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Denon 3802/3803 As Pre-Pro vs 4802 or 5803

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Geoff Costello, Oct 8, 2002.

  1. Geoff Costello

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    As a very happy owner of the Denon 3802 runing a 7.1 set-up I am already considering my next upgrade (sigh!). Options I am considering are:
    1) Adding Separate Amplifiers for the front 3 channels
    2) Moving to the 4802 (or 4803 when out)
    3) Moving to the 5803
    I am interested in peoples opinions / experiences with this. I know some people say the 3802 is a great pre-pro it just needs better amps, while others push for some of the finer processing in the high end 4800 and 5800 series. I currently have really effecient high quality speakers - so headroom isn't an issue - I am just after the maximum clarity of sound for music and home theatre.
    A final complication / option (suggested by a friend in the same situation) is to upgrade to the 3803 (which looks really impressive - close to the 5803 in capabilities as far as signal processing) and use separate amplifiers!
    Look forward to your feedback [​IMG]
     
  2. Yogi

    Yogi Screenwriter

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    I agree that the 3803 with separate amplification will bring you at par with 5803's performance in music and beyond the 5803's performance in HT. If however your main interest is HT then you might just be more than happy with a 3802 and separate amplification.
     
  3. NickSP

    NickSP Supporting Actor

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    "I agree that the 3803 with separate amplification will bring you at par with 5803's performance in music and beyond the 5803's performance in HT."
    Yogi, I believe that if the 3803 is paired with a good amp then it should better than the 5803 for music too and not just equal it. Reason I say it is because the 3803 is incorporated with a lot of things common with the 5803s processing including Alpha 24 so I do believe that the 3803 with an external amp should sound better than the 5803. Just my perspective of course.
     
  4. Yogi

    Yogi Screenwriter

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  5. NickSP

    NickSP Supporting Actor

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    Yogi, reason I feel the same as you do is simple. I owned a 4802 for some time and was not happy with it's ampl especially in HT and I thought the dialog and surrounds suffered a bit. I then hooked it up with an external B&K amp and was amazed by the results. I tried a 3802 also with very similar results.
    I am really looking forward to the 3803 with all it's upgrades and with the capcitors changed etc., it should make a darn good receiver IMHO.
     
  6. John Royster

    John Royster Screenwriter

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    I'll offer a differing opinion.

    My 3802 is terrible as a pre-amp. Soundstage is muddy and collapsed. I already use an external amp to get some power, but even switching to a 10 year old HK integrated was leaps and bounds better than the 3802.
     
  7. ricky ho

    ricky ho Stunt Coordinator

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    I was using a 3802 as a pre-pro. I upgraded to a Outlaw 950.As much as i liked the 3802, it can't compare to the 950 in any way. Of course, this is in my set up and IMHO.
     
  8. Brian Corr

    Brian Corr Supporting Actor

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    I'll offer up my experience as well as I've used the 3802 alone, as a pre/pro and used the 5803 alone and as a pre/pro.

    Adding an amp (ATI 1505) to the 3802 offered a substantial improvement (more dynamic mainly).
    However, I found the 3802 to mute the highs and mids and be a little harsh sounding. I didn't recognize this until I directly started comparing it to other units. "Muddy" is a good description used before.

    I also had an EAD encore (borrowed) in my system at the time for comparison. The encore was much better sounding than the 3802, yet lacked some features. The sound was incredibly smooth and more laid back.

    The 5803 sounds much better than the 3802, less harsh and plays a wider range dynamically. I haven't noticed the high's lacking like on the 3802.

    Adding the ATI 1505 to the 5803, I couldn't tell much difference. I switched back and forth adding the amp in and then taking it out and listening to 2 channel. I couldn't tell a noticeable difference between the ATI and the 5803's amps. I did this at moderate volumes (approaching ref.) listening to 2 channel. I think the 5803's amps are more than capable of driving most speakers in a small to moderate size room compared to a separate amp. I sold the ATI soon after.

    I still prefer music with the EAD over the 5803 but it's a different sound, not really worse. The EAD sound is incredibly smooth. I think the 5803 sounds better for HT though, more dynamic and more accurate.

    I've found that for HT, I want accurate, dynamic, in your face kind of sound. For music, I want a more laid back and smoother sound.
    Regardless of what I'm listening to, a great soundstage and enveloping sound is a must.
    I've heard the new EAD theatermaster 8000 pro and think it would satisfy me for both HT and 2 channel but it moves you up to another category pricewise. The other option is to get a separate system for 2 channel.
    For now, I watch movies and put the emphasis on HT more than 2 channel so the 5803 as is fits the bill perfectly for me.
    Anyway, all my babbling aside, I think either the 5803 or separates would be a step up from the 3802 (not sure about the 3803) used as a pre/pro. Comparing the 5803 vs comparably priced separates is going to be a judgement call.
     
  9. Yogi

    Yogi Screenwriter

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    BTW where did you guys find out about the capacitor upgrade on the 3803? Pardon my ignorance.
     
