Why So Much for an AV Receiver?

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Lin Park, Aug 5, 2002.

  1. Lin Park

    Lin Park Second Unit

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    I started out my system by building a home theater and have since added in a nice little hi-fi audio setup. Lately, I've been looking to improve once again on the musical portion of the system and I am considering a nice 2 channel pre-amp with HT bypass. After surfing this site for quite sometime, I am intrigued by people who are spending upwards of $1500 - $2000 (and more) on a full blown HT processor (some of which don't even include amps). What is the reason for this? Is it possible to tell the difference between a Denon 2802 and an Anthem AVM-20 when watching a DD/DTS movie? I'm sure the two will be different for music but it seems to me you would be better served with the Denon for movies and dropping the $1500 - $2000 on a nice tube preamp for music which would beat either HT processor. I'm sure I'm overlooking something here but I just can't seem to put my finger on it. And let's assume for the sake of argument that the system is used 50% for HT and 50% for music.

    Lin
     
  2. Tony Lai

    Tony Lai Stunt Coordinator

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    The is a good question. I would suspect that audio processing for ac3/dts has reached as nadir so to speak.

    With good DAC's and the cheapness of DSP, why wouldn't a good receiver equal a good preamp for pure surround processing?

    This would be my thinking given that I have go very good results from even cheap decoders.

    You may want to search out reviews of preamps vs. higher end receivers - they are close.

    T.
     
  3. Selden Ball

    Selden Ball Second Unit

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    Many people are unwilling to invest in tube systems because of the care and maintenance they need. That's certainly one of my reasons, combined with a lack of space. There's also the emotional reaction of "Eeew! Distortion!" even though many people greatly prefer "tube sound" to what is percieved by some to be the "coldness" of solid state amps.

    Many of the modern high quailty digital pre/pros and receivers produce a more than adequate sound both for movies and music. I very much enjoy music played through my Marantz AV-9000/MM-9000 and NHT 2.9 speakers, for example.

    I got rid of my vinyl records many years ago. I suspect that if I still had them I'd be likely to reconsider my position. A high quality fully analog system does seem to have advantages, but not enough to make me willing to invest in it now.

    I hope this provides some insights into the "other side".
     
  4. Matt Jesty

    Matt Jesty Second Unit

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    Multi-channel ??
     
  5. AndyHangartner

    AndyHangartner Stunt Coordinator

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    Lin,
    I've been trying to get the same question answered,without much luck. Right now I am running my Panasonic rp91 with built in decoder, to a Sony TAE9000k preamp to an Aragon 8008x5 amp. With the exception of poor bass management (which I could correct with the Outlaw ICBM for $249),it works great. How much better could any processor be than this? I realize the Lexicon adds Logic7 which alot of people enjoy, but is Logic7 worth $2k more (used)? Does anyone have real input on this subject?
    andy
     
  6. AustinKW

    AustinKW Stunt Coordinator

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    Andy,

    Look at it this way. How many times do you want to pay for the same electronics? If the processor (receiver/pre-pro) has the latest and greatest DACs and decoder modes, why on earth would you want to send these duties outboard? Do you seriously think ANY player can go head-to-head with the oomph of a Denon 5803 or Pioneer 49TX?

    The "exception" you speak of, namely bass management, deserves some serious thought. Consider the Pioneer 49TX(i) with its integrated, automatic equalization circuitry. This function is not trivial. A processor that sophisticated DESERVES to be managing the myriad sources connected to it. Analog bypass to this unit is a travesty! An ICBM is simply a stopgap solution to the issues presented by the current system architecture - one forced on us temporarily by the copy protection impasse. In a perfect world, you would have super smarts in a single location (viz. 49TX) fed by outboard sources. That's the answer to your question. That the market isn't there yet isn't our fault. But if we adopt all kinds of kludgy workarounds instead of demanding a reasonable solution then we deserve exactly what we get. Death to ICBMs!

