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Older pre/pros versus recent ones

Discussion in 'AV Receivers & Amplifiers' started by dunkyboy, Mar 28, 2003.

  1. dunkyboy

    dunkyboy
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    I'm itching for a processor upgrade (currently using a Yammy DSP-E800) but don't have a lot of cash. I've noticed a lot of good deals on older processors, e.g. Lexicon DC1/2, vanilla TAG AV32R, Meridian 565/561, and was wondering how they stacked up to more recent units?

    I recently demoed the vanilla TAG against my own Yammy and it was beautiful - how do the others I mentioned compare to the TAG? Would they live up to it? How much more would I have to spend to get significantly improved performance? (Not looking for 6.1 or silly feature upgrades - concentrating on performance.)

    Is there really that big a difference between, say a 565 and a 568.2? And how would that 565 compare to, say a flagship Denon/Pioneer AV amp? Surely still better?

    Cheers,

    Dunc
     
  2. sounddog

    sounddog
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    Upgrading on a budget from a Yamaha E-800 could be followed in two ways ...

    Either buy a mid-range AV amp, use it's pre-outs to connect the front channels to your stereo amp in the same way as you do with the E-800 now.

    Or look at second hand processors, or the Rotel RSP1066. The Rotel is not going to be as good as a TAG / Lexicon / Meridian processor, but does have facilities (7.1 formats and multi-channel input most notably) that are lacking on the older higher-end processors if thats important to you.

    Remember that if you get a straight processor, you're also going to have to get amplification for your "surround" channels.

    Plus points for the TAG is that you can get it upgraded as your requirements change too.

    Vikki
     
  3. NicolasB

    NicolasB
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    You should be able to pick up an old Lexicon MC-1 for £1500 now - that's the price dealers are selling reconditioned ones that have been traded in as part exchange for the new MC-8. (So a DC2, let alone a DC1, really ought to be cheaper than that). For films the MC-1 is quite impressive. Not exactly precise, but tremendously atmospheric. For stereo music use I don't rate it very highly at all, but some love its Logic 7 music mode. There is no upgrade path.

    £2000 (or a bit more for a newer one) will buy you a second hand Meridian 568 mk I (which can be upgraded to a 568.2 for £700 or a 568.2mm for £1140, so you keep your options open). The mk I is by no means a bad piece of kit. (Better than the original Tag AV32R IMO). I've always felt Meridian processors are just a shade overpriced for what they are, but it depends on your needs. The lack of multi-channel analogue inputs means that unless you invest in a 568.2mm and a Meridian 598 DVD player there is no way to get DVD-Audio playing through it. I'm not familiar with the 565 or 561.

    If you're lucky you might be able to find a second hand AV32R at a fairly good price, and again there is an upgrade path (PL2, DTS ES Discrete, better DACs, 5-channel analogue bypass, 7-channels, dual processors) although (again) most upgrades are far from cheap. I've rather gone off the sound of Tag processors recently, but some people like it.
     
  4. petrolhead

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    What is your budget?

    This is important for people to give you advice.

    The cheapest new option would be the rotel 1066 with you can buy for approx £900.

    If this is too expensive there are a few older Rotel processors around at very good prices. The will be plain DD and DTS but as you have said thats all you want. Second hand ie RSP966 for £285 at Audio T. They also have AV32R £999 see http://www.audio-t.co.uk/html/offers/sh/sh_hc.html

    Sounddog will know more about this than me. There are several old processors ir 966 985 etc Not sure which is the newer but I would gues the 1066 replaced the 966 so £285 seems a good price

    Here is 966 manual www.xlfidelity.se/brux/rsp966b.pdf and 985 www.xlfidelity.se/brux/rsp985.pdf

    There seems to be a few PDF manual here http://www.xlfidelity.se/brux/ - There is also a 976 as well - phew
     
  5. Spligsey

    Spligsey
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    NicB


    I'm watching you:D


    Adzman
     
  6. EvilMudge

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    Adz,
    I doubt he's overly worried about the lone Meridian toting gunman, after angering the Tag mob with
    :laugh:
     
  7. dunkyboy

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    Budget-wise, it isn't much now, but I figure I may as well wait until I can get something I'm not going to be disappointed with in a month's time. So I'm willing to save up for that TAG/Lexicon/Meridian *if* it's worth it.

    How does one of the recent ~£1K Rotels compare to, say an old DC2 or 565?

