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Another receiver vs separates questions.


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#1 of 48 OFFLINE   EdNichols

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Posted January 15 2004 - 11:40 PM

Most people usually go from a low end receiver to a higher end then on to separates. Going from a lower end to a higher end receiver I know makes a big difference. How about going from a higher end reciever to separates? What is your experience? What did you go from, to?

#2 of 48 OFFLINE   Jack N

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Posted January 16 2004 - 05:52 PM

There is question similar to yours on another website forum that I answered. I thought I'd copy it and paste it here for you to read.

I’ve had a fair amount of experience over the years (personal, not professional) with sound systems and have seen a lot of things change that I thought would never change, and have seen high end audio gear get obsoleted that I didn’t think would ever get obsoleted, only improved. Before buying my current receiver, I gave real serious thought to separates again as I was disappointed in the sound quality of my old multi-channel receiver. I looked at pre-amps costing much more than what I eventually paid for my receiver, and I simply couldn’t justify it. There wasn’t a single one out there that could even come close to giving the same features that most higher quality receivers have. And then, even after convincing myself that I didn’t need all the missing features anyway, I come to find out that the models that I was considering all had reliability problems. Go figure. So this is what I did. I waited until Yamaha announced that they were going to discontinue the RXV3300 and dropped the price by hundreds of dollars. It then became a no-brainer. Even if I didn’t like the performance of the amp section once I heard it in my own listening environment, I still had the pre-amp that I could use, with all it’s features, for far less than the cost of a separate. I think most serious listeners would agree that the sound of this receiver is quite respectable and wouldn’t need any further tweaking. For me personally, after listening for decades (please don’t ask how old I am) to separates only “stereo” systems, I missed the dynamic range and other associated characteristics of large power supply amps. So off to eBay I went and picked up 3 Yamaha M-85 (260 wpc true twin monoblock) power amps to go along with the M-60 that I already had. Now I have a system that I would put up against systems that cost MUCH more. The sound quality is amazing because I basically have a total of 4 “stereo” systems tied together to work as one. So to answer your question, does today’s receiver by itself sound as good in stereo mode as yesterday’s power separates? No, definitely not. I don’t think you’ll find hardly anybody that will argue that point. But right behind that you’ll hear something to the effect that the sound is still quite good however. But, the potential is there to completely crush yesterday’s audiophile grade stereo system at a fraction of the cost if you assimilate old stereo technology with today’s multi-channel technology. I’ve had my current configuration up and running for a couple of weeks now, and I’m still shaking my head daily in disbelief at how good it sounds. Like my girlfriend said, “I’ve never heard anything like it, ever.” By the way, there’s no way I’m going back to conventional stereo now, 8 channel stereo and NEO 6 are much too addictive and sound sooooo much better than conventional stereo.

#3 of 48 OFFLINE   Kevin. W

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Posted January 17 2004 - 12:48 AM

Ed your best option is to go with a receiver that offers all the features you need and add an external amp for atleast the front soundstage. You just can't get a pre/pro with the features found in todays receivers without having to pay the price. Personally I went from a Marantz AV560U pre/pro to a Yamaha RX-V1400(used as pre/pro), just because of the price/feature ratio was way better than any seperates pre/pro could offer.

Kevin

#4 of 48 OFFLINE   TimGRA

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Posted January 17 2004 - 04:33 AM

Ed,
I would agree with both mentions above. I was one to say I would never go separates. I purchased reference grade receivers for years and they are great. This past year I began the upgrade process to pre-pro and amp. For me it was a huge difference, but ultimately for most of us it is your ears and your budget. separates are becoming more reasonable every year. I would agree in principal with Kevin. Get a decent receiver and splurge on an amp. Power is power and you will ALWAYS need it. Jacks position stated above would prove just that. There is no substitute for power. Then as technology moves forward you will always have the watts to push currency.

As you move into separates you move into an arena of improved circitry. That then is changed into sound. Of course there are products out there that do not live up to the hipe, but some of them do.

Curious to your current set-up and what you are considering? If I may ask.

#5 of 48 OFFLINE   Jason_Paik

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Posted January 17 2004 - 11:40 AM

This is such an important issue for me, and I'm glad to be reading this thread. I'm coming out of audiophile-grade 2-channel gear...into 5.1 audio for DVD, and 2-channel for music. My biggest concern is that no individual component in the chain add any "sonic signature" to the end result: the "audio experience".

The cost of a separate pre/pro and amplifier is a budget stretch for me, even as I salivate over gear like the Audio Refinement combo, the Parasound combo, etc. Musical fidelity is critical for me.

Is it possible to marry a brand-name a/v receiver from, say, Pioneer or Yamaha with a great power amp and get satisfying end results? In other words, use only the pre-amp and processing stage of the receiver and combine that with a wonderful 5-channel amp or monblocks.

From what I've been reading, the newer models from the "big-boy brands" (HK, Pioneer, Yamaha, etc.) are really good at processing 5.1/6.1 etc. They have all the bells and whistles. If I can combine that with a great amp from one of the more boutique companies....is that a way to go?