    Austin

     
  7. AndyHangartner

    AndyHangartner Stunt Coordinator

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    Austin,
    Given that the Denon 5803 or Pioneer 49tx has some extra features,are they $3k better? I personally have not owned an ICBM but it is supposed to be an accomplished unit. Where the question lies (lets not include B/M) and I know the 49tx has auto eq'ing setup,whatever they call it (I am sure if it was all encompassing and great, some of the higher end companies would be using something in a variation of such, and if they do it is not getting the recognition that Pioneer is ,I also know that they can make multi-channel garbage of two channel music etc.) O.k. back to the point. The Rp91 has 24 bit dacs, if they are good enough for dvd-a, why not H/T? And your point of the oomph of the Denon and the Pioneer is what? People state regularly that they need to outboard amp the Pioneer. If you are silly enough to think that either could compete power wise with the Aragon 8008x5 you'll have alot of people laughing out loud, so I hope that wasn't the point. I have a Denon 4802, and I di believe its best place is in the box. The Denon really seems to veil or blanket the center channel audio on H/t and its 2 channel performance is on par with my toilet. The amp section is dark and completely reigns in the soundfield so badly that I immediately purchased an outboard amp. So now I don't use it and am looking for something else. What else is the question. Stage One? TGIII? Anthem avm20? Or a cheap reciver,the Sony Tap, a good "colored" tube pre, and a great 2 channel s/s amp.
    andy
     
  8. Dave E H

    Dave E H Supporting Actor

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  9. Martice

    Martice Screenwriter

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    Why so much for receivers?

    1)Because not everyone wants to have a bunch of different components in a single room.

    2)Not everyone wants to take the time to research different components when they can get it all in one unit.

    3)Because some people do have the need for some of the features that are offered on receivers and especially the "Flagship" models.

    4)We are a nation of conveniences and that is the receivers strongest selling point along with being flexibile.

    5)The trade off in sound quality (which MAY be the reason for amplification upgrades) is worth the purchase of a receiver with certain features and flexibility. Even to the point of bypassing internal amplification.

    6)If you want it all in one place then you pay for it.


    Where do we draw the fine line in our hobby separating 'Quality of Life and Quality of Sound?' This is the question that we make each time we purchase a piece of gear and I'm willing to bet that this imaginary line between quality and compromise is very staggered indeed.
     
  10. Rob Rodier

    Rob Rodier Supporting Actor

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  11. Larry B

    Larry B Screenwriter

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    Tony:
     
  12. AustinKW

    AustinKW Stunt Coordinator

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    Andy,

    I'm trying to point out that the flagship receivers have some serious "oomph" when it comes to decodes and DACS (4 or even 8 a side in 2-ch). I agree entirely with you about outboard amplification and use it myself.

    The Pioneer's MCACC is an absolute killer feature. I predict all flagships will include a similar feature in the future. Automatic 7-band equalization on all channels. Try that with a 5803 and a RS SPL meter!

    The ICBM is an analog kludge aimed at the temporary problem affecting digitally-interconnected hirez audio components. I prefer to see the root problem addressed. The place for BM and multi-channel EQ is obviously the digital realm in the processor.

    So where I'm going with all this is that the IDEAL setup is a full-featured processor backed up by outboard amps fed by digitally connected dedicated sources. Megachanger for CDs, great video DVD player, universal hirez player, etc. At this point in time there is NO processor that fits the bill. Therefore, my recommendation is to fill the void with any "throwaway" components you choose. When the killer box DOES appear (in either receiver or pre/pro form), snap it up, get out your FireWire, TOSlink and digital coax cables, wire everything up and then sit back and enjoy. My take.

    Austin

     
  13. Lin Park

    Lin Park Second Unit

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    I think maybe my point was missed - I was asking this question primarily for 2 channel music. I really find it hard to believe that the 5803 could compete with a $2500 tube preamp and low-end HT receiver combination. Maybe I'm wrong but you'd have to prove it to my ears. You could also argue that I'm forgetting the amplification but here is my current scenario - I have really nice main speakers and really nice tube amps to drive them. The electronics are a Denon AVR and a Denon 5 Carousel CD player. I'm very happy with the AVR for movies but it is sorely lacking when compared to a nice 2 channel preamp. I've read so many posts lately about people upgrading to the Rotel or Anthem and just can't believe it makes that big a difference in the general HT experience to justify the cost over a basic $500 AV unit. Often times you hear people A/Bing systems on this forum but in most cases it seems to be for music. Does Ahhnold's voice sound smoother and more lifelike with the Anthem than the Rotel or Outlaw when watching True Lies? You be the judge.

