Go Back  DVD Talk Forum > DVD Discussions > DVD & Home Theater Gear
Reload this Page >

Audio Help - Separates vs. Receiver ..and all the rest?

DVD & Home Theater Gear Discuss DVD and Home Theater Equipment.

Audio Help - Separates vs. Receiver ..and all the rest?

Old 02-13-09, 10:08 PM
  #1  
DVD Talk Gold Edition
Thread Starter
 
visitor Q's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2004
Posts: 2,501
Audio Help - Separates vs. Receiver ..and all the rest?

I've had been running an Integra 6.2 receiver for about 8 years before I ran into channel issues. One day the left would flicker out. Crank the volume, toggle the power and play with the options and eventually it would come back. Next day it's the right channel. Then as months past it was both channels dropping out. After returning, increased power demands would drop the channel completely out in the middle of a film. Then the surrounds became "infected". Then a week later all would work just fine. Consistently inconsistent. Then the on screen display kicked out ..for good. Etc. and so forth. Strangely the center channel never dropped. But needless to say, time to send this machine to its grave after six plus months of problems.

I'm now essentially starting from scratch for amps. I've noticed that AVS reading becomes way too cumbersome after only a minute of perusing. There are way too many pages for each thread as I'm sure most realize. So I'm coming here for some expert opinions.

Some basic user info. I have at the most $2500 that I'm willing to part for an Pre-Pro/Amp or Receiver. Regarding the fact that I've never been a musical person I would use the amp for 85/15 film-video games/music. Based on that percentage I've come to understand that a mid-level receiver would suffice for my purposes. But I'm still weary due to my experience with Integra (the supposedly high end branch of Onkyo). I'm also weary of an all in one solution (such as an A/V receiver) because I think this equipment tries to do too much for its intentions - thus more susceptible to breakdown. So, I'd rather spend some extra money for a good pre/pro setup, but I'm also ..and somewhat .. still open to arguments on the Receiver vs. Pre-Pro game. 5.1 is sufficient for my purposes. And although my speakers are efficient (Paradigm Monitor series) I'd like to upgrade these in a few years. At this point I'm not concerned with HDMI, satellite, Ipod connectivity ..or any other "bells and whistles" low to mid-range A/V receivers offer. I want the most pure, simple and clean power for the buck.


In summary:

- Cost $2-2.5K for Amp and Pre-Pro or receiver.
- Channels = 5.1
- No bells and whistles
- HDMI not an issue (or should it "really" be down the road?)
- Use: 85/15 HT-video games/music
- Speakers - efficient
- Bass Management - Is a plus
- Passive heat dispersion preferable
- Remote Control - somewhat user friendly with illumination if possible


So far I've been considering ...

Rotel RMB1095 (used approx $900+) 5 channel amp
Sunfire TGA5400 (used approx $1800+) 5 channel amp
Outlaw Audio 2200 Mono-blocks ($1325 for 5 amps)
Parasound 5250 (used approx $1200+) 5 channel amp

I'd really, really love the Bryston 9B SST amp based on what I've read about it (and Bryston in generaly), but the price is so far beyond my reach.


And as far as A/V receivers go ...what's really above good quality with long term reliability these days?

Harmon Kardon, Denon, Onkyo, Marantz, Pioneer Elite, Sunfire TGP ... etc.?


And finally ... for a $2000-2500 budget will I get a better overall deal going separates considering the parameters above? I have a feeling I may be overdoing it but I'm .. and obviously .. not 100%. And I've out of the market way too long to be comfortable at a 100% to spend that kind of money.

Thanks for the help guys. I really do appreciate it.

Last edited by visitor Q; 02-13-09 at 10:11 PM.
visitor Q is offline  
Old 02-13-09, 11:57 PM
  #2  
DVD Talk Hero
 
Join Date: Dec 2000
Location: Home again, Big D
Posts: 28,980
Re: Audio Help - Separates vs. Receiver ..and all the rest?

What speakers do you have? Do you have blu ray? How big is your room.

Outlaw also makes a nice receiver (or they did last time I looked). So you could consider that. I'm a huge H/K fan, so I don't think you can go wrong there. I also like Marantz. Of course the basic Marantz joke is that they are great right up until the point they catch on fire....

If you want lossless audio (and why wouldn't you?) then I would consider HDMI. Of course depending on the BD player you could use analog outs to get it instead of HDMI.
Sdallnct is offline  
Old 02-14-09, 01:50 AM
  #3  
DVD Talk Limited Edition
 
Join Date: Mar 2002
Location: Mpls, MN
Posts: 6,831
Re: Audio Help - Separates vs. Receiver ..and all the rest?

