Hardware Review Pioneer Andrew Jones 5.1 Speaker System Review

Discussion in 'Speakers' started by Doug Hess, Dec 8, 2013.

  1. schan1269

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    Do you have any advice on a receiver? I don't need anything too fancy... I was hoping for something that had multiple HDMI inputs - last I counted, there could be at least 5 HDMI devices going in (cable box, Apple TV, PS3, Xbox 360, Oppo DVD player that will eventually be upgraded to an Oppo BD player), one component for the Nintendo Wii (though I could always go directly to the TV and forgo surround sound on that one), as well as two HDMI outputs (one for the TV, one for the projector).
    I'd also like something - and I don't know what the correct technical term would be - that had some kind of passthrough, so that I could watch something from the cable box (or PS3 or whatever) on the TV, using the TV's built-in speakers instead of the surround sound speakers. I do a good amount of late night viewing while my girlfriend is sleeping, as well as of things that I frankly have no interest in hearing on the bigger speakers, like the nightly news and that sort of thing. (My brother at one point had a receiver -- no idea which one -- that didn't allow this, so that the receiver wouldn't send the audio via the HDMI to the TV no matter what he did. I'd like to avoid a situation like that.)
    Every AVR over $700.
     
  2. Josh Steinberg

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    Thanks for quick response Schan. Have a few follow-up questions/comments on usage that perhaps you (or anyone else who has a thought on this) might be able to help answer.

    If at all possible, I'd prefer to spend under $700. The speakers cost under $500, and I'd like to keep the receiver under $500 as well. I know you have written in other posts about receivers that your expertise tends to be on receivers that are over $1000, and I'm looking for something significantly less pricy than that (hoping that something like that exists). My attitude with these things is not to let the perfect be the enemy of the good.

    If you, or anyone else here, can suggest some specific models or brands to look at (or, conversely, if there's something you'd avoid like the plague), I'd be curious to know.

    By the way, would "passthrough" be the correct term for what I described above (using the receiver to send the audio and video to the TV, rather than playing it on the receiver's speakers), or is there another term for that?

    I forgot to mention above, but I will be watching 3D content, so it has to be a receiver that can support HDMI 1.4. I also don't have any use for any multi-zone functions, this will only be used with this one set of speakers, so no need for it to do any fancy multi-room functions. Not really interested in internet connectivity either, I mean if it has it, that's fine, but I never really use any of that stuff.

    I can skimp on the number of HDMI inputs going into it if I have to... the Xbox 360 is almost never used, so if I have to occasionally crawl back there and switch the cable from the PS3 to the Xbox, that's not the end of the world for me, particularly if it translates into a big price savings. Same thing for having two HDMI outputs -- if it's cheaper to buy a receiver with one HDMI output and get a splitter to use instead, I'm not opposed to going that route.
     
  3. Doug Hess

    Doug Hess HW Reviewer
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    Hi, Josh. I've always been a big fan of Onkyo receivers, though they're part of a class that includes brands like Yamaha, Denon, Marantz, and, some would say, Pioneer.

    The problem your brother was having, it sounds to me, was one of connections rather than features in a receiver. Running a set of component cables and a set of RCA audio cables to a different input would have given him the ability to use the TV speakers and bypass the receiver. But I digress.

    The Onkyo TXNR626, or this year's version, the TXNR636, would be just fine, and should give you the features you're looking for, including some video upscaling, and the ability to pass video from all sources--even analog--through just one HDMI cable. It's super-convenient, though don't expect HD-quality picture from your VHS tapes. (I'm confident you're far too young to have any VHS tapes.)

    So, that's one possibility. Thoughts? Questions?
     
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  4. schan1269

    schan1269 HTF Expert
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    HDMI passthrough in standby is what the feature is called. Except for "the bargain bin", all AVR have it(except HK).The Wii needs HDMI upconversion. That starts at $500 AVR.Two HDMI outputs is what you are going to Have to give up. Unless you buy used.The Onkyo 636(pretty sure) is the cheapest one to have it, unless the requisite Pioneer is less.Everything else...according to your wants...Is a $700+ AVR. (Which the 626/636 are $700 MSRP AVR)
     
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  5. Josh Steinberg

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    Oh man, be glad you didn't put any money on that :)

    I'm in my early 30s, and I grew up on the VCR... believe it or not, I had mastered the art of plugging the full size VHS camcorder into the top loading VCR to make dubs of cartoons rented from the video store by the time I was about 3! Most of my VHS collection is extinct, but going back to mid-90s prior to DVD, I had several hundred. Most of them are stored in my dad's attic, and every now and then, whenever I find myself visiting him, I'll go up, weed through, toss out a few more. There are still a few things that never made it on to DVD that I've got the tapes for, plus a bunch of "taped off TV" musical performances from the 90s that are sitting in a box somewhere. I love VHS!

