Receiver choice at ~£200 - Help me before my brain explodes!

Discussion in 'AV Receivers & Amplifiers' started by AVAspirer, May 31, 2004.

  1. AVAspirer

    AVAspirer
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    Hi all,

    After spending all weekend reading reviews etc, I spent several hours last night reading these forums trying to work out what I should do. Now I'm no closer to choosing than I was to begin with. I've decided I need help!


    The story so far:

    Went to Richer Sounds and with the advice of a sales guy, puchased the following with the assurance that I could return/exchange within 14 days:

    TEAC AG-5D (~£200), Gale 3030 floorstanders (~150), Gale 3050c centre speaker (~100)

    Total cost including warranty ~£480

    I phoned them yesterday to say that I wasn't totally happy with the connectivity offered by the TEAC, and they said they would try and find a Marantz SR4400 in silver for me. Anyway, I'm not sure what to do, so read on...


    My other kit:

    * DVD (Pioneer DV-535?, scart, s-video, composite, digital coax out)
    * VCR (one bidirectional scart)
    * Freeview box (two out scarts)
    * XBox (composite + audio cable)
    * Tape Deck
    * CD Player
    * Sony TV - two scart on back (AV1&2), s-video, composite etc on front (AV3)
    * Some old Warfdale Valdus 400s as rear channels (nasty I know, but I couldn't afford any new surrounds just yet)


    The problems:

    * Basically, I'd like to have everything switched through my receiver, with the exception of the DVD video signal, which is probably better to go directly to the tv via a decent quality scart cable I have.

    * The TEAC only has two video inputs on the real panel with one on the front. This makes it messy as I have to plug one piece of equipment into the front panel.

    * This is replacing my old amp, so I wan't something that performs reasonably for cd playback.


    The questions:

    Q1: I presume upsampling to allow everything to be mixed between the composite and s-video inputs and outputs is reserved for higher end gear?

    Q2: Is the Marantz SR4400 better, in your opinion, than the TEAC AG-5D. For movies, for music? I'm drawn to it as it has more connectivity than the TEAC.

    Q3: What about other options. Out of the TEAC AG-5D, Marantz SR4400 & Cambridge Audio Azur 540R, which would you choose? Or is there a better option at this price?


    The choices:

    For the £200-£250 price bracket, I have to choose between the TEAC AG-5D I have on trial, the Marantz SR4400, the new Cambridge Audio Azur thing or something you folks can suggest.

    The Marantz looks like it has enough inputs and outputs to cover what I need. I like the fact it has video in and out for both of VCR1 and VCR2, which would be handy if I got some kind of recorder in the future (I was thinking about building a Myth TV box at some point).

    Cambride Audio seem to have a good reputation for audio, but I can't find much info about the Azur 540R. It has better connectivity than the TEAC also, but is it any good?


    Overall:

    Basically, I want a receiver that has enough connectivity to plug all my stuff. I also want a receiver that is pretty good for audio, but obviously good for movies also. So basically the same as everyone else! And I'll have the moon on a stick also, if it fits in my budget.


    Anyway, any advice you can give me will be received with gratitude, I'm feeling a bit out of my depth at the moment.

    Cheers!
     
  2. AVAspirer

    AVAspirer
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    I've decided that I'll probably go for the Marantz SR4400. If they have the SR5400 for a little more I may stretch to that. Having said that, I now wonder if I'm stretching the budget, should I go for the Yamaha RXV640.
    From what I can gather from reviews, the SR5400 is better audio quality (music)/power wise, and the Yamaha does video upsampling (?). Either way, both have had pretty good reviews. I suppose I'll just have to see what they have in stock, or can order, and if the price is reasonable.
     
  3. dynamic turtle

    dynamic turtle
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    Yep, limited choice at your budget :( I'm afraid you'll have to "get what you're given". I'm afraid you can't expect much at this price bracket - you might be better-off going 2nd hand if that appeals (obvious I know, but worth a try!).

    As for your questions:

    1) I have tried using both of my a/v amps (teac AG-10D & Yammy RXV640) for video switching, and they are terrible IMO. All I can recommend is buying a decent scart router/switcher. God knows how anyone can watch anything via composite or s-video on a widescreen tv - yuk!

    2) Not very familiar with Marantz amps - The 4400 & 5400 seem to have had fairly good reviews. But like I said, at this price point....

