Pioneer 49TX vs. B&K 307????

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by JeffHayes, Apr 9, 2002.

  1. JeffHayes

    JeffHayes Stunt Coordinator

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    Hey kids,

    Well, I recently had a chance to listen to the B&K 307 receiver. I auditioned it through Vandersteen speakers for both movies and music. I currently own Paradigm Reference speakers for my dedicated theater room, but this dealer did not carry that line.

    So basically, here's my questions. Has anyone done an A-B listening test between them? What speakers did you use, and did you use an additional amp with the receiver as a pre/pro?

    The dealer I went to (whom I COMPLETELY trust) basically told me that he dealt in both the Pioneer Elite and B&K (and Arcam, Thiel, etc...). He said that he auditioned them in the store and thought that is was "no comparison" with the B&K giving much better audio for both movies and music, but especially music. I plan on using this 60-40 for movies/music. I can get the Pioneer for a really nice price and told him that. He said, "jump on it if you think you can get rid of it in 6 months or so and not lose more than a couple hundred bucks. Then go and buy the new AVR 308. It's a no-brainer."

    So basically I am looking for anyone and everyone to chime in with their thoughts if you actually DID A-B these things.

    Also, anyone else running Paradigm Reference with these receivers?

    Thanks and regards,

    Jeff in Houston
     
  2. Vishwa Somayaji

    Vishwa Somayaji Stunt Coordinator

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    I have not done A-B testing of these. However, the other thread "Where to go from B&K ref.30" should give you some ideas. While it is hard to say anything about the nonexistent 308, 49TX has so many more features compared to 307 such as DPLII, THX ultra 2, Video conversion and MCACC etc. However, from reading the flagship receiver forum it looks like B&K 307 has a more powerful amp section and better bass management. Just a thought!
     
  3. JeffHayes

    JeffHayes Stunt Coordinator

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    Thanks... and I have tried to read what has been said in the archives in regards to my question. I guess one thing that I have not been able to determine from the User's Manual is if the Pioneer is as totally flexible as the B&K in regards to those really cool PRESETS that you can have. For instance, you can have one preset for DVD-A where your 7.1 system is configured to use the back direct radiators as opposed to the sidewall dipoles, and yet another preset that would use the sidewall dipoles rather than the back surround, etc... i.e. touch of a button configures speaker setup, EQs, inputs, etc...

    Anyone know if you can do this sort of thing with the Pioneer?

    Thanks,

    Jeff in Houston
     
  4. Robert George

    Robert George Screenwriter

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    I had the B&K 307 for a bout 10 months then sold it for the 49TX a couple of months ago.

    No, the 49TX does not have the type of speaker configurations settings found in the B&K. Also, the amp section in the B&K is more robust than the Pioneer.

    That said, I have not regretted replacing the B&K for a second. The features and flexibility of the Pioneer are a full generation ahead of the B&K. I also disagree with your dealer on the sound of these two pieces. I consider the Pioneer to be cleaner, quieter, and smoother sounding than the B&K on all material.
     
  5. JeffHayes

    JeffHayes Stunt Coordinator

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    Robert,

    So does this mean that you are basically screwed like you are with the Anthem AVM20 in regards to being able to switch between side and rear surrounds depending on what you are listening to? As a DSP programmer for digital audio devices I find this lack of flexibility in "flagship" receivers and pre/pros positively laughable. The fact of the matter is, it is about 3 lines of DSP code to change the channel that a particular audio sample is sent to based on a flag from the receiver's OS. I look forward to hearing how you deal with DVD-A/SACD audio listening as opposed to 7.1 movies, etc...

    Thanks, Robert!

    Jeff

    PS - Didn't mean to come off as overly critical, I just find that this is a major pet peeve of mine considering I have intimate knowledge of what is involved in supporting something like software channel switching. And the fact that Anthem supposedly mentions that you CAN NOT change between side and rear surrounds without swapping speaker cables in back is just friggin moronic.
     
