Majorly Dissapointed With My Denon (and the rest of the system)

Discussion in 'AV Receivers' started by ChristinasDream, Mar 17, 2007.

  1. ChristinasDream

    ChristinasDream Auditioning

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    Hey all, I joined this forum not too long ago, but didn't have much of a chance to join in and get some help.

    Anyway, the name is Mike. I've been a dedicated musician for years, so of course, I have quite a large collection of vinyl and CD.

    Unfortunately, I can't stand playing any of 'em on my system I built 3 or so years ago. It sounded great back then, but everyday since then it has gotten more painful to listen to anything on it. This is most likely due to the fact that over years of using more and more analog equipment with my electric instruments, the digital sound of all this new equipment is just not for me. I equate it to having an ice-pick in the ear.

    I think it's about time to upgrade with a downgrade to analog.

    Here's a quick list of what I have now:

    Denon AV-1705 Reciever
    Denon DCM-280 5-disc changer
    Audio-Technica AT-PL50 turntable
    Pair of Signet SL280ex floor speakers

    Right now, I'd at least like to trade in my reciever for something that's truly analog. Preferably would like to go with something older for some vintage vibe. Something with tubes would be even more awesome (I need a lot of warmth) I know nothing about older stereo equipment to be 100% honest, and I figured a forum like this would know it way better than me [​IMG]

    Any other suggestions are certainly welcome. I'm looking forward to finally getting to enjoy my music the way it was meant to be. And I hope this is the right forum for these kind of questions? [​IMG]
     
  2. SethH

    SethH Cinematographer

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    You might search around on Audiogon to find some older stuff in good shape. Honestly though, I think I would start by auditioning lots of new speakers.
     
  3. Rich Allen

    Rich Allen Second Unit

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    Definately audtion a lot of speakers first. They will make the most difference by far.
     
  4. Ed Moxley

    Ed Moxley Cinematographer

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    I also say to audition speakers. The ones you have may be too bright sounding, for your ears. If I listen to bright speakers for too long, I get what's referred to as "ear fatigue". I just get tired of listening to them. Try listening to some JBL and Polk Audio speakers.

    Speakers will make the biggest difference, in the way your system sounds. Since you just listed two speakers, you're using stereo, instead of 5.1 surround? If stereo only, maybe you could add an EQ, to shape the sound to your preferences............ [​IMG]
    Good luck!


    I've always considered Denon to be a warmer sounding receiver, paired with the right speakers. To me, Yamaha receivers are very bright sounding. Some acoustic panels in the room may help some too.
     
  5. LanceJ

    LanceJ Producer

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    Speakers!!!

    If you don't mind looking through resale shops, eBay, craigslist, garage sales etc with little trouble you can find many American and especially British speakers from the 70s and 80s that are still detailed but have a nice mellow quality to them.

    There are modern speakers that are less analytical than the average speaker but quite often the designer went overboard IMO and the speaker ends up with an unpleasant muffled sound, like there is cotton in your ears. And it's not uncommon for the bass to also receive the "politeness" treatment - not good for rock/pop music!

    If all recordings were done well, using top of the line gear and thoughful EQ/compression/etc choices, owning highly analytical speakers would be fine (studio monitors come to mind). But all recordings are not done this way - this especially applies to rock and pop music - despite the availability of the high-resoluton formats (sacd & dvd-audio) and all the many incremental improvements in digital recording technology the past decade.

    This is why many speakers touted as "super accurate", "revealing" and having "great specs" don't do much for me: all they end up doing is showing me where the bad audio decisions were made, lessening my enjoyment of the music. Many speakers thought of as particularly suited for HT use are like this which is fine for producing ultra-clear dialog & artificial sound effects and being able to launch these elements across the room into the audience's ears with little deterioration. But for music IMO quite often this can become irritating pretty quickly.....and even for certain movies that have bombastic soundtracks that are constantly "on".

    But if you listen to mainly to classical and jazz, which are usually much better recorded, revealing speakers are a better choice for some people.

