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Yamaha DSP-AZ1 or Denon AVC-A1SR

Discussion in 'AV Receivers & Amplifiers' started by Pzycho, Apr 19, 2002.

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  1. Pzycho

    Pzycho
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    I realize these two are of a slightly different price-class, but on a general note, taking price/performance into consideration which would you say is the better purchase?

    I've currently got an AZ1 on order as I have always been very happy with my Yamaha products in the past, and as I'm not really too bothered about the THX Ultra 2 certification I thought I might as well. However, reading more and more specs on both of the amps I've found a few features the Denon has that I would really like. Specifically the video conversion, real EX, more power and well, it seems to be the favored make amongst true HT fanatics.

    Should I consider cancelling my AZ1 and order a Denon instead? Or do you not think the extra features/power is worth the extra grand? Waiting for both to be in-shop to demo them myself isn't really an option as I need the order placed now to get one asap.
     
  2. MarkB

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    You will have to decide weather or not to cancel your order for the Yamaha; if the AVC-A1SR has the features you need (or may need in the future) then perhaps that is the way to go.

    I'm waiting for the DENON, and I've done hardly any searching around this time having owned the AVC-A1SE and I auditioned practically everything available at the time. I wouldn't spend this much money if I was unsure if I was you but I know one thing: you won’t be disappointed with the DENON.

    Good luck whatever.

    Mark
     
  3. Jase

    Jase
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    The Denons are excellent amplifiers (I´ve got the A1SE). But as Mark said only you can decide if the extra features etc are worth the money over the Yamaha.

    A couple of things to consider, Denons hold their value very well as you dont get that many coming available 2nd hand. The Yamahas value seem to drop fairly quickly.

    Another thing which I´m not sure if the Yamahas have yet (they didnt when I had one) is things like speaker delays, independent memory settings for each mode etc. With the Denon you just key in the distance you are from each speaker and it does the rest. The Yamaha I had, you could only enter a millisecond time but not for individual speakers. The Denons are much more flexible allowing for the fact you might not have the speakers in the perfect positions.

    The A1SR will also have ALL the latest formats, THX Ultra 2 etc and also the fastest processors available, only bettered by Lexicon and Meridian.

    My money would be on the Denon (not biased in any way of course!!;) )

    As mentioned before, its down to you in the end.
     
  4. Pzycho

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    Good point of course. I'm the one who'll be using it in the end, just looking for a few more opinions before I make up my mind.

    The new AZ1 has all the new formats aswell, not THX Ultra II certified though. I must say THX certs haven't bothered me in the past as you were basically paying a grand for a logo on the amp (ok, that can be discussed, but you get my point) - this has changed slightly now though when, as I understand it, real EX can only be aquired having the THX cert.
    It also have the same setup facilities as the Denons at this time I think, with a graphical view of the room, setup for each speakers etc.

    Another reason I'm thinking of reconsidering is also the fact that I ended up going a lot heavier on the speakers than I originally planned to do. The Denon has got quite a lot more power onboard than the Yammy does, and it's like someone else said - better to have plenty of headroom and not use the amp to its fullest rather than overworking the amp and getting distorted sound.

    £3k is really at the top of my budget for an amp, but I'm very much considering it at this point. Depends on what the actual availability date will be also of course.

    What about the Pioneer VSA-AX10 which is actually abailable now and seems to have gotten rave reviews everywhere?

    To give an indication on what sort of setup it'll live with;
    KEF Reference speakers
    Pioneer DVL-909
    Pioneer DV-747A
    Echostar 3600IP
    Sky+
    Barco Graphics 808s
    96" wide Stewart screen
    + probably other bits and pieces which I've forgotten.
     
  5. Jase

    Jase
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  6. Adam Barratt

    Adam Barratt
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    The DSP-AZ1 will have 'real' Dolby Digital EX. The DSP-AX1 was introduced at a time when the only official domestic EX system was licensed exclusively to THX. As Yamaha don't use THX, they couldn't use this system (THX-EX).

    Since then, Dolby have introduced Dolby Digital EX, which is essentially the same system as THX-EX (minus THX's proprietary tweaks), but which can be used on non-THX certified equipment. This system will be used by the DSP-AZ1.

    I haven't heard the DSP-AZ1, but for the price it looks exceptional, and it is clearly an attempt on Yamaha's part to regain the ground lost to Denon and Onkyo over the last couple of years. I'm quite certain it will be a fantastic sounding amplifier, and will give Onkyo, Denon and Pioneer a good run for their money.

    I have also been considering buying a DSP-AZ1, but its performance and features compared with the Denon and Onkyo haven't been a major concern (it has all the major new formats onboard). I'm more uncertain about the AZ1's single back-surround channel, as I believe two channels/speakers allow a smoother rear soundfield than just one.

