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Which New Amp?

Skyrider

Well-known Member
Hi,

I'm planning on replacing my current Pioneer SC-LX89 AVR in the near future. I've been using Pioneer AVRs for many years, so am very familiar with their presentation, which I like. I have spent a year or so waiting for the Pioneer SC-LX904 to appear, but am on the verge of giving up & going for another brand: the question is, which one?

I am considering the following makes/models:

1. Denon AVC-X4700H or AVC-X6700H

2. Marantz SR7015 or SR8015

3. New Anthem MRX 740

Can anyone give any insight into how any of the above models would compare with my current Pioneer in terms of sound quality/presentation, please? My interest is in home theatre/surround sound only, I will not be playing any music sources through the amp. The only other brand I have tried is Yamaha, sadly the units I tried really did not work for me, if that's any indication...
 
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gibbsy

Moderator
The Denons have Audyssey XT32 onboard which is a superior calibration system to Pioneers rather poor inhouse one. Set up is extremely easy with a walk through wizard. The strength of the Denons is with their AL32 processor, it really is very good for audio steering.

There's a £1K difference in price between the two Denon models and, based on the X6500, the 6700 should be the better of the two.
 

Skyrider

Well-known Member
The Denons have Audyssey XT32 onboard which is a superior calibration system to Pioneers rather poor inhouse one. Set up is extremely easy with a walk through wizard. The strength of the Denons is with their AL32 processor, it really is very good for audio steering.

There's a £1K difference in price between the two Denon models and, based on the X6500, the 6700 should be the better of the two.

Thanks, gibbsy, that's good to know. The main difference between the two Denon units seems to be the number of supported channels. The 4700 has enough channels for my purposes, but if the 6700 sounds better, I would be prepared to pay the difference...
 

Jamie

Distinguished Member
Can you wait a bit longer, I'd be tempted to say the Anthem would be my choice but it's only just been announced so I'd personally wait and see what the software side of things is like first. Buggy firmware and waiting for a fix to problems can be frustrating, just ask an Arcam AVR owner.
 

Skyrider

Well-known Member
Can you wait a bit longer, I'd be tempted to say the Anthem would be my choice but it's only just been announced so I'd personally wait and see what the software side of things is like first. Buggy firmware and waiting for a fix to problems can be frustrating, just ask an Arcam AVR owner.

Thanks, Jamie. As it happens, I had a long chat with one of the guys at the Anthem distributor today, who was very helpful & offered me a demo when they get the release versions in stock. I have considered Anthem in the past, but never got as far as auditioning any of their models, hopefully I'll get to hear the new ones...

Just removed the MRX 1140 from the list, as it is a bit over my budget. Not considering the MRX 540, as the MRX 740 seems a better bet for the money.
 
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Dolus

Active Member
The 4700 is made in Vietnam while the 6700 is made in Japan and is allegedly made of higher quality parts which goes some way to explain the price difference between the two.
 

Skyrider

Well-known Member
Thanks, Dolus, interesting to know. I think it is often the case that, as you go up the range, you get better quality components under the hood, which is not always apparent from reading the spec. Hence my philosophy of paying the difference if it sounds better!
 

Skyrider

Well-known Member
Just spotted a fly in the ointment: both the Denon AVC-X6700H & the Marantz 8015 now have the ability to disable the amp sections when using external amps, which is a welcome addition for many, no doubt.

However, unlike my current Pioneer, the options are limited to ALL ON or ALL OFF, it is not possible to power off selected channels only. In my current setup, I have my front speakers using the pre-outs only, then going through my HiFi power amps. In the Pio, these channels only can be, & have been, set to OFF.

Does anyone know of any alternative amps which give more options regarding powering/depowering the amps for individual channels?
 

Jamie

Distinguished Member
The pre outs are all still active, so in reality does it matter? If you're not using any of the internal amps then by all means turn the amps off but I'm not convinced it's going to make a dramatic difference to just not using all of the amp channels.
 

Skyrider

Well-known Member
The pre outs are all still active, so in reality does it matter? If you're not using any of the internal amps then by all means turn the amps off but I'm not convinced it's going to make a dramatic difference to just not using all of the amp channels.

Thanks, Jamie. According to this extract from an article at audioholics.com the difference is measurable (if not audible). I also wonder about energy consumption & heat generation...

