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Advice on a New Receiver (TrueHD, DTS-HD)


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#1 of 55 Vin_G

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Posted May 08 2008 - 08:48 AM

I am completing construction of my new home theater and I need to buy most of my A/V hardware. I currently have a Denon 1804, but I clearly need to upgrade to take advantage of Blu-Ray audio/video.

I am looking for a receiver that handles Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD and is at least 130watts per channel (RMS). Any suggestions?

P.S. I listened to the Denon 3808 at the audio store and it sounded poor for music. I am hoping that the salesman just did not have it set up properly. The speakers (same that I own) sounded terrible as there was no bass. He could not figure out how to eq. it manually.

#2 of 55 Tralis

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Posted May 13 2008 - 01:01 PM

I have an Onkyo 805 coming in the mail. I'll tell you exactly how it sounds Thursday.

#3 of 55 Jari K

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Posted May 13 2008 - 06:53 PM

I recently got Yamaha v1800. Comes recommended.

RX-V1800

It has 4 HDMI in + 1 out.

#4 of 55 Vin_G

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Posted May 14 2008 - 02:26 AM

Those sound like some good suggestions. Receivers that I have been considering beyond the Denon 3808 include:

Pioneer Elite VSX-94TH (140W/channel)
Sony STR-DA5300ES (120W/channel)
Yamaha RX-V3800 (140W/channel)
Onkyo TX-SR875/905 (140W/channel)

The Pioneer, Yamaha and Onkyo are my front runners.

#5 of 55 Chuck Mayer

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Posted May 14 2008 - 02:46 AM

Vin,
Except for the Sony, that's pretty much my list (though the 1800 is the Yamaha I am looking at), if you include the 3808 (the strongest candidate for me, right now).

As per my usual pathway when I upgrade (rarely), I am paralyzed by options. I'm even considering an Integra pre-amp/processor using my old DSP-A1 as an amp until later next year. The A1 has the capability to take speaker input from an outboard processor. I'm not sure if that is a good idea, though.
Hey buddy...did you just see a real bright light?

#6 of 55 Vin_G

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Posted May 14 2008 - 02:52 AM

I spoke with a few saleman at a high-end audio dealer and they recommended against the pre/pro. They said you have to stick with all the same brand or you will get differing quality speaker to speaker, so that ends up being way more expensive. I guess if you bought a few high-quality amplifiers that were all the same, then you could just keep switching out your processor. That sounds expensive though.

So you like the Denon 3808? Did you listen to music on it like I did? I am very reluctant to buy it due to how weak it sounded. I am sure it is good for HT though.

#7 of 55 Vin_G

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Posted May 14 2008 - 03:55 AM

One more thing. The Onkyo SR905 looks attractive. It really advertises it's high-current capabilities with its "Massive Toraoidal transformer" (independent power supply with 70amp peak current). Sounds like it will actually be able to deliver the 140W RMS/channel as promised unlike the other receivers.

What do ya'll think?

#8 of 55 Chuck Mayer

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Posted May 14 2008 - 04:36 AM

Vin,
The Onkyo's always look attractive Posted Image My first receiver was their 1997 flagship, and it had everything. I upgraded to the DSP-A1 a year later, not because I was unhappy, but because I wanted dts (which few receivers had in 1998). My only concerns about the Onkyo are heat and quality. I will be using my receiver for movies almost exclusively, as I don't listen to music much at home. I do appreciate the pre-pro advice, and honestly, that's overkill for my townhome.

I haven't heard the Denon or the Yamaha yet. My local Myer-Emco didn't have the Denon 3808 on the floor. The Yamaha is attractive because it's the cheapest (and I like Yamaha's), but the Denon seems the most well-reviewed and thought of.

It's a tough decision.
Hey buddy...did you just see a real bright light?

#9 of 55 Vin_G

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Posted May 14 2008 - 08:31 AM

Thanks Chuck. I think you are right about the Onkyo. I think I will narrow it down to the Yamaha and the Pioneer. I do like Denon as I currently own one, but I think I will wait a couple of years to buy another as their 3808 does not seem up to par as their previous versions. The 3808 comes with all the bells and whistles, but wait until you hear music on it. Although you don't listen to music it will give you a good idea what it is doing with the frequency range. I have read similar reports on other forums about sound quality. Myself and my brother-in-law have been exclusively Denon for as long as we can remember, but we were visibly upset when we demoed the 3808.