  6. Robert George

    Robert George Screenwriter

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    Jeff:

    I suppose there is some advantage for some people to be able to switch between side surrounds or back surrounds, but I have had that capability and frankly don't see the usefulness for the vast majority of users. The one feature of the B&K's speaker configuration selection that I did use quite often is the ability to switch between 5.1 and 7.1. Some material sounds better using two surrounds rather than four and some sounds better using all the surround speakers. The 49TX happens to have this same feature, so that is why I don't miss the configuration flexibility of the B&K. That part of the B&K I did use is still available in the Pioneer.

    I use only dipole speakers (4) for surrounds. I'm not a fan of 5.1 music mixes, so this has never been much of a priority with me.

    If someone is interested in using two different types of speakers such as two dipoles for movies and two monopoles for music, then the B&K and I believe the Denon 5800 are the only two receivers doing that.
     
  7. JeffHayes

    JeffHayes Stunt Coordinator

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    Robert,
    Thanks again... one more question...
    So if you can't necessarily switch back and forth between side and rear surrounds for 5.1 material, which surround speakers does the 49TX default to? For instance... pop in a 5.1 DD DVD, is the surround material coming from the rears or the sidewalls?
    Thanks again,
    Jeff
    PS - Ok I lied... got another question or two... [​IMG]
    What speakers are you driving with the 49TX? I think you may have mentioned in another post that you use an outboard amp for the mains? Did the room calibration of the Pioneer do a better job than the notch filters and such on the B&K? So basically... are you happier with your sound NOW, or is it too close to call and just a matter of having all the latest features whereas the B&K did not? Thanks, man.
     
  8. MatthewJ S

    MatthewJ S Supporting Actor

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    The only , and I mean ONLY , advantage that I'm awareof that Pioneer 49 has over the 307 is the new formats. While I carried both units where I worked ,it was the 307 that sounded much better(this is a PURELY SUBJECTIVE opinion coincidentally shared by almost everyone who heard the 2). As far as not using the amp section is concerned then yes it would only be flexibility,rear speaker selectivity ,customization ,computer filed presets,bass management, and notch filtering.....
    Oh, if I didn't run my video directly, I would enjoy Pioneers video up-conversion though...forgot that topside.. everyone feel free to dive in now the water's fine [​IMG]
     
  9. Robert George

    Robert George Screenwriter

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    Jeff:

    I am using an Acurus amp for the front three channels. The amps in the 49TX drive four Atlantic Technology 354SR dipole surrounds.

    There is no "default" speaker configuration per se. It is whatever you set. There are three button selections that configure what you play and in what mode. There is a channel select that switches between 5.1 and 7.1. The THX button switches between the various THX modes (Ultra 2, EX, etc.). Then there is a button to switch from THX to "standard" mode. Using a combination of these settings, one can select various forms of processing and how many speakers to use.

    I used the notch filer in the B&K for the low bass frequencies. I lost that, but bought an EQ to fix my bass response.

    I understand that comparing the 49TX to the B&K straight up would come down to a matter of personal preference. I readily acknowledge that B&K has better amps and can drive a difficult load more easily than the Pioneer. However, there are other factors beside simply amplifier power and current that make the Pioneer a better sounding unit to me. Smoother high and midrange frequencies while retaining detail are foremost. The Pioneer is "cleaner" in the high end as well. Adding the Acurus amp to the Pioneer made it no contest.
     
  10. Pete Mazz

    Pete Mazz Supporting Actor

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    Obi

    The room correction aspect always intrigued me. Will it work with the outboard amp? And how do you implement it? Is there a mic in the remote or something?

    Pete
     
  11. Robert George

    Robert George Screenwriter

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    Sure, the Acoustic Calibration works at the preamp stage so external amplification is not a problem. Indeed, I found the surround speaker settings changed when I ran the auto calibration routine after putting the Acurus amp into the system.

    The system works something like this. There is an omnidirectional mike included with the receiver. It is setup at the primary listening position and the auto calibration (MCACC) routine is engaged. What follows is about six minutes of various test tones, clicks, etc. circulating through all channels.

