Pioneer elite vsx94 + emotiva xpa5 - AVS Forum
Receivers, Amps, and Processors > Pioneer elite vsx94 + emotiva xpa5
mcs2000si's Avatar mcs2000si 07:07 PM 01-09-2011
Newbie question for all of you with more knowledge than myself.

Stopped into a local high end AV store today and got me thinking. I was planning on using my elite to process video and then using the xpa to power the speakers. Does this sound like a decent set up. In these times money is tight and i am looking to get the most out of my system at a reasonable cost. The salesman was kind enough to tell me in a nice way that my current setup was junk. I know its not all focal/paradigm/marantz etc but still think its a decent setup. anyway he was raving about the new marantz gear (av7005 + mm7055) that just came out and said that if i want amazing sound then that is the way to go. Would i be crazy to spend the extra money for marantz or should i just get the emo and call it a day? Just looking for opinions on this exact setup. Here is my gear:

Samsung 58" 650 Plasma
Panamax M5300-PM
Pioneer Elite VSX94 Receiver
PS3 Blu-ray
Comcast DVR
Polk 2 RTi 10 fronts (Bi-wired)
Polk CSi 5 Center
Polk FXi3 rears
Polk DSW Pro 600
Harmony one remote
Monster cable speaker wire and HDMI's

thanks guys!!!!

MichaelJHuman's Avatar MichaelJHuman 07:21 PM 01-09-2011
Ignoring whether your speakers are junk, or not, as I am not that up on speakers, I would say anyone who calls Pioneer Elite, junk, is either a clueless audio snob, or trying to sell you something.

Have you ever heard of the high end vs low end listening test? I may have put a link to it in the AVR FAQ. Basically, the people doing the test, some audio society, stacked the deck. They jacked a cheap CD player directly into one of the cheapest pro amps on the market. They used freebie type interconnects or something like that. They set it on a folding chair or something like that.

On the other side, some "high end gear." Fancy cables. Fancy rack. Etc.

Speakers were the same in both cases, setup in the same way. I believe they did their best to level match the test.

No one could reliable tell the two systems apart. Even if the test was flawed a bit, surely such different systems would have been obviously different to audio enthusiasts actively trying to hear a difference?

I should point out that if Pioneer Elite was junk, in my opinion of what that would imply, is that the system would sound obviously bad. You would noticed this even if blindfolded, etc.

Come to your own conclusions
mcs2000si's Avatar mcs2000si 07:29 PM 01-09-2011
He was a high end snob to say the least. He made me realize one thing and that is he lost the chance of a customer with me. He does sell very nice stuff and has a great shop but the attitude was terrible. People need to remember that not everyone has 40k to spend on mac gear and that the majority of the market is the regular guy who enjoys AV. Just sad in this day and age. anyway thanks for the response and i will check that thread out. I think i read it before but i am going to get a refresher.
MichaelJHuman's Avatar MichaelJHuman 07:47 PM 01-09-2011
When I read up an amps and such, I just don't see a ton of differences in how people implement them.

Your typical amp is a three stage class AB amp. Seems to be that unless the designers were truly incompetent, all of them should sound pretty good. Obviously power matters if you don't have enough power.

Same thing seems true in preamps, in my opinion. These days, everything comes into the digital stage and if there's no bugs, is correctly processed. There are differences in some features like room correction. Ignoring those, I would expect receivers or preprocessors both send a "correct" signal to the DAC.

DACs all seem pretty good if you look at the specs. Then there's probably some voltage chip, which probably works about just as well on all products. Then off to the amp.

I concede that a better implemented pre processor (or receiver's pre stage,) or a better amp may have less noise, and better THD, but it just seems hard to believe it's going to make a big difference. If it's demonstratably better and you can afford it, why not spend more. But there seems to be some level of pragmatism that say buy a decent set of speakers, and a decent receiver and everything should sound pretty good. Add an amp like you are doing, and you potentially improve sound on peaks at higher volumes - all good, IMO.
ss9001's Avatar ss9001 07:53 PM 01-09-2011
Originally Posted by mcs2000si View Post

People need to remember that not everyone has 40k to spend on mac gear and that the majority of the market is the regular guy who enjoys AV

The single most important thing that contributes to the sound is the speakers, not the electronics. Second is the room acoustics.

there's nothing wrong with the Pioneer 94's sound, your dealer wants to make a sale. You may want to demo the Marantz 7005 in your room & see if it makes a difference, but my guess is you'd be hard pressed to tell a difference, other than the difference between its Audyssey room EQ system and Pioneer's MCACC approach.

