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6 Watts per channel enough power for home theater? (Read 1819 times)
HIFI JEFF
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6 Watts per channel enough power for home theater?
08/09/17 at 19:34:55
 
So I am having a dilemma when it comes to buying amps to run my system. I used to own an SE84 UFO and absolutely loved it. However I feel like it ran out of steam on certain music and during movies. I was seriously thinking about buying 3 and using them in monoblock configuration for front left, right and center. So that would over double the power of what I was running before. The room is not large at all and I am powering some pretty efficient Tekton Pendragons.
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busterfree
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Re: 6 Watts per channel enough power for home theater?
Reply #1 - 08/10/17 at 00:33:41
 
Great question. I struggle with the same question in my TV system. I use an SE84UFO2 fronted by a CSP3 into Trapeziums and 15" sub. I like the sound, and I try not to mess with it.

Edit: I think the CSP3 is the key player in this set up.
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« Last Edit: 08/10/17 at 00:35:38 by busterfree »  

Decware ZTPRE, ZBIT, CSP3, SE84UFO, & SE84UFO2
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pursuitofnow
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Re: 6 Watts per channel enough power for home theater?
Reply #2 - 08/10/17 at 05:03:36
 
For roughly the same money of (3) SE84UFO2 you could get a TORII and never worry about running out of steam.

I've found the SE84UFO to be more than sufficient for home theater use by hitting the front end with 3-6 volts. That and the powered sub I'm using sound fantastic in my smallish 15x18 room.
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Jeff of Arabica
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Re: 6 Watts per channel enough power for home theater?
Reply #3 - 08/10/17 at 05:08:44
 
Jeff,
Best for us to know your HT multi channel source in order to best comment/advise.  The ability of a lower wattage Zen amps to produce enough volume/weight for movies will depend on the output voltage of your source and whether there is a pre-amp in front of them.

Chances are you will probably be fine with mono bridged Zens depending on your loudness preference.  Looks like your speakers are 95 dB @ 8 ohms.  I use a bridged mono Rachel for my center channel which is and Omega CAM 94.5 dB @ 8 ohms and it does a great job, but it is also 12 watts in in bridged mono.  But even then, if the source is bad/weak, like cable TV content, I have to crank it up pretty far to get the volume I like.  But with Blu-Ray, DVD, HD streamed movies/shows, it is more than enough.  There are lots of variables that come into play.  I think Stone felt that Tekton's were a little overstated in their efficiency, which required a little more juice to get to volume.  If that is the case, I would probably look for something with more power for HT, if you like it loud and want that cinema-like experience.  

A pre-amp would change the game.  Just put an Ultra in front of the SE84UFO2's and call it a day.  ;)
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HIFI JEFF
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Re: 6 Watts per channel enough power for home theater?
Reply #4 - 08/10/17 at 22:25:42
 
Thank you for the responses.
As far as the TorII, that only takes care of two channels not three. So for 3 SE84 UFO's at $3000 that covers the entire front stage.

For sources I am using an Oppo UDP-203, PS4, Comcast cable, and a Yamaha WXC-50. The pre amp I am "currently" using is the Outlaw 975. Here are the specs. It looks like the voltage output is 2V.

specifications
Analog Section

Input Impedance

47Kohms

Output Impedance

(Main-RCA)<1KOhms

Pre Out

2V

Maximum Output

2.7V

Frequency Response

Line 10Hz to 22kHz ± 1dB

S/N Ratio (IHF-A)

100dB

Volume Range (Main)

-90dB to +0.0dB
I also am running an SVS Sub.
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pursuitofnow
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Re: 6 Watts per channel enough power for home theater?
Reply #5 - 08/11/17 at 05:15:31
 
You will want a preamp with more output to get the most out of those zens.
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Thorens VN-150
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Moon 230HAD
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Jeff of Arabica
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Re: 6 Watts per channel enough power for home theater?
Reply #6 - 08/11/17 at 07:40:54
 
Seems like your Oppo and Outlaw are redundant.  The Outlaw is not a true pre-amp and will not offer any gain increase.  It is a surround sound processor with RCA pre-outs, but doesn't seem to do anything the new Oppo couldn't.  

What roles do the Oppo and Outlaw fill in your system?  