    I think that's what I ended up setting up for him, I can't remember. There's some sort of a moral about not letting your younger siblings do certain things for themselves haha.

    I just took a quick glance and those look to have the features I'm looking for. What's the difference between the 626 and 636 version, besides the 636 being newer? It seems like the 626 would do everything I want, so if that's the case, there's no reason to spring for the 636 just because it's the newer version?

    Do you know anything about this model, the Onkyo HT-RC560?
    http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00CLXO14K/ref=amb_link_416900062_1?pf_rd_m=ATVPDKIKX0DER&pf_rd_s=product-alert&pf_rd_r=0C7H6CE5JMC69YX323V0&pf_rd_t=201&pf_rd_p=1813144462&pf_rd_i=B00IQ0SE22

    I only ask because the product description makes it sound like it would do everything the 626 does, only it's $200 less.

    Gotcha - I should apologize for the miscommunication in that I wasn't thinking you meant MSRP, but street price. The Onkyo 626 that Doug recommended above seems to do everything, and comes in at $500, so I'm definitely going to take a deeper look into it.

    Re: the Wii and 2nd HDMI outpit, I'd plug that directly into the TV if it would provide a big savings, but from what you guys are saying, it sounds like it won't make much of a difference one way or the other, that the second HDMI output is what's going to be the thing that bumps the cost up.


    It's looking like it's possible to get everything I need for $500, which is pretty awesome. Thanks for the advice, explanations, tips and suggestions, it's greatly appreciated!
     
  6. Doug Hess

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    Josh, the new version of the 6-series has a different (better? worse?) version of room EQ. I think Onkyo may have gone proprietary this year, rather than using Audyssey's version. The new version also gives you a version of HDCP that's compatible with 4K--something you may or may not ever use, but it's there. Going with the HT-RC560 will cost you a front HDMI input, some power (85 watts vs. 115), and some other nicities, but it's a good value.

    You can do a feature-by-feature comparison by clicking the checkboxes to the right of the receivers here, and then clicking "Compare." The 560 is missing a few entries for some reason, but most are there.

    Bottom line: The 560 will do everything you've said you wanted from a receiver and will save you some bucks. And the 636 offers little over the 626, so you could save some money there.

    -Doug
     
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  7. Doug Hess

    Doug Hess HW Reviewer
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  8. Josh Steinberg

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    Very cool, Doug, thanks again for the words of wisdom. (I'm running out of creative synonyms for "thank you" which is a pretty good problem to have, to have that many things to be thankful for.)

    Now I'm going to sound like a moron asking this, so with that disclaimer... what's the real world impact of having lesser watts, if I went for the cheaper one and got 85 watts instead of 115? Will that just limit how loud I can crank the thing, or are there other concerns to be mindful of?

    I will reveal how deep my audio ignorance goes by saying I don't know what Audyssey is -- so I guess I won't miss a feature if I don't even know what it does!

    Thinking that either the 626 or the 560 might be the winner here (though open to other brands and suggestions if people have them, but I've had friends/relatives who have had Onkyo before with no issues, and read lots of positive over the years, so I'm certainly comfortable with the brand), and leaning towards the 560 but not yet sold on it. (At $300 for the 560, that's right around the price range where I wouldn't feel so terrible about replacing it if I "outgrow" it in a few years.)


    I didn't realize how much I didn't know about home audio. I've spent so much time over the years following the latest and greatest in video that I've pretty much completely neglected the audio portion of the experience, and am just figuring that out now.
     
  9. Doug Hess

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    Happy to help, Josh. I used to manage an AV forum for a national retailer, so this is a blast from the past.

    All things being equal, more power is better than less. That said, the difference between 85 watts and 115 isn't a lot. A 3dB increase in volume requires twice the power, so you can see it's not that big a deal. Your speakers are a bit less sensitive than most, but 85 watts is still a good amount of power. And remember that your sub will be attempting to take care of the most demanding frequencies--the bass.

    As for the Audyssey, that's the set-up process that evens out frequency response in your room. It's critical to get the best sound, but I can't say whether the version in the 636 is better or worse than the one in the 626.

    And with that, I'll leave the final decisions up to you, and invite others to weigh in.

    -Doug
     
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  10. schan1269

    schan1269 HTF Expert
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    The Pio AJ is an low efficiency speaker.

    Volume increases(that are universally regarded as "noticeable") are 3db.

    Every 3db requires 2x the power...

    85db is 1.
    88db is 2.
    91 db is 4.
    94db is 8.
    97db is 16. (here is "loud" already)
    100 is 32.
    103 is 64 (your neighbors are complaining)

    Now take the BIC DV64. 90 db efficient,,,

    90db is 1 watt(the Pio need roughly 3)
    93db is 2.(Pio needs 6)
    97db is 4(Pio needs 12)
     
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  11. Josh Steinberg

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    Schan, apologies if I'm misreading what you're saying, I'm a little confused...

