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Pioneer AX10i, Denon A1SR or Rotel separates?

Discussion in 'AV Pre-Amp/Processors & Power Amps' started by Godfather, Apr 8, 2003.

  1. Godfather

    Godfather
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    Someone is offering to buy my Pioneer 2011 receiver at a good price, so I have a chance to upgrade to something a bit bigger and better. Budget is around £2k, so the obvious contenders are the Pioneer AX10i (£2200), Denon A1SR (£2500), or if I go the separates route, Rotel 1066 processor + 1075 poweramp (£1840). I really like my Pioneer 2011, so upgrading to a AX10i would have been a no-brainer, were it not for the positive reviews of the Rotels on these forums. Am I right in thinking that the Rotel combo would offer better performance than the (more expensive) Pioneer or Denon?

    I won't have a chance to go for a demo for at least a couple of weeks, so I'd be most grateful for all your comments and suggestions that will hopefully steer me in the right direction. :)
     
  2. EvilMudge

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    I'm sure Sounddog will give you a more detailed answer but I would be tempted to go for the Rotel, as then you have the option of getting a better processor or power amp as you see it fit at a later date.
     
  3. Godfather

    Godfather
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    After years of using integrated amps, I'm indeed tempted to go for the Rotels. Can they be bought for less than full RRP anywhere?
     
  4. Steve.EX

    Steve.EX
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    I am not so sure that the Rotel pair would sonically outpeform either the flagship Denon or Pioneer, in fact you moght add to the arguement that the two integrated options are better specified and with individual "bonus" features (I-link, MACC) not to mention THX2 etc.
    Certainly the two integrated amps would be "dead" money as regards future system expanding as opposed to the Rotels seprates approach which would allow "drop in - drop out" replacement of individual parts.
    As too which sounds best, personally i would expect both the integrated amps to be at least on a par (i have heard both and thought them both to be very good indeed) if not better than the Rotel seperates and i am a Rotel fan and a user of seperates.
    In this instance both the Pioneer and Denon should perhaps not be considered as the performance "compromise" to which can readily be applied to lesser models such as the 2011/380?.
    If it is performance over future upgrade paths then i would not be so quick to discount the Denon/Pioneer.
    Of course home trials is inevitably the best advice anyone can give you, particularly when about to drop the sort of money you are talking about.

    Regards

    Steve.

    Also of note that as well as the Rotel the Denon AND Pioneer output stages are THX Ultra specified and would be capable of driving most speakers.
    If you looked into it (which i can't be bothered too to be perfectly honest) i would suspect that all units are using similarly specified transformers, (but most likely the Rotel will have more capacitance - but this is relevent in part to the efficeincy of the transformer)
     
  5. trendes

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    I. too, would go for the Rotel option having auditioned both the Rotel 1066 and RMB 1075. I bought the RMB 1095 in the end and got an 17.5% discount off the RRP. No one should pay the full RRP IMHO.
    Cheers
     
  6. Godfather

    Godfather
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    Thanks for the advice Steve.

    Trendes, how/where did you get 17.5% off RRP? That's tax-free shopping!
     
  7. sounddog

    sounddog
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    I have the RSP1066 and find it very good especially when it comes to sound quality. Having said that ... my reference point was a Marantz SR5200 which (while no sloutch for the money) isn't upto the level of your 2011 and especially not upto the level of the AX10i / A1SR. How it compares to those I don't know as I've not tested it ... but as meantioned they are both THX Ultra certified (the RSP1066 processor isn't THX certified but the 1075 is THX Ultra certified IIRC). One place where the 1066 has really impressed me is in straight 2ch stereo through analogue inputs where is compares very favourably with the RA-1060 amp I had previously.

    In comment to Steve.EX's comment that the Pioneer should drive any speaker ... people have reported problems driving 4ohm speaker loads with it if that is an issue for you and I've heard reported that Pioneer don't recomend 4ohm loads themselves. This however shouldn't cause you problems unless you are wanting to listen at close to reference levels.

    You should be able to get at least 10% off the RRP of the Rotel kit - but you won't find it advertised at bargain prices like you will the Denon and Pioneer.

    Vikki
     
  8. jhjerpe

    jhjerpe
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    Being a bit dim..... what does 'listening to reference level' mean?
     
  9. Dazed

    Dazed
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    Not much of an expert but if I was in the same situation as you I'd have no hesitation at all in getting the AX10i. It's a very, very good package. Sound is meant to be very good, THX certified up to the eyeballs, MCACC with 9 bands of EQ, what looks like a very good RC and the deal clincher, iLink.
     
  10. HotblackDesiato

    HotblackDesiato
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    Dolby Digital has a reference level at 105dB for the main channels, 115dB for the LFE from recollection...to you and me...pretty dam loud.
     