Go to the store, only hook up towers (no subwoofer to mask the sound) and play your favorite cd, then tell me what you think.

#10 of 55 HT ROB

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Posted May 15 2008 - 03:54 AM

Well I've owned the 3808 and we love it. It's great on HT and for music it does great also. I will tell you we mostly listen to Jazz and sometimes classic rock. We just upgraded our speakers to Monitor Audio GS10's Posted Image Posted Image. I'm not sure how they have the 3808 hooked up at the stores but I can tell you it does great for us on music.tried to post a pic of our set up but I guess you have to have posted more than 10 times

#11 of 55 Vin_G

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Posted May 15 2008 - 05:04 AM

HT_ROB,

Can you tell me how you managed to get mid-bass out of it? When we listened to the towers in the store there was no bass at all. I tried to fiddle around with it by disabling the subwoofer, setting the fronts to large and so on. There didn't seem to be an equalizer setting to adjust the sound as it is automatic with a mic.

How did you dial in the sound?

#12 of 55 Dave Moritz

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Posted May 15 2008 - 05:58 AM

I am willing to bet that the store you went to most likely had something messed up. I have heard the Denon 3808ci and it sounds great. You could also try check out the Onkyo 805, 875 and 905 receiver. I have heard that the Yamaha's and Pioneer's do not actually put out what they are advertising. To my knowledge the Onkyo 805 puts out 60 amps and the 905 puts out 70 amps, I do not know what the Denon 3808ci puts out.

I know for what I am looking for the Pioneer Elite and Yamaha's do not fit what I am looking for. One thing I beleive in is if you want to know if something is built well, pick it up. While that is not the only way to tell if something has good build quality. I currently own a Yamaha RX-V995 and I want to have it upgraded by November.

Denon AVR-3808ci 7.1 Receiver MSRP$1,599
Power Output; Watts Per Channel 130 X 7
Weight: In Pounds 39.2 lbs
THX Ultra2
Dolby TrueHD and Dolby Digital+
dts-HD Master Audio
Component Video Inputs x Bandwidth - *Assignable - *3 x 100MHz
HDMI 1.3 (4 Inputs/1 Out)
Audyssey MultEQ

Denon AVR-4308ci 7.1 Receiver MSRP$2,499
Power Output; Watts Per Channel 140 X 7
Weight: In Pounds 41.6 lbs
THX Ultra2
Dolby TrueHD and Dolby Digital+
dts-HD Master Audio
Component Video Inputs x Bandwidth - *Assignable - *3 x 100MHz
HDMI 1.3 4 Inputs/2 Out
Audyssey MultEQ
(This model has more flexability and more features than the 3808ci)

Onkyo TX-SR805 7.1 Receiver MSRP$1,099
Power Output; Watts Per Channel 130 X 7
High Instantaneous Current Capability 60A
Weight: In Pounds 50.9 lbs
THX Ultra2
Dolby TrueHD and Dolby Digital+
dts-HD Master Audio
Component Video Inputs x Bandwidth - *Assignable - *3 x 100MHz
HDMI 1.3 (3 Inputs/1 Out)
Audyssey MultEQ
(The Onkyo's put out what they advertise power wise but it does run hot)

Onkyo TX-NR905 7.1 Receiver MSRP$2,099
Power Output; Watts Per Channel 140 X 7
High Instantaneous Current Capability 70A
Toroidal Transformer
Independent Power Supply for audio and video sections
Weight: In Pounds 54 lbs
THX Ultra2
Dolby TrueHD and Dolby Digital+
dts-HD Master Audio
Component Video Inputs x Bandwidth - *Assignable - *3 x 100MHz
HDMI 1.3 (4 Inputs/2 Out)
Audyssey MultEQ
(The Onkyo's put out what they advertise power wise but it does run hot)

Yamaha RX-V1800 7.1 Receiver MSRP$1,299.95
Power Output; Watts Per Channel 130 X 7
Weight: In Pounds 37.3 lbs
Dolby TrueHD and Dolby Digital+
dts-HD Master Audio
Component Video Inputs x Bandwidth - *Assignable - *3 x 100MHz
HDMI 1.3 (4 Inputs/1 Out)
YPAO Automatic System Calibration

Yamaha RX-V3800 7.1 Receiver MSRP$1,699.95
Power Output; Watts Per Channel 140 X 7
Weight: In Pounds 38.4 lbs
Dolby TrueHD and Dolby Digital+
dts-HD Master Audio
Component Video Inputs x Bandwidth - *Assignable - *3 x 100MHz
HDMI 1.3 (4 Inputs/1 Out)
YPAO Automatic System Calibration

I personally did not care for the lower end Yamaha's and they hardly weigh a thing.