    During this process, the room is analyzed for ambient noise then all the calibration paramenters are set. This includes speaker "size" based on the response detected by the unit, delay for each channel, level for each channel, and finally the Acoustic Calibration. The AC uses seven 9-band digital EQs to setup two different response curves. One is called "All Channels" which EQs the system to match a preset response curve that is based on Air Studios in England (George Martin's recording studios).

    The second setup is caled "Front Align". This attempts to match the center and surround channels to the response of the left/right mains. While I find the "All Channels" overly bright for my system, the "Front Align" actually works quite well. Using the "Front Align" mode, my surround channels essentially disappear in the soundfield. The best response matching I could hope for using different brands of speakers.

    Additonally, each of the EQ bands is user adjustable in each of the modes (49TX only) or the Acoustic Calibration can be turned off completely if one prefers. Turning off the AC does not affect the basic calibration parameters (size, distance, level). Of course, all of the basic calibration settings are user adjustable if one chooses, even after the MCACC has been run.

    Very useful. Very cool. Not a feature that should be underestimated.
     
  12. JeffHayes

    JeffHayes Stunt Coordinator

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    Robert,

    Sounds to me like you make a GREAT agrument for people with different types/kinds/brands of speakers in a 5.1 or 7.1 setup... what about people who pretty much have matched speakers all the way around? Is it your feeling that the user definable speaker settings (distance, delay, etc) as well as the tone/EQ settings of the B&K would NOT do just as good of a job in setting up a room, just perhaps with a little more effort as opposed to the 6 minute auto-cal of the Pioneer? Note, I am asking for a "gut feel"... not anything more scientific than that. IF you have some science to back it up, that's icing on the cake. Obviously I might be barking up the wrong tree since you admittedly have a hybrid sort of setup with speaker brands/makes/etc... Anyone else use the auto-cal on the Elite with fairly matched speakers all around and get a "better" listening environment as opposed to another product's (B&K) manual settings?

    Thanks,

    Jeff in Houston
     
  13. Pete Mazz

    Pete Mazz Supporting Actor

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    Thanks, Obi.
    I agree. That is a very cool tool. Hopefully, as the manufacturers get better with all the digital manipulation, we'll see more of these useful features, not that I don't like the Church DSP effect, mind you [​IMG].
    Pete
     
  14. Robert George

    Robert George Screenwriter

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  15. Dave Moritz

    Dave Moritz Producer
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    Hey Jeff

    Well this might upset someone with a Pioneer receiver. But I have never cared for any of the Pionner or Pioneer Elite receivers. I honestly do not agree that the Pioneeer can compete with the B&K sonically. And i do not believe that Pionner has the same build quality as B&K, Denon, Yamaha and many others. Pioneer for many years now has cut corners on the quality of the electronics and the face of the unit is not much to look at. Even though ultimatly looks does not affect sound quality. I feel Pioneers strong points are there Big Screen TV's, laserdisc players and their Elite DVD players. I would choose the B&K although it is alot more difficult to set up than the Pioneer. You may also want to consider Denon or Yamaha. I currently own a discontinued Yamaha RX-V995 with DD/DTS 5.1 surround. I was very impressed with the overall sound quality in music and with the surround sound from the processor. Pioneer and Sony are to dead and dry for my taste. There are alot of happy Pioneer owners and ultimatly if that is what you want, go for it.
     
  16. Robert George

    Robert George Screenwriter

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    Dave:

    How long were you able to audition a Pioneer 49TX?

    What were the conditions of the comparison you made to the other models you claim are superior?

