Denon 5803 over a 3802 with additonal AMp?

Discussion in 'AV Receivers' started by Michael De Costa, Sep 14, 2003.

  1. Michael De Costa

    Michael De Costa Stunt Coordinator

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    I have decided to take the next step and graduate from just having a great HT system, to having my house fully wired with speakers. I purchased 2 new pairs of in-ceiling speakers for my living room and dining room, and am looking into 2 more pairs for outside. I am considering either adding an amp (HK PA 4000) to my current Denon 3802 or upgrading to the 5803. Are there any show stoppers in the 5803, that should make that the obvious configuration choice? I know more wpc and THX but is there anything else that might make it a no brainier, or is simply adding the HK 4000 a better lower cost solution. Advice? Thanks in Advance...
     
  2. John Robert

    John Robert Stunt Coordinator

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    It seems that with all those new speakers, you would have to have add'l amp with either receiver...
     
  3. Mark Russ

    Mark Russ Second Unit

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    That's true, the 5803 has no more channels than the 3803, so even with the 5803 you would still ned the other amp. But to answer your original question, I feel like a 3803 plus power amp would best a 5803. If I were you, I'd use the HK 4000 to power at least your mains 100 x 2 and then simply reconfigure the 3803's main l/r amps to power the multi room speakers. If your main l/r speakers are biwireable/biampable, then I'd use the HK to passively biamp them with 200 watts going into each speaker, but then you'd only have 2 other unused channels left to power speakers in other rooms.
     
  4. Mike OConnell

    Mike OConnell Second Unit

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    I have had experience with both a "lower level" Denon (3802) with a power amp and the 5803 and depending on the power amp, the "separates" can definitely provide more power - IF you have speakers that are inefficient and need the power. But, the combo could not hold a candle to the processing power of the 5803.

    Having said that - do you want to be able to listen to different things in the living room, outside and the HT at the same time? Does the 3802 provide multi-zone capability? Your setup looks like you do not use a “rear” channel – is there any plan to add a rear channel?

    The 5803 has the ability to listen to different sources in three zones.
    1. The main HT powered by the 5803 amp (up to 9 speakers – if you use both the surround A & B speakers).
    2. Multi-Zone 1 – a fixed or variable level output to be fed to a separate amplifier or preamplifier.
    3. Multi-Zone 2 – a fixed level output to be fed to a separate pre-amp OR you can assign the rear speaker terminals to be used for a separate set of speakers as Zone 2.

    You cannot reassign the front L/R, Center, or surround A/B speakers outputs to power anything but the assigned speakers.

    If you don’t need the multi-zone / multi-source capability (you could have the same thing on at all locations). I would look at an amplifier or speaker selector made to provide what you are looking to accomplish. None of the in-ceiling or outdoor speakers require much power to be used effectively.

    A multi-channel amplifier can take a line-level input and amplify the input for each location. Some multi-channel amplifiers can also take a speaker level input and amplify the signal to multiple locations.

    A speaker selector will take a speaker level output and distribute it to multiple locations while keeping the same load on the amplifier. When you start doubling/tripling/quadrupling speakers on one speaker level output you can get to low ohm loads that can cause problems with receivers/amplifiers.

    My main question is then – what is your ultimate goal for your HT/house and what is the best intermediate step to take to start working towards that goal without wasting money?