Pre-Amplifier Mode

Denon AVR-X4700H Inside View

"We've been asking for it, and FINALLY Denon now also supports a new “Pre-Amplifier” mode for the AVR-X3700H, AVR-X4700H and AVR-X6700H, previously only found on Denon’s flagship AVR-X8500H. Pre-Amplifier mode provides a clear signal path and more tolerance in clipping levels by disconnecting internal amplifiers when the receiver is used as an AV processor and all speakers are powered by external amplifiers.

After years of testing and measuring AV receiver performance, Gene determined the reason why the preamp outputs on most receivers showed high distortion in an FFT plot when driven above 1.2Vrms. The unloaded amplifiers were being driven into clipping causing distortion to be feedback into the signal chain. This can be seen most recently in our measurements of the Marantz SR8012 as well as many other brands and models we've reviewed over the years.

We pleaded with AV receiver manufacturers to offer a "preamp mode" that physically disconnects the signal path to the amplifiers for those wanting to use their receivers as a dedicated preamp by connecting external amplification. Denon is the first company to heed our call by offering this feature on ALL new X-series AV receivers. Bravo!"
 
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Jamie

Distinguished Member
Well if it bothers you that much surely adding extra power amps would be the obvious upgrade path. As an added bonus you get to compare the results.

As a temporary solution if you pioneer has a multi channel input (5.1 or 7.1) you can even use your current amp to drive some of the channels and replace with power amps when you want.
 

Skyrider

Well-known Member
Well if it bothers you that much surely adding extra power amps would be the obvious upgrade path. As an added bonus you get to compare the results.

As a temporary solution if you pioneer has a multi channel input (5.1 or 7.1) you can even use your current amp to drive some of the channels and replace with power amps when you want.

Thanks, Jamie. I had considered adding extra power amps, but if I'm to go that route I might be better off going for a separate processor + power amp setup. For the present, cash & space constraints prevent that option, so need to live with my current setup.

Also, the situation is complicated by the fact that those front speakers are shared with my music system: the signals for the front speakers feed from the pre-outs of the Pio AVR into a Cyrus pre-amp which will only accommodate 2 analogue inputs. From there, each signal goes into its own power amp, i.e. a power amp for the left speaker, plus a power amp for the right speaker. This arrangement allows me to select a source with the Cyrus pre-amp (AV/CD/streamer, etc.) and use the power amps & front speakers regardless of the source.
 
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GoingGoingGone

Distinguished Member
Just spotted a fly in the ointment: both the Denon AVC-X6700H & the Marantz 8015 now have the ability to disable the amp sections when using external amps, which is a welcome addition for many, no doubt.

However, unlike my current Pioneer, the options are limited to ALL ON or ALL OFF, it is not possible to power off selected channels only. In my current setup, I have my front speakers using the pre-outs only, then going through my HiFi power amps. In the Pio, these channels only can be, & have been, set to OFF.

Does anyone know of any alternative amps which give more options regarding powering/depowering the amps for individual channels?
The Denons will also disable the front L/R if using the pre-outs for them in 11 channel mode. See
But there is one thing that is special about this AVR: if you set it to 11 channel mode which is more than the number of amplifier channels it has, it lets you disconnect the internal amplifier and route that to pre-out. This means that you don't have to deal with that amplifier clipping and reducing DAC performance when you use an external amplifier.
Denon AVR-X3600H AV Receiver Review

For some of the tests, I selected the 11 channel mode which allowed me to reassign them to "external amp" which provides better performance in that configuration.
Denon AVR-X4700 AVR Review (Updated)
 
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Skyrider

Well-known Member
Thanks for the above links. Interesting, but confusing! I have read the Owners Manual for the X3600H, which seems to be saying that, in 11 channel mode, all 9 internal amps are actually powered, not disabled: see screenshot...
Amp Assign.jpg
 

GoingGoingGone

Distinguished Member
Thanks for the above links. Interesting, but confusing! I have read the Owners Manual for the X3600H, which seems to be saying that, in 11 channel mode, all 9 internal amps are actually powered, not disabled: see screenshot...View attachment 1395199
As I understand it.:
It is a 11 channel processing, 9 internal power amps AVR. In 11 channnel mode only 9 internal power amps are available. Thus if you configure front L/R channels to use external amps the front L/R (as was) amps are reconfigured as heights. The pre-outs for front L/R therefore don't have amps in their loop to affect the clipping voltage.