     
  17. JeffHayes

    JeffHayes Stunt Coordinator

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    Robert,
    Yes, I understand about the timbral characteristics of even a set of 7 matched speakers due to room interactions... basically what it sounds like is the MCACC gives you the normal Joe Sixpack adjustments of delay, distance, volume on a per channel basis, but adds the additional "tweakability" of a digital EQ on each channel. Is that a fair assessment or is there more to it than that.
    Although I won't dismiss the Pioneer Elite model offhand for just being a Pioneer, I will admit to having a deep aversion to the LOOKS of that beast. As with most of us married people out here in home theater land, the WAF is pretty high on something like this. I personally refer to the traditional Pioneer color scheme as BUBBA (Butt-Ugly Black and Burnt Amber). Yuck. Shiny black or not... it's ugly to me. I've seen pics of the sister unit (VSX-AX10)for the European market in the silver finish and LOVE it, as does my wife. Too bad Pioneer isn't smart enough to offer each market the CHOICE of colors between black, silver and champagne. [​IMG]
    I will say that sound notwithstanding, the B&K does get much higher marks in the looks department just by OFFERING the silver finish on the 307 and Ref30.
    I'd like to get your opinion on the build quality of the Elite. Ever opened that puppy up? My understanding from talking to other individuals/store owners is that the Elite definitely uses lower quality parts as compared to the B&K. And when I say "lower quality" I am not inferring that what Pioneer uses is BAD in any way... just that the B&K uses higher tolerance caps and resistors, more robust power supplies and the like. Thoughts? Opinions?
    Thanks and regards,
    Jeff
     
  18. Scott Merryfield

    Scott Merryfield Executive Producer

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    I recently purchased a Pioneer Elite VSX-47TX (the little brother of the 49TX). The 47TX also has the MCACC function. Using the "front align" mode, my 5 B&W 600 Series speakers blend very well together. The "all channels" mode also blended well, but like Obi I found that the EQ settings of this mode resulted in a sound that was too bright for my tastes.

    With my old receiver (a 3.5 year old Sony 50ES), I was never able to get this completely seemless blend between the main and center speakers, even though they were from the same B&W line and used the same drivers. This would have required tools that I neither own nor have the expertise to use in order to achieve a similar result.

    IMO, a tool like MCACC can be very useful for those people who lack the tools and knowledge to fine tune their system's EQ settings. Equalizers can be dangerous tools if you do not completely understand what you are doing -- you can really screw up the sound on a system.
     
  19. Dave Moritz

    Dave Moritz Producer
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    Hello Robert

    I do not hate Pioneer they where the leader in the begining of the laserdisc. Most companies that produced laserdisc player used Pioneer transports. They are even known for there Elite DVD players and laser tecnology. I am even building a seperate system revolving around and old Pioneer Spec 1 preamp. I am trying to decide weather to upgrade my 31" Toshiba TV to a front projection unit or a rear projection. If I choose the rear projection route I have my eye on the Pioneer Elite HD line. I have spent at least a min. of 1 hr for each receiver I audition. I bring my favorite movies and cd's when ever I audition equipment. I have checked out the Pioneer Elite 37TX, 47TX and the 49TX. I can not say that the features alone won me over on any of the models. The MCACC feature is a very nice feature and the 49TX's touch screen remote is very nice. I beleive I spent the most time on the 49TX listening to it for aprox. 3 hours. I have also auditioned the Elite DV-37 and DV-39a DVD player to replace my Pioneer DV-525. My first laserdisc player was a Pioneer. I do not care for the sound qaulity from the Pioneer receivers in the surround sound area. I have heard the receivers thru B&W, Klipsch, Paradigm and Boston speakers. To my ear the Pioneer receivers lack depth and detail. That is why I said they sound "dead and dry". You are obviously happy with your 49TX and that is all that matters. I am assuming that is the receiver you own from your responce. I did not dismiss the 49TX and feel I gave it plenty of concideration, do I hate Pioneer NO I do not hate Pionner
     
  20. Rob_Z

    Rob_Z Extra

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    I am in the same position. B&K or Pioneer or Denon. I think the B&K sounds better, but they must be behind the times or something. Pioneer, Denon and Yamaha ALL have new models with the latest and greatest. B&K doesn;t. Plus it is hard to get a good discount on the B&K. So, for me, I have to ask is it worth 1K more to get the B&K. If B&K was updated and for the same price, I would take the B&K. But for now, my decision is between the Denon 5803 and the Pioneer 49.

    As for looks, I think the Pioneer looks the BEST out of these four.
     

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