Newbie looking to buy HT receiver

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by TonyTone, Jul 27, 2002.

  1. TonyTone

    TonyTone Supporting Actor

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    Hi--this is my first post in this forum and it goes without saying that there is lots of great info here! Anyway, I'm looking to buy my first HT receiver and I'm trying to decide among the following three--Pioneer VSX-D811S, Denon AVR-2802 and AVR-3802. From an absolute sound quality standpoint, the 3802 is the best of the three while the Pioneer is at the other end, relatively speaking. The Pioneer's main selling points (for me) are that it is a badged DD-EX receiver (the two Denons are not, IIRC) and that it is the least expensive (at $300) of the three. I won't go into detail regarding the Denon's since you guys already know, but price-wise it seems the 2802 can be had for a little over $500, the 3802 for $700--the most noticeable differences being power and number of powered channels.

    What it comes down to are these factors--can the two Denons in question properly decode/playback DD-EX material if I have the appropriate 6.1 speaker setup? Also, the PDFs on Denon's website for the two receivers list the component bandwidth at 27 MHz--some people here in this forum have commented that they have a 50-something MHz bandwidth; which is correct? I ask this because it appears that the 811S has the 27 MHz component bandwidth, and if it isn't sufficient enough for HDTV switching, that would make me lean towards the Denons even more.

    I don't mind spending the extra money for the 2802 or even the 3802 but given the above issues--is it worth spending the extra $200+ to get the 2802 over the 811S (hard to beat the price to performance/feature ratio of the 811S), and will I notice any noticeable difference in sonic performance between the 2802 and the 3802 to possibly justify spending an additional approx. $150 (I could probably live with the 20 fewer watts and the one less channel the 2802 provides, unless you can convince me that I won't feel bad dumping $700 on the 3802)?

    Sorry for posting such a long thread but I want to make a decision I can live with, at least for a few years until better receivers come out.

    Thanks!

    Tony
     
  2. ThomasL

    ThomasL Supporting Actor

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    Tony, I think most would agree that the 2802 is in the performance class above the 811S while the 3802 is above the 2802. I bought an 811S and am happy with it. I'm leery of buying receivers on-line which for me meant that the 2802 was twice the cost of the 811S ($400 vs. $800). I would say you need to make a list of the features you want/require and perhaps audition one of them in your own setup. As for DD-EX, the Denons will decode such material. I believe the issue was that they simply weren't able to get the official DD-EX "stamp of approval" for the DSP algorithm that they are using. Others may know more but suffice it to say, I wouldn't make that the deciding factor. In regards to component switching, is this a feature you'll be using? Remember that if you buy an HDTV-ready tv, it'll most likely come with 2 sets of component inputs - one for dvd and one for your HDTV decoder. You may never use the receiver to do the switching. So, once again, I would not make that the deciding factor unless you know you'll absolutely be using it in the short term.

    Other factors of importance are what speakers you'll be pairing the receiver with.

    good luck,


    --tom
     
  3. Jon Krangel

    Jon Krangel Stunt Coordinator

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    I would forget about the Pioneer completeley, as it isn't even a competetor to the two Denons listed above. Pay little attention to THX Select badging, as most recievers in the $700-$1500 price range without it can decode and handle DD-EX and DTS-ES quite niceley. Also, I know the 2802 has 27 MHz component video switching, and I also know the 3802 is rated a bit higher (37 Mhz?). I would not put an HDTV signal through the 2802. Go with the 3802 and be assured that it will last you a good, long, time.
     
  4. Stephen Hopkins

    Stephen Hopkins HW Reviewer
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    Jon, you shouldn't simply dismiss the 811S like that. It would be impossible to fairly compare the 811S directly to the 3802. It would be like comparing a Camaro to a Viper. The features and power just don't compare. However, comparing the 811S to the 2802 is a more fair comparison. Chance are you would be hard pressed to find a big enough difference to justify the added expense.

    If you are interested in the 811S, you may also be interesed in the Pioneer Elite VSX-41. It is the elite equivalent of the 811S w/ alot of added features. If you are set on getting a high end receiver and won't be satisfied w/ a mid-level receiver, the 41 might be for you. It also has all of the THX RE-EQ and decoding, even though it's not THX certified (mainly because it still uses a single amplifier to drive all channels). It's only been out about a month, and can be found on yahoo shopping for less than $500

    More than anything, get what you like the best. Don't let compnent switching bandwidth make your decision for you.
     
