3 Zone Receiver Comparison: Pioneer vs. Yamaha vs. Denon vs. Onkyo - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 27 Old 03-25-2011, 11:05 AM - Thread Starter
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Hello,

I am new to the site and I am shopping for a mid-high level AV receiver. One of the main requirements is multi-zone (3 Zone) capability. I would like to keep the cost at or below $1000.....

I have found four receivers that meet my criteria and need help narrowing down my selection to one. This system will be new from the ground up. I'm looking to use Paradigm speakers in my main/media room (for both theater & music). Zone two will consist of 3 rooms 6 in ceiling speaks. Zone 3 will have 2 to 4 outdoor speakers.

Choices:
1st Pioneer vsx-33 avg $650
2nd Onkyo tx-nr808 avg $739.00
3rd Denon 3311c1 avg $$850-$900
4th Yamaha rx-a2000 avg $1,100

I really like the Pioneer for the bang for the buck. The Onkyo is/was almost tied with the Pioneer however I keep seeing post about HDMI issues. I'm told that the model Denon I've chosen is equal in quality to Marantz..(Which is left of the list due to PRICE!!!) The Yamaha interest me because it is the only receiver out of the bunch the will actually power zone 3. All of the other are pre-out only.

Please help me with this comparison. I'm interested in quality and of course the best price. My cap is $1000. However I would love to stay around $800 if I would still get similar quality.

Please, please, please help the newbie.... I'm starting all over and want to get this right.

THANKS!!!
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post #2 of 27 Old 03-25-2011, 11:20 AM
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Comparing the Denon to the Onkyo, the 3311 uses the more advanced version of Audyssey MultEQ XT vs. regular MultEQ on the Onkyo. The 3311 will also pass PCM 2.0 via optical/digital coax to Zones 2/3 rather than just analog (which is generally the case for most others although the A2000 can also send HDMI audio to Zones 2/3). Also, the 3311 can power Zones 2/3 in "mono" mode or either Zone 2 or Zone 3 in "stereo" mode when using only a 5.1 setup in the main zone. As the Yamaha is only 7.2 as well, it can likely only power one or the other Zone but not both without an external amp.

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post #3 of 27 Old 03-25-2011, 11:24 AM
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My vote for that list would be the Denon 3311 first then the Yamaha A2000. JMO.
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post #4 of 27 Old 03-25-2011, 02:17 PM - Thread Starter
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jdsmoothie,

Thanks for all of the good info. As Far as sound quality goes would the Denon also be your all around pick?
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post #5 of 27 Old 03-25-2011, 02:25 PM - Thread Starter
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phantom52,

Do you Typically prefer Denon over Yamaha? I'm also taking sound quality into consideration. I will play a lot of contemporary jazz, classic r&b. I'm definitely interested in sound quality as it relates to music. And will everybody let me know if there is a receiver that fits my criteria that I'm leaving out....

Thanks again for the responses.
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post #6 of 27 Old 03-25-2011, 03:24 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bigdrumbeater View Post

phantom52,

Do you Typically prefer Denon over Yamaha? I'm also taking sound quality into consideration. I will play a lot of contemporary jazz, classic r&b. I'm definitely interested in sound quality as it relates to music. And will everybody let me know if there is a receiver that fits my criteria that I'm leaving out....

Thanks again for the responses.

I'm a major Yamaha fan. Have always been. IMO though at this time the best buy is the 4311 Denon, then the 3311. If I were to buy an AVR today it would be the Denon 4311. My second choice would be the Yamaha A3000, then the Denon 3311,followed by the Yamaha A2000. That's just the way I feel about each of these brands and models. I have a Parasound HCA5220AT sitting on the floor in another room in the house that is not being used at this time because the Onkyo 876 and the Yamaha 2600 before it did not need it. No difference in sound quality to me, so no use in the extra electricity use.I feel that any of the above will do what most users need. It just depends on what you want to try(with me its AudysseyXT32 and DSX in the 4311). All of the above are very good AVRs and for their price points the 3311 and A2000. Depends if you want Audyssey or YPAO room EQ.
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post #7 of 27 Old 03-25-2011, 03:42 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by phantom52 View Post

