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Is there such a thing as a good AV amp?

Discussion in 'AV Receivers & Amplifiers' started by HMHB, Jul 19, 2002.

  1. HMHB

    HMHB
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    I'm thinking of getting an AV amp (between £700 - £1000) - but reading though all these posts is making me think it might not be worth it. I want to it be good in stereo - I like the sound to be fairly warm and not full in your face as this gets on my nerves after a few minutes !
    Are these popular amps any good ? eg Arcam AVR200, Denon and Sony. I think any amp will be a major improvement in AV mode over my current setup - no amp just use the DD sound from my TV - but music performance is important too.
    Maybe these amps are all good but us av-forum people are just too damn picky about everything ?
    Any help/comments would be gratefully received
     
  2. Ian J

    Ian J
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    All three make good AV amps so yes there is such a thing.

    AV amps are primarily for AV use (funnily enough) and if you want to use it for music you will have to expect compromises if comparing it to a stereo amp at a similar price.

    The Arcam is generally considered to be the most musical amp but the new Sony and the Denon 3802 are considered better at AV reproduction.
     
  3. HMHB

    HMHB
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    My stereo amp is crap anyway - so I'll probably be pleasantly surprised by the performance of these amps
     
  4. juboy

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    I totally agree with Ian on the above point and wish more people were more honest about this issue.

    If anything, you're going to need to spend at least two to three times the amount of a stereo amp to come close to similar reproduction from an AV amp.

    The whole idea of 'convergence' with people using DVD players to play music CDs through AV amps and the like is quite frankly ludicrous.

    You either want a car, or you want a motorbike... don't buy a three wheeler!
     
  5. HMHB

    HMHB
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    I don't intend using my dvd player for cd replay - but i don't want the hassle of 2 different amps. I'm not looking for anything stunning for stereo replay - I just want to be able to enjoy the music for long sessions without it getting too tiring to listen to. I suppose what I want is to be able to forget that the amp is there.
     
  6. Brox

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    The Arcam 200 is a beautiful sounding amp in stereo, and good in AV although it doesn't have the 'features' of the Denon, I in my limited experience think it is better, it's certainly warmer and richer sounding than the Denon.

    I think when you have heard it you will buy it.
     
  7. nigel_williams

    nigel_williams
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    I tend to keep my amps separate for this very reason. My Audiolab 8000S and Musical Fidelity P180 pre-power combination is certainly better than my Sony 930.

    I use the pre-amp output from the Sony for front L+R so the Sony only powers centre and rears for movies. My front L+R remain on the Audiolab/P180 for CD stereo playback.

    I have to balance the volume using the test tone but it's quick and easy to do.
     
  8. HMHB

    HMHB
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    I'm coming tothe conclusion that the Arcam may well be more suited to me. Obviously I'll listen to all of them 1st. In my experience all the "extra features" that we crave so much are never used after the 1st few experimental weeks anyway.
     
  9. Ian J

    Ian J
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    If that. I have never tried the DSP modes on my last two amps and never use the video switching or bass / treble controls.

    Hopefully AV will go the way of Hifi where "less is more"
     
  10. Dom H

    Dom H
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    Sorry but that does not make a word of sense to me atall, please explain. As you know AV stands for audio visual. I totally agree receivers aren't going to sound as good as a similar priced 2ch amp because the cost is spread out over more included components. For example the amplifier section in a £1000 receiver won't sound as good in a £1000 2ch amp, obvious I know.

    What I don't understand is this separation of film and music you seem to be trying to get across. Are you saying AV amps are good for film but not music? I don't see the logic.

    It's just bits in boxes as far I can see, sure putting more 'bits' in the same box may lead to slight interference but then again I'm sure you get more for your money, I'm not going to go into the whole pre/pro vs receiver debate here.

    Yes ludicrous :rolleyes:

    Take 2 setups to play a music cd

    1. DVD player as transport fed to receivers onboard dac via digital connection, pre/power amplified by receiver and played through speakers.

    2. CD player to pre/pro to poweramp to speakers.

    Remove all components from their boxes and what are you left with, drumroll....the same process. Sure the dvd drive may cost more/not be as good as it has to perform more tasks.