    Re: your first point - You're saying that (in theory), 103 decibels (the "neighbor is complaining" level) uses up about 64 watts? Because if that's the case, then I think I'm fine with 85 watts! This system definitely will have be played at a volume that doesn't attract too much attention from the neighbors.

    Re: the second point, not sure what BIC DV62 means? Sorry!

    edit: OK, I think I get what you mean. The Pioneer speakers require more watts to get the same volume output as BIC brand speakers, so one watt on the Pioneer gets me 85db, while one watt on the BIC brand gets me 90db? Is that correct?
     
  12. Josh Steinberg

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    Doug, thanks again, that's exactly the kind of information I was looking for. I wish I could have Amazon send you a commission on this, you've definitely earned it. I think one of the things we all fear when making these purchases is thinking that you've got the right stuff, liking what you picked out... and then having everyone look at you and go "wow, what a moron, that's the worst thing you could possibly have gotten". It's really great not only to get good advice so quickly and easily from people who are generous about their time, but also to know that I'm not going about this all in the wrong way.

    BTW, is your avatar from Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire?
     
  13. Josh Steinberg

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    One last question that I can think of -- with a receiver like the Onkyo 626 or 560, is it possible to use the HDMI passthrough to watch something from my cablebox on my TV, while at the same time listening to music from another input (like a record player)? I'm thinking there might be the rare occasion when I might want to have the TV on mute, but have some music playing at the same time. It would be a cool bonus, but I don't think I'd go out of my way to get something with that capability either.
     
  14. schan1269

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    Correct...You also have to realise two things...1. The AVR is not really 85x5 or 115x5.Most AVR produce 40%-55% of the bullshit power rating by 5/7.Onkyo are easy to figure out...sorta. The models with preouts(838+) have a "video only" power use spec.That number varies from 80-120. Onkyo lists an amp draw on the back. Quick math...Amp draw times 120. Subract out 100(easy number) for video. Divide the rest by 2(amps are 50% efficient). Divide that total by 5.2. BD are mixed with 20db of headroom.So if you set your volume at 80db...your peaks are 100. 85, your peaks are 105.
     
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  15. schan1269

    schan1269 HTF Expert
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    All AVR do that, 1 of 2 ways...1. Pick your video source. Pick an audio only source. Video from original source stays.2. Alternate audio setup. Throwback for DVI devices.
     
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  16. Josh Steinberg

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    Schan, that's really helpful, thank you! (for both the amps question and the different sources at once question)

    What I found online for the Onkyo 560 was 6.3 amps... putting that number through your guide comes up with 65.6 watts.. earlier you had suggested that 64 watts on these speakers produces about 103db.

    Now, with what you were saying about headroom on Blu-rays.. does this mean that if I got the 560, I shouldn't watch anything with it set louder than 85db, because it could go up to a total of 105db, which seems to be hitting the limits of what it can do? Or that it can be set up to 105? Also, is going over the limit a "Ghostbusters don't cross the streams" kind of bad, or is it just something that'll cause it to sound distorted, or to shut itself off?

    Bottom line is, for at least the next year, probably the next two or three, this thing will be sitting in a not huge room in a NYC apartment, so I probably won't be trying for the kinds of volume that I'd go for if I had a house to myself to do whatever I wanted with.

    I should probably see if there's a decibel app or something I can get, just to try to put a number to my what my comfortable listening volume is now. Right now this is all just a bunch of theoretical numbers to me, when I get home later I'll try to see if I can find something like that, just to get a reference point to go on.

    Much appreciation for your help with the newbie/obvious/dumb questions!
     
  17. schan1269

    schan1269 HTF Expert
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    There are numerous "room SPL calculators". I'd link one if I wasn't on my phone.You feed it basic info(placement of speakers, distance from them, efficiency) and it tells you the power required to hit certain volumes.
     
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  18. Josh Steinberg

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    Awesome -- if you're able and have time later when you're not on your phone, feel free to link one (if it's too much trouble, no worries)... I'm at work now but will take a look when I get home later.

    Now I just need to get a decibel measuring app or something like that, so I can get a sense of what these numbers actually mean. For better or worse, numbers are not necessarily my strength.

    Worried that I might be overthinking it at a certain point, sounds like a "room SPL" app you mentioned might help with peace of mind in that regard!
     
  19. Josh Steinberg

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    Just for the sake of due diligence, Pioneer has an AVR that seems like it does everything I want, Amazon's got it at $350 - Pioneer VSX-1123. Any thoughts on that? Any advantage to having the same brand speakers and AVR, other than the labels matching (which matters not one bit to me)?
     
  20. ArmSC

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    Having matching brands of speakers and AVR don't do anything for performance. It does give you the ability to say that you have a complete matching HT system but that's it.
     

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