Answered How much does the amp *really* matter?

phAge

Active Member
Got a HT 5.2 setup in the basement with XTZ speakers all round and 4x12" nearfield subs behind the main listening position.

Powering it all (well, apart from the subs) is an old Yamaha RX-V1900 amp and, since I tweaked things with YPAO, XTZ Room Analyzer II and DSPeaker-Anti-Mode 8033 II it sounds - to my ears - great.

However, I'm aware that the amp is getting a bit long in the tooth (think it's about 6 years old now) and, while it was pretty great when it launched, things have - I presume - moved on somewhat since then.

I've spent a fair bit of time on the HT, and I see supposedly excellent, new amps go for reasonable amounts of money, so I can't help but wonder if I should be looking at an amp upgrade, even though my Yamaha is still very much alive and kicking.

TL;DR: How much more than watts is there to a home cinema amp, and what am I looking at gaining by upgrading my 6 year-old Yamaha, considering that I'm NOT going to go Atmos or add additional channels anytime soon?
 

Rambles

Distinguished Member
DAC's, pre-amps, video pass through, support for new audio codecs, onboard networked streaming features, room correction, new audio upmixers, ARC, eARC, new HDMI and HDCP support, to name but a few.

However, all of it can be worked around or replaced with other, mostly inexpensive, devices, and the main issue here is that if you like how it sounds, just enjoy it :smashin:
 

dante01

Distinguished Member
I guess you mean an integrated AV receiver when you say amp? An AV receiver is actually an amalgamation of different processes packaged within a single unit. The 4 main aspects now associated with an AV receiver are the processing and pre amplification, the room EQ correction, the bass management and the actual amplification inclusive of powering the speakers.

The element that most now appear to put the most importance upon is the room EQ correction. Although I recognise that a good EQ correction system can make a lot of difference, I'm not so ready as some to put more importance upon this than the core base abilities of the receiver's amplification capabilities and the quality of its DAC. Room EQ correction deals anamalies with your room EQ and doesn't change its signature sound. Neither can it improve the performance of solid state components incorporated into a device or its DAC. Basically, it is only of any use if you've issues with the acoustics of the room in which you intend to use it.

The actual processing and use of codecs by AV receivers is much the same irrespective of the model, but the various manufacturers do add bells and whistles to their prodicts in order to differentiate what they make from what their competitors make.

When push comes down to shove then it is still the hardware amplification capabilities of an AV receiver that distinguishes them from their competotors, followed closely by the room EQ correction that manufacturer has adopted for use onboard their receivers.

If not wanting to add more channels then you limit yourself to the lower to mid level mainstream AV receivers which your model's hardware amplification probably still exceeds and usurps? There are exceptions to this with the like of NAD and Arcam making 7 channel receivers that would need external power amps to add more channels if required, but you'd be paying a premium for such 7 channel models in return for the superior hardware you'd get in association with them.

By the way, your RXV1900 is closer to being 11 years oldd as opposed to the 6 years you suggest.
 
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MIKEVO

Well-known Member
In your case, I wouldn't bother upgrading, unless you decide to go 4K with the Video options.

The Power Amp section in the Yamaha is quite beefy and you are only using 5 channels out of the 7, but doesn't have much current drive for 4 ohm speakers, so the only potential upgrade would be to add a Power Amp, but the gains may be minimal.
 

phAge

Active Member
11 years - damn...

Basically I'm wondering if an AVR (thanks) upgrade to a new(er) model will be worth it in terms of improved spatialization, bass management and so on, considering that I have tweaked my current setup with YPAO, DSpeaker and XTZ Room Analyzer?

The RX-V1900 supports DTS HD-MA and the other 5.1 HD audio formats, so any gains to be had with a new AVR will be in the quality of the sound it puts out (as a result of DAC, room correction and so on) - not how many channels it supports.

Would you bother upgrading from the Yamaha, if your immediate future didn't contain more channels than 5.2?
 

dante01

Distinguished Member
The manner in which it deals with bass management will be much the same. It is basically still a matter of you manually telling the receiver not to treat your speakers as being full range (large), designating them as being small irrespective of their physical size and then assigning them crossovers to use to redirect frequencies to the active sub or subs connected to the AVR's sub pre outs.

Channel steering can be perceived as being better with some models when compared to others, but you'd not really expect a more recent model to portray this in a marginally better way than you'd experience with your current receiver.

The issue you have is that the manufacturers reserve and incorporate the better DACs and components for their higher tier models which are now invariable at least 9 channel models with the emphasis being upon them being used to orchestrate Atmos and DTS:X 3D immersive setups. If you want the better DACs, capacitors and dynamic power associated with these models then you'd still need to buy these models because you'll not get these improvements in association with the lower tier 7 channel models.
 
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gibbsy

Moderator
Would you be upgrading just for audio quality or to get the newer tools available on any new amp. Your current amp is pretty beefy and you are obviously enjoying how it sounds. When you make an upgrade it should really be a significant step forward, if you forget the new 'tools'. Pretty pointless making it a sideways.

I think you may have the onset of the dreaded disease, namely upgradiatus, which effects people from time to time. I feel for you.;)
 

dante01

Distinguished Member
If you were willing to spend about the same as the RXV1900 originally retailed for then you'd have £1K to play with. The nearest I can get to your current receiver's rated amplfication would be the RXA3070 for £1.2K:

Yamaha RX-A3070 Aventage Black 9.2 Channel AV Receiver w/ MusicCast - AV Receivers / Amplifiers - AV Online - UK Home Cinema and Hifi Specialists

This is actually not the most current model from Yamaha, but was last year's flagship model now replaced by the A3080. It is a 9 channel receiver, but as I said, you'll get the highest grade of both components and DACs Yamaha utilise within their AVRs with this model. If you'd asked about this a month back then you could have had one for £1K. This appear to have gone back up in price since then.
 
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MIKEVO

Well-known Member
11 years - damn...

Basically I'm wondering if an AVR (thanks) upgrade to a new(er) model will be worth it in terms of improved spatialization, bass management and so on, considering that I have tweaked my current setup with YPAO, DSpeaker and XTZ Room Analyzer?

The RX-V1900 supports DTS HD-MA and the other 5.1 HD audio formats, so any gains to be had with a new AVR will be in the quality of the sound it puts out (as a result of DAC, room correction and so on) - not how many channels it supports.

Would you bother upgrading from the Yamaha, if your immediate future didn't contain more channels than 5.2?
No, I wouldn't. As gibbsy states, I think you may have a mild dose of upgraditis. I would wait for the symptoms to become much more serious before seeking further advice. ;)
 

phAge

Active Member
Thanks for the answers, guys - sounds like I'm better off saving my money for something else (FWIW I was strongly considering upgrading my subs to a pair of these a couple of weeks ago, before I regained my senses).

My question was mainly due to a friend of mine, who recently upgraded his AVR to a 1-2 year more recent model (of similar price but 4K passthrough-capable) and claims to be able to hear a "major" difference. I think most of it is down to endowment effect, though.
 

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