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AudioMan612
217
Sep 1, 2014
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I did tons of research on amps to pair with these speakers. This will be long and detailed, so if you're not worried about finding an amp (or a subwoofer), don't bother reading :).
There's ton's of small power amps out there. Keep in mind that these are only 4 ohms, and most amps give their WPC rating for 8 ohms (usually the 4 ohm rating will be around 50% - 100% higher, though often if someone says an amp puts out double the power at 4 ohms compared to 8, they were usually too lazy to test this, because rarely (if ever) is an amp ideal enough to stay equally efficient with lesser impedance loads). I actually talked to Michael Goodman (director of CEntrance) at T.H.E. Show this year, and asked about the speakers, and he said 40 watts is usually enough to blow them. That said, keep in mind you can never have too powerful of an amp as long as you don't mind being careful with the volume control, but you should be aware of your speakers limitations.
Some of the amps I looked at in addition to the CEntrance Dacmini PX are the NAD D 3020, Rega Brio-R, Music Hall A15.3, Cambridge Audio Topaz AM10 and Azur 351A. I think there were others too, but you get the idea. I'm probably going to get a NAD D 3020. The reasons being, I want an amp with a relatively small foot print that puts out around the ideal amount of power (it's rated at 30 WPC @ 4 ohms). It's also been extremely well reviewed, including from Stereophile. Most of the other amps I looked at were considerably more powerful at 4 ohms, which I don't need. I also wanted a subwoofer output, because these speakers are going to become my primary setup on my PC. While they put out enough bass for music, my computer is also used for movies and gaming, where it is nice to be able to get the effect of a subwoofer. The NAD D 3020 has a subwoofer output (any volume controlled line-out that shuts off when the speakers shut off for headphones will work). I'll get to my subwoofer recommendations soon.
The DACMini PX -> MC 2504 setup sounds great. I've heard it myself. Don't let my own choice for an amp make you think otherwise. The main reasons that I want to go for a NAD D 3020 myself (anyone want to get a drop going? I've tried) are the subwoofer output that I mentioned, and the fact that while I haven't tried them side by side, I'm sure the power amp section will be better (and was doing research on power amps, not DACs, as that's something I'll probably upgrade in the future anyways). The reason I say this is that DACMini PX is designed as a DAC with a built-in power amp, while the NAD is designed as a power amp with a built-in DAC. That said, I'm sure the DAC section of the CEntrance unit will destroy that of the NAD, but again, that wasn't my primary concern.
Lastly, for subwoofers (I've tried to get a drop on small subs going in the past too, but without luck), I'm thinking of getting a NHT Super 8. It's very affordable ($350), and along with its matching SuperZero satellite speakers, has been very well reviewed (again, including from Stereophile). It's rated for 110 watts, which pairs pretty well. I was originally looking at a Velodyne MiniVee, but it's a lot more expensive, and 1000 watts, so I probably would've needed to keep its level very low to pair well with the speakers, which would be a bit silly. Above all, I wanted a subwoofer that was designed for music, as most of them out there, especially cheap ones/small ones are built purely for home theater use and do not handle music well at all (they don't control their bass well, or don't have "tight" bass as is often said). The NHT subwoofer actually has a switch on the back to change the EQ between music and movie modes, so music was clearly thought of. I'd love to find a preamp or integrated amp that fits my requirements that also allows me to quickly switch off the subwoofer output in case I find it over-bearing for music, but oh well, I guess I can't have everything lol.
Sep 1, 2014
JoeF
4
Sep 2, 2014
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Doesn't the NHT Super 8 have speaker level inputs? So you shouldn't need an amp with a dedicated subwoofer output. I'll probably be adding a subwoofer to my PX -> 2504 system in the future, and am debating whether to add the variable line-out option now, or get a speaker out compatible sub like the Super8/B10d.
Sep 2, 2014
Newbie
6
Sep 2, 2014
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Hi JoeF
I am also considering about the variable line-out. I am thinking that should it for a longer term, to add a sub later, I would likely to add an amp and using PX as DAC by then. However, if I am going for a sub immediately, I would opt for variable line-out.