If HDMI is not an issue, then this is easily the best deal:
Outlaw 990 preamp for $700

Use a BD player with analog output and you are all set.

For amp I would say an Outlaw 7500 or Emotiva XPA-5. These are both high-quality audiophile grade amps at ridiculously low prices compared to amps like Krell and Bryston, even Sunfire. Both have balanced input, so does the 990 have outputs to match.

My god, this made me look at the Emotivas again. And now I'm over $1700 Class H with .015 thd, again. Are you kidding me? Sunfire's got nothing.


Last edited by Spiky; 02-14-09 at 02:16 AM.
Spiky is offline  
Old 02-14-09, 11:17 AM
  #4  
DVD Talk Hero
 
Join Date: Dec 2000
Location: Home again, Big D
Posts: 28,980
Re: Audio Help - Separates vs. Receiver ..and all the rest?

Hey Spiky...I use to be a big Adcom and Rotel fan. They still any good? They use to bridge that "gap" between nice receivers and the big boys (Krell, etc). If I recall you wouldn't put them in the same class as Krell, but then they were a lot nicer then the majority of receivers and fairly reasonable.

Just curious more then anything...
Sdallnct is offline  
Old 02-14-09, 12:47 PM
  #5  
DVD Talk Ultimate Edition
 
SoSpacey's Avatar
 
Join Date: Feb 2000
Location: Jersey
Posts: 4,238
Re: Audio Help - Separates vs. Receiver ..and all the rest?

Outlaw makes a 7 channel amp for like $700.

They have a new pre amp coming out for $1300 that will have HDMI, etc.

Thats 2k an is a nice set-up for what you have.

You could aslo buy a receiver like the Yamaha RX-v1800 for low $800s and see how they power those speakers (they will have no problem). If you decide you want seperate amps, just buy the Outlaw that matches your needs (5 or 7 channel) and use the Yamaha as a pre-pro. You could do the same with a Denon like the 2909 or the Onkyo 805/806 for even less.
SoSpacey is offline  
Old 02-14-09, 09:15 PM
  #6  
DVD Talk Gold Edition
Thread Starter
 
visitor Q's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2004
Posts: 2,501
Re: Audio Help - Separates vs. Receiver ..and all the rest?

Thanks for all the replies so far. I'll address the responses all in one post to keep it simple.

Room size - 16x12 (sit 7' from display)

No high def equipment yet. Most of the pre/pro or receiver options that I've looked at have HDMI capability for future proofing.

5 or 7 channel of no real preference. 7 channel seems more than likely with my budget.

Speakers (highly efficient) - Paradigm (F) Monitor 7/(C) CC350/(R) Titans. The amps that I'm considering will be way under-utilized with my current speakers. But I'm planning an upgrade within the next couple of years.

One thing I've noticed is that the Paradigms are on the bright side. So I'm considering mating them with an amp that will balance out the high end a bit and give it a "warmer" sound. Not that I want any colorization, but I still need to live with these things for the time being. Not sure if that's the right approach.

So Outlaw has come up a few times. I'm not leaning towards one manufacturer over another. Last time I was in the market (8 yrs ago) I was impressed with the bang for the buck of the Outlaw Monos. There are a couple of concerns with this route. Power consumption (I live in a triple decker with an old electrical grid). Outlaw is an Internet only distributor. I'd like to demo the equipment before committing.

Are there any particular troublesome manufacturers to avoid these days? A common issue with Onkyo seem to be heating issues. Certain HK models seem to have electrical (hissing) issues. Not that it's a manufacturer problem, but I hear that Yamaha's don't mate with the Paradigms well because of "brightness" issues. How is Denon's reputation been as of late?

Within the week I plan on demo-ing a Marantz AV8003, Sunfire 325, Rotel RSX-1067, Rotel RMB-1095 and some Nad amps.

Because of the electronics issues of my Integra receiver, I'm definitely leaning towards dumping as much cash into a longer term solution by going for the best multi-channel amp or monos that I can afford. This way if there are processing or upgrade issues I can more easily swap out a lesser reliable preamp/processor.
visitor Q is offline  
Old 02-14-09, 09:17 PM
  #7  
Senior Member
 
Join Date: Jul 2006
Location: Arizona
Posts: 435
Re: Audio Help - Separates vs. Receiver ..and all the rest?

