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Now I need some amp advice *grin*

Discussion in 'AV Receivers & Amplifiers' started by Smurfin, Jan 15, 2004.

  1. Smurfin

    Smurfin
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    If you've read my thread in the speaker's section, you'll know I'm looking for an entire new setup (almost).

    As I've downgraded, I'm looking for an integrated amp or receiver, and some reasonably easy-to-drive speakers.

    The setup will look as follows:

    Amp?
    Speakers? (possibly something like the Quad 11L's; standmounts which look and sound good)
    Servo 15 subwoofer
    Arcam DV88+ DVD player

    So.....to the amp/receiver question. What should I consider?

    The following areas are of primary concern:

    1. Price - Ideally no more than £500-£600.

    2. Power - although in the long term I'll be in a situation where I can't listen at reference volumes, at the moment I can...so an amp that doesn't break into a sweat when running 5 channels @ reference level would be nice:)

    3. Formats - I'll likely only run it in 5.1, but the option for 7.1 would be nice (i.e DTS-ES discrete etc), THX processing again would be good, especially for those "reference" level moments:)
    Pro-Logic II would also be nice, not essential but I think I should be looking at something more future proof than the kit I'm used to buying:D

    4. Video switching - component video switching would be nice; not essential, and I wouldn't want to sacrifice overall sound quality in order to benefit from this....but like I say...yes please if possible:)

    5. Looks. Who give's a monkey's really? ;)

    So from the list above, what could I get in the 2nd hand arena?

    I'm considering an AVC-10se possibly, which I believe does component switching, THX processing but no PLII and only 5 channels. Is this simply a Denon A11sr without the bells?

    Or....do I look at old flagship models like the Denon A1D (really outdated but power reserves look good on paper); I've had the Yamaha's before, don't want another one for a while;) :)

    Or....do I look to buy some of the newer amps/receivers that are out there? Just how good is something like the Pioneer D2011 compared to something like the AX10i, or the Ax5i? If I were pushing it, the Ax5 is possibility but tbh I don't want to spend £850. And how does the 2011 compare to something old like the Denon A1D?

    Buying new really grates on me now, but for all the sound formats, 7 on-board channels etc, maybe I need to be looking in this direction?

    I can't be arsed to count the number of question marks there are in this post, but I'm guessing it's lot?;) So in short, I need help:)

    To summarise:

    Older amps:

    Denon AVC-10se ? - approx £400-450
    Denon A1D - approx £450-£500
    ?????????

    Newer amps:

    Denon 3803? (no idea what they cost, concerned about the reports of the 3802's dipping so much in power output with all channels driven)
    Pioneer D2011 - £599 brand new, seen one go for £425 2nd hand.
    Pioneer Ax5i - £849 new....don't want to pay that much.

    So what else have I missed? How are HK amps rated? How are they priced?

    Ok I'm really taking the p*ss with the ? now.... :)

    As always, advice is appreciated

    cheers
    Matt
     
  2. Dimmy

    Dimmy
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    You're where I think I might end up when I eventually get to 'finish' my HC setup matt - completely out of touch with what's in the market :D.

    Realistically, I don't think you should be choosing an amp before you've settled on speakers.

    The Denon 3803 has the same power dipping attributes of the 3802. It sells for around £650 new. But that's not to say it won't go loud if you ask it to. I tested it with both Kef's Eggs and B&W's Dm600 S3 series, with which it sounded incredibly easy at reference levels. But it will not cope with difficult loads at all. 6Ohms (i.e. the Quads you're looking at - and 85dB sensitivity?) are about its limit. Four ohms just no, and anything that dips to two you can just forget about.

    I Have heard both the Pioneer AX5i and D2011, but not side by side (hence my thread of 'How much better is the AX5i than the D2011? in this forum'). To my ears they sounded pretty much the same, from what I can remember of the older receiver's performance the AX5i had the edge in stereo, but things might even out a little more if one were to assign the centre-rear channels to the fronts for biamping. In surround both are excellent and I preffered them to the 3803. THey'll cope reasonably well with insensitive and moderately low ohm loads. But Pioneer insist nobody should ever use them with 4 Ohm speakers...

    If you do end up with more demanding speakers (unlikely in the price bracket you're looking at, but I'm sure you'll find something to make advising you even harder ;) ), the older Denons you mention would - on paper - suit you better. Since, as you correctly point out, they have the highest quality poweramp channels.