The Oppo or Outlaw would be a great source to then feed an Ultra pre-amp which would get you more gain to the Zens.  I would get the (3) Zens and feed them with the Oppo (or Outlaw).  It may be all you need.  If you need more volume/weight/dynamics, simply add the very bad ass Ultra pre-amp and you will have an "end game" all tube HT system that will surely satisfy.  It is also a great 2 channel pre-amp for music listening!  

Having no experience with your speakers or listening preferences, it is hard to say for sure if the bridged Zens alone will suffice, but on paper, it seems like it could.  And if it doesn't, throw a pre-amp in between when your budget allows and call it a day.
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HIFI JEFF
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Re: 6 Watts per channel enough power for home theater?
Reply #7 - 09/15/17 at 20:43:04
 
How about the specs on this avr I am looking at using?

Input Sensitivity and Impedance      200 mV/47 kΩ(LINE)
2.5 mV/47 kΩ(Phono MM)
Rated RCA Output Level and Impedance      200 mV/470 Ω(Pre Out)
Maximum RCA Output Level and Impedance      4.6 V/470 Ω(Pre Out)
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Lon
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Re: 6 Watts per channel enough power for home theater?
Reply #8 - 09/15/17 at 22:10:51
 
Hard to say. . . these amps will show you the quality of the source, so the better. . . the better. . .
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DirtDawg
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Re: 6 Watts per channel enough power for home theater?
Reply #9 - 11/23/17 at 08:28:23
 
I own three early Zens and I have never been satisfied with their performance while watching a really dynamic movie with my 98dB sensitivity JBL tops.

The problem is that many movie tracks use 25dB to even 40dB dynamic range. That is huge.
While you may only listen at a few mW, a 30dB  or even larger peak will often run you out of headroom when using a five or six watt amp.

I will always enjoy my small, best I have ever heard, Zen amps for critical listening in a controlled environment, but to enjoy really dynamic movies at gut wrenching levels, I will stick with my high wattage sand pile system until I can afford way more tubey perfection.

Besides, how close do we really listen to movies, anyway?
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« Last Edit: 11/23/17 at 08:29:05 by DirtDawg »  
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Jeff of Arabica
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Re: 6 Watts per channel enough power for home theater?
Reply #10 - 11/23/17 at 17:36:51
 
Quote:
Besides, how close do we really listen to movies, anyway?


I would say it depends on the movie.  Many movies have some pretty good soundtracks (i.e. music), sometimes with the same tracks we have listened to via vinyl, CD's, and Hi-Fi streams.  Do I critically listen to movies?  Well, no.  But you don't have to critically listen to enjoy the sound characteristic that tubes bring, whether 2-channel or home theater.  I wanted that same signature in all that I listened to, including music laden movies.  

That is what motivated me to purchase the Zen Ultra 6 channel pre-amp.  And guess what?  It is my most prized piece of equipment.  Dare I say it would be the last amp in my system I would part with - including my ZMA?  Yes! ...without hesitation. Not only is it the command center for my 5.1 surround system, it is a switch box (for my four sources) and 2-channel pre-amp, all wrapped up in one chassis.  It is such a brilliant piece of equipment.  I am SO grateful Steve went out on a limb and created this niche product.  I can't imagine life without it.  And, I had no idea how useful and influential it was until I got it installed, and really learned how to use it.  It is very powerful and I am not talking about gain or watts.

As far as using tubes for HT, I agree with your headroom comments, but keep in mind, you would not want to use a 2 watt zen (at least I wouldn't) for your main channels which would be doing the brunt of the work during a movie.  I use a 2 watt Super Zen for my rear channels with my Decware DM946's and it is plenty.  Rear channels are subtle but even during dynamic scenes, they do more than fine for rear channel sound effects.  I use a bridged to mono Rachel for my center channel with a single Omega CAM, custom configured by Louis at Omega.  Sitting behind my Ultra preamp, it has no problem keeping up with what comes through the center channel in my system.  I have never maxed it out, and I like my movies loud!  My ZMA and Omega SAHO's are assigned main channel duty.  It goes without saying, I have no headroom issues on the mains.  

When it came to tube-based home theater - I didn't know what I didn't know.  And it wasn't until I designed my Decware all tube HT system around the Ultra that I could truly appreciate the influence of tubes, even in a HT environment.  It is such a pleasant and familiar sound.  I figure if I am listening, no matter what it is, I just want the best, most enjoyable sound.  The Ultra provides me this no compromise experience in all that I listen to.  Trust me, it is awesome!  

