Denon 5803 pre/pro vs. 5800

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Elbert Lee, May 3, 2002.

  1. Elbert Lee

    Elbert Lee Supporting Actor

    Joined:
    May 24, 2000
    Messages:
    501
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    This is the excerpt from my post on another forum:

    DAY 1

    It's late but I thought I'd write a brief comparison between the 2 units. I haven't done a real comprehensive demo of the 5803 yet so this comparison is only on "first" impressions.

    Equipment:

    ATI 2505 - 5 x 250w amp

    Denon 5803 - pre/pro w/ internal amp powering 2 SBs speakers

    Speakers: NHT 2.9, AC-2, 1.5 rears and AC-1 x 2 for SBs

    Sub: M&K MX200

    Display: Sony 57XBR2

    I'm very familiar with the sound of the 5800 as a preamp and continue to be impressed with it. I posted a preamp comparative review with the 3802 on the 5800 forum.

    Again - it was late so I was limited with "tweaking". I tried setting the 5803 at 60hz crossover since my center can go almost down to 40. There are more settings on the 5803, so I can't say that both units are differentiated on the new audio components alone. There almost certainly has to be these new set up factors involved with variances in sound.

    I use the THX EX TEX trailer as my best source of imagaing, dynamics, panning, and cohesion.

    1) The 5803 definitely needed breaking in. The soundstage was somewhat smaller, and due to the crossover, there was less "punch" from my sub. I'll have to reserve judgement on overall impact.

    2) Panning -every bit as smooth and convincing as the 5800. Whether it is the faster processors or not, there seemed to be more "speed" to the robot as it flies across the stage. I never thought the sound "lagged" before on the 5800, but now that I've heard the 5803, the soundtrack seemed to engaged what's happening on the screen much better. Front to rear was excellent, just as with the 5800 and definitely 2 notches better than the 3802.

    3) dymics - the crossover took some getting used to, but it's nice to hear more fullness in the center although one might believe that there is less impact because the sub is getting less to do. - I'll have to go back to 80hz and see.

    MUSIC - here's where the difference is heard! NOISE FLOOR seemed to be one level lower than the 5800! Unbelievable! I guess the DSP circuits being turned off in PURE DIRECT mode, and with bass management in the analog domain, the imaging, and depth peception of the soundstage were improved greatly.

    I'll get more in depth tomorrow.end

    DAY 2

    I'm going to add some more observations as I continue to post. It might be difficult to follow since the sound continues to change as I "tweak" and break in the 5803.

    Again, I'm using it as a pre-amp for the 5 main channels and the internal amps for the 2 surround backs. The ATI 2505 powers the main 5. Therefore, this is a pre/pro comparison.

    For me, the 80hz crossover frequency turned out to be the overally winner for Home Theater. I went through the DTS Demonstration disc (#3, I think - the one that includes the ANTZ, SPR, and Haunting trailers - all of which I'm very familiar with on the 5800).

    Because my center speaker (NHT AC-2) is capable of frequencies around 50hz, I set it to LARGE, as I did with the 5800. The 80hz setting provided a bit more impact than I had before, although transient bass when leaving the center to the sub was clearly DIRECTIONAL and I was able to hear certain frequencies travel between the center and sub, which is probably not what was intended.

    This time around the 5803 sound more like the 5800, but with more refinement in the nauances in sound. The breaking of the glass windon in "The Haunting" trailer was definitely less harsh on the 5803 compared to the 5800.

    The sound opened up some more and I was able to admire the steering between the speakers even more with the new DSP processors in the 5803. Smoother transitions is probably the best way to describe the surround processing in the 5800. I went back to the smaller theater where my 5800 is being used and played back the same trailer. Steering SEEMED almost slower, but then again, it might be just in my head. I'll have to switch the 5800 back onto the main system to verify this difference.

    One more note - It was difficult for me to make the correct adjustment on the THX ULTRA 2 setting fore the SB speaker distance (>4ft is what I set it at, which is correct, but the SBs didn't seem as "seemless" as it did before on the 5800. I almost wish that there wasn't this adjust like on the 5800. I'll tweak it to 1
     
  2. Michael Lee

    Michael Lee Supporting Actor

    Joined:
    Jan 7, 1998
    Messages:
    652
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    More good stuff, Elbert. I have not had my 5800 hooked up to a system in almost 10 months, so my memory would not serve as any basis of comparison. I have my 5803 running with a CineNova Grande 300x5 amp, with the internal amps driving the rear surrounds also. I know the 5803 smoked the 4802 I was using in this system for months. I really liked the THX Ultra2 processing with the seamless panning of all the channels. I look forward to more of your observations.
     