     
  14. Marc_E

    Marc_E Supporting Actor

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    I'll step up to the plate and give you my experience.

    I had an Onkyo TX-DS989 and traded it in for an Anthem AVM-20, Rotel RMB-1095/RB-1090.

    To answer the question of 'Is it possible to tell the difference between a Denon 2802 and an Anthem AVM-20 when watching a DD/DTS movie?' the onkyo is a much better receiver than the 2802 IMO and the AVM-20/ROTEL VAPORIZES it in DD/DTS playback. My onkyo sounded so flat, poor instrument separation and a narrow sound stage in comparison to the AVM which is VERY natural and clear with a big beautiful sound stage AND NONE OF THIS STUFF IS EVEN BROKEN IN YET (less than 1 week old)! The bass is much tighter and smooth. I can't believe I wasted my money on the Onkyo. I wish I knew about the Anthem before.

    Another reason someone might choose a processor like the AVM-20 over the Denon 2802 is upgrades. To my knowledge, only the 5803 can be upgraded and that was big bucks ($800 I think). 2802 owners have, though a very nice unit, one that is not able to take on new formats/hardware. The Anthem has an upgrade coming that will change the DSP board all for $300. Pretty cheap (much cheaper than a 2803).

    Let me just say I am NOT trying to bash Denon or Onkyo or ANY component for that reason. These are my experiences/opinions and nothing more.

    I love my AVM-20/Rotels LOVE THEM! They sound so wonderful. I never got this much satisfaction out of the Onkyo (not even close).

    Marc
     
  15. Josh Lowe

    Josh Lowe Screenwriter

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  16. Clint Roberts

    Clint Roberts Auditioning

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    I know I might get bashed a little but oh well. Like the one person said above I like convenience. I only own a 3802 and would love to spend the extra money to get seperate amplication for my Rocket loundspeakers but that will have to be another day. Too many other things I want. But here is what I would like to see: an integrated receiver and DVD player that is of "flagship" quality. Why would you not want the DVD player to be integrated into the receiver and everything processed internally with only component out. I would think everyone would like this and even integrated pre/pro/DVD then add the separate amplification. I know they are doing this with HTIB stuff now but I know of nothing in comparison in performance to the seperate DVD and receiver or seperate DVD, pre/pro, amp. Not to get off topic but I think a Denon 3802 is competitively priced at $699...what I don't like is a HDTV receiver that cost a 1/4 of what my TV cost.
     
  17. Clint Roberts

    Clint Roberts Auditioning

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    Oops...forgot to finish my thought. Surely a HDTV receiver should be closer in price to say a DVD player...say $200 to $250.
     
  18. John Royster

    John Royster Screenwriter

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  19. Rob Rodier

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  20. Selden Ball

    Selden Ball Second Unit

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    Lin,

    By my comment "Eeew! Distortion!" I was making an exagerated reference to the very slight amount of odd harmonics that are added by tube electronics and which give it its distinctive audio character. It's a very subtle effect in high quality preamps and amps, and it varies from one design to another. It's one reason why some people tend to think of tube sound as being "warm" and solid-state sound as being "cold".

    As for the "care and maintenance" aspect, well, tubes are in sockets for a reason. The thermal variations that they experience when you turn them off and on cause the mechanical components to flex and distort slightly. Eventually this can't help but cause problems. I'll admit I have no direct experience with modern tube designs, but in the olden days, tube testers were a standard feature at the local radio store.

    For what it's worth, many two-channel audiophiles have found that passive "preamps" -- those that contain only switches and attenuators with no active components at all, neither solid state nor tubes -- often provide the most accurate sonic characteristics.

    I hope this clarifies things a little.
     

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