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Stereo Amp vs A/V Receiver

Discussion in 'AV Receivers & Amplifiers' started by Zakalwe, Sep 21, 2003.

  1. Zakalwe

    Zakalwe
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    I've currently got a stereo system consisting of a Marantz PM6010 OSE amp, a Sony CDP-XE 570 CD player and Tannoy MX2-M speakers. I now want to move into home cinema, and am planning to get a Marantz SR5300 receiver (£250 from RS). Plans for the remaining components are Tannoy MXR-M rears and MXC-M center, Panasonic TX-28PS1 TV and Panasonic DMR-E50 DVD player/recorder.

    My main question is whether it's worth keeping the PM6010 or not. I.e., given that I don't want to sacrifice the stereo performance of my existing system, am I better off simply replacing the PM6010 with the SR5300 or should I connect the amp to the front L/R pre-outs of the receiver and run the MX2-M's off the amp? Is the PM6010 significantly better in terms of pure stereo performance than the SR5300?

    This aside, I'd be interested in any comments regarding the other components I'm thinking of buying.

    Thanks for your help!
     
  2. Mylo

    Mylo
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    Yes keep the marantz 6010, yes run it from the pre outs of the new receiver. If the sound quality of the 6010 is as good as reports suggest then it is the best option. Any high quality integrated should and will IMHO thrash an AV receiver in stereo mode. I personally have a Marantz sr4200 Av amp doing the processing and an Arcam Alpha 7r taking care of powering the front speakers. The only drawback is setting up sound levels on 2 amps takes longer.:)
     
  3. nathan_silly

    nathan_silly
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    What he said.

    Try and find a integrated amp with a processor/poweramp in function, you just press a button and it'll bypass the integrated's volume control. You'll have the benefit of bypassing the stereo integrated's amp in DVD mode- which will increase sound quality, and also no need to set the amp at 12 o clock everytime (plus reducing it when switching it back to CD etc)

    The thread is for a good quality amp, but the principle is the same (direct poweramp input)

    http://www.avforums.com/forums/showthread.php?s=&threadid=67806&highlight=8000s
     
  4. Zakalwe

    Zakalwe
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    Thanks Nathan and Mylo! That's what I suspected, too. Still, nothing beats empirical data, and since I've now picked up the SR5300, I decided to do a side by side comparison between the PM6010 and SR5300 with stereo music.

    Bottom line: the PM6010 beat the SR5300 pretty easily. The SR5300's sound was acceptable, but the PM6010 had a crispness, clarity and separation that the receiver couldn't match.

    So, assuming the test was valid (see below for a long description of details and minor worries), it confirms our collective suspicions. I still think this is quite interesting though. After all, the PM6010 is basically a budget amp (albeit a good one, IMO), whereas I think the SR5300 is a bit higher up the receiver foodchain. Plus the Marantz SR series is actually considered to be unusually good at playing (stereo) music by receiver standards. Anyway, nice to know that the money spent on the PM6010 wasn't wasted... Oh, and 3 cheers for receievers with pre-outs!


    Here are the details on what I actually did:

    I used mainly two tracks for the purpose of this test. The first was Nick Cave's "Ship Song" (from "The Best of Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds"), the second was Dido's "Here with Me (Chillin' with the family mix)" (from Ultra Chilled 01). In testing the receiver, the CD player was connected to the analogue CD input (i.e. same as for the amp).

    I first tried both amp and receiver on their respective "source direct" modes, the idea being that this would give me the best sound quality on both, and hence the fairest comparison. As noted above, the PM6010 came out the clear winner. I even went as far as doing a blind test with my wife, and she had no trouble picking out the amp as the better sounding of the two.

    Much to my annoyance, I then noticed in the receiver manual that switching to source direct mode on the SR5300 automatically changes the speaker set-up from whatever you've set manually (in my case front L/R only), to a default setting that includes all speakers plus a subwoofer. On checking if this really had happened, I found that the center and rears had apparently not actually been switched to the defaults (don't know why), but the subwoofer setting had indeed been changed to "Yes".

    So I repeated the comparison (though not the blind test, which was just too much hassle), but this time with the SR5300 set to stereo mode. The result was the same. In fact, I thought the SR5300 sounded much like it did in source direct mode. Perhaps that was to be expected, since the front L/R are still set to large in source direct, so all frequencies still go to the front speakers (is that right?). In that case, the subwoofer setting would indeed not have mattered, simply because I don't have one.

    One final worry: I noticed that the "peak" LED flickered on and off pretty unpredictably on the SR5300. I've found this phenomenon described on a different thread, and it seems to be pretty common with the model. The solution is apparently to either hit the "attenuate" button (to decrease the gain) or to decrease the output level on the CD player. I didn't find out about this until after the test, so, in principle, I suppose the sound quality of the SR5300 may have been affected. I doubt it, however, since the receiver didn't sound "clipped" (as I'd expect if that was the problem), just a bit lacking in separation and clarity. Any comments on that?

    I suppose I could/should repeat the test with everything set up spot on, but I'm not sure I can bring myself to do it. It's a bit of a pain, because neither amp nor receiver accept banana plugs, so switching speaker connections back and fourth is time consuming and tedious.
     
  5. Mylo

    Mylo
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    Glad to be of help. I don't suspect the results would be much different without the peak LED problem. The integrated would still outshine the AV as we all expected. Regarding the speaker terminals on the SR5300, can you not remove the plug from the centre of the binding post. My SR4200 had little plugs that could be prised out, to leave 4mm banana sockets.
    I admire you patience in actually setting up a comparison between the amps. I never trust every thing I read either about sound quality.

    Happy listening.:)
     

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