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DENON AVC-A1SR vs PIONEER AX10i-S - relative brightness

Discussion in 'AV Receivers & Amplifiers' started by homecinema, Mar 12, 2003.

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  1. homecinema

    homecinema
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    My partner and I recently auditiond the PIONEER AX10i-s and DENON AVC-A1SR. We heard them with CD for stereo, DVD (Mission Impossible II flamenco scene 5.1, Start Wars I - race scene THX Ultra2 Cinema). The source was the Pioneer 757 with i-link for the Pioneer and 5 cables for the Denon. We independently found the Pioneer rather too "bright", and even over a short time, found it a strain to listen relative to the Denon. The Denon sounded warmer, and the only thing we could fault it for was that relative to the Pioneer, the commentary (by the two headed lizard) in the Star Wars race sciene, seemed a little muffled with the Denon relative to the Pioneer.

    In terms of gadgets, bells, whistles and overall connectivity (i-link allows more flexibility perhaps), I would have gone for the Pioneer, but having heard the "warmth" of the Denon, I feel there's no comparision. Note the feed was 5 cables no i-link.

    I spoke to Pioneer about this and they acknowledge that the 10i-S is brighter than the AX10 original. They seem to think it is designed this way so perhaps I am alone in not liking it??
     
  2. Robbie Gnome

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    Hi, just seen your post. Can't offer an opinion on the Pioneer but being an owner of a AVC-A1SR and owned in the past the AVC-A1 I can highly recommend investing in a Denon. The power of this unit will keep going beyond the point where your sanity kicks in. Saying that, it also performs as well under minimal volume as it does when given it's head. Am constantly surprised at the detail it extracts from even the most UN-Blockbuster type of films.

    I am sure the Pioneer is as well specified as the Denon and I suspect they share a lot of internal components!!! but in my limited experiance I can't imagine the Pioneer or any other Integrated Amplifier could reproduce the results we get.

    Go for it, grab the Denon, it's come down from it's original £3000!!! Tag to around £2500 - BARGAIN

    Let me know how you get on. Also out of interest what speaker combination are you going for?

    I can highly recommend the KEF THX Reference Range. Sounds sooooo sweet in a 7.1 configuration but a bit long in the tooth now but you know what they say, "Many a good tune played on an old violin"
     
  3. homecinema

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    Thanks for the reply - it will be used with the KEF THX Reference series, with an extra 2 x 34DS and an extra 45B.

    The only negative I can really find with the A1SR is the Denon-Link. It limits one to DENON source units and they are too expensive. The i-link is more attractive for this reason but not enough to favour the Pionneer. What is more attractive is the speaker balancing provided by the Pioneer AIR technology.

    What do other Denon users say about the AX10i-S?

    And where can I read something which debunks the speaker-cable mythology? Someone at Pioneer sugested that Van den hol (CS-122?) cable might tame the "brightness" of the Pioneer.
     
  4. Spligsey

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    homecinema.


    Was the Pioneer operating in THX processing mode when you demo'd it?..That can help take the edge off the top of the soundtrack....The KEF THX package is still a really good speaker setup:smashin: and from my memory has a very nice tonal quality, certainly wont add any additional 'top' to the chain.
    If you've got normal living room furnishings (carpets, sofas, pictures, etc..etc..) i cant see the resulting sound being too much of a problem..


    Adzman.
     
  5. gmt steve

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    You seem to be completely ignoring what your ears are telling you. i.e. that the Pioneer is too bright for your taste. Do you want someone to tell you that you're wrong, and should buy the Pioneer? Why bother wasting a salesman's time when someone on the forum can just tell you which one to buy.
    Obviously 95% of Denon owners will tell you to buy the Denon, and visa-versa with the Pioneer. If sound quality is the most important criteria to you, then buy which you think sounds the best. If price is the more important, buy the cheapest, etc, etc.
     
  6. Robbie Gnome

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    gmt steve hit the nail on the head, if your concern is the tonal quality but not the financial go with what sounds the best TO YOU, otherwise go for the cheaper amp. Have noticed alot of AVC-A1SR owners are running theses 5 year old speakers. Good old KEF, if it ain't broke dont's fix it, although I did hear rumour they were thinking of discontinuing this range!! Either way mate your gonna end up with the mutts setup. Let us know how you end up parting with your hard earned, suspect your leaning toward Denon
     
  7. homecinema

    homecinema
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    Well, no - I'm afraid you've missed my point. I'm obviously NOT ignoring what my ears are telling me, otherwise I wouldn't have posted that I found the Pioneer too bright would I?

