AVR & Integrated Amp Setup Question(s)

Smithg97

Novice Member
I'm looking for some guidance on some upgrades that I'm considering. I'm looking to upgrade my AVR from Pioneer VSX-933 to Denon AVC-X3700H and also toying with the idea of adding an integrated amp to the setup (most likely the Audiolab 6000A).

My questions are;
1) Would there be any notable improvement in the sound quality of the front speakers (Klipsch RP-6000F) when watching movies (e.g. when the AVR is handling pre-amp function) by adding the integrated amp?

2) Assuming I do combine the AVR with the integrated amp, when I'm using the system in stereo mode for music listening, given that fact that the source of the music (WAV & FLAC files mostly) is an external HDD connected to my TV which I access through the TV's built-in music app, with the TV being connected to the AVR via HDMI and the AVR would be connected to the integrated amp via the pre-outs, would this setup A) be possible, and if so B) would the AVR need to be powered on or would I simply be able to enable some passthrough while in standby mode option in the AVR's operating system?

Appreciate any feedback from the community 😀
 

gibbsy

Moderator
Welcome to the Forum.

I run a Denon AV amp alongside a Rega Elicit-R. In answer to your questions.......

1. No. The influence is still the pre-amp and processing of the Denon. You will have a little more headroom in active scenes where all speakers are being used but the high sensitivity of the Klipschs makes them an easy drive for the Denon alone.

2. Unless you are prepared to use all music sources direct into the Audiolab and completely by-pass the Denon there will be no gain in stereo quality over that of the Denon alone. The whole purpose is to separate the two systems whilst using the same speakers.
 

Smithg97

Novice Member
Welcome to the Forum.

I run a Denon AV amp alongside a Rega Elicit-R. In answer to your questions.......

1. No. The influence is still the pre-amp and processing of the Denon. You will have a little more headroom in active scenes where all speakers are being used but the high sensitivity of the Klipschs makes them an easy drive for the Denon alone.

2. Unless you are prepared to use all music sources direct into the Audiolab and completely by-pass the Denon there will be no gain in stereo quality over that of the Denon alone. The whole purpose is to separate the two systems whilst using the same speakers.
Thanks for feeding back Gibbsy, so if, for example I set everything up as I outlined above, with 1 small change - to have optical cable from the TV to the integrated amp to carry the audio signal - would this allow me to achieve what i'm looking for? I also have my PC connected directly to my TV via HDMI so presumably could also use the optical cable to transmit signal to Integrated amp when listening to music on the PC?
 

gibbsy

Moderator
I'm not very good with PCs or streaming to be honest. The PC will depend on how good your sound card is I suppose. A direct connection via optical would be better as the Audiolab can decode the signal and use it's own pre and power amp for the reproduction thus cutting the Denon out of the loop.

My music connection is simple, a single SACD player direct in by analogue to my pure analogue Rega amp.
 

Smithg97

Novice Member
In the case of the PC the flow would be;
  • PC (graphics card HD audio) to TV via HDMI
  • TV to integrated amp via optical (for music) and TV to AVR via HDMI (for movies/games)

In the case of the external HDD the flow would be;
  • HDD to TV via USB
  • TV to integrated amp via optical cable

For everything else (blu ray drive, PS4...etc) it would be;
  • Source to AVR via HDMI
  • AVR to integrated amp via pre-outs/RCA for audio
  • AVR to TV via HDMI for picture
 

Smithg97

Novice Member
Any thoughts on this plan? Really want to pull the trigger on the upgrade but worried my plan might not work as hoped 😀
 

Khazul

Well-known Member
1) Would there be any notable improvement in the sound quality of the front speakers (Klipsch RP-6000F) when watching movies (e.g. when the AVR is handling pre-amp function) by adding the integrated amp?

In general no. Maybe if you have truly full range (down to 30-33Hz or so) front speakers then a good amp will give much better bass control than an AVR can manage, so running them as full range is viable, but not worth it unless they really do extend that low. In general it is still better to run a crossover on the front channels (assuming a decent sub).

