Today’s AV receivers may well be choke full of the very latest technology, but many, if not most such units generally lack the awesome muscle power of your typical high end power amplifier designed for audiophile systems. This holds even more true if your home cinema room is somewhat on the big side. That is above 25 square meters, and if you really like your special effects, all nice and loud, then there is a possibility that your receiver would not be able to cope, and it can lead to a deterioration of sound quality at loud volumes. If sound generation is the weak link in your set up, then you definitely need a power amp.
There is sound logic behind it. Your average receiver simply does not have enough space to pack all the heavy duty capacitors as well as transformers that are needed to really ‘amp’ up the volume. A power amp (as indeed the very term implies), is all about raw power.
However, a point to be noted here is that your receiver’s internal amps will no longer be connected to the speaker set. This job will be taken over by the power amp. And your 5.1 or even more powerful speaker system will end up being connected to your amp. However, a point to take into consideration is that you have to check and see if your receiver actually the capability has to support a power amp. In other words, it has to have a bunch of ‘amp out’ jacks that will allow it to hook seamlessly with your new amp unit. If those jacks are not there, you might need to look into investing in an all new receiver.
Apart from raw power, an amp can also significantly upgrade the overall sound quality till it is able to get the job done properly, without underpowering your high quality speakers.
By this it is meant that the woofer units as well as the satellite speakers may not be able to perform the way they might have been designed to do so, due in large part because of an underpowered receiver. In other words, the subwoofer will generate bass, but not the kind of bass you expected, especially if it is part of a bunch of particularly top end speakers.
However, it is even more important to understand that a “power amp’ cannot work in a standalone capacity. If you do not have a set of powerful speakers to go with it, the odds are that you will end up ruining the whole speaker set altogether.
In the light of the above, we can say that power amps are great value for money and can certainly enhance listening pleasure, but only if they are well supported by high quality speakers as well as playback and input devices.
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