AV Pre-Amp/Processors upgrade advice...where to now!

silverback1

Active Member
Hi,
Need any advice or recommendations for changes that I could make to my system mainly to improve the music side of things..currently running a Marantz AV7702mkII coupled to a Bryston 9BSST2,speaker setup is a full Monitor Audio GS 5.1.2,based around the GS20's for front channel use, MA CT380IDC for Atmos duties....film wise I'm reasonably happy but music is not at the same level.
Source for music is mainly Tidal plus I can use my Panasonic DMP-UB700 for cd replay.I have recently added a Roksan DAC which has helped but there is still away to go.My thoughts were maybe adding something along the lines of adding a Musicalfidelity M6/8Pre or maybe upgrade the processor to an Arcam 860....
Music at the moment sounds like it is all there but restrained or shut in,the dynamics are there but it sounds a little reserved if that makes any sense,vocals seem hard or nasal,mainly voices that seem to highlight the issues, bit like a boxer with his shoe laces tied together,he can still get the punches off but cant move around the ring fully...my take on it....
Room size is approx. 18'x12' lots of soft furnishings,so well damped...have thought of changing the speaker setup as I have heard over the years people say the MA's can be restrained or hard maybe due to metal domed tweeters,perhaps a change there would work....
Any help or advice would be appreciated especially from anyone with similar kit or had the same issues...thanks,sorry it's a bit of a read guys.....
 

JRzoid

Novice Member
I don't know id like something Nice though. I just bought some Acoustic Rack power Head..I'll try to run a few preamps through it and maybe do Metal Meltdown Occasionally lol.
 

Rambles

Distinguished Member
I would try narrowing it down a bit to see what is causing the disappointment in music. It could be the source, the DAC, the pre-amp, or the power amp. Or, it could be the room, the speakers, the speaker placement, your ears!

Have you ever heard any music on your speakers in your room that sounds to your liking?

I wonder if a new / different sub would change things for the better, connected via high level with tight integration and blending with your mains. Often getting the bass sounding nice can balance the sound so that the higher frequencies sound less harsh.

Failing all that, maybe getting some decent EQ / room correction in the mix, such as Dirac or Room Perfect would give you the control you want to change the sound more to your liking.

Just a few thoughts, good luck!
 

silverback1

Active Member
Thanks for the response Rambles,certainly lots to go at,room correction was one option I had given some thought to,Dirac or similar could be worth a try.
I guess this is half the enjoyment,sometimes the journey that can be the best part,as long as you get there in the end,thanks again.
 

mb3195

Distinguished Member
Just to let you know, I've got a home demo of the new marantz 8805, comparing it against my arcam 860 over the weekend. Will let you know my thoughts.
 

mossym

Distinguished Member
Just to let you know, I've got a home demo of the new marantz 8805, comparing it against my arcam 860 over the weekend. Will let you know my thoughts.
be interesting to see how you find that, and how much of a difference you find between audyssey and dirac
 

mb3195

Distinguished Member
be interesting to see how you find that, and how much of a difference you find between audyssey and dirac
I came from a denon 7200, so have an idea what audyssey will do, but since moving away from audyssey I’ve installed a couple of huge bass traps, replaced all my speakers and subwoofers.

My room is heavily treated and an ideal shape (rectangle, no windows), so my room EQ isn’t having to do a huge amount. Although funnily enough, I do have a small issue with Dirac that I’m hoping I won’t have with audyssey, i’ll Explain that at a later date.

Will make sure I update my findings, also got another set of well trained ears coming over tomorrow to give me their thoughts.
 

silverback1

Active Member
Will be very interested to hear how that turns out...I started down the av route with an Arcam Xeta 1 many moons ago but reliability meant it had to go,then over the years I heard Arcam had issues with their range of avr's so never went back....now with a 5 yr warranty things may be different,the sound quality was always very good,if a little light on features,plus Dirac seems to have helped considerably to room correction issues.
 

steelman1991

Well-known Member
I came from a denon 7200, so have an idea what audyssey will do, but since moving away from audyssey I’ve installed a couple of huge bass traps, replaced all my speakers and subwoofers.

My room is heavily treated and an ideal shape (rectangle, no windows), so my room EQ isn’t having to do a huge amount. Although funnily enough, I do have a small issue with Dirac that I’m hoping I won’t have with audyssey, i’ll Explain that at a later date.

