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Denon 3802 vs. Sony DA5ES - Which one would you buy & why?

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Michael D. Bunting, Feb 17, 2002.

  1. Michael D. Bunting

    Michael D. Bunting Screenwriter

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    I already have a Denon AVR-3802 on order (from a local authorized Denon dealer). I paid $899.96 w/ no sales tax.
    I can't get the Sony DA5ES locally for anything under $1100
    After doing some more research - it appears I can get the Sony DA5ES for something just under $1000.00 via the net - and I have even heard that some folks have gotten it for $900-$925 shipped.
    Is the Sony worth the extra $100-$200 - If it is, I'll likely go with that model.
    I have a Denon AVR-3300 currently - but previously I owned the Sony DB-930 and was very happy with that model. So - I'm pretty equal to both Sony and Denon. I will say that the Sony looks nicer than the Denon IMHO anyway. And the Sony weighs a ton!!! Seems like it's got a very good build quality. I like the Denon also though...I'm very torn!
    So, which one would you purchase and why? Thanks for any info!
     
  2. Earl Simpson

    Earl Simpson Supporting Actor

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    Both are fine. Go to OADES/Etronics/JR for the Sony. 6th Ave for the Denon'/// [email protected] . The Sony has more inputs/period. A better video switching machine. The Sony has 6 discrete equalizers, a 5 year warranty,an excellent remote,and a 3 room 3 source option.
    I have the 3802 and love it, but if all your full range speakers are not identical with no sub, then Houston we have a problem. My JBL 312 needs a slight bass boast but I can't do that for one speaker on my Denon. I may get a sub.
    You will be happy with either one. Its just what your needs are. I do not use a rcvr for video switching. Several people have both units on this forum and have reported that they are happy with both. If somebody comes along an trashes the Sony. Find out if they own a 5es and for how long and where they bought it, and the exact problem they are having. Sony does make good products and will be in business for a long time. They also make some trash from time to time. The 5es is not trash.[​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]
     
  3. Earl Simpson

    Earl Simpson Supporting Actor

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    PS/ I forgot about the 7 amp thing. Well, its like this, do you have to have 2 rear speakers instead of one(same channel info in both). If you have proper room size and speaker placement, then you may want a 7 amp rcvr. I can't find a place to put 5. So 7 was a real goat rope. I have 4 speakers in the same area. Not cool, but ok. I built my house for 4 speakers and then 6.1 comes along. I guess I could build another house just for my RPTV center,[​IMG]
     
  4. Michael D. Bunting

    Michael D. Bunting Screenwriter

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    Earl
    Thnaks for all your help and info!
    I really do like the fact that the 3802 has the 7 amps. I probably don't have the room in my apartment right now to utilize this feature though. But I am in the planning stages of building a house or buying a house....and will hopefully have a dedicated Home Theater Room when I do so.
    I'm probably about 1 1/2 -2 years away from building/buying a house - so I think the 3802 is probably what I'll go with.
    I do wish the 3802 had as many digital inputs as the Sony - I think it's minus two (1 coax and 1 opt) - but I know the 3802 has as many as I need, currently anyway.
    Thanks again - any more opinions out there?
     
  5. Andrew Pratt

    Andrew Pratt Producer

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    My suggestion is to wait[​IMG] What I'd do is buy a cheaper 5 channel amp now like the HK5800 which you can find used for around $300 and then save up a little more and buy one of the new pre amps like the outlaw or rotel when they come out. For now your 3300 will make a great pre amp and in the end you'll have true seperates...just my take on it.
     
  6. Will Yee

    Will Yee Auditioning

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    Hello all, I just ordered a Sony DA5ES receiver today from JandR because after all my research and experience, I believe this is the best bang for the buck for around the $1k price range. I negotiated and paid a total of $1010.00 for delivery to my door from JandR. At first the salesman would not budge on price with delivery (over the phone) and then I said "forget it then, I will order it from oade bros."

    He said, "hold on I will go see what I can do..." came back and offered it to me for $1010.00 shipped. However I live in NY, so the shipping was not as much as if you are out of state. So keep that in mind. JandR's initial quoted price to me was $999.99 just for the DA5ES alone, no tax nor shipping applied. So they will negotiate it seems. Besides, I just bought an expensive Sony KD-34XBR2 HDTV from them about a month ago so I am giving them alot of busine$$.

