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  1. #1
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    Snob appeal vs finding real value! Where do you fit?

    I wanted to start a thread like this for quite some time but could not find the right way to do it and to present it effectively to start a discussion on equipment and its "Value" to their prospective owners. I start this thread now because in some ways it will help me in buying my next receiver/processor to be hooked up to my amps.
    So I have been looking at what's available out there and the choices are innumerable to say the least. Every receiver out there offers preouts for 6-7.1 channels, offers all decoding formats (PL-IIx) and some top end models also offer digital link, USB ports, etc.
    But the one question that comes to mind is should features outweigh sound quality or vice versa? And if one does stress on sound quality then what kind of laws of diminishing returns apply? I was looking at some processors yesterday at Magnolia HiFi and saw the Krell and B&K Ref50. The Ref 50 was selling for about $1800 and the Krell was more than that. There are receivers for half that cost that offer similar connectivity and more v.i.z. the Denon 2805 or HTR 5790 and they both offer some level of room correction which the aforementioned processors do not. I would have to spend upward of $4K and be real lucky to find the room correction features in a processor and get all the surround formats I want.
    While I have no doubt that the processors should and I emphasize the word "should" sound better for 2 channel listening, will they sound 3-3.5 times better or $3K better?
    The receivers I mentioned also use Burr-Brown DACs and have awesome processing power thus leading me to believe that their preamp processing sections are not built shabbily. So this brings up the question of Snob Appeal and why someone would overlook the benefits cheaper components offer over more pricey counterparts? I mean is it cool at some level to say I have a Krell vs I have a Yamaha acting as a processor for some of us?
    I have tried and tested many receivers used strictly as prepros for quite some time and my initial findings were that the processors did a much better job at both movies and music. I then tried the Denon 3802 as a prepro and the gap had further narrowed between the receivers and processors and now when I tried the 1400 and most recently a 3805 as a prepro, I liked the receivers equally for music and movies when compared to prepros.
    While I do understand that some prepros are built differently and even may include hand-picked parts, etc. but while electronics is becoming more affordable by the day, do you think that the gap has narrowed substantially between them?
    I did derive this one thing from my testing is that while the receivers I tried as prepros did extremely well with external amplification, I was not at all impressed with the amplification on their own especially on some DTS movies. Maybe some flagship receivers out there can offer this real world power, many receivers out there simply lack in this department.
    So for those that are in the market currently or recently have purchased equipment, what did you base it upon? Did you buy a receiver and amps and are getting better performance from them compared to flagships and prepros? Or, did you buy a flagship or seperate components and what was your rationale behind that?

  2. #2
    Audiophile Wireworm5's Avatar
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    There maybe audiphiles who are snobs and maybe I'm a snob.But any advice I've given on audio boards is from what I learned on these forums or first hand experience. If I don't know the answer I don't respond and leave it for someone who has more knowledge on the subject.
    If your rich you can go out and buy the best and have the best right away and this is probably the people who are the snobs.But if your on a budget then you have to build progressively.First off you have to decide if you are serious about building the best sound possible on your income.If your not all that serious or not sure, then just get a Home Theatre in a Box, that'll be good enough. But if your serious learn all you can before you buy. And buy so that you can upgrade as you go wasting as little money as possible.
    Every upgrade I made in everycase improved the sound, even when I thought I couldn't improve on the sound. Bottom line is there is always something better out there if you have the cash. What your trying to do is build the best sound possible for your budget, the end result reflects on your decision making skills.
    If I was to start over then I would buy the best receiver/amp I can afford. Bells and whistles are important at first but eventually fade as the sound gets better and you discover 2-channel stereo is still the best, I like mult-channel stereo ( stereo with lots of speakers).
    You can then buy moderately priced speakers and then move them to the rear duty when you have the cash to spring for what you really want. Keep in mind hard to drive speakers need power amps to sound their best and you have to factor that into the cost.And yes a good power amp will sound better than most mass market receivers.
    So don't worry that your system doesn't sound as good as mine. Build the best sound for you and you will eventually hear what I hear.

  3. #3
    Indifferentist Slosh's Avatar
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    hmmm....

    My main system is separates-based but only because I already had a good existing stereo system that I didn't want to "waste" when I decided to add h/t to it in '96/97. I have a much less pricey receiver-based system in my bedroom.

    My pre/pro does indeed sound a little better than the receiver's processor section, including when I tried connecting it to the receiver's 5.1 input (thus taking my main system's superior amps and speakers out of the equation). I believe the reason why is mainly because it has better analog circuitry aft the DACs. I'm sure having a power transformer/supply meant for one purpose only doesn't hurt either, plus it has some useful features that the receiver lacks; analog domain bass management and speaker level trim at its 5.1 input (not bad for a pre/pro designed years before SACD/DVD-A/DTS DVD even existed ), the option of turning Dolby Digital Dialog Normalization off, and some DSPs that work very well with stereo music (better than PLII Music, IMO).

