maybe I should start with the speakers first. I'll also look into the Outlaw amps.

  7. #7
    Administrator Tracy Rainwater's Avatar
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    Yes, it does sound like Emotiva has come out with something new, that I am not familiar with. I can't be much help there.

    As for the Oppo 105D as a preamp, that is a concept that I toyed with but never took it past the thinking about it stage. As much as I loved my old pre/pro for movies, it lacked a bit for 2 channel music. I was thinking about using my Oppo as a preamp just as a test. However, I found a new pre/pro that seems to be just as good for music as it is for movies, so the concept was shelved.

    Setting speaker distances and levels can be done easily enough if you have a sound meter. Otherwise it's going to be hard to get good results. Also, you are going to have no EQ to help even out the negative effects of your room. It's a pretty important thing to have, in my opinion.

    However, most audiophile purists feel that a passive preamp, or no preamp at all, is the way to go. I'm VERY interested in hearing more about this project and how it works out. Please keep posting about your progress.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tracy Rainwater View Post
    Yes, it does sound like Emotiva has come out with something new, that I am not familiar with. I can't be much help there.

    As for the Oppo 105D as a preamp, that is a concept that I toyed with but never took it past the thinking about it stage. As much as I loved my old pre/pro for movies, it lacked a bit for 2 channel music. I was thinking about using my Oppo as a preamp just as a test. However, I found a new pre/pro that seems to be just as good for music as it is for movies, so the concept was shelved.

    Setting speaker distances and levels can be done easily enough if you have a sound meter. Otherwise it's going to be hard to get good results. Also, you are going to have no EQ to help even out the negative effects of your room. It's a pretty important thing to have, in my opinion.

    However, most audiophile purists feel that a passive preamp, or no preamp at all, is the way to go. I'm VERY interested in hearing more about this project and how it works out. Please keep posting about your progress.

    I'm not an audiophile (purist or otherwise) by any stretch of the imagination so I have no bias to using or not using a preamp. Room EQ is one of the reasons I may still wind up with a preamp later on down the line. But, I do have a sound meter so I can at least (hopefully) get the speaker distances correct.

    I'll try to keep my progress updated but it might be a bit before the next post. Since I'm currently renting a house until we purchase our own, I'm thinking that going any further will be counter-productive as I don't know what kind of room I'll wind up with. That would make it tough to choose speakers and amps...

  9. #9
    Administrator Tracy Rainwater's Avatar
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    I understand about not knowing which speakers to buy due to a future move.

    What I would do providing budget allows, is to buy quality speakers to use in the front soundstage, that could easily be used as surrounds if you move to a larger room. The SVS Prime Bookshelf Speakers come to mind.

    SVS Prime Bookshelf Speakers | High End Home Audio

    When mated with a quality sub, these speakers would be killer as a front left, front right, or center channel speaker. They really are good enough to build all your channels off this one speaker. However, if you decided to add tower speakers, they would easily work in the rear or surround position.

    Only $249 each, so they aren't total budget killers, and you can try them for 45 days without obligation. Just a thought.

  10. #10
    Administrator Tracy Rainwater's Avatar
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    If you have a little more cash to spend, the Ultra Bookshelf speakers are truly had to beat.

    SVS Ultra Bookshelf | High End Home Audio Speakers:

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