AV Receivers Compared To Stereo Amp For Music

wicker_man

Active Member
I know that at a given price level, a stereo amplifier will perform better than an AV receiver at the same price, but what sort of difference is there in performance?

For example, the Cambridge Audio 340R/540R are supposed to have very good music performance for £200, but what sort of stereo amp would it perform similarly to?

How about:

AV receivers such as Yamaha RXV363, Pioneer VSX917V, Onkyo TXSR505, Denon AVR1907/1508 or Sony STRDG510

Or Stereo amps such as Marantz PM4001, Cambridge Audio 340A, NAD C315BEE, or Denon PMA-500AE?

Thanks in advance for any responses, at the moment I am just researching on what direction I could go to upgrade from my Panasonic mini system for music, TV, films and gaming (roughly split about 50/20/20/10).
 

Neil Hawkes

Active Member
I know that at a given price level, a stereo amplifier will perform better than an AV receiver at the same price, but what sort of difference is there in performance?

For example, the Cambridge Audio 340R/540R are supposed to have very good music performance for £200, but what sort of stereo amp would it perform similarly to?

How about:

AV receivers such as Yamaha RXV363, Pioneer VSX917V, Onkyo TXSR505, Denon AVR1907/1508 or Sony STRDG510

Or Stereo amps such as Marantz PM4001, Cambridge Audio 340A, NAD C315BEE, or Denon PMA-500AE?

Thanks in advance for any responses, at the moment I am just researching on what direction I could go to upgrade from my Panasonic mini system for music, TV, films and gaming (roughly split about 50/20/20/10).

Have a look at the comments on Arcam kit, I've just been swayed towards them myself.

Cheers,
Neil.:thumbsup:
 

franglais

Standard Member
I recently returned a Sony hdd890 I had bought on Pixmania, 'cause I was throughly disappointed in its music playing abilities. I then went to a shop here in Paris, and listened to the Yamaha 463 (AV) and a Nad (stereo amp) Forgot which Nad it was, but they were both in the 400 euro field. Apart from more "punch" coming from the Nad, they both sounded great. In terms of crispness, fidelity and all that, there was very little difference. As soon as I succeed in lobbying my wife that we need a new stereo, I'm going for the Yamaha.
 

wicker_man

Active Member
Thanks for the responses so far.

Try comparing an AV amp to sometime around 1/4 or 1/3 its budget in stereo amp.
Cheers

I didn't know there was that much of a difference! What about older/second hand mid range receivers, or THX rated ones?

Have a look at the comments on Arcam kit, I've just been swayed towards them myself.

Cheers,
Neil.:thumbsup:

Thanks, I'll consider Arcam when I start looking for an amp/receiver.

I then went to a shop here in Paris, and listened to the Yamaha 463 (AV) and a Nad (stereo amp)...they both sounded great. In terms of crispness, fidelity and all that, there was very little difference. As soon as I succeed in lobbying my wife that we need a new stereo, I'm going for the Yamaha.

Thanks, I'll consider looking at Yamaha receivers too.
 

petetherock

Well-known Member
AV amps are crammed full of components. Not that much is devoted to stereo performance. From my own observations, owners of new AV amps and magazines pile on too much praise into their AV amps.

I would only consider my 3k plus SR 12 to be inferior to a AVI or Roksan pre-power combo or a 1k plus Audiolab based setup
 

reevesy

Distinguished Member
av amp for av duties....stereo amp via the receivers pre outs for stereo..two components i know but music and movie soundtracks will sound miles better and it'll be a lot cheaper in the long run/
 

wicker_man

Active Member
I should have mentioned, this will be just for a bedroom setup, I plan on buying a 24" LCD as a monitor for my MacBook Pro, to which I will be connecting a freeview box and PS2.

I am thinking of maybe £150-200 for some kind of amplifier (being a student at uni, I can't really afford to spend loads on high end audio, but I do want something decent). Obviously I need to decide on 5.1 vs stereo (or 2.1) before considering speakers.

How much do you need to spend to find an AV receiver with pre outs?

I could start with a low end stereo amp (such as Marantz PM4001, £100) and then save up for a low end receiver with pre-outs at a later date.
 

petetherock

Well-known Member
For 200, I would look around for a NAD 320 BEE and stick to stereo, even for movies - it isn't that bad really. Richer Sounds and 2nd hand websites can help.q
 

Mark.Yudkin

Distinguished Member
I am thinking of maybe £150-200 for some kind of amplifier (being a student at uni, I can't really afford to spend loads on high end audio, but I do want something decent). Obviously I need to decide on 5.1 vs stereo (or 2.1) before considering speakers.
At that budget level, stick to stereo.
 

wicker_man

Active Member
So it's best to go for a stereo amp in my budget.

