Getting back to AV

UTT

Standard Member
Hi,

New to the forum, I'm running a motley selection of old equipment, some bought new back when I was single and could get away with an annual treat for myself, some second hand. I've currently only got stereo but I'm looking to get back to an AV setup. It'll be used for music more than surround.

Currently running:
Rotel RA-820BX4
Marantz CD30 Special Edition (also have a CD52 mkII - need to get it out of storage and see which is best).
Rega Planar 2 turntable
Technics RS-TR355 tape deck (which is pretty much worn out - will be replaced by a Denon that's also in storage).
Kef Q55.2 front pair
Panasonic TX-L32E5B 32" TV
Panasonic DMR-PWT550 Blu-ray HDR

I've also got the matching Q series center and rear surrounds which, obviously, I'm not currently using with only a stereo amp, and NAD PP-1 phono preamp. I've an old projector - good quality but pretty low res. It'll need upgrading at some point.

While renovating the house I've run fire rated speaker wire (QED). I still need to drop wires down one wall and install boxes and wall plates, but wires for 5.x will be fully run, and wires to support anything up to 7.x.4 in the future are run up to the loft. Completing these would be technically straightforward - getting permission for more speakers in the living room may be less so... I haven't run any wire for subs as the only logical place to put them is near the hi-fi rack anyway.

I used to have an NAD AV amp (can't remember the model number - bought it new for around £600 somewhere around 2001), which basically sold itself to me. Within my price range it was the best AV amp I listened to for stereo music. A Denon was second choice (better for surround, not as good for music). The best amp I heard for surround was an Onkyo, but it was terrible at music. My priorities haven't really changed since then.

However, in what appears to be a common story for an NAD AVR of that era, the amp gradually died a channel at a time and a couple of years ago one of the front channels became intermittent and I finally scrapped it and swiped the Rotel from my father in law's loft as a stop gap (surprisingly, given it's only 30W per channel, it drives the Kefs fairly well).

I also had a Kef sub - the one that matched Coda speakers. It was always a weak link and I bought it second hand for very little, so when careless removal men broke a foot off it I gave it away.

The living room is 40m2, relatively low ceiling but good acoustics. Speaker and seating placement is good, but the TV and Blu-ray sit in a corner and the rack is in the opposite corner... I've run a decent coax to connect to the amp, but it's a 40m run so HDMI is a non starter. I'm fully aware this isn't capable of HD surround (or ATMOS, etc.), but no way was I going to get away with putting the rack in full view next to the TV. I can live with the compromise - a 32" TV in the corner of a room this size is hardly a cinema like experience anyway, if I want that I'll move the source over to the rack and use a projector. If I'm doing that I can run separate HDMI to the projector to support 4k if the projector does. For every day purposes non HD sound will suffice.

So, I'm after an AV amp with at least 7.1 channels, HD audio support but no real need for 4k video. Bias towards good musicality. I've only a small budget (low hundreds), so I'm leaning towards passing on support for ATMOS and going for mid market second hand.

Arcam appeals, but I'm wary of their recent AV amps without a dealer warranty. Not sure if I'd touch anything more recent than an AVR400?
Another NAD, maybe a T748. I'm aware they've had issues as well, but not sure what they are or which models to avoid.

Anything else worth considering? Marantz are regularly recommended as musical, but seem equally often dismissed as not quite doing the trick with music - seems they sit somewhere on the boundary and it depends a lot on taste? I guess Anthem, but not common second hand in the UK. I toyed with the idea of Yamaha, mainly as they seem to have rock solid reliability and reasonable musicality - but enough reviewers are lukewarm about their performance with music to make me think they probably aren't for me.

Any particular models to look for or avoid?

I guess that's a very long winded way of asking which AV amps you'd buy second hand on a tight budget!
 

HeadBanger

Well-known Member
I’d recommend that you take a look at some second hand Yamaha Aventage 50,60,70 or 80 range (80 being the newest of these). Really good sounding for both music and films and build quality is very high too.

HB
 

UTT

Standard Member
Of those, an RX-A860 is probably the limit of what I can get within budget. Anything newer or higher up the range is over budget.

