Benefits of separates???

Discussion in 'AV Receivers' started by Dave_La, May 21, 2004.

  1. Dave_La

    Dave_La Stunt Coordinator

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    My current setup is

    *Marantz 7200 receiver (found out it's only 27wpc with all channels driven from Sound & Vision mag.)
    *Outlaw 755 amp (200wpc)
    *Paradigm Studios all around

    This is my story. I bought the Outlaw amp to give my Studios more punch. I barely notice any difference except for more bass but not cleaner sound. Since I've already stepped my half my foot into the door into going separates should I go all the way?

    My question is will I benefit anything if I buy the outlaw 950 pre/pro or any preamp for under a grand?? Do different brands of preamps have a different kind sound processing that makes them better than others? My use is 70 HT/ 30 music.

    I'm sorta new to separates, so I'm hoping my comrades here can explain to me what's the deal with separates?? Is the sound any cleaner and crisper, will the THD level be lower since the amp is powering the speakers and not the receiver?? Or does the THD matter at all? What should I be looking out for. And what's this I hear about a "balanced audio output" from preamps. I'm really curious why I shouldn't just get a nice receiver instead. There's a lot of raves about the Anthem AVM20, will I get better sound processing from that compared to a receiver that's around $1500 bucks. I really want to know what justifies the cost of these expensive pre/pros. Any suggestions and inputs is greatly appreciated. Thanks guys!!!
     
  2. Misa

    Misa Auditioning

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    Good question. I was wondering the same kind of thing. In my case I have a receiver (entry level 40 wpc) that doesn't have pre-outs but pre-ins. So would upgrading by getting a dedicated pre-processor provide noticable improvement (till I could afford a dedicated amp). Or just spend the dough on a high end receiver.
     
  3. BarOr

    BarOr Stunt Coordinator

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    h
     
  4. Drew_W

    Drew_W Screenwriter

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    Uhm. Ok (??).

    Maybe others have more experience with Outlaw equipment; I do not. But I'm very tempted to say that moving from that Marantz to an Outlaw Pre/Pro would be something of a lateral move. Many will attest to how good the Marantz receivers are, and they are quite competent in their role as processors. Unless the Outlaw offers you something that the Marantz doesn't have feature wise, I'd save up and then do a more major upgrade later.
     
  5. Felix_H

    Felix_H Stunt Coordinator

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    I agree with Drew. Your Marantz is the weakest link.

    Save some more money and get a better receiver or pre/pro if you can afford it.
     
  6. John Garcia

    John Garcia Executive Producer

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    There is nothing wrong with the 7200, though it may be light on power. The amp should have taken care of that. 27w is fairly low, but that is with all channels driven, and believe it or not, is actually enough for average speakers, but is likely not quite enough for a full Studio compliment.

    Since you already have an amp, I'd say a good pre/pro for that price is still going to sound better than a $1500 receiver, but the Outlaw alone may not sound significantly better than the 7200, as Drew mentions.

    Misa, I would recommend a new receiver.
     
  7. David Judah

    David Judah Screenwriter

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    Adding the amp, as you noticed, doesn't magically make the sound quality any better--it just provides more headroom for those dynamic peaks.

    As far as the receiver is concerned, if you are using it for 70% HT, you're probably not going to notice a huge difference by swapping out to the Outlaw. If you go for a more expensive preamp, I think the big thing you'll pick up is better music reproduction(among other things like possibly a more flexible crossover, more inputs, more decoding modes, better remote etc...). It's your money, so you gotta decide where your priorities are.

    You could keep what you got if you are happy with the current state of your DVD reproduction and add a two channel preamp with HT bypass if you want to improve your two-channel listening(again if that matters to you).

    In my experience pre-amps can make a difference in sound quality, but it's not to the same degree as changing speakers. I went from a Yamaha RXV-795 as a pre-amp to a Pioneer Elite VSX-45TX, and back again after I sold the Pioneer, and there was most definitely a noticeable improvement with the Pioneer compared to the 5 year old Yamaha.

    If you do decide to upgrade, just make sure you have the option to return it if it doesn't meet your needs or offer the improvement you were hoping for.

    Good luck,

    DJ
     
  8. John Garcia

    John Garcia Executive Producer

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    Amps CAN make a difference, if your speakers are difficult to drive, and the Studios are a line of speakers that should benefit from greater headroom. The Outlaw amp probably didn't have better dynamics, but I'd say it has far greater headroom, though I would not expect overall sound quality to change dramatically in this case.

    I went from a 6200 to an 8300 and the difference was easily noticable, and when I added monoblocks for my mains, the difference was even more noticable (MA500s), though my mains are 4 Ohm nominal.
     
