AVR300 - a disappointment !?

Discussion in 'AV Receivers & Amplifiers' started by Shaka, Aug 18, 2004.

  1. Shaka

    Shaka
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    I'll probably get lynched for this ... ...
    As reported in my other thread, I purchased the Arcam AVR300 on Saturday(14th Aug). I had a demo at my local Sevenoaks and it sounded very impressive in surround. I then had a quick demo in stereo and again it sounded impressive. I asked if it was comparable to my existing Alpha 8 for stereo performance and was assured that it was. (Incidently I've asked this question a few times on this forum already but didn't receive a reply.) Perhaps it was a bit foolish of me, but instead of demoing the Denon 3805, which I was also considering, I just went ahead and purchased the AVR300 and a Rel Q150e sub. (BTW, they only had the demo model, which I got a 10% discount off)
    Got home all excited, and after a few hours had it all set-up, only to find out that the Alpha 8 connectors on my speaker cables were incompatible with the AVR300. Undeterred, after an hour I had stripped the cable ends and bound them to the speaker terminals. Tried a few a DVDs out, very impressive. Well balanced, rich sound. Then tried a few of my favourite CDs and felt that the sound was a bit 'muffled'. It wasn't like the crisp, open sound of my Alpha 8. I put this down to poor connection due to the cables.
    Next day and got Sevenoaks to fit banana plugs to my cables. Went home plugged them in, but found no improvement in sound. Last night I unplugged everything and then plugged it all back in, making sure all cables were fully connected, but again, in stereo, I'm lacking the crispness and the excitement of the Alpha 8.
    To see that I'm a bit disappointed would be an understatement. I feel gutted mainly due to the price I paid and the price I can get a Denon for, which from what I believe on a par with AVR300.
    I have tried all the modes: direct, stereo, stereo pcm etc. In pure direct it just sounds very dull (compared to what i'm used to). In stereo (+music) it sounds a bit more open but artificial. To tell the truth if it wasn't that damn expensive I wouldn't feel this much bothered about it as I really wanted a one box solution, without worrying about setting tonal balancing, delays, levels etc. I just can't help feeling ripped off. If this is normal for all receivers, then for me it'd make a lot more common & financial sense to get the Denon at about £400 cheaper, hook it up to my current Alpha 8 and get the best of both worlds. I work hard for my money and can't afford to spend the extra £400-500 without getting anything extra in return.
    I am seriously considering taking it back this weekend. If I did, would I be able to get my money back or exchange it for the Denon, do you think?
    I've also emailed Arcam voicing my concern, but so far haven't received any reply.
    Am I the only who's experienced this? I wasn't expecting £1200 of stereo performance but didn't expect it to be worse than a modest £350 integrated amp. It's almost 4 times more expensive !!!!
    The lynching can now begin ...
     
  2. zoolander

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    I believe the AVR300 can switch its last 2 surround channels(if ur not using its full 7.1 capabilities)for stereo use, making it bi-ampable? Have you tried that configuration yet? Maybe it doesnt match your speakers or need a good run-in as it has so may channels?It has got realy good press but i think a blinding AV amp can be had for much less than £1000 nowadays. Av technology moves os fast nowadays, even mid market models have auto calibration and the cheapest 7.1 bargain ive found is the new Sony 795 which is 7.1 and has DAB radio! Im more of a 2 ch hifi man and havent touched my AV system for 3years, apart from speakers which are passed down when i upgrade my stereo system. If i were in your shoes id get a refund, spend half of it on a decent mid range AV amp and the other half on whatever you like! Try isolation and mains to further improve ur 2ch enjoyments.

    Zoolander
     
  3. Shockabuku

    Shockabuku
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    Hi Shaka. I think you've discovered a painful truth...AV receivers are rubbish at stereo. There are degrees of rubbish...the AVR300 being one of the least rubbish on the market in that price region, but any half decent stereo amplifier under £500 will wipe the floor with an AV receiver in 2 channel mode. I too am a stereo fan, used to have Quad pre/power amps etc, but I've given up trying to regain that stereo quality with an integrated AV amp, instead I've pretty much always used a separate stereo power amp for the front L/R channels...recently Cyrus. Now I've consolidated to a Rotel 1075...still a compromise, but really superb for movies & still pretty good for stereo...though I will probably buy a 2 channel power amp at some point also.

