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HiFi News AVTech: £1,000 AV receivers comparative test

Discussion in 'AV Receivers & Amplifiers' started by jrpavel, Jul 4, 2004.

  1. jrpavel

    jrpavel
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    HiFi News' AV Tech supplement (www.hifinews.co.uk)) has done it again. After a thorough and informative comparative review of subs there is an excellent comparison of £1,000 receivers (although the graphs are not as useful as they were for the subs).

    The findings are revealing:

    - Arcam AVR300: "composed performance, but not quite in the top drawer"

    - *Denon AVR-3805: "may not have the raw power of the Pioneer, it seems capable of building a more realistic sense of atmosphere" , "dialogue most intelligible of the bunch"

    - Harman Kardon AVR 630: "not as 'hazy-sounding' as the Yamaha but for all its extra freshness, there's very little richness, body and weight to carry the performance aloft. It's a light salad in a steak restaurant."

    - *Pioneer VSX-AX5i "The extra power and grip is immediately apparent ... some suggesation of dryness at the very top (with cymbals in particular) ... sounds impressive"

    - *Rotel RSX-1056: "If you are looking to be transported to the heart of the action, then the RSX-1056 will get you closer than any amplifier at this price. ... bags of headroom, conveying subtle detail, while handling the greatest of impacts ... Confident ... rip-roaring sound"

    - Yamaha RX-V2400RDS: "In multi-channel by-pass mode ... The overall demeanour of the amp is pretty laid back ... there's a softness about its overall balance ... [but it] doesn't sound compressed, muted or lacking in atmosphere. It's digital inputs were a different matter ... slightly lumpy, one-note bass .. amp is a little short of fireworks if still capable of building a good sense of tension and excitement. Choose speakers with care, because it's a party animal only for the gin, tonic and cocktail sausage set."

    * = AVTech commendation

    "The RSX-1056 is our choice for bomb-proof 5.1 performance. Our best buy award ... AVR-3805 ... has more more than a hint of the Arcam's weighty bass, neatly tied-down by the sort of control exercised by the Pioneer."

    Why can't all mags do reviews like this, where you come away with a good picture of the different strengths and weaknesses of the gear under test, rather than having to read between the lines, or reading that everything is fantasic?
     
  2. bluesfan

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    Yes, but very often they give so many plus and minuses against each (in order to keep advertisers happy) that you're still in the dark.

    The other point is these guys keep them for a week. They done run them for six months and have time to change their opinions.

    The fact that most british mags seem to completely ignore US products that wouldn't advertise here (but are available) makes you also question their advice.

    Phrases like 'not quite top drawer' are designed to keep readers buying the mags in search of the holy grail of amps.

    At the end of the day there is no substitute for demos.

    I certainly can't agree on the 3805. Best quality yes, but Arcam and Rotel are the real deal for sound quality with HK third.
     
  3. jrpavel

    jrpavel
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    I found this review more illuminating than most, in the sense that I got a good sense of the relative strengths/weaknesses/characteristics of this pack.

    I'm sure that a longer listen would be better, but a blind panel of professionals seems a practical way of executing this sort of test.

    If a US product doesn't have a UK importer willing to advertise/support them, I would not consider it a great loss to a roundup like this. There are plenty of US mags available here covering US gear. (That said, I have Audio Alchemy and Velodyne gear.) UK mags such as hifi+ which do review foreign exotica contain reviews which I find incomprehensible and no real guide to what to demo: there is indeed no substitute for home demos as the room, speakers, etc, account for at least two thirds of the total effect.

    The Arcam was marked down for inability to hold a level of transparency and ambience as the dound track increases in complexity -- the more intense the sound, the less control is exercised, they say. You may not agree, but at least their views are clear.
     
  4. Mr Pleasant

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    JR, you didn't do a similar (excellent) summary of the sub review you refer to, did you?! If not I'd be very interested to know which makes/models took the first, second and third places. And thanks for the above. Anyone searching for one of those model numbers in the forums is going to find that very handy indeed.
     
  5. Stereo Steve

    Stereo Steve
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    HIfi News are one of the better mags in terms of review accuracy. Glad they gave the Ax5 a good rating, not just me then! Suprised at the Arcam. I've not heard it yet but would have thought it would do better. It's all subjective I suppose.

    The big Rotels are often overlooked. I had a 1055 and it was a very good receiver for music.
     
  6. bluesfan

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    I agree for movie buffs the AX5 is a great piece of kit. I've had a Pioneer amp for 10 years and it's due to go to the kids one day. The AX5 and 3805 have to be considered the market leaders for reliability, quality and price. Rotel and Arcam are just too expensive (and unjustifiable) for many people.

    Did it say whether the AX5 was in ilink mode?

    On the Rotel some people over at audioreview.com gave very mixed views on the 1055/1056.
     
  7. jrpavel

    jrpavel
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    I would recommend getting an offprint for the sub review because the graphs really do tell quite a story. (You may be able to purchase them from the hifi news site; there is also a projector comparative review in that supplement.)

    So far as the subs are concerned, the £2,000 B&W ASW850 was head and shoulders above the rest ("the only subwoofer in this test to reveal successfully the ripple of subterreanean bass that accompanies the canon shorts from the recent DSD recording of Tchaikovsky's 1812 [and] permeate a genuine sense of 'unease' ... when watching [certain] movies even at very modest listening levels"). Of the rest, they liked the £750 Infinity Kappa. The similarly-priced MJ Acoustics Reference 1 "impressed us more for its transient attack than its weighty aftershock", while the £1,500 Rel Stadium III was better on music than rapid pulse LF effects, good for atmosphere (because of a "slightly diffuse presentation"), less so on action.
     
  8. Mr Pleasant

    Mr Pleasant
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    Many thanks, JR.
     
  9. Barend

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    Sorry the hifinews url is dead...
    Barend
     
  10. marck

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    As stated on a previous post, I feel Hifi News offers a fairly unbiased opinion of hifi kit. However, it really does depend on personal tatse and there really is no substitute for demos. At least by reading the mags you get an idea of what to demo... :D
     
  11. Radiohead

    Radiohead
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  12. jrpavel

    jrpavel
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  13. Spoonfed

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    yes digging up an old thread i know.... but wondering if anyone has this review scanned in?

    its the exact price im looking at and includes numerous models im pondering over.

    would really like to see what the complete review says. That super short comment on the Arcam... does more to confuse me than any. Am i to interperate it as the Arcam is "almost at the top" but just beaten by the Rotel (which i guess won) yet still ahead of all others?

    Then theres the * meirt thing which counters this hmmmmmm

    Being in Aust im not certain that the AVTech is even available (can't say i have ever seen it)....... so if anyone does have a scan would be much appreciated.

    Thanks
    Danny
     
  14. fordster

    fordster
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    Has anybody ever managed to find a dealer that stocks all of that equipment? I'm having real trouble finding one. I eventually found somewhere that had a Rotel RSX-1056 in stock (if anybody from B&W, the UK Rotel distributor browses these forums - Guys, sort out your demo equipment policy!). Every dealer I tried said they could sell me one but not get one in to demo. How do I know I want to buy it if I can't demo it? Eventually managed to find somewhere but they don't have the Arcam AVR300 in.

    The Pioneer is too big to fit in my cabinet and I don't like the styling of the Yamaha or HK (poor reason to discount them I know) so I wanted to do an equal (and ideally, blind) comparison of the Denon, Arcam and Rotel. This doesn't seem to be possible so I'll have to compare the Rotel to the Denon and then go elsewhere and compare the Arcam to the Denon and try to be subjective about the Rotel v Arcam. Why is life never simple!?
     

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