Help me choose: New Receiver or Stereo Amp?

Discussion in 'AV Receivers & Amplifiers' started by Timmie, Mar 4, 2018.

  1. Timmie

    Timmie
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    Hi all, I’ve been reading some good advice on here recently about how to get a balance between AV performance and stereo performance, can you help me please? Currently I have Sky+ and a Sony BDP-S790 blu ray playing through a Yamaha RXV673 with Monitor Audio Silver 1 as the front stereo pair, Monitor Audio Radius 250 HD centre and 225 HD surrounds. Display is a Panasonic 55VT65. I also have an XLS200 MK2 subwoofer.

    I’d like to start on the path to 4K, Atmos etc. but would also like to improve stereo music. I don’t plan to actually go to 4K yet as I’m not ready for a new TV but I feel the need to start an upgrade!

    Stereo aside I have decided that a Denon AVR-X2400 or AVR-X 3400 would fit the bill. I am concerned it won’t help with music only though so maybe a separate integrated hifi amp would be better. I’d use a speaker switch to switch between AVR and stereo amps. I don’t think I would want to go the pre-out route as that would mean two new amps at once and extra complexity for the family to use the system. Any thoughts would be welcome.
     
  2. gibbsy

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    Which is more important to you at the moment music or 4K upgrade. I suggest you already have a terrific display with the VT65 so a display that can match that is going to take a chunk of money. Getting good stereo music will cost less but is likely to last you much much longer.

    I've very recently bought a stereo amp for music and did think about a speaker switch but I've integrated into the system because I play a lot of concert video and it's brought dividends. For music a stereo amp will easily beat a receiver, even those higher up the Denon model range. Out of the two receivers I would pick the 3400 as, should you wish to integrate, has pre-outs unlike the 2400.

    You do not mention your music source so will you need the amp to have a built in DAC. Obviously you could use the analogue out on the blu ray player for CDs, or are you streaming. Another consideration with the speakers is the bass element, will they go deep enough for you without having to employ a sub (I think your sub has a Neutrik connection?). I just use a pair of KEF R300s as I'm not a basshead.

    My first choice would be the Rega Brio. No DAC.
    Rega Brio 2016 Amplifier | Rega | Audio T

    With it's built in DAC the Marantz PM6006 is a contender and has an excellent headphone stage.
    Marantz PM6006 UK Edition Amplifier | Marantz | Audio T

    I'll only mention those two as I've recently experienced them. Hopefully others will chip in with more.
     
  3. Rambles

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    Hmm, tough one.

    How much do you want to spend?

    Marantz AVR's are quite good for music, you may find that they are good enough for you, so that would save you the hassle and money of having two amps. The SR6012 is £750 and the SR7012 is £1100. If you find them musical enough for your tastes, that's it you're done!

    However, the right integrated stereo amp could sound even better for music, but it will come at a cost. It is probably around £700 for a good sounding integrated amp with decent power output. Then a good, transparent reliable speaker switch, eg the Beresford TC 7220, is around £120, then your new AVR is going to be at least £500. So, a total of £1320.

    I suppose, to start with, if you get the opportunity to have a demo of a Marantz AVR for music, and A/B test it against a well regarded stereo integrated amp, then you would know for sure, which way you want to go.
     
  4. Timmie

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    I guess the most important has to be music as I have no immediate plans to change my TV. Music source is the Sony blu ray player and internet radio (mostly Radio Three). It's the CDs I would want to get the most from. I use both inputs on the sub, the low level for 5.1 and the high level for music with the high level only just audible. A stretch objective is SACD as I've just bought a couple of these, though SACD is not essential. TBH I want to buy the 3400 but I'm a bit nervous... Thanks Gibbsy.
     
  5. Rambles

    Rambles
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    You mention Atmos, are you wanting to add some height speakers?

    If you do buy an AVR with pre-outs, and add an integrated amp to your set-up, it will at least save you on the costs and cabling of installing the speaker switch, plus it will give your AVR a power boost as it will no longer have to power the front left and right speakers, so more headroom to spread amongst the other speakers.
     
  6. Timmie

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    Oops, took too long to type above reply, didn't see your post Rambles. I want to spend at most £600 now with more to come later. If the SR6012 ticked all the boxes then I would stretch or wait for price drops. Do you think the SR6012 would be musically that much better than a Denon 3400?
     
  7. Timmie

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    You're all too fast for me! Atmos would be 5.2.1 with the two Atmos being upfiring not ceiling mounted.

    TBH, I'm not too worried about Atmos as 5.1 works fine for me.
     
  8. Rambles

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    Well, I exchanged a faulty Denon 6300 for a Marantz SR7011, and the Marantz did sound noticeably better for music than the Denon. Quite a bit better. Initially, I thought that was it, a one box solution, and I was done!