Any thoughts much appreciated!

Thanks.

J.
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#6 of 48 OFFLINE   TimGRA

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Posted January 17 2004 - 12:06 PM

You can absolutely marry different brands. As you continue your research you will find that some receivers with various amps will give you different sound. It is what your ears want and like to listen to.

IM sure you already know this, but it sounds like you will enjoy movies, but music is your passion. I think my opinion would even get stronger on the choice of a very good amp. There is no substitute for power. Again as you "marry" that amp with different receivers the sound will change. Different circuitry from various manufactures will give you different a different sound. I know this could be debated until the cows come home, but I have found it to be true.

I am waiting, like many other people, for the new pre-pro from sherwood Newcastle. This has more than all the bells and whistles you are looking for. Check it out on the website. It should be well worth the investment.

#7 of 48 OFFLINE   Jason_Paik

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Posted January 17 2004 - 12:50 PM

Thanks TimGRA. Seems like I might be putting a sales rep through audition hell! It's encouraging to know that I could take advantage of the pre/pro advances of a popular name-brand receiver (and not use the amp stage) and combine it with a great amp (if that's what you're saying). As well, it does seem worthwhile to check out an audiophile-grade pre/pro as well. I'll have a look at the Sherwood site.

Thanks.

J.
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#8 of 48 OFFLINE   TimGRA

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Posted January 17 2004 - 03:33 PM

If the sales rep will not go through hell with you, find a new place to shop! Take your own music you are custom to hearing and a movie that you know. Don't let some salesman just throw something in to try and wow you. YOUR ears will tell you what you like.

A few amps to consider:
Parasound
ATI
Outlaw
Adcom
IM sure more people will chime in after you have narrowed down your choice on receivers and amps.

EH? Had to do it!

#9 of 48 OFFLINE   Chip E

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Posted January 17 2004 - 03:36 PM

I went from a Technic's $250.00 receiver back in '99 to a B&K 307 to a Denon 5803 to a B&K Ref50 preamp processor w/ a Ref200.5 , Ref200.2 amps. As i got more into it, i just kept moving up and now i'm in a spot where i'm content. Maybe at some point i'll get a new prepro but i got the amps now..they'll stay. Posted Image
- Chip

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#10 of 48 OFFLINE   Jason_Paik

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Posted January 17 2004 - 05:15 PM

Tim, thanks for the amp suggestions. Parasound was on my list, along with Outlaw. I'll add the others. I'd like to add B&K (I have one of their older amps for 2-channel) but they have no dealers in Canada. Also checking out Arcam and Rotel: I always did like the British gear! It's not too shabby, eh?

J.
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#11 of 48 OFFLINE   ScottMP

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Posted January 18 2004 - 03:36 AM

I've always had separates, but am no considering a new Yamaha RX-Z9 with a two channel amp for the front mains. This is a great thread with some interesting comments. Chip E would you comment on the Ref 50 with respect to the 5803? I am considering the Ref 50 because of the recent price drop and because it comes with a great remote. I am replacing a Ref 20. But the New Yamaha just has some great features....I am so frigging confused. I used to be a pure separates guy, but now I don't know and with all the new gear that is supposed to come out, do I wait. I used to be a "run direct to television" for video, but now with the digital switching and the processing built into recievers. It used to be more simple than this.

#12 of 48 OFFLINE   Jason_Paik

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Posted January 18 2004 - 04:49 AM

ScottMP (and others), is it fair to sum up the main combinations of audio gear choices in the following simple-minded way (setting aside speakers - - another nightmare!)


1). a mainstream a/v receiver (Pioneer, Yamaha, HK, etc,)

2). a "boutique" a/v receiver (insert your favorite here)

3). a pre/pro + 5-channel (or more) amp -- including the options of only monoblocks or 3-channel + monoblocks (and so on)

4). variation on #1: a mainstream receiver's pre/pro only + another amp from another manu.

No doubt there are more options than these 4, and I am ignoring details which influence which actual products one would buy (such as "quality", "listening experience", one's room, budget, "ease-of-use", etc, etc.)

I'm enjoying this thread.

J.
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#13 of 48 OFFLINE   ScottMP

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Posted January 18 2004 - 10:30 AM

Jason, no question that I was generalizing, but audience, i.e., people that buy the stuff, seem to infer differences in the products based on these categories. That is what is leading to my current state of confusion, because the boundaries seem to be blurring. There was always the inference that the boutique pre/pro's provided better sound, well two-channel sound. The major receivers were more blinking lights and fancy displays.

There is also the serious issue of technology that is advancing very rapidly, both hardware and software. Buying a/v equipment now is like buying a computer. It will be out of date when you bring it home and that is disturbing given the cost, esp. of very expensive boutique stuff made by a company that might not be around long.

Your point is valid to that you need to listen to the equipment. On the subject of listening I have found since moving from the south where I enjoyed great relationships with dealers and where I could test equipment, to the greater NY that dealers up here are either too busy or not willing to let people demo equipment (I live in the burbs). I am not saying that it doesn't occur, but it is much less frequent.