Pioneer VSX-91TXH 7.1 Receiver MSRP$1,200
Power Output; Watts Per Channel 110 X 7
Weight: In Pounds 33lbs. 12oz
Dolby TrueHD and Dolby Digital+
dts-HD Master Audio
Component Video Inputs x Bandwidth - *Assignable - *3 x 100MHz
HDMI 1.3 (2 Inputs/1 Out)
Advanced MCACC 9-band EQ

Pioneer VSX-92TXH 7.1 Receiver MSRP$1,500
Power Output; Watts Per Channel 130 X 7
Weight: In Pounds 37.5 lbs
Dolby TrueHD and Dolby Digital+
dts-HD Master Audio
Component Video Inputs x Bandwidth - *Assignable - *3 x 100MHz
HDMI 1.3 (3 Inputs/1 Out)
Advanced MCACC 9-band EQ

Pioneer VSX-94TXH 7.1 Receiver MSRP$1,800
Power Output; Watts Per Channel 140 X 7
Weight: In Pounds 41.14 lbs
Dolby TrueHD and Dolby Digital+
dts-HD Master Audio
Component Video Inputs x Bandwidth - *Assignable - *3 x 100MHz
HDMI 1.3 (4 Inputs/1 Out)
Advanced MCACC 9-band EQ

I beleive that the Pioneer uses class d amplifiers and you may or may not like how they sound?)

I would take a few of your favorite CD's and movies to help you compair each receiver. IMHO this is the best way to audition a receiver. Also when doing the demo of the receiver try to match speakers in the store as close to the ones you own. Another thing to consider is that I beleive that the Audyssey set up has been receiving better reviews vs what Pioneer, Yamaha or Sony uses.

Personally at this point in time I am currently looking at the following receivers:

Denon AVR-3808ci
Onkyo TX-SR805
Onkyo TX-NR905

I would research every brand you are considering, this may take up alot of time but you will be glad you did in the end. Hope this helps in some way?


This is my current system and the Yamaha RX-V995 in the picture is going to get hooked up to my PC.

Posted Image

Posted Image
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#13 of 55 HT ROB

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Posted May 15 2008 - 06:03 AM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Vin_G
HT_ROB,

Can you tell me how you managed to get mid-bass out of it? When we listened to the towers in the store there was no bass at all. I tried to fiddle around with it by disabling the subwoofer, setting the fronts to large and so on. There didn't seem to be an equalizer setting to adjust the sound as it is automatic with a mic.

How did you dial in the sound?


PM sent

#14 of 55 Vin_G

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Posted May 15 2008 - 08:03 AM

Wow, Dave. Thanks for all the advice. Did you try listening to the 3808 without any subwoofer hooked up (i.e. just listening to the fronts)? This is where I was concerned.

Anyway you system looks pretty sweet. That is the first time I saw a system where a big-screen TV is too small!

So based on your advice I will narrow my search down to the Denon 3808, 4308 and Onkyo 905.....but wait a few months for the price to drop and buy it on Ebay Posted Image

#15 of 55 Dave Moritz

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Posted May 15 2008 - 10:06 AM

Thanks for the compliment Vin. Posted Image Those speakers do make the big screen look kinda small, but would you beleive that it is a 50" HDTV. Posted Image

Quote:
Wow, Dave. Thanks for all the advice. Did you try listening to the 3808 without any subwoofer hooked up (i.e. just listening to the fronts)? This is where I was concerned.

Yes I have heard it with and without a sub and it sounds very good. I listened to some CD's that I brought in without a sub and I was impressed. I auditioned the 3808ci at Ultimate Electronics about 2 months ago. I am currently trying to save up some cash for a new receiver. If I would have had the cash Fry's had a Onkyo TX-SR805 for $699 which is $300 off there normal price. My suggestion would be to stay away from a Sony reciever as they tend to have a weak amp section and the surround modes IMHO are so so. It is kinda scary when you look inside a receiver and it is really lite and has very little parts. One of the things that attracted me to the Onkyo is its built like a tank and has a good strong amplifier section, which is lacking in many of todays receivers in the $800 - $2,000 range.

What speakers do you currently have or will you be looking for a set of speakers?