Well here is my take on this. By what you said as what your percentage of use would be(85/15) then I would think "bells & whistles" would matter. I would look at Pre/Pro's if my listening was primarily music. For HT those bells & whistles come into play.
Believe me I'm not knocking Pre/Pro's, I think they are great if money is not a problem but if on a budget(like most people are) then I think AVR's now do a good job for HT purposes.
The speakers you have(Paradigm Monitor series) are pretty efficient so a decent AVR would have no problem running them. Now if they weren't, I would again look at Pre/Pro's as a bigger option(or advantage).
I have not owned Pre/Pro's (but I have friends that do) and I too recently upgraded my AVR(within the past year). I considered going with Integra's 9.8(I liked the sound and price wise was hard to beat for what it has) but like you, my main use of it is HT(90/10).
I ended up going with Denon's 3808 and it works great. Since I bought the 3808 for $1000,that was more than a $1000 savings(after you consider having to get a Amp to power the 9.8). I wish I could have gone with the Pre/Pro but thats a big price difference and for what I needed it for just didn't make sense to me to go with the 9.8.
It's running 2 pairs of Monitor Audio GS10's with the matching center and a Epik Caliber.
The 10's are pretty efficient but we recently upgraded our fronts and waiting to get them on Monday ( trying to be patient) to GS20's and started to wonder if the 3808 would have enough power to run them. I don't know how efficient they(GS20's) are but from what I have read and been told they are efficient speakers.
I looked at EMO's amp's and got a wild hair you know where and ended up buying a XPA-3 for $499(had a sale going on at the time) good price for that amp by the way. They have a 30-day return policy so I figured why not .
Well I have the XPA-3 powering my front three(fronts and center) and the 3808 doing the rest(5.1 for now). With music there was a substantial difference. Now with HT there was a change but was not as big a difference. The soundstage is bigger and there is more detail and accuracy but with music the XPA-3 made those 10's sing (and my set up is not the best). For the extra $499,is it worth it? hummmmm.... I would have to say no,even though the more I listen the more I like the sound. The rears sound fuller and has more detail. I am guessing that the 3808 "pools" it's power and the rears are getting a little more power. I tried to verify if that is the case but never was able to get an answer to that.
If I had to guess,this would be as close as I would get to what it would have been like to have the 9.8,in that case it would be a definite NO not worth that price!
Once I have the 20's I will audition them with and without the XPA-3 and see what happens. The 20's and the center are rated as 6 ohms and the 10's are 8 ohms so we will see how that plays into this.
Well this is just my two-cents,oh by the way if you do go with a Pre/Pro I would definitely recommend the XPA-5 it's a GREAT Amp!
SUPERMANROB is offline  
Old 02-14-09, 09:41 PM
  #8  
DVD Talk Gold Edition
Thread Starter
 
visitor Q's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2004
Posts: 2,501
Re: Audio Help - Separates vs. Receiver ..and all the rest?

Originally Posted by SUPERMANROB View Post
Well here is my take on this. By what you said as what your percentage of use would be(85/15) then I would think "bells & whistles" would matter. I would look at Pre/Pro's if my listening was primarily music. For HT those bells & whistles come into play.
Believe me I'm not knocking Pre/Pro's, I think they are great if money is not a problem but if on a budget(like most people are) then I think AVR's now do a good job for HT purposes.
Appreciate the response. I actually have a little fear about the law of marginal utility. Am I considering too much $$ for what it's really worth? And I think part of your response addresses this - in a sense that pre/pro's are most likely more suitable for music listening where dynamics and nuances are more critical.

The speakers you have(Paradigm Monitor series) are pretty efficient so a decent AVR would have no problem running them. Now if they weren't, I would again look at Pre/Pro's as a bigger option(or advantage).
But I'm not sure it will down the road. With an upgrade of speakers in the near term and not knowing which I'll get, I'd like to have some room in case of higher power demands.
visitor Q is offline  
Old 02-15-09, 05:58 PM
  #9  
DVD Talk Limited Edition
 
Join Date: Mar 2002
Location: Mpls, MN
Posts: 6,831
Re: Audio Help - Separates vs. Receiver ..and all the rest?

Originally Posted by Sdallnct View Post
Hey Spiky...I use to be a big Adcom and Rotel fan. They still any good? They use to bridge that "gap" between nice receivers and the big boys (Krell, etc). If I recall you wouldn't put them in the same class as Krell, but then they were a lot nicer then the majority of receivers and fairly reasonable.

