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post #1 of 19 Old 02-04-2011, 08:13 AM - Thread Starter
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I'd like some advice from the more experienced than I on the subject of sound quality of receivers. My only two sources for live auditioning is Best Buy and a high end specialty shop which obviously limits my experience.

At the high end shop, the owner was recommending an Anthem MRX receiver which I thought sounded great. He commented that most main-stream receivers sound like crap for which I take that statement with a grain of salt. He did say he could sell me the top of the line Marantz receiver (SR7005) as well if I didn't want to buy the Anthem . That didn't make sense to me when he first said main-stream receivers sound like crap. I believe it's easier for a high end dealer to sell the Marantz as they don't have to carry the whole line but can order as needed.

At Best Buy, several different salesman at different stores seemed to prefer the Marantz top of the line receiver as well. By the way, I'm looking for a receiver that would excel in listening to music and to a lesser extent, watching movies. So I auditioned several receivers in pure or direct mode and I agreed the Marantz sounded better than most of the other receivers. When listening to the B&W CM9 speakers, I could tell an audible difference between the Marantz and say the Denon 3311 (it was a toss up with the Denon 4311). At a higher end Best Buy, they carried an Arcam reciever for 5K and it didn't sound any better than the Marantz.

So, my question is this. Many on this forum have commented that it's speakers that create the sound and downplay the affect of a receiver. However, with my own ears, I have heard differences in the quality of sound between different receiver models. So, which is it? Should one "audition" a receiver for sound quality or merely rely on specs and features when choosing a receiver?
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post #2 of 19 Old 02-04-2011, 08:37 AM
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Your comparison is invalid as you knew which receiver was playing and it's unlikely the levels were matched. You will hear differences in receivers when you push them hard and/or engage their EQ systems. You do need to audition receivers because you may prefer Audyssey to MCACC to YPAO, etc.
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post #3 of 19 Old 02-04-2011, 08:45 AM
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^^^

+1000000...

the the op... sadly, since you knew which avr was being used, have pre-conceived notions about stuff, and so on, you weren't listening with "just your own two ears"...

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post #4 of 19 Old 02-04-2011, 08:51 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jrobert59 View Post

I'd like some advice from the more experienced than I on the subject of sound quality of receivers. My only two sources for live auditioning is Best Buy and a high end specialty shop which obviously limits my experience.

At the high end shop, the owner was recommending an Anthem MRX receiver which I thought sounded great. He commented that most main-stream receivers sound like crap for which I take that statement with a grain of salt. He did say he could sell me the top of the line Marantz receiver (SR7005) as well if I didn't want to buy the Anthem . That didn't make sense to me when he first said main-stream receivers sound like crap. I believe it's easier for a high end dealer to sell the Marantz as they don't have to carry the whole line but can order as needed.

At Best Buy, several different salesman at different stores seemed to prefer the Marantz top of the line receiver as well. By the way, I'm looking for a receiver that would excel in listening to music and to a lesser extent, watching movies. So I auditioned several receivers in pure or direct mode and I agreed the Marantz sounded better than most of the other receivers. When listening to the B&W CM9 speakers, I could tell an audible difference between the Marantz and say the Denon 3311 (it was a toss up with the Denon 4311). At a higher end Best Buy, they carried an Arcam reciever for 5K and it didn't sound any better than the Marantz.

So, my question is this. Many on this forum have commented that it's speakers that create the sound and downplay the affect of a receiver. However, with my own ears, I have heard differences in the quality of sound between different receiver models. So, which is it? Should one "audition" a receiver for sound quality or merely rely on specs and features when choosing a receiver?

Sound quality on virtually all name brand receivers and amps is excellent. Shop for the receiver that has the power and especially the features that you desire.
It would be interesting to know how you know one receiver sounds better than another. Aural memory is somewhere in the area of several seconds. In other words you would have to listen to receivers on an A/B comparison and those receivers would have to be level matched to have any kind of meaning for comparison. Nobody can remember how a receiver sounded in one store and then go to another store and try to make any kind of valid comparison.
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post #5 of 19 Old 02-04-2011, 08:53 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rnatalli View Post

You do need to audition receivers because you may prefer Audyssey to MCACC to YPAO, etc.

