Whats the diff between receivers that are chipset vs. discreet amp. Is there even such a thing?


mike from canada
Being on a budget, I went out and purchased a Technics SA-HE100 based on good reviews for the money. Needless to say, I returned it the next day, cause even on my nice Energy speakers, it sounded like crap. The salesman at the store agreed with my return and said "well, theres a world of difference between "chipset" receivers and receivers that are individually amped".
I dont understand what that means if anything? If there is a diff, what is it and how can I tell if the receiver I buy is the better kind?

Hey Mike,

In our AV amps, there are (at least) 5 channels that need to be amplified (hence 5.1). You'll frequently see in the specs for receivers specs like 100 watts/ch, 5 channels driven.

With lower-end gear there is one amplifier that pushes power out to five discrete channels (left/center/right/surr.left/surr.right). Given the fact that Dolby Digital and DTS formats have the ability to feed full-bandwidth signals to each of those five channels, it's a mighty large task for one single amp to handle. The result is that the amplification to any given channel (and certainly all of them at once) is compromised.

With higher end gear (and even mid-range gear) there are five seperate and discrete aplifiers, each one of which is dedicated to amplifying *just* one specific channel. Eeking further up the price point chain, each amp may also be sheilded from the others (and the rest of the electronics inside your receiver) and some may even have discrete feeds to the power supply and dedicated heat sinks.

All of this allows each amp to easily handle the full-bandwidth demands placed on them and feed nice clean signls to your speakers...and your Energy speakers can certainly make us of that nice clean signal.

In short, the feed to each speaker with discrete amps is more capable to do it's job. While we can't see this from the outside, as you attest, we can hear it.

Think about like parenting. If you have kids it's like this: when you have to take care of just your kid, it's pretty easy. When 4 of your kids friends come over to play, the task is significantly more difficult -- you just have less overall bandwidth for any given child because it's spread out over 5 kids...and you have to handle all of them at once.

If each kids' parent was there, the job is WAY easier. In this analogy the parents are amps and the chore of minding all of them is the music or movie being pushed through the receiver. More resources equals a greater facility to meet evveryone's demands.

Definitely shop around...there are some great bargains to be had out there in the $250-$400 range with discrete amps and quality sound that would do your Energy speakers proud.

Good luck and let us know what you decide!

mike from canada
WOW! Perfect analogy. I have a wild little 2 year old and a 1 month old newborn, so believe me, I totally got the point! Thanks for taking the time to explain that to me.

Question: Is this what they mean when they call an amp "high current"?

I have since been looking at receivers like the ever so popular Denon AVR-1803 and the Marantz SR-5300. Both seem a lot better built and seem to be respected a bit more. That you know of, are these brands/models "individually amped" or am I missing the mark here?


High current means continous power output in terms of "watts power" without power been affected during the warm periods of the equipment.

Um, no.

I've started a thread that *does* explain high-current. It is not simply "watts power".

In fact watts power is a function of current and voltage. Current is not a function of watts.


Phil Krewer

Wrong, all the formulas for watts have to jive or you have the wrong answer.


these formulas all say the same thing. And yes current can be caluculated using watts.


These are all inter-related and cannot be separated.


Hey Phil...where you been?

I knew this would bait you ;-)

Only only wanted to generally make the distinction that "high watts" does not mean "high current". Which, given some posts here lately, may have been implied.

They can be mutually exclusive...and in low-end gear, frequently are.


Watch out for some of those low end (and some wannabe mid) receivers...they are "a/v" receivers, but yet they rate the power rating through 2 channels, what's up with that?

Greg Lee
The importance of high power ratings with all channels driven is a sort of cult belief that has grown up among audiophiles to rationalize the higher cost of some multichannel amplifiers. In music reproduction, all channels are not driven with equal power, so paying extra for an amp that is good at supplying equal power is just wasting your money. I think it's interesting that on the THX web page, the document on THX certified amplifiers says they should not supply equal power to all channels, so that the power actually needed can be maximized.


I don't know if I'd agree that it's a "cult belief".

While it may or may not be a relevant metric for real-world applicability, I certainly do not need an audiophile to tell me that an accurate measurement is a good thing.

