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Feb. 2018
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Is 50 watts enough?

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  • Is 50 watts enough?

    I drive my 30.1's with a big Pioneer (class D) receiver.

    I listen almost exclusively to vinyl, and it has a useful phono input.

    In fact, I tried expensive external phono stages and could hear absolutely no difference to the inbuilt one.

    This big Pioneer delivers about 170 watts per channel. More than I ever need in my little room!

    But It's a bit of a pain to use. So I am thinking of getting a separate integrated amplifier. I want the following features:
    1. fixed gain input / AV bypass (so I can integrate it with my Pioneer)
    2. tone controls (which can be adjusted by remote)
    3. inbuilt phono stage
    4. low profile (not very tall - to fit in the limited space I have available)

    I have seen the Creek Evolution 50A that ticks all those boxes.

    To get to the point: I don't expect it to sound any different to my big Pioneer BUT, will the relatively measly 50 watts be enough to drive my 30.1 speakers? They do a 100watt version but it is considerably more expensive.




  • #2
    It really boils down to what maximum loudness you want to be able to reach with your M30.1s. I would say that 50 W RMS is the minimum to consider. Id tend towards an amplifier closer to the 100 W RMS mark, as it will give you a bit more headroom to reproduce loud peaks cleanly. Both Rotel and Yamaha have some nice integrated amplifiers in the 80 to 120 W RMS power output range, although they may not be as compact as you require.

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    • #3
      Originally posted by keiron99 View Post
      I drive my 30.1's with a big Pioneer (class D) receiver.

      I listen almost exclusively to vinyl, and it has a useful phono input.
      In fact, I tried expensive external phono stages and could hear absolutely no difference to the inbuilt one.
      This big Pioneer delivers about 170 watts per channel. More than I ever need in my little room!

      But It's a bit of a pain to use. So I am thinking of getting a separate integrated amplifier. I want the following features:
      1. fixed gain input / AV bypass (so I can integrate it with my Pioneer)
      2. tone controls (which can be adjusted by remote)
      3. inbuilt phono stage
      4. low profile (not very tall - to fit in the limited space I have available)

      I have seen the Creek Evolution 50A that ticks all those boxes.

      To get to the point: I don't expect it to sound any different to my big Pioneer BUT, will the relatively measly 50 watts be enough to drive my 30.1 speakers? They do a 100watt version but it is considerably more expensive.
      For about the same price as the Creek 50A, consider the Marantz PM8006.
      It has an especially good phono stage and the power output into a 6Ω load is about 100W.
      http://us.marantz.com/us/Products/Pa...oductId=PM8006
      https://www.marantz.co.uk/uk/product...oductid=pm8006
      https://audio.com.pl/testy/stereo/wz...marantz-pm8006

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      • #4
        One thing to be aware of with the Creek Evolution 50A, is that the Stereophile test measurements showed that this amplifier has relatively high levels of crossover distortion, compared to other solid state amplifiers. It also shut down while being preconditioned at 1/3 of its rated output power prior to the measurements being taken.

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        • #5
          Thanks for the replies.

          I looked at the Stereophile review and there seems to be no mention of those issues?

          It occurs to me I'd have to pay for a phono board for the Creek too.

          The problem with the Marantz is that there's no remote adjustment of the tone controls. Is it really that difficult to implement that? (Do those that have remote adjustment adjust the tone by different means than those that require you to get up off your seat?)

          The amp that seems to cover everything I need...with the exception of being low profile (but which I could possibly accommodate) is the Rotel RA 1592. It has 200 watts into 8 ohms, phono input, remote tone control, even has digital inputs and bluetooth which I could see a use for. Plus, I've had Rotels in the past - I love the no-nonsense simplicity and robustness of them.

          If only it weren't so expensive!

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          • #6
            There is always the Rotel RA-1572 to consider. Its got 120 W RMS and a similar feature set to the RA-1592.

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            • #7
              Originally posted by keiron99 View Post
              I looked at the Stereophile review and there seems to be no mention of those issues?
              Here is a link to the relevant page of the Stereophile review of the Creek Evolution 50A: Measurements Page 1. Below are two quotes taken from that page.

              "Before performing any measurements on an amplifier, I run it for an hour with both channels driven at 1/3 its rated power into 8 ohms; this is the level at which the maximum amount of power is dissipated in the output devices with a class-A/B topology. However, when I tried this with the Creek Evolution 50A, the amplifier turned itself off after 20 minutes, its front-panel display showing the message "OVERHEATED." An infrared thermometer indicated that the internal heatsinks, visible through slots in the top panel, were at 140.9F (61.3C)."

              "Despite the low level of THD, the distortion waveform (fig.8) has spikes visible at the sinewave's zero-crossing points, suggesting a low level of output-stage bias current. These spikes are associated with a picket fence of high-order distortion components (fig.9), which will be more audible than might be thought the case from their very low levels."


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              • #8
                75 watts were fine for my P3ESR in a small room. I have the SHL5+ now with a 65 watt integrated. That is fine for most of the time. However, honestly, the amp really doesn't have enough power for large orchestral crescendos -- even though I'm not driving the amp to dangerous clipping, I do feel struggling to deliver deliver when things get really dynamic. So when you think about it in my case, a 130W amp would give an extra 3db of headroom over my 66 watter and and 300 watt would offer an extra 6db. I use to think 300 watt amplifiers were only for folks with huge speakers and vast listening spaces. I'm not so sure anymore.

                I'm not saying run out and by a 300w amp for your M30.1's, but I expect you will experience a loss in dynamics going from a 175w amp to a 50w amp

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                • #9
                  Thanks for the replies.

                  That's put me right off the Creek!

                  The Rotel RA 1572 looks very interesting too. Looks like the only difference between that and the 1592 is the extra power - which seems to command a rather large price premium.

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                  • #10
                    Well, I have bought a used Rotel RA 1952. I've not received it yet.

                    I see it as being a "fit and forget" purchase - like the Harbeths themselves!

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                    • #11
                      Well the Rotel has landed!

                      It's a very ordinary looking black box. There are many more luxurious looking boutique amps out there, no doubt. But it's solidly built, and the fact that it doesn't draw attention to itself is perfect for me. Many people have all their gear lined up like it's on an altar that they worship at. Not for me.

                      It sounds great (don't all good amps) and is easy to use, compared to the home cinema receiver I was using, for which you needed a masters level degree just to switch inputs. I'd often press a button that would create a concert hall effect and spend the rest of the month trying to get it back to plain stereo.

                      The one downside is that the display is so small, you can't read it from more than a few feet away. But that's not a major issue, I only really adjust the volume, and that's done by ear.

                      And oh, the other thing I adjust is the treble and bass. Yes, you heard right. That's one of the major reasons I got this - and you can adjust them by remote. I love to give the treble a little lift (helps my ageing ears) and even moving the bass up a notch or two, especially at lower volumes, really helps flesh out the sound. They are subtle in effect. (And I can't hear any difference between when they are set flat and when "tone bypass" is selected.)

                      It's not cheap, although I bought it 2nd hand from a dealer. In reality, it was brand new. The protective cellophane was still on the facia and the bags with the accessories had not been opened. Result!

                      There are precious few alternatives available with the facilities I required (tone controls, home theatre bypass, built in phono, digital inputs and even Bluetooth - which my daughter rather enjoyed!), except lower down the Rotel range.

                      Highly recommended, based on just one day of ownership. But I have every confidence it will last a lifetime - just look at how many vintage pieces of Rotel kit are still available on ebay, in perfect working order.

                      And it's a mighty 200 watts - more than I will ever need.

                      What more could you want of an amp?

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