Review of 49tx with Anthem MCA30 Amp

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Howard_S, Aug 19, 2002.

  1. Howard_S

    Howard_S Supporting Actor

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    I wasn't thinking of actually posting a review since I'm quite new to all this myself but there were some requests so I figure I'll just pop in and share some of my experiences. Here's my setup.

    Paradigm Studios all around
    Studio 60s V.1 (fronts
    CC450
    Studio ADPs
    Servo 15
    Studio 20s V.2 (rear centers)
    Sony SCDC 555ES
    Pioneer Elite 49tx
    Anthem MCA30 (audition)

    First off for those who are wondering whether adding an amp to the 49tx makes a difference... the answer is YES! Adding an amp that is better than the 49tx's amp section to the 49tx improves the 49tx sound even more. I haven't had much experience with amps and preamps so I can't give any comparisons but as great as the 49tx, as many owners would tell you, it's even better as a prepro.

    With that settled I mainly played great recordings. Diana Krall, Opus 3 SACD, Yo Yo Ma SACD, and other jazz instrumental stuff such as Miles, Coltrane etc. Movie wise I watched all of Jurassic Park III and A Bugs Life.

    Improvements mainly come from clarity. I firmly believe that the only reason anyone would think the AVM20 would sound better than the 49tx is because of the amp the AVM20 is often mated to. As much as I love the 49tx, the sound could be cleaned up a bit. The MCA30 has ample power and definitely sounded less strained than the 49tx at loud levels. It runs pretty hot but it's extremely quiet.

    With the amp I really noticed the backgroud music. The harmony behind the main vocal part for example seems more noticible. The separation of instrument is improved. The music is revealed to you. You really find yourself enjoying the music more listening to the harmony behind the singer or soloist.

    Mind you that Paradigm Speakers, 49tx, 555ES and Diana Krall is often a forward presentation all around. The Anthem is probably in the forward camp too but it provided more depth to the music and vocals and heightened the clarity both top and bottom. Midrange wise there's not all that much you can do I think. But anyhow this allowed for less fatigue when listening to Krall at louder levels since she can often sound bright and edgy (or even brittle) on lesser systems. The anthem seemed to have made Krall's voice more sultry and deep and the instrumentals more full and smooth sounding so she didn't sound as sharp as when she did without the amp. Strings sound great.

    I consider piano reproduction to be kind of weak on the 49tx and the anthem certainly helped. Clearing up the sound a bit made piano sound much more realistic and nicer sounding.

    Jurassic Park III on DTSES sounded awesome. Not much to comment since I think the 49tx is good enough in terms of HT performance anyways. It's 2ch music that I wanted more. But again you'll hear a difference in the production of the musical score. I love the musical score of Jurassic Park and I the Anthem amp really helped increase my pleasure.

    I certainly recommend pairing the 49tx with a good amp if you can afford it. The Anthem MCA20,30,and 50s are nice amps that I feel are an exceptional value. They're not sophisticated and refined you would need to pay more for that but it really could be the perfect match for Paradigm speakers.

    I have heard the AVM20 with the MCAs and compared to the 49tx it's pretty close. But I think the 49tx has better chips and a better prepro section. Overall I think 49tx owners would be very happy adding an external amp to it although it's perfectly fine without it. I personally wouldn't do it for HT but would do it for music. You would want it but it might not be worth it. At the level of the 49tx you're talking about clarity and minor details.

    I really enjoyed my time with the Anthems and I think I"m gonna miss the sound a bit. I don't plan on mating my 49tx with an amp yet since I now plan to spend it on video upgrade instead simply cause the 49tx sound is good enough for me. But I'm happy to know that I can make my sound system sound better.

    I have thought an is still thinking about trading my 49tx for the AVM20 (thinking the AVM20 will finally have all the processing that the 49tx does) one reason is that the 49tx is now priced lower than a new AVM20 so I might actually not lose all that much but actually gain something in the trade. But for those who see buying the 49tx as a waste of money if used simply as a prepro. Look at it this way, most ppl don't upgrade their amps much. So if you buy the 49tx and a few years later you upgrade, you can use the 49tx in another room and use it's amp section. If you have the AVM20 and you upgrade you'll have to get amps for it to use in another room. Besides it's very expensive to set up a 7.1ch system. With the 49tx at least you get a 2ch amp, 3ch amp and a 5ch amp and have the 49tx run the other speakers. Honestly I don't see how it's a waste of money. I don't care if the 49tx plus amp combination cost more than the AVM20 plus amp combo. If the 49tx combo sounds better then it must be worth it to some people.