    Btw, IMHO, the Denon sounds a lot worse than the AVR300 in stereo, so you're not missing much ;).
     
  4. Shaka

    Shaka
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    I've just played a few more DVDs and notice that although the sound flows round from one speaker to another, it sounds a tad muffled, lacking the sparkle and openess of my previous set-up of Arcam Alpha 8 with Yamaha E800.
    Yet when I demoed this at the showroom it sounded fine. This makes me wonder if I've missed something during setup or done something wrong. I don't think I have as I've gone over the whole process a few times now - disconnecting and reconnecting and making sure the speaker cables are attached properly etc etc.

    I'd never calibrated my previous set-up before nor used a sound pressure meter to set speaker levels. I think if I reconnect the old equipment back and calibrate it properly and then add the sub which I had lacked before, I could get the sound clarity I'm looking for and get the decent stereo performance back. This makes me think what on earth did I spend £1200 on!?!?!?!?

    Mark, if I manage to get my money back for this. I'm considering getting either the Cyrus 6 or 8 or the Roksan Kandy mkIII integrated amp and partner that with something to get surround sound. What do you think? What could I partner them with? Would the Denon 3805/2805 or one of the new Yamaha receivers work, or can receivers only be used on their own?

    Unless someone can think of something I may have missed during my AVR300 setup, I think I will return it if the shop can give me a refund. I still haven't heard from Arcam support.
     
  5. Shockabuku

    Shockabuku
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    I guess demoing is the only way to really know, but in your position I'd be tempted by the 3805 & a Cyrus Smartpower (or similar) for the front LR channels. That way, you'll have top notch surround (the Denon has an excellent processor), plus hopefully the Denon/Cyrus combo will give you good stereo. I reckon the alternative of concentrating on a stereo integrated amp & a separate processor *might* result in better stereo, but surround will be pretty poor in comparison (unless you spend £1k+ on the processor...but then you'll need more power amps too!). Do you know what your overall budget is?
     
  6. Shaka

    Shaka
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    I guess my budget is around £1000 - £1200 plus whatever I can get for my Alpha 8 and Yamaha.
    To tell you the truth I was kinda content with my previous set-up. The only thing it lacked was a sub which I've just purchased. Only reason I bought the AVR300 was cos I preferred a one box solution and when I read the reviews of the current receivers, I genuinely thought for the £1200 premium, I could that convenience and boost the sound performance of my system in both areas at the same time. If that's not possible then a 2 box setup doesn't seem like that much of an inconvenience at all.

    I'm going to my old home town next week and will visit my local dealer (Loud & Clear) who have always been very helpful in the past and always give sound :)-) advice. I think for what I need, I have 3 choices:
    A new integrated amp (Cyrus or Roksan) partnered with my current Yamaha.
    A new home cinema amp partnered with my Alpha 8
    A new integrated amp (Cyrus or Roksan) partnered with a reasonable home cinema amp.
    All 3 choices have to be within my budget and be able to give a noticeable boost than my old set-up. Of course all this can only happen, if I can get my money back for the AVR300.
     
  7. Roguey

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    im in a kinda silimar boat as u, with a some-what wrose reciever now, my current reciever even lacks an pre-out :(

    the avr300, i just dont see a £1,300 worth of A/V kit - way over priced and then a 3805 lacks amplifer stage but great processor (apparantly). I did think about using a 3805 as a processor, but what an waste the amp's would be in there - bet theres cheaper processors and better out there.

    ill b inrested in what u do, thanks
     
  8. NinjaKi11a

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    I think Sevenoaks have some sort of 14 day no quibble returns policy.

    Personally I got fed up with having two volume controls - sounds picky but in the end I've decided to comprimise slighly on stereo sound quality for the convenience of one box. I'm demoing the stereo on an AVR200 (£600 at Sevenoaks), 3805, and one of the high spec Yams on Saturday: should be interesting.
     
