Why do I need receiver or pre/pro?

Discussion in 'AV Receivers' started by Stan Rozenfeld, Mar 19, 2005.

  1. Stan Rozenfeld

    Stan Rozenfeld Stunt Coordinator

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    I have had my Marantz SR-18 receiver for six years and couldn't be happier. However with the new surround codecs around the corner (such as DTS-HD and Dolby Digital lossless) I am beginning to think about future upgrade down the road. Considering the cost of separates and flagship receivers, it's going to be a costly upgrade.

    It occurred to me that all this time I only use one digital input on my receiver, coming from a DVD player. My wife likes to flip channels from cable, but she is more than happy with the direct connection to the TV set. 100% of my home theater time is spent on watching DVDs and listening to CDs.

    If I have only use one input, why do I need receiver or preamp/processor? Considering that mid to high end DVD players (such as Denon 3910) come with multi-channel analog outputs, bass management, speaker level and distance adjustments, and good d/a conversion, it seems that all of the functions of processor/preamp is covered (or is it?)

    So why not just get a good amplifier (which should last a long time) and then upgrade the DVD player as needed?

    On a related matter, my receiver also has direct analog inputs that bypass digital processing, so I guess I could use it as an amplifier in the future. My question is: using my receiver's direct-in inputs or sending a signal to a separate amplifier, is that the same thing? Or am I missing some function that receiver/pre/pro does?

    I am really confused on this issue, so I hope an expert will straighten me out on this.

    Thanks in advance,
    Stan
     
  2. John Garcia

    John Garcia Executive Producer

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    Probably the simplest and most important thing that is mising is the preamp, which will allow global volume control at the very least. You must have this, or in order to turn it down, you would have to stop the disc and turn down each channel individualy. Speaker level settings in the player are for calibration, not volume control. Technically, what you say is correct, you wouldn't need a processor, but you would still need a preamp, and for HT, that is going to generally mean a pre/pro or receiver serving this function.
     
  3. Stan Rozenfeld

    Stan Rozenfeld Stunt Coordinator

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    Thanks for the explanation.

    So no dvd player provides volume control?

    Or are there no amplifiers integrated with preamps, but without the processing part?

    Thanks again,
    Stan
     
  4. PaulDA

    PaulDA Cinematographer

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    My Cambridge Audio 540D DVD-V/DVD-A/CD player has a volume control. You can hook up the six channel analogue outputs directly to amp and sub with no need of a pre-amp or receiver. It decodes Dolby, but not DTS, internally--so you'd lose a bit of functionality there. I don't use it in this fashion, but have given thought to doing so in a secondary system in the future. A nice bonus is it's region free w/o any hacks or firmware--right out of the box and will do a very nice PALNTSC conversion. Its analogue audio stage is excellent (best redbook playback under 500$ in my opinion--and I auditioned a dozen CD only players in that category before going with the 540D). According to Secrets, it's okay for prog scan (which I can't use) and very good with interlaced (which I can vouch for). Has very fast layer change. Streets for under 350$US. Doesn't have internal test tones, so you'd need a disc with tones to set relative volume on each channel.

    Edit: forgot to mention that bass management is a fixed 80hz xover and it works even for two channel CDs--thus your sub is active for two channel listening.
     
  5. Scott_N

    Scott_N Second Unit

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    Stan

    I haven't heard of any multichannel amps with a passive linestage built in but I could be wrong.You could just sell the SR-18 and buy a multichannel amp that you like and look for a receiver in $500 range that has the features you want and then just keep buying $500 dollar receivers every few years when technology changes. That would be cheaper than buying flagship receivers everytime. I too have a SR-18 but i'm selling mine and buying a Marantz SR7500.
     
  6. Stan Rozenfeld

    Stan Rozenfeld Stunt Coordinator

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    Thanks for your input, guys.

    I just checked the manual of Denon 3910 and it doesn't have the volume control, so despite the Cambridge Audio player, it sounds like relying on a dvd player to provide global volume control is somewhat limiting.

    Does anyone know what is an integrated amplifier? Is that like a receiver without tuner?

    Scott_N, what is a passive linestage? Is that a technical term for global volume control?

    I am thinking that cheap new receivers might have the latest features, but it doesn't mean they'll have the best sonic qualities. From what I read, I think there is more to sound quality than processor 'features' and amplifier stage.

    Why are you selling SR-18 if I may ask? I've had it for 6 years and really love it. Sure, some of its features are dated now, but at the time it was released it had great reviews. What was noted was that it had a great amp section, and it does an excellent job with 5.1 Dolby Digital and DTS. For all other stuff, I will eventually hook up the analog inputs (which do bypass all digital processing) and let the newer DVD players do the processing.

    The way I see it, the only thing that's missing with this set up is 7.1, and some new post processing modes that new receivers have, so ofcourse, if these two things are important, I would upgrade, but I personally don't anticipate doing that until the new lossless codecs associated with blu-ray/hd-dvd are going to be incorporated in new receivers/processors AND I move to a place that can support 7.1 speaker set up.