  9. Dave_La

    Dave_La Stunt Coordinator

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    THanks guys. I understand what I have to do now. I sure don't need a fancy remote or more inputs. If it doesn't make any sonic difference, I should just stick with my Marantz. Currently my Marantz doesn't have the DTS ES or DDEX. Do you guys think it's fine to buy a lower end receiver that has those features but lack the power. Something around $300 to $500?
     
  10. John Garcia

    John Garcia Executive Producer

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    The 7200 does do DTS ES (matrix, not discrete?) and DD-EX, my 6200 did.
     
  11. JoeHard

    JoeHard Stunt Coordinator

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    Dave,
    I'm not sure I understand why You would buy another reciever when You have a 5 channel amp. Maybe You could look for a used pre-pro on ebay or Audiogone. Since You don't amplification Your $5oo could go towards more features or better quality.
     
  12. Chris Sherman

    Chris Sherman Second Unit

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    I had a similiar experience , I added an Outlaw 750 to my five channel Onkyo TXDS676 receiver and couldn't tell a damn bit of difference. The Outlaw torroid hummed terribly to boot. It made me realize just how good that receiver is and as long as you have a decent sub, along with good quality relatively efficent speaker, a decent receiver is all most people really need. I had a bad case of upgraditis for a long time and to be truthful it took away from my bank account as well as my enjoyment of Home Theater. I've learned to prioritize and am now enjoying myself a lot more and sweating the small stuff a lot less.
     
  13. Wayne Ernst

    Wayne Ernst Cinematographer

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    Chris, we've all been there. With upgrades, 80% of the fun is the anticipation - before the item arrives. The remaining 20% is reality. Sometimes, with the 20%, we feel cheated because there is not enough of a benefit received for the cost we paid.

    With upgrades, all things need to be looked at cautiously and realistically to ensure it is truly a worthwhile upgrade.
     
  14. Jed M

    Jed M Cinematographer

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    The benefits of an amp are more obvious on
    1. higher end speakers
    and/or
    2. speakers that are hard to drive.
    I would imagine if you ran some magnepans with 27w and then switched to a 200w amp of the same quality you would notice a considerable difference. When I had klipsch, which are very efficient, I didn't notice a difference with an amp either.
     
  15. Dave_La

    Dave_La Stunt Coordinator

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    Wayne, you're probably right. IT's 80% fun and 20% reality. Ha ha. Aren't we fools.
     
  16. Dave_La

    Dave_La Stunt Coordinator

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    The 7200 does not have DTS ES or DDEX. It does have a matrix surround center not discrete.
     
  17. Chu Gai

    Chu Gai Lead Actor

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    Dave_La: For starters I believe it was Chris Wiggles who pointed out that the Marantz receiver that S&V reported on was flaky in some way and not representative of the model. If there was a correction, I'd think it would have been in a subsequent issue so if your curiosity is piqued, you could always direct a letter to the editors and ask them about it.

    Assuming what I've said is true for the moment and given that your speakers aren't all that hard to drive, unless your room is cavernous then I'd not have expected an outboard amp to have provided tangible results unless the type of music your playing places excessive demands on sustained power.

    I'll give you my take on separates and what I see as their advantages.

    First of all, separates allow you to build more complex systems to meet specific needs or wants that you may have.

    If you happen to like your existing separates configuration but have found a new set of speakers that you can't live without but can't be adequately driven by your existing amps, you can sell them off and buy ones that can do the job.

    If one channel on a receiver dies, rendering the others unusable, then your SOL and the entire system is down. If you've gone the route of monoamps or even a 7-channel where one amp doesn't bring the entire system down, you can limp along for a bit while you either get the defective unit repaired or just buy a new one.

    Maybe you don't need a tuner.

    Maybe you need a better tuner.

    Maybe you're heavily into vinyl and would like greater control over the phono preamp and hence would like to explore preamps that have control over say capacitances.

    Maybe you find the existing bass management lacking.

    New musical formats may come. While you like everything else, what you really need is a processor that can effectively deal with them so that's what you buy.

    You've run out of digital or analog inputs because you're heavily into games and own PS2, Nintendo, XBox, god knows what else.

    You want to go all optical because you've found that it's the easiest way to deal with some ground loops that are just causing you to pull out your hair and your receiver is just woefully short.

    You want another digital input because you've decided to get a turntable with digital outs and have decided that's the best way for you to archive your vinyl collection to CD.

    You've heard that 15.1 or whatever is coming out and all you need is a modest 7 channel amp and a processor. You're entirely pleased with everything else.

    You need more digital outs.

    You'd like to add a tube amp and occasionally listen to your front speakers with it but you want to retain some of the processing capabilities that you presently have.

    If you're going to go separates, give it some serious thoughts and critically evaluate what it is that you want to do and which approach takes you there. Power is but one aspect of the whole thing.
     

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