    Either way the AVM20 w/ Anthems are great and the 49tx with the Anthems are great too. Now I just wish I had the money to upgrade both my video and audio. I'm tempted to buy the Anthems though since they seem to be such a great value. Brystons, Bel Canto are my other considerations but they cost a lot more.
     
  2. Russell _T

    Russell _T Supporting Actor

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    I guess I'm never gonna get it. Why would anyone spend $2500.00 street price for a flagship receiver just to add an outboard amp to it when you can get a Denon 3802 or Sony DA5ES for around $700.00 with pre amp sections that spec just as good as the pioneer, and are probably more reliable as well. Anything that specs better than these two receivers, (and I'm just using these as examples) isn't audible, and you're just paying for bragging rights. Anyway, I'm glad it sounds better to you. [​IMG]
     
  3. Howard_S

    Howard_S Supporting Actor

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    Look I'm not gonna get into this argument here. If anyone thinks they can get a Denon 3802 plus an amp (for the same price or cheaper than the 49tx or 5803)and sound better than than a 49tx or 5803 than good for you and go for it. But there is more to a receiver than an amp section. The 49tx and 5803 processing powers are just superior. And they have a better prepro section too. I play an instrument and even though the player is more important than the instrument. If you think the quality of the instrument doesn't make a difference then we simply won't agree with a lot of stuff relating to music. Fact is that if you think some cheaper gear sounds just as good or better to you then I'm glad that's happening to you. Me? I hear the difference. And unfortunately that means more money most of the time. Why would anyone buy a BMW, mercedes, porche etc. when they can just buy a civic and modify it and make it faster than all those cars? If you don't get why anyone would want that besides just the brand then that's okay that would be your preference. Anyways I just wanted to share my thoughts. Can we please not have any of these kind of posts? I know you mean it in good faith Russel. I just don't want another one of thsoe 3802 plus amp post.
     
  4. JohnDW

    JohnDW Agent

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    I would really enjoy exploring this subject further. To wit, on paper the new Sony str-4es seems to be a very sophisticated pre-pro, with infinite bass management, multiple outlets, etc, etcmfor only $650 at several places plus 5 year ES warranty. Fully aware that the 110 wpc 7.1 ratings for sony receivers are porbably very generous, and aware of rumors that the amps can have a nosiy floot, non-THX, why not pait this with say a a conservatively rated 200 wpc 5channel amp like Sherbourn, large Rotel, large Parasound, multichannel amp and go head to head with the 49tx (admittedly a great receiver, and my top choice for an all in one box) for less money (including the cables to connect Sony and the amp)....
     
  5. Marc_E

    Marc_E Supporting Actor

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    Let me just say straight out I am an AVM-20/Rotel1095/1090 owner and I love them.

    Receiver+outboard amp>AVM-20+amp(s)? How about price man?
    Using the SRP for the units and my amps (I dont know what street on 49tx is (authorized dealer)):
    49Tx SRP $4200+$4000=8200
    avm20 3200+4000=7200
    $1000 better? I really have a hard time believing any differences are that significant. The Pioneer plus outboard may be better. I thought I read about a review that did compare such a thing (or maybe an owner?) and the Anthem came out ahead. Not sure about that though.

    Sorry, forgot to say thank you for the review. I have been very curious how the unit sounded with outboard amps to make a better comparison to separates. Great job.
    Marc
     
  6. RajeeK

    RajeeK Second Unit

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  7. Chas_T

    Chas_T Supporting Actor

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    Howard.. Real nice job on this review. Thanks for taking the time to share your experiences with us.
     
  8. AustinKW

    AustinKW Stunt Coordinator

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    Howard,

    How did you determine the qualitative differences between the onboard 49TX amps and the MCA30? Did you rely on audio "memory" or did you set up some kind of switching ?

    When I added an outboard to my receiver, I did a little test that I found pretty informative. I "Y" cabled one side of a source (CD actually) to both main channels. One of the mains was connected directly to the receiver amp. The other was connected to the outboard amp which was then fed by the receiver's preout. We all know how mono images when perfectly balanced. In my test setup, it was very easy to distinguish the imbalances caused by the different amplifiers. It almost sounded like stereo! FYI.