This only works for the front L/R and not for any other channel so if you sent front L/C/R to external amps only the front L/R would get the benefit. The X8500 takes it even further and any channel can be disconnected from an amp. Interestingly in the ASR test of that it was found the global all amps off pre feature didn't work.

If you have read my previous reviews of AVRs, you know that I test the pre-amp output with and without amplifiers active (if there is such an option). I tried to do this with the 8500H but at first failed miserably. I set the amplifier config to "pre" which I thought would shut down all the amps. Performance was poor indicating the amps were probably still on.

Discussing it with the owner, he suggested that I turn off the individual channels and set the Amp config to Custom. Doing that indeed turned off the amps resulting in much better DAC performance. I asked Denon about it but their engineering team is on holiday. The suggestion was that perhaps this is something that is fixed in later firmware revisions? I did not try to test that. Denon AVR-X8500H AVR Review
 
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Krobar

Well-known Member
Hi,

I'm planning on replacing my current Pioneer SC-LX89 AVR in the near future. I've been using Pioneer AVRs for many years, so am very familiar with their presentation, which I like. I have spent a year or so waiting for the Pioneer SC-LX904 to appear, but am on the verge of giving up & going for another brand: the question is, which one?

I am considering the following makes/models:

1. Denon AVC-X4700H or AVC-X6700H

2. Marantz SR7015 or SR8015

3. New Anthem MRX 740

Can anyone give any insight into how any of the above models would compare with my current Pioneer in terms of sound quality/presentation, please? My interest is in home theatre/surround sound only, I will not be playing any music sources through the amp. The only other brand I have tried is Yamaha, sadly the units I tried really did not work for me, if that's any indication...

Have you considered the NAD T778?
 

Skyrider

Well-known Member
As I understand it.:
It is a 11 channel processing, 9 internal power amps AVR. In 11 channnel mode only 9 internal power amps are available. Thus if you configure front L/R channels to use external amps the front L/R (as was) amps are reconfigured as heights. The pre-outs for front L/R therefore don't have amps in their loop to affect the clipping voltage.

This only works for the front L/R and not for any other channel so if you sent front L/C/R to external amps only the front L/R would get the benefit. The X8500 takes it even further and any channel can be disconnected from an amp. Interestingly in the ASR test of that it was found the global all amps off pre feature didn't work.

If you have read my previous reviews of AVRs, you know that I test the pre-amp output with and without amplifiers active (if there is such an option). I tried to do this with the 8500H but at first failed miserably. I set the amplifier config to "pre" which I thought would shut down all the amps. Performance was poor indicating the amps were probably still on.

Discussing it with the owner, he suggested that I turn off the individual channels and set the Amp config to Custom. Doing that indeed turned off the amps resulting in much better DAC performance. I asked Denon about it but their engineering team is on holiday. The suggestion was that perhaps this is something that is fixed in later firmware revisions? I did not try to test that. Denon AVR-X8500H AVR Review

Thanks for all that. If I understand correctly, all that is necessary is to connect the fronts to the pre-outs & assign the internal amps to 11 channel, even if you are using less than 11 channels, which forces the reconfiguration? Simply plugging the fronts into the pre-outs won't work, you have to fool the unit into thinking it's run out of amps?

What about the initial setup, when you tell the unit exactly what speaker config. you are using?

I had looked at the X8500H out of curiosity, but it's out of reach budget-wise.
 

Skyrider

Well-known Member
Have you considered the NAD T778?

Thanks, Krobar. I have read the review in these forums & checked out this unit on the NAD website. The review was quite glowing, but, for some reason, NAD have never appealed to me, something which goes back to my early hi-fi years. It does seem to suffer from a few niggles at the moment, but that is not uncommon & they will no doubt be resolved before too long. Practically, it does seem a little light on 3D audio & HDR support, but maybe that will be improved at some point...
 

