How do more expensive receivers effect sound quality? - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 23 Old 10-14-2011, 10:23 AM - Thread Starter
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Definitely a beginners question.

I've had a basic Sony theater in a box set up since college and it's served me well enough. It has no hdmi. I would like to put together a better sounding system for when I finally pull the trigger on a projector.

What are some major "cant live without" features on the newer receiver? I run an HTPC with Windows Media Center, and given it's HDCP problems I will probably send one hdmi to the projector and one to the receiver, so in reality I really only need one input. Given that the source is a computer I don't need any networking capabilities (or do I?)

Are the price point bumps more of a result of more features, or is a lot of it sound quality?

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post #2 of 23 Old 10-14-2011, 11:28 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pittsoccer33 View Post

Definitely a beginners question.

I've had a basic Sony theater in a box set up since college and it's served me well enough. It has no hdmi. I would like to put together a better sounding system for when I finally pull the trigger on a projector.

What are some major "cant live without" features on the newer receiver? I run an HTPC with Windows Media Center, and given it's HDCP problems I will probably send one hdmi to the projector and one to the receiver, so in reality I really only need one input. Given that the source is a computer I don't need any networking capabilities (or do I?)

Are the price point bumps more of a result of more features, or is a lot of it sound quality?

What is your budget, what is the room like where you will be listening, what is your source material and what is your primary goal?
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post #3 of 23 Old 10-14-2011, 12:38 PM - Thread Starter
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I suppose I don't really have one yet - I am just trying to figure out how much is enough without buying features I don't need.

The plan is to support 7.1 sound for movies mostly and occasionally music. I will be reusing my current satellite speakers for the sides and rear, and buying a new sub, new center channel, and two front towers. I know multizone is a big thing now but I'm not interested.

I guess my main question is what on the $1000 Pioneer system is going to make it sound better than the $200 Sony one?

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post #4 of 23 Old 10-14-2011, 03:17 PM
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Better AVRs have better room correction software. The effect is very noticeable.

Lay out the features you need/want - then we can tell you how much you'll need to spend.

When all else fails - RTFM!

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post #5 of 23 Old 10-14-2011, 04:04 PM
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Hello,
A major advantage to more expensive AVR's is that they have better Amplifier Stages. As the number of features has skyrocketed with the attendant licencing fees, Entry Level AVR's really tend to skimp in respect to Heat Sinks, Capacitor Banks, and Power Transformers.

Especially if using a large space and wanting to produce Reference Level SPL's, having a quality AVR is pretty much essential. If using super efficient Speakers like Klipschs, you can get around needing that much power. Also, more expensive AVR's also tend to have the most advanced Room EQ Systems and Video Processing.
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post #6 of 23 Old 10-14-2011, 04:06 PM
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Don't presume more expensive means better sound.

More money buys you a better power supply, which means more watts which means better sound (IF the cheaper unit would have been distorting due your your normal volume.)

More expensive receivers may use better parts in some cases, which may lead to a long lifespan.

More money is, to a large extent about features. Fancy video processing chips, network features, the latest audio processing gimmicks, more speakers (such as your 9.1 or 11.1 systems,) more zones, more flexibility to name some off the top of my head. Interestingly, as you may more, you get less per dollar, in my experience. I have seen price bumps of $100's for a small set of higher end features. That being said, I am happier with my Yamaha Z7 than my cheaper 800 series receiver - some of that may be the better power supply on the Z7...the 800 series receiver just doesn't seem to have the same impact, for what that observation is worth.

One option some people choose is to get a receiver with pre outs, and external amps to ensure they don't run out of power. Unfortunately, there's been a sad change in the market, and pre outs are becoming a high end feature (silly, if you ask me, because it was one of the selling points Yamaha's 600 series line...did they not realize that some of their sales were due to that feature, or were the sales from that aspect not that important?)

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post #7 of 23 Old 10-14-2011, 04:20 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MichaelJHuman View Post

Don't presume more expensive means better sound.