Just curious more then anything...
I have always loved Adcom and would use their amps very happily. And I have no reason to doubt users that love Rotel. But the internet companies seem to be at the same quality level for even less than those. $800 for the Emotiva XPA-5 is just ridiculous. It's a high-quality AB amp. You'd probably be looking at at least $2000 for an Adcom, $5000 for Bryston, $10000 for Krell. And at some point, the slightly higher quality isn't worth it. I doubt most of us could tell a difference between these, anyway. At least, quality difference, tonal could be a bit different, esp if you compare different amp types (like H vs AB), but that doesn't necessarily mean worse/better.

Last edited by Spiky; 02-15-09 at 06:18 PM.
Spiky is offline  
Old 02-15-09, 06:14 PM
  #10  
DVD Talk Limited Edition
 
Join Date: Mar 2002
Location: Mpls, MN
Posts: 6,831
Re: Audio Help - Separates vs. Receiver ..and all the rest?

Originally Posted by visitor Q View Post
So Outlaw has come up a few times. I'm not leaning towards one manufacturer over another. Last time I was in the market (8 yrs ago) I was impressed with the bang for the buck of the Outlaw Monos. There are a couple of concerns with this route. Power consumption (I live in a triple decker with an old electrical grid). Outlaw is an Internet only distributor. I'd like to demo the equipment before committing.
They allow for that. So does Emotiva.

Are there any particular troublesome manufacturers to avoid these days? A common issue with Onkyo seem to be heating issues. Certain HK models seem to have electrical (hissing) issues. Not that it's a manufacturer problem, but I hear that Yamaha's don't mate with the Paradigms well because of "brightness" issues. How is Denon's reputation been as of late?

Within the week I plan on demo-ing a Marantz AV8003, Sunfire 325, Rotel RSX-1067, Rotel RMB-1095 and some Nad amps.
Frankly, I've seen "brightness" complaints with all amps, all receivers, and just about every speaker I've ever researched. Including every mfgr mentioned in this thread so far. I now take such comments with a huge grain of salt.

If there is a specific model complaint with the electronics or fires, that is something worth worrying about. But most of the heat issues I've read about sound like users upgrading to their first halfway decent receiver and they simply aren't prepared for the heat they put out. Standard amps are frickin' hot, fact. (actually, so are preamps) If you have tight heat issues like a cabinet you don't want to leave open or modify, look into Sunfire/Class H.

I don't see how you can go wrong with any of those amps. Power amps should have better noise floors than any receiver, removing hissing issues.

Last edited by Spiky; 02-15-09 at 06:19 PM.
Spiky is offline  
Old 02-15-09, 06:37 PM
  #11  
DVD Talk Special Edition
 
Join Date: Mar 2005
Location: Illinois
Posts: 1,448
Re: Audio Help - Separates vs. Receiver ..and all the rest?

I like a onkyo 876 for now. Like they said Emotiva or Outlaw amp, also like someone said that $800 Emotiva is sick power wise. Clearly your Mon 7's are power pigs. I agree Yamaha doesn't sound good with paradigm's. I've had the entire Monitor series line and now have studio 100's.

They gave you great idea's really. Buying a onkyo 876 or even 806/805(the better pick slightly) would do. Denon is nice. With you throwing that much cash at the issue you'll be fine.

Quote from 876 thread
"I finally got around to experimenting with the bridging option mentioned earlier. It actually wasn't much of a pain to reconfigure my speaker connection. I have a 5.1 right now so all I had to do to achieve 2 channel bridged mode was change the connection for one banana plug for each speaker. Then turn it on, go to set up and in speaker set up select BTL instead of normal. Obviously, for 7.1 you'd need to disconnect your rear surrounds first.

The additional wattage opened up my speakers, giving a little more definition and additional volume. The biggest change, however, was in the bass response. My Paradigm monitor 7 v3 are not as strong in the low frequencies, having one single driver for this, I believe a 6.5 inch. I was considerably impressed at the bass response, I never imagined I could get that much out of those speakers. I even got flicker in my lightibulbs from the element vibrating on certain notes, something usually reserved for my sub.

Anyway, it's nice to know this receiver is so flexible. If I ever want to really crank it, I've got the option."

Last edited by hdtv00; 02-15-09 at 06:42 PM.
hdtv00 is offline  
Old 02-17-09, 07:45 PM
  #12  
Member
 
Join Date: Feb 2005
Posts: 177
Re: Audio Help - Separates vs. Receiver ..and all the rest?