    The reason, I mention this is because my brother bought the cheaper Marantz receiver for the second room(for about $500) recently, and it has the latest stuff, but in terms of sonic quality, it's a joke compared to his own sr-18,even though they are generations apart... and I doubt it's just the amplifier section that makes the difference.

    What pisses me off about the latest receivers though, besides their ever-escalating prices, is their 'everything but the kitchen sink' approach. I never use receivers to switch video connections, and I never will use it for 2nd set of speakers somewhere else in the house, so I hate paying for such features.

    This is why I asked my question... to see if there is a different option. I guess when the time comes, I'll decide whether to get another receiver or go the separates route.

    As an aside, the last issue of widescreen review has a super-positive review of Arcam AVR300 receiver, which retails for $2000.

    Take Care,
    Stan
     
  7. Scott_N

    Scott_N Second Unit

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    Stan

    A integrated amp is like a receiver without a tuner it can have a passive or active linestage built in. A passive linestage is like it's name passive. It has no active electronic components like transistors, opamps or tubes for amplification of the signal. It relies on the gain from the source being high enough to not need amplification. So it's only a volume control and source signal switcher. As to the question of why i'm selling my SR-18 well when I bought it I was probably 80% HT and 20% music and it does both well but now i'm 80% music and 20% HT and I have a separate 2-channel system so I didn't feel the need to buy another flagship receiver. One of the reasons for going to another receiver is because of connections. I have four sources that use component video and the 7500 has four component inputs. I also have five sources that use digital outs and the 7500 has seven digital inputs. The other reason is that i'm plan to go to 7.1 later this year. The 7500 retails for $1099 so it's not that a big a step down IMO. I heard the AVR300 yesterday with JMLab speakers and it's a heck of a receiver. It's one of the few receivers that actually will output throughout the frequency range it's rated power and it's very good with music also. If I had only one system for music and HT I would take the plunge and go with Theta separates since they are modular and can be upgraded.

    Cheers
     
  8. Stan Rozenfeld

    Stan Rozenfeld Stunt Coordinator

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    I see what you're saying Scott. Thanks for the explanation. You're definitely justified in making the changes you're making.

    By the way, did you ever fool around with the tone controls on the Marantz?

    And did you set the speaker levels? Am I right in supposing that I am supposed to set all speakers to -75db at the listening position, but subwoofer should be -85db on the sound meter?

    Thanks again,
    Stan
     
  9. Scott_N

    Scott_N Second Unit

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    Stan

    I never really messed around with the tone controls and i've never done anything more than the basic speaker delay setup so sorry I can't answer your question but I bet there are people on this board who can. If you ever decide to go separates you might look for a used Theta Casa Nova on ebay or audiogon and then have it reconfigured by Theta. It's darn good pre/pro for HT and music.

    Cheers
     
  10. Stan Rozenfeld

    Stan Rozenfeld Stunt Coordinator

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    Scott,

    you got me curious. Obviously, you weren't able to compare the two receivers head to head with the same equipment, but I still would like your impression. Not counting the updated feature set, purely in terms of sound quality, how does Arcam AVR 300 compare with Marantz SR-18? Is it night and day difference in favor of Arcam?

    Thanks,
    Stan
     
  11. John Garcia

    John Garcia Executive Producer

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    IMO, the Arcam is going to sound better. I have heard the SR-18 and though I have not heard the A300, I did listen to the new integrateds and they sounded pretty amazing. I wouldn't say it's going to be night and day, but the Arcam will likely have an edge soundwise.

    The SR-18 came from one of the best generations of Marantz recently. Something about them was just right. The newer models seem to be trying to get back to that.

    I don't go by features, I go by what I hear and I was finally satisfied when I got my 8300.
     
  12. Scott_N

    Scott_N Second Unit

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    Well it's hard to say but one thing I noticed about the Arcam/JMLab system is the clarity of voices and the resolving of fine details. I would say most of that came from the receiver because the speakers in question were the JMLab Sib/Cub2 system which are JMLab's "budget" speakers but very good for a $1400 sub/sat system. I also heard the receiver with 2-channel music with a pair of JMLab Electra 907 Be's and it was hands down the best 2-channel sound i've heard from a receiver. The AVR300 compares quite well with Arcam's integrateds in regards to music and since it did so well with a sub/sat in HT I can only imagine how well it would do with more serious speakers. If I were in the market for a flagship receiver the AVR300 would be at the top of my list.
     
  13. Stan Rozenfeld

    Stan Rozenfeld Stunt Coordinator

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    Scott and John,

    Thanks for your feedback. When I bough Marantz SR-18, it was hands down the best sound that I've heard (that I could afford)... it had a kind of warmth and musicality about it.

    But now that Arcam is really appealing to me, but I guess I'll stay happy with my SR-18 for a few more years.

    Thanks again,
    Stan
     

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