I have only discussed bringing that classic Decware sound into home theater and haven't even touched on how unbelievably incredible it is to be able to fix badly engineered movies with the gain knobs for all 6 channels!  That is a whole other conversation.  

My former "sand pile" HT rig prior to my Decware system was no schlep either (nice NAD) - but it simply could not contend.  I will NEVER go back to solid state HT.
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Steve Deckert
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If the 1st watt
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Re: 6 Watts per channel enough power for home theater?
Reply #11 - 11/24/17 at 00:17:53
 
Amen.
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Steve Deckert
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If the 1st watt
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Re: 6 Watts per channel enough power for home theater?
Reply #12 - 11/24/17 at 01:09:00
 
In my Home Theater Rig, I use one EL34 per channel.  Five total.  Each tube around 5 watts and I have always found it to be enough power.  I have also run a 2 watt zen on the rears, a bridged 2 watt zen on the center, and 2 watt zen on the front with good results.  Speakers all 94dB.

I might mention that if you're worrying about volume you have to realize there are 5 channels, not two.  150% increase over a 2 channel rig, so you'll likely never hear it clip, whereas with only 2 channels you all know exactly where your volume control starts to loose it.

I should mention also that when I first got into trying all tube home theater, it was back when there was no such thing as affordable projectors, and big screen TV's were about the size of a fully crated riding lawnmower.  Sound stage suicide boxes and absolutely forbidden in a 2 channel listening room.  So I used a TV set and placed it between the speakers, hooked a 2 watt Zen amp up on every channel and proceeded to try and watch the movie.

I say try because I was so distracted by the sound and how big it was and deep. It was wall to wall and 20 feet deep and floor to ceiling sound stage. And there in the middle of it sat a 25 inch TV screen with these miniature
actors on it.  

I got 20 minutes into it, and realized I had no clue what the movie was about. Had to start over.  Started over was no less distracted by the impossible to overcome discrepancy between the video image and the sonic image.  This time almost 40 minutes went by before I realized.... damn it. Still have no idea what has happened in the movie.  

Restarted it yet a third time and it happened again. Since I wanted to actually watch the movie too, I had no choice but to unhook all the tube gear and re-install my Denon AVR receiver.  It's sound stage matched the size of the TV screen and it had zero depth, as does the TV, so suddenly everything made sense and I was able to watch the whole movie.

I began looking at flat screen TV's, it was right when they first came out. Expensive and still would not have been anywhere near the scale of the sound stage so I decided to blow it off. Then I found projectors were no longer tens of thousands of dollars, and picked one up for a fraction of the price of the fancy new plasma TV's I was looking at.

This was the game changer. It was cheep, it kicked ass, and can be any damn size you want, the entire wall in fact which is the correct size to match the sound stage.

That's what started it all and why there is the Zen ULTRA six channel preamp. I needed something to make everything work from a single spot that would do everything I typically did manually to fix the sound of each movie. No two movie soundtracks are alike, so after two years of documenting everything I had to do for each movie to get it to sound right, which btw, on average took at least 1 hour of hooking and unhooking shit and trying dozens of adjustments - so the ULTRA was simply something I made for myself to do everything I needed done.

That said, now that you can own a projector for $500~$1500 you could easily start where I did, with three zen amps hooked directly to the discrete RCA outputs on the back of the DVD player.

Steve

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Jason
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Re: 6 Watts per channel enough power for home theater?
Reply #13 - 11/28/17 at 03:48:55
 
I must be living in the dark ages.

I gave up when I realized that dolby pro logic didn't really cut it and that a center channel wouldn't image properly as compared to a good stereo setup.

Somehow, that stereo image the goes all around your head is still better than multi channel.
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Jeff of Arabica
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Re: 6 Watts per channel enough power for home theater?
Reply #14 - 11/28/17 at 05:08:03
 
I've done it both ways and I still prefer multi-channel run through my Ultra 6-ch pre-amp with full adjustability.  No comparison when it comes to a true Hi-Fi surround sound movie experience.  

But until you are able to actually hear what I am talking about - a functioning Ultra based HT system - it won't make a lot of sense.
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