+1

Although the downside of demoing a receiver at Best Buy/Magnolia is they don't enable the EQ system in the different mfr'd AVRs.

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post #6 of 19 Old 02-04-2011, 08:55 AM
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^^^^ Correct. The speakers will make the most difference by far, with the AVR's EQ system next to that with the way they will sound. Denon, Marantz,and Onkyo all use different types of Audyssey, with Audyssey Multi-Eq XT32 being the best. Pioneer uses MCACC with MCACC Advanced being the best. Yamaha uses YPAO which doesn't Eq the sub until you get into the Aventage A2000/A3000. MCACC also doesn't Eq the sub/s. The Anthems that were suggested do use what is considered by many to use a better Eq program that is called ARC. Supposedly the best Eq program of the bunch though is Trinnov, which I've never heard or even seen. You need to look at different brands and models of AVR's to truly determine which is the best one for you and your speakers. That way you will not get the dreaded "buyers remorse". With this disease you end up spending way more money than you need to. Also welcome to the forum. Enjoy, there are many discussions and bickering among many of the members here. However, with me being a Yamaha fanboy I will tell you that the Yamaha's are by FAR the best of the bunch.
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post #7 of 19 Old 02-04-2011, 09:00 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jdsmoothie View Post

+1

Although the downside of demoing a receiver at Best Buy/Magnolia is they don't enable the EQ system in the different mfr'd AVRs.

True, but they do allow returns
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post #8 of 19 Old 02-04-2011, 09:29 AM - Thread Starter
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hanks for your replies. All great points raised

A couple of things in response. Obviously, one can't really compare the sound of receivers from store to store. For the best results I assume would need to make sure the sounds levels match, do A/B switching, and audition blindly so you don't know which amp is currently playing.

To the best of my ability, that is what I did. The salesman and I matched the volume levels and then he would switch between 2 or 3 different receivers while I looked away and positioned myself ideally in front of the speakers (B&W CM9's). I didn't use the EQ but just listened in direct mode. The EQ brings in a whole different element which may not apply to me as, for right now at least, I'm just going with a 2.0 system. I do want to have the ability for surround sound later on.

I have to ask a neophyte question. Can one still use EQ if just using a 2.0 system? And back to the original question, is there an audible difference in sound quality between receivers of similar specs or can one mainly just choose from specs and features?
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post #9 of 19 Old 02-04-2011, 09:51 AM
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"I have to ask a neophyte question. Can one still use EQ if just using a 2.0 system? And back to the original question, is there an audible difference in sound quality between receivers of similar specs or can one mainly just choose from specs and features?"

I have an EQ that I use with older stereo receivers.

If the distortion is below 0.8%, you have efficient speakers, and you use level-matched ABX testing, you will not be able to tell the difference between AVRs.
Choose your AVR based on the features that you think that you need.
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post #10 of 19 Old 02-04-2011, 09:51 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jrobert59 View Post

hanks for your replies. All great points raised

A couple of things in response. Obviously, one can't really compare the sound of receivers from store to store. For the best results I assume would need to make sure the sounds levels match, do A/B switching, and audition blindly so you don't know which amp is currently playing.

To the best of my ability, that is what I did. The salesman and I matched the volume levels and then he would switch between 2 or 3 different receivers while I looked away and positioned myself ideally in front of the speakers (B&W CM9's). I didn't use the EQ but just listened in direct mode. The EQ brings in a whole different element which may not apply to me as, for right now at least, I'm just going with a 2.0 system. I do want to have the ability for surround sound later on.