  5. TonyTone

    TonyTone Supporting Actor

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    Stephan--I was looking at the specs for VSX-41 and agree with you that it is more or less a higher-end equivalent of the 811S. I can see the benefits/advantages of a receiver (e.g. Denon) where all channels are driven by individual amps as opposed to others (e.g., many Pioneer, if not all?) that use just one dedicated amp for all channels, but is it worth justifying spending the additional $250-$400 more? I'm not looking to build anything higher/better than a mid-end HT system (budget constraints--aka WAF) but at the same time am willing to pay a wee bit more if the returns justify the extra expenditure. I understand that a receiver alone does not a great-sounding HT system make, but it is the cornerstone.

    As far as component input bandwidth is concerned--it would be nice to be able to hook up HDTV input through the receiver down the line; for now, I do need it to have sufficient bandwidth to hook up a progressive-scan DVD player to it since my TV (Wega 36XBR450) can autodetect/output anamorphic from DVD if it's receiving a progressive signal from the player. Obviously, if the bandwidth on the receiver isn't wide enough for my TV to "see" it, then I would imagine that my TV won't be able to properly display anamorphic DVDs. From what others have said, 27 MHz should be sufficient to handle a progressive signal; I just want to at least get a receiver with enough features that should allow me to keep it for a few years at least...

    Tony
     
  6. Stephen Hopkins

    Stephen Hopkins HW Reviewer
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    I use the component video switching on the 811S w/ a progressive scan dvd and a PS2 (i don't really know why since i have 2 component intputs on my tv, a Hitachi 43" HD), and all of the anamorphic and progressive features work fine (i watch in 480P upconverted to 540P).

    As for discrete amps vs. distributed mono block amps, the difference is heard when trying to drive all channels at full power simultaniously. Usually, discrete amps can keep their full rated power, even when all channels are driven simultaniously. Distributed amps usually fall off about 25% in the same situations. But in perspective, when will you ever be driving every channel to full power at the same time? It would not be a comfortable listening environment.

    For a middle of the road HT setup, the 811S would be perfect. Depending on what kind of speakers you plan on using, i'd go for the 41 just because of some of the THX type re equalization settings... but if you're speaker choices are consistent with your middle of the road approach,then stick w/ the 811S
     
  7. Kevin Alexander

    Kevin Alexander Screenwriter

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  8. Kevin Alexander

    Kevin Alexander Screenwriter

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    All kidding aside, I say go w/ the Pioneer 811S. I had one for a month, and it is a very worthy receiver. It's not a cheap sounding, souless receiver as some might suggest at all.
     
  9. ThomasL

    ThomasL Supporting Actor

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    Tony, I will say one thing about the 811S. First of all, I want to preface this by saying that many talk about how receivers sound warm, bright, etc. I personally am a believer in the idea that speakers, and your listening environment (where the speakers are located, and where you sit) really make the biggest difference by far in sound in the budget arena which is where we are at when talking about ~$500 receivers. If you want to spend a little more, I'd spend it on speakers. With that said, I've found 2 channel stereo in the 811S to be a little unsatsifying with my speakers (Cambridge Soundworks Newton M50 bookshelves). It's very detailed but tends to be on the bright side and lacking in bass. It sounds "tinny" and "boxed in" in other words. This could very well be my speakers and their placement since the same set of speakers in another room off of the same receiver yet lower to the ground sound better to me. Anyhow, I found the "Midnight" setting on the Pioneer really improves 2 channel cd listening. It may also be that I listen at low levels since it is a small room.

    As for the component video switching, I don't use it but I believe it'll be fine for passing a 480p signal.

    cheers,


    --tom
     
  10. TonyTone

    TonyTone Supporting Actor

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    Okay, I guess I should have mentioned a few more things--one, I'll use my HT setup 80/20 movies/music; second, I'll probably hook up JBL S-series (four--ideally 5 or 6--26II for the fronts and surround, and an S-CenterII center channel) to whatever receiver I get--at this point I've narrowed my choices down to either going frugal (811S) or all-out (3802). Haven't decided on what sub to get though--again, I can either go frugal (Sony SA-WM40), middle of the road (JBL PB12) or above-average (SVS 25-31 PCi), as far as price/performance is concerned. I may very well go with the Sony if the polyfill fix does get rid of a lot of the boominess that people complain about, since the approx. $150 price is hard to ignore--unless someone can convince me that the performance of a JBL PB12 is worth spending an extra $100, or an SVS 25-31 for approx. $350 more...

