integrated vs ...unintegrated
Mar 30, 2006 at 8:07 AM Thread Starter Post #1 of 9

hugz

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Hello headfi!

I am curious of what are benefits (if any) of having seperate pre amp and power amp? I imagine it allows more possibility for customisation, but does it also provide an improvement in sound?

Also is there an advantage of using monoblocks as compared to having the channels together in one unit? It seems that keeping them together would be a lot cheaper but may result in some unwanted channel bleeding or crosstalk

Thanks

Hugz
 
Mar 30, 2006 at 11:30 AM Post #2 of 9

lini

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Actually, if done right, I don't see why an integrated amp should sound worse than a pre/power amp combo. So it mainly boils down to some practical advantages: You've already mentioned customisation yourself. Then there's the advantage for headphone users, that you don't have to turn on the power amp unnecessarily, when you only want to listen with headphones. The main advantage of monoblocks is that you can place the power amps closer to the speakers, so you can use fairly short loudspeaker cables.

Greetings from Hannover!

Manfred / lini
 
Mar 30, 2006 at 4:48 PM Post #3 of 9

replytoken

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It depends. If you wish to spend some time and money mating amps and preamps for good synergy, you can put together something really nice. Miss the mark, and you will wish you never saw separate components because it can be expensive to finally achieve what you are seeking. A good integrated amp can be a real pleasure, but again it will depend on its design. I would first set a budget, some goals, and a timeframe for completion. If you are not in a hurry and like to experiment, you might consider separates. If you want to set it and be done, and you have a tight budget, consider what you would do if two pieces of equipment that you bought do not sound good when they are playing together. Your goals and personality play as much of a factor in this decision as do the equipment.
 
Mar 30, 2006 at 8:41 PM Post #4 of 9

rickcr42

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The conscept behin the integrated amp is cost savings and less shelf space needed.

the cost savings are in the obvious are of having a single chassis but also goes to a single power supply feeding everything and that is the main weak spot.
The second weak area is the very size issue addressed by having a single "box" which means part size limitations,only so much room inside,heat dispersal,electronics HATE heat,and using integration at the module level to save in those areas.

What separates bring to the plate is the ability to upgrade just the one weak area without tossing the entire unit AND the ability to make each section the very best it can be at that price point.By specialising you get a design targeted to the end use and not a "unfocsed" one-size-fits-all design.

Monoblocks-

Separation of the two channels again allows more space for each unit and that merans better (larger) parts can be used.There is also the power supply to consider and if anything in audio has a major impact over what resistor or capacitor is used it is the power supply.

when the preamp has its own power source and the power hungry amps their own it means one does not rob power from the other during transient peaks and this means in the end a more focused sound instead of blurred
 
Mar 30, 2006 at 9:08 PM Post #5 of 9

hugz

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Thanks for all the replies so far. I hope to see more because I'm at the stage where I can start weighing up these factors to consider in my next purchase.

As a side question; we've so far come to the basic conclusion the unintegrated (and monoblock) amps sound better but cost more. In general, how does the price-to-performance ratio compare between a good integrated amp and a synergistic pair of unintegrated components?

Thanks again

In a way I'm slightly drawn to unintegrated (is there a real word for this?) amps because of the geek/cool factor. Like valve amps; i like the sound but I'd be lying if I said i didn't also just like the way they look..
 
Mar 30, 2006 at 9:20 PM Post #6 of 9

rickcr42

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Quote:

As a side question; we've so far come to the basic conclusion the unintegrated (and monoblock) amps sound better but cost more. In general, how does the price-to-performance ratio compare between a good integrated amp and a synergistic pair of unintegrated components?


The major portion of all product cost per unit is the chassis and power supply section so when you separate these out and have to go to an entirely separate chassis and new power transformer/etc you increase the cost by major leaps over what the actual circuit costs to build.

Th eprice vs. performance is more personal choice and just how important getting the last nth degree outof your system is,By sharing a power supply one channel or another section robs from the other (s) when there is a dynamic event and this can cause both image wander or even compresssion in the channel/section being robbed of power.By having a dedicated power supply for each block that section can loaf along playing music then have the reserves available for the dynamic event which will (or should) allow the music to sound less strained and with busy sections where instrumentals and/or vocals are massed together to remain individual and identifyable parts of the whole rather than a massive blurring of all togather as a single "tone" where you can not follow a particular instrument or voice clearly
 
Mar 30, 2006 at 9:55 PM Post #7 of 9

lini

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Well, maybe I should elaborate my "if done right" from above a bit further: It really depends on implementation with integrated amps. There very well are solidly constructed integrated amps e.g. with dual mono design, separate power supplies for each channel for the power amp sections and additional transformer for the pre amp section, all sections neatly shielded from each other et cetera. Integrated amp bombers like that are rarer these days, but they still exist and don't really have anything to fear from a lot of pre/power amp combos. But, of course, in the end Rickmoster is right: More space is always an advantage in terms of design freedom.

Another thing to consider: If you have a pre/power amp combo, but you suddely discover the realm of active speakers and end up buying something like a Backes&Müller BM4 or something - then you can always sell the now superfluous power amp.

Oh, and I also forgot to mention that monoblocks can also be quite interesting for high end surround applications - especially if the trend continues to add more and more channels...

Greetings from Hannover!

Manfred / lini
 
Mar 30, 2006 at 10:25 PM Post #8 of 9

rickcr42

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Quote:

Oh, and I also forgot to mention that monoblocks can also be quite interesting for high end surround applications - especially if the trend continues to add more and more channels...



hopefully not in my lifetime,this crap is getting expensive
very_evil_smiley.gif
 
Mar 30, 2006 at 10:29 PM Post #9 of 9

rickcr42

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I think maybe the single most valid argument for separates over integrated is freedom to choose and freedom to upgrade the weak lnk at a later time.

Maybe your amp section is fine but the gain stage lacking or the other way around and you now have the funds for a better device sdo you adress that need

maybe the manufacturer ecxcells at power stages but is weak in gain stages and to get the output section you end up "stuck" with an inferior input section.

all about choices and not just current but future needs.what sucks about all upgrades is sometimes you find when you upgrade on part you expose limitations in another.separates allow adressing the limitations while keeping the parts that work well
 

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