  9. bluesfan

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    All true. Just comes to demonstrate that manufacturers are just not giving people what they want. I've also given up on AV amps - waste of time. I think the 3805 plus amp is a good solution. The Arcam is overpriced by a long way. Look at the fact it needs a fan whereas the Denon doesn't. Roksan have a very nice sound though I'm not sure how reliable they are.

    I would demo the Denon 3805 (much better than 2805) before you do anything. Not as much midband as the Arcam but then you can bi-amp and then there are some twinks you can do to improve sound. It was the clearest and most detailed of the lot with still some smoothness. Better than Yamaha and Pioneer and muffled Marantz.
     
  10. Shockabuku

    Shockabuku
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    Good luck Shaka. Keep us posted! :smashin:
     
  11. Lostinapc

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    i used to work an electrics store (tvs, stereos, vcrs, dvds etc) and we took back a few expensive toshibas because when people got them to the house they weren't happy with the picture compared to a only slightly higher priced sony/pan. we did get better deals for selling the sony/pan though.
    i think you should definitely take it back if you're not happy!
     
  12. MarkE19

    MarkE19
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    Are you saying that you have not gone through the setup of the AVR300 setting speaker size, distance & levels etc? An SPL metre would obviously be more accurate, but you can get away with just doing it by ear as long as you spend a bit of time & effort.
    I would suggest that you set all speakers to small (regardless of them being small or not), Bass + LFE to subwoofer with the crossover set to 80Hz. Also measure the distance from you to each speaker and enter the distances to set the delays. Set the crossover on the sub to bypass or the highest setting so the receiver does all the bass management.
    The other thing to remember is that a good quality AV receiver will highlight weaknesses in your other equipment. Are all your speakers the same make & models? If not then this can cause an unbalanced sound in movies, but should not affect stereo.

    So if not already done I suggest you try the above setup as this should improve things. Other than that there is always the possability that you have a faulty receiver. You could get the retailer to connect your s up in store to test it and replace it with another one if it is faulty. I find it hard to believe that the AVR300 in general is at fault as you did demo it in the shop and find it to be good.

    Mark.
     
  13. liteswap

    liteswap
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    I'm amazed -- set the thing up properly and it should sound crystal clear (mine does and I've just moved from a DSP-E800 setup too). Check the bi-wiring setup is correct or you'll send no signals to the tweeters in the front speakers.

    Or as has been pointed out, it may be faulty...
     
  14. Shaka

    Shaka
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    liteswap, I don't believe it's faulty, at least I hope not. Though, it was the demo model!! I mean it sounds good as far as it goes, it's just not dynamic sound like my Alpha 8 + E800. As far as I'm aware the cables are correctly bi-wired as I've gone over the checks several times already. I got Sevenoaks to fit banana plugs on them as the old plugs for the Alpha weren't compatible, so it should all be correct. However I do feel that it's more the front speakers that are lacking in clarity and openess. But then in the old setup they were connected to the Alpha 8, so it all comes down to performance again. Incidently what amp were you using with your E800? I might try a different set of speaker cables, but to be honest, I've now lost the will power to do anymore with it. :(
    ______________________________________________

    MarkE19, I HAVE gone through the setup, several times. I've used the SPL meter and set all the appropriate sizes, levels distances etc. The sub level is also at 80Hz.
    ______________________________________________

    SansSouci, to me the 2 volume controls wasn't the issue. It was the input selector on my Alpha 8, it was manual so I had to get off my ar$e to change it. With the newer integrated amps, I believe the input selectors can be changed via the remote, so it won't be an inconvenience anymore.
     
  15. pwiles1968

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    You say you don’t want to mess with 2 volume control's so went for a 1 box, I believe your Alpha 8 has an AV input function that can set one of the inputs to a fixed volume independent of the volume dial, Arcam are as far as I am aware the only manufacturer to offer this feature, what it means is you can have a relatively cheap surround amp for AV duties (feed this into the fixed input on your alpha) use the alpha for front speakers (stereo).

    Hope this makes sense, if you are happy with your stereo as it is with the alpha why change, I have already sorted one of my mates out with this exact setup (Arcam Alpha + Cheaper Yamaha) and am working on another one at the moment.