    From what some of you have said, unless I plan on pushing my system really hard I probably won't be making real good use of the Denon's individual amps; OTOH the power "overhead" (for lack of a more proper term--maybe "efficiency") of the Denons is nice to have.

    You guys are making my decision a bit more difficult, but I'm not complaining as your input is definitely important to me. The last thing I want to do is to let's say buy a lower-priced model that does what I need it to do, but then a few months later I wind up regretting not spending the extra money on something a bit better to begin with.

    Tony
     
  11. Michael Mathius

    Michael Mathius Supporting Actor

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    Tony if you want to lessen your chances of buyer's remorse the get the denon 3802[​IMG] [​IMG]
    Nothing like a little peer pressure huh[​IMG]
     
  12. ThomasL

    ThomasL Supporting Actor

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    Tony, this probably won't help any [​IMG] but I think the decision is yours. It sounds like it really comes down to a question of budget. A system with the 811S plus the JBL speakers and sub would sound fine for movies, I'm sure. Also, the Denon 3802 + JBL S26IIs + SVS sub would also sound fine [​IMG] Personally, my take on things is that the speakers make the biggest difference in the sound of any system. So, my advice would be not to skimp on the speakers. I figure that out of all the pieces, the receiver is the most likely to be upgraded to get new formats and new features. For example, if one day there is a DVD-Audio that is allowed to travel in a digital bitstream then receivers will suddenly come with support for that decoding and everyone will want to upgrade the receiver. That is just a hypothetical example but illustrates how, at least for me, speakers are a little more steady while other components are swapped in and out.
    I own the 811S and it works great for movies with CSW Newton M50s for fronts, 2 pairs of S300s for rear and surrounds, an MC300 for the center + a Paradigm PDR-8 subwoofer. I thought about going with the Denon 2802 locally for between $700-800 but in the end I couldn't justify the doubling of the cost of the receiver since $500 was really the top of my budget. I'm sure the Denon is a better receiver all around but the questions to answer are: will my ears notice that fact? [​IMG] And even if they do, is it $400 better? I think you'll have to answer those questions as well. My recommendation would be to buy your speakers first and then pick up a receiver and audition it with the speakers in your house. Perhaps buy the two you're interested in and try them both. If you find the Denon is worth the extra money then return the 811S and you'll be content that you based your decision on your own ears in your own surroundings.
    good luck,
    --tom
     
  13. peter a

    peter a Stunt Coordinator

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    i like the 3802. it smells nice when you take it out of the package, and has some serious power. the only thing i dont like is the small volume display on the lcd... that's really the only complaint i have. not too bad..
    p
     
  14. TonyTone

    TonyTone Supporting Actor

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    Okay, it comes down to this (forgive my weird reasoning on how I arrived to this decision)--I may have (emphasis on the "may") some funds coming in the next few weeks, and if they do come in, plus if 6thave.com still has the 3802 in stock at the $699 price if/when I receive my funds, then the 3802 it is. Otherwise I'll settle for the 811S and either put the money that I wind up not spending on the 3802 on better speakers or just set it aside for a receiver upgrade somewhere down the line.

    Thanks to all for your input! I never figured HT research would be this much fun!

    Tony
     
  15. KyleGS

    KyleGS Second Unit

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    I agree with what was stated earlier. The speakers IMO will make a bigger difference than the recievers that you are looking at. In other words the 811s with S38's would "probably" sound better than the 3802 with S26's for music and maybe HT. I would opt for the 811s, upgrade the mains to S38's and look at the PB12 sub or Rava from Adire. That would save you some money on the receiver to spend on a little better sub and mains. Just my 2 cents. G'luck!
     
  16. DonJ

    DonJ Second Unit

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    It all depends on what level of sound quality you are looking for. if you want something thats going to sound decent you are going to spend a little more. There is a HUGE differnce between Denon and Pioneer and it really shows. It's easy to get taken buy the cheap buy but there's a huge jump in sound quality between 500.00 to 1000 it's really night and day. Recievers cost alot and when I bought mine an H/K 320 I wanted something that i could listen to for 3 to 4 years and not be disapointed. What you don't wnat to do is buy something because its cheep and easy then regret it in a year and be stuck with it or buying a new one spending more money in the end. Since we all come to this web site we all most likley realy care about sound and quality. Just take a step back look at your goals and see what you can really afford.


    Sorry about typing one broken hand.
     

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