Check out the Pioneer Elite SC-05 or SC-07 avrs. Either will easily drive those 'Digms, and if the future holds Maggies or something hoggy, you could drop in a couple of amps to drive the fronts.

I've got the SC-05 (of course) driving 4 Studio 20s and 2 APD470s and would be hard pressed to be happier. The room calibration (MCACC) on this series is very nice.
devinjc is offline  
Old 02-18-09, 06:24 PM
  #13  
DVD Talk Hero
 
Join Date: Jan 2000
Location: Montreal, Canada
Posts: 29,920
Re: Audio Help - Separates vs. Receiver ..and all the rest?

I went to Blu-ray last year and wanted to take advantage of the new audio formats. After some research, I ditched my old B&K Ref 20 pre-pro and bought an Integra DTC 9.8. Coudn't be happier with the result. But the decision was fairly simple for me since I already had separates and nothing else needed upgrading.
eXcentris is offline  
Old 02-22-09, 12:56 AM
  #14  
DVD Talk Gold Edition
Thread Starter
 
visitor Q's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2004
Posts: 2,501
Re: Audio Help - Separates vs. Receiver ..and all the rest?

I just wanted to stop in and say thanks to everyone that responded. It's appreciated.

I was able to demo a Marantz SR6003 and Rotel RMB-1095 this past week on two different speaker sets. The Marantz was matched with an array of Martin Logans and the Rotel was mated with Klipsch RF82's (which I believe more closely resemble the sound/build of Paradigms).

The M/ML combo sounded "warmer" and deeper on the low end than the R/K combo. But the detail/dynamics seemed to win out on the R/K combo. I'm sure a sub would manage the difference. But being situated in an apartment dwelling my neighbors might disagree.

My overall opinion on both sources regarding strictly DVD demos was negligible for the price between the two. I'm only a casual listener of music in the sense that I'll randomly throw in a CD or listen to the radio since I have the option, not for critical listening. So I didn't really bring any test material for deciphering subtle differences. And I'm not really concerned about that side of the game.

So I figure why not try out an all in one solution with what seems to be a competent and reasonably priced AV receiver. Since there are pre-outs there really isn't any concern for future proofing. Amazon is running a nice sale on the Harmon Kardon HK-354 for $520 ($600 less than the nearest considered option) and I took the leap. The price can't be beat and the receiver seems to be more than what I really need for the time being.

Hopefully the software/firmware updates the HDMI switching issues that I've discovered to be a problem. But realistically, all video sources will be channeled directly through to the monitor anyway. Down the line may be a concern but I'll run the updates just the same.

So, I'll just have to see how it goes ......
visitor Q is offline  
Old 02-22-09, 09:14 AM
  #15  
DVD Talk Hero
 
Join Date: Dec 2000
Location: Home again, Big D
Posts: 28,980
Re: Audio Help - Separates vs. Receiver ..and all the rest?

Originally Posted by visitor Q View Post
ISo I figure why not try out an all in one solution with what seems to be a competent and reasonably priced AV receiver. Since there are pre-outs there really isn't any concern for future proofing. Amazon is running a nice sale on the Harmon Kardon HK-354 for $520 ($600 less than the nearest considered option) and I took the leap. The price can't be beat and the receiver seems to be more than what I really need for the time being.


So, I'll just have to see how it goes ......
Well as a H/K pimp (I don't work for them, just like them a lot) I'd say you made a nice selection. However, I wouldn't even put H/K in the same class as some of the others were were looking at, especially the separates. That is a "tempting" price.

And for not being concerned about HDMI and all the "bells and whistles" you ended up with a pretty loaded receiver.

I know you said you were not concerned with HDMI, but now that you have a receiver that can very, very nicely handle it; you saved so much much why not track down a nice blu-ray player? Feed that through the receiver via HDMI and have an excellent image and lossless! If you can find one, a Panasonic BD35 would be a sweet addition!

Oh and be sure and post back how it works out for you....
Sdallnct is offline  
Old 02-22-09, 09:32 AM
  #16  
DVD Talk Limited Edition
 
Join Date: Mar 2002
Location: Mpls, MN
Posts: 6,831
Re: Audio Help - Separates vs. Receiver ..and all the rest?

Originally Posted by visitor Q View Post
I was able to demo a Marantz SR6003 and Rotel RMB-1095 this past week on two different speaker sets. The Marantz was matched with an array of Martin Logans and the Rotel was mated with Klipsch RF82's (which I believe more closely resemble the sound/build of Paradigms).