    This is my first Sony ES line purchase. I have had mostly good experiences with my previous lower "DE" line Sony receiver purchases. My current HT receiver is a Sony DE-945 from a couple of years ago. I can say that I rate it an excellent buy and it has and still is serving my well for DD5.1 and DTS as well as 2 channel duty. It has been totally glitch free and reliable. I would say that these lower end Sony DE line receivers are a little on the bright sharp sounding side when used with modern day bright speakers. However, I have a collection of old vintage speakers, of which in that, I have 3 pairs of old classic AR-3a's! Yes, I have 3 pairs of these beautiful sounding babies (for all the older members out there that know what they are!) and they mate real well to the Sony's bright amplifier characteristics. The old vintage AR-3a's are not an easy load on amps (they are rated as 4 ohm speakers) and do dip well below that on some low bass freqs. But I find it a testament to Sony's amplifier design to handle the load of these AR-3a's without any problems. I do not and have not ever blasted the system real loud for prolonged listening periods however. So if you do that, I guarantee you that most any amplifier will heat-up and burn out in time! I use an old Dynaco A-25 for the center channel speaker because it is so natural sounding for vocals and midrange. Mind you, younger members, these speakers I am talking about are from 1967 to 1970 time era (so you may not have heard of them). But they are great natural sounding speakers that are not bright by todays sizzle and boom standards. So they kind of balance out with the Sony DE line's slight tendency towards brightness.

    Okay, back to my Sony DA5ES receiver... I can't wait to get this unit and check it out. I am not really expecting major improvements in sound quality... I bought it for the many newer up-to-date features that my older DE-945 does not have. Like, DPII, component video switching, 6.1 channel decodings, excellent build quality, beefier power supply and chassis construction, more A/V and digital inputs, the gold plated connectors, ahh, the list goes on.

    I wish that they did not change that horizontally placed cool blue DD5.1 light of the older units though. The newer

    units seem to look crappier with a tiny vertical blue light IMO. But that really does not matter... it is the features and sound and reliability that matter to me.

    I will try to report my experiences and fingings on the Sony DA5ES when I get enough experience with it.
     
  7. Earl Simpson

    Earl Simpson Supporting Actor

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    You will hear the difference. 6 real amps.
     
  8. EricHaas

    EricHaas Supporting Actor

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    Wow, I'm surprised you were not deluged by people telling you to get the Denon because "Sony sucks." I just got the Denon 3801 (same as the 02 but without PL2). It is a great unit, but very difficult to use for entry level people like myself. Before that, I had a Sony DE series and it had a much more intuitive interface than the Denon. I like the little things on the Sony like how the blue light comes on when you are decoding DD or DTS. And the remote is good.

    The Denon was a noticeable step up in sonic performance and a large step up in features, but that is in comparison to the less expensive Sony model. Good luck!
     
  9. Earl Simpson

    Earl Simpson Supporting Actor

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    Eric, Have you wore out that 3801 yet???[​IMG]
     
  10. John Tompkins

    John Tompkins Supporting Actor

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    Michael, I havent had those exact models but I have had the Sony 777es and Denon 3801 both were in my house at least 6 months. They both have their stong points. I felt that the sony 777es on home theater was incredible!! seperation, powerful amps. But on music it made my ears buzz literally, it was kinda bright on MY system, it was mated with NHT speakers.

    The Denon 3801 was good on home theater but not as good as the sony 777.. but on music the denon was warmer and more pleasing to my ears. Take your pick
     
  11. Will Yee

    Will Yee Auditioning

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    Hi Earl, yes, I am betting that this Sony DA5ES receiver is a winner. I guess you can say that I am a Sony fan, being that I have bought many of their things through the years (many years at that!)... several receivers (low end line), cassete decks, reel to reel tape deck, XBR TV sets, DVD changer, CD changer, VCR's, 8mm Video decks, camcorders, digital cameras. However, I have had a few Sony lemons in the bunch. I remember one Sony receiver the best of their low-end line (cannot remember the exact model number now, but it was when Dobly Prologic was new) went whacky on me.

