• 08-05-2004, 03:05 PM
    musicguy04
    Receiver competition!! You comment
    I'm interested to hear what people have to say about the following receivers. These are all in different price ranges. Three categories that I'm interested in are (in order of importance)

    1) Processor/pre-amp quality. (Audiophile or at least close to audiophile components, best DACs for PCM and bitstream and good preamp analog output section. Looking for 24-bit 192kHz DACs that'll deliver comparable quality to standalone $500ish CD player or better. Want excellent DD, DTS processing as well.)

    2) Amp quality. (Decent current (for receivers), ability to drive lower loads, very detailed, accurate, neutral true-to-life sound, NOT the following: bright, sibilant, overly warm, muddy, rolled off, veiled.)

    3) Everything else. (Should have variable crossover, at least 2 SPDIF inputs, decent connectivity. HDCD decoding, THX would be nice, but not required.)

    Range is $2k-$3k in price.

    Here are the candidates:

    Arcam AVR-300
    Denon AVR-4802R
    Marantz SR-8400
    Marantz SR-9300
    NAD T773
    Rotel RSX-1067

    Please comment on this. Which has the best DACs, preamp section, and multichannel processing. I respect everyone's opinion; however, if your opinion is "they're all the same, get a Yamaha 2400 or 1400", I respect that, but it doesn't help me any for what I'm trying to do.

    Also, I should mention that this is to drive B&W nautilus speakers. They will have an external amp in a little while, but I need something to tide me over. That's why DAC/preamp/processing is the most important quality I'm looking for. It'll have to serve as a pre-amp/processor for the next 3-5 years. I don't care about room eq. It's a nice extra, but I prefer quality parts, construction, things like that.
  • 08-05-2004, 04:49 PM
    Woochifer
    Among your candidates, I've heard various incarnations of the Denon, Rotel, NAD, and Marantz models (some current, some not). In those listenings, I was not listening for differences between receivers, but in the speakers. So, my comments will be more general, because in all honesty I don't think you'll get a huge difference based on the factors that you listed.

    I think the main variable here is probably the price, the processing, and how things are implemented. Have you tried these receivers out yet? Differences in the DACs are audible, but not so much that I would put them anywhere near the top of the priority list. The default DD and DTS decoding for the receivers that I've tried out also don't have a lot to differentiate.

    With the processing, the only truly audible variation is with the post processing. It's hard to generalize based on the receiver brand because a lot of them change processors and OEM suppliers when they update their models, so again you need to try them out for yourself. In my listenings, with the DSP engaged (whether that's the THX re-eq or the myriad other DSP modes), some processors introduced audible noise into the signal or other degraded the tonal characteristics. Again, this is the post processing, not the default DD/DTS decoding.

    And with the amp, it will really depend on the speakers and the room. If you're going with low impedance speakers, inefficient monitors, or power hungry panel speakers, then the amp section will matter more. If you're going with a somewhat easy to drive set of speakers, then the amp probably won't make much of an audible difference except at very high levels. I suggest that you borrow a couple of the models that you're interested in and do some blind testing at home. In the price class that you're looking into, you're not going to get a huge variation in the sound characteristics for most normal listening, but you will get a larger variation in the features, user interface, and how it all works together.

    I think one consideration that you might be more inclined to look into is that the Denon is the only model on your list that has a parallel analog bass management circuit that you can use in the analog direct mode. Other models typically convert the analog signal to digital if the bass management is enabled. But, if you plan to only use digital connections, then that feature is not as useful.

    Since you're not interested in the auto calibration, you should also add the Yamaha RX-Z1 to your list. It uses two Burr-Brown DACs per channel, along with eight processors to handle the DSP functions. Its one significant disadvantage is the fixed crossover frequency in the bass management. Since it's about to get discontinued, I've seen it selling for half price (about $1,300), which is a bargain for what it offers. The Denon is also going out of production soon, so it too has had some steep discounting.