The M/ML combo sounded "warmer" and deeper on the low end than the R/K combo. But the detail/dynamics seemed to win out on the R/K combo. I'm sure a sub would manage the difference. But being situated in an apartment dwelling my neighbors might disagree.
I would say that Klipsch, Paradigm and ML all have very different sounds. Each has different technology that is just plain different. If you had compared NHT, Paradigm, Polk, Boston Acoustics, maybe even Definitive Technology....those would have been at least all somewhat similar designs and assumptions might be made about the amps. But the 3 you mention represent the 3 different types of speakers that exist: planar, cone, horn.

So, I would attribute the differences you heard in this case entirely to the speakers, I'm afraid. Or let's say >95%.

My advice on a sub in an apartment, which always surprises people until they actually try it, is to get a high-end sub with as flat a response as possible. I always recommend SVS based on my experience, but they are not the only such mfgr. It surprises people because subs that have bothered to get a flat line are also very powerful, so people assume you will just be blasting your neighbors with all the power. But the near-perfect frequency response means that you can actually hear all the frequencies at whatever volume you choose. This means you can run quieter for the neighbors' sake, but still hear deep bass. Here's what I mean by a flat line, although this is their best sub, not the cheapest. Their lesser subs are also very flat compared to most companies. (Note: the green line is just ridiculous):
Spiky is offline  
Old 02-22-09, 09:33 AM
  #17  
DVD Talk Limited Edition
 
Join Date: Mar 2002
Location: Mpls, MN
Posts: 6,831
Re: Audio Help - Separates vs. Receiver ..and all the rest?

Originally Posted by Sdallnct View Post
Well as a H/K pimp (I don't work for them, just like them a lot)
Not much of a pimp if you don't get some green, bro!
Spiky is offline  
Old 02-22-09, 02:40 PM
  #18  
DVD Talk Gold Edition
Thread Starter
 
visitor Q's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2004
Posts: 2,501
Re: Audio Help - Separates vs. Receiver ..and all the rest?

Originally Posted by Sdallnct View Post
However, I wouldn't even put H/K in the same class as some of the others were were looking at, especially the separates.
Oh I don't doubt that for one second. I wouldn't put the HK near the other amps in terms of clean sound and raw power. Down the road (when I get a bigger place/better speakers) I intend to use the HK (if I keep it) as a controller and look into a nice 3 channel amp for the front array.

In effect I still have enough extra cash budgeted to get that Rotel if need be.

And for not being concerned about HDMI and all the "bells and whistles" you ended up with a pretty loaded receiver.
I just have fear that the more features contained within a receiver the more susceptibility there will be for break down. But after some research, unless I want to spend a ton of money it seems I'm somewhat limited to a pre-amp with the "bells and whistles". For roughly $500 I don't think I can complain with the trade-offs. The HKs seem be reliable based on what I've found and even if I need to swap it out after 5+ years I think I've got my money's worth.

I know you said you were not concerned with HDMI, but now that you have a receiver that can very, very nicely handle it; you saved so much much why not track down a nice blu-ray player? Feed that through the receiver via HDMI and have an excellent image and lossless! If you can find one, a Panasonic BD35 would be a sweet addition!

Oh and be sure and post back how it works out for you....
Thanks for the rec. I'm considering it.
visitor Q is offline  
Old 02-22-09, 02:49 PM
  #19  
DVD Talk Gold Edition
Thread Starter
 
visitor Q's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2004
Posts: 2,501
Re: Audio Help - Separates vs. Receiver ..and all the rest?

Originally Posted by Spiky View Post
I would say that Klipsch, Paradigm and ML all have very different sounds. Each has different technology that is just plain different. If you had compared NHT, Paradigm, Polk, Boston Acoustics, maybe even Definitive Technology....those would have been at least all somewhat similar designs and assumptions might be made about the amps. But the 3 you mention represent the 3 different types of speakers that exist: planar, cone, horn.

So, I would attribute the differences you heard in this case entirely to the speakers, I'm afraid. Or let's say >95%.
And then I try 3 different types of speakers with three different types of amps in a demo room then at home ..and each time I get a different effect!

