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post #1 of 84 Old 05-13-2012, 07:13 PM - Thread Starter
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Been spending some time in the audio threads lately trying to learn about receivers and I am completely overwhelmed! Had never heard of Audessy or height speaker placement until now. Also didn't know that upscale and upconversion were two different things.

In my price range the receivers all have "get this, lose this" feature set.

So, what do you guys have? From an HTPC users standpoint(TV, blu-ray,streaming), what should I be looking for in a receiver?
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post #2 of 84 Old 05-13-2012, 08:10 PM
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You shouldn't be asking this to the computer people, you should be asking the a/v people.

Most important thing I look for in a receiver. Will it thoroughly power my speakers and does it have the necessary inputs for all of my devices?

The most important part of a ht setup is your speakers, everything else is secondary.
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post #3 of 84 Old 05-13-2012, 08:30 PM
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I just picked up a Denon 1712, I haven't set it up yet but will tomorrow. Since I use a HTPC I wasn't concerned with networking as my HTPC does everything. And since all my inputs are digital, I wasn't concerned with analog to digital conversion. Basically all I mainly looked for it was to power my speakers and the room correction feature.
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post #4 of 84 Old 05-13-2012, 08:34 PM
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I'm using Denon AVR-A100 with 9.2 wides and heights.

-RobNY
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post #5 of 84 Old 05-13-2012, 08:47 PM
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I've got a Rotel 1570 pre/pro and 1095 amp. I say concentrate on sound quality and power over all the feature sets.

On a HTPC stand point. Your main concern is the HDMI.

Any HDMI handshaking issues. This really can be a big issue with PCs

How fast can it switch from PCM to bitstream. If there is a 3 second delay it can become annoying.

The HTPC will do all the up converting and output 1080P so the scaler isn't important.


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post #6 of 84 Old 05-13-2012, 09:20 PM
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Marantz 6005...it was a replacement for my Harmon Kardon 347 (which I think was way better in the amp section...just otherwise outdated).
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post #7 of 84 Old 05-13-2012, 10:19 PM
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I have a Denon 1610 and it does not play nice with Intel integrated graphics. No matter what I do something will freeze or there will be a display issue. I finally just bought a ati 5450 and it pretty much solved all problems. It would have been nice to not have to take up a slot with a video card though.
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post #8 of 84 Old 05-14-2012, 03:56 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by squeakybirnbaum View Post

I have a Denon 1610 and it does not play nice with Intel integrated graphics. No matter what I do something will freeze or there will be a display issue. I finally just bought a ati 5450 and it pretty much solved all problems. It would have been nice to not have to take up a slot with a video card though.

Ouch !


I use a yammy RX-V671 . Really love it . Plays nice with the htc and the menu controls are very easy to learn .
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post #9 of 84 Old 05-14-2012, 04:03 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Afroteddy View Post

In my price range the receivers all have "get this, lose this" feature set.

It will always be like that for any product, not just AVRs.
Only the very high-end items will have all the features.
The important question is, what features do you require?
For eg. some people require dual outputs to switch between a TV and a PJ. An AVR with that feature would run upwards of $800. However, it can be accomplished by a separate HDMI matrix switch for around $50.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Afroteddy View Post

From an HTPC users standpoint(TV, blu-ray,streaming), what should I be looking for in a receiver?

Handshake!
That is the primary issue that is encountered by most users and there is no way to predict it, since there are a multitude of chipsets paired with an equally varied range of AVRs.

Quote:
Originally Posted by realtight View Post

You shouldn't be asking this to the computer people, you should be asking the a/v people.

A cross-topic query like this one can be asked in either forum but is more relevant to the HTPC forum.

Quote:
Originally Posted by realtight View Post

Most important thing I look for in a receiver. Will it thoroughly power my speakers and does it have the necessary inputs for all of my devices? The most important part of a ht setup is your speakers, everything else is secondary.

+1 times 100!

Speakers are to sound quality, what displays are to picture quality.
I see so many people buy the best and the latest in television displays and spend a pittance on speakers.

Most AVRs do not have the capacity to power the speakers that users will attach to them. I have never seen a manufacturer state the power spec of an AVR with all channels being driven. Its always stated as 'xx Watts x 7 channels' but in tiny fonts, it will state only 2 channels driven.
I believed the same too, until I educated myself.