  3. Geo

    Geo Stunt Coordinator

    Joined:
    Aug 15, 2001
    Messages:
    245
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Elbert and Michael,

    Thanks for the great first impressions....

    I agree that the 5803 is a huge step up from the 4802.

    What did we do before THX Ultra2 processing, Video

    Up-Conversion, 2 multichannel analog inputs, etc...? Well worth the price of admission to this amazing unit!

    I'm using separate amps for the front stage while using the 5803s internal amps for all the surround channels.

    I'm still fooling around with crossover frequencies as well, so far preferring the 80hz setting with all speakers set to small, although my mains are the B&W N802s.

    I should be receiving my Denon DVD-9000 Monday or Tuesday. This should provide the finishing touches to my system for some time to come. Can't wait to check out the Denon Digital Link!

    Questions for you guys:

    Since channel levels are adjustable for each mode independently, how are you guys setting them up for modes like DPLII, Pure Direct, THX Ultra2, etc....

    Are you guys using the built in bass management for multichannel inputs?

    Anyway to sum up my impressions of this unit, I'd say it is not only the best receiver available, it is the best pre/pro available at it's price point and well beyond!!!!

    geo
     
  4. Elbert Lee

    Elbert Lee Supporting Actor

    Joined:
    May 24, 2000
    Messages:
    501
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    GEO - Great to hear from you. I agree that the 5803 is indeed a huge step forward. I was very hesitant about purchasing this piece since I had found out that Denon is working on 2 new preamps to be released later this year and and statement piece sometime in the first half of 2003. I will be considering the statement piece as my main preamp and replacing my 5800 in my secondary system with the 5803.

    I haven't gotton around to playing around the the individual settings for each DSP mode. I can say that I'm SATISFIED with the initial set up on the channel levels, but I can't say that they are optimal either. I'll probably get around to it later this weekend and post my "Day 3-4" observations then. (trying to be as accurate as possible with these perceived improvements)

    Elbert
     
  5. Geo

    Geo Stunt Coordinator

    Joined:
    Aug 15, 2001
    Messages:
    245
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Elbert,

    Any more info on the pre/pros coming from Denon. And what exactly is a "Statement Piece"?

    Back to the 5803: Setting of the subwoofer levels?

    Do you trust the internal test tones for setting subwoofer levels? Or do you think something like the Avia disc or THX Optimizer should be used?

    geo
     
  6. Jeremy Hegna

    Jeremy Hegna Supporting Actor

    Joined:
    Nov 28, 2000
    Messages:
    812
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Thanks Elbert for keeping us up to date.
    Geo, I would use the test tones from AVIA or VE. I have calibrated both ways and there are some minor differences after calibration. How do you like your 802s? They are phenomenal speakers, to say the least. I'm still tweaking mine, changing speaker wires in and out and moving them around...lotta fun[​IMG]
    Elbert, I am curious as to what the "statement piece" is that you are referring to? Is it their "reference type state of the art" pre/pro? I am seriously debating whether or not to pursue the upgrade for the 5800 at this point. I'm assuming the sonic characteristics of the upgraded 5800 and the 5803 will be similar. Your impressions are invaluable...so have a wonderful weekend with your 5803 and keep us up to the minute...please[​IMG]
    Jeremy
     
  7. Michael Lee

    Michael Lee Supporting Actor

    Joined:
    Jan 7, 1998
    Messages:
    652
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Jeremy-

    I would think that $800 for the upgrade to the 5800 would be well worth it. It would be like getting a new receiver altogether. The THX Ultra2 processing and DPLII are well worth the price of admission IMO. I certainly do not need the upgrade since I have the 5803 in my primary system, but I will get it for my other system..because I feel it is well worth it.

    I have not set up any individual settings for anything yet. I just did the global settings and channel levels through the 5803. I did, however, use the bass management in the analog domain for the external ins for SACD and DVD-A...thus retiring my Outlaw ICBM. That is also a major plus. I will experiment with using the DSP for SACD soon, giving me control of the speaker distance settings. I was concerned with the extra A-D, then D-A conversions in the processing.

    I really look forward to hooking up my 9000 and seeing how many of my DVD-A will work, and how it will sound. But Spiderman comes first!

    Geo-

    Do you have the delivery date for your 9000 confirmed? Congrats!

    I wish we all lived a little closer!
     
