are all amps equal

I have recently gotten the Mcintosh bug, but a friend of my who does a LOT or reading on the net says power output is the answer not the name. I am looking for the best sound I can get in the 3k$ range for my Usher Be 718s. I have looked at many used Mcintosh units in the 200 watt plus output area, but my friend says a new 250 watt Emotiva would be a better value. The Emotiva is around $800.
I would like some imput.. Thanks, Don
Have the 15 and 16 k checked on other amps. Even though I have all tubes now, I had a 7270 McIntosh amp for 18 years, with no problems. Your friend is dead wrong. Most amps will clip way before any Mac will. They are built that ruggedly. I also owned a Carver 1.5t 350 watt amp at the same time I had the 270 WPC Mac amp. The Carver was a little louder... maybe... but distorted before the Mac even came near distorting or clipping. BTW, I like Carver, I'm not slamming them. Good luck.
Keslerd - Ivestigate class D Icepower amps. I remember reading that they work nice with Be718s.
Without sounding like a play words, the little I have read on Icepower is that they may be a little "cold". I have a modified Chinese tube preamp, and an ARC hybird pre.. that I switch out on ocassion. I prefer the tube sound (due to my age) but prefer the ss amp. In my mind the quality of the amp should out weigh the output. I have been very close on ordering mono block Icepower, but have always backed away.
Then came the Mcintosh bug...
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Yes, Detlof is right about Tvad being right; "No", is the correct answer. Drubin is also right - your friend is wrong.

One could have a system which is not very revealing, or poorly chosen, where differences in amps may not be very obvious, or specific choices may not live up to their potential. It would not be worth the investment, IMO, to seek out a great amp to go with other components that severely compromise that amps performance, or do not allow it to live up to its potential. It would be like putting a 6.2l Hemi in a '71 Ford Pinto. That said, certainly your Usher speakers are very revealing, and are worthy of a good amp (with only that to go on - I'm assuming the rest of your system is of similar quality). The exception might be if you are transforming a system over time, component by component.

Everyone is right.... your friend is wrong. (That sounds somewhat odd doesn't it?)
"03-27-09: Cyclonicman
How can anyone think that they could be?"

The idea of all amps being equal can easily be understood if you read the random bantering on avsforum and other similiar sites. The majority of the folks that post over there believe that the run of the mill receiver is as good as any high-end, high-dollar amp.

After reading that site for a few years I cannot help avoiding it these days simply because of the absolutely crazy opinions there. I'm all for everyone having a right to their own opinion but as soon as someone posts that X amp sounds better than Y amp then the trolls roll in and bash the poster saying that there are no differences and that technical specifications are the only things that matter.

You should hear what they say about cd players, LOL. I for one switched from a 40 dollar dvd player to a Primare cd21 and the difference was astonishing. Most of those avsforum folks cannot fathom how a $1000+ single disc cd player can sound any different than a 40 dollar dvd player.

I rest my case.
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Hell- no 2 amps even sound alike- and power often has little to do with how good they sound anyway.
your ears will tell you

I have not heard the Emotiva but have heard a few Mac amps and can say they are very nice
Well, there is Mcintosh and then there is everything else (this comment is both true and designed to for effect). What constitutes a better value is purely a matter of opinion. Mcintosh amps are expensive - you probably don't get a doubling in performance for a doubling in price. I auditioned every amplifier in the 100 watt plus range I could find within a driving distance of 100 miles. I ended up with a Mcintosh - so I thought it was a 'better value' than anything else. Some say that Mcintosh amps have their own sound (an amplifier really should not) - I don't disagree, again I chose a Mcintosh.
In my system are the Ushers, an Audio Research LS1 preamp (it is a hybird) or a Ming Da tube preamp modified by Response Audio (I swap the pre amps about once a month).The cd player is an Onkyo DX-7555. My present amp is ARC 150 watt ss.
While I am getting some help here, please take aim on the weakest link... Thanks..Don
McIntosh NOS MC352 in your price range from Audio Classics.
Give "Ernie" a call or email. Best bargain for a Mc amp that will last longer than any of us and sound better too.
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"power more important than brand" I don't think so,to me sound is more important than anything else, class a, class d, tube, ss etc.

Alot of very general comments being made here.

Here is a list of just power amps that I have owned,own or at least had in my house for a reasonable amount of time
ARC d60,M100 D90b,D115
Vtl st85,125,it85,185
Marantz 8b
Dynaco st70
Linn lk100,klout
threshold, Perreaux,Apt,Nikko....ah the old days....and more that I am forgetting...... are amps the same ????

Er um...NOPE
Laser, I hear people say that about automobiles too, but we all know that they are not equal, despite the fact that they all go forward and backward and can turn left and right? If comparing one amp to another prompts one to say that X amp sounds better than Y amp, than how can they be equal? It would be very interesting to know the criteria used by those folks that believe all amps, preamps, cd players etc. are equal. I would bet that they have probably compared a few different amps that sounded the same and derived their conclusion of equality based on this sample. IMHO, If Keslerd really believed that they were all equal, he wouldn't have posted this as a question.
Where should I spend my Money.
I will list my system again.

cd- player Onkyo DX-7555
amp- ARC 150.2
preamp- ARC LS1 (old)
all my cables are Phillips from Walmart.
speaker wire 12 gauage, 10ft. run, and bi-wired

I plan to spend between 3k & 4k$, where would you put the money. The Usher speakers are here to stay. Thanks for ANY suggestions..
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Keep in mind that what additional power will do, everything else being equal, is to raise the volume level at which clipping occurs, and perhaps raise the volume level at which distortion starts to increase as the clipping point is approached. That's all it will accomplish.