OP,
Make a list of features that you absolutely require, and then go from there.
Here's some that you should look at:
[1] 3D
[2] Power Handling, dual/separate power supplies?
[3] Matrix switching; basically any input can be scaled and switched to any output (mostly HDMI). All AVRs cannot do this. For instance, if you have a composite as well as a component and other HDMI inputs going in to your AVR, do you want them all to be output through the HDMI port. This is very convenient of course but is a feature found only on mid-range to high-end AVRs.
[4] Pre-Amp Outs; to connect an external amplifier. If you have power hungry speakers you might want to use an external amplifier to power your speakers, its worth it.

Except for #2, the other features can be had for $400-$500.

To answer your other query; I have an Onkyo TX-SR876 paired with an AMD HD5450/6450/5750. I have always used ATI's HD series of video cards and never had a handshake issue. A friend of mine has an Onkyo TX-SR605 paired with a HD5450 while another has a Yamaha Aventage A700 with a HD5450. Both these setups have been running for some years now.

Good Luck!
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post #10 of 84 Old 05-14-2012, 04:43 AM
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I'm an old school audiophile and wouldn never consider a receiver as part of my system, but that's not to say there aren't some decent receivers out there. They have come a long way in the 45-50 years I've been listening to audio. Proper amplification requires separate power amps with their own power supplies. I use an Onkyo Pro PR-SC885 preamp/processor. It handles all of the switching and processing chores via HDMI connections between the HTPC and the TV.

I would agree that speakers are the most important component in a HT setup, but don't scrimp on other areas either. A budget system gets you budget sound. Avoid any of the "Home Theater in a Box" systems unless you're on a severely tight budget or live in a college dorm. Let your ears guide you instead of hype in the ads. Don't get sucked in by overhyped brands like Bose (absolutely horrible sound reproduction, but lots of people seem to like them, probably because they have no clue what to listen for).

If you want to hear the good stuff then visit a high end Home Theater salon, but be prepared for some serious sticker shock. Understand that anything you hear in a showroom will sound completely different in your home environment. Take source material with you that you're familiar with when auditioning any audio hardware (i.e., CDs, DVDs, or Blu-Ray discs). The salespeople with likely use some sort of demo disc to wow you into submission. It will sound great, but since you probably don't listen exclusively to demo discs it won't necessarily help you choose the best equipment that suits your listening or viewing needs.
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post #11 of 84 Old 05-14-2012, 05:00 AM
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I'm using a laptop with Nvidia 3100M graphics over HDMI to a Marantz nr1501 displaying 1080p60 video and 5.1 surround sound with no major problems. (I do have to use Marc's AVR audio fix utility available by way of http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/showt...php?p=21949938 ) It also works fine to a Marantz av8003. However, I'm not (yet) using it as a BD player, mostly for downloaded audio and standard-def video. And Web browsing like this

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post #12 of 84 Old 05-14-2012, 06:35 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Afroteddy View Post

So, what do you guys have? From an HTPC users standpoint(TV, blu-ray,streaming), what should I be looking for in a receiver?

I have a Denon. A 1909 I think.

As for features you should look for, Obviously get one with inputs and outputs that will fit your setup. If you are running efficient speakers (and a separate powered sub) I wouldn't worry too much about the power handling. If your speakers aren't efficient, you have a very large room, or you tend to listen to your audio at extremely loud levels (above reference) then you may need to look at higher end models with higher amplification, or possibly move to a dedicated amp/preprocessor.

As for features, it should be able to decode all the formats, but I can't imagine too many AVRs available today that don't. Front highs and front wides are only important if you are interested in them. If you are just running a traditional 7.1 or 5.1 setup they aren't important.

Personally, I think getting an AVR with Audyssey Multi EQ (or up) room correction is worthwhile. My basement TV room is fairly balanced as far as movie listening environment goes and Multi EQ still made a noticeable improvement. The other features like Dynamic EQ can be a benefit if you routinely listen to content at low levels, but if you tend to listen to your stuff at loud levels that are within 15db or so below reference, then Dynamic EQ doesn't do much at all in my experience.

A lot of AVRs market their upscaling capabilities. If you are using your HTPC, you should be outputting the native screen res anyway so all you really need to worry about is that the video signal can be completely passed through the AVR without any modification. Denon's have been confirmed to do this, Onks had some issues in the past, but they could be solved by now.


As for on screen setup/configuration, meh. Take it or leave it I say. My older AVR just has the basic on screen setup stuff and it doesn't affect usability once it is setup, and my AVR is located in a room separate from the viewing area. I wouldn't waste time/money for a pretty, colored, onscreen setup capability.

As for remotes, I wouldn't pay money for any of the universal remotes that any of the AVR manufacturers ship out. Get a real universal remote for your system and put the AVR remote in the drawer with the TV remote.