    If you're using an outboard amp already, why not go with an outboard processor and add a used amp for the remaining channels?
  • 08-05-2004, 05:28 PM
    musicguy04
    please comment on this
    Thanks. I thought about the Yamaha RX-Z1, but it has a fixed crossover at 90Hz. This will drive B&W Nautilus bookshelf speakers 805's and matching center (won't get them until December) but after hearing them, I find them to sound their best at the 60Hz crossover. 90Hz is too thin.

    I do have an external 2 channel amp that I could use right now if I were to get a separate pre-amp/processor. Would the $2k-$3k range in a separate pre-amp/processor improve the sound quality more than the receivers I mentioned? I would absolutely love an Arcam FMJ AV8, but at $4.6k, it's way out of my price range. I have a low mid-fi DVD player, so I'll just use it as a tranposrt meaning I want something that'll bring out the best in movies and music, meaning high quality, low-jitter DACs, audiophile grade components, etc.

    I'm not familiar with any processors in the $2k-$3k range. On the lower end of my price range, there's a Rotel RSP-1068, but I don't know much about it. I didn't like their amps, they seem a little rolled off and veiled, so I hope their processors don't do the same to the sound. There's also the NAD T63 and B&K Reference 50 at around the same price. I'm not familiar with them.

    The Cary Audio Cinema 6 is right in my price range, but I don't know much about it.

    On the higher end of my price range, there's the ATI ATP-7500. Classe SSP30-MkII, and the Anthem AVM20. I don't know much about these, but if these have better analog out sections and DACs/processing than the receivers or even the lower priced preamp/processors, then these are worth it to me.
  • 08-05-2004, 06:07 PM
    musicguy04
    You can also add the Rotel RSP-1098 and the Sunfire Theater Grand III to the group.

    I like the features of the Cary Audio Cinema 6. I'm wondering about it's sound quality.
  • 08-05-2004, 06:35 PM
    Woochifer
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by musicguy04
    Thanks. I thought about the Yamaha RX-Z1, but it has a fixed crossover at 90Hz. This will drive B&W Nautilus bookshelf speakers 805's and matching center (won't get them until December) but after hearing them, I find them to sound their best at the 60Hz crossover. 90Hz is too thin.

    I do have an external 2 channel amp that I could use right now if I were to get a separate pre-amp/processor. Would the $2k-$3k range in a separate pre-amp/processor improve the sound quality more than the receivers I mentioned? I would absolutely love an Arcam FMJ AV8, but at $4.6k, it's way out of my price range. I have a low mid-fi DVD player, so I'll just use it as a tranposrt meaning I want something that'll bring out the best in movies and music, meaning high quality, low-jitter DACs, audiophile grade components, etc.

    I'm not familiar with any processors in the $2k-$3k range. On the lower end of my price range, there's a Rotel RSP-1068, but I don't know much about it. I didn't like their amps, they seem a little rolled off and veiled, so I hope their processors don't do the same to the sound. There's also the NAD T63 and B&K Reference 50 at around the same price. I'm not familiar with them.

    The Cary Audio Cinema 6 is right in my price range, but I don't know much about it.

    On the higher end of my price range, there's the ATI ATP-7500. Classe SSP30-MkII, and the Anthem AVM20. I don't know much about these, but if these have better analog out sections and DACs/processing than the receivers or even the lower priced preamp/processors, then these are worth it to me.


    I think you're getting lost in the technical details and relying too much on demo room listenings. If your impressions of these receivers were all done in different rooms using different sets of speakers, then they have zero comparability except the ones that were compared in the same room. In my listenings, the digital circuitry and amplification are far down on the priority list compared to speakers and room acoustics.

    Before you even commit to anything, you need to try out the Nautilus speakers in your room and check on how different it might sound at home compared to the dealer demo room. You should also use the evaluation to check on how the lows sound. Are they tight and coherent, or are they sloppy and boomy? These effects are very much room-related. The difference between DACs is typically subtle, but the effect and variability of room acoustics is huge. If you got room problems, the fanciest DACs and digital components in the world won't matter one bit because those subtle differences will get obliterated by the much more obvious room acoustic effects. In that case, DACs and audiophile grade components have to give way to room treatments, careful measurements, bass traps, parametric equalizers, and attention to detail with the placement and calibration.