    3) In terms of alternatives, the only ones I can think of are the Denon 1603/4 or 1803/4 or a 2nd hand Harmon/Kardon. Can thoroughly recommend the yammy 640 though (dsp640's are going for around £275 which IMO is a bargain. Bit crap in stereo though :( )

    Not sure about the yammy "upsampling" - I think it can do composite-in to s-video-out.

    good luck!
     
  4. AVAspirer

    AVAspirer
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    Thanks for replying, things are coming together... slowly...

    I spoke with RS earlier today, and apparently they don't do the SR5400 anymore. The sr4400 they only have in black.

    So I've decided that the yamaha seems like my best bet, and worth the extra 100 quid. If I'm lucky I might be able to wangle that down a wee bit also ;)

    You say it's a bit crap for stereo (which I've read elsewhere). How bad is it? I notice you have the TEAC AG-10. I've got it's little brother on trial at the moment and the stereo sound seems OK to me. How would you compare teac vs yamaha for stereo?

    As for video switching, I plan to direct my freeview box and vcr through the receiver, and keep a direct link between my tv and dvd.

    As for "upsampling" :blush: - shows how much terminology I have floating around my head.

    Anyway, all in all, I think it's going to be the yamaha. I watch more movies than I do listen to music, and more often than not, the music listening takes place with plenty of background noise. Besides, I doubt these speakers will perform well enough to notice great variations.

    The only other thing I've heard about the yamaha is the lower output when driving all channels. I presume this isn't really an issue for your average joe - is it?

    I just want to check one more thing, there are two yamaha models with '640' in the model number:

    http://www.superfi.co.uk/index.cfm/page/moreinfo.cfm/Product_ID/1431 (the one you have?)

    and

    http://www.superfi.co.uk/index.cfm/page/moreinfo.cfm/Product_ID/1430

    The latter being the one they have in RS. The only difference is the radio tuner right?

    Thanks again for your help. First time is a bit daunting, but I'm sure I'll get into it (and probably never out again!)
     
  5. dynamic turtle

    dynamic turtle
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    With regards to the yammy's stereo performance, the amp (even though its rated at 85w) probably only chucks out 40 real-world watts and has difficulty driving my tannoys. It doesn't go particularly loud (especially with 5/6 channels driven) and starts to "lose control" over the music at lower volumes, compared to the Teac.

    At normal listening volumes things are fine. Personally, I find the Teac has better "rythm" and slightly less-muddy midband than the Yammy.

    Against the Teac - it can be a tad bright in places. Rock music can sound glassy & hard. It also has a tone-defeat switch (but IMO, this actually makes things sound worse!).

    Don't get me wrong, the 640's stereo performance is adequate for every day casual use. Of course, a lot depends on your CD player!

    Yep, keep the direct link between your dvd & tv. Very important.

    The only difference bewteen the DSP640 and RXV640RDS is the RDS tuner on the RXV model. I should have bought the DSP version because I never use the tuner!

    DT
     
  6. europop1978

    europop1978
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    Well, I recently got the Cambridge Audio 540R, which the guy in RS told me sounds much nicer than the Marantz models. I haven't tried the Marantz, but I know the 540R is a huge step up from my old Panasonic amp (which cost me £220 about 2 years ago). I got the 540R knowing I could try it for 7 days. I wasn't sure at first as I couldn't get any sound from the sub in stereo mode, but I've got that sorted, and now the listening experience is a pure joy. The treble and bass could perhaps be slightly better, but the midrange is stunning, and overall the sound is so rich and seems to fill the space of the room in a way that doesn't seem possible from two speakers. Also, once I'd adjusted my speaker levels and let it run in, it really added to DVD surround sound too.

    I would strongly advise you, if it's not too much hassle, to take advantage of RS's 7 day try out, where you can take it back or exchange it if you're not happy with it. Give the 540R a try, and you may find you don't even want to try the Marantz.
     
  7. AVAspirer

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    I'm curious about the Azur, if only because there is so little infomation about it. It's good to hear from someone who actually owns one.

    I'd pretty much decided on the RXV-640RDS last night, especially when I saw it was only £279 in the RS advert in What Hifi (June).

    The june advert's prices are only valid till the end of today, so I'm going to leave work early today and go up to RS. I'll have to decide by then.

    Thanks everyone.
     

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