Join Date: Jul 2002
Location: N. Royalton, Ohio
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I've received a few pm's asking my opinion of the 80.2 relative to some of my previous receivers/pre pro's so I thought I'd just post for everyone's benefit. In the past two and a half years I've owned the Denon 5805MKII; Marantz AV8003/MM8003; Pioneer SC-27; Pioneer SC 09 and now the 80.2. It appears that I'm just never satisfied or I could be looking for audio nirvana, but frankly I owned the 5805 for four years before selling it and have been looking for something else to be my mainstay audio component. I’ve use different DVD players, cd players, cables, etc. so it’s hard to say that this review, or any for that matter, is really an apples to apples review.
The sound on the 5805 was crisp, clean and powerful for both surround and two channel formats, but after reading a review of the Marantz I bought the pre-amp pre-pro combo as much for performance as for its newer technology. The Marantz was a great two channel performer. I liked it better than the 5805 on two channel, however, I never thought the surround sound was quite up to par with the Denon and didn't like the fact that it didn't matrix to 7.1 on DTS Master tracks. A real negative in my book. I developed a ground loop hum with the Marantz pieces that I could not locate and sold them for the SC 27. The SC 27 was/is one of the best surround receivers I've ever owned and dollar for dollar, in my opinion, the best bang for the buck in what I've owned. I just loved its sound on surround movie tracks. It did an adequate job with two channel, but not nearly as good as the Marantz and Denon in that department. I thought that if the SC 27 sounds this good the SC 09 should be that much better and I traded up.
Two channel music on the SC 09 simply brought a smile to my face. I just loved it. Best I'd heard on anything I've ever owned. Surround was also great, but I really couldn't tell if it was better than the SC 27 in that area. I wanted it to be better for such a difference in price, but I was very happy with both. My wife actually liked the SC 27 better for surround sound. Pioneer got something right there. Pioneer got me back into the surround mode as I'd drifted over to making two channel my priority. In the SC 09 I thought I'd found the piece that I'd live with for quite some time when all of a sudden I heard the internal fans go on for the first time and they were loud! I had it in a cabinet that was not giving it enough breathing room and causing the fans to come on. It only did it maybe once a week or every other week but it drove me nuts and after trying different fan set- ups I decided to reluctantly move on. I used an old pioneer receiver of mine, bought an Integra DTA 70.1 amp and then waited for the 80.2 come out. Integra/Onkyo’s cutting edge features always intrigued me, but I had heard that the sound was bright so I stayed away from Onkyo products. Until now of course.
I currently have the 80.2 paired with an Integra DTA 70.1 nine channel amp, Def Tech ST's, Mythos 10 center, Mythos Two's for wide speakers, XL surrounds and a Trinity sub for a 9.1 set up. I am using a Pioneer BDP 09FD Blu Ray player running video direct to my Mitsubishi 82837 and the audio via hdmi to the 80.2; a Sony XA5400ES SACD/CD player and for TV viewing I have a Tivo HD Series 3.
First off, I think all of the products I’ve owned are more alike than different. I liked every one of them and to say one is so much better than the other may be misleading. Plus, everyone's tastes and ears are different. I have a tendency to compare a product to what I like to hear (strong bass for instance) and that's not always the right barometer. That's why I always take these reviews with a grain of salt and note that No.1 it's the reviewer’s opinion based on his/her set up in their home and No. 2. it's also a new toy so the reviewer (in many cases) will want it to be better than what they had before. That said, I am pleasantly surprised with the overall performance of the 80.2 even though I haven't tweaked it the way that I want to because mine is going to be exchanged for a new one on Monday. (I had an incompatibility issue with my DVDO Edge that disabled the hdmi ports that I connected it to on the 80.2.)
After running a three position Audyssey I find the 9.1 set-up to be entirely engaging. I think that the two wides make a nice difference in the surround sound (BTW so does the wife). Subjectively, I think it's the widest soundstage I’ve ever had. Would it be the same if I only had a 7.1 set-up as with my previous receivers/pre-pro's? I don't know. I can certainly say the surround sound with my new 9.1 set up is a step forward from a staging point of view. It also provides very good detail and resolution. Better than the Pio SC 27 or SC09? Hard to tell without having them here for an A-B comparison, but certainly as gratifying as the best that I can remember. As for the two channel performance, I am smiling! I am happy to find that this player does a very nice job with two channel analog. I haven't tried two channel over hdmi yet, but I am very, very happy with its two channel analog performance. This is most surprising given what I've read about its predecessors. Coming from the outstanding two channel performance of the Pioneer SC 09 I was prepared for a step backwards, but it is not a step back at all. It wonderfully compares to the SC 09 in this area.
After all is said and done there are some issues with the unit that will have to be addressed. The video issue I had with the DVDO Edge is really significant in my mind. Plus, in my setup, I notice a little video judder when using the 80.2's processing. My Mits does not handle 24fps well so I don’t know if it’s a compatibility issue with the TV or what. It just may be unique to my set up as no one else has posted on this. It only happens occasionally, but it never happened with my Edge running to whatever receiver/processor I had. Also, I think the bass runs a tad hot and the surrounds are also a tad hot after Audyssey is run. Again though, I only ran a three position calibration and haven’t tweaked at all. The resolution and detail are very good and I am fairly confident I can tweak to my liking. Coming from some pretty good audio components I am pretty happy with the 80.2 overall. I really can’t think of another processor or receiver on the market that I’d rather have right now.