    Harmon Kardon amplifiers (AVR4450, 4550 and 5550) can all cope with 4 Ohm speakers on all channels, and have extremely high currents on tap for their poweramp channels. So if you want something with newer processing and still descent poweramp channels, they're a very good compromise (but be aware, they sacrifice some processing panache to achieve this poweramp quality).

    Many forum members have spoken good things about NAD's AV receivers as being amongst the best on a budget for demanding speakers. Admittedly I haven't heard any of these, and haven't checked their results in lab testing, so can't comment further on these.
     
  3. Smurfin

    Smurfin
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    Unless I go down the 2nd hand route, I intend to buy both at the same time:)
     
  4. Dimmy

    Dimmy
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    Yes, 'choosing' and 'buying' are different :D. Choose speakers first and find an amp that meets their requirements rather than the other way around :smashin:
     
  5. gipo

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    I wouldnt trust anything dimmy has to say.
     
  6. Nobber22

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    Easy mate. Care to back that statement up with a reason? Or are you just being sarcastic? :)
     
  7. buns

    buns
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    Matt,

    I wouldnt go for the A1D based on things i have heard. Anybody i know who has compared has always been more keen on the av10se. I think the A1D is maybe just one step too far back in time....

    ad
     
  8. Brogan

    Brogan
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    I'm not sure I would subscribe to the "choose speakers first and find an amp that meets their requirements" way of doing things.
    Surely in home cinema it's more important to get an amp that has the features and functionality that you want and then get some speakers which are a good match for it?
    IMO anyway.
     
  9. Dimmy

    Dimmy
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    Brogan - I say this because there's a possibility that you buy an amp with speakers it can't drive very well. For an example, you buy a Denon amp for features and then buy 4 ohm speakers and realise it can't actually drive them as well as you'd like.

    Gipo - was it my attack on budget yamaha kit that got you all hot & bothered? And by all means, if you've got better advice than my own... share it!
     
  10. Dimmy

    Dimmy
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    Oh, & Matt, YGPM (good news it seems!).

    [edit]

    Or not, EmpireDirect don't seem interested...

    http://www.avforums.com/frame.html?...ms/showthread.php?s=&postid=864148#post864148

    What a guess!
     
  11. Smurfin

    Smurfin
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    *bump*....
     
  12. Smurfin

    Smurfin
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    You can do it both ways imho:)

    Anyway, some more questions on amps etc:

    Can anyone comment on how the AVC-10se compares to something like the Pioneer 2011 or AX5i? I have the opportunity to buy an AVC-10se for £400, but it's scratched and one of the pre-outs is faulty: I've also seen a Pioneer 2011 go for £425....so what would constitute the better buy? Is £400 a reasonable sum for an AVC-10se with a couple of issues?

    One other thing I was considering was going down the active route. I could possibly get the front 3 actives for around £1200 (if I went down something like the blue sky route), then using something like the Yamaha DSP-E800 processor could power a set of mission bi-poles with the on-board amps. Yes it wouldn't be balanced tonally, but I've never found that so much of a problem (the SS150 THX tripoles I used to have sounded great, but I still consider them to be the toughest-to-justify cost of £700 in my AV buying history). I have no idea what the processing capabilities of the DSP-E800 are though. I could also possibly buy a Denon 3802 for the processing and rears-power, which would likely be a better processor for admitedly more money?

    God how many options have I got there:D :rolleyes: :confused:
     
  13. Dimmy

    Dimmy
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    They sound like pretty good prices Matt for the A10SE and D2011. I haven't compared poweramp quality of the two unfortunately. But I'd expect the A10SE to have the upper hand (THX Ultra VS. THX Select et-al).

    Don't know anything about active speakers, they're not in my 'territory'. Seems like your flying away from the original proposed budget with each passing day matt :D.
     
  14. Smurfin

    Smurfin
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    With all my AV sales totalling £4500 in the last week, I'm allowing myself £1500-£1600 for amp and speakers:D
     
  15. Dimmy

    Dimmy
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    I've seen near-perfect quality A10SEs go for £450ish on these very forums, which might aid in telling you how good a price the one you saw is.
     
