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Discussion Starter #1
I contacted one of my local hi-end audio stores recently, and spoke with the owner. I was interested in listening to some non-Cone & Dome speakers, and this company sells Maggies. He inquired as to the make up of my system, and when I told him I have KEF 105.4's for my front speakers, he said I couldn't get current speakers that sound as good as those for less than $5,000 (not too bad a price unless you consider the additional cost of a divorce attorney).

When I told him that I was driving my system with a Pioneer Elite VSX-94THX, it was like I told him I had a Maserati with a Yugo motor. So after a bit of discussion, I challenged him to demo something equivalent to my Pioneer against a separate amplifier. So at the appointed time I arrived with some music and we played a Musical Fidelity A5.5 Class A/B integrated amp. It has a few bells & whistles like a built in DAC, and HT bypass. As a comparison he brought in a Marantz Stereo Reciever, I don't know what model, but he said it put out about 105 watts, which is about 35 watts less per channel than my Pioneer. I was able to hear a difference, mainly the sound appeared more three dimensional.

On a side note, when I gave him the challenge, I suggested he pick some speakers that he thought were sonically similar to my KEF's. We did the Demo's on some B&W's. Later when I got home and was doing some research, toddled over to the D&W site to see what kind of speakers we were listening to. It would appear that the demo was on B&W 802D's (~$14,000.00). Somehow I don't think my KEF's are of that quality, but if someone want's to buy a nice pair of KEF 105.4's I could let them for half the price of the B&W 802D's. Today only I will ship for free.

OK so I guess I saw that a properly powered speaker could sound better. Perhaps I might get better sound out of the KEF's with a bit more juice. One route I could go is with Pro amps, and I may check into that but for the moment I decided to stay with Home Audio Amps.

The A5.5 lists at $3,000.00 and is 250 watts into 8 ohms. I decided that would be my max price and minimum power handling. The dealer had a demo model he'll sell for about 20% off with full warranty. So in my searching about I came across the Wyred4Sound amp's which cost less for the same power. They are however Class D amp's. They have a model ST-500 with 250 watts into 8 ohms for $1,500. This has the same power, but is class D and doesn't have the built-in Pre-amp and DAC.

For my use I don't want the pre-amp, and don't need the DAC for the moment, so the A5.5's extra features are more or less wasted in my envronment. So the questions are;

1) Will the A5.5 sound substantially better than the ST-500, or vice a versa?

2) Will 250 watts from either of these two amps be a noticeable improvement in comparison to the 140 watts that the Pioneer puts out? $1,500-$2,440 worth?

3) In this price range (or less) is there a better choice?

Any feedback on this topic would be appreciated.

Paul
 

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Discussion Starter #3
Re: Wyred4sound vs Musical Fidelity

OK I've done some research and I will add the XPA-2 to my list. The only downsides I see on the XPA-2 are the physical size and efficiency. I assume it would be as efficient as the Musical Fidelity, but less efficient than the Wyred 4 Sound.

Both of these are a consideration.

Anyone one want to take a stab at defining what the difference between the XPA-2 in bridged mode and the XPA-1 is?

Thanks for adding another amplifier to my list, but I really am looking for help in deciding whether adding an amp will make much difference, and if so, does spending more money get a demonstrably better product?

Paul
 

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Re: Wyred4sound vs Musical Fidelity

Your 2 choices is an apples to oranges comparisons IMO....

I have heard both.... The Musical Fidelity A5.5 has like you said built in DAC's so they will give the sound a somewhat colored nature to it (it has its own sound), the benefits being possibly a wider and deeper sound stage, even at lower power.... it is a good integrated amp, I liked it when I auditioned the Paradigm Sig .v2 S6's and S8's....

The Wyred4Sound amp is just an amp which will for all intents and purposes - pass on the exact same characteristics of what your are feeding that amp, possibly smoothing things out but not a huge amount of difference. I own the Wyred4Sound 7channel amp with 3x500, 4x250w - its a great amp with good clean SQ and lots of efficient power.... I am very happy with this amp replacing my extremely reliable and loved Rotel 1095, I only changed out for the extra 2 channels and heat, but I gained tons of power, which opens up those speakers quite nicely.

Funny story that this brings up for me.... I also own the Pioneer Elite 91 (waiting on my Anthem D2v), which is feeding this amp and I will state that when I sold my Rotel, there were a few days that I had no amp and was driving my Paradigm Studio 100 system with the Pioneer.... I knew it was lacking immediately, and never told my son, he just never noticed it was missing.... when I was cooking dinner he was watching a movie at relatively decent volumes - he came in and said there is something wrong with the system, I knew exactly what, but it was kinda a blind test that just appeared... He explained it sounded thin and there was something missing, just didn't have the impact or output.... I just smiled and told him.


You will more then likely notice a big difference in power and kick, it should easily open those large drivers up quite nicely, the Class D's have a good rep, and rightly so...

Also for small form factor, I own the 5 channel D-Sonic class d amps as well which are the same modules as the wyred amps.... and they also offer some stereo amps.
http://www.d-sonic.net/

They are budget pricing for basically the same thing here...... If you do your homework on the IcePower amps you will find they are almost all basically the same piece of gum in a different wrapper... :)

BTW, your 140w per channel from your Pioneer is rather an unlikely number that all these big companies pad their specs with.
Both Wyred4Sound and D-Sonic offer in home trial periods as any company should IMO

Good luck on your hunt
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Re: Wyred4sound vs Musical Fidelity

I've pretty much convinced my self to purchase a XPA-2 & an XPA-3.

