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More to life than just speakers?Onkyo vs a power amp..

Posted on August 27, 2002 at 11:35:29

Posts: 194
Location: California, central valley
Joined: May 7, 2001
I have been obsessed by speakers for the past year, now it's time to move on?
I have an Onkyo tx8511 reciever for stereo only, four channel. Supposed to have heavy duty components inside and be real accurate at reproducing music, ( isn't that what they all say ) Been noticing in the last year that many audio folks, and expensive stereo shops, seem to have amps, and pre amps, and many swear by their tube amps.
Please someone explain to me the advantages of having such a set up rather than just a reciever to power your speakers.
Cost for starting a new system??
Explain in simple terms a common set up...
I know it's asking alot but you got to ask or you will never know


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One way to look at it..., posted on August 27, 2002 at 12:21:44

Posts: 1539
Joined: September 17, 2001
Your receiver is actually an amalgam of several different components - preamp, amp, tuner, and probably phono pre-amp. Onkyo necessarily made compromises in build quality as compared to separates, to offer it at a reasonable price. Also, the close physical proximity of the different circuits can have a detrimental effect.

So you can look at separates as more of a "no-compromise" approach. It is also more versatile. If you like the pre-amp and amp sections of your receiver, but the tuner sucks (not saying it does), what can you do about it?

Having said that, the quality line between integrated amps (pre-amp and amp combined) and separates is becoming more and more indistinct. And, you can get power amps with volume controls, so if you only have one source, like a C.D., you can plug directly in to the amp.

To get an appreciable improvement in quality over a good receiver (which it sounds like you have) I would definitely recommend at least an integrated amp and separate tuner. If I was putting together a "best of the best" system, I would go separate amp & pre-amp. As to costs, you can get integrated amps starting around $300 from Cambridge Audio or NAD, and of course, you can go up to "the sky's the limit". A big factor is going to be what mates well with your speakers and source. Keep your receiver at least at first, to make comparisons. Don't spend any money on something that doesn't offer an improvement.

One more thing - remember that if you go separate amp & preamp, that you'll need to get an interconnect that will let that combo shine.


Re: One way to look at it..., posted on August 27, 2002 at 12:46:56

Posts: 194
Location: California, central valley
Joined: May 7, 2001
Thanks, for the info, Can you tell me what they mean by integrated amp, and if you have an amp, why do you need a pre amp? Do you need a pre, pre amp to power the pre amp?, just kidding.


A small can of worms, posted on August 27, 2002 at 13:05:53

Posts: 1539
Joined: September 17, 2001
A power amp does one thing. It amplifies a line-level signal (such as the output of a tuner, CD, or pre-amp) to a large enough current to drive speakers. A pre-amp MAY also amplify a signal from a source to a level that can be used by a power amp. It also provides volume control and switching between different sources. So a typical chain is

An integrated amp is simply one unit which combines a pre-amp and amp.

Now comes the can of worms - If a power amp can be driven directly by a source, why not just have a passive volume control, and possibly a switch to select between sources? Why do you need an active pre-amp (i.e., one that amplifies)? Many people believe that you don't. Indeed, some "integrated amps" are simply power amps with passive controls.

Some people, however believe that it is very unlikely that the output from a source will be an "ideal" signal for the amplifier, and that an active pre-amp is necessary for the best sound.

So can you see the road that leads to "audiophilia"? Passive or active, separate or integrated, tubes or solid-state, digital or analog? Just remember, let your ears and your emotional connection to the music be the guide.


Components Defined, posted on August 30, 2002 at 08:31:38

Posts: 890
Joined: June 3, 2002
Amplifier - Amplifies the signal to be loud enough to drive the speakers.

Preamplifier - Allows selection between sources (CD, LP, etc) and volume control.

Integrated Amplifier - An Amplifier and Preamplifier combined one box.

Tuner - A radio tuner (AM/FM).

Receiver - An Integrated Amplifier (Amplifier/Preamplifier) and Tuner combined in one box.

Hope that helps,



Re: or integrated amp, posted on September 2, 2002 at 23:14:22
Todd B.

Posts: 1026
Joined: February 13, 2001
"Please someone explain to me the advantages of having such a set up rather than just a reciever to power your speakers."

Sound quality.

The last paragraph of my post here may be of interest to you, particularly since I was upgrading from an Onkyo TX-8211. The Rotel integrated that I replaced it with was only $320.

"Better to suffer it,
than to live under it."

--New End Original, "Lukewarm"


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