My goal is to some day place a 120" screen between the Altec A-7's and maybe even build a custom JBL center channel to keep up with the A-7's. And depending on if I can start making better money I would add a pair of 18" JBL Pro subwoofers. If not then at least the 120" Stewart Screen with a nice Sony or JVC 1080p projector and Klipsch center and rear speaker and a SVS subwoofer.
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#16 of 55 Jari K

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Posted May 17 2008 - 09:33 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dave Moritz
Another thing to consider is that I beleive that the Audyssey set up has been receiving better reviews vs what Pioneer, Yamaha or Sony uses.

Well, these microphone/set-up-systems do a pretty good job in the 1000$(+/-) price range, but plenty also depends on the room acoustics and such - along with personal preference/"knowledge level". Microphone gives a good (and easy) starting point, but the job is not necessarily done after that.. But sure, that microphone is nice to have, can´t argue with that.

E.g. with "YPAO" that the Yamaha-receivers are using ( Amplifier Technology : YAMAHA Audio and Video ) and my room, the microphone did a pretty good job with e.g. speakers size/distances, but I had to tweak at least the speaker balance/levels (the audio level in the "front center" seemed to be lightly "too low" compared to others, etc). Of course, it´s best to use some proper "test DVD/test signals" when tweaking audio, since movies are mixed so differently. You can´t really tweak e.g. "front center" by listening just one random movie.

It´s also good to remember, that e.g. YPAO in Yamaha v1800 is not the "same YPAO" than in the e.g. Yamaha v463. So "better" models have also better microphone/set-up.

I would personally read every review that I could find about the model(s) that really interest me and selected comments from the forums. It´s best to take the "forum talk" always with that "grain of salt". But then again, it´s the same with the reviews. And with "salesmen" at the stores. Posted Image Try to find that "middle ground" after reading reviews/info.

edit1:

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dave Moritz
1) Power Output; Watts Per Channel 130 X 7

2) THX Ultra2

1) This is usually always lower in "real life" and when all speakers are active at the same time etc. Again, best to read some reviews (which might list the "real" power output). Then again, probably all have "enough" power for the normal use, so...

2) This is just another marketing gimmick from THX. Means very little.

There´s also video upscaling. Yamaha v1800 uses "ABT1010" ( Anchor Bay » Products » Semiconductors » ABT1010 ) for scaling and "iChip" for deinterlacing, while some Onkyo-models are using "Reon-VX HQV" ( HQV - Hollywood Quality Video Processing for HD : HQV Products TEST ). Some people feel that Reon is "better". Then again, at least v1800 doesn´t upscale via HDMI, so my Toshiba HD DVD-player (with "Reon") and PS3 does the (quality) upscaling now. So "upscaling quality" is probably not the nr.1 thing when buying A/V receiver (and in 1000$ +/- price range, upscaling is pretty good anyway).

edit2:

It´s also good to read this older thread when buying Onkyo/Yamaha-receivers:
http://www.hometheat....s-ma-bomb.html

When I bought my v1800, the latest firmware was updated to my receiver (via professional service people) before I took it home (and before I hooked it up, did all the settings, etc). Since PS3 doesn´t support "bitstream" with HD-audio yet (if ever), I´m not 100% sure are the "DTS bomb"-issues gone, but I assume that is the case. IMO: If you buy a new Onkyo/Yamaha-receiver now, it´s probably best to make sure that it has the latest firmware (or that it can be updated before you take it home).

edit3:

HDMI inputs are also quite important and IMO it´s good to have at least that 3-4 in (e.g. Onkyo/Yamaha have 4). e.g. I have now PS3, Toshiba HD DVD and Xbox 360 via HDMI, so I have "only" 1 left (perhaps new Blu-ray player at some point etc). Wii uses component.

#17 of 55 Dave Moritz

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Posted May 18 2008 - 08:01 AM

Quote:
1) This is usually always lower in "real life" and when all speakers are active at the same time etc. Again, best to read some reviews (which might list the "real" power output). Then again, probably all have "enough" power for the normal use, so...

I would agree but I think it also depends on how the amplifier was rated as well. Some companies only rate there amplifiers at 1Khz with one channel. And some rate there amplifiers from 20Hz - 20KHz all channels driven. But many of the low and midrange receivers do not actually deliver the actual advertised power. One brand that comes closest is Onkyo at least where there higher end receivers are concerned.