I'm a major Yamaha fan. Have always been. IMO though at this time the best buy is the 4311 Denon, then the 3311. If I were to buy an AVR today it would be the Denon 4311. My second choice would be the Yamaha A3000, then the Denon 3311,followed by the Yamaha A2000. That's just the way I feel about each of these brands and models. I have a Parasound HCA5220AT sitting on the floor in another room in the house that is not being used at this time because the Onkyo 876 and the Yamaha 2600 before it did not need it. No difference in sound quality to me, so no use in the extra electricity use.I feel that any of the above will do what most users need. It just depends on what you want to try(with me its AudysseyXT32 and DSX in the 4311). All of the above are very good AVRs and for their price points the 3311 and A2000. Depends if you want Audyssey or YPAO room EQ.

Hmmmm....More good info... As far as Audyssey vs. YPAO. I'm really not sure. I know I'm interested in sound quality as it relates to music first then Theater surround... I'm guessing it's just personal sound preference??????
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post #8 of 27 Old 03-25-2011, 03:54 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jdsmoothie View Post

As the Yamaha is only 7.2 as well, it can likely only power one or the other Zone but not both without an external amp.

So would the RX-A3000 be able to power the 3 zones he needs?
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post #9 of 27 Old 03-25-2011, 04:26 PM
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^^
Yes .. by using both the side surround and rear surround amps so you would be limited to only 3.1 in the main zone. In order to run a 5.1 in the main zone and stereo 2.0 in Zones 2 and 3, you would need a 9.1 AVR (5.1+2+2).

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post #10 of 27 Old 03-25-2011, 05:25 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bigdrumbeater View Post

Hello,

I am new to the site and I am shopping for a mid-high level AV receiver. One of the main requirements is multi-zone (3 Zone) capability. I would like to keep the cost at or below $1000.....

I have found four receivers that meet my criteria and need help narrowing down my selection to one. This system will be new from the ground up. I'm looking to use Paradigm speakers in my main/media room (for both theater & music). Zone two will consist of 3 rooms 6 in ceiling speaks. Zone 3 will have 2 to 4 outdoor speakers.

Choices:
1st Pioneer vsx-33 avg $650
2nd Onkyo tx-nr808 avg $739.00
3rd Denon 3311c1 avg $$850-$900
4th Yamaha rx-a2000 avg $1,100

I really like the Pioneer for the bang for the buck. The Onkyo is/was almost tied with the Pioneer however I keep seeing post about HDMI issues. I'm told that the model Denon I've chosen is equal in quality to Marantz..(Which is left of the list due to PRICE!!!) The Yamaha interest me because it is the only receiver out of the bunch the will actually power zone 3. All of the other are pre-out only.

Please help me with this comparison. I'm interested in quality and of course the best price. My cap is $1000. However I would love to stay around $800 if I would still get similar quality.

Please, please, please help the newbie.... I'm starting all over and want to get this right.

THANKS!!!

Another option for you might be the Onkyo 1008. You can pick up the 1008 at Newegg for Around $850 - 900 the last time I looked.

It also can power Z3 without an external amp and I'm pretty sure you can still run 7.1.

I've had no problems at all with my 1008.

Whiskey Tango Foxtrot, Over.....
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post #11 of 27 Old 03-25-2011, 06:23 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Beemer533 View Post

Another option for you might be the Onkyo 1008. You can pick up the 1008 at Newegg for Around $850 - 900 the last time I looked.

It also can power Z3 without an external amp and I'm pretty sure you can still run 7.1.

I've had no problems at all with my 1008.

Thanks again. I'll do a little homework on the Onkyo 1008 now also.
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post #12 of 27 Old 03-25-2011, 06:31 PM - Thread Starter
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I want to thank everybody for all of the great advice. That being said I would like to ask the question. Of all of the receivers I have asked questions about are they all considered to be the same class of receiver as far as sound quality and reliability?