    Quick question you have £2k to spend (DVD & CD playback), which will sound better;

    1. DVD player + Receiver + Speakers

    2. CD transport + Ext. DAC + Pre/Pro + 2ch amp + Speakers
    and
    DVD player + Ext. Decoder + Pre/Pro + multichannel amp + More Speakers
    (can't play music through a multi channel amp oh no)
     
  11. Ian J

    Ian J
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    No

    You answer most of your query yourself.

    Try listening to some then and comparing them to stereo amplifiers.
     
  12. juboy

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    You can do, of course. Just as you can quite happily watch a DD6.1 encoded DVD through a two channel amp, or even your TV.

    What we're talking about here is electronic equipment that is purpose designed for a specific type of playback.

    Why do the likes of Marantz etc. tweak models for certain markets if it all sounds the same regardless?

    An AV amp is designed, usually, to give more 'clout' and impact to the presentation of the signal as this is what most people prefer to hear when watching films. Not many AV amps are designed to be particularly warm and smooth... which many hi fi amps are.

    Remember also that an AV amp has 5 or more amps within it, how on earth is it going to compare to a similarly priced 2 channel amp?

    Certain speakers also work better with AV than hi fi. Kef's Q series for example is almost certainly an addition to their range which has been introduced with an eye on the AV market rather than hi fi market... although, before you say it, of course it can be used for either.

    Why don't cinemas also double as nightclubs after 12pm then?
    The two are completely different.
     
  13. Zacabeb

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    As a layman with only rudimentary knowledge of audio reproduction, I can see the following reasons an AV amp would not perform as well as a plain 2-channel amp (in a corresponding price range with respect to quality):
    1. Longer signal path
    2. Several function switches and/or relays in the signal path
    3. A high number of operation amplifier IC's
    4. Function switcher IC's used for input switching, rather than a mechanical switch or relays, to accomodate the larger number of inputs
    5. Interference or power dirtying from DSP, logic and video circuits
    6. Bells and whistles occupying a large amount of the price
    7. Different approaches in design
    8. Larger number of components reducing efficiency of heat dissipation
    9. Power supply shared by a larger number of output stages
      [/list=1]
      What is interesting is that with music now entering the world of multichannel reproduction, these two worlds may partly merge. The multichannel amps sold today are made for movies, perhaps in the future there will be ones made for music.

      That is of course, if multichannel will be embraced for music reproduction - perhaps a center channel would be more of a problem than a gain in a proper music setup, but rear ambience channels do not sould like too bad an idea to me.
     
  14. j0hn_r

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    JohnG :- For what it's worth,,,I was in a similar position to yourself 18 months ago (looking for an AV amp which could do a reasonable job on stereo). I purchased an AVR100, and I'm currently borrowing an AVR200.

    To be honest, I'm not too impressed with either in stereo. They are certainly the best of the bunch at the price point, but no where near as pleasant for music as my old alpha one (and that was'nt an expensive amp even when it was new). My advice is to get an avr200 on loan for as long as possible and see if you can live with it.
     
  15. uncle eric

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    Dom,
    If I was a sarcastic person I'd say theres a little more to it than that. How would you get more for your money? Without going into techno babble, I'll try and show you that you don't.

    Lets take a 1000.00 (at retail) two channel amp as an example and for the sake of argument assume that it cost 600.00 to produce and have a two hundred pound margin making it 800.00 to the dealers (I'm not far off I assure you).

    R&D, parts, labour and margin would account for most of the end price when the box hits the dealers shop floor.

    I'd say 9 times out of 10, most any manufacturing business likes to make around the same margin or thereabouts. This rarely changes. That leaves R&D, parts and labour. Now, taking the 600.00 cost of the two channel amp as an example, and spreading this out to make a nice clean two channel amp, this would mean a good deal of research, developement and fine tuning along the way, high quality components and in all probability better build. In fact the manufacturers 600.00 gets spread quite thickly.

    Now take a typical 1000.00 AV Reciever, I can bet my bottom dollar, a "big boy" like Sony for example would always aim for and achieve a similar margin. Spread whats left over R&D and fine tuning but this time very "thinly" as it will have to do a lot more. DTS, DD, DPL, Stereo, DSP Modes, concert, jazz, albert hall, dads shed etc Parts, it will have a Tuner, video switching, optical connections, co-axial connections, a processor for DSP modes possibly another to drive DTS and DD, multi speaker connections, fancy remote, bigger user manual in order to tell you how all the bells and whistles work etc etc etc.
    Oh, I nearly forgot. A multi channel amp. Probably, by this time, one that cost about 50p.
    Do you get more for your money?
    Ultimately, if performance is your goal, the answer is you actually get less.
     