    Of course, if I had to do it over again, I would buy a receiver and set up my stereo in a dedicated room. I could easily live with my receiver as my main system and be quite happy (even for stereo) but since I already have better stuff...
    Last edited by Slosh; 06-18-2004 at 03:39 AM.
    Originally Posted by Troy: She has that same kind of cleft-pallet, slightly retarded way of singing that so many other people find endearing.


  4. #4
    Sgt. At Arms Worf101's Avatar
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    Value, value, value...

    If I can get a world class speaker or piece of equipment used and relatively cheap, then I get it. But mostly I do the best my budget and space allows. I'd loved to have a 2 Channel room with separates and all the speakers I lust after arrayed along the far wall, but I ain't got it like that soooo... I get by with a good if not great HT receiver in the living room and lesser system in the bedroom and enjoy as much as I can as best I can....

    Simple as that...

    Da Worfster

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by Slosh
    My main system is separates-based but only because I already had a good existing stereo system that I didn't want to "waste" when I decided to add h/t to it in '96/97. I have a much less pricey receiver-based system in my bedroom.

    My pre/pro does indeed sound a little better than the receiver's processor section, including when I tried connecting it to the receiver's 5.1 input (thus taking my main system's superior amps and speakers out of the equation). I believe the reason why is mainly because it has better analog circuitry aft the DACs. I'm sure having a power transformer/supply meant for one purpose only doesn't hurt either, plus it has some useful features that the receiver lacks; analog domain bass management and speaker level trim at its 5.1 input (not bad for a pre/pro designed years before SACD/DVD-A/DTS DVD even existed ), the option of turning Dolby Digital Dialog Normalization off, and some DSPs that work very well with stereo music (better than PLII Music, IMO).

    Of course, if I had to do it over again, I would buy a receiver and set up my stereo in a dedicated room. I could easily live with my receiver as my main system and be quite happy (even for stereo) but since I already have better stuff...
    Slosh,

    The pre/pro you're referring to wouldn't happen to be the Denon AVD-2000, would it?

    Q

  6. #6
    Indifferentist Slosh's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Quagmire
    Slosh,

    The pre/pro you're referring to wouldn't happen to be the Denon AVD-2000, would it?

    Q

    You know it, Q! A Pioneer Elite DV-45A supplies DTS/SACD/DVD-A and works wonderfully with the Denon. I only wish the Denon would allow for full-range surrounds and would let you store DD dialog norm. in the off setting (but I set up a macro on my remote to handle this).

    As an aside, I also have a Sony EP9ES in storage and decided to pull it out and try it with my relatively cheap bedroom system's receiver (a Marantz SR-5200). Well, the Sony is built well and does sound good but the receiver's own processor section sounds better to me (except for the Sony's lower noise-floor). This is not the case when I tried the AVD-2000 in this system.
    Originally Posted by Troy: She has that same kind of cleft-pallet, slightly retarded way of singing that so many other people find endearing.


  7. #7
    Forum Regular gonefishin's Avatar
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    Hi nick4433,

    I really think that snobbish advice is defined as much by the person receiving the advice, as the person giving it.

    Chances are...if a person doesn't like the advice another person giving...and the persons advice involves a product that cost more money. They are looked at as a snob. That is...until the first person now recommends a product which costs the same amount. Now he views himself as a genius for finding the limits of diminishing returns.

    screw'em all I say!


    have a good day
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    enjoy the music!

  8. #8
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    I find the solution to be rather simple, especially if you have (or develop) a taste for acoustic (non-amplified) music and this includes vocals. Then you simply attend a lot of recitals. Your ears WILL remember the real sound of real music very well. Then you listen to audio gear playing the same music and you will know if the piece(s) in question meet your gold standard. Nothing could be simpler.

    Am I a snob? Heck, no. I bought custom Futtermans from Julius when tube amps were totally out of vogue. Still got 'em, and they rock the real sounds. But if you don't know what the real sounds are, then you will wind up with something that everybody else is raving about.... and "what everybody else is raving about" changes week to week.

    Its like being out in a boat on a large lake or open water: You gotta have your own compass.........

  9. #9
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    Slosh,

    Isn't that little Denon unit an absolute jewel? I know I've had mine for years now and aside from a few quirks that you mentioned, could not be happier with it. For the mere $200 it cost me, it has no peer - without question the best audio purchase I've ever made.

