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Receivers as Pre/Pros again (1 Viewer)


Second Unit
Jun 13, 2001
With all of the new full featured receivers coming out (Denon 3802/4802, Onkyo 797/898, Sony 3ES/5ES)once again everyone (at least on this forum) sees an opportunity to get the pre/pro features they want at a reasonable price.
Outlaw certainly risks losing potential sales if they delay much longer.
If you are just looking to use the receiver as a pre/pro should you purchase the lowest power model that has everything you want? Is there really a difference in the preamp section between a 3802/4802 etc?
I would guess that most of the models listed above would perform fairly close to the Outlaw 950. Comments?
Does a receiver run considerably cooler when used as a pre/pro with no load?
I just wish one of the companies above would strip the amps out of their receiver and sell a pre/pro, even at a premium!!

MatthewJ S

Supporting Actor
Feb 27, 2001
Tom, I have responded to this type of post several times before and get "semi"-ignored because (I guess) I am stating some unpopular opinions.I ,too , wish that some receiver companies would take the money that they spend on the amp sections of their receivers and put into beefing up their audio output section and sell the unit as a pre-pro!
however, this,seems to be viewed as an idea that would only find support in a niche market of enthusiasts such as are present on these forums. Apparently , the bulk of mnfgrs seem to think that the guy who is only looking to spend less than $2000 is to unsophisticated to buy seperates.So, they keep building more sophisticated 1 box solutions and push seperates costs into a differant realm.I don't know how well they understand the market but,would have to guess that they know it better than I.I have an AVR307 BECAUSE of space issues ,convieniance,cost, and a wife and children who need to understand how things work! I seem to be my own typical customer. Now, all this being said, I will give you the bad news...Most receivers analog pre-out sections are not built very well and while everyone knows how much more dynamic most quality seperate amps are in relation to the amps found in most average receivers,the pre-out section is put in by most mnfgrs as a "yeah we got that if you need it too" feature that they don't spend much money on.While I don't know the specifics of the downsides (electronically,sonicly, etc ), I keep hoping someone from TAG ,B&K ,LEXICON, OR MERIDIAN will jump in and give a better explanation than I.But, in conclusion, I have always had people much more knowledgeable about audio than I tell me that the importance of a quality pre-pro was ussually WAY underrated by the average audio enthusiast. These poinions have always made me feel that using a receiver as apre-pro was only an interim step towards a quality stand-alone pre-pro, or something done merely for "bang-for-the-buck" over sound quality .Oh my GOD, I didn't mean to insult anyone,please I don't want to see 20 responses saying that "I did this and it sounds great, you don't no what your talking about"...so ,in advance let me say "I'm sure you did ,and I'm sure it is an improvement, I have done this also,I'm not challenging your prowess,you know best,you have my respect ,go ahead and keep using the $800 receiver as a pre-pro,etc."....
Just trying to offer another point of view

Chuck Kent

Supporting Actor
May 29, 1999
For me, using a receiver as a pre-amp/processor has been the setup of choice for over 2 years. Throughout this period, no manufacturer made anything in the $1000 price range that offered the features and technology I wanted.
I recently went from a Denon AVR-3300 to a Denon AVR-3802. With the exception of individual adjustable speaker/sub crossover points, it has everything I'm looking for in a pre/pro. (And I solved the crossover point situation for my mains by using a Paradigm X-30.)
I did think about waiting on the upcoming Outlaw unit but ended up deciding that if they were delayed or backordered, it could be the end of the year before I could get one. I wasn't willing to wait...
As for whether or not the 4802 would be noticeably better than the 3802 pre-amp wise, sure I think it is possible, probably likely. The 4802 contains an additional SHARC processor to allow for even more flexibility and features than the 3802. Can all of us hear the additions?? Some for sure, other probably not. For me though, I have already "tested" the water and am more than happy enough with the 3000 series Denon's.
Maybe it all comes down to what we are looking for. Satisfaction or "THE BEST". Which aren't necessarily the same...
Matthew: I understand your point. And makers such as the ones you mention are good examples.
But I'll play devil's advocate and point out that there can also be pre/pros that are based on outdated technology (or even worse, units that aren't built very well.) In these cases, many of us may be far better off going with a good quality receiver and using it to get the sound/features we're looking for (and still having the benefit of better amplification.)