I'll try and make a visit to Richer Sounds when I go back home for summer (currently at Uni), and see if I can listen to some AV receivers and stereo amps to see the difference.

I listen to mainly metal (heavy, power, death, black, folk and thrash) and hard rock, so I'll take my iPod with some lossless albums on to try.

Am I correct in thinking that you can connect a subwoofer to a stereo amplifier?
 

Mark.Yudkin

Distinguished Member
Am I correct in thinking that you can connect a subwoofer to a stereo amplifier?
Yes and no. The choices are:
1) If the stereo amp has both pre-out and pre-in and the subwoofer supports this mode. Many subs do, but amps at your price range tend not to.
2) If the subwoofer supports speaker level inputs. Subs made for music do, but many subs nowadays are aimed at the A/V market and don't.

I suggest you make sure your sub is designed to accept speaker level inputs. Your dealer will be able to help you get it all working.
 

Arfa

Active Member
Yep agreed, within your budget, stick to stereo. Definitely if its going to be setup in a small Uni room, you just won't have the space for half dozen speakers and adequate separation.

For £200, you should just be able to pickup a second hand Nad C370, which is about as good as Nad do, before you hit their really high end Silverline stuff. Its a big solid amp, buckets of power, loads up versatility (pre-in, pre-outs with gain, two tape loops, loads of inputs). Its good, clean, a works great with rock/metal/industrial (my fav genres).
 

wicker_man

Active Member
So I should be able to get a pretty decent stereo amp for £200.

I will be moving into a shared house in September and my room is a reasonable size (I'm hoping to get a drum kit in there too!). The speakers will be on my desk (I will need to buy some kind of small stands to raise to ear levels, currently I'm using small cardboard boxes!).

Speaker wise, I was originally thinking of getting something like a pair of Q Acoustics 1020 bookshelf Speakers and 1000S Subwoofer for £200 to start me off (I like to hear thundering kick drums in metal!). Then at a later date I could get a center speaker and then some rears for 5.1.

If I go for just two bookshelf speakers, then I'd need something that has good bass.
Wharfedale Diamond 9.1/9.2 look quite nice, the spec says they go down to 50Hz/45Hz (I have no idea how low this is). Or, second hand there's the B&W DM602s which apparently have good bass, but some people say the metal dome tweeter makes them sound harsh (or would this be good for crashing cybmals?)
 

Arfa

Active Member
For £200, you've got a lot of choice in the second hand market. An Exposure Super XX recently went for £240 on ebay - cracking amp that really rocks. Would be great for heavy metal. But keep an eye out for the X and XV too, all good. Or for some old school action, maybe try to grab an old Naim Nait 1 or 2. However neither had many watts, so efficient speakers would be needed.

As for some good standmount speakers with plenty of grunt, the Dynaudio range have always been well regarded in this respect. Look out for a pair or 52SE's. They were near a grand a couple of years back, but should fetch just £400-500 second hand. Need a bit of grunt though, any small speaker will need reasonably grunt to get loud and down low. For super low end bass, you will need to consider floor standing speakers or try to integrate in a sub. Not easy to get right and often results in a bass peak where the sub and stand mounts are stepping on each other toes. Not to say you shouldn't try it, just be prepared for some fiddling to get an even sound all the way down.
 

number1jon

Active Member
Try comparing an AV amp to sometime around 1/4 or 1/3 its budget in stereo amp.
Cheers

I'd say that was a pretty accurate assessment. A few years ago I found my £1100 arcam a32 stereo amp sounded way better than my £3000 pioneer ax10ai surround amp, way better
 

wicker_man

Active Member
Thanks for all of the helpful responses.

I will spend some time researching possible amps and speakers and see what kind of summer job I get, and post again once I have determined budgets on my final choices (and have some money coming in!).
 

Shared

Well-known Member
av amp for av duties....stereo amp via the receivers pre outs for stereo..two components i know but music and movie soundtracks will sound miles better and it'll be a lot cheaper in the long run/


First of all, apologies to the OP for jumping into his thread, I came upon this whilst just browsing, but reevesy has got me thinking, I have a Denon 1906, and whilst it's pretty good for AV duties, it's certainly missing something musically.