2) Assuming I do combine the AVR with the integrated amp, when I'm using the system in stereo mode for music listening, given that fact that the source of the music (WAV & FLAC files mostly) is an external HDD connected to my TV which I access through the TV's built-in music app, with the TV being connected to the AVR via HDMI and the AVR would be connected to the integrated amp via the pre-outs, would this setup A) be possible, and if so B) would the AVR need to be powered on or would I simply be able to enable some passthrough while in standby mode option in the AVR's operating system?

The loss of clarity tends to come from the AVRs DACs and pre-amp. To get sound quality worthy of a good hifi amp, then you want to bypass the AVR entirely for music playback and consider a separate streamer. With some AVRs an improvement can be found with the zone 2 output with the rest of the AVR switched off if the zone 2 has a decent DAC, but that varies and really consider it temporary while choosing a better solution for streaming/file playback.

Also TV music player apps often convert the audio to 48Khz and often badly leaving a harsh edge to high frequencies.

With some AVRs, the best audio route to a hifi amp is via the internal music player -> HDMI second output -> HDMI audio extractor -> SPDIF/TosLink -> DAC ->Hifi amp if the AVR will bit perfect preserve the digital audio through this route. Mine can do this (but no idea about marantz and Denon AVRs), so I can get hi-res playback via this route and did this temporarily for a while while I hunted down a streaming solution.

Maybe have a look at something like the Bluesound Node streamer. Overkill for file playback, but its a good streamer if you eventually want to make use of streaming music services. Yamaha WX-ADX10 is another cheaper option, but you cannot connect a USB HD to it, but it can access a music server via DLNA over the network.
 
Last edited:

rbuzz12

Novice Member
Hello, I'm a new joiner to this forum and have a similar question, but I have already got both AVR and Integrated but am struggling to get them working nicely - is it okay if I piggy-back this post, or should I post a new one? @Smithg97, do you mind me dropping in?
 

rc789

Active Member
I had Arcam gear setup like your proposing and there was a big difference having the integrated on l and r duties. It had more power and better amplification.

I had the exact same klipsch speakers.

I would tell you yes but it may well be dependent on your gear. Like I say, more power and class G application vs A/B on the receiver.

I’m also selling it if your interested 😃

Post in thread 'Arcam SA30 and AVR550 (updated photos 28/01)'
For Sale - Arcam SA30 and AVR550 (updated photos 28/01)
 
Last edited:

Smithg97

Novice Member
rbuzz12 fine by me :)

Thank you at Khazul for your feedback! I might attempt to see if my 4k Blu ray player will allow me to play flac/WAV files from my external HDD via the digital coaxial connection at 192Khz which would give a clean route from source to integrated amp without involvement of the AVR
 

rbuzz12

Novice Member
Thanks @Smithg97! So, referring back to the original question regarding getting an AVR and an integrated amp to work together, my question is... my AVR is a Yamaha RXV 767 and my integrated amp is an Audiolab 8000a. I have two power amps (Arcam Delta 290). For speakers, there is a left, centre and right channel (no surround / Atmos etc). My intention is to use the Audiolab for the turnable as it sounds superb.

Presently, the AVR has a left and right channel going to one poweramp, and a centre channel going to the other poweramp which is working as a monoblock. This sounds good, but the turntable doesn't sound good coming through a discrete phono stage, or into the Yamaha's phono stage.

I hoped to take the poweramp out for left and right and connect this in to the CD or tape input in the Audiolab, via interconnects. When I do this, the result is nothing. So I presume the signal from poweramp out is not the same as if I connected a source directly to the Audiolab (for example, a CD player). In the AVR I don't seem to be able to assign the left and right channel to a different output, for example "Audio Out", then take that to either the CD or Tape input of the Audiolab.

Can you please confirm that the signal coming from the AVR poweramp out would not be what an integrated amplifier expects as an input?

To restate my goal - I would like to use the Audiolab for its phono input and also, for the AVR's left and right channel. This would then go to a poweramp. Then to the left and right speakers.

Based on this, does anyone have any thoughts on how I may achieve what I would like to achieve?