    Austin
     
  9. PeterKuhlman

    PeterKuhlman Extra

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    Thank you Howard!!
    As one who requested - prodded you for a review, I really appreciate you taking time for this. You made some excellent points and I will check into an amp upgrade thanks to you - or should I say no-thanks to you as this will cost me even more money [​IMG] . Thanks to all here who so willingly share their experiences.
    Pete in Louisiana
     
  10. Howard_S

    Howard_S Supporting Actor

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  11. Russell _T

    Russell _T Supporting Actor

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    "I'm not sure where you get your information, but it is clearly wrong. The 49TX and other flagships are packed with far greater processing power than the two above you mentioned. I agree with Howard it's really not even worth getting into a debate about this simple fact. Ever heard the phrase "If ya don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all." Try and heed that advice before mindlessly bashing others who take the time to post their experiences."
    It was not my intent to bash anyone's equipment, or their opinion of it, so I apologize if that is how it sounded. I just genuinely don't understand the reasoning per my original post.
    Sure the 49tx has a more powerful processor than the Sony DA5ES, or Denon 3802 for example, it's just that it's not audible,and if you believe it is, then then the more power to you. If you are in Tucson please look me up. I have some beachfront property you may be interested in. [​IMG]
    Same with THD, slew rates, damping factor, and S/N ratios etc. Anything past the specs of those receivers isn't audible.
    If you are looking for a RECEIVER, then those flagships offer a lot for the money. If you intend to use a receiver as a pre/pro, there is no reason to pay that kind of money unless there is absolutely positively some feature the manufacturer says you can't live without.
    If you gotta have it just because....well you can, then I have no problem with that either, because I do things for that reason all the time.
    Nice review Howard, and I promise not to hijack your thread again. My apologies. Both are fine pieces of equipment.
     
  12. Marc_E

    Marc_E Supporting Actor

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    1) Right now the street price of 49tx price has dropped to below the list price of the avm20 and you get amps with the 49tx. You can say that the AVM20+amps are only slightly better than the 49tx alone and far more expensive.
    True, and the list street price of the AVM-20 is also below the list of the AVM-20.

    2) If the 49tx plus amp is better than the AVM20 plus amp $1000 is a small price to pay if you're really into this sort of stuff. Heck why would anyone buy Lexicon when you can get the AVM20, 49tx, and 5803? Because the Lexicon does have better chips and would sound better.
    Are you Married? If so, Ask your wife if $1k is a small price to pay MORE. Personally, $1000 is the trade-in price for my B&W NHTM-2 to get the NHTM-1 and even that I am waiting to do because $$1k is a lot of money.

    'Anyhow if I was to buy today I would probably have bought the AVM but Anthem Amps combo and run balanced interconnects through them simply cause the combo would sound better than the 49tx alone and cheaper than buying the 49tx and the amps (with my Paradigms in mind as well)especially after the HT mag review (but you would have to factor in the cost of balanced interconnects) '
    This is what I have done. 2ch Rotel RB-1090 2x380 awesome amp 5ch RMB1095. Catcables Silvercat 1m XLR balanced cables (5) $320(or so)2 Catcables silvercats RCAs ($300).

    Marc
     
  13. Chas_T

    Chas_T Supporting Actor

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  14. Chip E

    Chip E Screenwriter

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    Howard,
    Thanks for your thoughts on adding an amp to your 49TX. I'm tempted to add an amp to my 5803. We'll see [​IMG] If i don't go the amp route, i may move to a pre pro & amp combo...
    "If you gotta have it just because...."
    Hadda get one last dig huh Russ? Let it go brotha. Howard is simply giving us his impressions and not looking to justify too you or anyone else what and why he spent his money the way he did.
     
