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Demo: Yamaha 1400 and Arcam avr200

Discussion in 'AV Receivers & Amplifiers' started by GavinH, Oct 29, 2003.

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  1. GavinH

    GavinH
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    Hey all,

    well, I have demo'd the above machines today, and will be following up with an audition of the denon 3803 and the onkyo tx-sr701e.

    Both the Yamaha and the Arcam are 800 pounds, the Onkyo is 700, and the Denon is 900 (although the SevenOaks add in What Hi lists it as 800, can anyone clear this up?) - so the group is pretty evenly matched... I intend to include the Rotel 1055 in the test, because I like it a lot :D, but at 1200 that's considerably more expensive than the others.

    The set up included 3 M&K K7s, an M&K V850 sub, 2 K4s and an Arcam DV88+.

    So what did I think about the Yamaha and the Arcam? To begin with, I looked at movie sound, as this is the primary duty of the system. The Yamaha was up first and I must say it was impressive. I used 2 scenes from Saving Private Ryan, and the Balin's Tomb scene from the Fellowship. The 1400 was very accurate, it picked up a lot of the sound and produced it very clearly. Surround effects were very good, and dialogue/action in the centre speaker was crystal clear.

    However, for my ears, I would say that the sound tended towards being bright (apparently a quality of Yamaha amps) - and although the sharpness of the sound was impressive, I felt my ears had taken a bit of a beating at the end of the Yamaha's session.

    With respect to stereo performance, I was not too impressed. Again the sound was very clear, but unlike movie performance, the overall stereo sound was not very well balanced - to me, it seemed like the lower end was lacking. Also, the vocals had a different feel to them - which although may appeal to some, was not to my taste.

    The Arcam. Movie sound was definitely different to the Yamaha. Not as in your face... in discussion with the guy from SOs, I suppose a good way to describe the avr200 in comparison to the 1400 is "more laid back". When I tested the Yamaha - for every scene I looked at, on all the discs, I was constantly aware of how precise the sound was. With the arcam, it seemed more like I had settled with the system... Both machines did a good job of relaying detailed parts of the sound tracks - but in outright performace, I would have to say that the Yamaha was better.

    Stereo sound, as most would expect, was better with the Arcam. The sound was more rounded, and I was more pleased with the base. One particular track I used was Counting Crows "Mr Jones" - and in the opening section, the arcam was clearly better at picking up the snare drum (I think it is a snare:) ) - and also the base guitar as the song progresses...

    Conclusions. Today's test was difficult. I am quite sure that the Yamaha is a better machine for movies. However, to me it is a little birght, and I question whether or not I would enjoy the sound for a whole film?

    For stereo performance, although the arcam was better, I was only pleased, not especially impressed. I think the Rotel 1055 is better than the arcam in this department. In fact, after todays test I am beginning to question my hunt for a combination that will also perform well in stereo. I think that to get something that will be really pleasing for music, I would need a much bigger budget.

    The plan is to look at the Denon and the Onkyo next, and then compare the favourite from each "round" in a kind of "final". I am looking forward to hearing the Denon, as it might lie somewhere between the Arcam and Yamaha...

    At this point I would much prefer to go with the Rotel... although there is an additional cost, I think I would be willing to push the boat out a little. However, with the Arcam avr300 expected in the new year, at a similar prices, I think its worth waiting to here that.

    Hope my views have been useful to some. If others have experience with the amps I am looking at, I would appreciate some comments. Cheers,

    Gav
     
  2. Tejstar

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    Thanks Gavin, that's some very useful info. I'm eager to here your views on the Denon 3803.

    I'm a bit disappointed that you thought the Yamaha was 'bright' as I was really keen on this. Oh well :(
     
  3. gpa

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    You should be able to buy the arcam for under £700.00 if you shop around. I have the 3803, although a staunch arcam follower the dennon was much better than the arcam although as you will find not as good in stereo, you have to decide which one you prefer av or music, but the 3803 is a mighty performer.

    good luck in you quest!!
     