-Suntan
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post #13 of 84 Old 05-14-2012, 07:10 AM
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Just upgraded my Denon AVR-889 to a Denon AVR-2312ci as due t a remodel going on (dust?) and moving it around two out of four HDMI ports started loosing sync whenever adjusting the volume without regard as to what the source was. The HDMI board is only available from Denon or their authorized suppliers and costs over $300 plus shipping so replacing the AVR was really the only option.

I wanted a nice GUI that would overlay via HDMI (and less impotantly over 3D via HDMI which I don't use anyhow)

I also wanted the network capability. It is possible to "play to" this AVR from my PC without having to turn on the system with the Harmony remote and it (the receiver anyhow) can be controlled via a third party android app and Denon's own iPhone / iPad app. It can even stream internet radio.

Denon makes a quality AVR and they are on M.Y. rollover clearacne right now and can be had for 30%+ off MSRP by calling authorized dealers.

A lot of people report issues with HTPC's and HDMI "handshake". I've never experienced this with either AVR. I have a Gigabyte GA-H55M-USB3 MoBo if that makes a difference.

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post #14 of 84 Old 05-14-2012, 11:03 AM
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I have a pioneer VSX-32 and use the front and back pre-out to a pair of behringer studio monitoring amplifiers one for front speakers and one for back speakers...
Side speakers and sub are directly connected to the pioneer.
I did a firmware upgrade on the VSX-32 about a year ago and since then I have always wondered if I will ever let go of this AVR.
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post #15 of 84 Old 05-14-2012, 11:43 AM - Thread Starter
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Thanks for all the feedback guys. I asked the question in here because me being in there is like a Toyota owner talking to a bunch of Nascar drivers.

I'm not an audiophile... yet. I'm more concerned with what I need as an htpc user than someone who who buys HD music discs or someone who owns an Oppo blu-ray player.

There were some things I though I'd need for my particular setup. For instance, my Westinghouse LCD is far from the greatest and I though that a receiver with video processing would improve the visuals with my cable box. That might be an issue with a cablecard tuner and a Radeon card.
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post #16 of 84 Old 05-14-2012, 11:49 AM
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There's quite a bit of talk on only HT set up of AVR's in the AMPS, Receivers and Processors section.

What input does that LCD have? Is it HDMI or Component? What resolution is it?

I don't understand what you are getting at with the statement, "..the visuals of my cable box.." or how the cable card tuner and Radeon card come into play when choosing an AVR.

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post #17 of 84 Old 05-14-2012, 02:01 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sammy2 View Post

There's quite a bit of talk on only HT set up of AVR's in the AMPS, Receivers and Processors section.

What input does that LCD have? Is it HDMI or Component? What resolution is it?

I don't understand what you are getting at with the statement, "..the visuals of my cable box.." or how the cable card tuner and Radeon card come into play when choosing an AVR.

The TV has HDMI. It was a Black Friday 2011 special. Maybe I should have said picture quality instead of visuals. Figured that an AVR with video processing might improve quality of my cable box(SD is terrible) on my TV but it might not do a thing for a Radeon equipped PC. I hope to get a cablecard tuner as soon as I can decide on one.
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post #18 of 84 Old 05-14-2012, 02:18 PM
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An AVR with video upscaling, or any video upscaling for that matter, will not make the SD content much better as you cannot create pixels that don't exist. To get good PQ you need a good quality source. Don't waste $$ on upscaling, spend it on getting better source material. Unless you are upgrading old pc parts to create an HTPC or have an older HTPC, you don't need a graphics card at all with the i3 processor.

What is your HTPC?

What size, resolution and frame rate is the TV? Even if it is 720p you will be okay unless you are watching it from 3 feet and it's anything 32" and larger. If it is larger and you are 10 feet away 720p will still be just fine up to about 42" or maybe even 50".

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post #19 of 84 Old 05-14-2012, 02:43 PM - Thread Starter
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While not an official htpc yet, my living room PC has the following components :
AthlonII 250
Gigabyte 785gm-usdh
Radeon 4830
4gb ddr2-800 ram

My TV is a 46" 1080p 60hz lcd.(Westinghouse vr-4625)
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post #20 of 84 Old 05-14-2012, 02:58 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Afroteddy View Post

While not an official htpc yet, my living room PC has the following components :
AthlonII 250
Gigabyte 785gm-usdh
Radeon 4830
4gb ddr2-800 ram

My TV is a 46" 1080p 60hz lcd.(Westinghouse vr-4625)

You're probably going to want to upgrade to at least a Radeon 5450 in order to get bitstreaming of DTS-HD Master Audio and Dolby TrueHD, and you'll want to make sure your new AVR can decode those formats. You'll also want an adeqaute number of HDMI ports not only for now but for the future. Luckily a 5450 can be had for $20 or less. A GTS430 is somewhat more.
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post #21 of 84 Old 05-14-2012, 03:02 PM
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I think you will be fine with that using a DVI to HDMI converter from monoprice. I've never used these and am not familiar with your video card as I've used integrated graphics for a while now but it might (and I'm not saying will) have HDMI handshake issues that you should be concerned about moreso than video upscaling.