And I'm guessing that nobody liked the Pioneer.... At this point I've rulled it out all together. I'm leaning towards the Denon 3311ci.
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post #13 of 27 Old 03-25-2011, 06:48 PM
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I bought the 3008 for $1049 off newegg for the Multi EQ and the 3 zones and was NOT impressed for the price. While my pioneer elite (its old) makes some noise when switching channels....the Onkyo rattled the basement when changing (very loud solid state). The Dolby TRuHD and DTS MAudio did not show well on the screen (ie, never) the Multizone was misleading. I am in the same boat as you though in looking for 7.1 in the main room, 2 in the bar, and 2 outside. Here is what bugs me about ALL brands so far so maybe everyone can help me as well. All basic definitions on 7.1 indicate 2 front, 1 center, 2 side, and 2 rear (rear surrounds). All mulitzone amps say 7.1 or 5.1 in main room with zone 2 or 3 on but here is what I find misleading. All amps that I have looked at use the REAR SURROUNDS as one of the 2nd or 3rd zones instead of having a separate plug or using the high/wides. It drives me crazy as then I cannot set up 7.1 using the rear surrounds. Am not opposed to buying a cheaper receiver and another amp but cant seem to find anything that will work right. Seems like I need to buy a 9.1 AVR and an AMP or a 7.1 and 2 amps which is nuts. Suggestions anyone? Again, want 7.1 in Main (only need 5.1 if zone 2 or 3 is on but 7.1 with rears when not on), zone 2 stereo, and zone 3 stereo.

Thanks.

Oh, 3008 sound was decent but not as good as the 12 year old Pioneer Elite.
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post #14 of 27 Old 03-25-2011, 07:02 PM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by drannin44 View Post

I bought the 3008 for $1049 off newegg for the Multi EQ and the 3 zones and was NOT impressed for the price. While my pioneer elite (its old) makes some noise when switching channels....the Onkyo rattled the basement when changing (very loud solid state). The Dolby TRuHD and DTS MAudio did not show well on the screen (ie, never) the Multizone was misleading. I am in the same boat as you though in looking for 7.1 in the main room, 2 in the bar, and 2 outside. Here is what bugs me about ALL brands so far so maybe everyone can help me as well. All basic definitions on 7.1 indicate 2 front, 1 center, 2 side, and 2 rear (rear surrounds). All mulitzone amps say 7.1 or 5.1 in main room with zone 2 or 3 on but here is what I find misleading. All amps that I have looked at use the REAR SURROUNDS as one of the 2nd or 3rd zones instead of having a separate plug or using the high/wides. It drives me crazy as then I cannot set up 7.1 using the rear surrounds. Am not opposed to buying a cheaper receiver and another amp but cant seem to find anything that will work right. Seems like I need to buy a 9.1 AVR and an AMP or a 7.1 and 2 amps which is nuts. Suggestions anyone? Again, want 7.1 in Main (only need 5.1 if zone 2 or 3 is on but 7.1 with rears when not on), zone 2 stereo, and zone 3 stereo.

Thanks.

Oh, 3008 sound was decent but not as good as the 12 year old Pioneer Elite.

Thanks drannin44 for sharing your experience with the Onkyo. And very good questions. Ironically I think it was the Onkyo 808 that used the side surround as opposed to the rears for zone 2. Hope I get some more feedback on the other receivers. I'm still leaning towards the Denon 3311ci at this point.
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post #15 of 27 Old 03-25-2011, 09:29 PM
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Find anything good on the video upscaling on the Denon? What about switching from Digital to Analogue while watching TV (I hate the load clicks on the Onkyo). What AMP are you thinking of to get your 3rd zone?
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post #16 of 27 Old 03-25-2011, 10:53 PM
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I am in the same boat as you all but I have 5.1 in the living room. 2 front patio, 2 back patio.
Doesn't seem it would be that hard to put a multizone system together but jeeze I am getting all kinds of conflicting information.
One person says the a3000 has 3 powered zones another person says no.
Confusing...
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post #17 of 27 Old 03-26-2011, 04:15 AM
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^^
I reviewed the A3000 information and it turns out you can run stereo Zones 2 and 3, however, you must give up the side surrounds in the main zone and only run 3.1.