    Mike
     
  5. Elbert Lee

    Elbert Lee Supporting Actor

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    I've tried BOTH on my ATI 2505 5xchannel amp. My speakers do require a lot of power and, for the short term, I might recommend that you do invest in a solid 5 or 7 channel amp because it's an investment that you can keep throughout changes and upgrades in your preamp section.
    That being said, there was a HUGE difference in processing power between the two - Music and MOVIES. I used to listen to a lot of 2 channel music and all of the shortcomings of the 3803 compared to the 5803 preamp section are readily obvious. For the untrained ear, the noise floor is so readily apparent, it's like the difference between looking through a crystal wine glass and a glass wine glass filled with white wine. Soundstage opens up tremendously on the 5803 as well as the
    If you are very familiar with your movie soundtracks, you'll also hear the difference in noise floor. In addition to a bigger soundstage (making your HT room feel more open and the walls seem further apart), the steering between the left/right, fronts and SBs is so much more defined and convincing on the 5803. There seems to be blurs during the sequences on the THX TEX trailer when the robot moves from center, FR, RR, SBR, SBL, LR, FL and center again. It almost seems like a sloppy blur on the 3803.
    In the end, the improvements on sound, however significant, will not necessarily make the movie watching experience significantly better with the 5803 - it really depends on the quality of the film itself. As the owner of the system, you might appreciate the added benefits of a superior HT processor in the 5803, but for your viewing audience, the 3803 will be 99% sufficient. Your audience will definitely hear distortion if your amp was lacking, which is why the investment in a solid amp might be the better initial investment. If you do plan to add a better processor down the line (used upgraded 5800 or new unit down the road), you might even consider getting a used 3803 or even a 3802.
    good luck
    EL
     
  6. Mark Russ

    Mark Russ Second Unit

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    I'm sure that those who bought a 5803 would vigorously defend it, and I have no doubt that it is a fine machine. However, as 1 of you pointed out, the 3803 (not the 3802) has probably 99% of the 5803's processing power. Well, probably not actually 99%, but you get the picture. It's real close. The only major difference I can really find in them is 2 hammerhead sharks vs 1. The 5803 was measured by S&V to produce only something like 118 or 119 watts in it's actual real output x 7. The 4802 topped that, it was over 140 watts per (all channels driven), if I remember correctly.
    All I'm suggesting is that for the price difference between a 5803 and a 3803, you can add a top notch power amp, be it 2, 5, or even 7 channels, AND a top notch 2 channel stereo only preamp to boot to also integrate into the system. Then, you couldn't possibly tell me that the 5803 would still be noticeably better.
     
  7. Mike OConnell

    Mike OConnell Second Unit

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    Mark:

    I think you need to read Michael's question again. He is not looking at buying a new 3803 - he already has a 3802.

    I own a 5803, and I if I had owned a 3802 I would add an amp to the 3802 and buy a better processor later.

    But, that does not answer how to drive 8 pairs of speakers in a 2nd, 3rd, and maybe 4th zone. It is a great upgrade for the HT.

    After looking at the manual for the HK 4000 amplifier it looks like a great solution for a multi-room installation. I would not recommend it for HT appplication - in fact the amps in the HK 4000 probably would not do much better than the amps in the 3802 for home theater.

    Michael - I would recommend the HK4000 for your multi-room amplifier. If in the future you wish to upgrade your HT, you might want to start with a good quality 5-channel amp (unless you add EX speakers) and move to a separate pre-amp.

    I really like my 5803 - I ended up with a 5803 after problems with a 5800 (long story) that were taken care of very well by Denon. When I bought my 5800 you would have been hard pressed to by a comparable separates system for the same money. In the past couple of years the cost of separates has dropped significantly.

    Mike
     
  8. Elbert Lee

    Elbert Lee Supporting Actor

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    Mark - I have to disagree/agree with your assessment that the 3803 has 99% of the processing power of the 5803. If you mean by Zero's and ones, I would say that they do the same thing, and processing power/speed is probably not an issue. However, if you are implying that, as preamps sound quality will be 99% identical between the two, I would say that I've heard much more than a "1%" difference in every category of sonic presentation. The preamp section alone for both movies and music, the 5803's superiority is clearly evident. This can be attributed more than just processing power as other fundamentals in engineering a quality piece of audio gear will have a profound affect on the quality of sound (power supply, isolated chasis, quality parts, etc.) One area where the 5803's processing power was superior was the smoothness of the panning between front and rears and side to side. But I do agree that the 3803 is an excellent piece of gear. I've compared it to the Yamaha model at the same MSRP and I felt that the 3803 fared better in overall "preamp/processing".
     