I had used an old but really nice sounding Nad 3020, which I have had set up with just my Marantz cd5000 connected to it, but had always had to use seperate speaker cables to run to my MA BR2's, changing the speaker cables over always seemed like to much trouble considering I dont often have the time for "serious" musical listening.

It never occured to me that I could use the Pre Outs on my denon :suicide:, but how would I connect it all up (assuming that I can) ?

I'll have to dig the manual out for the Denon, but if memory serves me, it wasn't exactly written in "plain English".

Does anyone run anything similar ? and would anyone be so kind as to give me a few pointers ?.

Cheers. :)
 

Arfa

Active Member
It never occured to me that I could use the Pre Outs on my denon :suicide:, but how would I connect it all up (assuming that I can) ?

I'll have to dig the manual out for the Denon, but if memory serves me, it wasn't exactly written in "plain English".

Does anyone run anything similar ? and would anyone be so kind as to give me a few pointers ?.

Yep, pretty straight forward. Just follow these steps:
1. Take the front pre-outs from the Denon, to one of the line level inputs on the Nad (i.e. any other than the phono one).
2. Select that input on the Nad, crank its volume to 12 O'Clock (or somewhere fairly high and equally memorable).
3. On the Denon, tweak the setup so that the volume of the fronts matches the rest of the channels. Use your favourite test tone and either tweak by ear or get a sound meter. If your Denon has an auto setup with mic. even better just run through it.
4. Play some stuff and rock out!

Caveats: Just remember to turn the Nad back down before changing to another source like your CD player! Each time you want to use the Denon, just select the right source on the Nad and crank the volume back to 12 O'Clock (or where you memorised).

You're basically using the Nad as a power amp, cranking its volume high just minimises any attenuation so the Denon can reach whatever volume it needs to. My Nad has a pre-in, for bypassing the pre-stage in it. You could hook an av amp straight to this, skipping the phaff with the volume, but then you can't use any other inputs on the Nad. Some amps also have a special input, that skips the volume control specifically for this kind of setup.

Eitherway you should see improvement, either from a different sound presentation, or just by giving the Denon some slack, leaving more power to the other channels and the Nad providing its own independent power supply for the fronts.
 

Shared

Well-known Member
Lol, I'm considering putting your name forward to Denon, you could write their manuals for them :D

Cheers Arfa, that's given me something to play with over the weekend, many thanks, not only for taking the time, but for making it easily understandable too :thumbsup:
 

tonyl59

Active Member
I totally agree with this approach. It's only the latest technology in AV receivers that keeps us buying them. Sometimes I think it might even be worth buying an old top level AV receiver just for its power amps, and coupling it with a well-specced low-end modern receiver (with pre-outs) and use this as an AV pre-amp. That way it'll be cheaper in the long-run to keep up with the latest developments! Let's face it, every time you think "that's it, there won't be anything else now", there always is!

I use an Audiolab 8000S (old one) stereo amp as it has a setting for use as a power amp, and it works really well. My CD player is connected directly to it, so it's effectively a totally independent stereo system when I want it. Now, the search for an inexpensive, multi-HDMI receiver/amp with pre-outs....
 

Shared

Well-known Member
I totally agree with this approach. It's only the latest technology in AV receivers that keeps us buying them. Sometimes I think it might even be worth buying an old top level AV receiver just for its power amps, and coupling it with a well-specced low-end modern receiver (with pre-outs) and use this as an AV pre-amp. That way it'll be cheaper in the long-run to keep up with the latest developments! Let's face it, every time you think "that's it, there won't be anything else now", there always is!

I use an Audiolab 8000S (old one) stereo amp as it has a setting for use as a power amp, and it works really well. My CD player is connected directly to it, so it's effectively a totally independent stereo system when I want it. Now, the search for an inexpensive, multi-HDMI receiver/amp with pre-outs....


It's something I'm certainly going to look into if it sounds as I expect it too when I try it, I'm not expecting miracles, but I do know that my AV Denon lacks something in straight stereo, I only bought the Nad3020 12 months ago, for about £25.00, basically just to listen to a couple of new albums I'd bought, and it was amazing after about two years with my Denon.

I might have a look at just the route you've described, I love the clean lines of Audiolab stuff, I'm actually looking forward to having a play about with things.

Agree with you about the longevity of stuff these days, it's almost like an annual ritual unless you're fortunate enough to be able to afford real high end stuff.
 

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