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Integrated A/V amp or A/V+stereo amp ?

Discussion in 'AV Receivers & Amplifiers' started by Milenario01, Dec 17, 2002.

  1. Milenario01

    Milenario01
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    Hello all.

    Again I come back with a new doubt I am facing:

    I am a current Sherwood 8090 A/V receiver but would like to change it for something getting a good music quality (and specially music), which is currently my Achilles wheel.

    The problem is that I consider the following options and simply ignore which would be better:

    1) Stereo amplifier in a first approach (Rotel RA-01/02 or Arcam A65), hooked to A/V amplifier L/R front preouts and connected to it, the CD player. Later on I would add a good A/V receiver (YAmmy 630, for example) to get Dolby Prologic and other Stuff I do not have now.
    Advantage: this can be paid in two steps.


    2) A full A/V for music/movies. Perhaps Arcam AVR200, which is told to perform decently in stereo.
    Disadvantages: no ES decoding at all, no 6.1. Possible price discount in the following months due to new Arcam release.

    Do you think I would obtain the same stereo performance from the Rotel than for the Arcam AVR200 or it would be similar? Rotel is rated at 40W and Arcam at 90W in stereo. However, I've heard that A65 (also 40wpc) sounds far better than AVR 200 in stereo.

    Any opinions? My current fronts are B&W 601 S2, possibly being upgraded soon to 602 S3 or 601 S3 (and passed to rear channels, of course)

    Thanks !
     
  2. michaelab

    michaelab
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    The AVR200 isn't bad as a stereo amp (certainly much better than most AV receivers, even ones costing a lot more) but you'll get much better stereo performance if you use a separate stereo amp, particularly something like the A65 or RA-02.

    Michael.
     
  3. Milenario01

    Milenario01
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    Thanks, Michael.

    So I understand the stereo amp would improve AVR200 stereo perfomance, despite the power rating difference !!

    Regards
     
  4. michaelab

    michaelab
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    Yes it would. I wouldn't worry too much about the differences in power rating, for quality of sound it's not the most important thing. And for watching DVDs you can easliy configure the AVR200 so that all the channels are balanced.

    Michael.
     
  5. Dazed

    Dazed
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    Can a stereo amp + AV receiver be connected to a sub/sat (Gallo) system in a conventional way or would you have to run the satellites through the sub's crossover thus losing any bass management provided by the receiver/processor?
     
  6. michaelab

    michaelab
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    I would think that you just hook up the 2 front sats to you stereo amp (which is connected to your AV receiver via the pre-outs) and the centre and surround sats to the AV reciever. You then hook up the sub to the AV receiver aswell. That, to me at least, is the conventional way!

    Having said that using small satellites and a sub will be cr@p for music anyway and probably wouldn't be worth having a separate stereo amp for.

    Michael.
     
  7. Dazed

    Dazed
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    Thanks for that Michael.

    In that instance won't the (stereo) signal be going through two sets of pre-amplification - i.e. the preamplifier in the AV receiver and the pre-amp in the stereo (integrated) amp - wouldn't this have a deleterious effect on the signal.

    Beg to differ re: sub/sats the sound from my gallo's plus sub is infinitely superior to the albeit modest B&W 601's which I had before. There is simply no competition at all.
     
  8. michaelab

    michaelab
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    Yes, the stereo signal will go through two pre-amp stages but the deleterious effect this might have is more than compensated for by the superior power amplification of a stereo amp IMO.

    Obvioulsy when listening to CDs you just connect the analog output of the CD player straight into the stereo amp and skip the AV amp alltogether which is really the point of having a separate stereo integrated. However this clearly wouldn't let you use a sub properly in a sub/sat system so you'd need to have 'proper' front speakers. If you're always putting everything through the AV amp then there's really no point in having a separate stereo amp.

    The Gallos are a superior sub/sat package no doubt and to be honest I've only heard them briefly for movie use but I'd be surprised if they could compete with a comparably priced set of 'normal' speakers.

    Michael.
     
  9. Dazed

    Dazed
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    So if the weak link of AV receivers is regarded to be the power amplification stage wouldn't you be just as well off using an AV receiver to pre-amplify and a dedicated power amp to do the grunt work? Or are AV receivers too compromised in their pre-amplification stage due to all the processing gizmos?

    Part of the reason for me wanting to go the Receiver route is my CD player which is an old Pioneer from the late 80's/early nineties - it was quite mid/high-high end in it's day and is absolutely beautifully built however I assumed the DAC's would be hopelessly outdated by today's standards. Thus I was planning on running the CD signal out digitally and employing the DAC's in the receiver to do the processing. Am I correct in my thinking or would I still be better off utilising a stereo amp
     
  10. michaelab

    michaelab
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    The weak link in AV receivers is generally all the digital processing that goes on. Analog input signals are first converted to digital, then all the DSP processing (bass management, speaker delays, and any modes like DPL II you happen to have enabled) happens and then finally the signal is converted back to analog before power amping. The power amps in a stereo intergrated are also a lot better than those in an AV amp

    The DACs in an AV receiver may well be better than the ones in an old CD player but if it was quite a high end player then possibly not.

    FWIW I was in a similar situation this is my current setup:

    Stereo:
    Ancient (12yrs old) Marantz CD50SE player -> Tag DAC20 -> Arcam FMJ A22 integrated amp -> Tannoy Mercury MX3

    AV:
    Philips DVDR 890 -> Marantz SR4200 AV receiver -> pre-outs go to Arcam A22 for fronts and the SR4200 powers the rears and centre (Tannoy MX2s and MXC).

    I got the Tag DAC20 to improve my CD player and it was a very significant improvement, and combined with the Arcam FMJ A22 amp it's a stonking stereo system. AV is less important to me so I'm happy with the SR4200 for DVDs.

    BTW, the analog output of my old CD50SE (without using the Tag DAC20) was still significantly better than using the DACs on the SR4200 and that's a 12yr old player that cost £350 at the time.

    You'll need to try a few things out and see what sounds best.

    Michael.
     
  11. Dazed

    Dazed
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    Thanks Micheal - much food for thought here - I see another thread is talking about the same topic too.

    http://www.avforums.com/forums/showthread.php?s=&threadid=58979

    I think I might go for a one box solution for now and see how it goes. If I get a 2011 or 3802/3803 I'm sure it will sound better than my humble old Marantz stereo amp anyway.

    And thanks to for "FWIW" a new internet acronym to add to the list
     
  12. michaelab

    michaelab
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    Yes - looks like the other thread has covered this in more detail. I would listen to the Denon's first before buying - they're great for movies but don't have the best reputation for music. As far as budget to midrange AV receivers go Marantz are generally considered best for music (and pretty good with films too). Also, I don't know about the Denon's but even the bottom of the range Marantz (SR4200 / SR4300) has 5.1 pre-outs should you want to add a stereo amp later.

    Michael.
     
  13. Lowrider

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    I would just get a separate power, and did so before, you can always use the Direct mode of the receiver to bypass digital processing, wich I also did while I had a receiver...
     
  14. michaelab

    michaelab
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    The next thing on my 'list' is a 3ch. power amp - maybe an Arcam P25/3 if I can find a second hand or ex dem one. However, the direct mode on my receiver isn't that good. It disables DSP and bass management but the signal still goes through the ADC and DAC conversions and of course is affected by the relatively poor pre-amp stage of the receiver. Only really top end processors (like the Tag and Arcam) have a 'proper' analog bypass or 'direct' mode - but if I had one of those then I probably would use DPLII and not need the bypass (like you)!

    Michael.
     

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