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Need more power; Advice welcomed

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5 replies to this topic

#1 of 6 OFFLINE   Brandon Pop

Brandon Pop

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Posted July 02 2006 - 06:17 PM

Hello everyone... I am looking to upgrade my receiver as I am purchasing some new speakers in the near future. Currently I have a Denon AVR-1804 which has been fine, I just want more power for Ascend 340 SE's. I've seen people really speak well of Marantz receivers and Yamaha's but I know virtually nothing about any of their models. I do currently use my receiver with DirecTV, my DVD player, Xbox, and Ipod. I am looking to spend no more than $1000 but I really want something that will bring my new speakers to life. Thanks.

#2 of 6 OFFLINE   Tom Donaghue

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Posted July 05 2006 - 04:48 AM

Hi Brandon; Marantz and Yamaha (as well as other mfgs.) make some very capable mid-level receivers within the budget you mentioned. If you like the sound of your Denon, you might want to consider picking up a newer model that has a bit more power, newer features and pre-outs that will allow you to run a separate amplifier as well. Are you opposed to refurbished or used equipment? Some folks need to buy new, but refubished or used equipment will give you great bang for your buck, but its not for everyone. If not, you could pick up a Denon 3805 for $500-$600, then after evaluating its performance, if you felt as though you needed more power, you could always add a 2, 3 or 5 channel amp to your system to provide more power to your mains, front soundstage or 5.1 configuration. If you were to grab a 2-3 channel amp and a receiver comparable to the 3805, you should be able to stay under $1000. If you'd rather try out a different manufacturer than Denon, you could grab a Yamaha, Onkyo, Pioneer or Marantz comparable (or better) than the 3805 and still stay within the $1000 limit. Couple questions I would have for you are: 1. What size room will you be using this unit in? 2. What is predominantly the type of listening you'll be doing (e.g., music to movies ratio, etc.) The answers to these as well as whether or not you would consider refurbished or used equipment can help to provide you with more accurate suggestions... -TD

#3 of 6 OFFLINE   Brandon Pop

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Posted July 05 2006 - 02:10 PM

Hello Tom, Thank you for taking the time to respond, I really appreciate it. To start I am not against refurbished or used equipment, although I'd prefer not go that route. In the end I'd probably just pony up the extra money and get it new, but really it would depend on reliability of the equipment / warranty and savings. The room I will be playing this in is not large. It's about 15x15 feet and right now the Denon fills the room adequately but this is with Paradigm Mini's. I am switching to Ascend 340's now. I'd say it's right about 60/40 Movies - Music although I am upgrading more for Music than I am HT. My initial reaction to the upgrade was simply to get the 3806 Denon but I rarely buy anything without thorough internet research and forum discussions. I just remember way back when I got my AVR1804 someone said that there was no comparison in terms of how much better a particular Marantz receiver was to a comparable Denon.

#4 of 6 OFFLINE   Tom Donaghue

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Posted July 06 2006 - 11:29 AM

You're quite welcome, Brandon, glad to help if I can.

It sounds as though you're more inclined to go the new product route, however I will make mention of a couple of receivers that will give you some good performance for the price. And as far as your previous experience w/another forum poster regarding a Denon being no comparison to a comparable Marantz, that's just baloney. Advice is only as good as the source. I'll get as much feedback as possible when researching equipment, but I'll consider the source as well as verify whatever I can to my own satisfaction. Before you make any receiver purchase, I would suggest hooking the Ascends up to your 1804, re-calibrating your settings and giving it a good workout. You may find the speaker upgrade was enough. But if not, keep reading... Posted Image

From your room description, a decent mid-level receiver should provide plenty of power to fill that size area. Although you're switching to the Ascends, they are fairly sensitive speakers at 90dB anechoic (measurement in a sound-proof, echo-free chamber) and 92dB in-room. When looking at the measurements, the Ascends will actually be easier to drive than the Paradigm Mini Monitors. The Ascends will provide a louder signal with the same power, taxing your receiver less, so this is one benefit to your upgrade already.

While As you're upgrading more for music than movies, I would suggest a Denon, Harman Kardon, Onkyo or Pioneer over a Yamaha. While I would like to recommend a Marantz as everyone I know that's owned them have been quite happy with them, I don't feel they offer the same price for performance some of these other receivers do. I'm sure I'll catch some flack for that from someone, but Denon, Pioneer and Yamaha have been rolling out some impressive receivers for the price as of the past couple years. Onkyo and HK are catching up, but aren't quite up to the equivalent feature set for the price, the same can be said for Marantz, however the difference its a bit easier to find one of the mid-level Onkyos or HKs on closeout or refurbished with a full length warranty and in new shape. Some refurbished Marantz can be found at accessories4less.com, but again, it'll be difficult finding a Marantz w/the same feature set as one of the others I'd mentioned for a similar price. Again, these are what I have found over the past few years doing my own research and fighting off (or submitting to) the upgrade bug, so take this information for what it's worth.