Will make sure I update my findings, also got another set of well trained ears coming over tomorrow to give me their thoughts.
Looking forward to your thoughts. Are the new speakers/subs in your signature or are they different.
 

mb3195

Distinguished Member
Looking forward to your thoughts. Are the new speakers/subs in your signature or are they different.
Yeah they are, the last time I had audyssey I had XTZ cinema speakers with 2 x monolith subs. The arendals are on a different level.
 

steelman1991

Well-known Member
Yeah they are, the last time I had audyssey I had XTZ cinema speakers with 2 x monolith subs. The arendals are on a different level.
Nice - 2 Sub3's hope you've got the seating well secured. How do you find the Sub3's in comparison to the Monoliths?
 

mb3195

Distinguished Member
Nice - 2 Sub3's hope you've got the seating well secured. How do you find the Sub3's in comparison to the Monoliths?
Much more accurate. The monoliths were awesome at shaking the room, but the sub3s have a much quicker response time so can keep up with the soundtrack much better. I run them sealed which helps also.

The best thing I can say about them is that I don’t even notice they are in the room, bass is completely effortless.

Marantz has turned up, just unboxed it, build quality is on another level to every mother amp/processor I have had, its build like a tank. If it sounds as good as it looks it’s a definite keeper!!
 

steelman1991

Well-known Member
Much more accurate. The monoliths were awesome at shaking the room, but the sub3s have a much quicker response time so can keep up with the soundtrack much better. I run them sealed which helps also.

The best thing I can say about them is that I don’t even notice they are in the room, bass is completely effortless.

Marantz has turned up, just unboxed it, build quality is on another level to every mother amp/processor I have had, its build like a tank. If it sounds as good as it looks it’s a definite keeper!!
Heard it's predecessor - the 8802 in a JBL Synthesis system with a pair of Seaton Subs and it sounded spectacular. The clarity and dynamism of that set-up was a joy to behold. Enjoy your new toy.
 

mb3195

Distinguished Member
Heard it's predecessor - the 8802 in a JBL Synthesis system with a pair of Seaton Subs and it sounded spectacular. The clarity and dynamism of that set-up was a joy to behold. Enjoy your new toy.
Well it’s very early days, but so far I’m mega impressed!! Already prefer it to the Arcam. Seems more dynamic and more lively. Bass feels superb!!

Again, early days, but got a feeling this will be a keeper!!

Oh....it also matches my emotiva power amp perfectly....black with blue lights!! :cool:
 

steelman1991

Well-known Member
Well it’s very early days, but so far I’m mega impressed!! Already prefer it to the Arcam. Seems more dynamic and more lively. Bass feels superb!!

Again, early days, but got a feeling this will be a keeper!!

Oh....it also matches my emotiva power amp perfectly....black with blue lights!! :cool:
LOL thought it might be an aesthetic match for your amp. Have you done any EQ, or are you running straight out the box. When I heard the 8802 no Audyssey had been run - user didn't like it and I have to agree - in his space - I don't think it needed it.

If you have Saban's Power Rangers Bluray - give it a whirl - forget the crappy storyline and wooden acting, but sit back and lose yourself in one of the best audio mixes yet in Atmos. I'm sure the Sound Engineer used to post on AVForums, though can't remember his username. The mix is awesome.
 

mb3195

Distinguished Member
LOL thought it might be an aesthetic match for your amp. Have you done any EQ, or are you running straight out the box. When I heard the 8802 no Audyssey had been run - user didn't like it and I have to agree - in his space - I don't think it needed it.

If you have Saban's Power Rangers Bluray - give it a whirl - forget the crappy storyline and wooden acting, but sit back and lose yourself in one of the best audio mixes yet in Atmos. I'm sure the Sound Engineer used to post on AVForums, though can't remember his username. The mix is awesome.
Yeah, running audyssey, have downloaded the app but not used it yet. To be honest, it sounds awesome, so really can’t complain, better than Dirac with the Arcam anyway.

I’ve not got power rangers, but I do have quite a few demo worthy sound tracks to test out.
 

DodgeTheViper

Moderator
Yeah, running audyssey, have downloaded the app but not used it yet. To be honest, it sounds awesome, so really can’t complain, better than Dirac with the Arcam anyway.

I’ve not got power rangers, but I do have quite a few demo worthy sound tracks to test out.
A lot of people find it easy to shout about Dirac but I don’t believe they know why. Maybe it’s because others do, but then they don’t know why either. A while back I asked how owners could describe the sound of Arcam with Dirac and not one person answered that question. That kind of said part of it for me.
 

Rambles

Distinguished Member
I'll have a go at comparing Arcam with Dirac to D&M with Audyssey.

The D&M sound, to me, was quite bombastic, warm and quite bass heavy. Very good, nothing to complain about for films and TV. It also had lots of nice features that the Arcam doesn't have, such as increasing the level of the centre speaker on the fly, e.g. for a poorly mixed soundtrack, without having to change the global setting and then change it back afterwards.

I didn't enjoy using my Denon or Marantz AVRs for music, I found the detail lacking, poor separation of voices and instruments, the music just didn't grab me.