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post #18 of 27 Old 03-26-2011, 08:54 AM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by drannin44 View Post

Find anything good on the video upscaling on the Denon? What about switching from Digital to Analogue while watching TV (I hate the load clicks on the Onkyo). What AMP are you thinking of to get your 3rd zone?

I know that the 3311 does offer video upscaling. I'm not sure about the switching circuitry. I haven't read of any issues. There is an official Denon 3311ci forum on here also. Some pretty good info on it. As far as an AMP. I'm not sure yet. Something simple, midrang quality, standard 2 ch stereo. Probably 100W ch. The 3rd zone will be driving outside speakers. Seeing as I'm building from the ground up there are cost considerations. Right now I'm planning on spending the least amount on the outdoor portion. Work in progress.........
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post #19 of 27 Old 03-26-2011, 03:23 PM
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^^
I reviewed the A3000 information and it turns out you can run stereo Zones 2 and 3, however, you must give up the side surrounds in the main zone and only run 3.1.

Thanks for the info jdsmoothie,
I think I am going to go ahead and get the A3000 as I can get a pretty good deal on it right now!
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post #20 of 27 Old 03-26-2011, 09:00 PM
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Where you going to get it?
Yamaha make a decent inexpensive amp for zone 3?
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post #21 of 27 Old 03-27-2011, 06:37 AM
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Where you going to get it?
Yamaha make a decent inexpensive amp for zone 3?

PM sent
I am hoping not to have to use an external amp
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post #22 of 27 Old 03-27-2011, 03:02 PM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by drannin44 View Post

Where you going to get it?
Yamaha make a decent inexpensive amp for zone 3?

I'm open for suggestions. Yamaha sounds good to me.
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post #23 of 27 Old 03-30-2011, 06:59 PM
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Just wondering if anyone decided on an AVR.
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post #24 of 27 Old 04-01-2011, 06:49 AM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by drjill View Post

Just wondering if anyone decided on an AVR.

I've pretty much settled on the Denon 3311ci. Seems to have everything that I want minus the ability to power zone 3 internally. I'm fine with that though...
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post #25 of 27 Old 04-04-2011, 08:26 AM - Thread Starter
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Hello All,

Just a quick update. I did decide to go with the Denon 3311ci. I purchased it from 6ave electronics for a great price. If interested inbox me and I'll give you the details.

Thanks for all of the opinions and expert advise.
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post #26 of 27 Old 04-04-2011, 09:27 AM
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I've been in the same boat the 2/3 specs are very misleading. They force you make choices about what speakers you hookup. Why don't you let me hook up all my speakers and then work as switch to which are needed?

Any-who...enough soapbox...for my needs the onkyo 1008 or 3008 seem best mix of connections and amps.

But I have one question...if I run the zone 3 out to an old receiver with preamp inputs. Will my volume on the new receiver control the volume or do I have to mess with the old volume. I know for a standard amp this is how it works, but I no ideal if the old receiver takes a variable input.

The old amp is a Onkyo TX-DS747...very early dolby digital amp
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post #27 of 27 Old 12-03-2012, 02:35 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bigdrumbeater View Post

I have found four receivers that meet my criteria and need help narrowing down my selection to one. This system will be new from the ground up. I'm looking to use Paradigm speakers in my main/media room (for both theater & music). Zone two will consist of 3 rooms 6 in ceiling speaks. Zone 3 will have 2 to 4 outdoor speakers.

I'm going be putting together a 3 zone system almost identical to yours except my zone-2 will only have 4 in ceiling speakers. I have a question about how your receiver is working out. How is the receiver able to power your 6 zone-2 speakers internally? Also, which amp did you get to power zone-3?
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