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Goal: To awaken my SB-2's with some real power..

3388 Views 18 Replies 4 Participants Last post by  Exocer
Hey guys,
My HT/Music setup:
Onkyo Tx Sr 602
4 NHT Sb-2's
Rythmik DirectServo sub

The weakest link is the Onkyo, I love the sound of my speakers but the Onkyo has a hard time powering the NHTs. People tell me Nad and NHT go together well. So i've looked into getting a Nad receiver, like the T743 or T753. But they're very expensive and I am still saving money for other things at the moment...like moving out of my house once I graduate from college. One guy tells me that upon switching from a vintage Denon (year 98' model in the $1200 pricerange) to a panasonic sa xr55, he was able to attain much higher volume levels with less distortion running his SB-3s...The price of those digital amps is just right for my budget.The thing is, Id hate to kick myself in the butt afterwards thinking that maybe I should've waited for the Nad.

What would you guys suggest?

Edit: I posted this in the wrong thread, oops. you guys can delete this.
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Exocer said:
Edit: I posted this in the wrong thread, oops. you guys can delete this.
What thread did you originally post it in? It's fine here.

I don't much about the digital receivers other than I've heard they are nice. Erik should be along soon and can brief you on the NAD and maybe have a suggestion of where you can find a good price on one.
I actually originally posted it here, then i read that this is the section for "reviews" and this isn't a review...or at least not until i get my new amp :T Right now its between the Panny xr 57 or a Nad T743. Id be able to get a T743 used for ~$400 which is a **** of a price from an authorized dealer.
Like all things in audio, there are different opinions on what is the "right" answer.

I'll give you my version of the "right" answer:

Most brand name receivers will sound the same in the same price range.

Therefore, in the same price range, a Denon will sound the same as an Onkyo as a Yamaha as a Pioneer as a NAD as a...etc.

I haven't heard the Panasonic, but I've heard good things about it. Digital amps are supposed offer a good amp for a low cost. There are some downsides when you get to the high end stuff -- something about sampling frequencies not being high enough with today's semiconductors or some such thing.. As I recall, the person who made this point was someone wickedly smart about such things. Also, to put it in persepective, his system was probably in the $30k+ region, so a $250 receiver would never have entered his equipment list.

In the end, I'd see if there was some store that would allow you to audition the receiver in your home. For example, Best Buy or some other mega-store should have them with a good refund policy. If it doesn't make your system sound appreciably better, take it back. If it does make it better, I'd say go with the Panasonic and worry about the NAD (or other brand) later. I'd accept that the NAD will give you a better sound, but the incremental improvement may or may not be worth the expense.

Again, just my $0.02.

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I think JCD may have a good point here. The sound quality may only be marginal, however, you may get more headroom with the NAD Receiver to push your speakers better. They seem to usually offer more power than your massively marketed receivers.

Btw, I changed the description the read " + Product Related Reviews " ... which means we can discuss all components and speakers plus post product reviews that relate to the same.
Sonnie, thanks for adding that "+" :T
JCD,Man, an in-home audition would rock. you hit the nail on the head. As far as sound quality, I am sure the Nad would deliver the goods. The panny on the other hand, i've seen mixed reviews about as far as SQ. What I am really after is an amp hefty enough to push my NHTs and at a decent price. Ideally, a receiver with enough power would be perfect. Not interested in Seperates I just don't have the space. I feel like im looking for something that just doesn't exist...an inexpensive amp with headroom for speakers with low sensitivity.

Edit: I just read a review of the Nad T743, saying its meant to power speakers with high sensitivity in small/medium sized rooms. My speakers do not have high sensitivity so...would I clip this amp? I do like to listen LOUD. My Onkyo can get me there but struggling a lot.
I own a 743 in my family room HT and have used it many times and quite successfully in many a HT designs/installs I've done. Most recently replacing someone's THX certified Pioneer receiver. But like JCD said, it's in the "ear" of the beholder. NAD amps are VERY clean and can pound!

Don't worry about "sensitivity" with NAD products, I've run them with highly unefficient speakers (low 80's) and they work like magic.

I have access to almost every product out there...why do I choose NAD 90% of the time? Musicality...while NAD does not have the bells and whistles of other manufacturers...it puts the $$$ into the parts that count. The amp does not colour the sound, but just represents it as is. Compared to a Panny or Yamaha amp...it will sound "I hate this term," more laid back. But IMHO those other amps are more (another term I hate but folks understand) forward sounding, so depending on what sound YOU LIKE, go that direction.

Amps will sound differently with different speakers...so match according to your tastes. There is a point of diminishing returns as well. Buying a pair of little bookshelf speakers costing $500/pair and matching them with a $20,000 amp...IMHO makes NO SENSE! So again as JCD said, given your equipment you may or may not hear any differences.

BTW...$400 for a warrantied T743 is a GREAT PRICE! I'd jump all over that one!!!:hail:
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First of all thanks for that post, it puts things into perspective for me.
Secondly, with the Nad I know i'll be getting a killer amp as well as preamp.This is what has me sold on the Nad thus far. For an incremental jump in price I get a nearly future proof option. If for example somewhere down the road I move into a bigger listening space (which I hope :laugh: ) with the Nad the option is always there to add an external amp. This is not an option with the Panny, in fact it would defeat the whole purpose of using digital amplification wouldn't it? Assuming the external amp is an analog unit.

