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Thread: Affordable Preamps & amplifiers? Thoughts on Carver Gear?

  1. #16
    Senior Member DerekTheGreat's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BMWCCA View Post
    I have several PS400s and PS200s. My main system powering the 4345s uses one of each. Liked them enough to keep spares. Doubt I ever paid over $200 each for gently used studio stuff. Never thought of them as particularly powerful but the 4345s are fairly efficient and I've never seen an IOC lamp lit even at fairly stupid volume levels. I previously used the Crown DC300A Series-II but I like the PS better for several reasons. I also have a Crown Studio Reference-II I bought for my 250tis but I don't consider those really affordable these days since they generally go for over $1,000. They are rated at 355wpc @ 8ohms and 1,000wpc bridged.
    Could you be persuaded to part with a few of your spare PS400's, say two of them? Which other amps did you try against the Crowns and what is about the Crown sound you like?

  2. #17
    Administrator Robh3606's Avatar
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    Never thought of them as particularly powerful but the 4345s are fairly efficient and I've never seen an IOC lamp lit even at fairly stupid volume levels.
    Hello BMWCCA

    Yes I can only think of one time I could get those comparator lights to flash on any of them. My PS400 was driving stereo subs and I was seriously pushing the limits in my HT on a techno concert DVD so lots of well recorded deep bass. Under normal circumstances they never light up. Got most of mine from a stadium PA install so well taken care of. l like them better than the 150/300's as well.

    Rob
    "I could be arguing in my spare time"

  3. #18
    Administrator Robh3606's Avatar
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    Did you compare your Emotivas to any other amps? I'd like to know which amps they beat to your ears.
    I don't go through a lot of gear I tend to like and keep. I have either Crowns or Emotiva in all my systems. My HT is a mix of Crown and Emotiva. I have Crowns on the 4 way active stereo mains and the HT subs and an Emotiva 3 channel on Center and Surrounds. I couldn't tell the amps apart listening to music I am no golden ear. Speakers are what I am concerned with. The only obvious difference between the Crowns I own vs the Emotiva's is the EMO's are incredibly quiet.

    That is the first thing that impressed me about the HC-1 mono blocks. My passives are about 95db and the system is dead silent with no music. You can't tell the amps are on
    with no noise/hiss at all from the speakers unless you bring your ear right up the the throat on the CD. The second was how dynamic the pairing was between the speakers and the amp and what seems like unlimited headroom even when pushed. The last would be the overall clarity, bass impact and pitch definition but this is probably more speaker or at least a good synergy between amp and speaker.

    Rob
    "I could be arguing in my spare time"

  4. #19
    Senior Member DerekTheGreat's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Robh3606 View Post
    ...That is the first thing that impressed me about the HC-1 mono blocks. My passives are about 95db and the system is dead silent with no music. You can't tell the amps are on
    with no noise/hiss at all from the speakers unless you bring your ear right up the the throat on the CD. The second was how dynamic the pairing was between the speakers and the amp and what seems like unlimited headroom even when pushed. The last would be the overall clarity, bass impact and pitch definition but this is probably more speaker or at least a good synergy between amp and speaker.

    Rob
    You know Rob, HC-1's sound like they could be the ticket.. It's rare you see an amp double down in output when going 8ohm to 4ohm.. If I bought four of those, I'd actually save money by not having to have the damn things refurb'd nor would I have to wait for it. Stuff to ponder about...

  5. #20
    Senior Member BMWCCA's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DerekTheGreat View Post
    Could you be persuaded to part with a few of your spare PS400's, say two of them? Which other amps did you try against the Crowns and what is about the Crown sound you like?
    You'll have to speak to my widow about obtaining any of my audio stash!

    I've been running Crown amps since around 1971 when I bought my first D150 (no-faceplate version) to replace a Fisher SA1000 that I no longer wanted to bankrupt my young self by having to replace the RCA tubes every year. My shop was a Mac dealer and offered every D-series Crown amp to me to take home and try in my system. I chose the D150 over the D60 and DC300 because it performed nearly as well as the bigger amp in my system but was more affordable. It's still working today connected to the same Mac C20 for the past 50-years. They compared them as equivalent to Mac for those who did not have to buy the name or meters. I was even invited to bring my Crown amp to the Mac Clinics a couple of times where Dave O'brien was impressed by its distortion curve, or lack thereof.