Would you go with that over a higher end but older Yamaha? For example an RX-A1040 or RX-A2030? As far as I can see ignoring the ability to handle the latest video standards (which is unimportant in my setup), the only real benefit of the newer amp is support for ATMOS.
 

shug4476

Active Member
Rotel RSX series are very good with music.

The old Denon flagships (AVC series) were much better with music than the AVRs.
 

UTT

Standard Member
Atmos appeared in 2015 from the RX-A850 upwards, the lower models gained it the following year with the RX-Ax60 models (no, I didn't know that off the top of my head - I just looked it up).

Budget wise, I'm trying to stay under £500 (realized mentioning the Arcam AVR-400 rather confused that - not likely to get one for that, more likely a 300 series). The less I spend the sooner I'll be able to it green lighted - so there's some merit in going for something old and/or not particularly high spec that has already lost a lot of value. That way I can get it sooner and if I decide it's not good enough or want to upgrade the spec later I can probably sell it on for minimal loss. On the Yamaha front an RX-A1010 or 1020 look like the sweet spot - there's not real price premium over the 8x0's and they do everything I actually need. I can justify spending more to myself - whether I can justify to my wife is another matter entirely!
 
D

Deleted member 39241

Guest
I don't think you are going to find an AVR that is good for music, and has modern technologies, for £500. Even used. Unfortunately. I think you should maybe be looking at an AVR and a stereo integrated amp. I would suggest using a speaker switch, but they are £100, so you might be better off finding a used AVR with the technologies that you need, and front left and right pre-outs for connecting to the stereo integrated amp.

You will have to manually adjust the volume control on stereo amp when switching from using it with the AVR and using it for music. But it will almost certainly be worth the effort.
 

UTT

Standard Member
Which is why I'm planning on foregoing the most modern technologies. ATMOS would be nice in future if I can persuade my wife to allow me to install more speakers, but it's not essential and even 7.1 would be a step up. HD surround audio I don't want to forego, but that's been in most amps for at least ten years now so not hard to do. 4k video is irrelevant as I can simply connect directly - as and when I have a projector capable of using it anyway.

Only question there is whether it's possible with HDCP2.2 to supply a 4k video signal to an HDCP2.2 compliant display and, separately (i.e. not using pass through), sound to a non-HDCP2.2 receiver? As far as I can see HDCP2.2 is about the video signal, but I can't see anything that states one way or the other whether it also protects the audio. Either way, that doesn't really affect my decision at this point - as you say, realistically I'd need maybe three times my budget to have both HDCP2.2 and the musicality I'm after.

I'd considered a stereo amp and less musical AV amp - but that doesn't really work cost wise. The Rotel doesn't have a pre-amp bypass (I know that's not essential, but it would be a pain having to balance the volume every time), more importantly it's definitely not got the power to match up to even a lower end AV amp so the front channels will be woefully under powered compared to everything else. Ergo, I'd either need a speaker switch or I'd need to upgrade the amp (the latter makes more sense as it comes with other benefits). That leaves even less budget for the AV amp, and means it'd be hard to even get something that's good at surround.
 
D

Deleted member 39241

Guest
In which case, if you don't want two amps, one for music and one for movies, and you are looking for an AVR that can seriously be good for 2 channel music, in my experience there is only Arcam, that you are likely to find used and on budget.

Cambridge Audio and Nad may be other options, but they are more difficult to find.

I have a Yamaha RXA810 in a second room, a Denon in a third room, and a Marantz in a fourth, I have also had a range of different makes and model AVR's in my main room. Marantz is okay for music, Yamah isn't awful, Denon is terrible. But none of them are really acceptable for the main music system in the house. Okay for background listening maybe.
 

UTT

Standard Member
If you were looking for an AVR purely for movies on a very tight budget, what would you go for?
 
D

Deleted member 39241

Guest
If you were looking for an AVR purely for movies on a very tight budget, what would you go for?
I have been in that position, often!

Personally, I don't buy used electronics anymore, as they have died on me far too often.

I tend to trawl the internet and look for good deals for end of line / open box / ex-demo with warranty items.
 