Really look forward to your thoughts and advice :)
Rod
 

rc789

Active Member
Not sure if I’ve quite grasped it but if I have, do you have an external switch for pre/pwr on the 290’s? I thought it was internal. If so, could that be the issue?

Does the integrated have HT bypass?

I had an integrated and power amp combined and used for bi amp and non bi amp. These were connected at the same time as being used for left and right duties on home theatre.

Didn’t have a TT though so not apples for apples.
 

Smithg97

Novice Member
In general no. Maybe if you have truly full range (down to 30-33Hz or so) front speakers then a good amp will give much better bass control than an AVR can manage, so running them as full range is viable, but not worth it unless they really do extend that low. In general it is still better to run a crossover on the front channels (assuming a decent sub).



The loss of clarity tends to come from the AVRs DACs and pre-amp. To get sound quality worthy of a good hifi amp, then you want to bypass the AVR entirely for music playback and consider a separate streamer. With some AVRs an improvement can be found with the zone 2 output with the rest of the AVR switched off if the zone 2 has a decent DAC, but that varies and really consider it temporary while choosing a better solution for streaming/file playback.

Also TV music player apps often convert the audio to 48Khz and often badly leaving a harsh edge to high frequencies.

With some AVRs, the best audio route to a hifi amp is via the internal music player -> HDMI second output -> HDMI audio extractor -> SPDIF/TosLink -> DAC ->Hifi amp if the AVR will bit perfect preserve the digital audio through this route. Mine can do this (but no idea about marantz and Denon AVRs), so I can get hi-res playback via this route and did this temporarily for a while while I hunted down a streaming solution.

Maybe have a look at something like the Bluesound Node streamer. Overkill for file playback, but its a good streamer if you eventually want to make use of streaming music services. Yamaha WX-ADX10 is another cheaper option, but you cannot connect a USB HD to it, but it can access a music server via DLNA over the network.
Just coming back to you on the 48khz point, all my music files are either 44.1Khz cd rips or 48khz WAV/FLAC downloads so following your comment about TV apps converting to 48Khz, would this even have an impact? Second question is, considering the sample rate of my files would an integrated amp still provide a noticeable improvement to 2 channel stereo audio quality over the AVR?
 

rc789

Active Member
Integrated quality over AVR yes in most cases unless you had a premium brand AVR known for musicality and a low cost integrated. In my experience that has been the case.
 

Khazul

Well-known Member
Just coming back to you on the 48khz point, all my music files are either 44.1Khz cd rips or 48khz WAV/FLAC downloads so following your comment about TV apps converting to 48Khz, would this even have an impact? Second question is, considering the sample rate of my files would an integrated amp still provide a noticeable improvement to 2 channel stereo audio quality over the AVR?

Re 48K question: I personally find I most notice the effects of poor sample rate conversion on 44.1K converted to 48K. AT higher sample rates the artifacts tend to mostly end up outside the audible spectrum (or in spectrum at low enough levels not to be a major concern). In the end some people really notice it, some don't notice it at all and/or are just used to it.

Re 44.1 in general: CD quality can produce excellent playback with a suitable DAC, amp, speakers in a decent room. Hires basically only improves on this if the rest of the system can resolve the differences. In the end, I find that the original music production quality matters much more than the sample rate and bit depth of how it is distributed.

When sample rate conversion is done using modern high quality industry standard methods (ie by the publisher, or in high quality playback software), I have no problem with it. I only have a problem with the lower quality methods often used in cheap TV orientated devices that maybe lack the processing power to do the job to a high standard. Not all TVs are the same either. Some may well do a decent job of SRC and maybe even output original sample rate too as the HDMI standards allow for all common sample rates from 32k to 192k with 16-24 bit precision.

Repeating what I said earlier - you get the improvement in detail quality when you remove the AVR (and likely to TV as well) entirely from playback. The other thing the amp brings is an improvement in bass control of the speakers.

I think you should consider your upgrade path as you have it planned right now to be the start of a journey. Maybe just start with the AVR and see how you feel about the end result. Next I would get music playback off the TV and onto the AVR if possible as I bet the AVR will have a higher quality player. Maybe consider a cheap network drive that can be accessed via DLNA.