    I myself have an AV amp for stereo a Marantz SR5300 with a Marantz CD6000ki. But I also use 2 MA6100 (125 Watt THX Mono-Block Amplifiers) and Bi Amplify My front speakers, I was considering saving for a separate stereo amp until I borrowed a Roksan Kandy MkIII from my friendly local Hi-Fi Store, In a 2 day trial at home I could find very little difference between my current system and the Kandy, the difference was so small I am not sure I did not imagine it because I really wanted the Roksan. Needless to say I did not get a new amp but am much happier with my system setup :D . My Friend with the Arcam Alpha 8 Integrated and power has also heard my setup before I got the CD player and reckoned it was at least as good as his system.

    As such I am also fairly amazed that your setup sounds so poor I think you should insist that the guys from Sevenoaks come out and have a look at the setup. After all supposedly the reason you are paying full retail price for a product from a high street retailer is the support you receive.
     
  16. Falp

    Falp
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    That's why I think my next move in audio/first move in HC will be a good but not very expensive AVReceiver with a good stereo power amp to power the front channels. ;)

    What do you think?
    Are the preamp of a Marantz or Denon Receiver any good?
    I've heard this kind of setup working good but did not make a A-B comparison... :cool:

    I'm thinking on a Marantz Sr5400 maybe.

    Any opinions? :confused:
     
  17. Nobber22

    Nobber22
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    Why not try the Alpha 8 on the preouts of the AVR300 and then you can do a direct sound comparison to see how poorly the 300 really is?
     
  18. zoolander

    zoolander
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    The muffledness you speak of sounds concerning, i reckon its eitehr a faulty unit or you've missed something out during setup, even cheap AV amps dont sound muffled, they just dont have room shaking abilities and rapier fast surround steering. My entry level yamaha(which i am gonna replace after 5years of service :clap: ) sounds brilliant. I think Yamaha are 1 of the few brands that offer no nonsense high quality AV amps/recievers at very reasonable prices. They were 1 of the very 1st comapnies to enter this ector which is now crammed packed of competitors. Its so tricky buying an AV amp nowadays, anything new will be considered outdated in a month!Ive been wanting to upgrade for a while but i cant keep up with all the new models that are being churned out! Can some1 recommend a super good sub£500 Av amp to me? Auto calibration would be nice, maybe DAB and 7.1, plIIx and i prefer silver or champagne. No need for stereo performance, got a seperate system for that! Am interested in DVD-A+SACD so pre outs and 5.1 inputs would be essential. Hmmm shouldnt really hijack this thread, think i'll start my own!


    Zoolander
     
  19. Shaka

    Shaka
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    Well it's definitely not the cables. I just plugged the old Alpha 8 in, put on "No Surprises" by Radiohead and the "plink plonk" sound at the start was crystal clear and sharp. Played it via the AVR300 and it sounds good but compared to the Alpha 8 sound, it is noticeable weak and lacks the 'excitement' :-(
    I've no doubt some people would find the sound perfectly acceptable, but for what I paid for it and what I've been used to, I just can't justify it. It'll nag me forever.
    I think I'm going to go down the 2 separate boxes route. Maybe get a newer midrange amp for surround and partner it with either my current Alpha 8 or upgrade to Roksan or Cyrus 6 or 8 integrated.
     
  20. MarkE19

    MarkE19
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    Yes the Alpha 8's DVD input can be set to run in processor mode by a switch on the back of the amp. I used an Alpha 8r & 8p to biamp my speakers before my last upgrade and agree that they were a stunning pair of amps giving great sound. I would think in light of John Dawsons coments (having never personally demod an AVR300) on the performance of the AVR300 in the Arcam forum here that it would be at least as good if not better than the 8r for stereo.

    Mark.
     
  21. MarkE19

    MarkE19
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    The weakest link in an AV receiver for music is the preamp section and not the amp. IMHO the upgrade path is to add an integrated amp & not a power amp for stereo, so you bypass the AV receiver all together for stereo playback. I know this to work well as stated above that is exactly what I did with an Arcam 8r integrated amp on my Denon 3802 and the difference for music was like night & day. If like my you want to take it a step further and add a power amp to the preouts of the integrated amp to biamp your speakers then this should improve things even more.

    Mark.
     
