Thoughts of a new Tag AV30R owner

Discussion in 'AV Pre-Amp/Processors & Power Amps' started by warrj, Dec 1, 2002.

  1. warrj

    warrj
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    Hi,

    As a new Tag AV30R owner I thought I'd post my first impressions. I just purchased a new Tag AV30R processor from Sevenoaks in Watford. The system into which its being put is as follows:

    Roksan Caspian DSP (AV processor)
    Roksan Caspian 5-channel amp (Power amp)
    Arcam FMJ CD23
    Wharfedale DVD Player
    B&W Nautilus 805 (Fronts)
    B&W Nautilus HTM2 (Centre)
    B&W DM610 (Rears)
    Sonus Faber Gravis (Sub)

    First impressions are as follows:

    1) In any mode which 'activates' the rear channels there is a huge amount of hiss coming from the rear speakers (but everything else is silent). Since Sevenoaks have lent me a demo unit I'm hoping that this is a unit-specific issue.
    2) In AV mode it's an awesome processor. It completely destroys the Roksan DSP. I can see that I'm going to be spending a very long time revisiting most of my DVDs.
    3) As a stereo preamp for the Arcam CD player the Tag is very poor. Stereo imaging is non-existant and the transparency of the Roksan's analogue bypass is completely missing. It sounds flat and veiled. This is the case both for the Tag's bypass input and also when using its own DAC(s). Very disappointing (and surprising).

    I'm currently planning to route the Tag thru the Roksan's 5.1 bypass for AV and to use the Roksan as a stereo preamp for the Arcam CD player. This should give me the best of both worlds; a killer stereo preamp (in the Roksan) and a killer AV preamp (in the Tag). I know its extravagant but the Tag really is a poor stereo preamp (IMHO).

    For me the irony is that a few years ago I lusted after an AV32 and if I'd bought one and used its DACs I would probably have regarded it as a fantastic stereo preamp. However having used what I regard as a much better one I now believe that the Tag is actually not very good in this role.

    Regards,

    Jules.
     
  2. Jeremy Hill

    Jeremy Hill
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    Hi warrj

    Very interesting post, and rather disappointing. I'm not surprised the Arcam DACs are better than those in the AV30R, don't Arcam use a simpler version of the dCS ring DAC in their players? What is surprising is that CD replay is still poor through the AV30R bypass.

    However, I believe that the analog bypass in the AV30R is different from that in the AV32R. I seem to remember from the TAG site that this was one of the compromises made to keep the price down. Maybe you should try auditioning the 32 version. If that meant you could sell the Roksan pre you'd probably cover much of the cost difference.

    And, you'd help some of us out into the bargain! If you check the other TAG thread you'll see a few of us are rather keen to find out how the AV32R bypass performs... The 'double pre' solution is just such a drag, and shouldn't be necessary with this level of kit.

    Hope you try this!

    Jeremy.
     
  3. steve1056

    steve1056
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    Warrj,

    For roughly the same price as the Tag AV30R, you might want to try the Myryad MDP500. I did a comparison for Home Cinema and Stereo performance against the AV32R, and elected to go for the Myryad. Thought it was as good as the Tag for HC, and far better (more depth, wider soundstage, cleaner sounding, etc.) for stereo music, both through the Myryad's DAC connection and the direct mode. I found the processor to be so good on music, I sold off my Naim stuff (NAC82, Hi-Caps, NAP180) and have never regretted it. The only processor that I've heard that is significantly better is the Meridian.

    There is now a G6 version of the MDP500, which supports DPL2 and a number of other upgrades. Haven't heard this version yet, but you might want to give it a try.

    Hope this helps.

    Cheers,

    Steve
     
  4. Lowrider

    Lowrider
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    Up to a month or two ago, TAG was the best processor for almost everybody, particularly with music...

    All of a sudden, people discovered that everything else plays music better... :confused:

    What happened, at least mine still plays as well as it ever did, and I haven´t even upgraded to 192 DACs, none of my audiophile friends ever complained of the way it plays CDs, using an FMJ27 as transport, and they have Krell and Meridien top CD players... :cool:
     
  5. Nic Rhodes

    Nic Rhodes
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    Hum / noise levels fro Tag are class leading. These things are whisper quiet, look to a faulty unit or faults elsewhere (my pick).
     
  6. warrj

    warrj
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    Hum / noise levels fro Tag are class leading. These things are whisper quiet, look to a faulty unit or faults elsewhere (my pick).

    I've tried rearranging the output such that the surround left/right channels go to other speakers/amp channels (such as front left/right). The hiss moves to the speakers which are connected to the rear channel outputs.