Bottom line, yes you have to listen first, but that's not always possible. I also maintain that there are fundamental design philosophy differences at the broad segment level.

#14 of 48 OFFLINE   Jason_Paik

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Posted January 18 2004 - 12:22 PM

ScottMP, I think what you wrote goes to the heart of the matter: the boundaries are blurring, technological advances are producing a very dynamic, fluid and unpredictable environment, and people like us, who are attentive to the audio portion of HT, are more confused than in prior years.

Those boutique 2-channel companies who have been around for long enough to survive the turbulent 1990s and who have embraced the audio side of the home theater equipment market will, I think, build on their legacy of high-quality and attention to detail. Their customers, who have far deeper pockets than me, will simply buy that boutique's latest pre/pro and amp combo and call it a day.The rest of us are trying to get the best bang for our buck and make more thoughtful purchase decisions.

Although I have been on the bleeding edge of computers for years, and have been through countless changes in equipment, I don't immediately buy into the idea that we're in the same quandary when it comes to audio now that so much of the technology has become digital. I don't think we should be brain-washed into believing that whatever we buy today becomes obsolete tomorrow. As a consultant I have observed that the number of people using computers for e-mail, www surfing, and some everyday apps such as word-processing overwhelms all other uses of computers. The average person has bought into the idea of obsolete computers but it ain't necessarily so.

In the same way, I am confident that if I buy high-quality audio gear today it will still be fine tomorrow. The more slippery slope is in predicting what's coming in storage formats and transmission, and will my gear have an interface for it. If I want to have a media server in my home wirelessly transmit data to my home theater setup then I should ensure that my gear can manage that source.

I'm going on way too long here. I've been thinking about all this for quite a while...likely over-thinking it!

J.
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#15 of 48 OFFLINE   TimGRA

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Posted January 18 2004 - 02:27 PM

Jason,
Dont think for a minute you are over thinking your decissions. Less than 10% of the worlds population even has disussions about equipment like this. Most are content with what they hear at a box store. You and I on the other hand try to find this most effective equipment on a limited budget. The upgrades that I have made should last me the better part of ten years. I have to look at it that way or this process will never end.

Really, who has the room and the money to put in 7.1. Would it be neat and fum? Sure but do most people have a room large enough to move sound waves for them to be effective. Where is the 7.1 DVD's? Very limited. You can see as I rant that there comes a piont where you are content and like what you hear.

More companies like Outlaw are coming along and offering seperates products within reason. Mind you that when I am finished I will have well over $10,000 invested. It has to end at some piont. And what sucks is I will only get pleasure back from that investment. Sure didnt help my 401K!

#16 of 48 OFFLINE   Mike Butny

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Posted January 18 2004 - 08:39 PM

I enjoyed reading this thred and Im also in the act of going from a reciever based system to seperates. Im currently using a marantz sr 18 receiver just the amp section along with two marantz ma 700 monoblocks and a classe ssp30 MKII pre-amp. The classe ssp30 mkII is a recent upgrade and I got for 50% off. The only way I can buy the gear I really want is of I find it at a discount and that takes time. Im currently trying to sell my marantz sr18 so I can buy a cinenova grande amp and then I will be done upgrading on the audio side of things.
Mike B

#17 of 48 OFFLINE   EdNichols

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Posted January 19 2004 - 02:31 AM

Kevin and Tim,
Right now I have an NAD T762. I think my next step is to use the receiver as the pre/pro and get a nicer amp to drive the mains and let the receiver drive the center and surrounds. I wonder, unless I spend some serious bucks, if it really make a difference to go with a separate amp. And I really doubt that a separate pre/pro would make much difference. I guess that is what I am getting at with this thread. What has been the experience of some of you guys when you went from a nice receiver to separates?

#18 of 48 OFFLINE   TimGRA

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Posted January 19 2004 - 12:17 PM

Ed,
The difference is night and day. Amps inside receivers are very underrated. When you go with a separate amp you are using equipment that has been designed, in most cases by a company that does exactly that. Amps. I swore I would never go separate. A receiver was going to do all I needed. Mind you I went from a receiver with 100 w/Ch to an amp that will conservitivly push 220 w/Ch. All ranges in the sound fields just opened up. I am a believer.

I think your decision is right on the money. Use your receiver and buy a nice amp.

#19 of 48 OFFLINE   KyleGS

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Posted January 20 2004 - 02:41 AM

Quote:
What has been the experience of some of you guys when you went from a nice receiver to separates?

I went from a decent HK 510 and added a Yammie M-70 (200wpc) and the difference in music/2.1 is very dramatic. As far as HT goes, I can't really tell much difference. However this was an important upgrade for me- I'm a stereo man!

#20 of 48 OFFLINE   EdNichols

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Posted January 20 2004 - 04:51 AM

Sounds like the ones who have added a separate amp have also much more wattage also than with just the receiver. I know more watts adds more headroom. Has anyone gone to a separate amp with just a little more power and it made a big difference?