UTT

Standard Member
I tend to trawl the internet and look for good deals for end of line / open box / ex-demo with warranty items.
That was where I started out back in the day. Although it was trawling the magazines to see what deals Richer Sounds had on back then 😳 I think my first purchase was a Rotel RA-810A - rocking a whole 20W per channel, but not bad for a teenager in the very early nineties. One or two purchases were nearly new second hand (still have them - the CD-30 and Technics). Later on I could afford to buy new and indulge myself with the luxury of dealer demo rooms. Then I got married and had kids...so I'm back to operating on a (relative) shoe string.
 
D

Deleted member 39241

Guest
That was where I started out back in the day. Although it was trawling the magazines to see what deals Richer Sounds had on back then 😳 I think my first purchase was a Rotel RA-810A - rocking a whole 20W per channel, but not bad for a teenager in the very early nineties. One or two purchases were nearly new second hand (still have them - the CD-30 and Technics). Later on I could afford to buy new and indulge myself with the luxury of dealer demo rooms. Then I got married and had kids...so I'm back to operating on a (relative) shoe string.
It is difficult, and I do feel for you.

What about spending the £500 on a nice stereo integrated amp for now, stereo can sound really good for movies if you get the imaging right (do you have a sub?). Then add in an AVR and the other speakers as and when funds allow, or bargains appear?
 

UTT

Standard Member
No need for sympathy :)

Stereo works if I have the source at the back of the room to use a projector (and would with what I have now - although the amp is certainly a weak link), but the only interconnect I have from the TV is coax, so that's digital or nothing.

No sub at the moment - as noted above I got rid of the sub when it was damaged. That's an upgrade for another day.
 

Davekale86

Well-known Member
If you check the classifieds on here I’m sure someone will have a half decent AVR for your budget and will most likely be in decent nick too failing that for your budget you could get the Sony STRDN1080 which in an absolute cracker for music I have it myself and sounds superb in either 2.0 or 5.1 or the Denon X2700 never had a Denon before but I have heard they are good for music too the Denon is a bit more at £649 so would need to raise your budget for that the Sony can be had for £429 they both have Atmos but you don’t need to add extra speakers at this point and even though you stated you didn’t want to go down that route better to future proof yourself then upgrading again
 

HeadBanger

Well-known Member
@UTT

I think Rambles is right if music is your priority on a budget.

If you do go the stereo amp route I have an old Yamaha DSP-E800 in black that you are very welcome to have. It’s a processor with additional centre and rear speaker amplification - your stereo amp is connected to drive the fronts. It’s only got vanilla lossy DTS and DD processing capabilities, no lHDMI, no lossless or Atmos decoding but it will give you decent surround sound.

Let me know if you are interested and I’ll dig it out of the loft at the weekend. Once I’ve checked it still works OK I can post it to you. I’d be happy for this to go to a new home and get used again.

Best,
HB
 

UTT

Standard Member
@HeadBanger that's an interesting but of kit! Never come across one before, but it seems such an obvious idea...

How much would you want for it?
 

UTT

Standard Member
That's very generous! If you're sure I'd love to give it a home. At least let me cover shipping, and I'll undertake if I upgrade from it to pass it on on the same basis via this forum.
 

HeadBanger

Well-known Member
You are very welcome. Give me a few days to dig it out of the loft and I’ll get back to you here ASAP and then we can take to PM for your address details.

HB
 

HeadBanger

Well-known Member
Hi UTT,

Sorry for the delay. I finally struck up enough courage to crawl around my loft this morning and found it. I’ve had it on without issues for a couple of hours now.

Attached are a few pictures. I have the box, remote and manual too. As you will see there are unfortunately a few scratches on the top of the facia but they can only be seen when looking from above at the top.

PM me with your address if you still want it and I will post it today or tomorrow for you.

HB
 

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UTT

Standard Member
Hi @HeadBanger,

I think complaining about a couple of scratches when you're giving it to me would be more than a little churlish! Besides, they won't even be visible when it's in the rack.

Yes, I'd still love to have it.
 

HeadBanger

Well-known Member
It's on the way!

I think a permanent black marker will hide the scratches nicely f they are visible when you put it in your rack.

I hope it gives you as much pleasure as it did me when I first got into surround sound.

Best,

HB
 

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