EDIT: or follow Zon2020's advice and get a new card.

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post #22 of 84 Old 05-14-2012, 04:13 PM
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I have an Arcam AVR600, which is a beast, and sounds amazing.

However, I absolutely hate it's functionality (or lack thereof). It takes a full 15-30 seconds for it to recognize a change in audio format, which makes watching live tv almost impossible, and even when watching blu-ray disks I always miss the first 30 seconds of any movie while it tries to figure out that it needs to switch to TrueHD or DTS-HD-MA.

To combat this, I have my HTPC output LPCM 100% of the time, to avoid the switching delay. Works ok for me, but while my PC CAN stream hd-audio, I choose not to.
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post #23 of 84 Old 05-14-2012, 04:24 PM
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Wow! That's nuckin futz.

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post #24 of 84 Old 05-14-2012, 05:46 PM
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nuckin futz.

ha ha....I've had that sauce and it is futz!
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post #25 of 84 Old 05-14-2012, 05:54 PM
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i have a yammy rx667 and it hates 60p content never could get it to work right, but now i leave it on 23.97630 and it is GREEEAt!

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post #26 of 84 Old 05-14-2012, 07:19 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Zon2020 View Post


You're probably going to want to upgrade to at least a Radeon 5450 in order to get bitstreaming of DTS-HD Master Audio and Dolby TrueHD, and you'll want to make sure your new AVR can decode those formats. You'll also want an adeqaute number of HDMI ports not only for now but for the future. Luckily a 5450 can be had for $20 or less. A GTS430 is somewhat more.

The 4830 gives me Dolby Digital, DTS, and 7.1 pcm via dvi->hdmi. I will be upgrading to one of the mid level 6 or 7000 series later this year.
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post #27 of 84 Old 05-14-2012, 09:00 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Afroteddy View Post


The 4830 gives me Dolby Digital, DTS, and 7.1 pcm via dvi->hdmi. I will be upgrading to one of the mid level 6 or 7000 series later this year.

I assume they will decode the current audio standards I mentioned. Why wouldn't you pay $20 for a video card that supports them. From an audio standpoint your 4830 is obsolete.
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post #28 of 84 Old 05-15-2012, 03:28 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Zon2020 View Post


I assume they will decode the current audio standards I mentioned. Why wouldn't you pay $20 for a video card that supports them. From an audio standpoint your 4830 is obsolete.

The 4830 is the best I have in house at the moment. I do some casual gaming so a $20 64 bit card probably wont cut it. Actually I'm quite impressed with the 4830's audio. It doesn't do HD audio but its 7.1 output is a big difference from the 2.0 output from the 3870 that I was using before.
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post #29 of 84 Old 05-15-2012, 03:41 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Afroteddy View Post

The 4830 is the best I have in house at the moment. I do some casual gaming so a $20 64 bit card probably wont cut it. Actually I'm quite impressed with the 4830's audio. It doesn't do HD audio but its 7.1 output is a big difference from the 2.0 output from the 3870 that I was using before.

i use to bitstream but it was a waste to me IMO a 8 ch pcm works just as well as bitstreaming and i think there are better upgrades to be had instead of worring about bitperfect audio like better speakers, larger tv, bigger sub, etc; i used to use a gt220 for my htpc and it worked great in fact i use it up in my bedroom with a 5.1 setup and never had any problems with audio or never noticed them if i did

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post #30 of 84 Old 05-15-2012, 03:52 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by manuetdeo View Post

i use to bitstream but it was a waste to me IMO a 8 ch pcm works just as well as bitstreaming and i think there are better upgrades to be had instead of worring about bitperfect audio like better speakers, larger tv, bigger sub, etc; i used to use a gt220 for my htpc and it worked great in fact i use it up in my bedroom with a 5.1 setup and never had any problems with audio or never noticed them if i did

For $15-20, there is no more cost effective upgrade to be had.

You can't exactly compare buying a $20 video card with buying a $1000 subwoofer.

If you have a decent sound system, then there is a pretty significant difference with the HD audio encoding. If you don't have a decent sound system, then you've got a lot of other things to worry about than multichannel audio.

But Dolby TrueHD and DTS Master Audio are not a "waste".
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