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post #1 of 17 Old 11-22-2009, 01:59 PM - Thread Starter
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I have been considering an update to the theater. I currently use a Denon AVR-2802, PS3, Xbox 360, and DirecTV HDR. The speakers are Paradigm Monitors: Titans/Atoms/CC-150/PDR-10. I will also be swithing to the best Paradigm towers I can afford for the fronts and moving the Titans to the rears. The Denon would then go in to my racing sim setup.

I want to add HDMI capability and have decided now may be a good time to look at seperates. The biggest problem I have is Rotel is all I can find locally. I can do a combo for the right amount of money (around $2500 max) but do not want to be missing out. Is there something else I should seek in this price range? Sorry, I do not recall what model numbers the Rotels were.

There may be Anthem at a dealer an hour and a half away and I may be able to make it there to check them out this week.
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post #2 of 17 Old 11-22-2009, 02:04 PM - Thread Starter
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Oh yeah, what if I stick with a single reciever with integrated amp. Is it worth it to go seperates with the small speakers I have?
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post #3 of 17 Old 11-22-2009, 03:02 PM
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I personally think separates have nothing to do with your speakers.

Separates have an advantage of being able to use a separate power amp AND not pay the heat/power consumption penalty of using a receiver as a pre amp. Some will claim a separate preamplifier will sound better than a receiver.

A receiver can be a cost saver over a pre amp, but I think that's changing. There are some preamps now that are close enough in price to a receiver to be worth looking at.

I would personally buy a receiver, and buy the affordably priced Emotiva XPA-3 to amp the front channels and use the receiver's amps for the surround channels.

"But this one goes up to 11"
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post #4 of 17 Old 11-22-2009, 03:16 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MichaelJHuman View Post

I personally think separates have nothing to do with your speakers.

Separates have an advantage of being able to use a separate power amp AND not pay the heat/power consumption penalty of using a receiver as a pre amp. Some will claim a separate preamplifier will sound better than a receiver.

A receiver can be a cost saver over a pre amp, but I think that's changing. There are some preamps now that are close enough in price to a receiver to be worth looking at.

I would personally buy a receiver, and buy the affordably priced Emotiva XPA-3 to amp the front channels and use the receiver's amps for the surround channels.

+1 especially with the Emotiva XPA-3. That is the route I have taken and it has provided great sound. Now, I'm getting either the Emotiva UMC-1 or the
Denon 4810 for Audyssey DSX.
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post #5 of 17 Old 11-22-2009, 03:36 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MichaelJHuman View Post

There are some preamps now that are close enough in price to a receiver to be worth looking at.

Close, sometime less.
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post #6 of 17 Old 11-22-2009, 04:36 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MichaelJHuman View Post

I personally think separates have nothing to do with your speakers.

Separates have an advantage of being able to use a separate power amp AND not pay the heat/power consumption penalty of using a receiver as a pre amp. Some will claim a separate preamplifier will sound better than a receiver.

A receiver can be a cost saver over a pre amp, but I think that's changing. There are some preamps now that are close enough in price to a receiver to be worth looking at.

I would personally buy a receiver, and buy the affordably priced Emotiva XPA-3 to amp the front channels and use the receiver's amps for the surround channels.


Is this something every reciever is capable of? I can run without the fronts and just do the surrounds on the reciever? I have not really looked that far into running a reciever as a preamp how is the signal sent to the amp? Would it be via a digital or analog cable? Guess I'll go look up the Emotiva and see how it's done...

Thanks for the input so far.
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post #7 of 17 Old 11-22-2009, 04:55 PM - Thread Starter
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Is cost the only reason you don't say go ahead with the XPA-5, or not doing a processor instead of reciever? I am looking for the next step in theater so a processor/amp seems like the way to go.
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post #8 of 17 Old 11-22-2009, 05:11 PM
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i have never personally witnessed a receiver based setup that comes close to what separates can deliver especially in larger rooms (largely due to amplifier power so using a pre-out equipped avr for a prepro may work as well but i have not has as much luck with these myself). the refurb (and even new) onkyos and emotiva have really made getting separates nearly affordable. you could get a used or refurb 886 with an emotiva amp and have a pretty high quality/high value system. if you could get the 80.1, an emotiva amp an dupgrade those speakers youd have a state of the art mega system for much less than a f;agship avr and much more performance.
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post #9 of 17 Old 11-22-2009, 05:53 PM
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If separate amplifiers with a receiver interest you, then you will need to look for an AVR model that has preamplifier outputs. Not all receivers have them. Preamp outs are usually found at starting the middle-to-higher end price points of a manufacturer's line.
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post #10 of 17 Old 11-22-2009, 07:03 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Denophile View Post

i have never personally witnessed a receiver based setup that comes close to what separates can deliver especially in larger rooms (largely due to amplifier power so using a pre-out equipped avr for a prepro may work as well but i have not has as much luck with these myself). the refurb (and even new) onkyos and emotiva have really made getting separates nearly affordable. you could get a used or refurb 886 with an emotiva amp and have a pretty high quality/high value system. if you could get the 80.1, an emotiva amp an dupgrade those speakers youd have a state of the art mega system for much less than a f;agship avr and much more performance.