For example in DSP modes such as 5-channel stereo, signal is being sent to all five speakers with similar demands from the amp. While this is NOT true with movie soundtracks, the point is still a valid one.

It's a measurment and that's the point. Your explanation is akin to saying that horsepower and torque (or top speed or 0-60 times)measurements in a car are useless because only race car drivers need high horsepower.

Given that horsepower is the power required to move one pound one foot in one second...and everytime we drive our cars we're doing at least that, it's meaningful as a basis of comparison between the abilities of one car another...the point of quantifiable metrics.

Greg Lee
h1pst3r: "For example in DSP modes such as 5-channel stereo, signal is being sent to all five speakers with similar demands from the amp."

I don't believe this. Do you have evidence?

Here is a relevant quote from the THX web site:

"Extensive research conducted by THX Ltd, and others has shown that for even the most demanding program material the center channel requires more power that the left and right. Additionally, the surround channels require only a fraction of the power needed by the surround channels, particularly when using a four-speaker surround array."



You're missing the point. It has nothing to do with what the real-world (or programmatic) applications are.

My point, and the *point* of performance metrics across the board is to identify quanitifiable (and to the extent possible, objective) standards for comparison.

Again, if you take torque in a car. If one car has far less torque than another at the same price and you ask the salesman about the towing capacity (or climbing ability) of the lessor-torqued car and he says, "yeah, but most driving is done on flat roads," that hardly answers the question. Does it? Would *you* buy that from the salesman...really?

A Metric measures a piece of gear's ability to consistently perform under a uniform burden...regardless of what challenges may or may not be encountered in regular use.

Another example is MTBF (measured time before failure) that virtually every electronic component must have measured. The MTBF is usually measured in the tens of thousands of hours. This measurement DOES NOT care if the owner of such components changes the component every five hours. Again, quantifiable performance against a uniform burden...

Ever done any QA testing???

Now c'mon...think!


Greg Lee

Yes, I do seem to be missing your point. If you're buying equipment to reproduce sound, letting your decisions be influenced by measures that are irrelevant to the reproduction of sound is irrational. To your question would I buy from that salesman, my answer is yes. Whether a salesman evades or lies is not relevant to me; I would be foolish to pass up a good deal because I didn't like the saleman. I never listen to advice from salesmen, since it's obviously going to be biased in favor of maximizing their sales and commissions.


For the sake of towing a useless point, you make even more useless points.

Thanks, um, but no thanks...LMAO!

To say nothing of the fact that many rear surround channels (in 7.1 amps) are *also* repurposed for 2nd zone main audio...but by all means if you're happy with reduced capacity in those outputs...enjoy!

Again, LMAO!


Phil Krewer
I guess I'll chime in.

First the torque analogy sounds very close to what HK puts on their web site about HCC. Its a close analogy but falls a little short. First even under the most optimized circumstances an engine will only put out a certain amout of torque.

In Electronics any power supply is capable of putting out an unlimited amount of current:

Take the 12 volt battery that someone else mentioned. If you connect this to a wire, with negligable resistance, the current would approach infinity. At least until the wire burt up from the heat disapation. You can do the same by shorting your speaker wires. Of course the amp would shut down to protect itself. At least I hope.

Now lets talk about current vs voltage vs power (watts). The place to measure this is accross the output terminals to the speakers.

lets take the old but infamous S&V report:

HK AVR-510 74/watts
Denon AVR-3801 96/watts

According to HK their receiver would put out more current. So lets see.

P=(I)2xR or I=(P/R)1/2

For the HK that (74/8)1/2 = 3.041 amps
For the Denon (96/8)1/2 = 3.464 amps

How about voltage


HK 3.041x8=24.328 volts
Denon 3.464x8=27.71 volts

Just to check calcultation lets recaculate power


HK 3.041x24.328=73.98
Denon 3.464x27.71=95.98


HK 591.85/8=73.98
Denon 767.84/8=95.98

It looks like to me that the Denon puts out more current for the given max power output.

Again the way I'm seeing High current amps is that they are amps that have high enough grade components that the manufacture feels they don't have to shut down aspects of the amp to protect it from frying itself.

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