And that in turn will depend on the size of your room, your listening distance, and the kind of music you listen to. Worst would be classical symphonic music, due to its wide dynamic range, and also obviously heavy metal or comparable rock music that, while it typically has highly compressed dynamic range, is listened to at very loud levels.

That said, I would think that given the speaker's 200W rated power handling, an amp in the area of 250 to 300W would probably be a good choice. But I'd feel free to deviate from that somewhat if it meant getting better sound quality or a significantly better price.

Concerning ICE and other Class D amps, one of their key strong points (aside from providing more watts per dollar, and reduced size, weight, heat, and power consumption) is high current capability, which does not seem particularly applicable to your speakers with their fairly benign impedance curve.

-- Al
Thanks Tvad, and everyone else, I plan to go the Mcintosh path with 250 watts of more... Thanks again...
"Also, I would recommend buying a subwoofer since you're not planning to
replace the BE-718, which only go to 42Hz, and therefore are missing a
significant range of bass where much of the music lies."

Lowest bass or electric bass string is 41.2Hz (I think). Piano goes down to 27Hz (A) but is seldom used. Unless somebody listens to symphonic orchestra with big drums going down very low or needs special effects for the home theater than 42Hz should be fine (if its really 42Hz).

I'm perhaps missing something but there were known bass strings reaching 17.5Hz. I don't see (hear) any sense since it's not audible. Tvad - can you comment?
Re the question about subs, although it is true that there won't be much to listen to below 40Hz or so, a good sub can be expected to handle the range from say 40 to 80Hz more cleanly (with less distortion) than the Usher's 7 inch mid/low frequency driver. Especially at high volume levels.

-- Al
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Tvad - I understand, but shouldn't 42 Hz be fine if somebody listens to jazz or popular music (and not the organs or double bassoon).
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Tvad - it's a trade off. I asked the question because I plan to upgrade my speakers. Getting lower end (lower than necessary?) will cut on definition, imaging etc (within the same price range). In absolute terms I agree (if price is not important). Lipinski 707 speaker is an excellent example of it. They sell sub to go with it but once you get total price there will be another better speaker with limited low end.
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Tvad - you have much more experience with audio gear than I do, but it seems to me that there is some correlation between quality of the speaker and its price tag. Good transducers are expensive (tweeters included) and designer have certain constrains. Mentioned Lipinski's speakers (with "jaw dropping" imaging) would cost much more with extended bottom end.

I'm just saying that 30Hz doesn't come free and there might be better use for the money if music that you listen to doesn't require absolutely faithful reproduction of organs or double bassoon. I don't see how difference between 40 and 30Hz can change playback of bass guitar - I don't question it does, but just trying to understand it.
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Tvad & Kijanki -- I think that you are both basically right, and the key to reconciling your points of view is that bass volume and bass distortion have to be factored in, as well as bass extension (which may be specified on a small signal basis, and may be specified without meaningful specs on distortion at high volume).

And I think you'll both agree that providing bass that is simultaneously clean, undistorted, deep, and high in volume, requires big drivers (at least 10-12 inches, or else equivalent multiple smaller drivers), which means bigger cabinets, and both the larger drivers and the larger cabinets tend to result in higher cost if quality is not sacrificed.

-- Al
Tvad - I'm just trying to understand what makes the difference. As for the lack of correlation between price and quality - are you saying there is none and everything is just random? Can one purchase $1k speaker as good as $50k speaker?
well, this is all very interesting and food for thought, and not that it matters in this discussion, but I do have an
8 inch Velodyne (130 watts). I sometimes use it with the Ushers, even though it only goes down 40 hz,it does add to the fullness of the sound. My room is about 12 by 15 so the combination fills the room very well.... Thanks for all the info....
Keslerd - Do you think it adds extension, definition, amplitude, punch or all of the above?
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"Although they have a fairly flat impedance curve, their power requirements probably eliminate most tube amps as the best match"

Tvad, I thought speaker/tube compatibility was all about the impedance curve, and that low efficiency speakers, with benign impedance curves, simply required more power, regardless of whether the amp is tubed or solid state. I'm not saying that you're wrong, I just want to understand.
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I think the room you are using has a lot of input in the sound factor. What is the size of the room, flooring type,etc.
I don't know any thing about Usher speakers, but this might help those who do give a better answer than what I've read so far.

I have Magnepan, Thiel,Meadowlark and Soliloquy speakers teamed with McIntosh,Bryston,Aragon, Classe , Rotel SS amps and pre's and a CJ tube system.

It takes a lot of playing around to get great sound, move it to a different room and it sounds like S**t.

I have a great wife that lets me set my up systems in four rooms, not to mention two Plasma tv's on separate systems Harman Kardon, Yamaha, Def Tech and several subs.

By the way, I think subs are the hardest to balance in a system for great music.

I think my wife has four boyfriends to make things even.
the room is 12 by 15, short cut carpeted floor, and two 2 by 2 foot sound panels in each corner (total of eight) all furniture is fabric... with a french door size opening on the rear wall into a larger room.

as far as extension, definition and etc the sub adds, most of the time I prefer the Ushers alone... the sub is not very "tight" as I prefer, that may be definition.
I don't understand everything I know...
Dcrookham53 - I'm afraid I might be one of them - she often mentions cruel husband that has systems in 4 rooms. Sorry.