  8. Geo

    Geo Stunt Coordinator

    Joined:
    Aug 15, 2001
    Messages:
    245
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
     
  9. Jeremy Hegna

    Jeremy Hegna Supporting Actor

    Joined:
    Nov 28, 2000
    Messages:
    812
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Michael,
    I agree 100% with you on the price of the upgrade. I'm just waiting on my place in line from Denon Jeff. I've had a bunch of problems this week with my e-mail and I'm hoping I didn't miss his message. Have you received your number in line?
    The ONLY reason that I am considering not going with the upgrade is to save some coin for a seperate pre/pro and more amplifiers down the road...however, it will never be as cheap to attain as this upgrade will be. I also just bought a pair of Nautilus 802s on an impulse buy, so the recovery time is not up yet[​IMG] I'm installing a new fence this weekend at the house and Pergo flooring over the course of the next month. Winter was fabulous, but now my lovely bride is ready to "upgrade" several parts of the house. She has been very understanding with my equipment upgrades...so I must now take care of her desires[​IMG]
    It won't be a problem to get the upgrade...but I'm kind of hoping that I fall into the second batch (next month) of registrants...that will eliminate the financial pressure.
    Geo...
    You have set yourself up ONE HELL of a sound system. Congats, I'll bet it sounds great. I notice you live in Reno...do you finance your theater with professional gambling skills?[​IMG]
    Jeremy
     
  10. Geo

    Geo Stunt Coordinator

    Joined:
    Aug 15, 2001
    Messages:
    245
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
     
  11. Jeremy Hegna

    Jeremy Hegna Supporting Actor

    Joined:
    Nov 28, 2000
    Messages:
    812
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    It sounds as though the 5803 will mimic the abilities of the ICBM...same selectable frequencies. Whether or not the settings are universal or per speaker would be the question. Also, the bass management of the multi-channel inputs is something to experiment with.

    Are you having problems?

    Jeremy
     
  12. Elbert Lee

    Elbert Lee Supporting Actor

    Joined:
    May 24, 2000
    Messages:
    501
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Whew- It's almost the end of the weekend and unfortunatly, I was "kidnapped" for my bachelor party so I did't get a chance to play. I'll try doing some more analysis tonight. FYI - Tomorrow I will be hooking up the new MONSTER HTPS7000 balanced AC power PLC, which is supposed to be AMAZING in terms of dropping the noise floor. It may have a bearing on my critical listening sessions. I do intend to get the 5800 back in to the main set up for one last listen so that I'm "refreshed" on its sonics. I'll then go back to the 5803 and give another short critical listen on some familiar software

    However, my direct A/B comparisons after this point may be "corrupted" with the introduction of the new balanced PLC that I'm integrating into the system.

    Till next time!

    Elbert
     
  13. Michael Lee

    Michael Lee Supporting Actor

    Joined:
    Jan 7, 1998
    Messages:
    652
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Elbert-

    Get all the shopping done now before the wedding! Unless you are independently wealthy, and sometimes not even then... when there are two people involved in the buying decisions, you end up making concessions. I am curious if the Monster PLC will have an effect in your system. I have tried a few similar products; Panamax, Monster, Furman, Michael Chang, are the ones that come to mind. None of them had any improvements that I felt were significant.

    Jeremy,

    If you continue in the analog domain with DVD-A with the 5803, you can boost the lower sub frequencies up to 15 db, in increments of 5. I found that a 15 db gain gave me similar results as cutting the ICBM at 80 mHz on all channels. All the other settings are more configurable if you put the analog signal back into a digital one in the 5803. At least, this is the way I remember it. Is this true, Elbert?
     
  14. Jeremy Hegna

    Jeremy Hegna Supporting Actor

    Joined:
    Nov 28, 2000
    Messages:
    812
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Welcome back Elbert...congrats on the wedding[​IMG]
    Michael, What are your thoughts on the ICBM compared to the adjustability/tweakability of the 5803? Is it still a good idea to have the Outlaw? Or will the 5803 do a fine job with it's own bass management?
    As far as your 9000 review, thanks for keeping us up to date. I am still very curious on the rest of your findings as I have no concern of the "chroma upsampling bug." I have thoroughly enjoyed my 2800 and I'm sure the audio section of the 9000 is just that much better. I also got a reply back from Jeff on my place in line. Looks like the end of May for a shipping window.
    Jeremy
     
  15. Geo

    Geo Stunt Coordinator

    Joined:
    Aug 15, 2001
    Messages:
    245
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    I spent a few hours today comparing the sound of the 5803 multichannel inputs. By splitting the multichannel analog outputs of my RP91 to the multichannel inputs of the 5803.