Kevin C Brown

Senior HTF Member
Aug 3, 2000
I used to use a Yamaha RV-X793 (RX-V?) receiver as a pre/pro. Yamaha, to their credit, (at least used to) put the decoding chips used in each receiver on their web site. So yeah, I went with the one with the most DSP programs (another way to tell what chipset the unit has) with the least power.
Here's a viewpoint too: I have a Sony TA-E9000ES pre/pro who has questioned going after a new receiver to get the latest formats. (I have straight 5.1 DD/DTS and no 5.1 analog inputs.) (The RV-X1000 looks really nice!)
But at least for now, I have added an external Dolby Pro Logic processor for a pseudo (or "homebrew") 6.1 DTS-ES (matrix)/THX EX compatible set up. As far as DVD-A and SACD, I'm still moderately waiting to see if either of these 2 take off. Oh, and DPL II? Nice in theory, but I'll stick to 2 channel stereo for now.
But I probably will just wait for the successors to the Sony, the Marantz AV9000, the new Outlaw, whatever comes out of the Klipsch/Aragon/Acurus camp, etc., and simply enjoy the great sound I have now for a little while longer.
(The B&K Ref 30 is really nice, but a little expensive.)
Maybe it's the California influence :) but it's hard to justify buying power (in a receiver) that I wouldn't use!
Maybe it's the "trickle up" theory! (Technologies and formats introduced into mass market receivers to drive volume and profits take a while to get to the higher end separates because unfortunately there's probably less money to be made there.)

John Morris

I don't have time to re-read all the posts here so I don't know if I agree or disagree... probably a little of both. I want to buy a pre/pro, but no-one makes one which suits my needs at my cost. So, I am now using a Denon 3801 as a preamp. When the Outlaw comes out, I will probably try that unit. I also just bought a Sherwood Newcastle R-956 for around only $450 and I am planning on trying that for my pre/pro versus my current 3801. I have owned and loved the Sherwood Newcastle AVP-9080r preamp/processor and only sold it when I got hooked on 6.1/7.1 audio in movies. Unfortunately, IMO, I gave up something when it came to background noise and fidelity with 2 channel music playback when I went with the Denon unit... and I want that back!
SN will release a press release on their new receiver, the R-963 on 9/5... and IT IS AN INCREDIBLE PIECE!!! I cannot release any details on it till that date but just trust me... you will want to wait at least till then before you buy... The piece I want, the pre/pro based on the R-963 is not due out till after the first of the year. So, in my mind, the receiver is the poor mans pre/pro.
Take Care,
DFAST, 5C, DVI, HDCP, SafeAudio, Macrovision and Lewinski!!!

Chuck C

Senior HTF Member
Jan 6, 2001
Here's how Secrets' answered my question....
Q In terms of sound, what are the advantages and disadvantages to using a mass market A/V receiver as a preamp and processor? For example, would $1,800 for an Onkyo TX-DS696 mated with an Outlaw 750 5-channel amp outperform a $3,000 Denon AVR-5800?
A The advantage of using a mass market receiver as a preamp/processor is that you get lots and lots of features that are not present on high-performance processors (many DSP modes). The disadvantage is that the power supply is usually weak on the mass market product, and they tend to use inexpensive op-amps at the pre-out stage. This compromises the capability of a good outboard power amplifier. However, the emergence of the $3,000 and above mass market receiver is changing this. These products sound really good, even with their enclosed power amplifiers. The above mentioned Integra 9.1 receiver is a good example. But, it is $3,500. That is a lot of money. I would say that, for the choices you mentioned, the Denon AVR-5800 would deliver the better sound.
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Charles Gurganus