    So how happy are you with the Pioneer Elite DVD player? I bought Pioneers' entry level combo player (563-A I think) because it had both SACD and DVD-A playback, and although I am pleased with its video perfomance and DVD-A playback, SACD playback is quite disappointing IMO - converting DSD to PCM. Oh well, I needed a good progressive scan player anyway, and I have a stand alone SACD player that I am happy with. I was just hoping that someone would finally put out a combo player that worked equally well for both formats, and... which didn't cost a small fortune. In your opinion, does the DV-45A meet these criteria?

    Oh, one other thing about the Denon AVD-2000... When in the Ext. 6 channel input mode, I think it passes along the audio signal to the surrounds without bass managment, so that they can be full range/full bandwith with the analog inputs. I'm not positive about this, I'll try to find out for sure or you might do some experimenting and find out for yourself.

    Q

  10. #10
    Indifferentist Slosh's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Quagmire
    Slosh,

    Isn't that little Denon unit an absolute jewel? I know I've had mine for years now and aside from a few quirks that you mentioned, could not be happier with it. For the mere $200 it cost me, it has no peer - without question the best audio purchase I've ever made.
    Yeah, I paid $400 for mine but at the time (late '97) it seemed like a good deal considering the EP9ES was $690 locally. Eventually I was able to get the Sony for $300 and I thought I'd move the Denon to my bedroom system since the Sony was supposed to be better, but I ended up much preferring the Denon with its smoother, yet more detailed sound and better DSPs, etc. The Sony does have much better bass-management though. It lets you run full-range on all speaker or adjust main/center/surrounds separately with roll-off from 60-200 Hz in 20 Hz steps and the sub can be LFE only if you'd like (not sure about the Denon since I'm running a 5.0 speaker system with it). It also has a 9 band parametric EQ that can be set separately for main/center/surround but even so I think the Denon sounds better. It'll be a sad day when it dies (hopefully long off in the future )

    Quote Originally Posted by Quagmire
    So how happy are you with the Pioneer Elite DVD player? I bought Pioneers' entry level combo player (563-A I think) because it had both SACD and DVD-A playback, and although I am pleased with its video perfomance and DVD-A playback, SACD playback is quite disappointing IMO - converting DSD to PCM. Oh well, I needed a good progressive scan player anyway, and I have a stand alone SACD player that I am happy with. I was just hoping that someone would finally put out a combo player that worked equally well for both formats, and... which didn't cost a small fortune. In your opinion, does the DV-45A meet these criteria?

    Oh, one other thing about the Denon AVD-2000... When in the Ext. 6 channel input mode, I think it passes along the audio signal to the surrounds without bass managment, so that they can be full range/full bandwith with the analog inputs. I'm not positive about this, I'll try to find out for sure or you might do some experimenting and find out for yourself.

    Q
    I got the 45A in September '02 because it was the only universal at the time under $500(not counting that POS Apex). FWIW, I did compare it to the DV-47Ai at Tweeter and couldn't hear a difference, but that was a brief listen and I wasn't about to pony up the extra cash for the 47 in any case. I like it just fine but I have nothing to compare it to in my own system. It's a little forward sounding but very smooth. Initially I wasn't impressed with its CD playback (but I didn't buy it for that purpose anyway) but now I think it sounds better than any other CD player I own (a Marantz changer and, of course, the AVD-2000's and EP9ES' own DACs). Thanks to the AVD-2000 I only needed to set up the 45A's delay and left all speaker large and at 0 dB. I was under the impression that the 563 only converted DSD to PCM when using its bass-management, which you wouldn't need to do (except for the delay which doesn't work with SACD on the Pioneers anyway). The Denon's 6 channel input does keep the surrounds small but at 80 Hz it doesn't make much of a difference from the listening position so I can't really complain about that. After having two different Panasonic DVD players fail on me I wouldn't even consider a universal that is based on their transport (Denon and Yamaha). Philips and Sony transports are just as unreliable so Pioneer-based machines seem to be the only safe bet at this point.
    Originally Posted by Troy: She has that same kind of cleft-pallet, slightly retarded way of singing that so many other people find endearing.


  11. #11
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    Slosh & Q, I have no problems in this thread being hijacked like this but I have to pause your Denon AVD-2000 lovefest to tell you both that there is one being sold on Audiogon right now if you hurry. OK, now back to the Denon/Pioneer happy marriage conversation! (LOLOL)

  12. #12
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    What was that, Nick???? Did you say something? Let's see, where was I? Oh yeah, Denon... AVD... 2000... Pioneer... Slosh... Now I remember!

    Jeez! I haven't posted anything on hear for months and the first time I do, I get busted by Nick. Oh well, just goes to prove the ol' saying... the more things change, the more they stay the same. (LOL)

    Q

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