    When it came time to upgrade, I looked to Crown again and the D-series-II of which I have several D150A-II and DC300A-II, and a whole pile of D45 and D75A, all working well. I came across a great deal on a PS-400 and bought it and found the turn-on delay and LEDs for signal useful and I preferred the sound to the DC300A-II. I later got hold of the PS-200 for bi-amp and have never looked back. I also own a JBL/Urei 6260 which is a fine amp probably equal to the Crowns and also convection cooled. It runs the L5s in my TV-room system. I have a couple of Soundcraftsmen Pro Power Four amps which sound more bass-heavy to me and I've used them on my L7s with great success, but don't like the fans. I also have a Carver pro amp I've used which sounds fine but again, the fan bothered me. I have a couple of smaller Adcom amps which are fine, too, but I've just stuck with the Crowns. So not a lot of other amps that I've experienced in my own system. I went with durable and economically feasible and have yet to be disappointed.

    My experience with my Ashly crossovers and their customer service would encourage me to try those recommended above in a heartbeat if they showed up near me. Good solid products and, if old enough, still made in USA.
    ". . . as you have no doubt noticed, no one told the 4345 that it can't work correctly so it does anyway."—Greg Timbers

  6. #21
    Senior Member DerekTheGreat's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BMWCCA View Post
    ...I've been running Crown amps since around 1971 when I bought my first D150 (no-faceplate version) to replace a Fisher SA1000 that I no longer wanted to bankrupt my young self by having to replace the RCA tubes every year. My shop was a Mac dealer and offered every D-series Crown amp to me to take home and try in my system. I chose the D150 over the D60 and DC300 because it performed nearly as well as the bigger amp in my system but was more affordable. It's still working today connected to the same Mac C20 for the past 50-years. They compared them as equivalent to Mac for those who did not have to buy the name or meters. I was even invited to bring my Crown amp to the Mac Clinics a couple of times where Dave O'brien was impressed by its distortion curve, or lack thereof.

    When it came time to upgrade, I looked to Crown again and the D-series-II of which I have several D150A-II and DC300A-II, and a whole pile of D45 and D75A, all working well. I came across a great deal on a PS-400 and bought it and found the turn-on delay and LEDs for signal useful and I preferred the sound to the DC300A-II. I later got hold of the PS-200 for bi-amp and have never looked back. I also own a JBL/Urei 6260 which is a fine amp probably equal to the Crowns and also convection cooled. It runs the L5s in my TV-room system. I have a couple of Soundcraftsmen Pro Power Four amps which sound more bass-heavy to me and I've used them on my L7s with great success, but don't like the fans. I also have a Carver pro amp I've used which sounds fine but again, the fan bothered me. I have a couple of smaller Adcom amps which are fine, too, but I've just stuck with the Crowns. So not a lot of other amps that I've experienced in my own system. I went with durable and economically feasible and have yet to be disappointed.
    Thank you for the detailed response! Compared to me, you've tried quite a few amplifiers. Seeing as you frequented a Mac dealer and got to try stuff, your opinions & comparisons are certainly the stuff to ponder. I no longer care for or need meters, I'm more of a no frills guy and I've found you can't see the meters real well when seated anyway. Not to mention they don't respond fast enough to catch woofer former thwap before it happens..

    Quote Originally Posted by BMWCCA View Post
    You'll have to speak to my widow about obtaining any of my audio stash!
    Oh c'mon now, that's just irresponsible The time to gift, sell or earmark is before one takes the deep sleep. I'd certainly like to try a few PS-400's, The turn on delay and LED's are becoming requirements for me.

    Quote Originally Posted by BMWCCA View Post
    ...My experience with my Ashly crossovers and their customer service would encourage me to try those recommended above in a heartbeat if they showed up near me. Good solid products and, if old enough, still made in USA.
    That is indeed why I chose to go with an XR1000 over the XR1001. May have been an ill choice. I know some XR1001's were made in USA but they also transitioned to the China express, so that made me think twice about their build quality up until that point. Whereas in my feeble mind, the XR1000 was from an era before they had to seriously consider cost cuts. However, possible ill choice as either the left channel plays too hot or the right channel is too muted. The level knobs aren't at equal positions in order to get a perfect stereo image. Left High has to be around ~10PM and Right High at about 2PM. So it needs repair, but I think the XR1001 boasts a steeper crossover, I could use that...

  7. #22
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    Let me add to the conversation Hafler power amps and pre-amps.

    Another pro power amp that was good were AB International power amps.
    I never had any issues with the Carver PM and PT series in my systems.
    For midrange I liked the PT1250, crazy light weight for a 600 watt per channel
    amp at the time.

  8. #23
    Senior Member DerekTheGreat's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mike Caldwell View Post
    Let me add to the conversation Hafler power amps and pre-amps.

    Another pro power amp that was good were AB International power amps.
    I never had any issues with the Carver PM and PT series in my systems.
    For midrange I liked the PT1250, crazy light weight for a 600 watt per channel
    amp at the time.
    Awesome, lets!