    What I am asking is if OTHER folk find the Pioneer too bright. I'm intrigued by the possibility that Pionner have purposely left it this way for the contemporary UK market. I have heard that other folk my age have "70s" taste, and that most current equipment is "clear" or as I say, bright. If so, there's possibly been a shift in this market's preferences which does not include me in the demographics (getting old I guess :))

    As to the views of most Denon owners, I suspect the AX10i-S has not been out long enough for many to properly compare it to the top Denons. Pioneer say that the AX10i-S is "brighter" than the original AX10 even.

    I certainly don't plan to spend this sort of money on equipment solely on the basis of what it may sound like in one environment - not without asking others anyway.

    In my experience it is rash to put too much faith in ones senses without ensuring that they have plenty to sample from <g>

    http://www.longley.demon.co.uk/frag.htm

    But thanks for the suggestions.
     
  8. ReTrO

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    I'd have been more tempted to run the 757a to the AVC-A1SR by digital coax.

    Did the system not have a sub? That would have required 6 cables.

    Not wanting to sound overly critical, but it just suprises me.

    Good luck in your choice.:smashin:
     
  9. gmt steve

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    Being the owner of a VSA-AX10 and a Kef THX speaker system, then I suspect that the brightness you are hearing could be due to the MCACC. When set to 'all channels adjust' the first impression is of brightness, of being 'hot' in the treble. But this is the sort of acoustic that a sound studio produces, and this is what 'all channels adjust' tries to emulate. If this is the way that you auditioned the setup, then try cycling through the three options on the MCACC. It's really easy to do 'on the fly', just press the MCACC button on the remote. This will go through the options in this order: All Channels Adjust (matches the Air Studio acoustic); Front Channel Align (matches all speakers to the main L&R) and finally Off (will probably be the fairest comparison to the Denon). Bear in mind that you can adjust the settings to suit your own taste, but this will be far more complex than the Auto Calibration. I personally tend to watch films with the fist setting and on the rare occasion I listen to music in my AV room, I turn MCACC off. I would like to apologise for the tone of previous post, which having re-read it today, did seem overly belligerent. I must have been in a 'bad un'. Hope this helps.
     
  10. homecinema

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    Aha ! Now that is VERY helpful. Not having very much practical experience with the Pionner I may have missed out on that comparison. The chap demonstrating did say something about this but didn't really go into it. Coupled with what I've read elsewhere in another AV newsgroup and that the new AX10i-S is even brighter than the original AX10, it may well be worth our re visiting the shop next weekend to check this out. I'll give them a ring, quoting you, and see if they are prepared to go through the options 'on the fly' as you suggest. Thanks for the suggestion.

    And thanks for the apology - much appreciated.
     
  11. gmt steve

    gmt steve
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    Ah, now we really are getting somewere my freind. If it is the case that you did listen with the MCACC on, then it wouldn't be an exaggeration to say that the difference is like night and day. As for the store you demd' at, just ask to have the remote whilst you sit and listen. The button you need is in the bottom right of the touch screen, on the main page of the Amp screen ( there are two pages; Main and Sub). As you press it, it cycles through the options, showing them on the front of the amp. What I don't understand is why the new 'i' amp should sound any brighter. AFAIK the main overall design is unchanged, the differences being the i-Link, two custom MCACC memorys, better banana sockets, a calibration disc and the loss of THX Re-Eq on modes other than THX. I suppose Pioneer might mean it's brighter when actually using the i-Link, and that in that case brighter actually means more clarity.
     
  12. zaphod

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    As an owner of the AX10 I have to say that there is an awfull lot of mods you can do on the sound especialy in DD or DTS mode where I find that with the processing turned on, it recreates the best integrated surround sound I have heard . I expect though that you probably had it demoed without the mcacc. The increase in brightness is probably due to the tweaks they made on the amp because the japanese hifi critics did not quite like the original. The japanese tend to go for a more strident treble output. This could be modified by using the MCACC but at other costs.