    Cheers,

    Dunc
     
  8. simonthepieman

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    I have recently gone from denon 3801 used as processor
    (into a five chanel chord amp) to a tag av32 and it is
    much better all aspects of the sound but in particular the bass response ,I belive you use ATC speakers,I use atc 20's for
    mains and an active centre from the concept4 series (like 2
    atcive 10's horizontally). The rears are dipole kefs, all the
    speakers are set to Bass limited at a crossover of 80hz, and
    the control is amazing.I would say the denon is very bad
    at controlling the LFE .1 OUTPUT ( into a rel stormIII sub).

    As mine is a new 32 with bypass I belive it is very good as
    a preamp but I would doubt if it is as good as your Atc pre.
    If you buy an old tag it would not have bypass so if it was used as the "system pre" it may not sound as good depending
    of course on your cd/dvd,on the other hand it may improve them !!
     
  9. nathan_silly

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    I've upgraded from a Harmon/Kardon ADP-303 (DD only) to a Denon AVD-2000 (DPL & DD) and currently have a Lexicon DC-2 on loan- will be getting a MC-1 in a week or so.

    For the money, the Denon AVD-2000 is pretty good. However the customization is very limited, The Lex surpasses it and then some. Since I've only had the DC-2 for a few days, I can't really comment on sound that much, although it does sound better.

    On the Denon- and most cheap processors (Rotel), you can only do so much. Overall treble/ bass levels that will effect everything.

    However in the DC-2 you can adjust settings for each DSP, ie, in Music Logic with PCM you might reduce the subwoofer level/treble/total bass etc. I think the Music Logic mode has a lower crossover for the sub than AV (<80hz). And for AV you might upp the subwoofer level a bit etc.

    And the subwoofer peak limiter is VERY VERY useful, especially with anything less than a stonking subwoofer & badly mixed .1 LFE discs (ie Jurrasic Park DTS- +10dB!!!)

    I've had problems with Rotel processors in the past, so I won't buy another one.
     
  10. NicolasB

    NicolasB
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    :rolleyes:

    :eek:

    ;)
     
  11. Phil Hinton

    Phil Hinton
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    So does that mean you used to like it, and have just recently decided you dont like it's sound:confused:

    As for the original posters question; Depending on budget

    If it's solely for Movies and Music is not a huge importance;
    Lex DC1/2 Around £600-1200 used
    Lex MC-1 Around £1100-1800 used

    The lex is brilliant with movies, but personally after listening to them myself in a home demo i found their 2 channel sound not to great.

    Others to consider;
    Rotel 1066 new at £750-900
    Is certainly a step up on most intergrated amps, and quite musical as well, added to a 1075(£800) is great value with real grunt and power. Also has 7.1 processing (you will need an extra 2ch amp at approx £350.)
    Tag AV32R 5.1 with 192khz dacs,HDCD and PLII around £1500-1900 used. Various upgrades from here inc 7.1 inc software Dab dual processors room eq etc and if you want to add all possible upgrades onto the Processor as originally stated will be £2000.approx, but you can do this in little increments.
    The beauty of the tag is it's musicality and its very nuetral sound.

    The next step up from here will be meridian and bryston, and then some serious kit and money after that.
     
  12. NicolasB

    NicolasB
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    These things are not only subjective, but relative. I used to be pretty fond of Haagen Dasz Belgian Chocolate ice cream. Compared to your average ice cream from Walls or Lyons Maid it's delicious. But since I discovered Green and Black's Organic Chocolate Ice Cream I haven't touched Haagen Dasz.

    It is also possible for something to make a relatively favourable impression the first time you audition it, but for some issue that initially seems very minor to get progressively more annoying the more you're exposed to it. Tag dialogue definitely comes under that heading.
     
  13. Steve.EX

    Steve.EX
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    NicolasB

    "Tag dialogue annoying"??? In what respect???

    Can i say that i use a Tag in conjunction with a Rotel rb993 tri-amping a Kef 202c and for my ignorance find this SUPREMELY satisfying, god knows i have owned (and borrowed) TENS of center channels and amps and only now do i feel i have THE most natural dialogue.
    There is not a trace of boxiness or nasal like harshness, no mid band warmth!
    Such is my confidencce that i would DARE you to listen to it and say 'there's something wrong with the dialogue".
    Please enlighten me further?


    Steve.
     
  14. Nic Rhodes

    Nic Rhodes
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    Dunc

    interesting Q. I am a Tag owner but have experience of all you mention.

    Meridian stuff is lovely, especially the 568 (1 and 2), the 565 / 561 are more basic (av30?) but are still serious performers. All these have Trifield which is really good. 568 is by far the best of this bunch.

    Old Lex (DCs) are just that old now but will still compete with the better receivers but not on facilities. They are priced accordingly. The MC1 is a very decent machine, at £5500 it was way over priced but they do this good trade in deal. At £1500 You CAN'T trade in, ever. What you see is what you get but it is £1500.

