Denon 3803 experiences? Benefits over 3801?

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by NateF, Jan 8, 2003.

  1. NateF

    NateF Stunt Coordinator

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    Ok, so I've looked at the online documentation for the 3803 and it looks pretty impressive. I have the 3801, and I've been really happy with it, so I'm wondering about the upgrade.

    Has anyone tried the upconversion of svideo/composite to component? I have a front projection TV and would love to get higher quality of out of my TiVo... does it really make a visible difference compared to the output from a line doubler (I used the DVDO iScan Plus v2)?

    Also how is the difference in sound? I'm not up on all the chips and stuff, so is there a big difference between the actually processors in my 3801? Anything important that might not immediately be obvious?

    Thanks for the help,

    -Nate
     
  2. Yogi

    Yogi Screenwriter

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    From all the information thats floating around on this forum you might actually lose some of the sound quality. I have personally found the 3801 to sound better than the 3802. Plus there were a lot more issues with the 3802 than the 3801 like hiss, distortion on surround channels and shutdown etc. This is not anything against the 3802 as I myself own one. But from the recent posts I have gathered that the 3803's preamp section is brighter than the 3802's and that the 3802 sounds better than the 3803. There have been other posts where others have complained that the 1803 sounded thinner and tinny compared to its predecessor the 1802. So I dont know if this is a general trend that the sound quality is degrading as the manufacturer is trying to cram all the features into one box. I dont know about the video up conversion as I dont use it. My TV gets the signal directly from the DVD player. I think you already have a fine piece of gear and dont need to upgrade by looking at the impressive white paper of the 3803. Since you are already happy with your 3801 I would think you should rest easy and save your $$$.
     
  3. Andrew_B

    Andrew_B Stunt Coordinator

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    I would not count on the Denon 3803 upconversion producing a better picture than your line doubler, but from most reports it does a very good job.

    As far as the internals go, the 3803 shares a lot of the same components as the flagship 5803. It has 16 Burr-Brown PCM-1791 24 bit, 192 kHz high resolution DACs on all eight channels, in differential configuration and the HammerHead SHARC DSP. This alone would make it an excellent pre-pro. Reports of the sound quality compared to the 3802 vary, but most seem to think it an improvement.
     
  4. Jamey F

    Jamey F Stunt Coordinator

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    I haven't heard the 3802, so I can't compare with that Denon piece. I have listened to Older Denon's on similar speakers as mine (paradigms), but in a different room. I previously had a Yamaha 992. I will hopefully have time to give a more detailed review once I have had the piece for a little while longer.

    I think it compares well against the 992. While they both sound bright, the Denon brings more detail, seperation of channels, and cleaner sound. The added processing features kicks the 992's a$$. I'm impressed with DTS neo 6 cinema and music settings, but I don't believe I would use the music setting when doing serious listening. For that, 2 channel direct mode is nice. I use a digital connection frm my DVD player, so I don't use the pure direct feature. I do like the ability of turning the sub off.

    The upconversion seems to work exactly like I wanted. It simply passes whatever the signal it receives through the component cable. It doesn't line double, add information like black bars, nor does it change to a different resolution. It allows me to upconvert to component while still able to use different zoom modes on my Toshiba HDTV. It would NOT take the place of any video processors you may want to use. It only acts as a switch, and a fairly good one at that. At first, I believed the DVD I was watching was darker going through the switch. I've tried three different cables and connected straight to the TV as before once again. I've dismissed this for now as the DVD (LOTR) itself being dark, which it is. TV and HDTV look indistinguishable from directly connecting to the TV. I hate to say there isn't any lowering of video quality going through the component switching because of my first inclination of the picture being darker with the LOTR DVD. After some A/B testing, I can't put my finger on any.

    Overall, I believe Denon did a really nice job building a great unit. I would like a bit warmer sound, but I like the detail the 3803 brings out. Immediate Pro's I see include delays for all chanels (measured in distance), detailed sound, good seperation, tons of connections, upconversion, preins and preouts for all channels, and lots of sound formats.

    Immediate negatives include the remote and no front A/V inputs. The front inputs can be remedied by running an extension from the back, and I have a Pronto Neo remote I use. I would love to have something like the MCACC feature, but the video upconverison, if needed, is a worthy feature that the Pioneers lack. Some have had problems with S-video and the upconversion. I will be hooking up some S-Video sources in the future to see if I can find a problem.

    Unless you need the upconversion or 7.1 sound, I don't know that I would upgrade from the 3801. I had a need for at least the component switching, and I wanted the upconversion and extra DTS sound formats. I will probably upgrade to an external amp over the next year or so. I'll try to get a new set of speakers first though. PM me if you have any specific questions.
     