    Thanks Mike, I appreciate all the comments and suggestions. This is great.. I have considered Hafler, heard great things but not sure which models to go for. I've also read they all appear to be kit amps.. True? I don't want to buy some one's cobbled together gear.. There's another amp out there that I've heard are supposed to be good but heard they also run really hot, not sure if that's Hafler amps or not though.

    I once came across this comment from jazzmans on AudioKarma which essentially steered me to Carver's TFM series and away from their pro stuff:
    "
    ...What's kinda funny to me is the earlier comment about how pro amps were good until (forgot who) put his Carver TFM-45 against it and found his carver to be better subtly in every way. (I feel the TFM 45-55-75 were the absolute pinnacle of Carver amplifiers,(lightstar was another animal altogether) not bested until Sunfire and Sunfire Signature)..."

    I could have had my hands on two of those Sunfire 300 "Toasters" as my wife calls them haha. I didn't purchase them because I found out they don't have a power switch, nor an IR trigger even.

    The PT1800 or 2400 seem like they would fit the bill better than my choice of TFM 55x's, as they have clip indicators. Still the same low damping factor number and crap distortion.. Crown Macro Tech stuff seems ultra cool. Check this bad mutha out:
    Crown Macro Reference Power Amp 9124 Rare Vintage Stereo Amplifier + Original Box | Retro Gear Shop | Reverb
    If there is model which is a step down in power, I'd go for that one. I do not need 760w biamped but uh, would love to try that out with my L150A's.. Full throttle performance could shift the tide in that the L150A's stay upstairs and the XPL's go downstairs for home theater duty..

    Any of you fellas have any experience with Crown Macro Reference amps?? Spendy, but I'll plunk down on one and offload everything else to make up for it. My living room is full of audio gear that's just sitting...

  9. #24
    Senior Member SEAWOLF97's Avatar
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    My experience ... with "classic" gear.

    .
    have had 2 HAFLER preamps ... 101 & 110. I liked their sound, BUT ports were limited, rather basic and switches were a problem. every one had noisy controls ..

    Quote Originally Posted by DerekTheGreat View Post
    Thanks Mike, I appreciate all the comments and suggestions. This is great.. I have considered Hafler, heard great things but not sure which models to go for. I've also read they all appear to be kit amps.. True? .

    from their site .."Available as a kit or preassembled unit" ... AFAIR , you had to open and look for a tag to see which it was. .... sold them both.

    CARVER ... good specs, BUT every one that me or buds have had blew up or crapped out.

    MARANTZ ... premium price b/c of name. usually ran well and sounded good, but many that I had , developed power switch problems.

    LUXMAN ... innovative, sound nice , but once again ..switch issues.


    ADCOM
    , pretty solid stuff, no problems.

    DENON
    , see adcom.
    It's the new Mother Nature takin' over
    She's gettin' us all, yeah, she's gettin' us all

  10. #25
    Administrator Mr. Widget's Avatar
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    A few more personal experiences.

    My favorite affordable preamps are from PS Audio. I have had several. I have owned several of the model 4, 4.5, and the 4.6 preamps. All three models have been reliable, quiet, and extremely transparent sounding.

    As to the quality of Haflers, I have had several of their amps DH200, DH600, and the 9505. All three never let me down and sounded quite good. I have had the opposite experience with the DH101 preamp. Lots of issues.

    I have had a number of Adcom amps and the Nelson Pass designed preamp, I think the gear is well designed and built, but for some reason that I can’t explain, I never felt compelled to keep any of it.


    Widget

  11. #26
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    The earlier Hafler amps and pre amps were available as a kit and pre assembled.
    I still use my original DH200 amp that I built from a kit to originally run
    bullet tweeters in a tri amped sound system after that it was moved to home stereo
    duty and I built the DH110 preamp kit, actually I started with a DH100 pre amp first.

    I have since re-capped the amp and preamp and yes a little Deoxit on the switches!
    There was also a larger DH500 amp.
    Some people like later Hafler Transnova series.

    The short version of my live system evolution started with the Hafler on highs, with DC300's on mid and lows, then going to MA2400's on lows, going to D150's on highs, going to Carver PM600's on highs and PT1250's on mids and MA3600's on lows and then QSC PL230's on mids and PL224's on highs.
    Today everything is QSC and Crown with the Hafler still on the stereo and my last Carver PM600 running my computer speakers.

  12. #27
    Senior Member macaroonie's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mr. Widget View Post
    A few more personal experiences.

    My favorite affordable preamps are from PS Audio. I have had several. I have owned several of the model 4, 4.5, and the 4.6 preamps. All three models have been reliable, quiet, and extremely transparent sounding.

