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Amplifier for Center Channel

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  • Amplifier for Center Channel

    In my home theater set up I have a Vandersteen VCC-5 center channel https://www.vandersteen.com/products/vcc-5

    It is currently being driven by a Class D amp (Channel Islands Audio D-200 MKII). I am thinking of "upgrading" to a Class AB solid state amp. At first I was looking for a monoblock and I am still open to that but most monoblock amps are pretty expensive. Thus, I was wondering if I should just get a stereo amp and use 1 channel. For example, I was looking at a Bryston 4B SST2 which runs around $3k used.

    Any thoughts on other options and considerations?
    Speakers: Vandersteen Model 7s, 4 M&K ST-150Ts, 1 VCC-5; Amplification: 2 Vandersteen M7-HPAs, CI Audio D200 MKII, Ayre V-6xe; Preamp: Doshi Audio Line Stage v3.0; Phono Pre: Doshi Audio V3 Phono Pre; Analog: Wave Kinetics NVS; Durand Telos and SME 3012R Tonearms, Clearaudio Goldfinger Statement v2; Miyajima Madake, Miyajima Zero, Benz Micro LPS; Reel to Reel: Technics RS-1500; Doshi Tape Pre-Amp; Studer A810; Studer A812; Tascam BR-20; Multi-channel: Bryston SP-3; Digital: Custom PC> Lampizator Big 7 DAC

  • #2
    You might consider running the stereo amp in "bridged" mode rather than using one channel. Check the Bryston manual about that, it's literally almost 4X the power. However, it's always nice to know what the other speakers are and how far from them your listening position is. Most likely a 4B, either bridged or one channel, will be overkill.

    Comment


    • #3
      Originally posted by Tech7738 View Post
      You might consider running the stereo amp in "bridged" mode rather than using one channel. Check the Bryston manual about that, it's literally almost 4X the power. However, it's always nice to know what the other speakers are and how far from them your listening position is. Most likely a 4B, either bridged or one channel, will be overkill.
      They don’t recommend that unless
      the load is greater than 8 ohms. James Tanner is quoted saying that several times.
      Speakers: Vandersteen Model 7s, 4 M&K ST-150Ts, 1 VCC-5; Amplification: 2 Vandersteen M7-HPAs, CI Audio D200 MKII, Ayre V-6xe; Preamp: Doshi Audio Line Stage v3.0; Phono Pre: Doshi Audio V3 Phono Pre; Analog: Wave Kinetics NVS; Durand Telos and SME 3012R Tonearms, Clearaudio Goldfinger Statement v2; Miyajima Madake, Miyajima Zero, Benz Micro LPS; Reel to Reel: Technics RS-1500; Doshi Tape Pre-Amp; Studer A810; Studer A812; Tascam BR-20; Multi-channel: Bryston SP-3; Digital: Custom PC> Lampizator Big 7 DAC

      Comment


      • #4
        Originally posted by dminches View Post

        They don’t recommend that unless
        the load is greater than 8 ohms. James Tanner is quoted saying that several times.
        Yeah, but that's only if you're going to push it hard. Your average power to your center will be on the order of 30 watts. The whole thing will loaf, so it literally doesn't matter. Which is why I also said it would be overkill in either mode.

        So, what are the other speakers, how far away from you and what improvement are you looking for with upgrading the center amp?

        Comment


        • #5
          Originally posted by Tech7738 View Post

          Yeah, but that's only if you're going to push it hard. Your average power to your center will be on the order of 30 watts. The whole thing will loaf, so it literally doesn't matter. Which is why I also said it would be overkill in either mode.

          So, what are the other speakers, how far away from you and what improvement are you looking for with upgrading the center amp?
          The front 3 speakers are about 15 feet away.

          The 2 fronts are Vandersteen Model 7s powered by Vandersteen M7-HPA amps. The center sounds a little thin so I am hoping to improve upon that. I realize it is only dialog but I am wondering if it can be improved.
          Speakers: Vandersteen Model 7s, 4 M&K ST-150Ts, 1 VCC-5; Amplification: 2 Vandersteen M7-HPAs, CI Audio D200 MKII, Ayre V-6xe; Preamp: Doshi Audio Line Stage v3.0; Phono Pre: Doshi Audio V3 Phono Pre; Analog: Wave Kinetics NVS; Durand Telos and SME 3012R Tonearms, Clearaudio Goldfinger Statement v2; Miyajima Madake, Miyajima Zero, Benz Micro LPS; Reel to Reel: Technics RS-1500; Doshi Tape Pre-Amp; Studer A810; Studer A812; Tascam BR-20; Multi-channel: Bryston SP-3; Digital: Custom PC> Lampizator Big 7 DAC

          Comment


          • #6
            Well, you've got a challenging combination there, between distance and inefficient speakers, lots of power needed to hit reference levels. Fortunately, most people don't listen much at reference. So.....