Sep 2, 2014
AudioMan612
217
Sep 2, 2014
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I'm not a fan of speaker level inputs on active subwoofers. When using them, the signal that hits the subwoofer is amplified by the power amp, then brought back down to line-level through the subwoofer's circuitry, only to be amplified yet again by the subwoofer's amplifier. That's just asking for a loss of quality. Also, I'm not really keen on the idea of something being in the signal path between my power amp and my speakers (though this probably doesn't affect the signal quality, it's still not something I'd like to risk). It also means I need to buy more cables due to the extra speaker connections, as opposed to the one subwoofer connection.
That said, yes, you could use speaker-level inputs on the subwoofer, I'm not just not a fan of them.
Sep 2, 2014
JoeF
4
Sep 2, 2014
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I've been researching different ways to connect a subwoofer to the DAC/amp. Ideally, you'd want a crossover on the pre-amp out so that the high frequencies go to main speakers, and the low frequencies go to the sub.
The NAD D3020 has "subwoofer output that also engages a high pass filter for the D 3020 outputs" (from their white paper). So the sub out -> sub line level input is what you'd want to use.
The DACMini variable line-out mod just adds volume control to the line-out, so the speaker-out still passes the low frequencies. I'm better off using the speaker-out -> sub speaker-in -> sub speaker-out (high pass filtered) -> MC 2504. Of concern is the quality of the high pass filter on the sub, and the double amping of the low pass subwoofer signal.
The main reason I got the DacMini PX -> MC 2504 was for a high-quality, compact, secondary system for my computer/dorm/bedroom that will be good for the next decade. I think the bass would be good enough for my style of listening, and all this extra complexity of adding a sub sort of defeats the purpose of such a system.
For now, I think I'm just going to skip the line-out mod. I can always add it later for the same cost (plus shipping) if I do decide to add a sub later. Or just use a sub with speaker level inputs.
Sep 2, 2014
AudioMan612
217
Sep 2, 2014
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Hmm...I just did some research on that myself, and while NAD does say that a high pass filter at around 80 Hz engages on the speakers (many have said 100 Hz as well), but nearly every post I read on the topic says that there is no noticeable difference in the speakers when a subwoofer is connected... Damn, I guess I'll have to look into that lol.
Sep 2, 2014
CEntrance
1127
Michael Goodman
Sep 3, 2014
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Please do not insert a filter before the MC2504 speakers. If you need a sub, just add the sub. It will provide ultra-low frequencies below 40Hz. Leave the full range of the MC2504 intact to preserve the desired audio quality. Only add below them, but not *instead* of them. Reason: instrument definition and special clarity from MC2504 will turn into mush if you ask a subwoofer to do their job. Subwoofers are only good for one thing -- low end rumble. They really struggle with the precision required for reproducing music.
Sep 3, 2014
CEntrance
1127
Michael Goodman
Sep 3, 2014
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Thanks AudioMan612 for a thorough amp review!
Sep 3, 2014
AudioMan612
217
Sep 3, 2014
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I don't want to filter them. I actually sent NAD an email asking for clarification about the high-pass filter on the D 3020. I want to eventually add a sub for the exact reason you mentioned: to fill out the very low frequencies, mainly for movies and gaming (I actually haven't tried the speakers yet for anything other than music lol), but I still want the full frequency range going to the speakers. I also didn't realize that there was a variable output option on the DACmini PX. Oh well, I missed that drop for the Sennheiser HD 700 one anyways.
As a side note, I have powered the MC2504's with power amps way more powerful than what they can handle (being very careful with volume of course). I've used an old Harman/Kardon hk680i receiver (underrated 60 WPC @ 8 ohms) as well as an Adcom GFA-545 (first model). The speakers sounded great on both. I played vinyl through the Harman/Kardon setup and the Adcom setup was in a studio, where I and a few friends listened to some recordings from a few weeks earlier (recorded to 24 track tape, then ripped to digital using an Antelope Audio Orion32).
Happy to provide my knowledge/opinions! Sorry it always ends up being so long lol.
Sep 3, 2014
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