My remaining issue is logistics. The cabinet I have is not suitable for an additional two amplifiers that are 17.5"w x 7.5"t x 19"d. What would probably work best is something not much wider and deeper than the amps them self and capable of handling 3 units of similar size. I would put my VSX-94THX over on this unit as well.

I will build one if I need to, but that is a lot of work. If there is something reasonably priced I would get it.

Any ideas, or resources?

Paul
 

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Discussion Starter #7
Re: Wyred4sound vs Musical Fidelity

Thanks for the info.

How stable is the FleXy rack design?

I would be placing at least 2 amps that weigh over 75 lbs each, and perhaps my Receiver which probably weighs > 50 lbs.

Paul
 

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Re: Wyred4sound vs Musical Fidelity

I used 3/4" MDF for the shelves and 3/4" threaded steel rod for the uprights. This makes a very sturdy rack. Adding a fourth upright like the commercial unit would make it even more so. A three shelf unit will handle hundreds of pounds with no problem.

I have my turntable on the top shelf of a six shelf unit and it not tippy at all. The bottom shelf you can see above is empty, but I added weight there filling it with bricks to really anchor it. I will be adding more isolation for the turntable and disc player using this: http://forum.stereophile.com/forum/showflat.php?Cat=0&Number=65126&an=0&page=0#Post65126
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Re: Wyred4sound vs Musical Fidelity

I have received 1 XPA-2 & 1 XPA-3. I have them stacked, which isn't too good heat wise, but they seem to run fairly cool. I have my Pioneer sitting on top of the two Emotiva's.

I ran the MCCAC room EQ before I switched the speakers to the XPA's and haven't rerun it. Don't know if I should.

I think it sounds better. I believe it sounds cleaner at higher volumes.

Paul
 

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Re: Wyred4sound vs Musical Fidelity

I have received 1 XPA-2 & 1 XPA-3. I have them stacked, which isn't too good heat wise, but they seem to run fairly cool. I have my Pioneer sitting on top of the two Emotiva's.

I ran the MCCAC room EQ before I switched the speakers to the XPA's and haven't rerun it. Don't know if I should.

I think it sounds better. I believe it sounds cleaner at higher volumes.

Paul
Having owned an Emotiva LPA-1 in the past I know they monster amplifiers. Rightly the Emotiva XPA's should be performing considerably cleaner at the top end and low end. You should notice more pronounced bass impact and weight. The Emotiva XPA's are just sailing along when, whereas the Pioneer is at full tilt trying to reproduce the spectrum of music. The amplification in your Pioneer is what I would call "dirty." The XPA's being external are purpose built and isolated from the Pioneer's noise. Good to hear the Emotiva's are working for you.
 

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Re: Wyred4sound vs Musical Fidelity

I gave a little thought to the digital Amps but went with the XPA1's instead. I am totally impressed.
 

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Re: Wyred4sound vs Musical Fidelity

Congrats Glen... I just got my pair of XPA-1's hooked up late yesterday. :T

Very nice amps... and some kind of heavy... took all I could do to move them around. :flex:
 

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I had some McIntosh MC501's running some 802D's. I sold the 802's and decided to try one of the XPA-5's for a set of B&W 805's that I had in between main speakers. it sounded so good that I bought 2 of the XPA-1 then went back and got another one for 3 across the front end. Very solid Amp that produces just what you put in them. Your going to love them.
 

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Re: Wyred4sound vs Musical Fidelity

I used 3/4" MDF for the shelves and 3/4" threaded steel rod for the uprights. This makes a very sturdy rack. Adding a fourth upright like the commercial unit would make it even more so. A three shelf unit will handle hundreds of pounds with no problem.

I have my turntable on the top shelf of a six shelf unit and it not tippy at all. The bottom shelf you can see above is empty, but I added weight there filling it with bricks to really anchor it. I will be adding more isolation for the turntable and disc player using this: http://forum.stereophile.com/forum/showflat.php?Cat=0&Number=65126&an=0&page=0#Post65126
I hope it's not considered terribly poor form to respond to a post as old as this one, but I have to reply just to thank you Jay. And anyway, I think new forum members who are interested in high fidelity might also find it interesting. Thank you for posting the link to the Stereophile forum discussion about the isolation tweaks using inner tubes and DIY roller blocks. I am going to try this on my system. It is far to easy and inexpensive a tweak to let it go untried.

BTW, I really like your FleXY stand too. I know where the TNT article for that is, and I may do that too in the future.
 

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jackfish/jay do you happen to know how the resonant frequency of the air spring (bicycle inner tube) is affected by the use of an internal liquid puncture sealant, e.g., slime?

These Schwinn self-seal tubes are less expensive than the Slime brand and work on the same principle.




Since the sealer is a liquid and the tube is not rotating while in use as an air spring under a component shelf, I have my doubts that there is any practical advantage of a self-heal tube over a regular inner tube. The liquid will not evenly coat the interior of the tube. But if it does help to reduce air leaks and doesn't negate the effect of the air spring, then it would give a slight advantage over regular tubes.
 

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Discussion Starter #18
Looking to buy another xpa-2 to drive my subs actually.

Would like used if anyone is lookint to sell one.

Paul
 
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