            The thin center....yeah, figures. Not a great match to the others without a bit of EQ and bass management. This is very hard to do in text, really need a calibration job to see what's going on, but I can almost guarantee swapping amps won't help unless the Class-D amp is just running out of headroom and clipping. I assume there's a surround processor somewhere? A sub? You may do some good by playing with bass management settings and basic calibration. Without knowing a lot more, this gets very hypothetical. But in short, more raw power isn't going to change anything significantly other that to avoid clipping.

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by Tech7738 View Post
              Well, you've got a challenging combination there, between distance and inefficient speakers, lots of power needed to hit reference levels. Fortunately, most people don't listen much at reference. So.....

              The thin center....yeah, figures. Not a great match to the others without a bit of EQ and bass management. This is very hard to do in text, really need a calibration job to see what's going on, but I can almost guarantee swapping amps won't help unless the Class-D amp is just running out of headroom and clipping. I assume there's a surround processor somewhere? A sub? You may do some good by playing with bass management settings and basic calibration. Without knowing a lot more, this gets very hypothetical. But in short, more raw power isn't going to change anything significantly other that to avoid clipping.
              I appreciate your comments. I don't expect people to solve this; maybe they can just share their experiences.

              I have more than enough power for 2 channel audio. That has never been an issue. The Vandy center is a quality speaker so my thought was that maybe it needed a beefier amp. The Class D amp is not clipping. I has enough power. What I am wondering is if a different amp would change the sound signature a bit.

              I am using a Bryston SP3 as the sound processor. The center is defined as small so there isn't much bass going to it which is probably appropriate.
              Speakers: Vandersteen Model 7s, 4 M&K ST-150Ts, 1 VCC-5; Amplification: 2 Vandersteen M7-HPAs, CI Audio D200 MKII, Ayre V-6xe; Preamp: Doshi Audio Line Stage v3.0; Phono Pre: Doshi Audio V3 Phono Pre; Analog: Wave Kinetics NVS; Durand Telos and SME 3012R Tonearms, Clearaudio Goldfinger Statement v2; Miyajima Madake, Miyajima Zero, Benz Micro LPS; Reel to Reel: Technics RS-1500; Doshi Tape Pre-Amp; Studer A810; Studer A812; Tascam BR-20; Multi-channel: Bryston SP-3; Digital: Custom PC> Lampizator Big 7 DAC

              Comment


              • #8
                Originally posted by dminches View Post

                I have more than enough power for 2 channel audio. That has never been an issue. The Vandy center is a quality speaker so my thought was that maybe it needed a beefier amp. The Class D amp is not clipping. I has enough power. What I am wondering is if a different amp would change the sound signature a bit.
                Not likely. The "sound signature" you're trying to change is frequency response, and bass is a function of the speaker and the room, rarely the amp unless it's severely underperforming.
                Originally posted by dminches View Post

                I am using a Bryston SP3 as the sound processor. The center is defined as small so there isn't much bass going to it which is probably appropriate.
                I'm not familiar with the SP3, sorry. However, there typically are a number of settings besides "small" that impact how bass is managed. Going to take a bit of study, and I'm sorry can't dive in right this second. Perhaps someone else can jump in first.

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by Tech7738 View Post
                  Not likely. The "sound signature" you're trying to change is frequency response, and bass is a function of the speaker and the room, rarely the amp unless it's severely underperforming.

                  I'm not familiar with the SP3, sorry. However, there typically are a number of settings besides "small" that impact how bass is managed. Going to take a bit of study, and I'm sorry can't dive in right this second. Perhaps someone else can jump in first.
                  Please don't feel the need to investigate. I can certainly do that. The Bryston forums are pretty good for that.

                  Thanks.
                  Speakers: Vandersteen Model 7s, 4 M&K ST-150Ts, 1 VCC-5; Amplification: 2 Vandersteen M7-HPAs, CI Audio D200 MKII, Ayre V-6xe; Preamp: Doshi Audio Line Stage v3.0; Phono Pre: Doshi Audio V3 Phono Pre; Analog: Wave Kinetics NVS; Durand Telos and SME 3012R Tonearms, Clearaudio Goldfinger Statement v2; Miyajima Madake, Miyajima Zero, Benz Micro LPS; Reel to Reel: Technics RS-1500; Doshi Tape Pre-Amp; Studer A810; Studer A812; Tascam BR-20; Multi-channel: Bryston SP-3; Digital: Custom PC> Lampizator Big 7 DAC

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Just noticed this thread.