  16. Sinzer

    Sinzer
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    Currently this argument is most probably correct, a 2 channel Hi-Fi setup cannot be matched by a surround setup. However, it is short sighted to say you buy one or the other. We will end up with decent surround sound music systems, this will be improved when they start producing 5.1/6.1/7.1 Audio media, imagine a swirl of drums going round the room, certainly more impressive than my current Hi-Fi.

    As far as Nightclubs not being Cinemas, I take it you haven't been out much lately? :p Most clubs are starting to employ projectors to provide visual hijinks as well as musical, hard pushed to find a decent club round Bristol without some form of video (also there are occasionally film parties in cinemas where Dj's lay down thumping tracks to martial arts movies etc.)

    I went to see 2001 Space Oddysey at the IMAX on Sunday, if you are familiar with the film you will know it relies heavily on Orchestral music, the surround sound in the IMAX was UNBELIEVABLE, made watching the movie a helluva lot different.

    I will look forward to the day when I can buy a Surround Sound music DVD as standard and literally be immersed in the sound (accompanied by visuals if wanted) rather than look at my boring amp and CD player :p
     
  17. juboy

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    I actually RUN a nightclub, so I guess I have some knowledge of the subject.

    What I meant was, most cinemas have much more expensive sound systems than most clubs, but they are designed to reproduce film soundtracks.

    Just in the same way that club systems sound appalling when nobody is in the club, most sound great when it's full. That said, the amps and speakers used are designed to be massively bass heavy, little mid and, if you're lucky, a bit of treble sparkle.

    These systems are purpose designed for a reason, as are AV amps and as are 2-channel amps.

    The answer? Buy both if you want to increase your chance of being truly satisfied with either.


    If that's something that you're noticing when you're listening to music, some would say you've not got the right system together yet...
     
  18. Lowrider

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    If you play music through the direct mode of an AV receiver, it will sound the same as through a stereo receiver from the same brand, with the same power, even better, because the first´s power supply will probably be larger, to accomodate 5 or 6 channels + all the processing...

    The Bryston 3B ST, 2x120, has exactly the same sound as a 9B ST, 5x120...

    I don´t buy that there are different powers special for AV, except that you need more, the task at hand is exactly the same...

    Now, the more processing you do, the worst the sound produced, everything else equal, but it is not AV´s fault, add an equaliser to your stereo, and you get the same result...

    You cannot compare boxes with different components for the same price, it is obvious...

    There where always components with different sound, Bose sounds different than Quad, Yamaha than Naim, etc...

    It depends on the processing you want to do, and the price you pay...
     
  19. Dom H

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    Perhaps my last post was a bit gobbeldy gook, let me try and explain what I was getting at.

    In my opinion there are two main criteria when purchasing av equipment;

    1. The best performing for X amount of money
    2. The best performing for an unlimited amount of money

    Assuming both fit the criteria of the user i.e plays all the media they want etc.

    I think (and this is all in my opinion) someone looking for a system for film and music and has a budget of £x, av amps, dvd for cd playback etc. offer the better solution than separates. Although when the budget exceeds the cost of most receivers then obviously not.

    No doubt someone looking for the absolute best, separates is the way to go.

    For example I wanted a system for 50/50 film/music.

    I brought a 3802, a Sony 900 DVD/SACD and 4 x B&W 600 series.

    To replace the 3802 with a pre/pro and power amp would have cut into the speaker & dvd player budget by quite a bit. Maybe if it were more 70/30 music then I could have got a cheap dvd deck and a pre/pro.


    I assume most would say a 3802 would benefit greatly from separate power amps then for music?
     
  20. Lowrider

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    You bet, I did that before I went complete separates, and the improvement was larger when I got a Rotel for the front speakers, than when I got a TAG + Rotel for the remaining channels... Of course I mean for stereo music, I got many imrovements in other areas with the second upgrade...
     

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