I have to ask a neophyte question. Can one still use EQ if just using a 2.0 system? And back to the original question, is there an audible difference in sound quality between receivers of similar specs or can one mainly just choose from specs and features?

These programs will detect what speakers are connected and do their thing from there. So, yes you can run the EQ programs with just 2 speakers. When you add the other speakers and/or subwoofer just re-run the program. As for your original question all of these AVR's should sound alike, that answer would be yes if the specs are close on all of them. So then you are able to choose the one that has the features,connectivity, and anything else you want in one of them. If you want one with networking capabilities choose the brands you want to look in to and then choose a model from different CE's that fit into what you want your AVR to do. It's that simple.
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post #11 of 19 Old 02-04-2011, 10:17 AM
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I think only HK's EQ system requires you have a minimum setup of 5.1.
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post #12 of 19 Old 02-04-2011, 10:20 AM
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Lots of people say they hear differences among receivers. But a number of blind listening tests have shown that amps tend to sound alike. I have seen little testing with receivers, but from a sound perspective they don't differ too much from amps - they have a digital to audio conversion stage, and a volume control. Neither of which seems like it would have much impact.

If you listen to some people, receivers are inherently flawed by their use of stuff like global feedback and op amps, but that's another topic.

Admittedly receivers are a bit different, as they have proprietary processing such as Audyssey (which are of course specifically designed to alter the sound.)

"But this one goes up to 11"
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post #13 of 19 Old 02-04-2011, 11:42 AM
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Get the Anthem. As a bonus, it will have the best resale value if you ever sell it; it also does sound the best.
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post #14 of 19 Old 02-04-2011, 12:03 PM
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Originally Posted by Active Speaker View Post

Get the Anthem. As a bonus, it will have the best resale value if you ever sell it; it also does sound the best.

Its also expensive with limited connectivity. Would or could someone explain to me how much extra it would have cost Anthem to add just a few more HDMI inputs? Love the look of their new AVR's and would also have liked to have tried ARC in my room. They do sound nice, but not any better than any of the others in their price range. My dealer has a couple of these set up with some Paradigm speakers in his business and they are very nice and with a different look, just not enough inputs for my liking. He felt the same way.
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post #15 of 19 Old 02-04-2011, 12:26 PM
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In my view, it all comes down to sound and picture. Despite what seems to be popular with many people on these forums, there are better sounding receivers. Sometimes, brief side-by-side comparisons do not tell the whole story. Often, differences are subtle, but real, and they become apparent over a longer time period. OTOH, many people are not as discriminating, and there is certainly NOTHING wrong with being satisfied with a slightly lesser piece from an audio standpoint when the extra money and/or lack of hookups or convenience is an important issue. When I first got a cd player, I knew that the LP was still better (likely because of the mastering process at the time) sonically, but the convenience of the cd was just too good to pass up.
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post #16 of 19 Old 02-04-2011, 12:54 PM
 
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Originally Posted by Active Speaker View Post

Get the Anthem. As a bonus, it will have the best resale value if you ever sell it; it also does sound the best.

Also sounds the best, what a bunch of crap, it doesn't sound any better than any other amp.
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post #17 of 19 Old 02-04-2011, 01:01 PM
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Also sounds the best, what a bunch of crap, it doesn't sound any better than any other amp.

Well, if that's the case, then maybe the OP should buy a plate amp from Parts Express and hook it to the preout of any old receiver he has laying around.
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post #18 of 19 Old 02-04-2011, 01:08 PM
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Here you go:

Dayton Audio MCA2550E 2.1 Channel Class D Amplifier
http://www.parts-express.com/pe/show...number=300-773

$118; three of these with a processor should be all that you need.
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post #19 of 19 Old 02-04-2011, 01:09 PM
 
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Well, if that's the case, then maybe the OP should buy a plate amp from Parts Express and hook it to the preout of any old receiver he has laying around.

Or, maybe he should just buy a name brand receiver that has the power and features that he wants and know that it will sound just as good as the Anthem.
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