  22. Shaka

    Shaka
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    Hurrah !!! It's a miracle.
    After my previous post I went back and decided to try something different. I used the pre-amp on the Alpha 8 and connected it to the FL FR DVD-A inputs on the AVR300 and played the same CDs again. I was expecting a downgrade in sound but it played the CDs to the same quality as using the Alpha 8 on it's own. Still keeping the Alpha 8 connected to the AVR300, I used a digital coaxial cable to connect the CD player (Alpha 7 btw) to one of the digital inputs on the AVR300. This way I could play a CD and switch between the Alpha 8 and AVR300 (in stereo PCM mode) without swapping speaker cables back and forth. I played several CDs and to my disbelief they sounded brilliant on the AVR300 too, similar quality as the Alpha 8. I found this hard to believe as up until now they've sounded dull on the AVR300.
    I unhooked the Alpha 8 and reconnected the AVR300 as I had it originally and played the same CDs again. And I am amazed to say that they continued to sound as good. I can't say that they sounded like they were being playing through the Alpha 8 100%, but it felt like they were. I played the same variety of CDs and songs for over an hour and then swapped the speaker cables back to the Alpha 8. Part of me was thinking that I'd just gotten used to the AVR300 sound and expected a huge boost in performace playing via Alpha 8. But to my delight they sounded identical.
    I don't know what's happened, but it feels like I have a different amp all of a sudden. I feel quite foolish now about dissing it earlier :oops: but believe me it did sound quite dull before. I'm not sure if swapping the cables back and forth has caused something to happen or I'd never actually fitted the cables properly before (I'm so sure I had though), but it's now performing like I wanted it too and I'm too scared to touch it now incase it goes back to like it was before. I'm not sure whether to keep it now or still take it back !!!!!
    If I decide to keep it, I might get some new speaker cables to allow bi-amping the front speakers with the unused 6+7 channels. Will this make a noticeable difference? I wouldn't to spend anymore money in getting a power amp or something else, though. I think I've spent enough already for the time being.
    Thank you all for all your comments. If anyone can figure what's just happened please let me know.
    Cheers :thumbsup: :thumbsup:
     
  23. MarkE19

    MarkE19
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    As long as your speakers have the 2 sets of binding posts then remove the link bar between them and biamp from the 6&7 channels amps and I think you will hear a big improvement. I don't think another external power amp would be of a benefit now.
    Is the CD still connected to the AVR300 via an optical cable? If so the problem could well be that the CD has poor DAC's that are highlighted by the AVR300 where the 8r may have compensated a little for the CD.

    If you are now happy with the stereo performance then I think you should keep the receiver as I doubt any other receiver will be as good without spending a lot more money.

    Mark.
     
  24. liteswap

    liteswap
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    I'm glad you've found it's a good setup, since I ousted a Linn Majik/Yamaha DSP-E800 setup in favour of a one-box solution -- the AVR300. What sold me was the stereo direct mode and a LONG listening test.

    Though the sound is different to the Linn, it's not worse. More neutral perhaps, less forceful but as, if not more, revealing. And -- for me anyway -- most importantly, it's just as emotional.

    Really, I'm happy you've found (as I did) that this amp really does seem to square the circle of cinema-quality sound and purity of music that doesn't sound like a hi-fi, if you see what I mean, all in one box.
     
  25. Daneel

    Daneel
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    In my experience it's the other way around, but then I've only ever tried adding preamps / power amps to my Pioneer, perhaps their preamp section is a strong point? An ATC CA2 sounded very similar to direct mode on my 2011 into the Parasound.

    I know smurfin' feels the 2011 is weak for music though.

    Trying to get people to agree on sound is very difficult :)
     
  26. mgkaplan

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    I am surprised.

    My understanding (based upon my personal experience and reviews that I have read) is that the Arcam AVR 300 is one of the few receivers that does stereo as well as surround well. I have had my AVR 300 since June and I am blown away by how well it handles 2 channel music, by how well it processes 2 channel into 5 or 6 channel, and by how open, detailed and musical it sounds. Yes proper setup and configuration are important. Since I have biamped my main speakers (using channels 6 and 7 as the 2nd set of amps to the mains), the performance of this receiver has been elevated even more.
     