    I believe that this demonstrates that its probably a problem with the unit itself. Unless it's some sort of ground loop? The Tag doesn't seem to be earthed.

    Regards,

    Jules.
     
  7. Nic Rhodes

    Nic Rhodes
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    The Tag is double insulated by the far the best audio / engineering solution re the earth thingy. Contact the Tag forum / helpdesk, this doesn't sound right at all.
     
  8. michaelab

    michaelab
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    I can't wait to hear your system Lowrider :p I'm more and more convinced that high-end AV processors can't be high-end stereo pre-amps. Given that an AV processors does so much else it's unrealistic to expect it to match a stereo pre-amp of a similar price range.

    I've been considering various processors but none do what I want @ the right price point: AV32R and Arcam AV8 are too expensive for me. AV30R with the clock re-timing and HDCD options (essential IMO) is also v. expensive. In any case, all of those to high quality and expensive video switching which I don't need so I don't really want to pay for it. Then the Cyrus AV8 came along: DD & DTS 5.1, DPL II, no video switching, no gimmicks and a nice price but....AARRRGGHH! no analog bypass :(

    Since stereo music is the most important thing for me I've almost decided to give up on processors and just stick with my Marantz SR4200 (with Arcam Alpha 6 driving front speakers and used for stereo music directly) - for me it's perfectly fine for DVDs and watching TV in DPLII. Instead, I'll spend the money to upgrade my Arcam amp to, probably, an FMJ A32. One very nice feature it has (which I haven't seen except on Arcams) is a 'processor' mode where you can program and fix the gain on the AV input. That means no more messing about with the volume control when I'm using it as a front speaker power amp for DVDs.


    Michael.
     
  9. Underscore

    Underscore
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    The current Naim integrated and pre's all have a selectable 'unity gain' mode for each input. I've never understood why it has taken sooo long for this to happen - I was considering modifying my Pioneer A-300X with a volume control bypass years ago...

    _
     
  10. Lowrider

    Lowrider
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    Michael,

    Why don´t you take a quick vacation in Portugal, you are welcome to listen to my system anytime... :p

    I think the stereo pre-amp is only important with vinyl, because of the phono stage, otherwise it will be easily matched by any high-end processor, plus, the digital bass management is a huge advantage in terms of speaker choice and placement...

    Even my hifi dealer said he never heard the Sonus Faber Electra Amator II sounding as good as in my system, his favourite speakers are the Guarnieris, and he sold more SF than anyone else in Portugal, so he knows what he is saying...

    With the right cables, placement, and setup, an AV can sound better than any stereo system, unless you prefer the peculiar sound of vinyl and all tubes...

    I didn´t bother testing other processors, but I know the TAG lets through what you feed it, the sound will depend on the source, power, speakers and cables alone, get your AV32R used, you know you can always upgrade when money allows...
     
  11. Lowrider

    Lowrider
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    Something wrong with avforuns... :confused:
     
  12. michaelab

    michaelab
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    I'll be back in Lisbon next week (until new year) so let's arrange a meet up then for a listen...in any case I'll see you at the Rado Lupo concert on the 13th!

    At the moment even a second hand AV32R + 5 channel power amp is just too expensive for me. If I get the A32 integrated then I can add a P35/3 later and I'd have 5 channels of amplification, at which point I can think again about a processor. But then, I'll still always be able to use the A32 straight with my CDP/DAC and I won't have to worry about a decent analog bypass. Of course if I want to use DPLII and bass management then analog bypass isn't an issue but for now I prefer 2ch. for music.

    As I said the AV8 and the AV32R do a lot of things I don't want (video processing and 7 channels) so I don't really want to pay for them. I'll wait and see how the processor market develops. Maybe there will other things like the Cyrus AV8...

    And yes, I think there's been some problem with the forums since yesterday. Very, Very sloooowww :mad:

    Michael.
     
  13. Lowrider

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    Michael,

    We can do it saturday 14, after the Radu Lupo concert, I should be getting my new center tomorrow, or the day after, so the system will be "complete"...

    You can get the AV32R with 5.1 only... and probably cheaper too...

    Use your existing power until you can afford 5 channels...
     
  14. michaelab

    michaelab
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    The 14th is good for me (I think - need to check with my wife!). The thing is I only have a 2ch. integrated amp at the moment (and of course the Marantz SR4200) - if I get a processor then I'd have to sell the Marantz and the Arcam Alpha 6 and get 5ch. of power amp (either something like the Tag 100x5 or some combination of 2ch. and 3ch. powers from Arcam).

    I think upgrading the Alpha 6 to an A23 will work really well for my stereo music and it can always be used as a 2ch. power amp later if I need.

    Anyway, probably won't decide anything until the new year...

    Michael.
     

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