  9. Mark Russ

    Mark Russ Second Unit

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    Yes Mike, I fully understood his question. Matter of fact, it was me who first recommended the HK 4000 to him in the first place in another thread. However, the thread kind of evolved into a 3803 plus amp(s) vs 5803 thread. Be that as it may, for the cost of a new 5803, he could still buy a new 3803, seperate power amp(s), and even a dedicated 2 channel stereo preamp for cheaper. That is unless he could get the 5803 for about $600 new (as I've just today heard tell of about someone who supposedly used to be a Denon rep getting one at that price, don't know if it's actually true or not though). At that price, the 5803 would obviously be a no-brainer to buy!

    "After looking at the manual for the HK 4000 amplifier it looks like a great solution for a multi-room installation. I would not recommend it for HT appplication - in fact the amps in the HK 4000 probably would not do much better than the amps in the 3802 for home theater."

    Please, give me a break. I happen to have both a 3802 and a 4000, so I know the difference. I can't believe anyone would even begin to compare the 3802's amps to a HK 4000's, much less say that they are better. That is, when the HK's amps are configured for 100 watt per channel output instead of 45. Even then at 45 watts, it might still be close. I recently compared a little Adcom 535 to the 3802, and I went into it really expecting the 3802 to be stronger, but it wasn't.


    "In the past couple of years the cost of separates has dropped significantly."

    That's true, but that's a good thing! FWIW, back in late '97, I bought a Yamaha 2092 receiver, then their top of the line flagship receiver, and second only to the integrated DSPA1 (I think that was the model #, something like that) in their entire line up. Today, that receiver is pretty much obsolete. Only has DD 5.1, no really useable preins/outs, and can't be upgraded. I learned a painful lesson about that that I will never repeat again. At least it's not as bad as some of these people who bought high end pre/pros though for thousands more that are pretty much in the same boat now. They feel my pain, only a lot more so!
     
  10. Mark Russ

    Mark Russ Second Unit

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    Elbert, actually you were the one who first made the 99% sufficient reference in regards to the 3803. I stated that it probably wasn't quite that high. I do agree with a lot of what you're saying though. That's why I mentioned about also integrating a quality dedicated 2 channel preamp in the system for stereo music listening (which could still be done under the 5803's budget). I'm using an Adcom 565 with mine. I'm sure the difference would be more noticeable on music than it would be with movies.
     
  11. Elbert Lee

    Elbert Lee Supporting Actor

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    Mark - Understood.
    I am actually more and more discriminating toward movie soundtracks these days and can appreciate the differences in audible presentations of different preamps. I know that it's traditionally not an area that is discriminated in professional reviews as the audio critique is much more in depth on the music portion. The movie soundtrack portion is usually glossed over and not really dissected to the level of 2 channel audio.
    I like to listen for those differences even though soundstage depth is not as much of a factor in movies, but I think that, in what is not important in one audio category, there are others areas of performance that are important such as center channel dialogue, low level ambiance ,etc. I can understand how these factors don't necessarily affect the enjoyment of a film, but the same can be said of music. I'm glad that there are still solid audio engineering principals that are still applied to HT pre/pros.
     
  12. Brian Corr

    Brian Corr Supporting Actor

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    I'd go with the 5803 over a 3802 and amp.

    I had a 3802 with an ATI 1505 and also a 5803. The 5803 sounded better than the 3802 and amp so I kept it. The amps in the 5803 are plenty adequate, but the processing really sets it apart. Unless your speakers are extremely inefficient and you listen at extremely loud levels, the 5803 would do the job nicely. Keep in mind that even at higher volumes, your only using a portion of the power, maybe 40 watts. When I Compared the 5803 amps with the ATI 1505 at moderate volume, it was very hard to tell the difference.