  5. NateF

    NateF Stunt Coordinator

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    Wow, thanks guys, those were some impressively long answers, I appreciate it. Sounds like the unit is better but probably not staggeringly so. I'll talk to my salesperson and see what kind of a deal I can get and then go from there. I remember being offered a ridiculously good upgrade policy (full value of the trade-in towards the purchase of a new piece) so if I can make them stick to their word, I could possibly get the new version for a very small investment, and you just can't beat that.

    Thanks again,

    -Nate
     
  6. Gil D

    Gil D Supporting Actor

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    I have had the 3200, 3801, 3802, and 3803. I have used them primarily as a pre/pro with a separate amp. Of these I like the Denon 3802 the best for it's warmer sound and better bass output. The 3802 is a definite improvement over the 3801, particularly the bass - I am not the only one who did the 3801 to 3802 upgrade and noticed this btw. The 3802 with DPL2, slightly warmer sound, and better bass output is probably worth another $100 but sonically not a huge upgrade. My take on the 3803 is that it's a hi-end wannabe. It does sound clearer in Pure Direct mode but at the expense of the brighter sound and different presentation. And it still does not have the clarity and detail of the Flagships.

    I now have the 5800 that I managed to get at a very attractive clearance price which is a leap up in sonics from the 380x and I highly recommend you consider one. The only thing I miss right now is DPL2 but 5 channel stereo may fill that gap as it sounds way better than DPL2 and 5 channel stereo did on the 3802.
     
  7. Jamey F

    Jamey F Stunt Coordinator

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  8. Chuck Kent

    Chuck Kent Supporting Actor

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    I'll throw my 2 cents worth in...
    I have went from the Denon 3300, to a 3802, and now to a 3803. All have been used solely as pre-amp processors in a 5.1 setup.
    Sound-wise, I need to be upfront and state that I struggle to hear many of the differences others hear when comparing amps, receivers and the like. I can hear when things go fairly "wrong", but when things are driven within their limits and functioning properly, I can't hear big, reliable differences. That said, I have found my new 3803 to sound just fine. No major shortcomings. (I do admit that I don't care for the sound of the AL24 PCM processing. But it doesn't sound "bad".)
    You may ask why I bother upgrading if the sound is not the main reason? Other than getting the upgrade bug far too often [​IMG], I have looked for features that I thought would either make running my setup easier or enhance my listening experience. The 3802 did that for me in a big way with Dolby Pro Logic II and the 3803 has done it again with several more new features.
    When comparing my old 3802 to the new 3803, the 3803 adds the video conversion, on-screen volume display, a larger volume display on the front panel when adjusting the volume, volume control in one-half db increments, more digital inputs, no internal cooling fan (although one could argue it might be better to have one), the ability to turn off the subwoofer in individual modes (while still having it turned on globally), the ability to delay the audio if the picture lags behind the sound on digital programming, an Auto Surround Mode (that remembers what you wanted as the surround mode that last time an input had a particular input signal... very very slick), along with a few others I can't think of at the moment.
    However, no matter how great some of these changes are, IMO, the biggie of all of this if one is going from the 3801 to a 3803 is Pro Logic II. It just sounds soooo much better to my ears that I hardly know how to describe it. Much better envelopement, much better clarity. It sounds much more natural... And even better than the 3802, the 3803 now treats PLII Cinema mode as a separate mode from PLII Music mode. So now, if you want PLII Cinema mode on the cable input and PLII Music on your CD player, the 3803 keeps the modes stored that way. (The 3802 required you to hand switch from Cinema ot Music or visa-versa if you wanted a different PLII mode on 2 different inputs. IOW, it could only store one PLII mode at a time.)
    I realize that your needs or wishes may be totally different than mine. But for me, the 3803 was well worth the upgrade!
     
  9. Jamey F

    Jamey F Stunt Coordinator

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    Since I have the ear of a couple of 3803 owners, I have a quick question. The manual says I can use the remote to go directly to the Neo cinema or Neo music. I see the buttons on the remote. When I press them I goto the setup page for it instead of keeping the same video source. Is this normal? I don't think it was like this the first time I pressed it. Can I keep it from switching to this setup mode and just go directly to Neo cinema or music?
     
  10. Gil D

    Gil D Supporting Actor

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  11. Gil D

    Gil D Supporting Actor

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    I agree with alot of the points that Chuck brought up. The Audio Sync feature works nicely, the larger display, and the auto mode are welcome conveniences. The AL24 is what really bugged me as I use Direct mode frequently and it cannot be turned off on the 3803.

    I had the 3200 for a few years and purchased a 3801 on clearance when the 3802 was introduced and sold the 3200 to a friend. I later upgraded to the 3802 just for DPL2 when the price dropped, and DPL2 alone was well worth the price difference, especially the Music mode.