No, I understand what you're saying. Until I can really get the equipment at home and under fire for a few weeks will it then be worth it. A local dealer will let me take whatever I want home so within the next few weeks I should be able to run up some more serious equipment against the HK and see if there really is enough of a substantial difference to justify the leap in price.
visitor Q is offline  
Old 03-07-09, 12:15 AM
  #20  
DVD Talk Gold Edition
Thread Starter
 
visitor Q's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2004
Posts: 2,501
Re: Audio Help - Separates vs. Receiver ..and all the rest?

Originally Posted by Sdallnct View Post
Oh and be sure and post back how it works out for you....
Set up was a piece of cake. I went manual on speaker calibration (though I did run a follow up Digital Video Essentials calibration and it was spot on) and I was satisfied as can be. The HK does allow for, as mentioned, "Harman Kardon’s EzSet/EQ system makes it (speaker calibration) easy." Take that for what it's worth. To continue, I did love the GUI over my old Integra 6.2. Keeping in mind that I'm not currently using this receiver for an HD framework (I'm a basic user), I have all source components (Xbox 360 and 2 DVD players) running through component video and digital audio connects. Video/audio channel switching is flawless. Quality is about what I could expect, although on the video side a few DVDs in anamorphic I'm familiar with appear more lackluster than direct from source (to display).

On the audio side, I like the option of having a multiple array of options (sound processing, ie. Logic 7, Dolby Prologic II, 5/7 channel stereo, etc.) set up for each source. Though I realize this is common for "midlevel" receivers. And so far, I've found the performance to be the mediocre. The Integra 6.2 is not the best receiver, but when compared with the HK, the dynamics are excellent. The HK is is much weaker. My speakers are more than just adequate to me (not the best, but not the worst that I've tested) and the Integra was able extract a low end with the Paradigms that the HK doesn't seem to recognize. My speakers just did not "sing" or "open up" with the move to the HK - and I was expecting just that ... actually, I was expecting at least the same as the Integra. Quite the opposite. There was no logistical change in speaker configuration (distance or spatially) from the "sweet spot". And now, musically from a digital source, the Paradigm/HK setup just sounds "punchy" (not a sneak up and grab you type of low frequency response) and rather weak. The mid-range sounds compressed as if all frequencies were in the same range - lacking separation. Film soundtracks are better both dynamically and dimensionally, but not as convincing as the Integra's performance. And that brings me to another characteristic - imaging.

I lied above when I stated "spatially" for the speaker array. I actually moved the speakers just about two inches closer to the monitor (and center speaker) from their original positions, but not closer to the "sweet spot". The Integra imaged audio panning extremely well. The HK on the other hand let me know exactly where the sound is coming from, no matter what intensive material I threw at it. There was less separation among the front three speakers with the HK behind the wheel. Another big disappointment.

Overall impression:

Positives

- For a $500 receiver it might satisfy most in that price range for HT use only.
- Video/audio source switching work flawlessly (in a non-HD environment).
- Ability to set up audio/video features for individual sources.
- ipod Bridge/dock (for those that care). But I hear it's typically an extra $150+ to have this capability.
- Cross over frequency adjustments (for subwoofer owners).

Negatives

- Dynamic range and imaging.
- No direct source capabilities (meaning, all audio is run through receiver processing). The Integra allowed for direct source where the receiver just amplified the audio signals - instead of "coloring" them..
- The freaking obnoxious white lit power light (when will manufacturer's learn, it's relatively important to some that don't need the entire room lit up to realize the power is on? Anyone? My hand is raised).
- Only 3 HDMI inputs (for those that care about the HD environment ..4 to 5 are standard for a receiver in this price range).
- No Bass/Treble controls (manipulation) on the receiver face plate. All related set ups are based on source and limited.

Unfortunately for me, this unit will be returned ..as the number one importance for me is sound. Overall, I was expecting better for some (hate to admit it) unknown reason. I've heard HK receivers before in showrooms and the output never seemed problematic to me. After having demoed enough film and some lower dynamic (but familiar) musical material in my own personal environment ..... well, I'm not impressed. Very good features, but the HK AVR354 lacks in some extremely key areas for me.

Last edited by visitor Q; 03-07-09 at 12:41 AM.
visitor Q is offline  
Old 03-07-09, 02:54 AM
  #21  
DVD Talk Hero
 
Join Date: Dec 2000
Location: Home again, Big D
Posts: 28,980
Re: Audio Help - Separates vs. Receiver ..and all the rest?

Originally Posted by visitor Q View Post
Unfortunately for me, this unit will be returned ..as the number one importance for me is sound. Overall, I was expecting better for some (hate to admit it) unknown reason. I've heard HK receivers before in showrooms and the output never seemed problematic to me. After having demoed enough film and some lower dynamic (but familiar) musical material in my own personal environment ..... well, I'm not impressed. Very good features, but the HK AVR354 lacks in some extremely key areas for me.
Nice write up....

