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Denon 3805 & Bi-amping - report

Discussion in 'AV Receivers & Amplifiers' started by richardS, Oct 31, 2004.

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  1. richardS

    richardS
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    I just thought that I would let those interested know how I got on bi-amping my Denon 3805.

    What is Bi-amping?

    In the case of the 3805, it is the process of using the spare amp (assuming that you are not already using these speaker outputs) within the 3805 [SURR BACK / MULTI ZONE] to drive the base units of your front left and right speakers, whilst using the main front left and right amp to drive the tweaters.

    A much fuller explanation and how to do this is found at the link below.

    http://www.audioholics.com/productreviews/avhardware/Denon-AVR3805_review04.php

    What's the point?

    In a sentence; Better sound quality and stereo imaging.

    Does it really make a difference?

    This is subjective - and ultimately each person has to judge with their ears. As what follows below is only my personal experience - I cannot vouch for you!

    If it's so much better, where's the catch?

    Two things happen in this instance;
    1) You can no longer use the auto setup & mic to balance/setup the system
    2) It is possible that you will get a slight "hum" from the front speakers - more on this later.


    So, on to my situation;

    My equipment;

    Denon 3805 AVR
    Denon 2900 DVD
    Monitor Audio GR20 front speakers
    Rel Storm III subwoofer

    (I won't bother with the rest as they don't come into "play")


    How did it sound before bi-amping?


    I must state first, that if you are interested in the 3805 as an AV amp only then although very good as an av amp, you are missing what I believe to also be an excellent "stereo" amp. I think that the bi-amping element really shows up most when listening in Stereo mode to a cd and not when using it as a 5.1 system. Purely by the act of distracting your mind with an image, the sound takes on less importance - and the vagaries of Bi-amping perhaps have less of an impact.


    My thoughts before I went through Bi-amping were that although the sound from the Denons/GR20 is excellent (probably the best I've heard from an AV amp), either due to the room, which is somewhat "bright" or because the amp/spearkers simply weren't up to it, the sound was excellent in the base, good in the treble, but somewhat thin in the mid range.

    I have always wanted to have an AV system that could work well for movies, but could also double as hifi. Perhaps the reality is that this is always going to be a compromise, but the 3805 certainly comes close - and for my money (and price point) is superb at both (stereo and AV).

    So - I "bi-amped" for stereo listening primarily and consider anything that it gives for AV as a bonus.

    What I found

    Again, let me first say that my music tastes are varied, but booming base is certainly not my cup of tea. My Nivarna of base is something that is very tight. I like music to be on the warm side, but with very clear, crisp treble and very tight base. I tested the sound out using Damian Rice, Crowded house, Deacon Blue, Norah Jones and Diana Krall as well as some other more "noisy" stuff.... (yeah...you get the picture...I'm middle of the road, middle aged!! :D )


    And.....

    Yep....it sure does make a difference.....How much of a difference is really impossible for me to quantify for you, but for me, it's worth it. I found that boosting the "bass" amp by +4-5db has not only added to the bass frequency response, but has also added to the mid range. There is a marked improvement in the general "fullness" of the sound. The stereo image has also become fuller....but then maybe I took too many drugs when I was younger and I'm hearing things....

    As for the sub - well, I have always been a little worried that subs should be nowhere near a hifi system, so I tried it off initially....once I have found the level for the base without it, I switched it back on. There is an element that the sub adds, so for now, it's still on. Again...this is not set to wake up the street nor sound like Godzilla is just around the corner....but is without a doubt mandatory for AV.

    "And what about this hum?" I hear you say... Well, yes....it's there...BUT...you have to be standing next to one or other of the front speakers to hear it and quite honestly, the hd/fans on sky + are noiser. 5ft from the speakers and it's gone....unless you live in a soundproofed room, without playing anything and you've been taking hearing lessons from a bat.

    Conclusion

    For me, I think the time I spent fiddling with the wires at the back of the 3805 (and my, what a pain that was) was worth it. It's not going to blow your proverbial socks off (and it really shouldn't be so different, or something was not right in the first place)....but it does make a difference.

    The hum....ho-hum - I can live with...

    The thing is....you could probably achieve a similar result without bi-amping but using the EQ and boosting the base response.....But for me....that's nearly as bad as using those pre-programmed room effects - so if this is you....quite simply, don't bother with bi-amping.


    I'd love to hear what anyone else who has tried this has found.....
     
  2. bluesfan

    bluesfan
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    Nice report but tell me did it make any difference to the hum/hiss to switch fronts to tweeters and woofers to surround?

    I think bi-amping and boosting the bass/treble are different things. I don't think you can achieve the same oooph benefits of bi-amping just by eq stuff but that's my view.
     
  3. richardS

    richardS
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    On your first point..not quite sure what you mean. I wired the front terminals of the amp to the two top posts on each speaker - I made the assumption that the top posts were the tweaters. The two bottom speaker posts were wired to the set of terminals furthest to the right of the back of the amp....zone 3.

    On your second point - I completely agree...but some may want to go the EQ route (but as you say..it will never be the same as bi-amping)
     
  4. bluesfan

    bluesfan
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    Then you are fronts to the tweeters already Just wondered if there was any change to the hiss by swopping them around? In your case front terminals to bass and tweeters to zone 3.

    Shame you can biamp with Arcam but not Denon as I'm not interested in 8 sepeakers in my living room!
     

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