    Until I actually hear an AZ1 in action, this is all academic. When I get the opportunity to do so, I will let my ears decide for me.

    Adam
     
  7. Raveun2

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    If you've been happy with Yamaha amps then I'd stick with them but it is nice to have a change ! I've always bought Yam from my 1st £350 to my A1 then AX1. I've heard Denons in Demos and for just music listening they are better but for movies...well...I guess its taste. Remember the yam offers the front effects which you either hate or love. For less "intense" sounding movies I personally think the front effects work very well with a bit of tweeking. The Denon offers the 2 centre rears instead which I would've liked on the AX1 but then there aint much software out there with 6.1 let alone descrete, and I often just use 5.1 as there is a greater stereo seperation at the rear. For a real theatre it works fine but for home use I'm not that convinced. Both manufactures are falling over each over to put the latest gadgets on their machines and there for putting up the cost. PL2 for example ! My advice would be buy the Yam if you like the DSP and want to save a few quid and if you like music more then buy the Denon but I'm afraid by next year there will be something else new PL3 ! Buy an AX1 for £1000 which was £2000 not long ago and to hell with the the latest gizmos. All you want is DTS.
     
  8. stranger

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    es and ex etc. are designed for use with one centre back surround speaker, so dont worry about that aspect.
     
  9. Adam Barratt

    Adam Barratt
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    Actually, the original EX and ES systems (matrix) were designed for commercial/theatrical use. This entailed not just one or two back-surround speakers, but an array stretching across an auditorium's rear wall.

    In a domestic environment, THX's variant required two back-surround channels (or rather, speakers). I'm uncertain whether this is actually necessary for listeners in the 'sweet spot', but it may well improve things for off-axis listeners.

    Adam
     
  10. Reiner

    Reiner
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    I haven't heard the DSP-AZ1, but for the price it looks exceptional

    Exceptional? Rather "normal" / as expected and the Denon AVC-A1SR is a rip-off. At least I cannot understand how they actually justify the price-hike. As a direct replacement model it should be cheaper or at least cost the same / a bit more only, but not that much.
    It maybe the best, biggest, boldest and heaviest Integrated AV Amplifier of all time - but for EUR4700 (list price)? :eek:


    Anyhow, considered the AVC-A11SR, smaller and cheaper bro to the AVC-A1SR?
     
  11. Pzycho

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    Overpriced? Maybe, but then again so is the Mercedes SLK Kompressor - doesn't mean I don't want it :D

    Checking around a bit today and it seems there are more news than just the usual on the AVC-A1SR - amongst other things it is supposed to have better DACs and a general improvement in sound. Don't know how noticable this will be compared to the others, but I got a fairly good price on the unit and hence cancelled my AZ1 order.
     
  12. Reiner

    Reiner
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    Well, of course it's up to every individual if you want it and if you are willing to pay the price for it, but that doesn't necessarily mean it's a fair price.
    And the more people buy for that price the more likely the maker will be happier and charge you even more on the next, even better model.

    Just for reference: the AVC-A1SR costs GBP2000 only in Taiwan ...
     
  13. Adam Barratt

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    Opinions differ I suppose, but I don't consider the Yamaha overpriced, especially when compared to the Denon flagship.

    The Denon is expensive, but I think calling it a rip-off is a little extreme. No one is being forced at gunpoint to buy these amplifiers in any case, so I don't see what there is to complain about.

    Adam
     
  14. Reiner

    Reiner
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    As I said it's up to you to buy it or not, but if a product is only slightly improved or changed but the price goes up by 30% I call it a rip-off. And as mentioned, there are places where it's much cheaper (brandnew boxed of course, price quoted before any bragaining).
     
  15. MarkB

    MarkB
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    The AVC-A1SR is expensive as Reiner suggests, but it does have a few high end features like 2x 24bit/192kHz Digital to Analogue conversion in differential mode on each channel with Direct Stream Digital (SACD) decoding capability, 24bit/192kHz Analogue to Digital conversion on all analogue inputs including the 2x 8 Channel External Ins (this should allow THX processing on the EXT Ins), a new preamp design with improved signal to noise ratio and highly fast processors with plenty of headroom.

    Lastly, and this is probably what pushed the price up the most, 2 sets of multichannel 24bit/192kHz digital inputs.

    I agree that it is expensive, but it really is a high end product and i would suggest that it is more than slightly improved.

    Mark
     
  16. russraff

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    Whether or not it is improved, the fact remainds that in this country the A1SR is a very expensive piece of equipment. Granted it has several high end features, but if I had the budget for a A1SR, I would be looking at seperates. I think that the TAG processor is a fantastic piece of equipment, and I’m sure that the upgrade process’ aren’t as expensive, and are more varied than Denon route (though I’m not sure on the expense count).