     
  12. Chuck Kent

    Chuck Kent Supporting Actor

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    Jamey: It sounds like you're pressing the wrong button. If you're already in Pro Logic II Music mode and want to switch to Neo Music, press the Dolby/DTS Surround button, not the Music button. You only use the Music or Cinema buttons to switch from music to cinema (of the same mode) and visa-versa.
     
  13. Jamey F

    Jamey F Stunt Coordinator

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    It is supposed to give you direct access to those sound formats. It does that, but it also throws up an onscreen display that is not disired. What I want is it to switch the sound mod elike it is doing, but NOT bring up the onscreen display along with it. It may not be possible without turning off all onscreen displays which I don't know that I would be happy with that choice.
     
  14. JamesKr

    JamesKr Agent

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    If I'm in DTS Neo Cinema and press the "music" button, the mode changes instantly to DTS Neo Music. Pressing the "cinema" button puts you back instantly into DTS Neo Cinema mode again.

    If I'm in DTS Neo Cinema and press the "Dolby/DTS" button, I'm instantly put in Dobly Pro Logic II Cinema mode. Pressing the "music" button puts me instantly into Pro Logic II Music mode.

    The only onscreen display is a visual feedback of what mode is being activated. You can't ask for a quicker or more instant process than that.
     
  15. JamesKr

    JamesKr Agent

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    What sold me on the 3803 were these features: 100MHz component video switching rate for HD video, Dolby 5.1 EX, DTS ES Matrix and 6.1 Discrete, video upconversion, 7.1, and 7-channel stereo mode. This is my first Denon receiver so I can't compare it to previous models but in this price range this receiver is hard to beat and sounds great.
     
  16. Jamey F

    Jamey F Stunt Coordinator

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  17. JamesKr

    JamesKr Agent

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    Jamey: Ok, I tried it again.

    If I'm in DTS Neo Cinema mode and then press music, I get an instant mode change but I do get an onscreen display that shows the room layout, tone control, and the new mode. The display shows for about 5 seconds and then disappears. The same thing happens when I switch from DTS Neo Music to Cinema mode. When I change from DTS to Dobly I get a much smaller onscreen display showing only the mode.

    In any case, the mode change takes place immediately regardless of the onscreen display. Sorry about the misinformation in my earlier post.
     
  18. Jamey F

    Jamey F Stunt Coordinator

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    Yep, that's what I get. I can do away with that by turning off the onscreen displays, but I don't know that I want to do that. I'll have to play with it some to see which I like better. It wouldn't be so annoying if I didn't switch back and forth listening to the differences. Once I stop "playing" it probably won't be an issue. I just wanted to see if it was normal so I can set my Pronto Neo remote up with receiver commands. Thanks for the quick replies.

    On the topic of DPL 2, are you guys finding it much different than dts neo? I seem to notice a bit different sound stage with music versions of the two. Vocals seem to be more centered with DPL2 than with neo, but they are both amazing technologies. With my Yammy 992, the different dsp modes couldn't seperate music from vocals anywhere near what DTS Neo and DPL2 can. They are both such an improvement. The difference between the two (IMO)is no where near the amount they better what I had. I love both especially for TV viewing. I haven't compared them enough to pick which I like best. Again, either is way better than plain prologic or yamaha's older "enhanced" versions.
     
  19. Chuck Kent

    Chuck Kent Supporting Actor

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    Yes, when you change the DPLII / DTS Neo modes, you do get the 5 sec on screen "memo". IMO, it's no big deal. Believe me, the 3803's ability to quickly change modes is MUCH handier than the earlier 3802's version of switching modes.

    I agree that DPL II and DTS Neo are definite improvements in matrixed surround. (I understand that Circle Surround can sound good too but I don't really have much listening experience with it.) I never regretted upgrading (mainly due to DPL II) to the 3802 a year ago...
     
  20. Chuck Kent

    Chuck Kent Supporting Actor

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    Mike: I certainly can't argue at all with the theory behind AL24. It should sound better. But, like Gil, it doesn't to my ears either. It's not easy to explain other than it just doesn't sound quite right.

    The easiest way I've found to prove to myself that it's wrong is to listen to a monaural recording. On my 3803, AL24 processed material does not come out in mono. It sounds more like re-processed pseudo stereo. Tonally, it sounds fine but the soundstage doesn't seem right. So, I just use my CD player's DACs and bypass AL24. As I pointed out, I do not have golden ears but I do hear a difference.

    I'll be the 1st to admit that many others may find AL24 pleasing. But for me, I bypass it by staying 100% analog...
     

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