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A1SE upgrade. My thoughts

Discussion in 'AV Receivers & Amplifiers' started by Jules, Jun 22, 2002.

  1. Jules

    Jules
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    I've very recently had my Denon AVC A1SE upgraded, and in a previous thread on this forum I said would post some information on what I thought of it.
    These are only my opinions, but I'd be interested to hear what other people think.

    Well first of all, I should tell you that I've owned all of Denons flagship integrated amps (AVC-A1, AVC-A1D, AVC-A1SE and now the upgrade), so I've become familiar with their typical strengths and weaknesses.
    For what its worth I loved the A1 but wasn't quite as keen on A1D.
    The A1SE was simply brilliant.

    The one problem I noticed with all of them was that in direct or pure direct modes, the subwoofer ouput seemed to reverse phase when switching between analogue and digital sources. Nobody else appears to have noticed, but its definitely true.
    For me, the most pleasing thing so far with the upgrade is that this has finally been corrected.
    I don't need to get up and reverse the subwoofer phase switch when I listen to records or FM radio - hurray!

    In stereo, direct and pure direct modes, the new DAC's give a more 'sparkly', detailed sound but retain a very similar tonal character. For me that's a relief, because I liked the original sound and hoped it wouldn't change. After 48 hours running in, its fantastic.
    You can also drop the volume to -70db instead of -60db, so late night listening can be less intrusive.
    The personal memory now also remembers when you last used pure direct with a particular source.

    Pro Logic II is excellent too. However, I'm convinced the DTS neo decoder with the upgrade has been improved, and its a close contest between the two. In the cinema modes pro logic 2 is definitely more stable, but I find myself occasionally prefering DTS Neo in the music modes (DTS Neo6:music now includes a centre channel balance control).
    In my opinion the upgrade pays dividends in both formats, not just DPL II.
    Also being able to add THX processing to both formats, and use them for Dolby Digital
    2 channel sources is an addition desperately lacking before. Fantastic!

    THX Ultra2 cinema is very impressive too, it gives 5.1 DD and DTS sources a bigger rear soundfield. 5.1 EX and 6.1 are better with ordinary THX processing - though I guess that's the point.
    However, as before if the soundtrack doesn't need EQ trimming on the front channels then you're better off without it since its all or nothing. I wish Denon would give us the option to turn off the EQ circuitry independantly. Maybe with the next upgrade?
    Having the option to add ordinary THX post processing to DTS 6.1 discrete is nice though.

    THX Ultra2 music I've not tried that much yet. I don't know why. In fact I don't really know what it does!

    On the ordinary DD & DTS side of things, its more good news. But for me its delicate soundtracks that benefit more, not the action blockbusters. Extra sparkle..

    I can't vouch for DTS 24/96 'cos I havn't got any discs with it on. Anybody know of any DVD's with a DTS 24/96 soundstrack? I think I've read somewhere that TombRaider has a 24/96 soundtrack.... but not on the versions I've seen.

    There is one area of diappointment though... Dolby Headphone! It sounds like your listening in the toilet or something! Also the manual does not explain the different options at all.
    I bought some new headphones to try it on, I wish I'd not bothered! Does it make a difference if they're open or closed back designs?


    Overall, is it worth £600 to get your amp upgraded?
    I was worried at first, but yes! yes! Yes! Everything from 2ch to 7ch is noticeably better.
    I've not seen an A1SR advertised anywhere for less than £2400, which makes the upgrade economic sense.
    I think Denon have taken the opportunity to include a few 'bug fixes' along the way, which added to the improved sonics and software compatibilty make it stunning.

    Go for it!

    Regards
    Jules
     
  2. patmyhead

    patmyhead
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    Hi
    I payed £2100 delivered for my amp
    the best price i could get in uk but is on sale in germany for less
    P@
     
  3. P Adams

    P Adams
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    Hello Jules and P@

    I am considering both the Denon AVC A1SE and the A1SR and even the Pioneer VSA-AX10 as my next upgrade from a Yamaha 2070!

    Your explanation of the benefits of the 1SE upgrades sounds great, perhaps I should I go down this route.

    By the way P@ where did you purchase your 1SR if you don't mind me asking and what was the timescale on delivery?

    I am still a little confused on what to go for as this will be my last amp for a while, or so my wife says!:eek:

    Paul
     
  4. dAvE6

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    Why were you not so keen on the A1D, Jules??
     
  5. Sweep

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    Hi Jules,

    Great review of the AVCA1SE upgrade, mine is still at Denon going through the upgrade.

    Home Theater review of Dolby Headphone mode says that this will only work on Open back headphones, it didn`t say why.
     
  6. fatrich

    fatrich
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    hi guys
    my a1se has just been dropped off at sevenoaks ,Leeds and put to bed in its little flight case, from experiences of u guys from the flight case being picked up to returning it to the dealer how long did u have to wait?

    cheers

    #richard
     
  7. patmyhead

    patmyhead
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    Hi i got my amp from discounttv.co.uk
    it took about 3weeks as there was a shortage at the time
    I had good service from discount tv
    this is some amp blows my yam 3070 away both on sound & video up converts s video & compositve to component which gives spot on pics on the PJ
    P@:)
     
  8. Jules

    Jules
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    Hi guys,

    I was very lucky with the upgrade process.
    My amp was dropped of at the dealers on Monday morning (10am) and returned for me to collect on Thursday of the same week.
    Others have had problems which you can read on other posts on this forum.

    dAvE6, the reasons I was not so keen on the A1D were probably more personal taste. The original A1 had a lovely musical quality to it. I felt the A1D was too bright and got hot quite quickly.
    I know it sounds silly, but it was also a tad lighter too (and £500 cheaper) which made me wonder if some lower grade components were chucked in it. I didn't think the DAC's were any better than the A1 either.
    The A1SE is an altogether much superior beast.

    Incidentally I've just discovered what THX Ultra2 music mode does and it's more good news. It applies THX processing similar to THX Ultra2 cinema mode (in a 7.1 ch system), but WITHOUT the cinema EQ trimming.
    I've watched a few films with a delicate musical soundtrack and the results are marvelous. No more muffled sound on soundtracks that don't need all of THX's processing tricks.

    I've also now tried Dolby headphone with both open and closed back headphones. The result... still pants! Not impressed at all!

    Cheers
    Jules
     
  9. dAvE6

    dAvE6
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    Well, i'm going from a Sony DB1070 to a Denon A1D. Will it still give a considerable leap in sound quality dispite not being as big of a leap as a A1SE would be?
     

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