    My own speakers are made by Boston Acoustics which for me have a nice combination of warmth and detail. I also own some Infinitys which is my personal limit for being analytical. OTOH I have also owned Advents which are definitely on the (good) warm side. Advents sounded this way all the way up to their "death" in 1995 when Recoton Inc. bought them and Acoustic Research and ran that formerly-respected 25 year old brand into the ground by slapping their name on all kinds of crappy plastic products.

    For mellow American speakers, you might want to check out this forum:

    The Classic Speaker Pages FYI: this is where the phrase "east coast sound" originated. Older JBL, Cerwin-Vega, etc are of the "west coast" sound with their punchy bass and forward highs.

    While highly sought after, the AR brand is probably one to be a bit wary of since many of them have 4 ohm impedance ratings and smaller modern receivers will most probably have problems supplying them with enough current. Plus - and this just my opinion - ARs can be too warm and can cause energetic music to kind of just........lay there. Their bass output is awesome though but you HAVE to use a powerful amp to allow this to happen. While like Advent they use an acoustic suspension woofer system, in comparison ARs are major power sponges - powerful AND deep bass doesn't come cheap (Advents also had deep bass, but couldn't get as loud).

    I'm not nearly as familiar with the older British speakers that share this quality but KEF, Wharfedale and Tannoy do come to mind and I think Spendor. IIRC Celestion and B&W were the more revealing of the older warm British models. Doing a search on audioasylum.com should help a lot with this.
     
  6. LanceJ

    LanceJ Producer

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    Also: there are quite a few outboard DACs (digital-to-analog convertors) that either are designed to produce a warmer sound or they include tubes to generate this quality. These can cost as little @$150 for a decent one, though tube-equipped models will cost more. Their analog output stage can also be better than a mass-produced player's, which can aid in a more listenable sound.

    And a standalone DAC can also include better digital-based components so the sound can be improved that way also - everything digital is NOT the same! Without getting into some really hairy digital theory, better digital can juggle the 1s and 0s in a "smarter" manner, reducing harshness and producing a more 3-D/realistic effect.

    This is an easy way to get better sound from any digital source, CD or dvd player, and is easy to install since all you do is run the player's digital output to the DAC then the DAC's analog output to an unused input on your receiver.
     
  7. Phil_O

    Phil_O Stunt Coordinator

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    Many standalone CD players (usually single disc variety) also have very high quality DACs in them as well.

    But different speakers make the most difference in the overall sound as others have said.
     
  8. Alex Prosak

    Alex Prosak Supporting Actor

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    I know nothing about your speakers but I've never been a big fan of the Denon sound. It will get your system up and moving just fine but I've never felt there was any life to the sound. Definitely checking Audiogon for used gear is a good starting point, you can often find Onix (Melody) SP3 integrated tube amps for around $500-650 range; often the lower end there. It's a fantastic little amp (38 wpc) that can sound even better with some tube rolling. A couple of drawbacks is that it only has two inputs and you would need to get a phono preamp. I'm using the SP3's slightly bigger brother H6550 in my system and absolutely love it. A CD player that I've always really liked for not sounding digital is Rega, you shouldn't have any problem finding a used Planet 2000 or their new incarnation of that player. Consider replacing these components and keeping the speakers for the time being, if that still isn't doing it then look for new speakers too. I'm running a Onix Strata Mini for my 2CH system and I'm amazed every time I listen to it. It uses planar magnetic midrange and tweeter for the light, effortless, airy sound but also uses a 5-1/4 midrange and a powered 8" midbass to add a darn good helping of slam.
     
  9. MaxL

    MaxL Supporting Actor

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    well i'm right with you on the vintage sound. lance is on the right track. i have the ar 2ax's and kef coda's running through different vintage sony equipment. the ar's are 3-way full range and the warmer of the two. the kef's are very rich for their size as well but not as warm and being 2-way, don't go nearly as low.

    i love my vintage gear and love the sound. if you'd like to know more details on the sony stuff, ask, i honestly can't remember off the top of my head. it's 70's stuff, an str6055? receiver w/the ar's and ta-88? integrated amp w/ the kef's. neither are rated very powerful, the str is rated to about 40 watts i think, but it's pretty heavy. in a large room i rarely turn the dial past 1/4 volume. the coda's are very easily driven too.

