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Which of these options will give me the best sound? Or what would you do?


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#1 of 8 George_W_K

George_W_K

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Posted May 26 2010 - 10:14 AM

Hi all,



I've had the upgrade bug for awhile now, but not sure what to do.  I'd like to get into today's latest codecs and features, but not at the expense of the sound quality I currently have.  Naturally, my goal is to improve upon what I already have, but if I can at least make a lateral move in sound quality while gaining the advantages of DTS MA, Dolby TrueHD, HDMI, etc. that would be acceptable to me.  :)


This is what I currently have:


Mains = Martin Logan Aeon i's

Center = Def Tech C/L/R 3000

Rears = Axiom QS8's

Pre/pro = B&K Reference 50

Amps = B&K Reference 200.2 for the ML's, and a used Yamaha DSP-A1 for the rest.
Sub = SVS PB2+/2


Here is what I'm considering:


Option A:  Denon 4810 for the processing and using its amps to power the center and rears, short term.  Keep using the 200.2 for the ML's.  In the long term I'll probaby get a dedicated amp for the center and rears.


Option B:  Marantz AV8003 pre/pro with an Emotiva XPA-5 for the center and rears.  Keep same B&K for ML's.


Optoin C:  Keep Reference 50 which already sounds great and add Emotiva XPA-5 for center and rears.


Options D:  Same as "C" but instead, try to find a B&K Reference 200.5 or 200.7 instead of the Emotiva route.


Options: E-???  Anything else you can come up within $2000-2500.


My biggest problem, I can't audition the Marantz anywhere near me from what I can find so I have no idea what it sounds like.  I've been to a couple of HT shops in the past 2 days and both of them said the Marantz will sound the same as the Denon since they share a lot of the same parts because they're owned by the same company.  Not sure I buy this idea.  But, I don't know.  And both shops tried to steer me toward the Integra line of pre/pros.  I listened to the 40.1 I think and I thought it sounded like a blanket was covering the sound compared to what I have at home.  Another shop didn't demo anything for me because they were having cable troubles, but wanted to sell me the 9.9 for $1500 so they could get rid of their stock.  Are the Integras really that good where both shops wanted to talk about them ignoring the fact that I came to listen to Denon and Marantz?  Or do the dealers get better profit, incentives, etc with the Integra line?  Just seems fishy to me.  I'm not saying they're bad products at all, just that the pressure seemed strange.


I'm also leary of the Emotiva XPA-5.  It has great reviews at the Emotiva site, but I expect nothing less there.  I'd sure like to see a pro review of it.  And I know it's priced way lower than the B&K Reference series, but if the B&K sounds better I'd rather spend the money because it'll be worth the extra premium by all the years I SHOULD get out of the amp.  I'd just hate to take an $800 chance and always think I should have gone the other way.  Maybe the performance will blow my mind like my SVS did the first time I hooked it up and I won't look back, who knows?  :)

So, what option should I go with?  Or do you have better suggestions?  Or will I be happy with any of the scenarios?  I'll appreciate any input you guys give me.

Thank you,

George



#2 of 8 John Brill

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Posted May 27 2010 - 02:51 AM



Originally Posted by George_W_K 
I'm also leary of the Emotiva XPA-5.  It has great reviews at the Emotiva site, but I expect nothing less there.  I'd sure like to see a pro review of it.  And I know it's priced way lower than the B&K Reference series, but if the B&K sounds better I'd rather spend the money because it'll be worth the extra premium by all the years I SHOULD get out of the amp.  I'd just hate to take an $800 chance and always think I should have gone the other way.  Maybe the performance will blow my mind like my SVS did the first time I hooked it up and I won't look back, who knows?  :)


I was leary of going the internet only route but glad I took the Emotiva plunge.  I have no idea how these guys make any money in selling such quality products at such a low cost.  The XPA-5 is a beast and I'll be ordering it or the smaller UPA-5 in the Fall to go with the UMC-1 already in my possession (paired up with a Rotel AVR at the moment).


Emotiva has an excellent return policy if you want to try it out first to ensure you have no regrets.



#3 of 8 Selden Ball

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Posted May 27 2010 - 05:54 AM

According to the manager of my local AV store, their profit margin on Denon equipment is very small, and Marantz profit margins currently are higher. (I got a significant discount from the Iist price of an AV8003.) I dunno about Integra. Most brick-and-mortar stores are under a lot of pressure because of the low prices of internet-direct resellers.


Marantz and Denon AVRs and pre/pros currently seem to have very little commonality, although their mid-range (~$500) Blu-ray players do. The Marantz AV8003 pre/pro seems to share a lot with the Marantz SR5003 and SR6003 AVRs, since they have very similar feature sets. They have fewer features than Denon AVRs, though, which makes it seem to me to be unlikely that they have that much in common with the comparable Denon AVRs.


Rumor has it that this will change in this year's lineup of AVRs -- common hardware but different firmware and faceplates seems likely.


Selden

#4 of 8 George_W_K

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Posted May 27 2010 - 11:47 AM

I'd really like to hear a Marantz AV8003 in action.  There's a dealer 10 miles from me supposedly, but I never heard of them so we'll see.  Maybe I'll get lucky and they'll have a Denon too.


But as it stands, I'm leaning toward the amp option and waiting another year for a pre/pro upgrade.  I wish I could find a great deal on a B&K 200.7, then my decision would be made.  :)


I'd still like your suggestions though, my mind has changed about a zillion times the past week on this.

Thanks for the input so far!



#5 of 8 Brandon3212

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Posted May 28 2010 - 10:51 AM

I personally would go the Emotiva route.  I haven't had the pleasure of listening to any of them but they look like they are built with quality that far surpasses marantz, denon, ect.


#6 of 8 George_W_K

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Posted May 31 2010 - 04:28 AM

Well, I'm probably going to get an Emotiva XPA-5 and see how that works out for me.  From everything I've read about the Marantz, if I were able to hear one, I'd probably go that way, however I think waiting for the next version whenever that may be would be the way to go.  4 HDMI inputs is too few IMO.

But, Emotiva has an XPR series of amps on the way so I may wait to see how those are received before I purchase anything.


#7 of 8 George_W_K

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Posted June 05 2010 - 02:48 PM

I purchased a used B&K amp that I should receive Thursday so we'll see what happens.   Thanks for the input guys.



#8 of 8 George_W_K

George_W_K

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Posted June 08 2010 - 09:31 AM

Yeah, the amp arrived early!  Boo, I don't have the new circuit for it run yet.  Guess I shouldn't have wasted the weekend afterall, whoops!