  15. BobRoulier

    BobRoulier Second Unit

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    Russell, I don't really want to argue with you seeing that you did apologize on your second post[​IMG] I have seen you on this forum and others replying to these same type post regarding the 49tx and the reliability of pioneer elite products, I recall you said the 49tx was not musical! What? what did you have hooked up to it cardboard boxes? I mean comon really. A lot of us flagship owners have certain reasons for purchasing these receivers and yes some of us do ad outboard amps. I and many others who purchased this equipment have researched and listened to many combos, I auditioned pre-pros including anthem,rotel and others ,before I came to the conclusion that I was satisfied with what I was about to buy. As far as howard is concerned he did a great review he also spent a lot of time writing it up so maybe it would be some good insight for others. If your not into the flagship receiver thing that's fine but try not to ruin it for those of us who thoroughly enjoy our gear, Btw I see that you are big advocate of Divas and Rockets that's great I have not heard them, they seem like great speakers for the money ,you chose them as your gear and you are apparently proud of them and that's great, Im sure you would not appreciate someone constantly putting them down[​IMG] I am not saying flagship receivers are the only choice but for a lot of us we don't mind spending a few extra bucks to get all the features and by adding an amp brings things a little closer to that perfect sound we are all looking for, and for me I have extra amps to use that are quite capable of driving any speaker so that's a big plus for me. I think we all need to try and be a little more conscious of our opinions and a little more respectful of others(myself included[​IMG] ) Like I said I don't mean to bust your ba!!s I have seen you give lots of good advice too!
    Thanks Bob
     
  16. Howard_S

    Howard_S Supporting Actor

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    Okay one last time. I got my 49tx before the AVM20 came out. There are many of us who don't know we need more until later. I bought the 49tx receiver and was and still am very happy with it. I have not added an amp yet. But I hope so in the future because I miss the Anthem already [​IMG] Did I buy the 49tx to be used as a prepro? No. Can I? Yes because it improves things even more. So I don't need it now but there's an upgrade route.
    Like anything else if you can't hear it you can't hear it. If you can then you have problems. [​IMG] Ignorance is bliss. I'm saying I hear a difference. There are those who think it's worth it. Just cause you can't hear it doesn't mean it's not audible. It's not audible to you doesn't mean it's not audible. At least leave some room there.
    I am not married. And $1000 is a lot of money to me but relative to the audio/video world it's no money at all. If you're looking at buying a $10,000 car 1,000 makes a difference but if you're buying a $50,000 car 1000 is nothing. You have to do what your budget allows but just cause one person can't justify it doesn't mean others can't. What I want to say is that the possibility for improvement is there without spending a whole lot of money. But if you spend more you can also get more and that's also nice to know. It is nice to know that your system can't be improved upon period but if you're like me and you don't have a super high end system you want to know that your system has a good enough foundation to improve upon. Wouldn't you rather be told yes you will see/hear a difference if you add this rather than well considering the quality of your system you might want to upgrade this and that to really hear any improvement.
    I think I'm either gonna get a 2ch or 3ch amp and let my 49tx run the rest. That way I can really get a good quality amp with the money I'm willing to pay. It'll be quality over quantity for me. Now which amp to buy is the hard choice since there are so many good ones out there.
    Oh and I think that one reason Anthem amp sounds so good may be attributed to my Paradigm speakers so keep this in mind when auditioning.
    Chip. I think that you might find the sound to be a bit more relaxed if you add at least a 2ch amp and have the 5803 run the rest of the channels. 7ch is a lot of work (if you're running 7 of course). I think you'll definitely want to add an amp once you hear it but like me you might hold off on the audio upgrade and go with a video upgrade first since the 5803 and 49tx is plenty for HT performance IMO.
     
  17. PeterKuhlman

    PeterKuhlman Extra

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    Howard's logic applies to me also. I just purchased a 49TX as I wanted to take the maximum leap forward for the money I wanted to spend at this time. Would I have rather gone with separates? YES! But none are available for the $2400 that I spent. For me, it made sense to go with the 49TX as it fits in the space I have available, it gives me a humungous upgrade from my old pro-logic JVC, it gives major power as has been tested and is highly regarded. (It also is easier to get wife approval on).
    I also SERIOUSLY considered the Denon 3802 with amp but ruled it out. Why? Well, in my mind only [​IMG] I wanted the maximum pre-amp quality that I could afford and the 49TX comes reasonably close to some of the dedicated pre-amps. It has many features not available on the Denon - full bass management, far more I/O connections, higher bandwidth component video switching, automatic speaker setup, THX Ultra II - granted questionable value, etc. One thing offered is actual upgrades - many offer serial ports but never actually utilize them for anything other than possible communications. The Denon 5803, Pioneer Elite 49TX and Onkyo 989 are actually supported for the longer term with physical upgrades. Is it worth it? Yes, a Denon 3802 is only $700 and I could just purchase the next model and spend less but I will probably not make another purchase for many years. My JVC has been in service for about 13-14 years now and I am not one to upgrade to achieve the very latest feature. BUT, when I do make a purchase (now that I can afford some better equipment) I want to get as up to date as possible.
    Actually, the point that a 3802 with amp would make sense for some as a step towards separates as it appears that next year there may be some separates in the $2000 range and a 3802 with quality amp now gets you half way there. For those of us who are tired of waiting, a high end receiver fits the bill - witness the many who purchase the 5803, 49TX, 989, etc.
    One final point - when you consider the dollars, the 49TX can be purchased for $2400 - not the $4200 list so it's comparison to the Anthem does not work. Here, there is virtually no discount on the Anthem.
    Pete in Louisiana
     
