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27A/AVR300 -- which DAC to use?

Discussion in 'Arcam Owners' Forum' started by tvh3ad, Jan 19, 2005.

  1. tvh3ad

    tvh3ad
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    Hi there all,

    I just bought my local shop's demo 27A and ordered an AVR300 to go with it. I wasn't able to demo the units at home with the analog outputs (not enough interconnects) & so only heard the 27A's audio output via a digital coax cable.

    I'm curious to know whether anyone else has this pairing or anything similar, and, if so, if there's any improvement to be had via using the multichannel analog outputs from the 27A instead of relying on the 300's internal processor. If it matters, the unit will be used primarily for watching video (we don't even own any DVD-A discs).

    Many thanks!
     
  2. General Skanky

    General Skanky
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    I have an AVR200. I know it's different, and even though it's only used as a processor in my system, the 27a totally outclasses it.

    I'd expect the same from your combination.

    TBH, I'm not stunned by the AVR200. It's fine for me for now, but the 27a uses the same DACs as the AV8, and I can vouch first hand that the sound is really that much superior.

    It's the whole package, things like power supply and other components used that contribute to the higher quality.

    The most obvious difference will be the bass. Using the 27a produces so much more control at depth with a tight and tuneful sound, you'll wonder why the 300 in your case isn't up to the challenge.

    Just plug in some good quality interconnects and let the 27a do its stuff. You'll love it.
     
  3. cwick

    cwick
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    I run an AVR300 & 27A, and find the AVR300 to be much better for processing movies.

    And I do compare them often - because of my strange setup, I have a 'reversible room'. Normal, plasma, viewing is done one way round via the AVR300 processing. Projector viewing is done on the opposite wall to the plasma, so I use the 27A's multi-channel outputs configured backwards so that all I have to do is move furniture to watch with the pj, and switch inputs on the AVR.

    In plasma mode (i.e. AVR300 processing), the soundstage is a lot more involving, steering is better ... as you'd expect really. The AVR has many more (and finer grained) options for setup of the multichannel sound.

    At least, that's my experience, in my room, with my setup.

    HTH.

    Cheers, Carl.
     
  4. General Skanky

    General Skanky
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    There you go. Evidence that only a demo will answer.

    Two replies with opposite answers.

    However, I would say that cwick is really unusual in his setup. Love it though, a back to front cinema/hifi. Genius.:)
     
  5. Jeff

    Jeff
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    The DV27a analogue out is great for both 2ch and 5.1 and in many way better IMO than a Merdian 586.2 that I also own, although bass management on the DV27a has very serious issues. To make the most of the DV27a analogue outputs you do need a good quality preamp, I use an Arcam C30 fo this.
     
  6. sticker

    sticker
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    certainly for me I would use the DV27A analogues outputs for stereo but leave the digital output for movies

    John
     
  7. MarkE19

    MarkE19
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    I have my system set up the same as sticker. I use my DV29 as a CD player and found its DACs do a better job with CD than my MC8's, but the MC8's DACs/processing are better for movies.

    Mark.
     
  8. General Skanky

    General Skanky
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    Really. When I tried that, the 200 was weaker for movies when compared to the 27a. I'd expect better, but similair from the 300.
     
  9. General Skanky

    General Skanky
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    Aah, but the mc8 is a truely magnificent machine.
     
  10. MarkE19

    MarkE19
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    :D
     
  11. General Skanky

    General Skanky
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    L7. Too good for Mr. Essex. :)

    Not that I'm jealous of course.
     
  12. MarkE19

    MarkE19
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    Yeh, and your not jealous of my overdraft either :suicide:
     
  13. sticker

    sticker
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    Now Guy, you know you want to buy a very expensive pre/pro to go with you lovely speakers.....................go a buy a Lexicon MC-12B or a Theta :hiya:


    Wish Arcam could get Lex to license L7 and put it on the AV8 :devil:

    John
     
  14. tvh3ad

    tvh3ad
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    Thanks! I'll try it out both ways when the AVR300 arrives & post my results.
     
  15. General Skanky

    General Skanky
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    How long?
     
  16. tvh3ad

    tvh3ad
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    An excellent question. I took delivery of the AVR300 last Friday, but I'm still waiting for my interconnects to arrive!

    We also had a pair of sick kids, a New England blizzard, and a very important football game last night so there unfortunately wasn't much time for critical listening. That said, at first blush with only two-channel material, the AVR300 is quite good. However, I found that using the 27A analog output provided more detailed transients and a generally warmer and slightly more nuanced sound. The differences were not vast at first listen, but they were definitely audible.

    The interconnects should be arriving in the next few days; I'll post a full follow-up a bit later in the week after I've had some time for serious listening.
     
  17. tvh3ad

    tvh3ad
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    In case anybody's still interested, here are my thoughts after a few weeks of critical listening: DAC choice comes down to source material and speakers.