  11. sounddog

    sounddog
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    very loud!!

    PS. makes more sence if you don't chop words out of that sentance fragment!!

    Dazed ... agree that the AX10i looks good on paper ... but THX certification isn't the be all and end all - some companies chose not to persue the certification route (i.e. Rotel decided not to for the RSP1066 from what I understand) ... the killer feature to me is the MCACC equalisation.

    On the flip side is that an RSP1066 and RMB1075 is less (Rotel's RRP vs AX10i street price) and more flexible for future upgrades - replace the processor and keep the amps.

    Vikki
     
  12. Steve.EX

    Steve.EX
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    Vikki.
    With all due respect i very much doubt a 1075 will drive low impedance speakers to reference levels either for any great period of time.
    Regardless of Pioneer (if you look on the back of the big Denons they too will say 6-16ohms or something like that) a THX certified power amp will be stable into 4 ohms, as i recall the mandate is that it is stable to 3.2ohms.

    I would also add that at this price point THX processing is bread and butter rather than "nothing special"
    IMHO THX processing is important.


    Steve.
     
  13. sounddog

    sounddog
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    Sorry if I didn't make myself clear ... but I was just passing on information that other people had gathered. There HAVE been reports both in the UK and US of people running Pioneer AX10 (not sure if it was the i version) with 4ohm speakers, and having the amp cut out on them at highish levels. Also (in another thread) someone did report having talked to Pioneer (UK I assume) and been told that the 2011 would not drive a set of Dynaudio 4ohm speakers, and that they didn't even recomend their AX10i with 4ohm speakers either --- my appologies if I've misrepresented anything there ... but that was my understanding. How this compares to what the RMB1075 would do I don't know ...

    I agree that THX certification is expected at this price point ... but it does add considerably to the cost of a product and so some manufacturers (i.e. Rotel) choose not to pursue that route for cost cutting reasons - in fact the 1066 has a little "THX" icon on the LCD display but it doesn't do anything as they couldn't get THX certification in for the price they wanted to sell at (from what I understand). The 1066 does have a Cinema EQ function that does the same as THX post-processing EQ.

    Vikki
     
  14. Steve.EX

    Steve.EX
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    Vikki,
    No apologies necessary, perhaps it was i that did not explain myself clearly.
    If you say there has been problems with the Pioneer then i would not doubt you.
    However for THX Ultra certification an amp must deliver a minimum of 100w (or there abouts) into each of it's channels continuously regardless of whether it is a 2/3/5/7 channel amp.
    The fact that this is 100w into 8,6 or 4 ohms regardless is the "let off" that the cheaper Rotel's require. There is no requirement for doubling/50%/20% or even 1% delivery increase between 8 and 4 ohm loads, as long as it will stick 100w into 4 then there you are.
    It should be tested to drive a continuous 3.2 ohm load without falling over.
    My original post did say "most speakers" which could be applied to 99% of amps.
    Nominal impedance ratings on speakers are a similar statemenr to "how long is a piece of string".
    Some of the older Kef ref speakers had stiff ish impedance rating's but in real world performance, were real bitches to drive with impedance dips below 2 ohm's (nearer 1 IIRC) - not many amps would fancy 5 or 7 of those U571 "stylee" at reference levels.
    It does seem very strange that Pioneer are saying "don't use 4 ohm speakers" - i find it most unusual that a company would make such a statement regarding their "statement" amp. It maybe that this particular package is a match for all integrated options and then again it might point to poor design aspects.
    Certainly NicholasB (i think) was using Rotel 991's (@200w/p/c) which are powerful by anyones standards and felt theu did not have the gumption to drive his speakers and changed for Bryston's IIRC which i believe have a lower quoted w/p/c/ output but are massively endowed when coming to sheer heat those voice coil CURRENT.
    It is till surprising to me that numerous(?) complaints have been made regarding variuos(?) speaker matching on such a prestigous 2.5k+ machine.

    Re: Denon/Rotel "cinema E.Q" i should be interested (i will look further into this) to hear of any definitive acknowledgments of proprietry algorythms employed a la THX timbre matching, decorrelation, etc etc. As with my listeneing's to Denon/earlier Rotel processors/amps i had come to the conclusion that their E.Q was simply a shelf type filter knocking some of the top stuff off, i would like to hear from anyone who actually knows different.


    Regards

    Steve.
     
  15. jhjerpe

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    Sorry worked in PR for to long.... I miss quote people for a living :D
     
  16. fyonn

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    as I understand it, the rsp1066 (I have one too and I think the world of it) needs more than just money to pass THX certification. it also is missing several vital bits of THX spec, like bass peak limiting, specifying of speaker distances in length, not time and several user interface requirements. as I recall from a post in htguide, rotel have said that they can't (for whatever reason) convert the timing into distance.

