Reciever 'Sound Quality'

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by JasonKMonroe, Nov 28, 2001.

  1. JasonKMonroe

    JasonKMonroe Auditioning

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    OK...I am new to the forum, and currently building a home theatre. I have been reading all over the place about different recievers and how one sounds better than the other. Now, I am relatively new at this, and am trying to find a reciever that I like that also happens to be upgradable in the future.

    What I want to know is, how does one reciever sound better than the other? The reciever takes audio tracks, decodes them, then sends them to the speakers. How can a human possibly detect such subtle differences? OK, cheap generic recievers will have some white noise, but where is the real difference? A 10KHz tone is a 10Khz tone whether it comes from a Denon, Onkyo, Yamaha, whatever. So will someone please explain to me what specifically makes a reciever sound better?

    I dont want to start a big argument on the subject, I would just like someone to explain it to me in technical terms if possible, I really just dont know...thanks

    - Jason
     
  2. Ted Lee

    Ted Lee Lead Actor

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    i can't say from a technical point of view, but you'll often hear of people saying that one amp sounds "brighter" or "warmer" or "muddier" or "tighter" than another.
    i often think this is attributed to the components inside. perhaps the electronics they use is different (with different sonic characteristics) and this is what makes them sound different.
    i also suspect the quality of the electronics is a factor. if one capacitor works better than another, then the amount of sound that is capable of being reproduced will be different...this also will translate into a different sound.
    like i said, i'm pretty much just guessing here...if anyone else has comments or corrections on my post please chime-in!
    [​IMG]
     
  3. Bob_M

    Bob_M Stunt Coordinator

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    Jason,

    I am not a big believer in differences of sound in quality receivers. As long as your not pushing the amps into clipping and your using plain stereo I think they all sound about the same. When you through in digital manipulation and bass management issues then I can see some difference between units. If you look at S&V lab results, generally as you move up in a manufacturer line the quieter (less background noise) the units become along with a little more power. Whether anyone can hear these is another story, For example, the Outlaw 1050, this is a highly regarded unit and it did not score particularly well in S&V lab. Now if you have some hard to drive speakers and like to play them loud then sure one receiver to another will make a difference. The above is of course based on my very limited experience. I will be curious what the experts here have to say so I can learn too.

    Bob
     
  4. Evan S

    Evan S Cinematographer

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    Have you considered the Outlaw Audio 1050? It's getting rave reviews and can be ordered online at their website, Outlawaudio.com. I don't have one, but have heard one. Sounds great and people on forums like this one rave about it. For $499 you can get a 6.1 channel MUSICAL receiver that competes with those twice it's price. Just a suggestion.[​IMG]
     
  5. Saurav

    Saurav Cinematographer

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  6. Holadem

    Holadem Lead Actor

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    A receiver can be simplified into a processor and an amplifier. The processor does the decoding, the amp takes the result and amplifies it which means that your 10kHz tone will go from a few milivolts amplitude to a few volts, enough to physically move the speaker cones. Now you are assuming that amplifiers are perfect. They are not. The 10kHz input might be a perfect 10kHz, but the amplification invariably intruduces distortions. The ouput is not a perfect 10kHz. There might be a few harmonics added to the signal, very low ampplitude but that could affect the sound.
    But this is only a small part of the story.
    The gain of the ideal amplifier is flat across the whole audible frequency range (20Hz - 20kHz). That means that a 5kHz signal will be amplified by the same factor as a 15kHz signal. Now there are as many ideal amplifiers are Santa Clauses or perfect women [​IMG]. So with a real world (non ideal) amp, say a 5Hz signal and a 15Hz signal have the same levels on the source material, there will be a difference of amplitude at the output. You might not hear the difference with only 2 tones, but with a signal that covers a wider spectrum, the difference will be audible, depending on how far from ideal the amp is. An amplifier with a greater gain at the higher frequncies will be called "bright" for instance.
    Componded with what happens to a single tone, your output is starting to look quite different from the input.
    And that is not even getting into phase response, power and output impedance (speakers) issues. Someone else will take it from here [​IMG]
    --
    Holadem
     
  7. ChrisAG

    ChrisAG Supporting Actor

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    Speaking from experience, there can be a huge difference in sound between amplifiers. I upgraded from a 60 Wx3 Yamaha RX-V390 that I had for five years to a 105 Wx6 Marantz SR-6200. Immediately upon hooking up the Marantz, I noticed the sound was fuller, with superior bass. As the old cliche goes, I heard things with the Marantz I had never heard with the Yamaha. I'm talking about straight stereo performance, as the old DPL Yamaha obviously cannot compete with the DD DTS 6.1 Marantz when it comes to surround sound.