    Widget
    Yes to PS Audio esp early series pre amps were as you say very transparent in my experience..

  13. #28
    Senior Member DerekTheGreat's Avatar
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    Update: Tried Adcom GFP-555

    Bought one of of eBay and tried it out against the incumbent Marantz 3600. Might not have been a fair comparison as only the left channel produced anything, but I did turn the amp off for the right channel when using the Marantz to try and make it fair.

    Bass was tighter and more present with the GFP 555, but that's the only advantage I heard. Mids & highs were more fatiguing and "dry" sounding. Seemingly a bit more articulation in the notes but the dryness and fatigue wouldn't have been worth it. The Marantz was livelier, more authentic and engaging. I noticed my toe was a tappin' and my head was doing the pigeon with the Marantz while with the GFP, I was just stagnant.

    More suggestions for preamps welcome!

  14. #29
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    Much more than you asked for:

    I've tried multiple combos with my XPL 200a pair, though to be fair, there are two caveats. One is that I've never used my "best" preamps and amps with them; rather, when I upgrade my top systems, then the XPLs usually get the formerly best pres or amps that I have.

    Caveat two is that originally the XPLs were were not bi-amped. Then they were bi-amped with the removal of the connectors at the speaker inputs. Then they were bi-amped with a DX-1. Obviously, the third iteration would have sounded the best with any of the pre and amp combos I've used

    First I used a Soundcraftsmen Pro Control Four amp and Pro Control Three preamp. This produced a very pleasing sound as a a straight four-way stereo pair. The Pro Control Three had its quirks, so I sought a more modern front end.

    Next was a Carver CT-3 "Holographic Sound" preamp and a Fosgate 4125 amp. It sounded good, but the Carver was a PITA. It was very unintuitive in its design and there seemed to be some voodoo in its design. The Fosgate amp was technically more powerful than the Soundcraftsmen it replaced, but I was unhappy with its overall sound.

    Deciding that digital was the future I hooked up a Panasonic SA-XR10 receiver, which I enjoyed quite a bit! No doubt some retro purist here will belittle this slim Panasonic miracle, but I buy what I want, and, regardless of its brand, if I like it I say so.

    After this, it was time to go the bi-amp route (but, Heaven forbid! not the bi-wire route, huh?). In came the ginormous Outlaw 990 pre and the last of the Soundcraftsmen hardware before MTX did to Soundcraftsmen what Harman has done to numerous proud brands. The pair of MTX/Soundcraftsmen A400 amps I used in this set up were some of the best I've ever owned. (I also used these amps to bi-amp my L-7s when I had them. Phenomenal together!) The XPLs had new life, but I was still wanting more from the 12" woofer.

    In a conversation with Greg Timbers about the Performance Series, I mentioned that I had XPL 200s and wished I could try them actively bi-amped to see if the LF could be improved. Graciously and on the spot he said he had a DX-1 in a closet at home and he'd be happy to build XPL-200 cards for it. Of course, I said, "Yes, please."

    Speaking of brands that Harman acquired then seemingly abandoned, I had the opportunity to pick up a Citation 5.0 A/V Controller which I used along with the DX-1 and brand new Hafler •trans nova• SR2300 pro amps for the active bi-amp. The XPLs jumped miles ahead of where they had been into a new, captivating sound. Top to bottom they were among the best I'd ever heard.

    Unfortunately, I took away the Citation and the Haflers when grumpy (doing 90% of the work while I supplied 90% of the materials) put together the PT250 experiment. This was so I could use the pre and amps (now three Hafler SR2300 and one SR2600 amps) to quad-amp the L250 towers with Performance Series drivers controlled by a pair of BSS compact omnidrive-plus units. The XPLs were slightly demoted to a Fosgate Audionics FAP T-1 pre/pro and Fosgate Audionics FAA 1000.5 amp. The amp (built by Hafler for Fosgate Audionics) had the same "sound" as the pro units I'd used, but with less power: 200W vs 300W per channel.

    Keeping this, finally, in the spirit of your thread, I was not pleased with a Carver preamp and the XPLs. Except for the Panasonic SA-XR10, the Hafler Pro amps, the Fosgate Audionics stuff, and the DX-1 itself, everything else was bought used. I've never used my most current and best stuff with the XPLs, though I've used some very good hand-me-downs with them. When paired with a DX-1 and actively bi-amped with sufficient power, they are excellent, excellent loudspeakers. I feel privileged to have them and do not anticipate giving them up.
    Out.

  15. #30
    Senior Member grumpy's Avatar
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    When paired with a DX-1 and actively bi-amped with sufficient power, they are excellent, excellent loudspeakers.
    these speakers deserved the dx-1

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