    I confirgured one input as DSP (5803 doing bass management), the other input confirgured as Direct with the ICBM doing the bass management.

    I listened exclusively to the Blue Man Group DVD Audio disc for this test. This was pretty cool as I could switch virtually instantaneously between the two.

    Now I don't claim to be anywhere near a golden ear audiophile. So by all means don't take my impressions as gospel.

    To my surprise, I preferred the sound using the 5803 DSP mode for bass management. The sound was more detailed and the percussion instruments separated a little better. The differences were fairly obvious even for my 18 son who helped me with this comparison and he didn't know which was which.

    Bass response was solid and strong with both, but again a little more so through the 5803 DSP input.

    I'd be very curious how the other 5803 owners feel about using the 5803s DSP mode with the multichannel inputs.

    I plan on doing some more listening with other material in the next few days.

    Regards,

    geo
     
  16. Elbert Lee

    Elbert Lee Supporting Actor

    Joined:
    May 24, 2000
    Messages:
    501
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Thanks on the "congrats" guys. I'm still recovering so I'm not in the best state of mind to do any critical listening tonight, let alone swap out thr 5803 and 5800 a few more time. I AM expecting good things from the new Monster 7000PLC since it offers Balanced AC. I've had the good fortune of hearing and watching it perform in my friend's local store. The Monster rep brought a couple units over and set it up in 2 sound rooms. the 7000 units temoporarily replaced Monster HTS 5100 PLCs (do not feature balanced AC and has less digital ac filtering) AMAZING - noise floor DROPPED a few notches. The affect it had on a Pioneer 47tx system was nothing short of astounding. This is no oridinary PLC. Balanced AC power really makes a tremendous impact on both sound and video. WSR did an review on the 7000 in this month's issue and had a balanced AC artical a few months back that demonstrated why balanced AC is the wave of the future when it comes to home audio equipment. VERY EXCITED to see what kind of impact it has on my HT system. (Plan to hook up my DVD and display into it, with my sub and 5803 into a balanced AC power wedge)

    Elbert
     
  17. Eric Lo

    Eric Lo Agent

    Joined:
    Oct 3, 1999
    Messages:
    41
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Elbert,

    Any info about the two new pre/pro that Denon is working on?

    -- Eric
     
  18. Elbert Lee

    Elbert Lee Supporting Actor

    Joined:
    May 24, 2000
    Messages:
    501
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Ok - I had corresponded with Jeff Talmadge at Denon who was gracious enough to provide me some information on the direction Denon was heading with its pre/pro. I wasn't sure if he wanted the information that he had provided to be broadcast, and I didn't want to be the source of "rumor" inadvertantly supply any information that may not be true. But, I can say with confidence that there are 2 pre/pros that Denon is strongly considering, one to be releaseed later this year. THe second, sometime next year. The later will be a true HIGH END piece, and, I suspect, priced accordingly.

    My initial inquiry to Jeff was that I was concerned with purchasing a 5803 because I knew that the pre/pro was due out later this year. I "guessed" as to the options that I was sure Denon would consider:

    1) Similar Pre/pro to the 5803 with some upgraded materials - copper isolation plating on the bottom of the unit, some more flexibilty in the set up, perhaps DSD decoding, and, perhaps some individual settings for different sources and dsps, and perhaps balanced preamp outputs for the front 2 channels

    2) OR, knowing Denon's record in the past concerning "statement pieces", they would develop a pre/pro that is HEADS and SHOULDERS above the best in its current lineup in terms of electronics, build (I find that hard to believe) and FEATURES. - Balanced preouts for all channels, SACD/DVD-A decoding, perhaps a carbon-based circuit boards, auto speaker set up (similar to the Pioneer 49tx), and probably one more major feature or surround format that we probably won't be able to anticipate.

    Turns out, I was right on BOTH guesses, but the features that I described above are not confirmed. He just alluded to the 2 "types" of products that Denon is developing - mid hi and true high end.

    I felt much better with my decision to go with the 5803, which I got at an EXTREMELY attractive price. I decided to move it to my secondary sound system when the flagship pre/pro comes out. IF Jeff told me that there was only ONE midfi pre pro due out later this year at the $4000 price range, I would consider waiting and just upgrade my existing 5800 in the meantime.

    I'll post another hour's worth of listening evalutations on the next post.

