Do my separates need a receiver at all if I become a Toshiba HD-A1 owner?

Discussion in 'Playback Devices' started by Cees Alons, Aug 23, 2006.

  1. Cees Alons

    Cees Alons Moderator
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    Both, by the way I built up my HT in the past ten years, as well as by conviction, I own separates for power amplifiers and added a decoder one day, not a receiver. My separate power amplifiers are very well up to the job.

    So, naturally, I was looking into a replacement for my decoder if I would purchase a HD DVD or BD player. For several reasons (not relevant here), importing a BD player doesn't seem too logical for me at this very moment, so I'm contemplating buying a HD-A1 first.

    Unfortunately discrete decoders are not so readily available anymore, and generally rather expensive. Receivers, on the other hand, are less expensive but have big parts I don't need (and will not use): the power amplifiers.

    Suddenly it dawned at me that (especially with software version 2 supporting TrueHD 5.1) I might not need a decoder at all to start with, if I own a Toshiba HD-A1.

    Is this true? Can I feed the audio outs of the Toshiba to my separate amplifiers and functionally loose nothing audio-wise?

    Or, if there's any function I am losing, which is it (or which ones are that)?

    Thanks in advance: this may be the final point for me to decide the whole matter.


    Cees
     
  2. Bob_L

    Bob_L Supporting Actor

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    You'll probably lose volume control, Cees. I'm not sure there is volume control on the Toshiba. (I just ordered mine today.)

    Another choice, of course, would be to buy a good quality but inexpensive preamp, like the Outlaw 950. Used ones, like one I intend to put on eBay "one of these days" when I get my heinie in gear, can be quite affordable and give really EXCELLENT quality. Preamps like that do the normal digital surround format conversions and also have analog inputs for the HD A1's advanced sound codecs.
     
  3. Cees Alons

    Cees Alons Moderator
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    Bob,

    That's an interesting point.

    HD-A1 owners, please, can you confirm or deny whether a master volume control is present on the machine?


    Cees
     
  4. Phil Iturralde

    Phil Iturralde Screenwriter

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    If your AMP or PreAMP has an INPUTs for a "Decoder" (the HD-A1/XA1 has Decorders for DD+ & TrueHD 5.1) - on my Yamaha RX-V1300 Receiver it is called the 6CH INPUTs - basically INPUTS for:

    1) Front Right
    2) Center
    3) Front Left
    4) Right Surround
    5) Left Surround
    6) Subwoofer

    ... then your AMP / PreAMP will handle the rest of the chores if you can do speaker level adjustments & bass management when you Calibrate your Audio on those INPUTS.

    If your AMP / PreAMP cannot, then you can do some adjustments using the Toshiba HD-A1/XA1 Internal Test Tones @ 75 dBc & 5.1 Speaker Settings = Speaker Levels / Distance / Subwoofer Crossover (No Volume Controls on the HD-A1).

    In either case, your AMP will still maintain the Master Volume controls.

    FYI: I'm guessing for AMPs/PreAMPs, ... since I'm using the Yamaha RX-V1300 and I Calibrated my SPLs first using the Toshiba 5.1 Internal Test Tones & Speaker Settings, ... then did some minor changes using my Yamaha RX-V1300 Speaker Level Controls & Digital Video Essentials 5.1 Test Tones @ 75 dBc.

    Phil
     
  5. Steve Tannehill

    Steve Tannehill Ambassador

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    There is no master volume control, however there is speaker setup / distance / tone generation in the setup menu. Thus, there is some basic bass and level management available.

    - Steve
     
  6. Seth=L

    Seth=L Screenwriter

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    What pre-amp are you using Cees? What amps do you have and how many. I have found processors on receivers to be inferior to seperates. A receiver with discrete inputs and pre-outs on all channels will also be expensive and will not likely be as flexible as a seperate processor/pre-amp.
    Outlaw's least expensive processor is below $1000 and I beleive Rotel has one for $900. Quality control isn't generally as good in receivers either. How much are you looking to spend.

    P.S. If the receiver has a poor analog conversion it will not likely sound good with TrueHD. I have used excelent sources with mid-fi receivers ($700 range) with bad results.
     
  7. Cees Alons

    Cees Alons Moderator
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    Seth,

    I use 3 Philips stereo-amps to feed my fronts L/R, Center, rear L/R (and a spare channel for an optional rear-center). My sub is a REL Strata II. Current decoder is a Pioneer SP-D07.

    I have never used a receiver, and even if I upgrade my amps in the near future, I will not use the power amps of a receiver. In fact, I'd rather have a decoder instead, but I'm waiting for at least HDM 1.3 to arrive before I do that.

    So I'm tryng to figure out how to make good use of a possible HD-A1 with my current equipment, before the big upgrade of the rest, at a later time.


    Cees
     
  8. Seth=L

    Seth=L Screenwriter

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    Try to find an older processor on ebay with "Dolby Digital ready" 5.1 inputs. Adcom or Rotel may have such a processor. That shouldn't cost much, less than $200 I hope. Then when HDMI 1.3 arrives and gets all the quirks out at a lower price then you could upgrade. I think that it is ridiculous that Pioneer decided that Front Left/Right, Center, and one Surround was enough for a multichannel input. Many people complain about it. So there should and probably is a processor out there that is reasonable in price and has a 5.1 input.
     
  9. Dave Moritz

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    Hey Cees Alons,

    Here is another alternative idea that still uses a reciever. If you are not on a strict budget. You could get a Denon receiver and while you use external power amps for you home theater. Many of the Denon recievers can reassign there internal amplifies to use for 2nd and 3rd zones so those amplifiers can still be used for other things. You could also wait for HDMI 1.3 switching to be available and by that time models would most likely have all the new surround decoding as well. This may also work to your benafit especially if the Blu-ray does not end up decoding all the surround formats? A receiver may work better than you think as you could have assignable internal amps, assignable component video, assignable digital inputs and assignable hdmi inputs. There is also 12v triggers, multi zone output and other features to consider. The flagship Denon for example contains dual surround sound decoding. Two seperate processors one 7.1 for the main zone and a second 5.1 processor to use in a second room independent from the main room. So while recievers may not be pre/pros they still have come along way and could add alot of options that may be very usefull to you. Even the $1300 Denon AVR-3806 has dual hdmi inputs, RS-232 conection for Creston remote, assignable video, digital and hdmi inputs. And has tripple zone capability.
     
  10. Jerome Grate

    Jerome Grate Cinematographer

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    I thnk the biggest issue here is that you will lack a master volume to control everything at once. IMHO, I connecting the DVD player directly to the amps via the 5.1 outputs may not give you the true sound you wish simply because the DACs in the Toshiba may not be on the same level as a processor. I agree with the previous comment made in regards to waiting for a receiver or processor with HDMI 1.3 since to my understanding it will be able to hand Dolby TrueHD and DTS version of the same. Your scenario does buy you some time in regards to connectability but at a loss of convenience and possibly sound quality.
     

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