  10. Bryan Acevedo

    Bryan Acevedo Second Unit

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    Yogi - on the Denon website, in the product brochure (.pdf file) it talks about a new custom designed cap for the 3803.

    Bryan
     
  11. Robert Tonkin

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    Perhaps the "muddy" sound the few folks refered to using the 3802 as a pre/pro will not be there with the upgraded 3803's hardware??? Hopefully someone will use the 3803 as a pre/pro and let us know what they think.

    I'm considering buying an Outlaw 5 channel 200w amp to drive a 5.1 set up with VA Mozarts L/R, Haydn's in the rear, a VA center and a REL Strata III, mostly for classical music (eventually SACD). I've considered the Outlaw 950 and don't want to take the hiss gamble. The Rotel 1066 has double bass issues and I will hold off there too. I'm considering using a reciever as a pre/pro and this thread now adds the 3803 as a contender.

    Thanks,
     
  12. Yogi

    Yogi Screenwriter

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    Thanks Bryan. I did skim thru the 3803 info sheet and although paid attention to the new preamp features, I totally ignored the amp section. I thought it had the same output power so there must be nothing different in that department. Now I see that. I think that should make a difference in sound and dynamic response. Although I am surprised that the dynamic power specified in the 3803 manual is the same as in 3802's manual. Maybe the new caps are more to ensure a stable supply of power rather than more reserve power. In that case there wont be any difference in dynamic headroom but a better ability to handle transients of longer duration. Thats just my guess. Will have to bring one home for audition when it hits the streets.
     
  13. Walt N

    Walt N Second Unit

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    Geoff, if you're feeling an undeniable urge to upgrade I'd go with an external amp on your 3802. If the 3802 has the features you need, that's most of the battle as the pre-pro section on it is audibly on par with most pre-pro's out there as far as quality, topography, and measurements are concerned. There's nothing constricting, muddy, or smeared about it's sound nor do it's resolution capabilities fall behind.

    As with many areas of the audio landscape, one would be wise to view testimony regarding remarkable audible differences of modern solid state equipment with a large degree of skepticism. New, more expensive, and/or better looking gear always "sounds better" but more often than not it has more to do with perception that with the actual sound. I don't think anyone here is trying to BS anyone, however the evidence shows that sighted comparisons of audio equipment are unreliable through no fault or mischief on the part of the listener.
     
  14. Bryan Acevedo

    Bryan Acevedo Second Unit

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    Yogi - I do think they mentioned that the new caps were more for a stable power supply, which will help with the transient response.
    I know from my car audio days, you wanted big caps to supply the needed current for the subs. I think the new cap in the 3803 will help when you want to turn up the volume during those explosions!
    I will have both in my house at the same time - I will try and do some comparisons when I eventually get it. It could be a while, as I have a new house being built, and I move in to it in 3 weeks. According to the wife, there are more important things to buy than a new receiver to replace an already new receiver. Go figure. [​IMG]
    Bryan
     
  15. Geoff Costello

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    Thanks for the advice to date. I'm auditioning a Rotel RMB 1095 and 1075 to try for improvement.
    I have a 7.1 set-up and this would cover 5 channels. One thing I am not sure of is the impact of still powering the remaining 2 channels from the Denon receiver. I have heard two schools of thought on this.
    1) It will be fine taking away the front channels and just leaving the center rears takes all the strain away from the receiver amp section
    2) No you need to get rid of all the drain on the amp sections so that the power supply doesn't have to feed the random current demands of speakers and can just (easily) drive the Pre-Pro section.
    Any thoughts / experiences on this or the Rotel combo. [​IMG]
     
  16. jason celaya

    jason celaya Stunt Coordinator

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    I figured I bring this thread back again as I too am thinking of upgrading my 3802 w/ a 2 ch. POA 5200 (2 x125)to a 5803 and I'm wondering if it would be worth it. I think power will not be too noticable however I wonder if I could tell the differece in DACS on HT.

    Any more input?
     
  17. Gil D

    Gil D Supporting Actor

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    The 3802 is quite good as a preamp mated to a good amp. I have used external amps by H/K, Sherwood, and ATI. The H/K and Sherwood sounded great and the ATI although powerfull imaged poorly.
     
  18. John Royster

    John Royster Screenwriter

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    I'd love to hear I'm not the only one....

    BUT, when listening to the 3802 with music in direct mode with no sub and an numerous external amps the music was just bad.

    Switched with some other pre-amps I had around like an HK integrated and adcom. No comparison. All said and done my 3802 does pretty good with home theater, but is unacceptible for music in my HO. I could have purchased a 1000 dollar integrated for what I paid for it. My mistake though.
     
  19. Brian Corr

    Brian Corr Supporting Actor

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    There is a significant difference between the 3802 as a preamp and the 5803 as a receiver when listening to music.
    The 3802 just seems to mute some of the frequencies. This has nothing to do with the amp section IMHO.
    I feel the pure direct mode on the 5803 is much better than the direct mode on the 3802 for music.
     

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