                    I have a VCC 5 in a box sitting unused because we auditioned it and the main speakers were able to throw a centered image as well as or probably better than the centre speaker. Have you tried a phantom centre to see how it sounds?

                    Reminds me - I should get around to selling my centre speaker!
                    Main:VPI TNT V, SME V, Koetsu Urushi, Vendetta SCP2-D, Conrad Johnson Premier 14, Conrad Johnson Premier 11a, Wilson Maxx 2, Inouye power conditioner

                    #2 Sota Cosmos, SME V, Lyra Clavis, Bryston BP17, Conrad Johnson Premier 15 phono, Classe DR3 VHC, Martin Logan CLS

                    #3 Classe DR-7, Classe DR3 VHC bridged monos + PSE V monos (bass), Classe DAC1 DA converter, Vandersteen 4A

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by wspohn View Post
                      Just noticed this thread.

                      I have a VCC 5 in a box sitting unused because we auditioned it and the main speakers were able to throw a centered image as well as or probably better than the centre speaker. Have you tried a phantom centre to see how it sounds?

                      Reminds me - I should get around to selling my centre speaker!
                      Glad you like what you have. Everyone can certainly have a preference that may or may not make sense to someone else.

                      You should, however, be aware that the phantom center only works when the listening position is along a line centered and perpendicular to a line between the two speakers. Moving slightly off center causes the phantom center to move to the nearest speaker. There is also a flaw in 2-channel stereo that results in a response dip at 1.8kHz (approx) for phantom center images, which is cause by the arrival of each speaker's sound to both hears, but with the arrival to the opposite ear delayed in time, causing an single-dip comb filter effect that does not occur with a real center channel.

                      The center channel also contains far more "information", even higher average power, than any other channel because all dialog and many on-screen effects are routed to it.

                      In answer to your question, of course the phantom center has been tried. We all live with 2-channel stereo for audio only content. I would invert the question to: Have you tried a real center channel to see how it sounds? There's a reason all film and most TV soundtracks are mixed with a hard center channel.

                      Now, if the experiment shows you that your phantom center is preferable, the absolutely sell that speaker! The only thing I dislike more than not having enough speakers and channels is having huge extra speakers I don't need cluttering up the place.

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        My stereo listening setup is carefully aligned and centered - pretty much a necessity to do that with the speakers I use, so the centre image for video is solid and the AV preamp routes all material that would go to a centre speaker through the mains. An additional reason for being happy not to need a centre speaker is that there is a gas fireplace right in between the mains, under where the centre speaker would be mounted.

                        Nonetheless, you make an interesting point and I should unpack the centre speaker and try it out when the system is set up properly for it and see what the difference might be.

                        PS - the CJ power amp is part of the stereo system while the Rowland 5 is video.

                        Click image for larger version  Name:	wilsons.jpg Views:	0 Size:	101.7 KB ID:	121538
                        Main:VPI TNT V, SME V, Koetsu Urushi, Vendetta SCP2-D, Conrad Johnson Premier 14, Conrad Johnson Premier 11a, Wilson Maxx 2, Inouye power conditioner

                        #2 Sota Cosmos, SME V, Lyra Clavis, Bryston BP17, Conrad Johnson Premier 15 phono, Classe DR3 VHC, Martin Logan CLS

                        #3 Classe DR-7, Classe DR3 VHC bridged monos + PSE V monos (bass), Classe DAC1 DA converter, Vandersteen 4A

                        Comment


                        • Tech7738
                          Tech7738 commented
                          Editing a comment
                          Ok, I get it. Single seat, non-shared experience. That can work, but certain soundtracks will present with dialog buried below music and EFX unless proper down-mixing has been set, worth a look-see in the decoder settings. No Ls or Rs either?

                        • wspohn
                          wspohn commented
                          Editing a comment
                          Yes, the Wilsons have a rep for finicky very precise set up and my listening rooms are always set up for one seat optimized. Other listeners take what they get (which they say is usually very good).

                          My video set up uses Vandersteen VSM-1s a both side and rear speakers, and bass is augmented by a couple of powered subs (although the mains are fine with anything down to 20 hz) If I get time to play around with the system, I may dig out the VCC-2 and set it up just to see what it might offer.
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