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AudioMan612
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A Good 4 Ohm Amp

I recently bought a pair of CEntrance MasterClass 2504 near-field monitors to use in my computer setup because they were a great deal on Massdrop ($175 for the speakers and a pair of CEntrance Reserve speaker cables thrown in free). These speakers are rated at 25 WPC @ 4 Ohms. I was wondering if anyone knew any good amps that would pair well with small 4 ohm speakers such as these. Other than the given power requirements, these are some things I need/want:

I want a solid state amp. My headphone amp is already tube (Woo Audio WA7), and I have it on for hours every day. I'm a college student and don't want to worry about having to pay for replacement tubes on even more gear. Not only that, I often leave my speakers on for very long amounts of time, even when not in use, so it just makes more sense for me to have a solid state amp for my computer setup.

I don't need a ton of inputs, but it does need at least one analog (unbalanced) input to accept the signal from my Woo's DAC (unless you recommend an amp with a DAC that can outperform that which is built into my headamp). I'm going to eventually upgrade my DAC, but for now, there are other parts of my system that need upgrades. I wouldn't mind having a balance input in case I ever get a balanced DAC, but that's not a priority at the moment.

I also use my computer for watching movies/TV, as well as gaming, so I will probably eventually add a subwoofer to the setup (maybe a NHT Super 8, unless someone has a better recommendation; I also looked at a Velodyne MiniVee, but I think that's an overkill). That said, I want a preamp output or subwoofer output. It's too bad you don't often see the ability to turn this output off to quickly pull the sub out of the setup, but oh well.

A headphone output isn't necessary, but I wouldn't mind having one so that I could get a good quality headphone sound without needing to use my Woo's tubes for things where sound quality isn't quite as important as music and high quality video.

I would prefer to have an integrated amp over having separates due to space constraints, but if someone suggests separates that aren't huge, I'll consider it.

Sorry for all of the specifics, and thanks in advance!

bierfeldt
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Do you have a budget in mind?

There are many units that are rated for 4ohms, the question is how much do you want to spend?

AudioMan612
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Budget

I would probably say that the absolute max would be $1500, but that's certainly pushing it. Some of the amps I've looked at are the Peachtree Decco65 and based off of Stereophile's recommended components, Exposure's 2010S2. These are certainly more power than what I need.

At the same time, I know that CEntrance is designed an amp for these speakers that doesn't have a DAC built in (they were actually crowd-sourcing what people wanted on Massdrop, which was really cool).

AudioMan612
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Apparently there is no edit

Apparently there is no edit button here...

I forgot, I also looked at the NAD D3020. I looked at it's older brother, the D 7050 as well, but it has no analog inputs, and I don't know if it's DAC can outperform that which is built into my Woo... Either way, I'm not all too keen on not having a single analog input anyways.

Some others that have caught my eye are the Rega Brio-R, Music Hall A15.3, Cambridge Audio Topaz AM10 and Azur 351A, and there might have been others that I'm not thinking of at the moment.

So far, the only amps I've tested with the speakers are an old Harman Kardon HK680i receiver (60 WPC @ 8 ohms) and an Adcom GFA-545 (100 WPC @ 8 ohms).

bierfeldt
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The Rega Brio R is darn nice

It is rated for 4ohms and is small. Two issues, it lacks a headphone jack and a subwoofer output. That being said, the sub you mentioned, the NHT super 8 has speaker inputs and outputs and doesn't require an RCA input to work correctly. You are somewhat limited in your choice of subwoofers, but that NHT works or you could get a Sunfire HRS or a Focal Chorus. I am sure there are others, but I have confirmed those are compatible.

commsysman
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AMPLIFIER

I suggest that you get the Music Hall 15.3 amplifier, which is rated for 70 watts per channel at 4 ohms.

It is a very nice-sounding amplifier for only $549 at Audio Advisor.
It has a phono stage and a preamp out which can be used for a subwoofer.

I have a Musical Fidelity M3i amplifier, which is a wonderful amplifier, that I am selling because I am selling one of my homes.
It is like new and puts out about 90 watts at 4 ohms. I will let it go for $900, shipping included (cost me $1500 3 years ago).

Send me a personal message if interested.

commsysman
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M3i Amplifier

PS- The M3i has 6 inputs, plus a pre out which I use for my NHT subwoofer.

AudioMan612
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Thanks!

Thanks for the recommendations!

So here's what I'm getting so far:

Rega Brio-R: Nice amp, I really like the looks and the small footprint (space is a bit of a concern as I said), but the lack of any kind of output which has controlled volume means I'd have to use speaker connections to hook up a subwoofer, which I'm avoiding.

Music Hall A15.3: Seems to fit the bill very nicely. The only thing no in its favor is its full-size footprint.

commsysman, that M3i looks really nice, and if I had more money at the moment, I'd probably buy it. Even if I didn't use it with my CEntrance monitors, I bet it would work great for my old Polk Audio SDA-2's (currently hooked up to an old Fisher 400c at my friend's place). If you still have it in a few months, I would certainly be interested.

It's going to be a little while until I can actually buy the amp for financial reasons, but I'm trying to get the system all planned out so I can get it as soon as I have the money. The subwoofer will take even longer for me to get (and I want to limit it to 8" because of space constraints). Has anyone tried the Velodyne MiniVee? I've heard a few people say that it's actually pretty musical, though I still think it's an overkill as far as power and even price go.

Lastly, what do you guys think would be too much power? As I said, my speakers are rated at 25 watts max @ 4 ohms, so I don't mind getting an amp that has more power (most good ones do), but I'd like to not be limited to using 1/4 of my volume control for most things lol. My computer is always set to full volume to get the best signal to noise ratio out of my DAC. That's why I haven't really looked too heavily into the Exposure 2010S2, despite it being loved in Stereophile.

The above question and price have been why I've also given strong consideration to the NAD D 3020. I've read that its sound quality is still quite good (even if it doesn't beat the other amps mentioned here), it's rated at 30 WPC @ 4 ohms, it's one of the cheaper options, along with the Music Hall A15.3, and it's so tiny! Oh yeah, and it has a subwoofer output and a headphone amp. I'm just wondering how big a drop in sound quality it might be... I have a NAD distributor not too far from me. Maybe I can bring my speakers down and try it out. Too bad they don't have Music Hall as well, as I'd really love to try that A15.3 as well.

commsysman
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SUBWOOFER

One reason I bought my NHT subwoofer is that NHT uses a sealed acoustic suspension design that minimizes the volume of the subwoofer, plus gives it a more linear frequency response.

This design approach does require extra power, which they provide.

My 12" subwoofer, the B12D, is a 14" cube; much smaller than most others with comparable performance.

The B10D might be a good one for you to look into. I doubt if you can find an 8" one that will prove satisfactory.

commsysman
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AMPLIFIER

Since your power needs are so modest, perhaps you should consider the NAD C316BEE, which is 40 WPC and only lists for $380, compared to $500 for the D3020.

AudioMan612
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A More General Question

I remember looking at that model a while back. As a more general question, where do you think I should draw the limit on power? I've run speaker with amps more powerful plenty of times, but these probably have the lowest power handling capacity of any non-powered speaker that I've ever used (especially with the fact that they're 4 ohm), so as I said, I don't want to be limited to a very small part of my volume control.

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