Don Lindich’s Sound Advice: To amplify, or not to amplify?

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Question: A year or so ago you rec­om­mended Polk LSi25 speak­ers as a great value on close­out for $1,299 a pair. I man­aged to find a like-new set on eBay for $750 and they were lo­cal, so I picked them up.

I think I need a new re­ceiver to power them. I have a vin­tage Pioneer SX-828 that drove my vin­tage EPI HE21’s beau­ti­fully. When I hooked up the Polks, they sound fine up to about ¼ vol­ume. Higher than that, the amp clips on and off. I am think­ing this is not good for my re­ceiver. I be­lieve the EPI’s are 8 ohm and the LSi25’s are 4 ohms. Should I get a new re­ceiver or am­pli­fier for my new speak­ers?

TOM K.,

Fremont, Calif.

Answer: What­ever you do, don't use the SX-828 with your Polk LSi25 speak­ers any­more! It is true that driv­ing the re­ceiver un­til it clips and shuts off is not good for the re­ceiver, but it is even worse for those beau­ti­ful new speak­ers. Clip­ping cre­ates dis­tor­tion that dam­ages speak­ers, es­pe­cially tweet­ers. The Vifa Ring Radi­a­tor tweet­ers used in your Polk LSi speak­ers are pretty spe­cial, and you want to keep them per­form­ing their best.

In the past I would have rec­om­mended the Har­man/​Kar­don HK3490 re­ceiver. Selling for un­der $400, it had tons of clean power and could drive your 4-ohm speak­ers ef­fort­lessly. Sadly, it has been dis­con­tin­ued and re­placed with a much in­fe­rior model.

Your best bet is to get an in­te­grated am­pli­fier, or a sep­a­rate am­pli­fier and pre­am­pli­fier. Here are three op­tions to con­sider.

The first is the Emo­tiva mini-X A100. It pro­vides 80 watts per chan­nel into 4-ohms and sells for 219 at www.emo­tiva.com.

A mid­priced op­tion is the NAD C 326 BEE for $549. See it at www.nade­lec­tron­ics.com.

The third choice is a bit off the beaten path. The Neu­haus Lab­o­ra­to­ries T-2 in­te­grated am­pli­fier uses vac­uum tubes, and though it is only 20 watts per chan­nel, it will drive your LSi25 speak­ers very well. In fact, I used the T-2 to drive the Polk LSi9 speak­ers and they worked won­der­fully to­gether. The T-2 has three ste­reo con­nec­tions. a dig­i­tal op­ti­cal con­nec­tion and a USB con­nec­tion. It is per­fect for use play­ing back dig­i­tal files and makes them sound nice and warm. I highly rec­om­mend it — www.neu­haus­labs.com.

Home TV re­cord­ing

After my re­cent col­umn about home tele­vi­sion re­cord­ing and the Chan­n­el­mas­ter DVR+, I re­ceived quite a few emails from read­ers with sug­ges­tions for al­ter­na­tives. One of them, the Me­dia­s­onic HW-150, looks to be a stand­out value and does most of what the DVR+ does, but for $35 in­stead of $249. It only has one tuner and lacks the fancy pro­gram guide, but given the price of $35 vs. $249, I doubt peo­ple will com­plain too much.

Need­less to say I am ex­cited about this pros­pect and or­dered one from Am­a­zon im­me­di­ately. It re­cently ar­rived, and I have com­menced test­ing. I will have more about it next week, so if you are in­ter­ested in home re­cord­ing, stay tuned … and don’t buy any­thing un­til you see next week’s col­umn!


Read prod­uct re­views by Don Lindich at soundad­vice­blog.com.

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