Supporting Actor
Mar 2, 1999
It is all about trade off to a certain degree. I was unwilling to go the receiver route because none of them had flexible bass management (other than Sony ES receivers, which is what I had before moving to the E9000es preamp). To me, that was the most important feature as I wanted the flexibility for my tower speakers.
Sonically speaking, seperates should (and usually does) beat receivers and my experience they do. There is a big difference in loads of features that some receivers have over some prepros verses USEFULL and meaningfull features that a particular person may want. The biggest reason to choose seperates over receivers are to seperate the power supplies (IMHO) and to have the flexibility to choose the power amp seperately from the prepro for sonic matching with your speakers in particular. I still have a hard time understanding spending 3k on a receiver with no flexible bass management but that was MY top priority. If you don't care for this feature, you would either have speakers that are sub/sat based (so cutting the front speakers off at 80hz doesn't phase you) or full range. If you have full range speakers that are even moderatly hard to drive, very few receiver amps will do the job IMHO.
I'd put my Sony TA-E9000es prepro and Sherbourn 5/1500 (or any other seperate combo in the 2k to 3k range)combo up against any receiver and would expect it to come out on top. I do recall a review that compared the Sony combo (pre and amp) to I think the Denon 5700 (current at the time of review) and it was clear the Sony combo outperformed the Denon. Add a better amp to the E9000es than the N9000es amp, and that seperates the combo even further from any receiver. I expect the Sony TA-P9000es analog bypass (5.1 bypass plus 2 channel bypass) unit to further enhance this combo and fix the only real gripe with the e9000es prepro (that being a lack of an analog bypass, but even that could be done with the N9000es amp extra 2 channel input).
If you have to have the latest gee wiz bang stuff you probably have to buy a receiver. If all you want is great sound with more than enough power to drive any speakers, then seperates are the way to go.
Typical seperate combo that SHOULD beat any receivers...
Sony TA-E9000es.........$1000
amp of your choice......$1300 (average, you could spend more and less)
Then, if 2 channel music is important you can add the forthcoming TA-P9000es for about $500. That would give you 2 bypass inputs for SACD or/and DVD-Audio plus a 2 channel bypass for seperate 2 channel preamp. Or, if you are like me, you could just use the 2 5.1 bypasses for a turntable and/or a SACD player. Adding this to the above combo will give you unlimited flexibility.


Stunt Coordinator
Jul 23, 2000
I am using a 'modest' receiver as a pre/pro. It's a NAD T751 and anyone listening to this as a receiver knows it
'sounds' pretty darn good. I think from a sound quality perspective it is very much competitive with receivers up to at least $1000 and some over. Well, it did retail for $700 but can easliy be picked up for around $450 - $550 now.
It sounds better than the Pioneer TVS-07TX I had before.
I wanted a receiver with DTS and it was $300 less than what I paid for the Pioneer at the time.
One nice feature of NADs are good power reserves, underated power ratings with amps than can sink high current. I have 3 4ohm speakers.
They do sound good, and it can not be only the amp section that makes it so.
What makes the NAD less attractive, besides the plain looks is the lack of features. Oh, it has DTS, DD, and Pro Logic, but only one digital processing mode they call EARS. It's sounds quite good actually, and not like a lot of compromised sound effects found in some featured laden receivers that want to sell you 'stuff' that can 'simulate' Charlie's bar, or some cathedral in Belgium.
It is feeding a B&K 3220 amp. powering the front section of an M&K 750THX system, the sub is powered, and the NAD takes care of the surrounds. The result is excellent, compared to anything I had before.
Critical listening in 2 channel (like the cuts on the XLO Test CD) are incredible!
Eventually, I may want to go with 6.1 or 7.1, who knows what else is coming?
Then I will get a pre/pro and a couple of more channels of amplication I might need. But for now, the system is easy to operate, and offers superior performance for movies or music for a reasonable investment.

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