I have been listening to M60Ti for a year without knowing what sound these speakers can produce!
All I did was an addition of the B&K 2220 2x200W power amp to my system. I was using Denon DRA-685 stereo amp, then replaced it with Denon AVR-3802 (downgrade for the music quality), then a combination of the two (DRA-685 driving the fronts). It sounded OK to me until I visited a couple of the high-end audio shops and had an opportunity to compare it with the really good stuff.
So I decided to shop for a power amp around $1000 assuming this is the most critical part of the system after the speakers.
To make a long story short I ended up borrowing a used Aragon 4004 MKII from a dealer and listening to it for a week. The difference from Denons was unbelievable in detail and clarity, the bass improved substantially.
I was almost ready to make a purchase as I came across a brand new B&K 2220 selling at an open box price as the last year model. I could not resist at least comparing it to the Aragon. I told the salesman that I am not giving a lot of chances to this amp and most likely I am going to use their 30-days return policy.
You might guess by now that I was wrong. B&K beat Aragon in all aspects most noticeably in the bass department. The sound was so rich and musical that I could not stop listening to many of my old CDs every time revealing a new detail that was hidden from me before. No hint on harshness at high volumes (where Aragon was failing despite its superiority in power). The amp sounded fantastic right out of the box that substantiated my suspicion that the “break-in” theory if anything applies only to the speakers.
Then I could not resist temptation to open two boxes and see what is under the hood.
Aragon – two big toroidal transformers (one per channel), not so large power capacitors, power delay circuit (allows power to stabilize before the speakers connected to the output), 8 bipolar valves per channel, power section is physically separated from the signal path, shielded cable from the line input to the board, heavy 10 (or even 8) gauge wires for power and speakers.
B&K – single toroidal transformer (a size of one of the Aragon’s), VERY large power capacitors (I could not read the values, but given their size and 8-9 years difference I would estimate them to be five times bigger than the Aragon’s), no shielded cables, modest size wires (14 gauge I would think), no good separation between the power and signal sections, lots of connectors as oppose to hand soldered connections, MOSFET output stage (10 valves per channel), A-class preamp stage.
Overall, from engineering perspective Aragon built much better.
Here are my conclusions:
1. Average surround receiver cannot produce high quality stereo music.
2. Not all amps sound the same.
3. Better engineering does not always means better sound.
4. M60Tis are incredibly good speakers when a good amp drives them.
5. Expensive speaker cables are the scam for naïve audio enthusiasts with extra money to spend.
My last conclusion based on the simple fact substantial part of the amp->speaker path is hidden within the amp and speakers themselves (it can easily be 3-5 ft. long) and I can assure you that the vendors are putting the cheapest, not the most expensive wires there. And I did not mention numerous internal connectors, relays, fuses in the signal path. Some “purists” refuse to blind test different cables claiming that external switches degrade signal quality. What a joke!