    Elbert
     
  19. Elbert Lee

    Elbert Lee Supporting Actor

    Joined:
    May 24, 2000
    Messages:
    501
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Another listening update:

    This one will be soley focused on MUSIC in PURE DIRECT and in 5/7 channel stereo

    1) My impression from earlier comparisons was that the noise floor seemed lower on the 5803- Now I'm SURE of it. Having moved between the 5800 to 5803 and then back to the 5800, I'm assuming that the change in the power supply controller and the new audio board is truly a slight step up in this area - (Isn't this an aspect of performance that traditional audiophiles PAY more $$$ for?) I guess that the smaller chips and electonics don't need as much power and that the change in the power controller may have an impact in this regard

    RESULTS? - more depth in the soundstage (still need more break in for the width to open up more - as of now, my 5800's soundstage is still slightly wider)

    More pronounced bass in all modes

    2) SOUND CHARACTER: I'm now more of a position to describe the SOUND differences.

    I'm of the opinion that there is a lot more "grey" area when people evaluate a preamp's music capability. A lot depends on the music genre, tastes, reference sounds, and quality of the software and source component. One get's a lot of descriptions such as "dry", "musical" and "anaylitical", etc. If anything, I had always viewed the sound from the 5800 as "clean, crisp, and analytical".

    My latest critical listening session didn't change my mind. My former EAD prepro was always a bit too laid back for my taste, but was a tad smoother than my 5800 as a pre/pro. The soundstage was more palapable with the EAD Ovation and, dare I say it, more musical. However, I enjoyed MOVIES much more on the 5800 because it sounded closer to what I view as the optimal theater sound - much more dynamic, exciting, and seemed to steer with much more confidence on soundtracks that utilize the surrounds more agressively. Softer soundtracks (Dramas and romantic comedies) had the same impact on both pre/pros and both handled these typs of films with equal emotional impact in the audio department.

    Sorry for the digression. back to music

    The 5803 is definitely more "MUSICAL" in character than the 5800. There seems to be a certain "ease" with which it lets the music play through: sublte, but very noticable to those familiar with Denon products. For those just starting to appreciate the world of critical 2 channel listening, one can use the following metaphor: The 5800 is like a skilled piano player with the speed and finger articulation to reproduce the notes on the page exactly as it was written. The 5803 would be same player except playing each note as if he/she PERSONALLY wrote the them.

    I've always thought of Denon's multi channel stereo as SUPERB. I can't say that I prefer it all the time, especially with my speaker set up. Although the setting of the crossover at 80hz really improved the matching of the speakers. Perhaps those with the exact same speaker all the way around will yeild even more pleasing results. I, like many others, have satellites all around the rear, and my lowest response in the back is around 55hz as opposed to the 22hz I get up front. Still have to play around on this set up.

    The differences in 5/7 channel stereo are the same, but more difficult to pinpoint at all times. I still prefer 2 channel pure direct for obvious reasons, but I can definitely hear the advantages if I was moving around the room or listen to the music from another room. It's nice to "fill" an entire room with sound as background/ambient music, and not for critical listenting.

    My next update will be with the HTPS7000. again -expecting great things to happen. Hope I'm not disappointed.

    Till next time.

    Elbert
     
  20. Elbert Lee

    Elbert Lee Supporting Actor

    Joined:
    May 24, 2000
    Messages:
    501
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    HTPS 7000 was in and it exceeded my expectations. SCARY. Balanced AC really helps. My PWULTRA 113 has always had balanced AC, but it was either my source or pre/pro that was plugged into it at the same time - never both together. Now that I have my CD and DVD players going through the Monster HTPS7000, the noise floor is virtually nonexistant. (Never thought there was noise at all before, and now that it's so "dead" quite, I find it almost disturbing)

    FOCUS - first thing I noticed was that all voices in 2 channel were almost completely focused in the center that I thought my center channel speaker was the only thing on during the initial vocal portions of the "Moulin Rouge" soundtrack. However, when music starts to unfold, I hear more sparkle, more depth and definitely more detail. I guess that this is almost more of an evaluation of the HTPS 7000, but it's also indicative of what the 5803 is capable of.

    5/7 channel stereo really comes alive, much more so than before. CLARITY is the biggest difference that most anyone would describe after hering the 5803/HTPS 7000 combo. It really is like getting a universal upgrade on ALL of one's audio components.

    I haven't had much time to play. I'll have my first thorough movie listening test tomorrow evening

    Elbert
     

Share This Page