    Regards
    Zaphod
     
  13. homecinema

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    We listened to the DENON and PIONEER flagships again, and put the PIONEER through the recommended options. We only listened to Stereo material (and briefly listened to the Denon 3803 which can best be described as relatively "thin" compared to the two flagships).

    The Pioneer sounds bright regardless of what one does. The Denon sounds "warmer". One could say that the former is "clearer" or lacking in base, or that the latter is a bit more rounded, or fuller or "deeper". It comes down to what one feels one can listen to at length.

    I'm sure one just gets used to whatever one selects - people will come to love their AV amp regardless, just as they do their babies. But why why why do manufacturers decide to colour the signal they are supposed to be reproducing with "Hi-Fidelity" - it's a contradiction of objectives in my view.

    Does a comparative review exist? One which objectively reports the frequency response curve at different volumes?
     
  14. zaphod

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    There is a major problem here The pioneer allows you adjust the frequency response. The mcacc system implements a 9 band graphic equaliser on every channel which can be manually tuned to any frequency response you desire. It also includes 2 user memories for custom settings. Straight out of the box the pioneer will sound brighter but if desired can be adjusted to sound very dim. You cannot possibly have gone throgh all the options on the amp unless you where in there all day. I get very annoyed at a lot of dealer demonstrations they do not have the time to properly set up and understand what are very complex pieces of kit . Saying all this though if you use the amp for two channel music reproduction more than for movies then the denon will be the better bet. For DD and DTS I dont think anything will beat the pioneer . Even the new TAG is using a pioneer type calibration system.

    Regards
    Zaphod

    P.S. Although the MCACC system is very good it is not perfect and some manual tweeking is neccesary after the automated sytem has done its bit.
     
  15. Timmy B

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    Just accept it, he prefers the much superior A1SR:p
     
  16. homecinema

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    I certainly hadn't appreciated that at all. I cycled through the alternatives on the remote, but did not have the opportunity to change anything via the graphic equalizer options. From what you say it sounds like with that, one might be able to use one of the user option settings to make the Pioneer sound like the Denon. As you say though, it'salmost impossible to do that in a two hour demonstration unless one has a lot of experience with the feature already. I may well quote your post in a fax to the shop, asking if they have the time/inclination to set the Pioneer up so that it sounds like the Denon. It would also help if they could have switched with no delay between the two amps.

    You say the Pionner leads when it comes to DTS and DD5.1. We found it bright/clear here too, but we also found the Denon a little muffled on say, the two-headed creature commentary before the race scene in Star Wars I. The Pioneer was clearer, but we were concerend about long term listening. Even though the Denon was a little muffled, we felt more relaxed watching the film with the DENON. The Pionner's "attack" kept one on edge. I wasn't too happy about being kept alert by an assault on my ears rather than the actual content of the film. If this can be user controlled then the Pionner deserves another, more respectful look.

    Thanks once again - you've given me something concrete to work with.
     
  17. Jonesthegas

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    I'm thinking of buying a top end integrated AV amp and these 2 are top of my list. I haven't heard either yet. However, the Denon will need to sound appreciably better than the Pioneer as the iLink connection and the MCACC are killer features in my book. Stereo performance is irrelevant to me.

    Martin
     
  18. homecinema

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    Well, that's my predicament. Prima facie, the Denon *does* sound better (it did in THX and DTS as well). I'd be interested in hearing what you think of the two when you do get to audition them. I agree that the i-link and MCACC are very appealing features, but spend 10-15 minutes listening and you will see why I have, to date. rated the Denon higher (as did my partner quite independently).
     
  19. graxxor

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    You see, I'd think the opposite. MCACC and i-link would have to sound significantly better than the Denon for me to choose them. I enjoy the "simple is best" idea. ;)

    Why is the i-link the killer feature for you? Is it that you want convienence? I can understand people being pleased with the MCACC as that feature is great for od shaped rooms or rooms with response spikes etc. But i-link?

    Is it a case of "If it has it, use it... It's a waste not to..." or "gadget freakism v. old and boring"?

    Sound quality is everything (after price ;) ). I don't believe that the marginal jitter correction and so-on with i-link would provide an audible improvement at a level that can be appreciable with kit as cheap as the Pioneer and a set of THX speakers anyway.

