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Denon 3803 or Pioneer VSX-D2011 as processor - which?

Discussion in 'AV Pre-Amp/Processors & Power Amps' started by Smurfin, Jan 20, 2004.

  1. Smurfin

    Smurfin
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    Over the last week or so I've been thinking about the different routes to take to maximise sound quality and performance vs cost.

    What I've come up with is the following options:

    2nd hand, high-powered integrated amp/receiver (i.e Denon AVC-A10se), passive speakers, probably brand new (auditioning Quads this weekend, trouble is they don't have any amp comparable to what I'm likely to buy).

    2nd hand, lesser powered amp but with more features etc (i.e Denon 3803 or Pioneer VSX-D2011), actives across the front 3, cheap speakers like some mission bipoles for sides and 2 cheap monopoles for rears.

    In the next couple of days I'll be auditioning some active monitors, with some passives at the weekend, but without hearing them I'm erring towards the actives (though the proof is - of course - in the pudding).

    Why am I looking at actives?

    Well I want an amp/receiver with all the latest functions, but unless I start looking in the flagship territory then the power amps will likely be found wanting when driven loud (simultaneous channels I mean)...and I have to look at easy to drive speakers.

    Adding 3 actives for the front will give me oodles of power, and coupled with latest processing features etc this sounds like a no-brainer?

    Obviously the processing won't be a patch on my old Lexicon Mc-1, but I'm guessing it won't be a slouch in this department either?

    So onto the subject of the thread....

    I can (likely) get the following receivers for 2nd hand prices:

    Pioneer VSX-D2011 - £450
    Denon 3803 - £520

    With actives which will likely be very neutral (thinking possibly Mackie 624s or Dyn BM6A's amongst others), I'm just a little wary of the reported sound of the Pioneers - people describe them as quite harsh (though of course this varies with opinion), is this likely down to the processing or just the internal amps? (which will be bypassed if I'm using actives for the front 3).

    The Denon as I understand, I reputed to have more of a warmer sound (again I'm sure this varies with opinion), which may make a slightly better match with very "neutral" speakers?

    The other pro's and cons of the amps as I see it are:

    Denon 3803

    Has all latest sound formats inc dts-discrete, Dolby-ex, PLII, component switching, and video upconversion.

    Pioneer VSX-D2011

    All the latest sound formats, plus THX processing (which I like for reference level playback), auto-setup inc equaliser, component switching.

    On paper I like the sound of the Pioneer, especially the "idea" of the auto-setup feature and the 5 band equaliser...just how good is this though? (does it work like a BFD?). Although missing the video upconversion, this doesn't bother me too much as I will only be running 2 sources via the amp....my dvd player and x-box.

    I'm probably rambling now, so I'll finish with one last question: is my logic above misplaced? I'll be saving a fortune on my prevous setup, and maintaining a strong, powerful front soundstage; just sacrificing a little processing finesse and front/rear tonality. Otherwise, is my thinking sound? opinions are - as always - welcome.

    cheers
    Matt
     
  2. chrisgeary

    chrisgeary
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    having gone totally outboard with amplification, i can honestly say that the 3803's processing is actually pretty good - its the power amps that let it down. the main problem is that it can't drive all channels at its rated output, so by going outboard, not only has imaging and dynamics improved, but meeting the transient power needs of movies, and music for that matter, is done with ease. I don't know the Pioneer, but I suspect it is it's amps that are harsh, not the processing.

    I think your logic is sound.

    Chris
     
  3. Dimmy

    Dimmy
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    First things first Matt, the 5 band Parametric EQ of the Pioneer is nowhere near as accurate as a BDF. What the EQ of the pioneer does is match all of the tonal characteristics of the Centre/Surround/Centre rear/sub? to the main L/R speakers by altering the treble/bass characteristics for each channel. Aswell as setting channel delays, volume levels etc etc. It's nowhere near as sophisticated as Tag's TMREQ, but if you're using rear speakers which are tonally 'out of check' with the fronts, the EQ might be useful for giving a more balanced soundstage. I don't think it gets along with subwoofers too well though.

    You could PM Damtom, who used an AVR2803 as a processor for an RMB-1075, and yielded very positive results.

    With regards to the Denon sound being 'Warm', I think this is the fault of the poweramp channels. Replace 'Warm' with 'Safe' and that might give you a better idea. I've heard the Denon 1803/2803/3803 and between the three the difference in sound quality most depended upon setup and speakers used. The 3803 had considerably better processing than my 1803, and had a slightly easier time at reference levels. The 2803 wasn't much of an improvement really. To my ears the processing of the 3803 didn't really begin to approach the heights scaled by your old DC-2, but it's near impossible to tell when using it with Kef's Eggs.

