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Receiver Upgrade..... im now thinking no! :(

Discussion in 'AV Receivers & Amplifiers' started by Spoonfed, Sep 5, 2004.

  1. Spoonfed

    Spoonfed
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    I was keen to upgrade my faithful ole Denon 1602 to something better.
    (no doubt u have seen my other posts :) )

    However after 2 extensive listening weekends.... 1st with 3805 2nd with AVR300 im thinking the respective $2250 or $3000AUD would be better in my pocket?

    Neither of these MUCH higher end receivers seem to offer the revelation i was hoping for in substantially improve 2ch peformance (Mains are Quad 12L's)

    I tested the recievers using onboard Digital decoding, Arcam CD73 (CDP), HTPC with M-Audio Revolution 5.1, and Denon DVD2200

    While if found both the 3805 and AVR300 to certainly have more grunt than my current receiver.... my room is only 4.5m x 3m long (so small) and don't seem to push my current Denon past 60-70% before clipping
    I did test the AVR300 today a FULL (yep hehe) with some DVD Music Videos today (im still recoving) and at this point yes both the NEW models outperform.... but as i don't get to that point well.... not to much of a concern.

    I was expecting a "night and day" difference in Stereo but i just can't hear it. (yes i cleaned my ears :) ).

    I was doing A/B testing of short passages and quicky changing connects (well within a min) and also extended listening.

    I can pickup suttle improvements with the Arcam..... main own being its a little more smooth and warm (i guess just a tad less "edgey") than my current unit.... but i don't know if this is worth the BIG $'s

    For the $'s i could get a pair of Quad 22L's to use as mains and 12L's can go at the rear..... i'd say this would provide a more noticable improvement
    (however this may be a catch 22 (errrm no pun intended) as with the 22's being larger.... maybe need more power and strain the current Denon? (though i think they are more effiecent on specs than the 12L's)

    May i would be better with if i do upgrade saving the $'s and get a 2805 or something? (how close is this too the 3805/AVR300)

    Im thinking maybe keep my current reciever and upgrade speaker cables (sound silly i know). Mates AVR3803 was using Nordist Flat Line Gold (there cheap cables....well still not cheap) and he changed to Nordist Solar Wind with a noticable improvement in smoothness etc.

    My cables are Tara Lab's Prism Omni's........... maybe i could acheive an improvement this way (be it again minor) though at a fraction of the cost (and also cables don't go out of date)

    Oh to note i did extensive testing also at a mates house with both receivers (vs the 3803.... Denon DVD2200 as source analogue/digital) using his Nordist Solar Wind cables.....so i was getting as much as could for the higher recievers.

    Oh also im only interested in 5.1 as my room is so small.

    Suggestions/opinions appreciated (thats if you even bothered to read the novel this far haha)

    Man am i bad at these decisions.


    PS: My current 1602 is more "refined" in operation than the AVR300 i feel.... which has "cracking" when PCM to DD switching occurs and some small "popping" on source change etc.... not really acceptable for the $'s
     
  2. Shaka

    Shaka
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    Sounds like stereo performance is quite important to you. I bought the AVR300 a few weeks ago and initially I was a tad disappointed with it, I am now really pleased with it. But you're right, although in surround sound it is significantly better than my Alpha 7 + DSP-E800 combo (also giving me loads more options: PLIIx, DTS Neo & DSP f/x) in stereo it's only slightly better than the Alpha 7. And I think you'll find this shortcoming in ALL receivers, with the AVR300 performing better than the rest, but not as well as it's asking price.
    I don't know what the Quad 12L's sound like but the reviews I've read in the past indicate that they're excellent and shouldn't need upgrading. The 22L are designed for larger rooms so you'll be wasting them (and your money).
    You'd be best of getting a mid price receiver to give you overall improvement for your surround performance and get a decent integrated amp to give you a significant boost in stereo over your old Denon. What are you using for CD playback?
    A system set up of Roksan Kandy III CD & amp for stereo and a Denon 2803, 2805 or even the 3805 (if budget stretches that far) for example would sound just stunning and would make your Quad 12L's sound great.
    I'll be doing something similar in the next few months myself because as good as the AVR300 is in stereo, it's just not good enough compared to a mid range integrated amp.
     