I do have some problematic nulls on my centre speaker, and Audyssey never resolved those to my satisfaction, it always sounded a bit digitised and unnatural to me.

Arcam is a different sound, less bass heavy, more detailed, and subtle / refined. Surround effects makes the action appear to be in the room and not necessarily coming from a place where there is a speaker. Music side is excellent, although I found the on board DAC too bright, and a bit harsh, but with an external DAC and the Arcam AVR in stereo direct mode, it sounds lush.

Dirac is strangely good at steering the audio to a specific place. It makes the dialogue jump right to the centre of the TV screen. It also doesn't seem to leave any digital artefacts when sorting out my centre speaker. I use it sparingly though, not on all the speakers, not full frequency range, and not for music. Because I like how my speakers with the Arcam sound naturally, so I just use it to sort out any problem areas.

The Arcam is not without its weaknesses though, a global crossover for all the base layer speakers is far from ideal. Very inflexible amp assign options. And Dirac does not properly support multiple subs, although a new module for that might be coming. Oh, and taking 11 measurements at 17 mic positions takes ages!
 
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silverback1

Active Member
Sounds good so far...can I ask what the app will give you,is it just a visual of the graphs from Audessy or can you make any physical changes.
 

mb3195

Distinguished Member
Sounds good so far...can I ask what the app will give you,is it just a visual of the graphs from Audessy or can you make any physical changes.
You can make changes, similar to Dirac but not as advanced I don’t think. Running some measurements now so should be able to feedback shortly.
 

Rambles

Distinguished Member
The Audyssey app allows you to pull the right hand curtain across aka Schroeder frequency, or pull it all the way across to remove Audyssey completely from some speakers. Also allows custom curves.
 

felty99

Active Member
I'll have a go at comparing Arcam with Dirac to D&M with Audyssey.

The D&M sound, to me, was quite bombastic, warm and quite bass heavy. Very good, nothing to complain about for films and TV. It also had lots of nice features that the Arcam doesn't have, such as increasing the level of the centre speaker on the fly, e.g. for a poorly mixed soundtrack, without having to change the global setting and then change it back afterwards.

I didn't enjoy using my Denon or Marantz AVRs for music, I found the detail lacking, poor separation of voices and instruments, the music just didn't grab me.

I do have some problematic nulls on my centre speaker, and Audyssey never resolved those to my satisfaction, it always sounded a bit digitised and unnatural to me.

Arcam is a different sound, less bass heavy, more detailed, and subtle / refined. Surround effects makes the action appear to be in the room and not necessarily coming from a place where there is a speaker. Music side is excellent, although I found the on board DAC too bright, and a bit harsh, but with an external DAC and the Arcam AVR in stereo direct mode, it sounds lush.

Dirac is strangely good at steering the audio to a specific place. It makes the dialogue jump right to the centre of the TV screen. It also doesn't seem to leave any digital artefacts when sorting out my centre speaker. I use it sparingly though, not on all the speakers, not full frequency range, and not for music. Because I like how my speakers with the Arcam sound naturally, so I just use it to sort out any problem areas.

The Arcam is not without its weaknesses though, a global crossover for all the base layer speakers is far from ideal. Very inflexible amp assign options. And Dirac does not properly support multiple subs, although a new module for that might be coming. Oh, and taking 11 measurements at 17 mic positions takes ages!
I was about to reply but @Rambles has beaten me to it. I'd agree with his summary. I had the AV8802 and it was a very good all-rounder, rock solid operationally with a weighty sound. It reminded me of an old Cambridge Audio blu-ray player, the 751BD. It was only when I tried a Classe Sigma SSP which revealed how the dynamics and sheer musicality was quite subdued. And that was with Audyssey turned off. It's still my least favourite EQ after hearing it on the latest Denon receivers a few months ago. I've not heard the AV8805 but based on feedback from people I trust, believe Marantz have made significant improvements.

I also run a separate Naim streamer/DAC into an AV860, which sounds really good showing how clean the pre-amp stage is. I'm not sure it's quite as good as the Classe was, but is close enough whilst giving me the ability to add Atmos. I'll probably investigate the new Classe processor which is supposedly in development by Sound United in Japan if/when it ever gets released.

Interestingly, despite how well Dirac deals with room issues for films, it's still second best for pure 2-channel music and enjoyment to my ears. YMMV etc.

In terms of the OP's question, it's difficult to advise other than try out other speakers, subs, processors and sources. A better stereo source or integrated amp (pre-amp) is a good starting point for music. The Bryston power amp is a good choice and will be hard to improve on without spending a fortune. Of course, a better processor will upgrade ALL your sources.
 

IWC Dopplel

Well-known Member
How are you getting with the Arcam, Marantz comparison?
 

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