    Russell
     
  17. Pzycho

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    Looking at the £3k (list) price for the A1SR I did consider separates, but working out the pricing going down that route would have seriously gone over my budget. I set myself a limit of £10k to get a new sound system, stewart screen and bits and pieces. Now just a tad above £10k1 which I can live with.

    Going for separates with the same sort of power would have made it a lot more. The ability to upgrade 'just' the processor in the future does appeal, but hey, got a very good deal on the Denon in the end.
     
  18. MarkB

    MarkB
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    ...I would be looking at seperates...

    To get functionality close to the DENON from TAG components you are looking at about twice the cost, so I'd be interested to see what you would buy in separates that would do the same job at a similar quality at the same cost.

    I agree though that the A1SR is very expensive, about £2500 would a be more reasonable.
     
  19. russraff

    russraff
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    Perhaps the Tag/Rotel route will cost a little more if technically brought to the same level as the Denon heavyweights. But then, perhaps technology itself doesn’t really matter? I can't vouch for the A1SR, as I haven't heard it (which probably makes all this academic), but I can certainly comment on the A1SE. I don't think anyone will disagree that the A1SE was/is a very advanced piece of equipment. When the Denon's stereo performance was gauged against a comparatively prehistoric stereo amp (Naim) the Denon was found to be second best.

    Denon are trying to produce an amp that is: Good with stereo material; Good with AV material; has a powerful (high current) power supply and an advanced pre-amp stage all in one box. Though the A1SE has good stereo performance, it isn't as good as a moderately priced stereo amp. Though the Denon's poweramp stage is powerful, it doesn't sound as effortless as a moderately priced poweramp... The A1SE (and perhaps SR) is a one box solution that, to me at least, is a compromise. Now, this is absolutely fine in AV amps up to £2500k. After this, you don't want to have a compromised product, at least not an obviously so. Yes the TAG may not be, technically, superior to the Denon amps, but the focused nature of the processor's implementation, suggests that it need't be to compete.

    Russell
     
  20. MarkB

    MarkB
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    Fair and valid points, but I had looked at Rotel processors and power amps and also their receivers when I bought the AVC-A1SE. It did what I needed it to do and I was very happy with the sound. I don’t want a dedicated processor and power amp and to me it sounded very good in all modes.

    Similarly, When DENON release a high end DVD-Video/DVD-Audio/SACD player with DENON Link I'll be there, although I guarantee that there will be those that say that dedicated players would be better.

    For those like me, DENON and the others will continue to produce these units, but "expensive" is really dependant on your point of view. I call £20,000 for the Meridian DVD-Audio player and processor "expensive".

    Mark
     
  21. gringottsdirect

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    Yamaha DSPAX1, Richer Sounds <£1000.
    Dolby Digital and DTS.
    Listen To What The Man Said.
     
  22. pfpetley

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    I seem to remember reading and then confirming with a THX appoved dealer that the reason dual center rears are used in EX ect is that because of the way the brain works a single point source behind you it can confuse the brain to thinking it comes from the front. Hense why THX has two rear centres
     
  23. Raveun2

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    Thats deep, Man !
     
  24. nfordenfield

    nfordenfield
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    I read the same about the two rears. Think that it would spead the sweet spot.

    Why don't you go for a 1SE and the send it the Hayden Labs via a THX/Gold Dealer and get the upgrade, you can get a second hand 1SE for £1400 ish and then £600 or the upgrade. What else will come close for £2k? You've got a 1SR with only a few things missing.

    If you can wait a week or so Pzycho, i'll post my thoughts on the upgrade, as mine is being done at the mo.

    The upgrade 1SE or 1SR is going to be a stonker of a product.

    If the power is not refined enough, do what I did and bolt on a pair of 557 power amps, this really makes my KEF reference 3.2 work, they love it FULL RANGE as well. Can get it all the way to minus 6 without a hint of distortion. That over a 1000 watts in to each speaker.

    Or get some headphones and a butt kicker!!!!!!!!!

    Nathan
     
  25. patmyhead

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    Hi exsuse me for butting in but as i am about to get the 1sr did you mean the amps power is added to the 170 w of the 1sr to make 1000w per front speakers if so i did not realise that this could be done & could my kef ref 1s sound better this way
    at the moment i have the yamaha 3090 which has served me well up to now but on reading this forum makes me think i am missing out on some thing special
    p@:rolleyes:
     
  26. nfordenfield

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    If you yammy has line out/pre amp for the stereo, then using a power amp with more power will give better control over your KEF's they are 4 ohm, so are not controlled well by weak amps.

    If you use seperate power amps, yes you should get better control of your speakers. However, moving up to the 1SE or 1SR should give you alot more control. Really depends what you want.

    Best find a friendly dealer and try both options to see what suit your needs.

    Nathan;)
     
  27. patmyhead

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    Liveing on a island i dont have the luxery of that kind of demo
    its mail order or bog standerd kit
    p@
     

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