If you want to upgrade to get the latest features, by all means the Marantz is a good choice. I've read good things about it. But if your goal is "improve" the sound, how about demo-ing different speakers or better speakers That has the greatest potential to change how you perceive the sound in your setup.

Whether you need a better amp or not depends on how hard the speakers are to drive, their impedance & efficiency. Polks don't strike me a hard speakers to drive, so adding an Emo may or may not make a big difference. Have you compared your Polks to other speakers lately?
MichaelJHuman's Avatar MichaelJHuman 07:58 PM 01-09-2011
Presuming his speakers can be improved on, of course.

Speakers are funny. All they really need to do is to produce a flat frequency response. Of course, most won't because speakers are so imperfect. But when you look at speaker specs, it feels like you really don't get a good feel for how accurate they are.

So you buy what you can afford, maybe considering aesthetics and such, and live with them? It's all a puzzle to me. I pretty much just walked into a local dealer 9 months ago and switched all my speakers to B&W 600 series, hoping B&W with their research department and rep make accurate speakers. I know my room is going to create response issues, so it's hard to know if I made the right choice.
Secret Squirrel's Avatar Secret Squirrel 08:01 PM 01-09-2011
Lets just make this short and sweet. Don't let the audio snob at that store make you feel little. Don't buy the Marantz. If you use your Pioneer as a pre amp and combine it with an XPA-5 it will eat that Marantz alive as far as performance goes. Not that Marantz has bad products. Dedicated amps are just a different ball game as far as pure power goes. Especially if you own speakers that need it or have a large room that calls for it.
ss9001's Avatar ss9001 08:07 PM 01-09-2011
Originally Posted by MichaelJHuman View Post

Presuming his speakers can be improved on, of course.

Anyone's choice of speakers can be improved upon depending on budget and available amplification

You're right of course about response. What the spec says may not be what they do in a room, obviously. Specs aside, my experience is that different speakers have vastly different sound characteristics. People think nothing about spending thousands on new electronics but speakers tend to get what's left over in the budget and that's the opposite of what counts the most.

Martin Logan electrostats don't sound anything like DefTech's and my Magnepan's don't sound anything like the costly but lousy Acoustic Research tower speakers I once owned - the worst $1500 I ever spent on audio gear - harsh, flat, non-dimensional and just plain un-musical!

By far the most realistic presentation of music I ever listened to was Soundlab electrostats and they didn't sound the same as Martin Logan's or the dynamic box speakers in the same room driven by same source & electronics

So I'm a firm believer in speakers making all the differences in the world. If I were on a quest to improve my sound, I'd be demo-ing speakers before changing amps!

If it turns out that the speakers I liked needed more amp than the 94's to sound the best, then I'd look at adding the Emotiva.
mcs2000si's Avatar mcs2000si 09:39 PM 01-09-2011
My room dimensions are terrible btw. I am in a very open floor plan where my viewing room opens up to the kitchen, foyer, dining room and also has 17 ft high ceilings. Not ideal for even the best gear inho. thanks for the feedback guys!!
wiffleball's Avatar wiffleball 12:22 AM 01-10-2011
I have a separate Emotiva amp only because I have 4 ohm M&K's. Unless you can't turn things up loud enough or want new features, I see no reason to upgrade your receiver. Like the others, speakers and room acoustics make the difference.
ccotenj's Avatar ccotenj 07:08 AM 01-10-2011
Originally Posted by ss9001 View Post

So I'm a firm believer in speakers making all the differences in the world. If I were on a quest to improve my sound, I'd be demo-ing speakers before changing amps!
yup... once all the voodoo is put aside, it really comes down to the speakers and the room... not a whole lot else...

@the op... the av7005 is a very nice piece of equipment... but it (regardless of which amplifier you pair it with) will not sound "better" than your vsx-94... the only way that it will sound "different" is that it employs audyssey as a room correction technique instead of mcacc...

fwiw, there's an av7005 in my rack right now, and several pioneer units have been there in the past... i note that NOT because i am trying to sway you towards a av7005... i note that so you know what my baseline is...

another fwiw... if you aren't clipping/shutting down now, there's zero reason to add on an amplifier in the first place...

yet another... the emo doesn't really buy you a whole lot over the internal amplification of the 94... the amplification section of the 94 is "reasonably honestly rated", and the emo would buy you less than 3db of headroom over what you have now...

one more (what the heck)... lose the bi-wiring... it doesn't "do" anything other than use up extra wire...

to reinforce what others have said... speakers/room make up what you "hear"... if you want to make your current setup sound "better", work on your room and your positioning...
mcs2000si's Avatar mcs2000si 09:58 PM 01-10-2011
thanks for all the great feedback guys!
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