First HT setup - Denon avr3801 for $350?

Discussion in 'AV Receivers' started by WilliamLord, Jan 1, 2004.

  1. WilliamLord

    WilliamLord Extra

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    I can get a Denon avr 3801 for $350; can I do any better for a first HT setup (would you buy new)? It will be used for music and HT. I have a fairly big room (24x24). Since I've never had any kind of Dolby sound at all (been running movies through my old 2 channel, circa 1984 receiver (great specs), I'm sure I'll be blown away by the sound regardless. In other words, do I need the latest digital technology, or will I be just as well off with the (to me) great sounding specs of the 3801? Thank you and Happy New Year!
     
  2. Wayne Ernst

    Wayne Ernst Cinematographer

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    Since the 3801 does not feature Dolby Pro Logic II, I think I would pass on it and pick something a bit newer.

    If you would only plan to utilize the 3801 for DVDs that are encoded with DTS or Dolby Digital tracks, it would be a fine receiver. However, there are those times when you might only be able to get a movie in VHS format. Since the VHS would just be encoded in stereo format, it's good to have Pro Logic II to be able to take advantage of your additional home theater speakers - and give you a good option for "recreating" that desired surround sound from just a 2-channel source.

    Your room seems fairly large. But, the size may not be a limitation if you don't desire to watch movies at very loud levels. If you are the type of person to watch movies at a "moderate" level, then something like a new Denon AVR-1804 might fit the bill nicely for you. Plus, they could be purchased in the $400 range from authorized retailers. If you require movies to be played quite loud, then you would have to increase your budget and look for something more powerful to fill your listening area.
     
  3. WilliamLord

    WilliamLord Extra

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    My budget, unfortunately, is right at the $350 level at this time. Is Dolby PL2 such a dramatic improvement? What will I gain from it, exactly? I really don't know; I was blown away hearing PL several years ago. I'm mainly interested in what I'm going to get out of newer movie releases at this point--and yes, I do want the volume. We don't have close neighbors . . .
     
  4. Wayne Ernst

    Wayne Ernst Cinematographer

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    William,

    Here's about the best response regarding your question on Pro Logic II:



    Source: Pro Logic II Explained

    Just this evening, we rented Back to the Future: Part 2. It was only available on VHS. Needless to say, I had to kick in Pro Logic II to get the surround sound to play for the movie. The old version of Pro Logic seems "lifeless" when compared to Pro Logic II.

    If I was in your situation and had a limited budget, I'd look into purchasing a used receiver. A few weeks back, Audiogon had a used Denon 2803 for $300 + shipping. The 2803 would provide a good amount of power - near that of the Denon 38XX series, but would be at a better price point.
     
  5. WilliamLord

    WilliamLord Extra

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    Wayne,

    Thank you--sounds like the big difference with PL2 is decoding older movies; this would be useful. Thought the 3801 at 350 was a killer deal; seems like this technology is moving at lightning speed.
     
  6. Wayne Ernst

    Wayne Ernst Cinematographer

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    William,

    Also, I did see a Harman/Kardon AVR-325 for sale @ Ebay for $330. This was a "buy it now" price. The shipping was approx. $37 for the receiver. This would fall within your budget - and would be a very good receiver that would afford you all of the latest processing options. Plus, it has pre-outs, so that in the future if you desired more power, you could connect an external amplifier to give your system that "bump" you desire.

    Just pay a visit to E-bay and do a search for: AVR-325 and you'll see some good prices for the H/K receiver.
     
  7. WilliamLord

    WilliamLord Extra

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    What if I put off buying a sub and step up to a denon 3803 for 699 inc. shipping brand new (the 6th ave deal)? Or, would you recommend something else at that price (or, hopefully, lower)?
     
  8. Steve F M

    Steve F M Screenwriter

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    The 3801 is a great receiver and for that price I would jump on it. I have the 3803 now and have had the 3801 in the past. the 3801 seemed much more powerful then the 3803.

    DPLII is way overhyped in my opinion. They are other formats that will give you surround for 2 Source material. Doesn't that receiver have DTS Neo? Thats basically DPLII.

    $350 for the Denon is a steal. You will still see them selling for $400-$450 on Ebay.
     
  9. John S

    John S Producer

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    That is a good deal on that receiver.

    It would be a trade off on any older unit, as they can never have the more recent sound modes.

    You could certianly buy it now, and upgrade later. Denon's hold their resale fairly well, I don't see you losing any money on it, by upgrading later. And in the mean time, you got some excellent sound for your HT and music.
     
  10. WilliamLord

    WilliamLord Extra

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    It does have dts neo:6 -- anyone have experience with this receiver decoding two channel?
     
  11. John S

    John S Producer

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    NEO:6 is excellent.... It does work better for me on some 2 channel sources. It will even vary from laserdisc to laserdisc for me, on DTS NEO:6 -vs- DPLII and which is best.

    Like I say, it is a dang nice receiver. It would not surprise me if the original owner upgraded to something newer to get the newer surround modes though.

    I actually think you would be very happy with it myself.
     
  12. WilliamLord

    WilliamLord Extra

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    Thanks, John. I had read nothing but good stuff about the 3801, including remarks like the one Steve made (the 3801 seeming more powerful than the 3803).

    I was concerned about the PL2; I'm going to overlook it and pull the trigger on the Denon. Now I'll have a couple/few hundred dollars to spend on a sub-but I haven't gotten much in the way of suggestions for a budget speaker.
     
  13. Wayne Ernst

    Wayne Ernst Cinematographer

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    William,

    Some good opinions of this receiver have been made. I guess when I initially responded, I didn't consider the DTS Neo:6 option. Since the 3801 has this processing, you should be fine when it comes to 2-channel materials.

    At $350, I hardly doubt you will regret your purchasing decision. Best of luck! [​IMG]
     
  14. John S

    John S Producer

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    define "Budget" speaker????

    That is a fairly top of the line reciever, I would not go with any "budget" speaker on it.

    I can say, the soon to be discontinued JBL S-Series are a great budget speaker for how they actually perform and an awesome match for Denon power amp neutrality.

    But you can't go and put a $200 speaker system on that receiver, it would almost be a crime to do so.

    So just about the cheapest speakers I would even consider mate'n to that receiver would be JBL S-Series speakers.
     
  15. WilliamLord

    WilliamLord Extra

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    Here is what I have (or will have):

    denon 3801
    polk CS400i center
    polk m3 rears
    epi 1100 (1984, pls don't laugh)

    Just looking for a sub to get by with until I can afford something better. If I can't do it for $300, I'll wait.

    Thank you guys very much for your input - today's my bday and off to a great start!
     
  16. John S

    John S Producer

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    B&H has the Sony SA-WM500 12" sub for $135, buy two of them, I am sure your system will be totally awesome with that setup.

    You speakers are fine, and should sound real great.
     

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