    Personally I prefer the Tag and Meridian at that prices talked about and both the 32 and 568 have much life left in themfor all the future developments. The L is what you see is what you get syndrome.

    The updates to Tag an Meridian have greatly improved the sound quality, it copuld be as cheap as just doing the Tag DACs when funds came up all the way to the 192.

    The vanilla Tags / Meridian will still beat the top receivers of today when properly set up, even the baby 561, a full blown 32 / 568 will stomp all over the Pioneers / Denons (and I rate these). You pays your money.....
     
  15. NicolasB

    NicolasB
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    Steve.EX, there's a limit to the number of times I can say "these things are subjective". :) I don't like the way an AV32R (the pre-192kHz version especially) does dialogue, so it isn't right for me. If it is right for you, great! That doesn't make one of us right and the other wrong, it just means that our ears and brains attach more or less significance to different ways in which a signal can differ from the theoretical ideal.

    I've done enough demoing to be confident that if I were to listen to a dialogue passsage on your system, and then on an Arcam AV8, Meridian 568.2 and Bryston SP1.7 on what was otherwise the same system, that I would like the Tag the least of the four. But that doesn't mean that you or anyone else would agree with me.

    I should probably also make it clear that I haven't listened to either the AV192R or the dual-SHARC version of the AV32R. Most of my experience of Tag processors has actually been with the pre-bp192 version, but I have heard the bp192 enough that I am fairly sure I dislike it in the same way....
     
  16. martintyler

    martintyler
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    Nicolas,

    This isnt meant to be a claim that you are making things up (since I know people do hear things that sometimes i dont). But do you think you could pick out those 4 processors in some kind of blind test? I'm not convinced i could.

    So have you bought any more kit or still being a fulltime demo-er? :)
     
  17. NicolasB

    NicolasB
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    If we imagine a situation where all the connections can be changed at the flick of a 4-way switch, and I am allowed to compare all four processors with each other for a significant length of time on a high quality system with different pieces of source material which I've chosen then yes, I think I probably could tell which was which. If you played me one processor in isolation with a room/amp/speakers I had no experience of, then I would have no idea which one it was.


    Bought a subwoofer the other day. Will probably buy a processor within the next week - but then again I said that a week ago. And two weeks ago. (sigh)
     
  18. Nic Rhodes

    Nic Rhodes
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    Following on from Tag recent ABX trials, I did something here for a few work colleagues. These were not scientifically undertaken.

    Cable A and cable B. Everyone preferred cable B. It was actually the same cable but player 1dB higher.

    Cable C and cable D they could not spot a difference, one was a DIY and one was an expensive ‘audiophile’ lead, levels matched.

    Make of this what you want.

    They couldn’t spot amps either but processors was easier (I could do that one!).

    The reality was I played a nasty trick on the 2 people who came over but it made my point. My own experience is most people can’t even spot their own kit unless we are talking speakers in rooms. This is not as easy as it sounds, much like wine tasting. It takes experience.
     
  19. NicolasB

    NicolasB
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    On the amplifier side of things I think you'd hear the difference between a Parasound HC2205 and a Meridian 558.2 pretty clearly. Some others sound much more similar.
     
  20. Nic Rhodes

    Nic Rhodes
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    On 'well designed' power amps both on my mini test and the Tag ABX people could NOT spot the differences despite swearing blind they could beforehand. This is the NORM for ABX testing.
     
  21. Steve.EX

    Steve.EX
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    Mmmm
    Nicholas, subjectively (of course) i agree, what i was actually asking was to what do you find disagreeable/annoying?
    Blind ABX testing (blind leading the blind?) i have found can be as much marrying personal preference as to knowing known quantities of kit (identifing)
    Those that i have met that can "do" this have a trained ability of total disconnection from emotion (i guess that is what i am trying to say?) in a similar sort of thing to sticking a needle through your hand and saying you can't feel it.

    Trying to find a better way to say it

    Steve.
     
  22. dunkyboy

    dunkyboy
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    Okay, I've had a couple processor auditions at the local Sevenoaks and here are my findings so far.

    Last week I compared my Yamaha DSP-E800 with a bare-bones TAG AV32R on their system, which was unfortunately not a patch on my own, and very different in overall 'flavour' (theirs: Pioneer 656 DVD player, Roksan 5-channel amp, Monitor Audio Silver floorstanders, MJ Reference 1 sub, in a big room; mine: HTPC source, 3x ATC Active 10s left-centre-right, ATC Concept 2 sub, Mission 77DS surrounds, in a smallish room).