    while the new stuff is not built the same, there is good stuff out there. for speakers i recommend monitor audio for warm new stuff. for the amplification side, marantz will tend to be warmer than denon, but speakers will have the bigger effect. there are great deals on vintage stuff on ebay - sony, marantz, pioneer and many more.

    don't know if you get to chicago, but satuday audio is a great shop. they've got a nice kenwood setup listed right now for $200 (separate amp and tuner). i got most of my HT gear from them. the owner (andy i think) is a good guy and they're return policy is decent and fair for trade if you don't like it. they ship too, but it's always better to listen before you buy. they're an authorized dealed for monitor audio too.

    anyway if music's the priority, and warm is the sound you want, vintage 2 channel is where it's at.

    good luck
     
  10. aht3

    aht3 Stunt Coordinator

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    Ed,
    I have to agree with you. I have the JBL 890s and get a great sound. I too upgraded not too long ago and noticed a great deal of increased detail and clarity. I found great prices too.
     
  11. Jack Gilvey

    Jack Gilvey Producer

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    NAD stuff is pretty warm and usually have nice phono stages. I still run my Rega P2 through my 314 integrated.
    I know little about them, but if you could find an old tube receiver like mentioned above I bet you'd be golden. I have to admit, for much of the music I like, listening on LP and tubes is the way it was meant to be. I mean, John Lennon never even touched a CD...

    And since you're a musician, here's a mix of music and AV. An Epi Valve Jr head (5 whole watts, single-ended Class A with 1 12AX7 and 1 EL84) on top of an old sub cab I made loaded with a Celestion Blue. I'd make a proper cab, but the cab coming out looks so cool I figured I'd wait. Kinda sounds like sh*t, actually, but I don't want to put much into a temp cab. Gets better as you turn it up, of course. [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
  12. Jeff_CusBlues

    Jeff_CusBlues Supporting Actor

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    You are really in the wrong place for analog/vintage equipment. This forum is really geared toward home theater set ups. I don't mean to demean this forum at all and I'm sure there are a lot of people here with knowledge of analog/classic equipment, but it just isn't this forums specialty. Two great forums to check out are the Steve Hoffman forums and Sound Thinking. The urls are

    www.stevehoffman.tv
    and
    www.sound-thinking.org

    Both forums have sections dedicated to analog/tube type equipment with a lot of knowledgable participants. Good luck.

    Jeff
     
  13. sdallnct

    sdallnct Auditioning

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    I would like at some of the British designed stuff. My personal favorite is KEF. I still have a pair of redwood 103.2's that are excellent sounding. Also Celestion makes some nice speakers.

    Add to your list something like B&W, Boston Acoustics's and another favorite is Magnapan. Tho the Maggies are sometimes tough to drive.

    For turntable, I'd also still have a Rega Planar 3. I believe this simple, manual basic deck is still made. Yet it is a throw back with very basic but excellent constructions. Got more $$ to spend? VPI is petty special.

    Amps and such will be a little tougher depending on budget. Hard to go wrong with Krell or Classe. Tho I'd also look at Adcom for some nice stuff at not to, to expense.

    But really, your just going to have to find a good high end audio store and take the guys lunch one day. Make friends and be prepared to spend a lot of time there just listening.
     
  14. Guy Usher

    Guy Usher Supporting Actor

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    Hang out at Audio Karma for awhile. . . Sound Thinking is really a 'spin off' of AK. . .More of what you find at ST. . .

    I like new and I like old. . .I think once you find the right combination you will do fine.

    I'd get rid of that baby Denon and get a more 'musical' piece with some decent speakers that sound good to you. . ,.

    Try some of the high end shops for the sound you like then find that same sound in a cheaper package. . .

    Main thing is listen, listen, listen until you find what you like regardless of the brand name. . . You'll find it if you do. . . What someone else likes may not be what you like. Don't get hung up in east vs west or who makes what best just go out there and find something. Its out there trust me. . .
     
  15. Rob Rodier

    Rob Rodier Supporting Actor

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    Audioasylum and even audiogon are good too.

    This is the wrong place.

    The questions being asked whould be revolving around room size and type, musical preferences, and budget.
     

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