Question AVR vs AVR + Integrated for Movies and Music

zippyzoetrope

Novice Member
Hi All,

I am looking for some advice on upgrading my AVR, please see my current setup for reference:

Denon AVRX2200W
MA Silver 2 (LR)
MA Silver Centre (Centre)
MA Silver FX (Rear Surrounds)
SVS SB2000 (Sub)
LG C8 65” OLED
Room treatment (some broadband panels and traps)
Room size 3.5m x 5m


This is used for mostly movie duties but I would like to extend this for dual use with music - 50% music / 50% movies.
The AVR was used in another system with smaller power requirements and isn’t enough to push these speakers for either movies or music, hence the AVR is what I’m looking to upgrade.

I would like to know anyone’s thoughts on where money is best spent to achieve this.
After some initial research there appears to be a split between going for a high end AVR for both music and movies or to split these duties by using a AVR + integrated amp with HT bypass.

Listening source for music will only be from Tidal - I would like to make the use of MQA, mostly because I’m paying for it, so why not right?
Video sources will be an AppleTV and blu-ray player(xbox one).

My budget is around £2.5k, this cost includes a dac/streamer and AVR / AVR+Integrated.
I am open to advice and criticism on whether this is too much or little to achieve my goal of having a single setup that caters for both movies and music.

So far I have shortlisted the following components, this a general idea so please let me know if i'm completely wrong!

Option 1 - AVR + Integrated with HT Bypass
DAC - SMSL SU-9 (streamed via Roon from RPI Ropieee) / Bluesound Node 2i
AVR - Denon X4700H / Marantz SR7015
Integrated Amp - Musical Fidelity M2si / Roksan K3 (ups the budget a bit)

Option 2 - AVR only
NAD T778
Anthem MRX 740

I hope I have provided enough information, please let me know if I have missed anything.
Thanks in advance for any responses!


Alex
 

gibbsy

Moderator
I don't think either option is a bad choice for you. NAD and Anthem will both give you a better room EQ than that found on the Denon and it will be a one box solution. Will certainly give you a far better stereo performance for music than your current Denon. Would that still give you a better stereo performance that a good integrated amp, I would have to say no.

I have an option 1 which I am more than satisfied with. HT by-pass works well and although the Denon's Audyssey XT32 isn't as good as that found on NAD or Anthem it performance for film and TV is very good indeed (I have the X6500). Some people life room EQ with stereo music, others don't which is another factor to take into consideration although Room Perfect is said to be far better for stereo music.

You really haven't got a wrong option there. Maybe look at reliability and both Anthem and NAD do have problems with ARC and Dirac and can take some getting use to.

I'll add another stereo amp for you to look at although it will stretch your budget further and that the Rega Elicit-R. Out of the two you have listed I prefer the MF but that's me, you need to audition.
 
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Deleted member 39241

Guest
I went from a Denon 4400 with an MF M3i to an Arcam AVR550 with an external DAC for music.

I prefer the system I have now, as it is overall lower cost, less boxes, easier to use, music sounds as good, and movies sound better.

However, the FMJ Arcam's are getting a bit harder to find now, new(ish) with warranty, and the replacement Arcam range are much more money.

Having said that, Nintronics seem to have some AVR550's for £1500 ish and Peter Tyson are selling off the AVR390's for £1300.
 

zippyzoetrope

Novice Member
Thank you both for your replies, this gives me some confidence I am going in the right direction!

I am leaning towards the AVR + integrated as this gives me more flexibility with balancing between music / movies.

@gibbsy - it’s nice to see you already have a similar setup to what I am aiming for. I did check out the Regas but the first model they do with HT bypass is the Elicit-R which might be under-utilised with the Silver 2’s.
I have also seen some good deals on a Naim NAIT 5si and AudioLab 8300a (has 12v trig), but I have not seen any mentions of them pairing well with Monitor Audio speakers. Either way, I will see if I can get a demo and see how they sound!

Have you experienced any issues integrating the Rega with Denon in regards to surround sound / Audyssey calibration? One of my concerns is getting the balance right on the LCR - does it “blend”?


@Rambles - That’s quite an interesting setup you have, I didn’t think of running a DAC straight into the AVR. The deal on the AVR550 is very tempting, my only concern is future firmware updates for the AVR / Dirac and a few niggles I have heard on reliability.

There is also the option of the smaller Anthem MRX540 with only 5 channels, but I don't have any plans for more than 5.1 right now, so could be a good combo with an integrated.
 