    To put it bluntly, the TAG blew the Yammy out of the water. This is not entirely surprising considering the price difference. :) It was smoother, more detailed, produced a much more seamless surround sound field, had great effects steering, more controlled bass, and was just more... refined. The sound was sweet and enveloping in a lovely subtle, pleasing way. Tasty! I was convinced - not a mind-blowing, jaw-on-the-floor difference (like when you upgrade to ATC active speakers :cool: ), but a definite improvement in enjoyability, and a worthwhile upgrade.

    After the demo I noticed they had a somewhat tatty looking secondhand Lexicon DC-2 for sale at a rather unrealistic £1900 (you can get them for half that!) Today I went and compared it to the TAG.

    *Sigh*

    I played the Lexicon first and it sounded good, with a very natural sound, lovely surround steering, and great subtle rear effects. Watched all the choice bits from Episode II and was pleased, but not overwhelmed. Put in the TAG and suddenly the bass was less integrated and controlled, voices were less natural and realistic, rear effects were more obvious and less integrated into the surround sound field, as were front left/right effects, and midrange presence and dynamics were sucked out. There was possibly greater detail, and it was probably smoother, but definitely less enjoyable.

    Voices in particular got on my nerves very quickly - suffering from that 'hifi' sound that's meant to be sweeter and more refined but to my ears just makes the midrange loose bite, dynamics, and realism, and the bass sound soft and somewhat uncontrolled. (I seem to remember getting the same effect from Linn CD players and certain B&W speakers, though that was a long time ago so I could be imagining things.)

    Anyway, interesting conclusions to say the least.

    I'm far from finished in my search for a processor bargain. I certainly haven't discounted the TAG completely - I would have to hear it in my own system before I did that, and I suspect it would sound an awful lot better. Unfortunately I'll need enough cash for the deposit if I want to do that (which, unfortunately, is the full price of the unit...), and Sevenoaks are selling off all their TAG stock so it won't be there long...

    Anyway, it's also broadened my horizons a bit. I'm definitely tempted now by the Lexicon MC-1s floating about for £1500... Or, if I get impatient, I may plump for a DC-2 if I stumble upon a good deal. :D

    I'm also very curious to hear the likes of the Meridian 565 by comparison (I'm a veteran of Meridian CD players and they always sound 'right', so I'm definitely interested to hear their processors), and I'm even more curious to hear how the £1000-1500 procs (Cyrus AV8, Rotel 10-somethingorother) compare. Unfortunately it could be quite tricky getting a direct comparison of these.

    Anyway, just thought I'd let y'all know what I've found so far.

    Cheers,

    Dunc
     
  23. Steve.EX

    Steve.EX
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    Duncan.
    Very interesting reading, i would say that if you enjoyed the DC2 then make an effort to have a listen to an MC1 which is a super performer IMO and certainly improved over the DC2.
    It's 1500 price point offers real value for money in peformance stakes but does represent a bit of a full stop for future changes.


    Steve.

    I would be interested to hear your thoughts re: any Meridian/Lex etc you get to hear.
     
  24. nathan_silly

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    Well done Dunky...

    Soon to be owner of Lexicon MC-1 :D :D
     
  25. Paul Smith

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    Hi,
    Another interesting processor is a Citation 5.0 .
    It is definately a dead end product now as Citation are no longer a trading company.
    (The tale goes: they were killed off partly because they were too much competition for Harman's other high end brands... Lexicon, Proceed, Madrigal..., ).

    I have a Citation 5.0 , and got mine quite a while ago for just over £600, which I thought was a great deal.

    The 'Widescreen Review' magazine compared it to the Lexicon MC-1 and gave this opinion:

    "The MC-1's performance when reproducing film sound is excellent but similar in character to (and no better than in my opinion) the Citation 5.0 that sells for a little more than half the price."

    And unlike the MC-1 the Citation 5.0 was highly regarded for it's musical ability as well.
    You would also get the 6-axis mode, Jim Fosgate's previous award winning processing before he went on to invent Pro-Logic 2 (many people still prefer 6-axis to Pro-logic 2 anyway).

    But of course the downside is no dealers have them now so demo-ing one before buying is not an option.

    Paul.
     
  26. Nic Rhodes

    Nic Rhodes
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    Dunc

    try and take these babies home for demo, you will learn loads more about their abilities and how you like them long term. Initial differences aren't always a good guide. MC1 is MUCH better than DC range.
     
  27. NicolasB

    NicolasB
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    Steve.EX, I'd love to give you a more precise desciption of what it is about the AV32R that bugs me, I just don't have the vocabulary. :confused:

    How could I describe it...? Flat? Cold? "Digital"? Metallic? No, none of those are right (sigh). "Flat" is probably the closest, and, as I say, I notice it much more on dialogue than I do on sound effects. Sorry. :(
     

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