    Every now and then it would stop responding to remote control input and had to be powered off/on to reset the logic. I got rid of it. Which reminds me I did buy their top of the line ES Prologic preamp after that and it too went whacky on me in the same way. I got rid of that too.

    I agree that somewhere in the mid 1980's Sony quality control took a turn for the worse. Before that, every Sony product I had lasted and lasted. Mid 1980's must have had a Sony management change for after 1986 or so, many Sony products just did not last. I think that they have improved since then, but as you can see lemons in any line still slip through the cracks. I am gambling that the Sony DA5ES is not one of the lemon offerings...!

    Anyway, I am really just an audiophile starting from back around 1967 when I first got bitten by Hi-Fi sound. Even though I introduced myself to this forum talking about low-end DE line Sony receivers, I have run the gamut in audio from mid-fi to high end audio components, learning from my experiences that high-end "Brand Name" loyalty is full of alot of hype and can cost one alot of bread chasing after that perfect sound. The reality of it, of course, is that there is no such thing as "perfect" for everyone. What is perfect sounding to one, is not perfect to another and another, etc. Anyway, I have run the gamut of designing and building my own speaker systems at one time, and also repairing and modifying my audio equipments (tube and solid state). I ran out and splurged on highend tube preamps like the Audible Illusions Modulus 3 tube preamp, Magnum Dynalab Etude FM Stereo Tuner for example and found out that it is all hype... as in, I could get the same sound and reception for less money from lower priced so called mid fi companies like Onkyo, Pioneer, Sony, Denon and Kenwood! Just that the snob appeal was not there with those brands.

    Anyway, I view Sony as a really great technology company always with leading edge state of the art technology and the resources and backing to keep it up. It is very hard for the little esoteric companies to really compete with large companies when it comes to features, technology for a particular price point (like Outlaw). I think the price of Sony's DA5ES at around $900 to $1000 is an amazing bargain for the quality and workmanship, features and technology that is packed into this great unit. Only a giant company can put out something like this at this price point. I am and engineer and I know about amplifiers and electronics. The digital decoder stuff I must admit I am not too keen on because I have not kept up in detail with it... but I do know that Sony is one of the leaders in making the best sounding A/D and D/A converters out there. They excel in this area IMO. Although the Denon units are really good at this too, I still think Sony is leading edge stuff.

    I am hoping you are right that when I get that DA5ES and hook it all up, it will have a nice smooth sound with even my modern sets of speakers. Overall I like the look of the Sony ES receiver line too, just not sure about the change they made to the blue DD5.1 light...:)
     
  12. Will Yee

    Will Yee Auditioning

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    Hi Eric, no doubt that you made a good choice getting the Denon receiver. Don't get me wrong when I say that I buy alot of Sony stuff. I also like the Denon stuff myself and I did have a Denon CD player back in 1987 or so that was the best sounding CD player that I liked over Sony's for its time. Denon is another company that likes to do things first class... probable more so than Sony! I just went with the Sony DA5ES this time around because I was already familiar with all the flexibility that the Sony interface brings to the table. I especially like all the separate tone control adjustments and frequency increments Sony gives to each and every separate channel as well as the surround sound delays and speaker size mode fine tuning. It all works well for me on my current low-end DE-945 receiver. I expect the DA5ES will have a similar setup menu and features plus alittle bit more.

    One thing I am not sure that I like about the Sony though is that I noticed that they do not decode the newest THX 7.1

    standard? I just missed that tidbit in my research. I assumed too much that Sony had all the format bases covered. But I guess since they are not "in-bed" with Lucas THX, they won't play ball together. Oh-well. If I had the extra cash and could make my real choice of receiver to get, I guess it would be that expensive Pioneer 49V or something, next cheaper unit for me would probably be the Denon 4802. But for the $900 to $1000 range, I guess Sony DA5ES it will be. :)

    BTW, just in case some nerves were hit, I did not mean to imply anthing bad about the Outlaw products in my last post comparing big companies with little start-up type companies... I know that those little companies can produce some great sounding products just

    much simpler than the big companies techno gazillion buttons and control features products. Of course they'll tell you simpler is better and in many ways, that basically is true... like in the signal path. But then convienence and adjustable features can be neat to have too... like all those Sony separate channel tone control adjustments! Wow wee! (I just like to have them, when I take my audio-purist hat off). Anyway... good luck with and enjoy your Denon and don't look back! It is a very decent receiver and company.
     