  4. GavinH

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    Tejstar,

    I have been thinking about Yamaha a little more. I think bright/sharp is the best way that I can describe the sound. Don't get me wrong though, I think it sounded great with movies. I would also describe the Yam as crystal clear, and very accurate. For example, the scene in the church, in Saving Private Ryan was very good. The bomb explosions in the background were very detailed, and you could hear the clothes on the soldiers as they made small movements.

    It was when I moved onto more action orientated scenes that I began to think of bright... When there was a lot going on, the Yam seemed to pick it all up, clearly, and loudly. Sometimes it sounded a little harsh on the ears - altough it may be that I just has it too loud :)

    As an example, the Balin's Tomb scene from The Fellowship has a lot on steely, "ringing" action. However, I distinctly remember the bit where Boromir sticks his head out of the door, and 2 arrows nearly miss... the Yamaha did an amazing job relaying that sound, and even though the Arcam was tested second, and I was looking out for it... it wasn't really close.

    In summary, the Yamaha was very impressive with movie sound, maybe a litle "in your face" for me, but then again maybe I could grow acustomed to that, maybe it would play better at a slightly lower volume... Out of the two, I will be taking the Yamaha forward to test against the best of the Denon and the Onkyo.

    Gav
     
  5. EdR

    EdR
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    Gavin,

    just a thought, but have you considered the Harman Kardon AVR5550? I demo'd this against the 3803 a couple of weeks back at Sevenoaks and personally preferred (and bought) the HK - might possibly find that we have similar hi-fi tastes, since my main music system is also Arcam based.....
     
  6. wilber

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    Gavin - you won't find an AV amp that competes in stereo with your A85 - are you having the systems in deifferent rooms? If same room then it's not an issue - I have found it liberating to be only worrying about which amp to buy for movies without caring about stereo music
     
  7. Dimmy

    Dimmy
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    Gavin - your analysis of the RXV1400RDS seems a bit underwhelming, I was hoping it'd be better.

    The brightness & lack of stereo bass depth you mention may very well be the result of Sevenoaks not having sufficiently 'Run In' the amp.

    No doubt they've Ran-In their demo-arcam as it's an old receiver.

    And it also baffles me as to why you care about stereo reproduction on them at all - you have one hell of a stereo setup anyway :D?
     
  8. ahh

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    Gavin: That was indeed a very illuminating post.

    I am myself looking for an amp that would do both things well. I obviously would not expect an AV amp to be as good as a dedicated stereo amp, but I would like to have one that excels at AV and does a good job of stereo as well.

    I do realise that I may be limiting myself here a bit not only by using an av amp for stereo, but perhaps also by using speakers dedicated to home cinema.

    Nevertheless I am still on the look out for the best possible solution for both things, keeping in mind that the best for the combination may not be the best for dedicated systems.

    So far I have only listened to the Denon 3603 with three different speaker systems, namely: Keff Eggs, Monitor Audio Radius and Energy Encore.

    I do want to have a listen myself to the Yamaha 1400 as well as the Pioneer AX5i for the home cinema and music. Hopefully soon...

    -ahh
     
  9. avanzato

    avanzato
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    I've had Yamaha amps on and off for 15 years and bright isn't a word I'd use for them. If anything they have a reputation of being too smooth sounding. They might have tuned the sound differently but I would guess the amp didn't cope well with the 'difficult' to drive M&K speakers. Personally I like to demo with my own speakers or the ones I would be buying to go with the amp and in my own room as well. Will SO let you do that?
     
  10. GavinH

    GavinH
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    Avanzato,

    you may be right about the difficulty in driving the M&K speakers (K7s), but I did talk about this briefly with the guy from SO... It is my intention to go for 3 K17s, so demo'ing with the K7s should be pretty close to what I will end up with. I don't properly understand how the ohm'age of speakers work, but it was suggested that the amps being tested would cope with the job.