The NHT's by nature seem to be a laid back type of speaker and I love their sound, even when powered by the Onkyo. So, I am not affraid to go to a laid back amp only because I like the laid back sound.

NorwegianDawg,One thing I didn't quite understand was when you mention "There is a point of diminishing returns as well. Buying a pair of little bookshelf speakers costing $500/pair and matching them with a $20,000 amp...IMHO makes NO SENSE! So again as JCD said, given your equipment you may or may not hear any differences." Do you think the Nad is perhaps too much amp for the SB-2's? When I hear my Sb-2s or even see them, I hardly think of them as ordinary bookshelf speakers with 6.5" drivers. I think of a very refined, smooth, laid back, and nearly holographic speaker that requires more power than the typical bookshelf speaker to "sing" as some say...

I put this system together, assuming everything would work as intended. It does for the most part, but I did make a mistake by going with the cheapest option for amplification and now I am paying the price for it. Id rather buy too much amp than not enough amp this time around so as not to make the same mistake again...:T
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Ex...what I meant by all that dribble...:D was that you want to match your equipment. You wouldn't buy a Porsche and ask for the Chevy 4-cyl. engine. Therefore, if you have quality speakers you want to power them with a quality amp...or vise versa.

I think the NHT's with the NAD...will make a nice combo.

Alright, I gotcha. So I made the mistake of buying quality speakers with an average amp the first time around...Well the amp was an average amp for intended for average speakers at first. Upgraded the speakers and the amp just couldn't hang anymore. I saw something about a next generation of Nads comming out in about 9-12 months or so, Maybe my current setup will suffice until the next series comes out. I wont be needing HDMI (which will be included in the next gen) so hopefully the T7*3's will go down in price!
Wait...don't get me wrong...you can always buy more in one area such as your amp, etc...then upgrade your speakers to match your amp or vise versa. We all need excuses to upgrade! :D

There are no mistakes in this business as long as YOU are happy...what "we" say really doesn't matter...what you think does!

JCD said:
Most brand name receivers will sound the same in the same price range.

Therefore, in the same price range, a Denon will sound the same as an Onkyo as a Yamaha as a Pioneer as a NAD as a...etc.
Sorry, but I cannot disagree more! Maybe in the same price range a Denon, Yamaha and Onkyo may sound similiar(not the same!), but a NAD, Marantz, Cambridge Audio,HK, etc does not sound the same as those mentioned.

I did a test the past weekend to determine if the weak sound of my friend's HK 235 was due to his speakers and we also tested a Denon 2805, Yamaha RX-V657 as well as my CA 540R. Although not a true blind test, none of these receivers sounded like the other. Yes the Yammy and Denon did have the same sound characteristics, but were still different(clear highs, lacking a bit of mid-bass, "light" bass). The HK again has solid bass, good mids, but highs are a bit muffled. The CA has strong, solid bass, good mids and clear highs(tends to some brightness at higher volumes)

Okay my first post and also my two cents worth:)
Hello Abe and welcome to the Shack!

We'll certainly take a few cents worth. I think what JCD was indicating was that most of your mass marketed mid-fi receivers are only going to reach a certain level of quality. He mighta been stretching by including the NAD in there... I believe NAD is not really mass marketed and is definitely better quality.
He, he, he!

Don't worry I do understand where he is coming from:)
Ok, I MAY have been a little general in my statements :rolleyes:

I'll have to admit, it's been forever since I last listened to a Nad anything (probably 15years? I really don't like the fact that I can say I remember something from 15yrs ago... :mad: ).

Now I have a new project for myself!

And as always, we appreciate everyone's $0.02!

Yes guys, yes.
The Hk 235 refurb was on my list because I liked the price. My experience with receivers is very limited as this onkyo is my first crack at it. Never did I even audition it, just grabbed it because it was on sale...:rant:

Something inside of me says I should wait for the Nad, and that is what i'll do. This seems to be a win-win route in all instances. As of monday i'll have 6 SB-2's so upgrading to the Nad will put one of them out of commision for a while... Ah well.

Can anyone compare the sound of Nad to that of HK? an in-home audition with them both would be too expensive regardless of it being temporary :T
Well guys I saw a deal on an Hk235 on ebay, waited till 3 seconds and placed my winning bid of $230 plus shipping(thank god my cable didn't freeze up :laugh: ), about what I paid for the Onkyo. I have to decide between the two now. If i like the HK better, the Onkyo goes, vice versa. I am however a bit concerned about the 50w/ch rating of the Hk. I will post back with some subjective testing. Strangly, the HK is a bit heavier than the Onkyo with its lesser power rating.

Lets say I like the sound of the HK but find it to be underpowered, will adding an external amp have any effect on the tonal quality? I am assuming it wouldn't because the sound information would still pass through the Hk's dacs.

I would've loved to have bought a NAD :dontknow: Just couldn't afford it on this college budget. I hope the HK keeps me happy for a while.
The Hk AVR 235 arrived today. Highs are more clear (which i wasn't expecting), music is more alive. Also I find that listening at around -20db is loud enough now (very loud), as oppose to before with the Onkyo's -10 db setting. Definitely a more musical AVR and doubt i'll need more power for a while.
Woah, what is that hissing sound you hear when there is no source playing but the volume is turned up? I have NONE of that with the HK, I had plenty of this hiss with the Onkyo. Also my subwoofer's would hum once connected to the ONkyo, now there isn't even a slight hum (even with the BFD in the loop) now. Wow, I don't even know how people could find these two receiver to be in the same league.
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