    I used to have a pioneer VSA-E07, which was their flagship of several years ago. I don't know how well it compares with the current flagships but I had it powering my kef reference 1's, which as steve said are nominally 4 ohms and they dip a fair bit below that. at the time I thought they sounded great but then I got a good deal on a sony tan9000es 5 channel power amp and they really improved how my kef's sounded. the added a large amount of bass that the pioneer didn't seem to be able to deliver.

    I've since sold the pioneer and bought a 1066 and then an RB991 stereo power amp. the 991 improves my kef's over the sony although not as much. I live in a flat so I've never listened to anything at reference levels I admit, btu the 991 has never shown any sign of having a problem.

    I admit the ilink and mcacc stuff does sound rather nice and it is tempting but I reckon that the amp's in the rotel 1075 would be better at driving hard speakers. the rotel amps are all, I think, rated into 4 ohm's.

    so I think it depends what you want, neat features (and they are neat) or upgradeability and flexibility. perhaps by the time ilink becomes a common thing the pioneer will be old hat and you'll be wanting to upgrade to get support for that new overhead channel (or whatever). the rotel solution won't give you that, but you can flog the processor and still use the poweramp, and they are good power amp's in my limited experience.

    dave
     
  17. Godfather

    Godfather
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    MCACC is nice indeed, but I'm competent enough to setup the system with my SPL meter and a measuring tape. The equalization my Pioneer 2011 makes only a small difference in my room, and I could live without it. (I only use equalization for movies anyway, not for 2 channel music). To be honest I'm not sure what I'll use the i-link for, unless I get a compatible DVD player e.g. Pioneer 757ai.

    There seems to be little argument about the quality and performance of the Rotel poweramps, but there seems to be certain 'issues' with their processors (e.g. no THX certification, can't enter speaker distances, etc). May be I should save up for a bit longer and splash out for a Tag?
     
  18. Steve.EX

    Steve.EX
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    Now you are talking!

    Steve.
     
  19. sounddog

    sounddog
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    fyonn ... you could well be right about it missing features to be able to be THX certified ... certainly as you say you have to input delays as ms not as distances.

    Godfather ... yes the TAG is better and I don't think anyone has been disappointed buying one ... though I don't think anyone buying the 1066 has been disappointed either - anyway I reacon you could probably get a 5.1 AV32R second hand plus a S/H 985 or even new 1075 for the same as a AX10i. There is also a new RSP1098 due out later this year (May ish time) for around £1800 but that is of course an unknown quantity.

    The MCACC does more than just set delay for distance IIRC though - it also includes a 9(?) band parametric EQ (from reading I guess you realise that but others might not).

    (RE Pioneers comments over 4ohm loads ... the thread I was thinking of is this - http://www.avforums.com/frame.html?http://www.avforums.com/forums/showthread.php?s=&threadid=75353 - towards the bottom of the first page is a post by Jon Leach which I'm just taking at face value having remembered reading posts in the past about probs with 4ohm loads and Pioneer amps)

    The Cinema EQ setting I don't really know much about ... just assume that its THX style post processing (the fact it was an assumption wasn't make clear earlier).

    Hope this helps ...
    vikki
     
  20. Steve.EX

    Steve.EX
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    It would seem that both the Rotel and Denon re-EQ facilities are indeed a simple filter that rolls off the highest frequencies (i am as yet unable to find specific slope and range numbers).
    They do not include equivalents for decorrelation/timbre matching (5.1 or EX) - which for some will be something or nothing.
    When i owned a 3801 i employed re-eq without finding anything to grumble about,
    I personally find THX EX processing to be as enjoyable as any 6.1 discrete soundtrack.
    I am as yet still undecided re THX2 processing (i have the function but have not really invested too much time into it as yet)- i understand it's job iin life but still have the feeling at the back of my mind that a 5.1 THX soundtrack is just that.
    THX2 (movie) - do we need to use all the speakers just because they are there??? mmmmm?

    Steve.
     
  21. Ettepet

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    Steve, being a 5.1 user I cannot but agree! :)

    The MCACC and 9-bands equalizer work great on the Pioneer, let's hope others follow suit at including it in their future products. Or use a 23-band equalizer and 1 ohm-able power amps.
     