    - For stereo two-channel redbook or two-track dolby, the 27A DACs are a fair bit better than the ones in the AVR300 -- smoother sound, more detail, better transients. However, the 27A's bass management isn't as good as the AVR300's. (I understand that the most recent 27A software may resolve some of this, but I haven't yet received it from my dealer.) In my case, since I'm running a pair of Linn Katans and a Linn Trikan for the front/center channels I pretty much always need bass management, so I've opted to use the 27A's analog outputs but then have the AVR300 handle the bass.

    - For DVD-Audio, there's of course no option but the 27A's multichannel analog outputs.

    - For film and video material that uses dolby or dts multichannel, I think the AVR300 has the edge: its processing seems to have more punch, the delay and speaker configs allow for more fine-tuning, and in general films seem livelier.

    So...I've connected the 27A via digital coax, multichannel analog, *and* separate two-channel analog. When I want to listen to two-channel material, I switch to the AVR300's CD input and use its bass management but the 27A's DAC. When I want to listen to DVD-Audio (infrequent at the moment since I only have a handful of discs and there's not much out there to buy), I switch to the AVR300's DVD-A input and let the 27A do all the work. And finally, when I want to watch a movie or other DVD-Video material, I switch to the AVR300's DVD input and use the AVR300 for everything.

    Complicated, but it works.
     
  18. Shaka

    Shaka
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    I have a similar setup but with an additional component. I use a MF Trivista DAC for CD playback. So I have the DV27A connected to the Trivista via an optical cable, the Trivista connected, via analogue interconnects, to the CD inputs of the AVR300. Is this setup correct? My sub is connected to the AVR300 via 2 methods: an single coaxial cable and also a separate cable connected directly to the front speaker bindings. I don't seem to be having an problems with bass, but have I set it up correctly?

    Additionally, the DV27A is also connected directly to the AVR300 via a coaxial cable. This is to allow the AVR300 to process DD/DTS soundtracks for DVD movies.
    As I just got the DV27A, I don't have any DVD-A discs, nor the additional interconnects. But when I do get the interconnects, I assume I simply connect the analogue outputs of the DV27A to the multi-channel inputs of the AVR300?
     
  19. cwick

    cwick
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    Pretty much what I've found too. But ...

    ... it's that bit that bothers me. On previous receivers I've owned, this would end up using the receivers DAC (since bass management would require an A2D on the analogue input, then D2A on the way out). So I'm wondering if, as you'd hope, the AVR300 with it's stereo+sub option, gives you the best of both worlds. i.e. the stereo output is an unadulterated, unprocessed passthru of the analogue inputs, whilst the sub component is the only bit that gets processed. If not, then it's a waste of time, and you may as well just use the digital output of the 27A.

    Anyone know (or maybe I just need to :rtfm: ) ?

    Cheers, Carl.
     
  20. Shaka

    Shaka
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    now you've gone and confused me ...
     
  21. cwick

    cwick
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    Me too :)

    Just checked the manual .... seems anything other than the Stereo Direct mode (which only works for large front l/r setups ... i.e. not large+sub or sat+sub) passes thru the DSP - so if you're using the 27A's analogue output, but letting the AVR300 do bass management, then you're putting extra A2D/D2A stages inbetween. Which makes me question the wisdom of using the 27A's DAC in this configuration ... but, hey, it's whatever sounds best that matters.

    Cheers, Carl.
     
  22. tvh3ad

    tvh3ad
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    The AVR300 manual does indeed say that the analog signal is sent through the DSP for bass management (and that this can be avoided by using the "direct" button on the front of the receiver). That said, even though the AVR300's DSP is being used to reprocess, I'm still getting slightly better two-track sound via the 27A's DAC than I do via the straight digital feed.

    Maybe this will change after I get the software upgrade, but for now I can't set 27A trims properly and the bass emphasis is just all wrong. If the software upgrade solves this, I can go to DVD-A for all non-video playback...in which case, I'll have a nice pair of interconnects to sell... :rolleyes:
     
  23. Shaka

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    I always use stereo direct for CD playback. With my trivista DAC doing the d2a conversion I guess I'm using whatever setting the DV27A is set to (or does that get cancelled out when the trivista DAC takes over).
    But I'm still getting plenty of bass, I guess that comes from the sub being connected directly to the front speaker bindings on the AVR300 and it's picking up any low frequencies being sent to the speakers ??????
     
  24. tvh3ad

    tvh3ad
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    If you're doing digital output from the 27A to your trivista, then the 27A's not doing anything with the bass -- it's just being used as a transport.
     
  25. Shaka

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    Ahhh, I'll try stereo analogue outs directly to the AVR300 then and see if it sounds any better. To tell you the truth, I'm very happy with the sound I'm getting at the moment. I was just curious to know if I had it connected correctly.
    Incidently, how do you find the S/W version of the DV27A and what is the latest version?
     
  26. tvh3ad

    tvh3ad
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    I think 5.13 is the latest version. Check out this thread: http://www.avforums.com/forums/showthread.php?t=175084 There's a link in one of the posts to a dealer site that has v5.08 available for download and also a pdf that contains instructions for accessing the service menu and checking the version. (The version info is also displayed on screen when you power up, but it disappears pretty quickly.)

