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  1. #1
    Forum Regular KaiWinters's Avatar
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    Oct 2003
    Northern NY

    Question about receiver wattage/sound

    Hi all,
    What is the difference "sound wise" between a mid-range receiver and a low-budget receiver of similar power? Can a "non-audiophile", such a myself, tell the difference?
    I do not mean the connections, etc. I also do not need multi-zone. I am referring to the sound difference to my untrained ears.

    I have been given the go ahead to buy a new receiver, daughter will inherit the Sony so I am not just fishing for comments but a need to learn for a good purchase and better listening pleasure.

    For example in my car I use MB Quart speakers, fronts and sub, because to me they sound great when compared to the others I listened to...lived in the Boston MA area then with a much wider offering of stores devoted to hi-fi...I have a very nice Alpine stereo with a Rockford Fosgate amplifier. I could have gotten a much more powerful amplifier for the same or less money but the RF was much cleaner, gave a more spacious seeming "sound stage?" with little to no noise. So in that case quality actually gave more "sound". Does the same run true with HT, etc. receivers?

    My speakers are Paradigm Titans/front, Klipsch Synergy SC.5/Center, Klipsch KSW-10/sub with an old pair of Bose 301's for surrounds. In the near future I will be using the Titans as the surrounds and getting a pair of Paradigm monitor 5's (great deal on a demo pair as the local dealer for $395) or a pair of mini-monitors.

    Wife and I listen to rock, AC/DC etc at 75% of max power, though not very often at that volume. Frank Sinatra, Bobby Darin, Annie Lennox, Carly Simon, etc. at lower levels hehe.
    We also watch action/adventure movies at 50 to 60% of max power.

    Here are some samples I have been reading about. My price range maxs out at the $899 and my wife would "love me much" if I stayed in the $600 range.

    Denon AVR-3805/ $899 at Crutchfield/ 110 Watts
    Denon AVR-1906/ $549/ 85 watts
    Marantz SR4600/ $430/ 80 watts
    Outlaw 1070/ $899/ 60 watts

    My receiver is a Sony STR-DE697/110 watts advertised/ $200 (photo in webshots is oldish showing an old Technics...have not had time to update photo)

  2. #2
    Color me gone... Resident Loser's Avatar
    Join Date
    Mar 2004
    Nueva Jork

    A very definite...

    Quote Originally Posted by KaiWinters
    Hi all,
    What is the difference "sound wise" between a mid-range receiver and a low-budget receiver of similar power? Can a "non-audiophile", such a myself, tell the difference?
    I do not mean the connections, etc. I also do not need multi-zone. I am referring to the sound difference to my untrained ears. really all depends on how critical an ear you have developed...

    Obviously, there is some truth in the saying, " get what you pay for..." but only to a limit...Lower priced units must scrimp on circuit design and the grade of parts for their price-point, but that doesn't mean there can't be a gem in the pile of pebbles. Conversely, not all higher-priced goods are worth the price charged.

    Most folks would probably be satisfied (and hear little or no difference)with any of the models you have mentioned...differences in the power ratings of the first three are negligible, and even the difference between 60 Wpc and 110Wpc may not mean much in actual practice...generally speaking.

    Some who respond to your post may cite things like warm sound, sterile/analytical sound or present other subjective opinions based on personal preference as some sort of determining reality, features, user-friendliness and price may be the key factors in your decision.

    Just out of curiosity, how have you determined what percentage of power you use?

    jimHJJ(...good luck...)
    Hello, I'm a misanthrope...don't ask me why, just take a good look around.

    "Men would rather believe than know" -Sociobiology: The New Synthesis by Edward O. Wilson

    "The great masses of the people...will more easily fall victims to a great lie than to a small one" -Adolph Hitler

    "We are never deceived, we deceive ourselves" -Goethe

    If you repeat a lie often enough, some will believe it to be the truth...

  3. #3
    Loving This kexodusc's Avatar
    Join Date
    Nov 2003
    Department of Heuristics and Research on Material Applications
    Tricky question to answer. Generally, the difference between an entry-level-ish low budget receiver and a mid-level receiver of similar power IS the power. It's NOT similar. The rating those low budget companies use are, shall we say, stretched.