    Since the receivers occupy different price points, the comparrison is not really fair, but it illustrates that in general, a heavier, slightly more upscale amplifier can easily outperform an entry-level one (usual disclaimers apply, yadda yadda).
     
  8. Holadem

    Holadem Lead Actor

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    To go further with the cliches, moving from Kenwood VR-309 (then ~$250) to Onkyo 575x (then ~$400) was a night and day experience.

    Back then, the Paradigm Monitor 3 amazed me at the store but when I got them home, they sounded very collapsed, downright horrible, and zero bass. I bought the Onkyo and voila!

    But I am unsure whether or not I would notice a comparable difference if I moved to a $800 receiver (Onkyo 797 or Denon 3802). I asked on this board like 13000 times and none has been able to answer, despite the commonality of this move.

    --

    Holadem
     
  9. Saurav

    Saurav Cinematographer

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  10. Frank Chang

    Frank Chang Agent

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    A 10 hz tone is different from the music from a violin, or any musical instrument, a car crashing or a bomb exploding, sometimes in a movie all these sounds are occurring simultaneously. The sound and harmonics pass thru wires, and connectors, from the source (video tape, DVD or CD player, Satellite or Cable TV, etc). In the receiver the signal is passing thru switches, printed circuit boards, electronic components, volume bass and treble controls (all variable resistors), processor, etc. Then the signal is amplified, thru more connectors and wires and finally the speaker (IMHO the weakest link). The amplifier must control the drivers of the speakers to reproduce the sound of the musical instrument and the speaker is not a violin, bomb exploding, or a car crashing. Asking a speaker(s) to reproduce these sounds is very difficult. The better the components in the amplifier the better the control of the speaker drivers, the more accurately the sound is reproduced.

    The information passing thru the receiver is altered by the quality of the electronic components used and even by the magnetic fields created by the power supply (so the magnetic sheilding around the power supply affects the signal) as does the design of the circuit on the printed circuit boards. Resistors and capacitors are made from different materials all with slightly different characteristics (they sound different!) The variables that affect the sound as the violin and car crash information are passing thru the receiver are probably in the millions, at least the hundreds of thousands, all affecting the final output (sound) coming from your speakers. It's amazing the inexpensive receivers sound as good as they do. The cost of improving the sound is not linear, as you can see by the escalating cost of various components comprising a home theater. The more expensive receivers add more switching (allowing you to connect more devices) and more sophisticated processing to alter the sound with the intent of making the sound more realistic in a three dimensional perspective, or to enhance the overall enjoyment of the audio experience. The receivers also switch and control the video signals as they pass thru and I'm sure you have seen different TV's and computer monitors which look different depending on the cost.

    I'm not an expert but have listened to many different electronic products and speakers over 50 years. Depending on your budget you should try to balance all the pieces in your system to the same quality level. The higher quality the equipment you purchase the more you can hear the differences in the parts that you are listening to. Don't buy really expensive speakers and an inexpensive receiver as the sound will be inferior to distributing the expenses more equally. Hope this helps some.
     
  11. Bob_M

    Bob_M Stunt Coordinator

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    Hi Holadem

    >The gain of the ideal amplifier is flat across the whole audible frequency range (20Hz - 20kHz). That means that a 5kHz signal will be amplified by the same factor as a 15kHz signal. Now there are as many ideal amplifiers are Santa Clauses <

    I understand what you are saying but what puzzle me is the following. I dug out an old copy of S&V where they reviewed 4 amps. The frequency response varied less that +- 0.3DB's in the worst case unit. That would seem pretty flat to me and even the reviewer commented he could not pick out which amp is which in a blind contest.

    Bob
     
  12. Saurav

    Saurav Cinematographer

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  13. Lewis Besze

    Lewis Besze Producer

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  14. Brad_Harper

    Brad_Harper Stunt Coordinator

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    If you examine the schematics of a Bryston amp and compare

    them to the schematics for an old pioneer amp you will notice that they will be very identical. Any well designed amp topology will use techniques to reduce the variability the components (capacitor, resistor, etc.) have on the sound. The way an amplifier is laid out inside its casing and how the circuits are designed have much more to do with an amps performance then the types of capacitors or resistors that are used. Using 1% tolerance resistors or metal film capacitors is more of a marketing ploy then a performance enhancer. Most company's amplifier distortion ratings are inflated by quite a bit. A simple Class AB amplifier using MOSFET output transistors is very capable of achieving less then 0.001% THD. Any well respected manufactuer will more then likely have a well designed amplifier inside their receiver so I would concentrate more on the features, RMS power rating, frequency response and signal to noise ratio. Don't worry whether the amp is supposedly "bright or warm" sounding or if it is musical or not.
     

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