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Home Theater Shack 2015 High-End Amplifier Evaluation Event Final Preparations Discussion Thread


:fireworks2:SURPRISE!:fireworks1:​


Those of you who tuned into the Home Theater Shack speaker evaluation events of 2013 and 2014 will recall that the listening panel put in many hours of critically listening and honestly reporting our findings. We are getting ready to do it again, this time with high-and amplifiers.

This coming Thursday through Saturday the 12th - 14th of March, we are gathering at Sonnie Parker's Cedar Creek Cinema in rural Alabama. We have collected an impressive list of top-rated amplifiers to evaluate from designers you will recognize.

  • Emotiva XPA-2
  • Exposure 2010S
  • Krell Duo 175
  • Mark Levinson 532H
  • Parasound HALO A31
  • Pass Labs X250.5
  • Sunfire TGA-7401
  • Van Alstine Fet Valve 400R
  • Wyred 4 Sound ST-500 MK II
  • Denon X5200 AVR
The loudspeakers we will be using are the sonic microscopes through which we will be inspecting the characteristics of those amplifiers. There are some exciting speakers we will be experiencing for the first time. Of course you will receive commentary from the panel on each of them. Plus there will be a complete review of each of the new-to-HTS (**) speaker models involved.

  • Acoustic Zen Crescendo Mk II, courtesy Robert Lee, Acoustic Zen Technologies **
  • Spatial Hologram M1 Turbo v2, courtesy Clayton Shaw, Spatial Audio **
  • Chane A5rx-c, courtesy Jon Lane, Chane Music Cinema **
  • Martin Logan ESL
An additional activity we have decided to squeezed into an already busy weekend will be the panel's comparison of Dirac Live vs. Audyssey XT32, as has been requested by a number of our members.

Other key equipment special for the event:
  • Speaker cables and interconnects by Morrow Audio, courtesy Mike Morrow
  • Van Alstine ABX Switch Box, recently updated version (February 2015)
  • miniDSP nanoAVR DL, courtesy Tony Rouget, miniDSP
  • OPPO BDP-105
Sounds like enough to keep us busy, no? As in the past, we will be posting comments and photos from the event as they occur, and will send goodies to Todd Anderson for Facebook updates. We just might even be able to squeeze out a brief YouTube or Instagram video or two of certain parts of the festivities.

  • Date: Thursday evening, March 12th through Saturday evening, March 14th.
  • Place: Cedar Creek Cinema, Alabama, hosted by Sonnie, Angie, and Gracie Parker.
  • Evaluation Panel: Joe Alexander (ALMFamily), Leonard Caillouet (lcaillo), Dennis Young (Tesseract), Sonnie Parker (Sonnie), Wayne Myers (AudiocRaver).
Stay tuned, lots of details to follow over the next week!
 

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This should be a lot of fun!

All except the Wyred 4 Sound amp are in the house... in the listening room.
 

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Wish you could of fit a Classe' amp in there too.

Glad to see you have a stout Krell in there.... my personal favorite. Can't wait for this!
 

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Looking forward to the amp evaluation & Audyssey Xt32 vs DIRAC
 

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We have been working on this for about six months now, looking for amps, requesting accommodation, etc. During that time I contacted Emotiva in an attempt to get an amp on industry accommodations. I actually wanted two amps, one for the event and one for my personal use. I thought we had something worked out, but my last two emails did not get a response, so I gave up.

None the less... I am absolutely sure we are going to get a plethora of comments pertaining to various amps members would have liked to have seen and wished could have been included. Unfortunately, we can't arrange to get them all... and we only have so much time to work with anyway.
 

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No EMOTIVA = a real disappointment :unbelievable:
Emotiva is not necessarily a high end piece. Comparing the first amps on the list to the X5200 should be the same as comparing to the Emotiva

The title says "High-End" amplifiers.... even my Krell doesn't really constitute high end. It's 11yrs old and is not even in the same class as the Duo 175

Seems like aside from the Denon; the pricing starts around 2500k and moves up to around 7500 for the Krell.

(Please understand I did not say emotiva is not a good piece... but price wise high end and looking at the list they all seem to favor the 3k-5kish range?)
 

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We probably need to re-think our title... as it really isn't just about comparing "high-end" amps. There are probably some who might not necessarily consider them all high-end. We mainly wanted to make sure we had some high-end brands in the mix. Most high-end audiophiles will highly respect several of these brands. The 532H was on Stereophile's Recommended A list in 2012 with a MSRP of $8,000.
 

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We probably need to re-think our title... as it really isn't just about comparing "high-end" amps. There are probably some who might not necessarily consider them all high-end. We mainly wanted to make sure we had some high-end brands in the mix. Most high-end audiophiles will highly respect several of these brands. The 532H was on Stereophile's Recommended A list in 2012 with a MSRP of $8,000.
Ya I'd agree. Maybe an under $7500 amp event like you did with the speakers.
 

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If you wanted to test an 11yr old Krell Showcase 7 amp let me know. Would be the only multichannel amp other than the Denon. All I'd ask for is free shipping from me and back to me :)
 

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We have the Sunfire that is 7-channel and the A31 is 3-channel, but we will only evaluate them in 2-channel mode. I don't think we have room for any more, since we still have a couple of others that are not on the list.
 

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Seeing that I use pro amps for my mains and sub these amps you will be testing are high end to me.....:D
 

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I am not thinking that we can get everything done that we would like, but we will dive in and try. Can't wait to get there. I'll be getting in Thursday night. I am looking forward to seeing the guys again and working together. What a fun group.
 

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If possible, can you add a test with a low efficiency bookshelf pair as well as towers. I have noticed that lower efficiency speakers show differences in amps more readily than higher ones. Great idea and cant wait to read the results.
 

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Seeing that I use pro amps for my mains and sub these amps you will be testing are high end to me.....:D
Stay tuned... :bigsmile:

If possible, can you add a test with a low efficiency bookshelf pair as well as towers. I have noticed that lower efficiency speakers show differences in amps more readily than higher ones. Great idea and cant wait to read the results.
The ESL's will work for that purpose. That is really more about making sure you have enough power if you plan to pushing the more difficult speakers to louder levels. I had that issue with my Ultras... the X5200 would clip at reference levels, while any of the more powerful amps I used does not.

What a fun group.
Amen to that!
 

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And Dennis Young - Tesseract - will be a member of the panel. Welcome, Dennis.

The idea for this get-together came from Leonard. A number of months ago in a PM exchange I mentioned that I missed our evaluation weekends. His response was to Sonnie, suggesting that we plan an amplifier evaluation weekend, and before we knew it we were setting the date.

To say it is a fun group does not begin to express what these weekends are like. If we could bottle the essence of the experience and sell it, we would all be rich. But to keep it short, i will just say another Amen! Good times will be had!
 

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Kudos guys, that is a fine installment of amps & speakers. I agree with Leonard that you're gonna have your hands full getting all that equipment compared. Let alone "broke in." Since I have a vested interest in the A5's, will be looking forward to how they sound with better amps! Have fun guys!
 

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Only a couple of these are new amps... and a I have had them for a while, other than the W4S. We'll keep one for fresh out of the box to see if break-in makes a difference.
 
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