  18. Marc_E

    Marc_E Supporting Actor

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    Peter,

    Is that $2400 at an authorized dealer? I for one would only consider prices from such because I don't want any possibility of loosing my warranty.

    Marc
     
  19. Alex Yang

    Alex Yang Stunt Coordinator

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    Marc, Russell,
    ALL THREE pieces were on my VERY VERY short list of equipment to purchase (49tx, 5803, AVM30, er, not necessarily in that order!!!) [​IMG]
    Long story short, AVM20 + AMP (MCA50) would set me back by about $3500 ~ $3700 and at this price it would have been worth it if BOTH Pioneer and DENON sold at MSRP... IF DENON & PIONEER sold each of these units at $4000+ I would have wound up with the AVM20 instead...
    But I was able to get a price quote of $2400 & $2900 from an authorized dealer (AFTER some leg work, you have to work for these prices!!!) Authorized dealers will NOT just drop their pants on your say so... I can't advertise PUBLICALLY where I got the price from but YOUR draw will DROP when I tell you via PM (Send me a note and I'll tell, but DO NOT make it public as I don't want to get dealer in trouble..)
    The lowest price I got for the ANTHEM was $2650 and NO AMOUNT of BUDGING I did could get him to budge on that price...
    AT $ difference (+ or - $200) I decided to go the "RECEIVER" way, I ONLY looked at BOTH PIONEER & DENON as PRE/PRO process ONLY...
    ... BUT happened to include an AMP for free!!! [​IMG]
    So for BASICALLY the SAME amount of MONEY which one offers the most features (SOUNDWISE to me they sounded the same, because I had auditioned with EXTERNAL amps with DENON & PIONEER), what it basically boiled down to was features and that ONLY leaves ONE CLEAR CUT WINNER hands DOWN - DENON
    Again let me EMPHASIZE that if you use the BUILT IN AMPS of DENON or PIONEER there is NO WAY in hell they will compare to AVM20 + AMP, meaning that:
    a.) AVM20 COMBO will sound better than DENON/PIONEER in receiver mode
    b.) PIONEER/DENON in receiver mode sound fantastic on their own BUT ONLY pales a bit when compared to AVM20 combo
    SOLUTION: Either live with the fact that the receiver is lacking a bit soundwise (2 channel) OR TREAT the DENON/PIONEER as PRE/PRO with a FREE AMP built in (ONLY if you can get the prices down to under $3000 (DENON) or under $2500 (Pioneer)
    -Alex
    PS. My ears will be different from yours but when you compare apples to apples, (hooking up SEPARATE amps) to ALL three units.
    1. You LEVEL the playing field and you treat each unit on its SOUND/FEATURES and MERITS and to ME (well, my buddy also) DENON/PIONEER/AVM20 sounded very VERY similar with NO CLEAR cut winner... So that ONLY leaves features...
    just my 2 cents... [​IMG]
     
  20. JohnDW

    JohnDW Agent

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    Alex - I followed your reasoning up until the point you went with denon over the pioneer elite - in my neck of the woods denon is $600-800 more expensive than pioneer, and anthem combo is >1000 $ more expensive than pioneer. Denon has higher power specs on its amp, but no MACC. What other specific features tilted you toward denon ?

    Peter - I see how you are thinking. ...Ive been following the rotel 1066 thread recently -what about the new Rotel 1066 with a rotel amp ? Although not hevaily discounted , should be able to get for as little as the Pionner 47TX and possibly as little as the Denon 5803 - that changes the picture a bit don't you think ? Rotel combo may not be as good as anthem, but arguably better than either reciever ?
     

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