    The Pioneer - as I remember it - had a very 'forward' sound that - were it not for THX Post Processing - could definitely be labelled as 'bright'. But it did have the more cinematic sheen to its sound beside a 3803. The poweramps had a slightly 'brittle' quality to them, but again, with a monster like a Servo 15 in place and biamped front-channels this probably would have ceased to be an issue.

    Were I in your position, I'd go for the pioneer.
     
  4. tk2001

    tk2001
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    Hmmm.

    I'm not entirely convince that this warmness is purely at the fault of the poweramp channels.

    I have previously owned the Denon 3802, A11SR and the KAVC-A1SE (upgraded to A1SR specs) and all of them exibited the same 'warm' sound to them. It wasn't until I sold my passive speakers and used the A1SE as a pre/amp and only after directly comparing the Denon to seperate processors such as the Merdian 565 and the Lexicon MC-1 that I realise that the warmness was down to the Denon's pre/amp.
     
  5. kill3r

    kill3r
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    Just to clarify a couple of points from the above, the Pioneer MCACC - on all models - calibrates the left front speaker only and then matches all the other speakers to the 'tuned' left front. This is based around 5 frequency bands and to a response curve determined by AIR Studios to be the optimum for each model when properly calibrated at their studio. The idea being to get close to the same sound in each installation (which, of course, will never happen).

    You can then keep all speakers EQ'd independantly, EQ'd to match the front L/R pair or completely un-EQ'd.

    The MCACC does not apply frequency EQ the subwoofer in any way, although it does set it's distance and level.
     
  6. Smurfin

    Smurfin
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    Thanks guys, any other views with what I'm proposing?
     
  7. Dimmy

    Dimmy
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    Are you looking at the BlueSky Actives? They look very promising.

    Won't sell my 775e's quite yet though :rolleyes:.
     
  8. Smurfin

    Smurfin
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    Yes, heard them tonight alongside the dynaudio BM6a's.
     
  9. Dimmy

    Dimmy
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    How'd they compare to your Celestions/M&Ks?? I'm beginning to experience the same problem as yourself - the 77C1 is driving me insane.
     
  10. Smurfin

    Smurfin
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    Impossible to compare given a different processor/listening environment.
     
  11. Spligsey

    Spligsey
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    In other words.........Yeah, they ******ed all over them:D


    Adz
     
  12. Smurfin

    Smurfin
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  13. Dimmy

    Dimmy
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    :) - good :D
     
  14. chrisgeary

    chrisgeary
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    i agree with tk - it is down to processing. as a test last night, i compared the processing of a meridian 561, the 3803 and my old yam a3090. the yam was also driving the centre and rear speakers in all cases.

    we used the 1 Giant Leap DVD - the results were interesting. for a while now i had suspected the 3803 of sounding compressed. first off was the meridian 561. vocals were extremely well presented, clear and articulate. the 5.1 audio mix was lively and vivid. unfortunately (and this may be due to an ongoing problem with my dynaudio 122s), it ultimately sounded rather harsh and we had to keep the volume down.

    i then changed to my 3803. immediately we noticed that the vocals had become suppressed. clarity was lost and so had the harshness - almost completely. but the sound was flat and uninvolving

    then i re-commissioned my old A3090. it confirmed my suspicions about the 3803's processing being poor. the DVD was lively again, dynamics restored and vocals much clearer. although it was not quite as well presented as the 561, it was certainly the best of the three (i am convinced my front 3 dynaudios are harsh sounding now)

    i'd be inclined to stay away from the 3803 matt - its processing is very poor, i'm sad to say. i will be selling it but i'm not sure for what yet.
     
  15. Smurfin

    Smurfin
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    Thanks Chris, looks like it will be the pioneer after all then:)

    Now to bloody find one....:D
     
  16. hindutimes

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    Smurfin
    I'm selling my 2011, B&W S3s and Rel Quake cherry in package.
    I bought them last June 2003 and hardly used as I don't have much time to play with them plus I want to learn guitar now.
    Let me know if you're interested.
     
  17. Dimmy

    Dimmy
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    Ooo, Rel Quake - better replace your servo Matt ;).
     
  18. Smurfin

    Smurfin
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    I am, drop me a pm to discuss.

    cheers
    Matt
     

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