  16. Mark Ward

    Mark Ward
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    Matt,

    Make sure you include "6ch analogue in" facility in your choice of amps. You may not think you want it now but 6ch music (DVD-A & SACD) could become something you wish you hadn't overlooked.

    I recently bought a Sony STR-DB780B new for £165 from Empire and it does sound damned good, had PLII and drives my A1's A2's & A4C pretty well, and I'm sure it'll do even better with the B&W's I bought for that room. However, it is very hard to set up, particularly with calibration as the front pair share a "level" control but you can use a "balance" shift to raise/lower the ditribution between them, that's plain stupid. Controls are quirky and remote has a range of about 6 inches.

    I still wish I hadn't sold my A10SE (even though I got £550 for it;))

    Given the choices above, I'd go for the AV-A10SE which doesn't do PLII but does everything else very well indeed (Incl 6 channel Audio).

    Good luck,

    Mark.
     
  17. Zoidy

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    clearly you need to buy my b+w 603s2's ;)
     
  18. gpa

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    Please do not worry about the 3803 dipping in power, i can assure you there is enough power there to drive most speakers and it has no problems driving my Kefs
     
  19. Smurfin

    Smurfin
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    Mark....I must have misunderstood...you don't mean a £165 integrated amp is running your celestions do you??:eek:
    Have you run them loud with this?
     
  20. Dimmy

    Dimmy
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    I know the STRDB780 has a switch on the back for selecting 4 Ohm speakers, but, damn.
     
  21. JSW

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    Matt, if you feel like a 2 hour drive I have an AX5i and 6 Quad 11L's you can listen too.

    Bry
     
  22. Smurfin

    Smurfin
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    Bry

    Thought you had a Tag and were running power amps?:confused: Or have I got the wrong person?

    I have a demo booked in Sevenoaks bedford for next Saturday, hoping to hear some Quad 11Ls, the only thing is they don't have the AX5i's, so your offer of a demo might well be taken up:)

    Where abouts in Staffs are you?

    btw compared to your active dyns, how does the AX5i and Quads perform?

    Cheers
    Matt
     
  23. JSW

    JSW
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    I downgraded mainly due to lack of use and the fact I kept being pestered by someone who wanted to buy the Tag and Dyns lol.

    The AX5i is great, never listened to so many cd's since getting it, even more so than the TAG. Its diffucult to say why, maybe its the room eq of the AX5i but it is deffinately less clynical than the Tag.

    The Quads couldn't compete with the Dyns in the bass department but theyre still very good in stereo and no sub, but thats not an issue as both where/are only used with speakers set to small.

    The build quality of the Quads is just superb and you wouldn't complain at any pricepoint.

    I also didn't like having to keep turning the Dyns off before bed.

    Bry
     
  24. Smurfin

    Smurfin
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    In terms of movie sound, with detail, steering etc...did you notice a difference compared to your Tag? - i.e when you first switched the AX5 on with the Quads, were you disappointed with the sound as you were used to "higher" end kit?

    And lastly, wanna sell one Quad? (go on, just biamp your front two instead;))

    cheers
    Matt
     
  25. Dimmy

    Dimmy
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    Lol, never mind you Smurf. I think Bry may have just unintentionally convinced me into buying an AX5i.
     
  26. JSW

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    Can't answer that as only had the front 3 with the Tag doing it a great injustice :blush:

    When I first switched on the AX5i I ran the auto eq, then went through a few cd's, sounded a bit bright on the first cd as I recall but by the 3rd it was like :D

    With movies immediate impressions where hmmmmmmm where's me bass gone :confused:

    But as I raised the volume it was deffinately there due to the fact the kitchen door was shaking in its frame :eek: just cleaner than it had ever been before and i'm talking night and day, the eq must have taken out the peak I had between 50-60Hz

    Bry
     
  27. Dimmy

    Dimmy
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    Have you tried it without the EQ Bry? How did the sound differ?
     
  28. Smurfin

    Smurfin
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    The auto eq made a big difference then?
     
  29. Smurfin

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  30. JSW

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    I have as probably most would do, fiddled with the settings manually since and probably upped the bass volume way too much, can't help it, comes from my car audio days and having 8 x 10"s in the back of me nova :blush: was a demo car for dealers though.

    This fiddling has made a lot my cd's too bass heavy and I will be running the auto EQ again to sort it all back out.

    The auto eq'd settings really are good in my room.

    Bry
     

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