    It might prove an audible difference (due to codecs/nr etc) but *improvement*... Hmm...

    ymmvg (g stands for greatly ;) ) obviously...


    As "Homecinema" said... Go for what sounds best rather than brouchure padding features (like the Denon Link debacle).

    I doubt that my DVDA1 will sound noticably better than my newly upgraded A1SE through the Denon Link... But, I'll give it a go in any case....

    Just playing Devil's advocate...
     
  20. Timmy B

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    Also, the denon has more powerful amplifiers and DSP's which are twice as fast as the Pioneers. The pioneer uses the same old dsp that was in the old tag, the denon a11sr and 3802.
    The A1SR uses dual configuration of new HammerHead SHARC 21161, as used in the new tag. It also has higher quaility DACS, dolby headphone, and imho, superior build quality. Seeing as it can be had for as little as £2100 from discount tv, why even consider the pioneer :p

    Can any one guess which av/amp I have :)
     
  21. EvilMudge

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    I do have to laugh at the man who says that simple is best and then complains about iLink and MCACC.
    One firewire cable for audio, and an automated setup procedure - please Pioneer make it simpler!
    Whereas the Denon is much more difficult to setup, and if you want SACD you need a truckload of phonos, and two players if you want to use Denon link.

    As for the DSP issue, well the MC-12 is not exactly using the latest and greatest DSPs and no-one complains about it's processing performance.

    If you prefer the sound of the 1SR, then by all means buy the Denon. Don't buy it because you want a simpler machine.
     
  22. Jonesthegas

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    The iLink is a killer feature, I believe for the following reasons :-

    1) It is a very small cable.

    2) It is digital so there is no interference from mains cables. Thus better sound and all the DA conversion can happen in one place.

    3) It is a network protocol, so you can link all your devices in series rather than to each other, as is the case now. Thus it will cut down on wiring massively.

    The MCACC will be useful to me because I am too lazy to do it manually.

    Martin
     
  23. Daneel

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    As far as I understand it, iLink is just what Pioneer has decided to call a standard Firewire connection. It is much used in the computer industry and so is compatabile with a lot of other equipment.

    The Denon solution is proprietary and so will only function with other Denon euqipment.
     
  24. Jonesthegas

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    I think, from what I have read that the iLink connection is a subset of IEEE1394 (firewire) which has been accepted as a standard for the audio/HiFi industry. Denon's version is proprietary and will only work with other Denon equipment.

    iLink devices should become standard in the next year or so, Pioneer have just been quick off the blocks.

    I look forward to a DVD player without chroma bug and with an iLink and SDI outputs.

    Martin
     
  25. EvilMudge

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    SDI will probably never appear on mainstream kit, because there is no easy way of copy protecting this interface. DVI (w/HDCP) is the digital interface for video that most companies will start putting on their higher end products (those that haven't already that is). If Pioneer's current strategy continues expect to see an iLink and DVI connector bearing replacement for the old 939 player by the end of the year.
     
  26. steve k

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    I wan't to get one of these amp's the chepest place I'v seen them for sale is at Tectronics.


    My question is has anyone had dealings with this company when ordering from them, they say that they are a main dealer for Pioneer and they do not deal in grey imports, any feedback welcome.
    Also read in one of the Hi fi mags today that the B & W CDM series went well with this amp.

    I heard this amp with the Kef QX series speakers at the Bristol show but it was only with music, it sounded ok to me but other people on these forums said thet didn't like them.

    Any thoughts welcome :confused:
     
  27. homecinema

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    At least tell us how much they are selling them for <g>.
     
  28. steve k

    steve k
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    Sorry about that :suicide:
    The price they are selling it for is £2179.62
     
  29. Ettepet

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    Have a look here.

    This topic is a continuation of a thread at that forum anyway.

    As I stated there, the MCACC is not able to rid you of the brightness of the pioneer, as isn't bi-amping. It was built to be (relatively) bright, with the "All-Ch Adjust"-setting making it even brighter. As far as I have been able to tell the brightness in the pioneer is partly distortion, not any worse (but different) than the distortions in the denon.

    It all comes down to a matter of taste which sound you prefer. The brightness hasn't been a problem with me sofar, and I am very happy with the advanced features the pioneer offers over the denon.
     
  30. Jonesthegas

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