    There are finer grade components throughout, and usually more robust, larger power supplies that contribute to more dynamic headroom, finer resolution, and cleaner and louder sound.
    The magnitude of these differences are often debated. Some say it's night and day. Some say there is no difference provided the specs are all true and not exaggerated. I think it's a somewhere in the middle.
    Usually sublte improvements.

    That said, when I went from an old Technics receiver to a Marantz, the sound quality improved substantially IMO. I think you'll notice a good difference in whatever you upgrade to.

    Those Sony's unfortunately were severely underpowered. 250 watt power supplies. You can do the math, you're generally not going to be able to output more than the power supply can handle. So really, we're talking something like 33 watts X 7. Maybe 100 watts X 2 in stereo mode.

    Some of those models you're looking at will output double or triple this, while boasting lower distortion numbers, and better sound quality. Ya gets what ya pays for.

  4. #4
    Mutant from table 9
    Join Date
    Mar 2005
    Quote Originally Posted by Resident Loser
    ...Just out of curiosity, how have you determined what percentage of power you use?
    RL is asking you this question because whehter you believe it or not, most of the time your stereo is cruising along at less than one watt. The Titans are rated at about 89db sesitivity. Which makes them fairly efficent. Combined with that sub, they are not going to require alot of power to get uncomfortably loud in a reasonably sized room. I didn't believe it myself until I got a decible meter and an separate amp with an accurate watt meter. I once got the watt meter on the amp to peak above 30 watts. But only once. Conversely, my POS Kenwood circa 1993 used to trip its protection circuitry and shut off all the time. Usually just about the time the Rock gotta a Rockin'

    So there is a difference between cheap watts (i.e. that KLH receiver at Best Buy for $79) and quality watts (virtually any separates amp - although there were some truely horrendous el cheapo separates in the 80s that still haunt ebay and pawn shops). But don't get caught up in the importance of the amount of watts.

    Lots of self appointed audiophiles will tell you they can hear the differences between amps. Others will tell you that all the receivers you cite will sound the same. Yet others will tell you that any reasonable amplifier section costing more than $500 will sound the same and be indistinguishable past that point.

    I think the truth lies somewhere in a combination of those colored with lots of shades of grey and exceptions to the rules. I think its best to look at it from an old musicians maxim:

    "The average person in audience will not know whether you missed a note that night, but the average person will be able to tell when your performance is "on" that night and really cookin'."

    I think that is very true with audio equipment. You'll be able to tell if a system is cookin' whether your an audiophile or not.

  5. #5
    Forum Regular
    Join Date
    Feb 2005
    It is funny that you are talking about switching from an strde-697 possibly to an AVR-1906. I work at a store where we recently switched those exact models on the same speakers. Overall volume increase was small, but clarity was a very noticeable difference. The strde-697 seemed a bit muddy in comparison. The AVR-3806 will be far better again. And ya Sony's 110W equals out to about 40W in Denon's language, we can get into a full explaination if you care to. So check em out. LISTEN TO THEM on the same speakers, if that is not possible check into a return policy. You should hear a difference.

  6. #6
    Forum Regular KaiWinters's Avatar
    Join Date
    Oct 2003
    Northern NY
    Thanks for the input everyone.
    I determined the percentage of power by taking my receivers volume numbers which go from 1 to 75. Full volume would be 75, 50% volume would be 37 and so on.

    Clean, clear sound is what I prefer based on our listening preferences especially vocals and movies. It is difficult to compare what I am interested in when there is not much around. Return policies are always looked at before I make a purchase.

    If it was car audio equiptment I have a very good ear...been installing car systems since the early 70's...I can hear the differences between amps distinctly and easily...generally the higher quality car amps provide crystal clear sound in the highs, a great mid-range and do not poop out on the sub. That is why I like the Rockford Fosgate Punch amps and especially love the MB Quart speakers...been an Alpine owner since the early 70's too.

    I will continue to look at receivers and compare sound...especially if I can bring in my Titans hehehe.
    Thanks for the input,

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