I am not sure why a receiver would be an inferior pre pro, but I admit I have never had a pre pro in my house to test. I have added an external amp, and did not notice a big improvement, but my room is not large.

I also think your system is no better than your weakest link. I suspect, for example, my powered sub limits my system SPL.

"But this one goes up to 11"
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post #11 of 17 Old 11-22-2009, 07:53 PM - Thread Starter
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Do DACs still matter if it's going to an amp? I assume they do since the processing is done in the reciever/processor and is then sent via pre-amp interconnects to the amp. Am I incorrect?
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post #12 of 17 Old 11-22-2009, 08:06 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by planespotting View Post

Do DACs still matter if it's going to an amp?

Yes. The DACs still have to convert the digital to a low-level analog signal, which is then amplified by the amps. Doesn't matter if those amps are in the same chassis (receiver) or outboard (separate amps).
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post #13 of 17 Old 11-22-2009, 08:51 PM
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Yes, DACs have to be somewhere in the circuit, but does it matter where? Is one DAC that much better than another? They all measure very well.

It's hard to compare the DAC chips themselves, and you don't read about people doing it. Just like most things in audio, there are few blind tests.

"But this one goes up to 11"
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post #14 of 17 Old 11-22-2009, 09:27 PM - Thread Starter
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Yeah, I made an effort with the Denon to seek out Burr-Brown DACs now from reading (and really confusing myself) I have to say it seems the ouput stage matters more than the DAC itself. A cheap DAC is still a cheap DAC but all models within the same price range will have similar quality DACs. So how do I distinguish between the models in the price range I am going to buy? Do I go with Denon because I know I like their sound, even though the quality of many Japanese recievers seems to be going down. Do I wait to here my father's new Yamaha when I go hook it up for him? He'll have Paradigm so it should sound close to what I would get. Do I just bite the bullet, pull out the wallet and go "budget" high-end and get the Rotel? All I know for sure is it will need full HDMI switching/conversion and I would like for it to handle the HD audio. 7.1 may come later but for now I will remain 5.1. If it can correct the timing and EQ for the room that's even better. I'll need 3 HDMI (maybe just 2) in to 1 out to the TV and really want the sound going with it. I have gotten the impression I should try and decide between a Denon/Yamaha/Rotel and ignore Onkyo. Because of low cost/favorable reviews I believe the Emotiva amp is the direction I am heading for power. I might consider a power conditioner too. Worth it?

HT setup is getting confusing. It's a lot more difficult than it used to be.
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post #15 of 17 Old 11-22-2009, 10:31 PM
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I would think it's very difficult to honestly evaluate amplifier sound. I would think power is the most important, because if you lack power, you may be driving your system into clipping with possible distortion.

After that, I guess you would have to listen. I am not a fan of listening tests though, because they have resulted in people hearing differences in speaker cable and other places where physics tells you there is no possible distortion.

Seems simplest to shop for features and add external amps if needed. Make sure your powered sub is up to your SPL needs, because it's going to be pushed hard if you want to start approaching reference SPL.

Some people think some receivers sound bad. I sympathize, and I would hate to tell them they are not hearing what they think they are hearing. But human hearing seems so fickle, and differences people INSIST are there, dissapear in blind testing. You have to decide for yourself if you are going to have to bring a few receivers into your household for evaluation of sound.

"But this one goes up to 11"
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post #16 of 17 Old 11-22-2009, 11:43 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MichaelJHuman View Post

I am not sure why a receiver would be an inferior pre pro, but I admit I have never had a pre pro in my house to test. I have added an external amp, and did not notice a big improvement, but my room is not large.

In my experience, the preamp section of a receiver is usually weaker than its amp section (not surprising given that it's easier arguably easier to find good budget amps than good budget preamps). Like you, I've tried hooking up external amps to my receiver and didn't notice as big of a difference. Hook the same amp to my linestage and it made all the difference.
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post #17 of 17 Old 11-22-2009, 11:53 PM
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I have seen receivers whose pre amp stage measures nearly perfect. Almost no THD, and ruler flat response even beyond the audio band. They do often have less pre out voltage than a separate pre amp might. That could cause problems if you need much more than 1v to drive your external amp.

"But this one goes up to 11"
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