If you find you want to improve things further, then that is the time to look at a better stand alone hifi player and an HT bypass capable amp.

There are pros and cons of moving from AVR based playback to hifi. Your AVR provides room correction which can considerably improve music playback in some ways (overall frequency response), but compromise it to a lesser degree in others (odd artifacts that stick out like a sore thumb to me, but realistically many people just don't notice). When you move to a stereo amp, the chances are you will not have that room correction DSP any more (you can get it back, but it can increase cost by a lot). Depending on your room, your speakers that may or may not be an issue.

Try the AVR in its pure direct mode equivalent to see if this the lack of DSP is going to be a problem for you (the obvious sign is uneven boomy bass, some bass notes almost disappear almost while other end up really loud etc).

I have different DSP systems on both paths - one in the AVR and another in my music playback and I wouldnt be without either, but then what I may be picky about, quite honestly many people just don't notice or care about until they have heard and got used to something as good. People dont miss what they dont know ;)
 

njepson

Novice Member
Just coming back to you on the 48khz point, all my music files are either 44.1Khz cd rips or 48khz WAV/FLAC downloads so following your comment about TV apps converting to 48Khz, would this even have an impact? Second question is, considering the sample rate of my files would an integrated amp still provide a noticeable improvement to 2 channel stereo audio quality over the AVR?
Hi Smithg97

Like you I'm a new member here, I'm actually coming from the other direction (Adding an AVR to my stereo integrated amp).

I would say from a hi-fi point of view simplest is best. try to minimise the path even for digital signals. so to go from USB to TV then to your amp you've got a series of signal processing steps, and we know TV's don't normally carry the highest quality audio equipment onboard.

You'd be better off with a dedicated audio streamer, I have Node 2i which sounds great. Some use a Raspberry pi with optical or spdif out. There are plenty of options out there and they needn't cost thousands. Alternatively use a laptop or similar with an optical out. It's a shame the audiolab doesn't have a USB in connection.

The Audiolab will have a reasonable onboard DAC so you are right to make use of that.

Good luck.

I hope it sounds great.
 

Smithg97

Novice Member
Thanks all for replies

To add some additional info incase it helps with direction, my TV is an LG CX OLED and another option i have to eliminate the TV from the signal path (if you guys inform me that the LG CX would muddy the waters) would be to have a digital coaxial cable from my PC's soundcard (Asus Xonar STX Essence) direct into the integrated amp the only concern is that this cable would need to be 10m long to reach the amp and would be run along my skirting alongside numerous other cables (speaker wire, HDMI cables, power cables...etc) so possibly prone to some EMI? The sound card is a good performer though with high snr and capable of outputting 192khz 24 bit audio
 

njepson

Novice Member
I'd say that makes sense as 10m is still okay for spdif. Though use a dedicated digital cable as it has a specific impedance to make the digital signals readable at both ends. Analogue RCA have different specifications. Data transfer rates are the same over optical and spdif, max 192kHz 24bit IIR. Current is generally low in digital signals so I wouldn't worry too much about EMI unless you're spending mega money on kit.
 

rbuzz12

Novice Member
Not sure if I’ve quite grasped it but if I have, do you have an external switch for pre/pwr on the 290’s? I thought it was internal. If so, could that be the issue?

Does the integrated have HT bypass?

I had an integrated and power amp combined and used for bi amp and non bi amp. These were connected at the same time as being used for left and right duties on home theatre.

Didn’t have a TT though so not apples for apples.
Hi there, the 290s are simply power amps - they can work as stereo or mono based on a link connector (a bit of bent wire, basically) to connect the left and right channels. So I cannot see this being an issue.

The integrated doesn't have a HT bypass - it simply has sources, or it can act as a power amp but that requires a bit of surgery (soldering) and cannot see that as being relevant. My wife is out tonight, so I'm sure I will be tinkering to try and establish some other options.