GoingGoingGone

Distinguished Member
Thanks for all that. If I understand correctly, all that is necessary is to connect the fronts to the pre-outs & assign the internal amps to 11 channel, even if you are using less than 11 channels, which forces the reconfiguration? Simply plugging the fronts into the pre-outs won't work, you have to fool the unit into thinking it's run out of amps?
Pretty much although it's not fooling it, just telling it to do something it's designed to do.
What about the initial setup, when you tell the unit exactly what speaker config. you are using?
With Denon/Marantz AVRs setup process flow; amp assign, in this case the 11 channel setup, comes before speaker config.
I had looked at the X8500H out of curiosity, but it's out of reach budget-wise.
A month or two ago the X8500 was just £300 more than the X6700 (£2599 vs £2299) or £200 less than the SR8015 (£2599 vs £2799).
 

Skyrider

Well-known Member
Pretty much although it's not fooling it, just telling it to do something it's designed to do.

With Denon/Marantz AVRs setup process flow; amp assign, in this case the 11 channel setup, comes before speaker config.

A month or two ago the X8500 was just £300 more than the X6700 (£2599 vs £2299) or £200 less than the SR8015 (£2599 vs £2799).

Thanks for your further input.

Regarding the X8500, I have seen it priced as low as £2300, but that is for a 'graded' product with some sort of history. I understand that the X8500 is due for some sort of mod sometime next year, so might be worth waiting for...
 

GoingGoingGone

Distinguished Member
Thanks for your further input.

Regarding the X8500, I have seen it priced as low as £2300, but that is for a 'graded' product with some sort of history. I understand that the X8500 is due for some sort of mod sometime next year, so might be worth waiting for...
The X8500H HDMI 2.1 mod is said to cost £649 so adding that to the now £3499 price takes it up to £4148. That may point to the cost of the replacement X8500HA (with mod in) due at the same time as the mod kit as being around the £4.2K+ mark. If it comes in lower it would make the unmodded X8500H too high in price so there may be a price drop with them again in the future.

But as the stock of the X8500H has been 'erratic' and they are said to be hand built in Japan there may well not be stocks of them available anyway. I wouldn't be surprised if any plain old vanilla X8500H left in the UK warehouse were to be upgraded to X8500HA config and sold as such.
 

Skyrider

Well-known Member
The X8500H HDMI 2.1 mod is said to cost £649 so adding that to the now £3499 price takes it up to £4148. That may point to the cost of the replacement X8500HA (with mod in) due at the same time as the mod kit as being around the £4.2K+ mark. If it comes in lower it would make the unmodded X8500H too high in price so there may be a price drop with them again in the future.

But as the stock of the X8500H has been 'erratic' and they are said to be hand built in Japan there may well not be stocks of them available anyway. I wouldn't be surprised if any plain old vanilla X8500H left in the UK warehouse were to be upgraded to X8500HA config and sold as such.

Thanks for the info: definitely getting out of my price range!
 

Matyam

Active Member
I 2nd the nad t778 with dirac its a game changer if you have problem with room,worth a listen.
 
Thanks, Krobar. I have read the review in these forums & checked out this unit on the NAD website. The review was quite glowing, but, for some reason, NAD have never appealed to me, something which goes back to my early hi-fi years. It does seem to suffer from a few niggles at the moment, but that is not uncommon & they will no doubt be resolved before too long. Practically, it does seem a little light on 3D audio & HDR support, but maybe that will be improved at some point...
You should check out the nad T778 it is amazing for films and music. I've tried the denon 8500 and marantz 8012 and 7705 processor anthem 720, arcam avr850 and lexicon rv9. For me the nad beats them all.
 

Skyrider

Well-known Member
I 2nd the nad t778 with dirac its a game changer if you have problem with room,worth a listen.

Not sure if my room would be considered a 'problem' room or not. Nevertheless, I'm curious about what Dirac can do: I am now trying out a Denon AVC-X6700H in my system, which, as you know, sports the Audyssey MultEQ XT32 room correction software. So far, I'm not especially 'wowed' by the sound, but it is early days: maybe things will improve when the amp is run in, or I get to grips with the Audyssey software.

The Audyssey software does seem somewhat limited compared to my previously used Pioneer MCACC Pro, which had options for phase control, standing wave control amongst other things, which seem to be absent from the Audyssey.

You should check out the nad T778 it is amazing for films and music. I've tried the denon 8500 and marantz 8012 and 7705 processor anthem 720, arcam avr850 and lexicon rv9. For me the nad beats them all.

That's quite a statement! I've not had the pleasure of hearing any of those units, but, having heard the Denon (see above), I'm beginning to think that I should give the NAD a go...
 

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