Well if you were unhappy with the sound, I'd guess your not going to be happy with most receivers. H/K is known for it's sound quality over most of the "usual" suspects in receivers. I'm really suprised your not happy with the range and imaging of the H/K. But might not be a good match for those particular speakers.

If you try receivers again, I'd move up (Outlaw, Sunfire, ect). You might try Marantz. I wouldn't say it was better then the H/K but perhaps different in the areas that bothered you on the H/K. Some of the nicer Denon might be appealing as well, but again, I'd say they were different, not better. But if you prefer that difference, then I guess for you it is better.
Sdallnct is offline  
Old 03-07-09, 03:05 AM
  #22  
DVD Talk Limited Edition
 
Larry C.'s Avatar
 
Join Date: May 2001
Location: Let's Go Heat!
Posts: 7,495
Re: Audio Help - Separates vs. Receiver ..and all the rest?

Well I have always been partial to B&K but the Higher end Pioneer elites are great.
Larry C. is offline  
Old 03-07-09, 01:51 PM
  #23  
DVD Talk Limited Edition
 
Join Date: Mar 2002
Location: Mpls, MN
Posts: 6,831
Re: Audio Help - Separates vs. Receiver ..and all the rest?

The Emotiva UMC-1 keeps getting closer and closer to shipping.

5 HDMI
Latest DCDi scaling
Latest Cirrus audio chip for HD audio codecs
Many advanced features that receivers at this level won't have

Of course, it's NOT actually shipping.
Spiky is offline  
Old 03-08-09, 12:30 AM
  #24  
DVD Talk Gold Edition
Thread Starter
 
visitor Q's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2004
Posts: 2,501
Re: Audio Help - Separates vs. Receiver ..and all the rest?

Originally Posted by Larry C. View Post
Higher end Pioneer elites are great.
Any other opinions on the lower - mid end Elites? Pros/cons?

My budget is still within 1-2K.

I actually just set up a Pioneer VSX-1016TXV-K for a female friend today. She's driving an array of Klipsch RMB15 bookshelf speakers and I liked what I heard. There was a snappy low frequency response, that I didn't observe with the HK. Imaging was just good, but I didn't get a full chance to play around with the speaker arrangement.

Anyway, thanks again for the suggestions and help ....

Originally Posted by Sdallnct
I'm really surprised your not happy with the range and imaging of the H/K.
As was I. I was expecting at least equal performance to the Integra. After having made the front speaker array tighter I thought this would have improved "losing the speakers". It helped but separation was still obvious.

Even though music is low priority, I still want to be satisfied (and I'm not that picky in this area). This is where range is the most problematic. The material I used to test does not have the most dynamics to it, but some of it sounds better in my stock Honda sound system compared with a more expensive HT system. Dynamics are flat and lack liveliness. I'd compare the difference (Integra/HK) to a film soundtrack between a DVD and a cable broadcast through a coaxial cable. It's that distinct.
visitor Q is offline  
Old 03-08-09, 06:54 PM
  #25  
DVD Talk Legend
 
JimRochester's Avatar
 
Join Date: Sep 1999
Location: Rochester, NY. USA
Posts: 18,008
Re: Audio Help - Separates vs. Receiver ..and all the rest?

Way back before half the members on this board were born, I used to sell Medium to Low-High end stereo and video equipment. It was so long ago, CD's were a new technology and surround sound meant you had 2 stereo speakers and 1 rear speaker. We're talking old. Anyway, when it comes to seperates vs. all in one there will be a difference. The question is how much? If you have seperate amp, pre-amp, and tuner in general you will have higher quality audio equipment than a A/V receiver. Whether you have speakers that will accentuate the difference and whether your ears will hear it are another issue. IMHO unless you are doing critical listening of a demanding audio presentation whether it be a format of CD or DVD, your purpose will be served by one of the high end receivers. My Pioneer Elite is fantastic and decodes all the latest HD audio. If you're not doing that much critical listening I would save the money and get one of the best receivers and make sure the speakers are top notch.
JimRochester is offline  

Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Archive Advertising Cookie Policy Privacy Statement Terms of Service

Copyright 2018 MH Sub I, LLC dba Internet Brands. All rights reserved. Use of this site indicates your consent to the Terms of Use.