    All,

    I am sorry if my comments of "brightness" dissapointed some people :D I think perhaps I haven't done the best job of describing how I interpreted the sound, perhaps I could have found better words... Also, this is the first time I have done any real demo'ing/comparison of AV equipment, so it could be the case the I am not accustomed to the sound...

    Dimmy,

    I think you could have a good point about the "run-in'ness" of the amp - my local SO have only just received the amp, so it can't have been used that much, and certainly not as much as the rotel or the arcam.

    Wilber, Dimmy, Ahh,

    I have been thinking quite a bit about my desire for the AV system to be good like my stereo system is, and have come to the conclusion that unless I spend a lot more money - it wont be :) The stereo system is currently in my bedroom, so when I want to purely listen to music, I just go up there... it has the added benefit of not conflicting with the other living room users :) The main reason that I wanted the AV system to perform well with music is because that will be the system used when friends etc are at the house...

    However, I have now decided that I will judge the AV system on movie PQ and movie sound only. This should hopefully make the decision a little easier as there are less factors involved :)... thus the choice from the first receiver test is the Yamaha.

    EdR,

    I would like to try the HK, especially as you think it may be more suited to my taste. My local SOs don't have any HK amps in at the moment... but it may be worth asking if they could hold of one from another branch...

    Thanks for reading my comments guys, I'll let you know how the next demo goes, which with a bit of luck, will be this weekend,

    Gav
     
  11. mick23

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    hi all
    gavin h

    i have simular kit to yourself but my needs are the oposite to yours i reqiure better 2 channel sterio, i have cdm1nts,denon 3802, arcam cd73t 3802 suites me for av usage though not so keen on its sterio abilities it sounds to flat /lifless for me.

    i have demoed the arcam avr 200 vs 3802 in sterio only and thought the arcam was better at sterio, but i had already purchased the 3802 some time before.

    by all means have demoes of 3803 hk or whatever av reciever and see what you prefer.

    the arcam avr 200 seems to be approx £400-£500 ex dem 2nd hand because of new model coming out.


    if you were to move if practicle your arcam a85 etc to living room use this for 2 channel sterio, and add for example new av 5 channel amp or second hand 3802 for instance approx £300-350 and use the processer mode on a85 and front preouts of av amp you will have the best of both worlds.


    the money you save over trying to find a good av amp to match the a85 in sterio could go towards sub,surround speakers etc, as the cdm are now overtaken by the new BW range cdm surrounds/center are more modestly priced ex dem 2nd hand.

    just a suggestion .
     
  12. Gatto

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    I would consider to include the NAD T762 in your demo list
     
  13. GavinH

    GavinH
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    Gatto, how much is the NAD T762?

    Mick, that is an interesting idea, certainly I had considered something along those lines, but I'm not entirely sure what would be the best thing to do with my existing kit :confused:. How exactly would that work?

    If the A85 was powering font left and front right, when I was using the AV amp, and its pre-outs, would it do any work, or would it just pass it straight onto the A85?

    How does the processor mode of the A85 work?

    I suppose the benefit of this approach would be that I would only need one set of speakers, and the av amp and dvd player would have no requirement to perform in stereo, also I would have my main system usable in the living room :D.

    However... right now I quite like having the stereo system seperate in the bedroom, and at some point in the future I plan to have a dedicated cinema room, so having two seperate systems has its advantages.

    Having said that... if I were to combine the systems now, there would be nothing stopping me seperating them in the future... your right, it is something to consider :eek:
     
  14. wilber

    wilber
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    Connecting and using an AV amp with the A85 is a doddle. Connect front l/r speakers to Arcam. Connect front l/r pre-outs from av amp to dvd/av input of A85. turn everything on (but have the volume low on the av amp). Switch A85 to dvd & press and hold the AV processor / tape button. After about five seconds a green light will go on. Your Arcam will now have a fixed gain for dvd mode all you now need to do is adjust the level of the front speakers on the av amp to match the centre & voila.
     