    But then I found that I wasn't really listening to music much, because it wasn't really hitting the spot. So, I started listening to some integrated amps and settled on the Musical Fidelity M3i. Compared to the Marantz AVR, it has greater instrument and voice separation, and the stereo imaging is better, and the overall effect just has more impact.
     
  9. Timmie

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    A lot of food for thought here and the other similar threads. Your help is appreciated.

    I had half hoped you were going to tell me to buy the Denon 3400, life's not that simple though :).

    Another option I have is a dedicated music room as I will soon be able to re-purpose a very small room (4.5m x 2m). I could use this for music only and keep the living room set-up focused on AV. I have some old MA Silver S5 speakers to get me started. Is this room size OK for music or will the small size mess up the sound at all?
     
  10. Timmie

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    So, I am getting a strong steer towards a separate stereo amp and I will research that option.

    To give that option some competition what would be the most musical AVR up to £600?
     
  11. gibbsy

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    Long and narrow or narrow and long. Both will work, you may have to treat the room a little, there are others more qualified than me to advise on that, but either way just for music you will have enough room for stereo seperation. I would think that standmounts would serve better in that room which ever way you went.
     
  12. Rambles

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    I am not sure about the room size, a small room could mean more reflections, but then again, the smaller the room the less power you need to drive the speakers, and you could try to add some acoustically dampening material to the room if needed. It's worth a try.

    I thought about doing a similar thing myself, but I wanted to use my best speakers for both films and music, so went for the one room option.

    So, a musical AVR up to £600.... that's a tough one. Possibly a Marantz SR5012, but nobody seems to be selling them in the UK yet. Bit odd that.
     
  13. Timmie

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    Very odd indeed. After looking at the Marantz website that felt like the one for me, but not on sale!
     
  14. High Fidelity

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    a good buy would be the Sony 1080 AVR good for music & video
     
  15. Timmie

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    Sony 1080 does look interesting. It doesn't have pre-outs though which I may regret later.
     
  16. Khazul

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    Marantz, Denon (3400 upwards) models or older Yamaha RX-V781 and newer Aventage series (expensive) if you want pre-outs and I think you should in case you want to upgrade later.

    Bare in mind however that stereo integrated amp with HT bypass capability for use with an AV system are not cheap (500 or so upwards I think), also a few are very fiddly to get into the AVR bypass mode (ie not via a remote) and I can only think of one that actually auto select HT bypass and correct input from an AV trigger control (Yamaha A-S1100 and 2100) both of which are expensive (£1150 and £1650 respectively). The cheapest I know of is probably Music Fidelity M3I at around £530 or so - at least I think that has HT bypass capability, but not sure how convenient it is to switch between HiFi and AV mode or how remote controllable it may or may not be.

    I would go for a decent AVR with pre-outs and see where you stand after that - at least then you get all the functionality you need immediately. If after that you really want to go down the hybrid AV+HiFi route to enhance the music side, then the option remains open to you.
    Also bare in mind that in HiFi mode this typically excludes use of the AV's sub. For complete integration with bass management for music as well, then something like parasound halo 2.1 integrated which is extremely expensive. Other option for sub is a multi-input sub and lots of messing around with measuring mics and room eq wizard (worth it if you want the best of both worlds and have a hifi amp with pre-outs). Sub will need separate LFE in and line ins (or high level speaker ins) and be able to mix them an not use the cross over on the LFE input which it is usable on other inputs - not all subs are so flexible and non of them typically intentionally support this mode of concurrent dual use.

    It is worth baring in mind that if you go down that hybrid route, then while the amp section in an integrated amp will be better, it will take using its pre-amp as well (ie avoid the AVR entirely) to get the best out of it and for the difference to be convincingly audible. That may mean using zone 2 audio out from AVR for streaming sources (or even a separate streamer) and a separate CD player or a higher end universal disc player with a good DAC (combined BD/DVD and CD player with separate analog outs for stereo).

    Hybrid does tend to be expensive eventually, but once you have all the functionality you need and so long as music sound isn't terrible, then a decent AVR also buys you time to decide. Also just adding power amps to AV is of course much cheaper and maybe that is all you eventually need - it depends on whether the AVR as a music source is otherwise good enough for you. For mp3 type streaming, it probably will be, but for lossless playback, maybe it wont be.
     
  17. Timmie

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    Thanks Khazul, the pre-out plus pre-in route does look good, but it just costs too much for me :(. And I don't really have room in my rack for another amp.

    So, current plan is to get the Sony 1080 for the Living Room set-up and over a period of time turn my small room (see above) into a music room, this will also work well from the point of view of making best use of my house. I came very close to getting a speaker switch plus a Marantz amp...

    To every one that has contributed, thank-you very much.
     

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