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Deleted member 39241

Guest
@Rambles - That’s quite an interesting setup you have, I didn’t think of running a DAC straight into the AVR. The deal on the AVR550 is very tempting, my only concern is future firmware updates for the AV
Not all AVRs work well in this way. Even in pure direct mode, they still apply processing, or other aspects of the pre-amp circuitry messes with the sound. This is the only AVR that I have experienced that sounds as good as a standalone integrated amp when in stereo direct mode, the Arcam's AVRs are good in their analogue design.

The FMJ Arcam range are end of line, hence the price. There is some stable firmware available and manufacturers warranty is 5 years. Dirac is pretty good, better than Audyssey, but is optional, I use it sparingly in my system.
 

rccarguy2

Well-known Member
Avr pre amp plus stereo analogue pre amp plus dac plus multi channel power amp(s) is another option but that is pretty expensive
 

rccarguy2

Well-known Member
You could do the above over time ie avr+ stereo amp, then add a dac, upgrade with poweramp, finally ditch avr to av pre
 

gibbsy

Moderator
Have you experienced any issues integrating the Rega with Denon in regards to surround sound / Audyssey calibration? One of my concerns is getting the balance right on the LCR - does it “blend”?
You'll just be using the power amp side of the integrated. The AV amp will have the 'signature' input from it's pre-amp. A good power should not colour that 'signature' in any way. All it should be is amplify that audio. There is no loss of timbre across my front soundstage and the Naim should be the same.
 

zippyzoetrope

Novice Member
Not all AVRs work well in this way. Even in pure direct mode, they still apply processing, or other aspects of the pre-amp circuitry messes with the sound. This is the only AVR that I have experienced that sounds as good as a standalone integrated amp when in stereo direct mode, the Arcam's AVRs are good in their analogue design.

The FMJ Arcam range are end of line, hence the price. There is some stable firmware available and manufacturers warranty is 5 years. Dirac is pretty good, better than Audyssey, but is optional, I use it sparingly in my system.
Thanks Rambles, will keep this in consideration, that's quite a unique trait for the Arcam AVRs!
 

zippyzoetrope

Novice Member
You could do the above over time ie avr+ stereo amp, then add a dac, upgrade with poweramp, finally ditch avr to av pre
I did orginally have the idea of building out with separates, but as you mentioned, it got pretty expensive! Sounds like the DAC / AVR / Stereo amp is going to the be the best route.
 

zippyzoetrope

Novice Member
You'll just be using the power amp side of the integrated. The AV amp will have the 'signature' input from it's pre-amp. A good power should not colour that 'signature' in any way. All it should be is amplify that audio. There is no loss of timbre across my front soundstage and the Naim should be the same.
Excellent, that's exactly what I wanted to hear!

I think this confirms my best option is going to be the DAC / AVR / Integrated amp.

I will see if I can demo some equipment before I buy, which might be a little difficult in the current climate!

Thank you all for your responses, I will post back when I have all the kit in place and let you know my thoughts!

Also realised I could have quoted everything in one post, will bear that in mind next time :laugh:
 

seaisland1

Novice Member
Excellent, that's exactly what I wanted to hear!

I think this confirms my best option is going to be the DAC / AVR / Integrated amp.

I will see if I can demo some equipment before I buy, which might be a little difficult in the current climate!

Thank you all for your responses, I will post back when I have all the kit in place and let you know my thoughts!

Also realised I could have quoted everything in one post, will bear that in mind next time :laugh:
 

seaisland1

Novice Member
I have monitor audio silver 7.2.4 (jl audio subs). I purchased the new Denon 6700. It was overheating and shutting down. I replaced with Anthem 1140. After using ARC there is an incredible improvement in sound quality vs the Denon (90% HT, 10% music). I am not an audiophile - but I seriously could not be more pleased with outcome!
 

ashenfie

Well-known Member
Hi,
I have previously owned a Denon AVR 4500 and a Musical Fidelity M2si, all good stuff, but I now have a Arcam AV20 and this is by far a better solution.

I think the ultimate solution would a separate stereo amp. but you would need some a bit more substantial than the M2si for all it's merits.

So I would short list,
NAD T778
Anthem MRX 740
Arcam AV10/20
 

Adziadam

Active Member
I have a Denon 4500 and a musical fidelity m2si works a treat for me. The only thing i have to do is switch on the power button on the front as I don't leave it in standby. I have mine enclosed in a cabinet hooked up to a topping E30 dac and a rasberry pi running pi core player as a network streamer this combo cost less than £200 so didn't make it extremely expensive and to me it sounds great.
 