  27. Shaka

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    Morning all and thanks for the additional tips.
    MarkE19, I only used the digital cable while I had the Apha 8 connected to the AVR300, just so I could flip between the amps. I'm back to using the analogue cables now and have stereo on "Direct" mode. It sounds great. Previously when I was having problems, "Direct" sounded the worse.

    If I feel well enough later, I'll pop over to Sevenoaks and get some cables to allow bi-amping. Would it be possible to get my existing cables modified for bi-amplification??
    Has anoyone connected the AVR300 to a TV via RGB scart yet? The manual indicates that this can be done. Does doing this, upconvert all video signals to RGB quality. I'm a bit fed up with having to unplug the Sky box to watch DVD, or play the XBox, Gamecube.
     
  28. Crustyloafer

    Crustyloafer
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    To do this you will need one of these from each source to the AVR300:

    [​IMG]

    QED AV19 Sqart

    and also one of these from the AVR300 to the TV:

    [​IMG]

    QED AV29 Sqart

    I will also point out that although the AVR300 will upconvert composite and S-Video signal to an RGB signal, it will NOT improve the picture quality of these sources.
     
  29. Shaka

    Shaka
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    Thanks CrustyLoafer. I don't think I'll bother with this until I get a display that can accept component.
    BTW due to my whinging on this forum and an email to Arcam support, I had a missed call from Sevenoaks yesterday. I called them back this morning to find out and basically Arcam had called them about my problem and also told them I'd been complaining on the forums ( :blush: ). Anyway they'd phoned to see if there was anything that they could to help me. I thought that was very decent of them. I always considered Sevenoaks to be half-way between a high street retailer and a dedicated hi-fi dealer, but I may have been wrong. I went back this morning to get some bi-amplified cables and they were very helpful and gave me some more tips on setting up the sub properly. I enquired about the DV79 and they offered to lend one to me to try out when I was ready. All signs of a dedicated hifi/av dealer. So two thumbs fresh Sevenoaks (Peterborough) :thumbsup:

    cheers,
     
  30. Barend

    Barend
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    As a critical AVR-300 owner I must say I disagree completely.
    Did you use STEREO DIRECT with the CD player to its own input?
    Do I understand you correctly saying you play a cd thru a DVD player?
    All wrong, man!
    DVD players are lousy at stereo, with only a few and very expensive exceptions.
    Definitely NOT including the likes of Denon DVD-2900, which sound flat and flabby. The Pioneer DV868Avi sounds terrible in stereo thru the digital output- shrill with sibilant treble like an old FM tuner...this one's so-so thru the 2ch analog output but not as good as a "real" cd player!
    I can confirm though that most Japanese receivers sound treble accented and weak in the mids, but you're comparing to the Alpha, which I flogged a few years back because I found it unbalanced, with ill controlled bass and dull, uninspiring balance!

    Later I owned an Arcam A85 amp which was much better IMO.
    Now I use a CD82t + AVR300 + NAD-2200 (for biamping the fronts) and stereo is SMASHING! exactly as I like it for classical music, not muffled at all but really balanced.
    I don't say YOU are, but a lot of people these days seem used to overbright sound, go listen to a classical orchestra and you'll hear what I hear at home...

    Don't wanna offend anyone, to each his own!

    Now! I'm starting a new feud! Listen to the Law-Of-Barend:
    ALL INTERCONNECTS MORE EXPENSIVE THAN WELL SCREENED RG59 WITH METAL PLUGS ARE A WASTE OF MONEY. ALL IMPROVEMENTS HEARD ARE IN YOUR HEAD: THE PLACEBO EFFECT.

    Saw wooden dampers on Ebay-DE yesterday, which aided "natural sound" by choice of a natural material! :laugh:
    WHAT-HIFI had a test comparing the SOUND of racks! :laugh: :laugh:
    And of course the skin effect of stranded speaker wire as thick as your elbow is also very important :D , every RF technician (I'm one) knows it only affects frequencies above 30 MHz, but any highend esoterics retailer will say it's also true at below 15 kHz so they sell you silver plated wire. :laugh: :laugh: :laugh:

    THEY WANT YOUR MONEY AND LOTS OF IT!

    Barend

    Barend
     

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