  3. Spoonfed

    Spoonfed
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    Ahhh so it sort of seems im not 100% crazy :)

    The AVR300 is certainly "smoother" seemingly without loss of detail... even when volume is pushed... i do like this "facit" of the 300... though hmmm $3000AUD hehe :)

    My Sub is a HSU VT2.... which i do sometimes use for 2 ch. Testing just now it strangly seems to control that a little better... maybe it the "timing" or something with the mains? hmmm

    Source at present is a HTPC (all files ripp using Lossless format.... player JRiver Media Center) M-Audio Revolution 5.1 card http://www.m-audio.com/products/en_us/Revolution51-focus.html(using ASIO)
    card has the following AKM DAC - http://www.asahi-kasei.co.jp/akm/en/product/ak4358/ak4358.html

    Interestingly in store the AVR300's onboard 2cm PCM decoding seems near identical to me as the Arcam CD73+ CD player when feed analogue. However at home though again very suttle i can actually notice MORE improvement using analogue from the PC vs digital feed (AVR300 onboard 2ch PCM). Though one would not "think" such a source would provide the case.
    (oh out of interest a $25 USD Chaintech sound card uses Wolfson DAC's haha... yeah again i know its not all in the "DAC" but its funny some times when Hi-Fi gear mentions there DAC they have :))

    Wishing i had purchases one of these EMU cards instead....... according to the headphone guys a substaintail step ahead
    http://www.emu.com/products/product.asp?product=2209&category=754&maincategory=754&nav=spec

    I know specs are not everything.... but check out the analogue output specs of that card.... i can't ever remember reading a CD player matching that :)
     
  4. Knightshade

    Knightshade
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    Hi Guys,
    Firstly Spoonfed,
    Your not mad, Upgrading your cabling may be a good move. A very dodgy area though and should be approached with caution. Sometimes it's good sometimes not and how good do you go? It is possible to get a massive improvment so much so you think you've added a far more expensive amplifier, but be warned, the costs can be astonomical. If I went down that road I think I'd look to the interconnects before the speaker cable.
    It would be a bad idea upgrading your speakers to improve the sound. That can only end in expensive tears. After all, a speaker can only produce what is fed to it. Your Quads are certainly well up for the job.

    DAC's are very important! I can't stress how important. A good DAC will perform well even with the cheapest transport or other digital source. Bolt a £50 CD/DVD player to a £1000 DAC via a cheap toslink cable and put it against £2000+ CD/DVD player. For 2 channel audio you see if you can justify the extra £900 or so.
    It would also get substantially more out of the AV Amps than you've heard before.
    Get the source sorted first then see what your amps and speakers are really capable of.
    Shaka is correct in saying for best results go down the dedicated CD/Int/Pre/Power road. You will never get the performance you are looking for out of an AV system. It's a halfway house at best.
    Good Luck.
     
  5. Radiohead

    Radiohead
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    Personally, if you're struggling to hear a real difference between the receivers then I think hoping for a more significant improvement via cables way off beam.

    IMO cabling is one of the worst areas in hi-fi guilty of smoke and mirrors.
     
  6. Spoonfed

    Spoonfed
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    ahhhh the conflicting recommendations :)

    Pre/Pro /Power is $'s more....... except for the Rotel stuff which "perhaps" is only avoiding the point... "maybe" offering a touch over the Arcam?
    (ie say an RSP 1066 + RMB 1075)

    I hear what you are saying Radiohead..... though as i mentioned on mates 3803 + Quad 12L's going from Nordest Flatline Gold (their entry cable) to their Solar Wind was actually noticable..... highs smoother..... quite "edgy" and bright on the other cables.