  13. Michael D. Bunting

    Michael D. Bunting Screenwriter

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    I went and auditioned the Sony and the Denon a couple hours ago.
    I came home with the Denon
    Mostly becuase of price though...
    I thought they sounded very similair to each other - both on the DVD's I tested out (Moulin Rouge) - and the CD's (Beastie Boys & Eagles).
    They wanted $400.00 more for the Sony DA5ES over the 3802....and they wouldn't budge on the price whatsoever. I tried really hard also to get them to do some discounting because of all the items (TV, Dig. Camera, Monster HTS3500, etc.) that I had purchased at this store over the past 6 months.
    So I went with my original choice, the Denon 3802.
    I haven't yet hooked it up...but will do so here in a few minutes.
    I'm pretty pumped....
    Mike[​IMG]
     
  14. EricHaas

    EricHaas Supporting Actor

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    Mike,

    Given the price difference, I have no doubt that you made a good choice. Some people malign Sony products but I actually like them. However, at that price difference with them being about equal in features, I cannot imagine opting for the Sony. Denons are great receivers. Just a bit frustrating at times. Good luck!
     
  15. Earl Simpson

    Earl Simpson Supporting Actor

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    I did the same thing, but the price difference would have been $130. That was before I read the fine print on the Sony 5es. That is one thing that Sony has really screwed up. No manuals, no downloads and no info, and will not give any out if you e-mail them. Very irritating.
    OK/ The fine print=6 equalizers/one for each channel/ this is a serious issue for those of us that have a mixture of speakers from all over the world. I wish the low point was lower than 99 cycles, but at least you can boast the bass on some of those speakers that are great but a tad weak on the bass by design and not capability. Also the greatly increased input area/two remotes/ and I believe it will do a svhs/rca convert(not sure about that). I have read so many reports that I can't remember which rcvr had that feature.
    The 3 room/3 source is something I don't think I will use. But who knows. Sony is user friendly.
    But I still love my Denon![​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]
     
  16. Michael_T

    Michael_T Second Unit

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    Even though I have an Integra 6.2, and had auditioned the DA5ES a few weeks ago, and perferred the sound of the Onkyo line over the Sony, I recently purchased an XA777ES SACD player to replace my CE775. Since I have both a DVD-Audio player and a MCH SACD player - I was really getting tired of switching cables everyday to play one surround format after the other.

    With the combined fortune of my year-end work bonus, tax refund, etc. I had some extra cash to "blow" on the DA5ES. So, as I said, even though I perferred the sound of the Onkyo line (Integra 6.2 is comparable to the Onkyo 696), I decided to give the DA5ES a whirl. I could always bring it back to the store for store credit if I did not like it.

    First the positive points (for me):

    1) True 2-channel Analog bypass (important for 2-channel SACD and 2-channel DVD-Audio). True MCH bypass with 2 multichannel inputs. (I am not so convinced the Integra even on "direct" mode was a true analog bypass.) I did hear a difference when I hooked up my XA777ES to the CD/SACD analog input on 2-channel stereo. Everything seemed to have a higher quality sound, if not a touch brighter than the Integra 6.2.

    2) Great Dolby Digital, DTS, DPL2, DTS:Neo6 decoding. The DA5ES bested the Integra in decoding movie soundtracks. The center channel was much clearer with the Sony. On movies where sometimes the dialogue wasn't so clear, the Sony made it much more intelligable. (The 6.1 decoding and back surround speaker are not important to me - nor do I think my wife would be pleased if I added another speaker behind our couch in the living room.)

    3) Did I mention the dual multi-channel inputs - with direct bypass!!!!

    4) Very good remote, and very intuitive once you get used to it. And if the main remote is too "hard" to figure out, Sony gives you a basic remote that most should have no problem with (so you get 2 separate remotes - nice touch).