I was a bit skeptical about Yamaha for music, however just a few months ago I picked up a refurbished RX-V2500 that I'm now using as a pre/pro in my dedicated theater and I have to say I'm quite pleased with its performance for both movies and music. Movies are definitely where the Yamaha's will excel, but from the 1500 and up, their musical performance is pretty impressive as well. My personal suggestions would be the RX-V2500 or RX-V2600. The 2600 has a better video section than the 2500 and also touts HDMI features, but from my own personal experience, I haven't found the 2500 to be lacking.

Denon will provide a decent mid-level receiver from the 2805 and up. The 3806 is a great receiver, however I think you might get more for your money with a 2807 as the feature set is very similar, provides plenty of power at 110Wx7 (10 watts will make almost no difference) and can be purchased through an authorized dealer for about $200-300 less than the 3806.

From Pioneer, I would suggest any of the Elite series receivers starting at the Elite VSX-52TX and up. I would suggest The VSX-56TX, VSX-72TXV or VSX-74TXVi, the latter two having HDMI. These models all offer excellent DACs, build quality and ample power as well as an extensive feature set.

From Onkyo, the TX-SR703 and TX-SR803 are two solid mid-level receivers with a good set of features that can be found for a decent price. The Onkyos don't have all the bells and whistles that you'll find on some of the Yamahas and Pioneers, but most folks don't use all of them anyway.

From Harman Kardon, the AVR435 and AVR635 are also solid mid-level receivers with plenty of power (don't let their watts per channel rating fool you) and have all the usual features of the comparable receivers noted here. These can be a fairly attractive option soon as their new models will be rolling out either at the end of July or August. The AVR7300 is also a heck of a receiver and OneCall has it on sale at the moment for $999. The problem is no HDMI and at this price tag, even though it's discounted, is a bit much when lacking this feature.

One last receiver I'll note is one from Boston Acoustics, the AVR7120. While just last year BA was acquired by D&M Holdings (Denon & Marantz parent company) and are no longer making any more, they released two receivers, this one built identical to the Sherwood Newcastle r-965, which is well received, well powered and well equipped. The video portion as well as the processor is quite impressive at this price level. These are lacking HDMI as well, but if it's not a concern, this is quite a unit.

I mention a few of the newer as well as older models from Denon, Pioneer and Yamaha as other than the auto-calibration utilities and HDMI, very little has changed from the previous models to the current ones. If HDMI is a serious consideration, then this will factor into your decision. If not, you're likely to be able to get a receiver for much cheaper forgoing this feature.

Here's my top five newer models:

Denon AVR-2807 for $1100
Yamaha RX-V1600 for $1,000
Onkyo TXSR803 for $750
Pioneer VSX72TXV for $1,200
Boston Acoustics AVR7120 for $1000

In addition to the ones noted above, here's my top five refurbished models:

Yamaha RX-V2600 for $720
Denon AVR-3805 for $600
Pioneer VSX-9300TX for $500 (this is new almost identical to the Elite 56TX model)
Onkyo TX-SR703 for $440 (almost identical to the 803 minus the HDMI)
Harman Kardon AVR635 for $700

*Note:The Yamaha, Denon and Pioneer receivers from uBid all come w/limited warranties. The Onkyo comes w/full 1 year manufacturer warranty and the HK comes with a 2 year mfg. warranty.

You may be able to find some of the new/refurb'ed receivers for lower costs than the links I listed here, but understand the warranty implications as some manufacturers won't honor a purchase from an unauthorized dealer. You can typically find out on each manufacturer's website who are authorized online or in-store dealers.

Now that I have writer's cramp, I'll let you digest. I have some additional suggestions besides this such as a less powerful receiver and external amplification, but I'll elaborate on that later if you're interested. Enjoy! Posted Image -TD

#5 of 6 OFFLINE   PhilMays


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Posted July 08 2006 - 12:22 AM

Nice responce Tom. My 2 cents... and not attempting to be as eliquant as Tom... I have owned Onkyo, Denon, and Yamaha. I have found the Onkyo (TX-DS 797) @100 wpc to be very warm sounding but had plenty of "punch". The Denon's I have owned were warm and a little thin, albeit they were in the 1800 and 1800 series. The Yamaha's (I currently use a RX-Z! as a pre/pro) were/are bright but I find that feature to be detailed to me and the power is appropiate. The only problem I had was with 2 RX-3300's that "burned up". I guess I would say I have a build quality concern even though I have had my Z1 for 3 years now with no problems....however these receivers were out of that price range unless you bought on ebay, etc. Even then they may not have some of the modern features you may need. I REALLY like Tom's suggestion (or rather one thought) of getting a pre/pro and a seperate amp....listening to what you want I feel that is the way to go in what you desire. On the outside looking in...get a good reciever that YOU like (audition and keep in mind where you audition will sound dratically different than your environment) with the thought to eventially buy a second hand amp on ebay or audiogon down the road. I have less concerns with second hand amps than I do recievers. Good luck! Phil

#6 of 6 OFFLINE   Brandon Pop

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Posted July 08 2006 - 09:38 AM

Thanks to both of you guys. I think I am going to go with the Denon 3806. If I feel I need more power I'll buy another amp later. I appreciate all the advice. - Brandon

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