    Though as u say.... will this correspond to a difference/improvement going from the Tara Labs to Nordest on my stuff hmmmm.
     
  7. Spoonfed

    Spoonfed
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    I've thought of maybe another option? Get a cheaper lower end NAD Reciever which may give me that little improvement in warmth and smoothness over my current Denon..... and at a fraction of the cost???

    Good/bad idea?
     
  8. fordster

    fordster
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    As a Denon 1602 owner myself I've noticed that some more expensive AV receivers are no better in stereo. I've not yet listened to the Arcam AVR300 though (hopefully will get change next week). I did listen to the Denon 3805 and Rotel RSX-1056 at the weekend though. I use a Denon 2800 MkII DVD player for playing CD's through my 1602 and whilst I initially thought this was pretty good I have since bought a Rotel RA-01 stereo amp, RCD-02 Cd player and Quad 11L speakers. This totally blows away the Denon system for stereo. I'm now looking to get something similar in my AV setup as I haven't got space for both systems in the same room. I tested the RSX-1056 with a Denon 2900 DVD player and whilst it was a big improvement on my 1602 is didn't blow my socks off. I then got them to connect an RCD-02 which made a slight (but worthwhile) improvement. I felt that this combination was roughly a match for my Rotel system. Some CD's were slightly better and other slightly worse but generally speaking it was on a par. However I have to wonder if £1200 for an AV amp is good value to get the same stereo performance as a £250 stereo amp?
    The Denon 3805 was pretty good but not quite in the same league as the Rotel. For the £200 difference I'd go for the Rotel. Assuming I was going to buy anything that is!
     
  9. Spoonfed

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    fordster,

    thanks for confirming im not nuts :) Yeah there is a difference...... but its certainly not what one would "think".

    It does seem however that the Rotel units are quite good..... i think there was anothe thread with some "snips" of a review (AVR300, 3805, Yamaha, Pioneer, Rotel etc) and even though it was only 5.1..... it still one (apparently).
    Just a pitty the damn Australian distributor owns retail chains also.... it seems they "have" the Rotel market......... AND when i asked if i could bring some gear in (ie Quads etc) they where not interested (i didn't even ask for a loan of equipment) and told me that i should buy the equipment.... and if not happy then return it within 7 days (hmmmmmm yeah im not happy haha)

    I took the AVR300 back today (with a list of its little bugs').
    Call me crazy but i picked up some new cable.
    Previous cable Tara Labs Prism or something........... new cable Nordist Solar Wind.
    It has to my SUPRISE made a noticable difference (i have seen this before also on mate 3803 setup).

    It has some what "refined" the 1602 somehow!

    The highs seem a bit "subdued" now... BUT this is a good thing as it WAS a little bright compard to the AVR300....... the 1602 being somewhat a tad "scratchy" in the highs...... amazingly now it is noticably smoother (the "roll" of cymbals much more distinct) ........ staging is a bit more precise .... with vocals also a little less edgey.

    Its almost "warmed up" the ole 1602....... with some recording sounding a little "dull" due to this reduction in edgeyness........ it seems to be more pleasureable to listen to as its less fatiguing. In some tracks its almost gone TOO far in its "change"..... in others (better recordings/mixes) it is certainly better..... i guess is always a catch 22 :)
    At times its almost seems like detail has been lost... then you hear a section in full detail just "smoother" than ever...... i guess one can interprete edgeyness and brightness as added detail.... when really it was just annoying :)

    The difference is MORE noticable than switching between the two recievers.... (ie AVR300 / AVR1602)

    While its certainly not cheap (stupid price when you think about it.... hehe) i figured its something that does not "date" and when i do upgrade its certainly good enough to still be used.

    I am really quite amazed.

    The dealer (whom is really only 2 ch Hi-Fi gear) is also NAD guy..... he is getting in a T753.... which at 1/2 the AVR300 price i'll be happy to have a try of.
     

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