To Receiver Manufacturers: Less channels, more watts!

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by EmetW, Sep 25, 2002.

  1. EmetW

    EmetW Stunt Coordinator

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    Before flaming of myself ensues from the subject caption, I must say that I love six and seven channel audio, given that the room they are being used in is large enough (in a smaller room, the sixth and/or seventh speaker just doesn't break away from the imaging that two to five speakers have plus a well done soundtrack). I also have five pairs of speakers plus a center channel lying around the house (all timbre matched) so my reasons against 6+ channels are not due to a shortage of speakers. Having said this, let me move on...
    I was raised as a child on a steady diet of large 40-60+ lb. Pioneer and Yamaha receivers that would bench from 20-20khz in the range of 100-180 wpc into 8 ohms and would handle 4 ohm loads with little effort and no apparent thermal strain (heck, they're my subwoofer amps now after being passed from my parents to me so they've survived 20-30 years of abuse and work like new so we'll assume they're reliable [​IMG] )
    A few years ago I heard about this thing called Dolby Pro Logic (okay, maybe eons ago) and so I invested in a Denon AVR-2500. Dolby Digital or "AC-3" was out at that time as well, but my budget did not allow me the luxury of buying a laserdisc player and the expensive discs they played, so I was stuck with VHS and DPL surround sound. That Denon was a sheer brute of a receiver and I wish Denon still made them that powerful (Sure, the 3600 and 4800 are probably just as powerful if not more so, but how much do these cost and they only add a few little microchips and equal power all around?). It has preamp inputs for the front three channels and I would recommend to anyone out there looking for a nice separate amp to buy two of these and use the two as a total of six discrete DDSC channels of high powered music (I never ran a sub, only the built in power of the '2500 and large front speakers-talk about beautiful).
    Then I roamed off into the car audio world because many commuting hours spent in my car required some decent sound. I sold the Denon AVR-2500 (*sniff*) and invested in sound deadener, a nice Alpine preamp/CD headunit, MCM component speakers with hand made crossovers designed to match the natural rolloffs of the chosen mids/tweeters, a sub (or sometimes two depending on what I was trading with friends) and the amps to power it. This year I don't have the long commute anymore so I sold my subwoofers for photography equipment and left it at that-no home audio but a Denon DC-30 shelf system I got at a UPS auction for $20 powering two bookshelf speakers I put together for free from random components lying around the house and a Koda SW-1000 I paid $65 for. Not bad sound for a total invested price of $85. This summer I visited my uncle's house and he invited me to watch "Behind Enemy Lines" on his Integra/Velodyne home system. WOW! I had forgotten all about this new DVD thing and what the discrete world of surround sound had to offer to the movie viewing audience. Of course, a $1500 THX certified DVD player, a $1200 receiver, and a $2000 speaker system had better sound good, but I was determined to find my own setup now that digital surround sound was possible with DVD's.
    To make a long story short, I put together a surround system rather quickly (as a freelance professional photographer I have lots of off-time: good for traveling or the next best thing: watching movies). But in my quest to find the right equipment, I encountered some snares along the way: to 5.1, 6.1, or 7.1? I first experienced 6.1 in a theater watching Star Wars Episode I where Jar Jar Binks is leading the two Jedi Knights through the forest and there is a rustling of trees in the rear 6th channel. Oooooo, I thought, pretty neat. But was it worth getting an Onkyo TX-DS696 (or insert 6 channel receiver here)? They were so much more on the used market than 676's (I almost always support my fellow man and buy used from a reputable seller on ebay, Elitecaraudio, or Hometheaterforum and in five years of trading almost $25,000 total worth in merchandise I have yet to have a problem (hint: caveat emptor (if its too good to be true, it probably is, e.g. a Linn CD transport Buy It Now for $300 on ebay [​IMG] ))) What is not explained is that most of these new receivers have the same power supply as the older receiver, but it must be split 6 or 7 ways instead of 5 so the power to each channel decreases. My uncle's Integra DTR-7.2 for example has been rated at a measly 40 watts per channel. He paid
     
  2. Kevin C Brown

    Kevin C Brown Producer

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    EW- I didn't read *all* of what you wrote, but I can comment on the subject at least. [​IMG]
    Most receivers have just 1 transformer. So typically you have the same amount of power available whether it's split between 2 channels or 7 channels. (I'm simplifying a little but you get the idea. That's why some receivers really look bad on S&V's "all channels driven" testing.)
    For example, I use 2 3 channel amps for a 6.1 setup. But before I actually had all 6 channels, I had the front L&R hooked to one amp. So instead of 200 W per channel for 3 channels, it's more like 300 W per channel for 2 channels.
    *That's* why even if you just add a stereo amp to power the mains, and let the receiver do the rest, you can really sometimes get an impressive improvement in dynamics, sound quality, etc. All you're doing is dividing the total power by less channels to give each channel individually more power.
     
  3. EmetW

    EmetW Stunt Coordinator

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    Yeah, somehow I hit the tab key and then the space bar to type the next word which posted my thread prematurely. See my other thread titled the same only with the "WARNING: LONG" attached to it for the full story. Thanks!

    Kevin-That's an excellent observation I hadn't really thought of and it makes me want to buy a two channel amp to cover my mains, if not my surrounds to free up the power for the remaining channels.
     

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