Here's what I was hoping:

Turntable: Turntable --> Audiolab 8000A (integrated phono stage) --> Arcam Delta 290 --> L and R Speakers

Non-Turntable 5.1 or stereo --> Yamaha AVR --> Audiolab 8000A --> Arcam Delta 290 L & R speakers + optionally (for Centre Channel Delta 290 Centre Channel) --> Centre Channel speaker.

Thanks for your responses - they are really appreciated!

Rod
 

Smithg97

Novice Member
My preference would still be to have signal passthrough the tv via optical to the integrated amp, i know the LG CX has option to bitstream and passthrough option for digital output so wondering if this would eliminate any DSP along the route to the amp
 

rc789

Active Member
Ah okay, I was getting my models mixed up. I was told by Arcam that the mono link on my P85 could not be used to make it a single Channel amp. I was thinking of using it for the centre at one point when I had an A85 as HT left and right / 2 channel listening. I think you’re already using them as mono aren’t you with success so either they changed how they mapped that or he fed me a load of codswallop.
 

njepson

Novice Member
My preference would still be to have signal passthrough the tv via optical to the integrated amp, i know the LG CX has option to bitstream and passthrough option for digital output so wondering if this would eliminate any DSP along the route to the amp
Best thing would be to try it. For the price of the cable you could try on your PC and listen to see if you notice any difference.

For the DSP, I don't know, maybe worth asking on the LG OLED CX owners section? Nice TV I have one of those too.
 

Smithg97

Novice Member
Re 48K question: I personally find I most notice the effects of poor sample rate conversion on 44.1K converted to 48K. AT higher sample rates the artifacts tend to mostly end up outside the audible spectrum (or in spectrum at low enough levels not to be a major concern). In the end some people really notice it, some don't notice it at all and/or are just used to it.

Re 44.1 in general: CD quality can produce excellent playback with a suitable DAC, amp, speakers in a decent room. Hires basically only improves on this if the rest of the system can resolve the differences. In the end, I find that the original music production quality matters much more than the sample rate and bit depth of how it is distributed.

When sample rate conversion is done using modern high quality industry standard methods (ie by the publisher, or in high quality playback software), I have no problem with it. I only have a problem with the lower quality methods often used in cheap TV orientated devices that maybe lack the processing power to do the job to a high standard. Not all TVs are the same either. Some may well do a decent job of SRC and maybe even output original sample rate too as the HDMI standards allow for all common sample rates from 32k to 192k with 16-24 bit precision.

Repeating what I said earlier - you get the improvement in detail quality when you remove the AVR (and likely to TV as well) entirely from playback. The other thing the amp brings is an improvement in bass control of the speakers.

I think you should consider your upgrade path as you have it planned right now to be the start of a journey. Maybe just start with the AVR and see how you feel about the end result. Next I would get music playback off the TV and onto the AVR if possible as I bet the AVR will have a higher quality player. Maybe consider a cheap network drive that can be accessed via DLNA.

If you find you want to improve things further, then that is the time to look at a better stand alone hifi player and an HT bypass capable amp.

There are pros and cons of moving from AVR based playback to hifi. Your AVR provides room correction which can considerably improve music playback in some ways (overall frequency response), but compromise it to a lesser degree in others (odd artifacts that stick out like a sore thumb to me, but realistically many people just don't notice). When you move to a stereo amp, the chances are you will not have that room correction DSP any more (you can get it back, but it can increase cost by a lot). Depending on your room, your speakers that may or may not be an issue.

Try the AVR in its pure direct mode equivalent to see if this the lack of DSP is going to be a problem for you (the obvious sign is uneven boomy bass, some bass notes almost disappear almost while other end up really loud etc).

I have different DSP systems on both paths - one in the AVR and another in my music playback and I wouldnt be without either, but then what I may be picky about, quite honestly many people just don't notice or care about until they have heard and got used to something as good. People dont miss what they dont know ;)

I did a bit of looking around and wondered whether a better option for me rather than getting the bluesound node streamer and the audiolab 6000a amp would be to get the audiolab omnia which combines amp, cd player and streamer in one unit, any thoughts? 😀
 

njepson

Novice Member
What about the 6000a play? Which adds streaming capability to the integrated amp as I understand it. I think it has ht bypass.
 

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