    The B&W Nautilus is a difficult speaker to drive because its impedance peaks and dips all over the place, which can strain an amp, so an outboard amp is probably a wise move if you're going with a receiver. The main thing you need to listen for with that series is how they sound at moderately high volume and how it changes as you bump up the volume.

    As far as separates versus receiver goes, I think there is something to be said for the flexibility that pre/pro combos give you. Anthem and Parasound make decent processors in your price range, and their amps are also very solid.
  • 08-05-2004, 07:01 PM
    musicguy04
    Thanks. I read a review from someone using the Anthem, and unfortunately, he said it made his system sound like crap, but that was one person.

    As far as the room goes, the room seems to have decent acoustics. No boominess whatsoever. The listening position is right in the middle of the room, so everything is pretty symmetrical.

    Although I never tried B&W nautilus in the room, my dad let me borrow his CDM 1s, and I'll tell you those babies rock! I'm guessing the nautilus would be even better in there. I've heard more detail with those than I've ever heard before.

    I'm not buying anything right away and I'm not in a hurry.

    I guess I'm leaning towards Cary Audio Cinema 6, both Rotel RSP-1068 and RSP-1098, and the Anthem. The Classe looks nice, but it's lacking features that I'll use. I checked out the Parasounds from your advice, and the Parasound Halo C2 is their cheapest processor I could find and that's too $$ at $4k.
  • 08-05-2004, 07:31 PM
    rshad
    You may want to try out the B&K Ref 50 as well. I use this with my Rotel amps and B&W speakers and it sounds very nice. The B&K has a wide variety of set up features, which you may like.
  • 08-05-2004, 07:57 PM
    musicguy04
    Thanks. I'll definitely look into it. What kind of sound does B&K produce? I want a product with a DAC that'll bring out low level detail from the signal, and then pass it on to the amp as accurate and transparent as possible without any attenuation of frequencies (i.e no rolled off highs). How does the B&K do in that respect?
  • 08-05-2004, 08:17 PM
    musicguy04
    Yes, the B&K has about every feature I could ever want and then some. Does anyone know what it's "sonic fingerprint" is, if that's even the correct term?
  • 08-07-2004, 11:00 AM
    rshad
    Well, this is really my first foray into the entry level high end audio world.

    What I can tell you is that I listened to the B&K, Rotel and Anthem preamps and I prefered the B&K over the others. If you do a search on the web you should be able to find some reviews of the product.

    Personally I think the B&K does a excellent job decoding surround sound signals. I now hear things in movies I have absolutely never heard before.
  • 08-07-2004, 04:16 PM
    Woochifer
    Quote:

    Originally Posted by rshad
    Well, this is really my first foray into the entry level high end audio world.

    What I can tell you is that I listened to the B&K, Rotel and Anthem preamps and I prefered the B&K over the others. If you do a search on the web you should be able to find some reviews of the product.

    Personally I think the B&K does a excellent job decoding surround sound signals. I now hear things in movies I have absolutely never heard before.

    When making this kind of comparison, you have to make sure that several factors are equal: the room, the speakers used in the demo, the source material, the levels, and the default surround settings. Any one of those factors can dramatically change what you hear in a demo. The room acoustics and the speakers especially are almost always much bigger variables than the performance between different preamps.

    When you say that the B&K did a better job at decoding surround signals, was this using the default setting or using a post processing DSP mode? With the default DD and DTS decoding, you don't typically get a lot of difference between processors. Only with the more advanced functions do you hear more clearly audible differences between HT preamps.
  • 08-07-2004, 08:08 PM
    rshad
    It was with the default mode--mainly DTS. I also compared them musically as well.

    I was able to compare the Rotel and B&K on the same system, but, unfortunately the Anthem I could not. It was a different store and was connected to Paradigms.