    If you think you will migrate to separates in the future, then you may want to get one of the more robust amps now (adding it to the 3802) and then think about a processor later. But if you are looking for a long term simple solution, the 5803 would be the better choice over a 3802 and amp IMHO.
     
  13. Greg_R

    Greg_R Screenwriter

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  14. Michael De Costa

    Michael De Costa Stunt Coordinator

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    Gentlemen, thanks for all of your responses. I might throw a curve ball into the equation. If I purchased the 5803, it seems I would still need to purchase an amp to run the entire system. Why not use the 3802 (which I currently have) as the amp. Then it also give me more flexibility to use multiple sources throughout my home. Why sell it for what, $600 and then have to spend the same amount or more on the HK 4000? Does this sound logical? I liked the idea of adding just the HK 4000 which I found online for $500 shipped, but I now want the processing clarity of the 5803. Thoughts?
     
  15. Kenneth Harden

    Kenneth Harden Screenwriter

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    I feel sad hearing the 3803 being referred to as 'OK' - when will the madness end???!!! [​IMG]

    Oh well, going from my POS Sony to a HK AVR 525 will be astronomical.
     
  16. Elbert Lee

    Elbert Lee Supporting Actor

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    It might be a waste of your 3802 purely as an amp. I personally found the amp to be of the quality of a sub $300 dedicated amp. For some reason, after trying it out next to my 5803, I found the differences in the noise floor of both units too apparent and it bothered me. (might be attributed to all of the digital circuitry in the 3802 and not enough isolation). Audio Source makes some pretty good higher powered amps for reasonable prices.
     
  17. Brian Corr

    Brian Corr Supporting Actor

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    You could use the 3802 as your control unit and amp for your whole house audio. That would definitly give you plenty of options for switching and what not.
    If you start adding more speakers throughout the house and find the sound is degrading, then add a nice 2 channel amp to the 3802 just for powering the speakers.
    In the systems I've seen, it is usually more convenient anyway to have a separate receiver for whole house audio. It gives you more options and allows for separate placement of the receiver (if the HT isn't a convenient spot for changing cd's, powering up the whole house system, etc)
     
  18. Gene DellaSala

    Gene DellaSala Auditioning

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    If I may add my 2cents here, being quite versed with the Denon AVR-5803 and many other products currently on the market, I would have to say the 5803 would be quite a step up from your current Denon receiver. The amp section in it should be more than capable of driving your Def Tech speakers. The processing power alone rivals most dedicated processors costing $4k and it certainly has one of the best DAC implementations in the industry. However, if you are looking for a cheap way out and feel you need more power, then you may wish to consider a multi channel amp from the likes of Rotel, Parasound and others... However, be careful, many of the multichannel amps in the sub $2500 price range are actually a downgrade to the amp section in the AVR-5803. You don't want to trade power for SNR.

    You may also wish to consider purchasing used gear such as the older and venerable Aragon 8008 series amps. If you need raw power and low SNR, these amps are some of the best out there for the money IMO.

    Having said that, I will tell you as of know I am driving all 4 ohm lower efficient speakers in a medium sized room with the AVR-5803 with stellar results! This whole experience has made me rethink the Receiver vs Separates debate. It just isn't as cut and dry as it was a few years ago.

    [​IMG]
     
  19. Gil D

    Gil D Supporting Actor

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    Michael,

    I have used a Denon 3801, 3802, and 3803 with a separate H/K PA5800 amp (an amp that I can highly recommend). I really enjoted the 3802 and HK amp combo. I then upgraded to a 3803 and while it was a bit clearer, particularly in the Direct mode, it was not the equal of the Denon 580x. I traded up to a 5800 and haven't looked back since.

    I tried the H/K amp with the Denon 5800 and couldn't really tell any difference so I sold it. The 5803 has a better preamp and therein lies the difference between the 3802 with separate amp and the 5803.

    I recommend you go with the 5803 if your budget allows and use the recomendation of driving your in-walls with the 3802.
     

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