  15. YS-YS

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    if your looking at that range i would also try the Yamaha 2400, i got a call from my local sevenoaks today telling me its just come in, im off to demo it in the next couple of days.
     
  16. wilber

    wilber
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    Just back from my 1st go with the 1400 and I'm seriously impressed.

    FOTR EE DTS was outstanding and we're not talking battles, I went straight for the Lothlorien scenes. Trees moving in the wind had far more detail, the surround field was exceptional, considering that the fronts were clustered together under the screen due to lack of room and there was LFE by the bucket load where previously there had just been burps. Dialogue came through brilliantly.

    Led Zeppelin DTS disc 2 "In my time of dying" - this had to be better than being there (OK that's a huge exaggeration). Absolutely stonking, vocals and all instruments rendered brilliantly, no jumble and the bass was just monstrous. On my 811 this song (whilst I love it) is a mess in the bass department (ooerr).

    Star Wars tpotm Pod Race (had to be done didn't it) - blew me away (I almost had my credit card out at this point). I know that this mix is great but I haven't heard it sound this good (even at demos at this year's Bristol show). Precision is a word that easily comes to mind, especially near the end where the soundtrack kicks in - absolutely no bother all sounds were where they should be and the music was beautifully rendered. Of course the LFE was great but it would sound good on anything!

    Couple of clips form their DTS demo disc (Minority Report car plant fight (LFE LFE LFE)) and the Bourne ID car chase (whiz woosh) only reinforced my opinion of how good this receiver is.

    So is it Bright? - not really a word I would use to describe it. It's a lot more subtle than the 640 I used to own, but maybe not as subtle as the Denon 3803 which I've previously listened to. Is it loud - you bet, we couldn't get it above -20db before our ears burst.

    Auto set up was demonstrated and does a good job (the only adjustment I think that really was needed was to the sub).

    Video upconversion seems to do what it says on the box.

    Next step bring it home for a play with my room and my speakers - can't wait
     
  17. GavinH

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    Wilber,

    thanks for the report of your demo :) I'm glad you like it. Sorry if its a daft question, but what is LFE? :blush:

    I am interested in your differentiation between bright and loud... especially as you said you didn't get it above -20db... When I was listening to the amp, it was set at -10db, but I moved it down to -11.5db becuase it was kinda harsh on the ears :suicide:

    Perhaps this is where my seemingly rare opinion of brightness is coming from... :confused:

    Sill, the plan is to select the best from the denon and the onkyo, and then compare that with the Yamaha... second time round I think I will revise the volume level :clown:

    Gav
     
  18. wilber

    wilber
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    LFE = low-frequency effect.

    re Bright i'm just saying it's not a word I'd use

    Re Loud - it's the sort of thing many people are interested in - to some, it kind of equates to power I think, mind you this is clearly a massively powerful amp.

    I forgot to mention that a down side is that the sytle police may reject it as it really is the "wrong sort of silver" & I have no idea why Yamaha chose that finish
     
  19. avanzato

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    GavinH: You could try the Yamaha etc. with some other speakers. Richard Allan and Monitor Audio do some in a similar style to the M&K K series, though I haven't yet heard them. My impression of the K series when I listened to them was that they aren't that efficient and the volume need to be turned up more to get them 'loud'. You can have a system that is loud without it being bright. My Klipsch speakers will go massively loud on almost any amp due to their 95db efficiency and IMO they don't get harsh or bright at those sort of volume levels.
     
  20. mick23

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    hi all

    do not know what the yamaha 1400 specs are but just noticed on moorgates site they have a yamaha av amp 3200?? was £1200 now £650, might suite someone.
     
  21. tulloch2003

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    @ :hiya: GavinH did you demo the ONKYO TX-SR701e then. If so was it a good all rounder for music and films please.

    Regards Tulloch
     

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