Quote:
2) This is just another marketing gimmick from THX. Means very little.

I also agree with that assesment as well. While I do not see it as a bad thing, I also do not see it as being manditory in order to buy something. Not sure why I listed it in my earlier post but again I do not care if something is THX certified or not to be honest with you.

My main concerns is with my next receiver is that it has a strong amplifier section with good headroom. It must have a minimum power rating of 100 watts per channel, and a minimum of 3 HDMI 1.3 ports. Must have decoding for Dolby True HD, Dolby Digital Plus and DTS-HD MA. My main concern is to get the best bang for my buck and the best performance possible. THX or no THX that does not matter in the long run.

Update: 5/18/08 9:05pm

After spending most of the day researching like a mad man I have boiled my choices down to 3. The 905 and the 3808 are what I am aiming for and the 805 is if I can not come up with the cash for ether of the upper line models. On my list
1. Onkyo TX-NR905 7.1 Receiver MSRP$2,099
2. Denon AVR-3808ci 7.1 Receiver MSRP$1,599
3. Onkyo TX-SR805 7.1 Receiver MSRP$1,099

Off my list
Denon AVR-4308ci 7.1 Receiver MSRP$2,499
Yamaha RX-V1800 7.1 Receiver MSRP$1,299.95
Yamaha RX-V3800 7.1 Receiver MSRP$1,699.95
Pioneer VSX-91TXH 7.1 Receiver MSRP$1,200
Pioneer VSX-92TXH 7.1 Receiver MSRP$1,500
Pioneer VSX-94TXH 7.1 Receiver MSRP$1,800
Marantz SR7003 7.1 Receiver MSRP$1,399.99
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#18 of 55 Jari K

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Posted May 18 2008 - 06:11 PM

I´ve read, that Onkyo-models get really hot (all receivers get warm after a while, but not necessarily "really hot"), which was one of the reasons why I didn´t want those models (and yes, my earlier receiver was Yamaha, so I kinda wanted the same/trusted brand - v1800/v3800 also got several good reviews). My room is on the "warm side" already (might be one reason why e.g. my PS3 has some fan noise), so I didn´t want any more unnecessary heat.

I fully understand, that these type of issues are blown out of proportion in the forums (let´s admit it; there´s always *something* with every model.. Posted Image ), but this thing seems to be well documented.

#19 of 55 Dave Moritz

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Posted May 20 2008 - 02:44 PM

There are some nice features on the Yamaha's and they look nice, but I do not like what I see with the Bench Test that Sound and Vision did. Sure I could use a Yamaha as is and then add a power amp later. But with so many other gear to upgrade I have not idea how long I would have to live with the reciever with a weak power amp?

I am trying to keep my options open but so far for the most part it is mainly between the Denon AVR-3808ci and the Onkyo TX-NR905. It is very difficult to find another receiver with it's specs and features at that price. And I admit at first I was going to stay away but I am not to sure that it is that big of a deal. I have a feeling that as long as more heat generating components are placed into one case. We will see more and more receivers running as hot as the Onkyo 905. PC CPU's actually run pretty hot as do the CPU's on grafics cards, but alot of the newer ones have heat sinks and fans on them. This is just something we are not use to with consumer a/v equipment and I think it will be comon place very soon.
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#20 of 55 John Dirk

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Posted May 20 2008 - 03:51 PM

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jari K
I´ve read, that Onkyo-models get really hot (all receivers get warm after a while, but not necessarily "really hot"), which was one of the reasons why I didn´t want those models (and yes, my earlier receiver was Yamaha, so I kinda wanted the same/trusted brand - v1800/v3800 also got several good reviews)...
I fully understand, that these type of issues are blown out of proportion in the forums (let´s admit it; there´s always *something* with every model.. Posted Image ), but this thing seems to be well documented.

I'm in the exact same position as you. Regardless of what has been said, my Yamaha RX-V2500 [other than the annoying OSD issue] has performed flawlessly and I have never been able to make it break a sweat power wise. Feature wise, I like what I see from the Onkyo 875, but I have read all sorts of horror stories about this receiver shooting sparks etc on Amazon. I know to take such reviews with a grain of salt, but there were too many for the claim to be totally baseless. I really want to buy the Onkyo, but I'm afraid I'll get [pun intended] burned. I Haven't eliminated the Yamaha 1800 or 3800 yet either. Can anyone comment on the 1800's/3800's peformance, especially the GUI over HDMI?

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