Question AV receiver vs network streamers

al2813

Active Member
Yet another post in a series I posted here to try and understand how to evolve change the setup I purchased 6 weeks ago.
I have been struggling a lot with quality of music of my setup (Yamaha RX-v781 + 2 Q Acoustics 3050 speakers). I am now determined to get a proper stereo amp since I realized music quality is the top priority and multi channel AV is not (happy to watch movies on a 2.0 setup).

The question I am asking myself is should I ditch my Yamaha altogether or still keep it. Two items remain to cover:
- Quality playback of streaming music. Currently i play:
1. Hi res music of my NAS (96/24 and 192/24 - don't have that many at this stage, but planning to buy some more)
2. Tidal HIFI subscription
- Handing 3 video sources

On the streaming part, will I gain a big improvement from getting a dedicated streamer instead of just using the Yamaha (which I will pre out to the Stereo AMP)? How much will I need to spend to get such an improvement?
 

xmb

Well-known Member
Why are you assuming the Yamaha is letting your sound down and not your speakers? Normally I would expect the speakers to be at least twice the cost of the amplifier but in your case it is one for one.

Did you audition your choices before purchase?
 

al2813

Active Member
No I did not hear them since i sourced them separately. Having said that, the 2:1 ratio applies to my very ignorant opinion to Stereo amps where the cost of the amp is a function of the underlying HW. The AV Amps reflect beyond the cost of the HW, the associated licenses etc. The speakers are not exactly the cheapest in town and have excellent reviews.
 

drdocmatt

Active Member
The 2:1 ratio is nonsense, frankly. That said, speakers make the absolute most difference to the way a system sounds, but spending more doesn't automatically mean you *like* it more.

So, perhaps you should start by explaining what it is you don't like about the sounds you're hearing and what you've tried to test things out.

Suggestions from me would be to move your speakers around the room a bit for a start, look at having them less toed in, or more toed in, and nearer or further from the edges / corners of the rooms.

Six weeks isn't long to get used to the character of a sound system either, so I suggest you stick some background music on for a good while and just be around it for a bit, not listening at all. Avoid sitting in the sweet spot, avoid leaning in, perhaps stand or wander around the room, have a bit of a party. In another week of incidental listening then start doing more intense listening. Most importantly don't start off too loud. Get to about 70-80db in the peaks and no more or you'll just be listening to a stressed amp.

Guaranteed if you go through an easy break-in of your ears you'll hate it less.. ;)
 

drdocmatt

Active Member
I do think that amplifiers (and, yes, DACs) can make a very subtle difference that can be the finishing touch to get the sound that you want, but definitely, definitely start with the speakers.
 

ashenfie

Well-known Member
Agree always start with the speakers and then match the amp to the speakers. DAC change will be subtle as suggested above
 

al2813

Active Member
Many thanks for the advice! I agree the DAC change is subtle, but I believe that getting a proper stereo Amp (and needs to be a one that can do home theatre bypass) is not. Once I get the new Amp (looking for a second hand Arcam A18 or an Atoll), I can move the speakers around and see if I need to address them
 

drdocmatt

Active Member
Well, you've not even said what's wrong with the sound, but I would imagine the AV amp has the following features that would allow you to radically change it:

1) room correction via audyssey or equivalent
2) comprehensive eq options
3) processing bypass options

AV amps tend to go for full, smooth sounding output, which may well not be to taste for pure music playback, depending on your taste in music.

Yamaha are also known for producing some of the most musically engaging AV gear around. So, what is it you don't like, and what have you listened to that you did like?