    HTH.
     
  27. MarkE19

    MarkE19
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    You can find out which version you have by pressing '4792' in the setup menu.

    Mark.
     
  28. General Skanky

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    Could you repeat everything after 'In case anybody is interested.....' :D :confused:
     
  29. kapikog

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    Thanks for the update to this thread. I received my DV 27+DVD-A upgrade from the Canadian distributor last Friday (sent same day service). I phoned them before they sent it out, and rhetorically requested that they ensure it is updated with the latest software. It has version 5.13.

    One thing I have noticed connecting it to my AVR 200 (soon to be 300 :laugh: ) is that it sounded much more articulate with both DVD video and CD playback through the analogue outs. The only thing that I was wondering was when you set the sat. + sub to x-over at say 60 Hz, it seems that there is a noticeable difference in sound quality when you have set the sats to small vs. large (again, with the same x-over freq. setting). I was not able to find a reason in the TM :confused:

    Furthermore, if you use this set-up for CD & DVD-A, what happens when you choose to run the signal digitally through the reciever's D2Aa for DVD video? Specifically, with the 200 at least, I don't believe that there is a x-over frequency to adjust. The sats are either large (full freq.) or small. My PMC DB1s can run lower than the default (I believe) 100 or 150 Hz x-over that the 200 uses. So I have it set up to run them in large mode, with a high cut adjusted accordingly on the sub.

    If the sub & receiver default x-over are set at a simlar level to the DV 27, than I may have problems if they are slightly diff. freq. or slopes...
     
  30. tvh3ad

    tvh3ad
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    Yes -- that's also the version I received and installed yesterday.


    We're headed off-topic here, but because the bass management is as critical for sound as the DACs and affects the way the whole thing is configured and it has me tied in knots, let's keep going...

    To address the easy item first, the AVR300 has a configurable crossover frequency that is independent from the 27A, so you should be able to configure both settings as you please.

    Moving on...this next bit is going to be long. You have been warned.

    The stereo bass management between the two components seems to differ and borderline setups like mine are difficult to configure. If you have bona fide full-range or satellite speakers, your choices are easier. However, if you have speakers like mine that benefit in stereo from full-range signal with the sub also running but do better in multichannel with full bass management, it gets tricky and as things stand you have to make compromises.

    For multichannel material, you should be able to set the speaker size to small or large. If set to small, LF info should go to the sub at the specified crossover frequency; if set to large, LF info should go to the speaker and the only LF info sent to the sub should be the dedicated LF channel. This works identically and as expected across the two components.

    For stereo material, it's supposed to be possible to send the full range signal to the fronts and also the LF material below the crossover frequency to the sub (hence the term 'Duplicate' in the 27A, or 'Large+Sub' in the AVR300). On each component, there's also an additional trim for the stereo sub that allows you to control the sub loudness separately for two-channel material if you are duplicating the LF info.

    On the 27A, if you set the speaker size to 'Small' you automatically chop the bass at the crossover frequency and redirect all LF info to the sub with no option to alter this. If on the other hand you set the speaker size to 'Large' and the stereo mode crossover to 'Duplicate', you get the full-range signal through your fronts and also LF info to the sub but *multichannel* material now won't feed the LF info to the sub.

    On the AVR300: This is a nit, but despite the manual's suggestion that it behaves otherwise, the only way to replicate the 'Duplicate' setting on the 27A is to set the speaker size to 'Small' and then set the Sub+Stereo option to 'Large+Sub'. I think it's a bug that this option only works when the speaker size is set to 'Small'. If the speaker size is set to 'Large', the sub doesn't play during stereo material after you exit the setup menu regardless of the Sub+Stereo option setting, which is not how the manual says it works.

    So...I cannot configure multichannel and stereo operation identically for both components and have them set up both with two-channel and multichannel analog interconnects simultaneously. Why? Because, as I described above, when I set the 27A speaker size to Small it always truncates the signal at the crossover and I get no bass at all through the second two-channel input; conversely, when I set the speaker size to Large and duplicate the sub signal, stereo material works correctly (albeit with the sub+stereo trimmed down 4-5db below the AVR300's default level) but I then lose the LF info sub redirection with multichannel material.

    I see no way to get around this: the 27A simply doesn't have the same bass management flexibility as the AVR300 and can't do both jobs at once. The best you can do if you want both a full-range signal plus sub info is to set the speaker size to 'Large' and the sub option to 'Duplicate' and admit that you're slightly compromising DVD-A multichannel material.

    Arcam, if you're listening and feel like updating a deprecated component, here's what would help: a software update that allows you to configure the 27A bass management similarly to the AVR300 (i.e., speakers set to Small but a subwoofer override for stereo) and also allows you to pin one of the two sets of analog front left/right outputs to a full-range (downmixed if necessary) signal and have only one set affected by multichannel bass management/pro logic/etc. (Maybe the AVR300 should be corrected as well or its manual should be edited, but I digress...)
     

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