    5) Multiroom capability - since I use STAX Pro Lamda Headphones which require a "B" speaker output - or in this case a "Room 3" speaker output - I can use the Headphones with no problem. (The Integra had the same feature so no difference.)

    6) Possible "analog" volume control, I am not sure. Even though the Sony might have a digital volume control, when you adjust the volume with the remote it actually has a motor that moves the manual volume control up and down, which leads me to believe the volume control may be in the analog domain. When changing the volume on the Integra it is totally in the digital domain. Maybe someone else can answer to this.

    7) Build quality - much better than the Integra. The Sony is a solid ES unit - and pretty heavy.

    8) The Sony runs VERY cool. Lets off almost no heat even after alot of heaving listening. The Integra on the other hand got quite warm. This leads me to believe the Sony is working very efficiently with very little strain.

    9) Surprisingly, even though Integra touts the use of superior capicitors in the power supply, the Sony uses the exact same brand of Gold branded capicitors, and they are actually bigger than those found in the Integra 6.2. The only difference is that the Integra capicitors are branded with the Integra name on them, while the Sony do not say Sony on them. But they are made by the same high quality company - and the Sony does have the Gold label very similiar to the Integra.

    Now the negative points:

    1) In comparison to the Integra, at least with the Sony only being 1 week old with very little break in time, the sound with music and my NHT speakers is a touch brighter than what I have become used to. Hopefully over time, as the Sony breaks in it will calm down a little.

    2) Not as simple to use as the Integra. The Integra was more a plug and play kind of unit. The Sony needs you to go deep into the menus to change many functions and features. For instance if you want to use DPL2 or DTS:Neo - you have to go into a few menus to make the change - you can't really change it on the fly. The Integra allowed to switch between DPL2 Movie, and DPL2 Music on the fly. A bonus with the Sony is even though it includes DPL2, it will still allow you to use plain vanilla DPL is you really want to.

    3) Subwoofer output seems much lower than the Integra. I had to recalibrate my sub output when I hooked up the Sony, since the low end, when used with a sub, sounded anemic. Things got much better after the adjustment. Either the Sony is more spot on with delivering a signal to the sub, or the Integra was calibrated incorrectly, so that it sent a very high level pre-out to the sub which caused too much sub output on most music and movies. To the benefit of the Sony - the sub output seems much cleaner - not boomy. The Integra seemed to produce a "boomy" quality with all sub output.

    So you can see, I find more positive things about the Sony than negative. But the biggest negative point is the fact that sound quality with music is bright compared to the Integra - where I perfer the warmer, rounder tone produced by the Integra. Time will tell if this changes for the better.

    Right now I like the Sony - even though I was not initially inclinced to purchase a Sony Receiver (ES or no-ES) since I hear more "negative" feedback regarding Sony Receivers than positive. Well if things don't go as I expect, I can always put the Integra back in my system - and maybe save up to get something like the newly, soon to be released, Denon 5803 (which also has 2 MCH inputs, but will list for $4700, UGH).
     
  17. Earl Simpson

    Earl Simpson Supporting Actor

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    Nice job![​IMG]
     
  18. Mark Austin

    Mark Austin Supporting Actor

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    Sony hands down!!!!! I would NEVER, and I mean NEVER buy another Denon product after my 5700.
     
  19. ReggieW

    ReggieW Screenwriter

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    Nice job Mike.

    I hope you will love your 3802. The Sony is a nice unit as well, but like yourself, I wouldn't have paid $400.00 more for it than the Denon. I was looking to upgrade to the 3802, but will wait until the 3803 arrives sometime next fall (hopefully).

    Reg
     
  20. Michael D. Bunting

    Michael D. Bunting Screenwriter

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    Thanks guys!
    Just finished watching Don't Say A Word on DVD and everyhting went very smoothe! DTS sound was superb...even though I couldn't crank it as loud as I would have liked since I live in an apartment [​IMG]
    Earlier today I played a couple DVD-Audio discs and had it turned up prettty loud - the 3802 sounded sweet!!!!!
    Thanks again for the info and all the help fellas - I think I'll stick w/ the 3802 until the upgrade bug hits me down the road!! [​IMG]
     

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