On a scale of 1 to 10, I would say changing DAC is 0.5, changing power amp is 1, and changing speakers is 10. I'd say even moving speakers or sitting one foot further forward is about a 3. And this is a logarithmic scale.. :)
 

al2813

Active Member
a lot of people are insisting it's not the amp. To clarify things:
- I used audyssey to setup
- did not use the eq - only the preset DSP options - will check this
- the sound is not full - in fact that's my main problem. the sound is very flat and kind of almost metallic. Yet when the same speaker played using a different amp (a quality stereo amp in both cases) they sounded SO different and so nice. So what was the difference:
- It was a different location (indeed this is a risk - so will have to play with placement or even "take the hit")
- It was a different amp
- It was a different DAC/streamer (in both cases a Bluesound Node 2)
- It was a different cable

The first item I cannot change. I will try to work around them. All 3 other items, I can. The cables are not too expensive so will take my chance and replace. The DAC, I will not change, since I don't believe the difference is that big (at least this was the question I asked in the begining of this post and no one answered positively). The Amp I will change (or rather add) for the simple reason, that I DO believe it makes a difference. No one will convince me that a an AV has the same quality of components as a good stereo amp costing the same amount of money.
 

drdocmatt

Active Member
Turn off the audyssey, set the front channels to bypass processing. Audyssey can go wrong. Then, you will know what the amp sounds like.

So, before you get the wrong idea, I actually have a marantz av amp that has front pre-outs to my Naim integrated (in AV bypass mode). For music I have a third party DAC feeding the Naim. But, I am quite happy that the difference between playback of content on the Marantz (with audyssey eq bypassed) from my dlna server sounds 99% the same as through the dedicated music setup. That last 1% is worth it for me, but it's nowhere near night and day.
 
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al2813

Active Member
I am reposting here to provide feedback on my new setup. My Yamaha is now in repair due to an airplay issue (it kept losing the airplay connection forcing me to "cold reboot" it).

Today I took my speakers to the guy who sold them to me. He has now a little shop where he sells 2nd hand quality hifi gear. I listened to my speakers connected to an Arcam A28 and a Bluesound Node 2 using my cables. The speakers sang again reminding me why I bought them in the first place.

I listened to 2 other speaker sets he had on sale (B&W CM5 and Dyna Audio - did not see the exact model). I ended up keeping my Q Acoustics. I also kept my cables since connecting a much more expensive set did not make much of a difference (although it did improve the sound by a bit).

I picked up the Arcam and on the way home I picked up the Bluesound (he did not have one for sale). So now in my place in the same placement, the speakers still sing. I found my happiness.

My conclusion is that unless there was a real fault in the Yamaha, there's no comparison to have. A decent Stereo amp with a decent streamer and DAC play stereo music much better than an AV amp. I suspect that I will get similar results only with a 3k Arcam AV.
 

drdocmatt

Active Member
Glad you're happy with it but unless you've actually tried hard enough to get the sound you want out of the Yamaha and failed it's hardly a fair comparison, so what did you try on the AV amp side?

Not that I'd claim you'd ever be 100% happy with it, but it really should not be night and day.
 

al2813

Active Member
Honestly I don
Glad you're happy with it but unless you've actually tried hard enough to get the sound you want out of the Yamaha and failed it's hardly a fair comparison, so what did you try on the AV amp side?

Not that I'd claim you'd ever be 100% happy with it, but it really should not be night and day.
Honestly I don't know if I tried all I could. I did try both manual and preset setups on the Yamaha, and as I said maybe the fault I experienced with the Airplay functionality is a symptom to a bigger issue. All I know is that out of the box in 5 minutes the Bluesound and the Arcam gave me sound quality I did not get from the Yamaha. Since multi channel sound is not a high priority for me right now, I will sell the Yamaha once it gets back from repair. I have what I need now.
 

SoundVision

Well-known Member
Hi al2813, I was like you did not enjoy streaming music through my Receiver, over Network. Changed speakers a few times but still was Not Happy, so sold my Receiver. Decided to buy a Cambridge Strereo Amp with built in DAC and a Cambridge Network Music Player and now I can't stop listening to my music collection I sit there, while away the hours hearing so much more detail and heart and soul put into the sound of the music. Could not be happier.
I also enjoy the sound of my mkv movies down mixed to 2ch from my mede8er player over optical cable into the stereo amp, Its never out of sync and sounds Great
 
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