  22. Steve.EX

    Steve.EX
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    Ettepet.
    I am now using (a fully working!) av32r dual sharc. Being something of a THX processing advocate i felt that the new THX2 processing would be something i would instantly take too.
    It now turns out that THX2 is the function that is least used (so far) and such niceties as PL2 at a sample rate of 96khz (no mean feat), TAMREQ, user definable sub modes etc etc etc are all the things that i really appreciate and of course good old THX/THX EX processing.
    For those who might not know THX2 movie/music (or at least the Tag implemenation) cannot be applied to ANALOGUE inputs (unlike it's predecessor) - It can ONLY be applied to (flagged) 5.1 channel soundtracks ONLY, if you force any extended surround mode (surround content regardless) then THX2 is cancelled. It is for bringing the back channels into play (all be it with some fairly nifty number crunching) without "breaking down to rear center" - some fancy decorrelation if you like for 5.1 ONLY.
    It can only be engaged if you use 2 surround backs.
    It requires additional information as to how far the back speakers are from themselves as well as the listening position.
    It adds the boundary gain compensation feature.

    Steve
     
  23. Godfather

    Godfather
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    Still undecided between the Pioneer and Rotels. I guess I'll have to find a dealer that can demo both. Called my local Sevenoaks and they don't stock either, and I was also a bit disappointed by their product knowledge. Any recommendations for good London dealers with demo facilities?
     
  24. Craig Sowerby

    Craig Sowerby
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    Hi Steve,

    Any power amplifier that has been THX Ultra certified will be fine
    with 4ohm loads, with all channels driven will be stable to output
    THX reference levels, if it fails then it's got a fault.

    You are so right when you say THX processing is important,
    BUT very rarely understood, you seem to have a good grasp
    on THX and thats why i guess you appreciate what it doing for your movie experiences.
     
  25. Craig Sowerby

    Craig Sowerby
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    Hi,

    I am interested, which sevenoaks store was it you spoke with?
    would you mind expanding on the lack of product knowledge?

    I would go with the Rotel RMB 1095 and RSP 1066 and start saving for the Arcam, TAG or something along those lines,
    you will have no problems moving the Rotel processor on
    when the time comes,

    I am not saying anything against the Rotel, we use it in one of our demonstration rooms with the RMB 1075 and various speakers, mostly M&K K series.

    Good luck!
     
  26. Godfather

    Godfather
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    Don't want them to lose any business or get into trouble, as I've been shopping there for a while and know them quite well. So I won't say which branch. I should have been a bit more specific when I said 'poor product knowledge'. Basically, I rang to find out about the Rotel processor and poweramps and to arrange for a demo. I was told they don't know about the products because they stopped stocking Rotel products for a while and has only recently started selling them again. I also asked if they had the Pioneer AX10 and the chap I spoke to said he hasn't heard one in action and that they haven't got any in stock, but that they do have a Denon A1SR for demo. He was also unfamiliar with the Pioneer 2011, and tried to sell me a Denon 3803, so I had to explain to him that the my 2011 is in the same class as the 3803 and that I want to upgrade, not sidestep. He also told me that the 3803 has the same processors as the flagship A1SR, and that I won't notice the difference with my current speakers. I must say I'm a bit doubtful about this last point.
     
  27. jhjerpe

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    Godfather,

    Let me know if you do get a demo of the Rotel and Pioneer. I currently have the 2011 had am on the slippery slope of investing in my system. I am verious curious to see if you think its a major step up. Also where... I am in the London area and it's difficult to find some with Both the AX10 and the Rotel seperates!
     
  28. Godfather

    Godfather
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    I'll certainly keep you posted. The trouble with demo rooms is that the enviroment and the equipment used is likely to be very different from that of your own, so unless I can do a direct A-B comparison between the Pioneer AX10 and the Rotels, I think there's little point in going for a demo at all.
     
  29. Steve.EX

    Steve.EX
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    Craig.
    Although i felt i had pretty much said the same (re: 4 ohm driving etc) in earlier post's it is unlikely that a 1075 will drive all 4 ohm speakers to reference - it is at it's absolute limit at 4 ohm's.
    There are 4 ohm speakers and there are 4 ohm speakers. the impedance curve is the defining factor here.
    THX certification or not if you stuck 5 older Kef.s on it and ramped up to 0db it WOULD show aT LEAST intermittant signs of distress - along with many other amps.

    Steve
     
  30. russraff

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    Steve EX.

    Well, you may be surprised. When I demoed my current harman/kardon 8500, it was driving a full suit of KEF reference speakers (5 of them). There was absolutely no sign of stress, and the amp's character remained constant as the volume rose to reference level. I used to have a 1075 and, in terms of grunt, both it and my 8500 are about equal. So, in my opinion, the 1075 should be able to drive even tricky loads like the Kef Reference range, or Dynaudio speakers.
    I do agree with you about THX processing, though.

    Though this is slightly off topic, I am curious: Are THX specs for integrated amps just as stringent as those for separates?

    Russell
     

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