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Deleted member 39241

Guest
I have a Denon 4500 and a musical fidelity m2si works a treat for me. The only thing i have to do is switch on the power button on the front as I don't leave it in standby. I have mine enclosed in a cabinet hooked up to a topping E30 dac and a rasberry pi running pi core player as a network streamer this combo cost less than £200 so didn't make it extremely expensive and to me it sounds great.
That's sounds like a good system you have there.

I had a similar set-up with a Denon 4400 and a Musical Fidelity M3i, I also had a couple of power amps, as I found I needed those to get some oomph from films, and a Musical Fidelity DAC for stereo music. It did sound good, but was a bit of an oversized system in the family lounge!

I took a punt and part exchanged it for an Arcam AVR550. Movies sound much better than with the Denon, the soundstage is huge and the clarity and detail is much more defined. I definitely prefer the Arcam sound over the Denon. Plus Dirac does a much better job in my room than Audyssey did.

For music, if the AVR is in analogue direct mode it sounds as good as the MF stereo amp. And it makes for a bit of an easier and tidier system.
 

Adziadam

Active Member
That's sounds like a good system you have there.

I had a similar set-up with a Denon 4400 and a Musical Fidelity M3i, I also had a couple of power amps, as I found I needed those to get some oomph from films, and a Musical Fidelity DAC for stereo music. It did sound good, but was a bit of an oversized system in the family lounge!

I took a punt and part exchanged it for an Arcam AVR550. Movies sound much better than with the Denon, the soundstage is huge and the clarity and detail is much more defined. I definitely prefer the Arcam sound over the Denon. Plus Dirac does a much better job in my room than Audyssey did.

For music, if the AVR is in analogue direct mode it sounds as good as the MF stereo amp. And it makes for a bit of an easier and tidier system.
I agree with the space issue my lounge isn't massive either. I have built the cabinets myself either side of the chimney breast so everything is hidden away.

I've always been interested in Dirac but couldn't afford a receiver capable of it and it sounds like you have found a perfect match an all in one package. I hear about the new onyko receivers having Dirac so maybe something to look at In the future
 
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Deleted member 39241

Guest
I'll just put this here, an end of line product that won't be around for long. Although, I do agree, bringing Dirac to Pioneer and Onkyo AVR's in an interesting development.

 

dollag

Well-known Member
Had marantz sr7011 + integrated amplifier (creek)

Ended up with the arcam also as was just as good in analogue mode.

I actually utilise dirac for music fter spending a lot of time messing arround with it. blends my dual subs seamlessly with my mains.

I have an amazing dac for my headphones so i tried it in my main system. After blind ab-ing between room correcion and treatment vs a dac, there was no contest.
 

Jester1066

Well-known Member
I have also seen some good deals on a Naim NAIT 5si and AudioLab 8300a (has 12v trig), but I have not seen any mentions of them pairing well with Monitor Audio speakers. Either way, I will see if I can get a demo and see how they sound!
My kit list is almost identical to what your "Option 1":

Samsung 55" Q95T,
Denon AVR-X4500H,
Audiolab 6000A - in HT Bypass.
MA Silver 100, (Mosseco 6 Stands),
MA Silver C350,
MA Silver FX v2,
4x Dali Alteco C1's (Atmos)
Subwoofers - 2x SVS SB2000 Pro

The audiolab 6000A is the model below the 8300A. Main differences are the latter has more Watts per channel and is purely an analogue integrated amp. The 6000A has 50wpc and includes a (very good imo) onboard DAC & bluetooth.

Both have HT Bypass function - which is simply selected by changing the amps mode via the remote. I also use the 12v trigger, so the Audiolab powers on & off when I switch the AVR on or off. Setup is dead easy and basically requires 2 additional RCA cables.

I do not find this combination of speakers and integrated amp under powering at all. My room is approximately 3m x 4.5m & the Audiolab easily drives my L&R's.... the Pre-outs (on both the 6000A & 8300A) can also be used to connect a sub, so with a few extra bits (RCA switch & a miniDSP), you can even integrate a sub(s), you can use for both Music & Movies. This is my long-term plan.

All for £599 new. It really is a great amp. I would strongly recommend you demo when you can. Either instore or better still a home demo.

*Incidentally Roksan are now owned by Monitor Audio, so should pair well also.

I'm not suggesting that a £600 integrated amp will be as good as say the Rega's or even the Roksan.... But the Audiolab does pair well with the MA Silvers imo. FWIW I demoed the combo both in store for 2hrs - at both high & low volume. Then had a 7 day home demo - where I really put them through their paces! 😂
 
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