More money buys you a better power supply, which means more watts which means better sound (IF the cheaper unit would have been distorting due your your normal volume.)

More expensive receivers may use better parts in some cases, which may lead to a long lifespan.

More money is, to a large extent about features. Fancy video processing chips, network features, the latest audio processing gimmicks, more speakers (such as your 9.1 or 11.1 systems,) more zones, more flexibility to name some off the top of my head. Interestingly, as you may more, you get less per dollar, in my experience. I have seen price bumps of $100's for a small set of higher end features. That being said, I am happier with my Yamaha Z7 than my cheaper 800 series receiver - some of that may be the better power supply on the Z7...the 800 series receiver just doesn't seem to have the same impact, for what that observation is worth.

One option some people choose is to get a receiver with pre outs, and external amps to ensure they don't run out of power. Unfortunately, there's been a sad change in the market, and pre outs are becoming a high end feature (silly, if you ask me, because it was one of the selling points Yamaha's 600 series line...did they not realize that some of their sales were due to that feature, or were the sales from that aspect not that important?)


I would totally agree with what Michael said.. Usually the higher end receivers will have better PSU, PARTS ETC. They tend to sound better, at least from my own personal exprience as I have owned many lower-end and higher end Yamaha's over the years as I know Michael has as well. I am also a current RX-Z7 owner.. blows away my 2700, while no slouch itself.. I am 100% sure after opening both units that the power supply is slightly larger and I think contributes to the higher quality sound. My old 3090 may actually outperform both .. but haven't listened to it in some time. I think my wife would kill me if i hooked up another Yammie in my house. hehe

Mike in Vegas

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post #8 of 23 Old 10-14-2011, 04:21 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pittsoccer33 View Post

I suppose I don't really have one yet - I am just trying to figure out how much is enough without buying features I don't need.

The plan is to support 7.1 sound for movies mostly and occasionally music. I will be reusing my current satellite speakers for the sides and rear, and buying a new sub, new center channel, and two front towers. I know multizone is a big thing now but I'm not interested.

I guess my main question is what on the $1000 Pioneer system is going to make it sound better than the $200 Sony one?

The answer to your "main question" is... it depends. That is why I asked you the questions I did earlier. If you are planning on using cheap speakers and your source material is old movies or mp3 files then you will not benefit much from the upgraded receiver/processor. An analogy would be, would you benefit from an upgrade of an old chevy to a new ferrari if you put wagon wheels on the ferrari and used watered down gasoline?

Your benefit is only as good as your source material and your output devices. If you are using blu-ray movies and hi-def audio downloads and you purchase reasonably good speakers then, yes, you will notice a difference.

Beyond your source material and your speakers, the better Recievers and processors will come with good room correction software that will help over come some issues with your speaker differences and room layout.

A good receiver will also have quality hardware to convert your digital media and provide sufficient, clean amplification.

In todays world, more material is digital and requires good digital to analog conversion for clean, realistic output
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post #9 of 23 Old 10-15-2011, 04:23 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mlknez View Post

...
Your benefit is only as good as your source material and your output devices. If you are using blu-ray movies and hi-def audio downloads and you purchase reasonably good speakers then, yes, you will notice a difference.

...

Actually, if you listen at identical (and reasonable) levels, you are not going to hear any difference between the vast majority of modern amplifiers, regardless if they cost $200 or $20000. No matter what marketing and "audiophile" trade literature tells you, blind tests show time and time again that people can't hear a difference (like this one).

Even DAC tech has gotten to a place where beyond certain rather inexpensive point, you are just not going to get much real improvement.

The only place where you'll often hear real improvement as the price goes up is speakers and room correction. And even there you don't have to go too high to get truly good stuff.
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post #10 of 23 Old 10-15-2011, 08:19 PM
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One interesting point is that the current limiting circuits can lead to audible issues (according to some engineers.) And if I understand the implementation, they may kick in even when not strictly needed.

This could result in some receivers seeming to have enough power on paper, but not sounding as good as expected. Just a theory.

Some higher end receivers may be more forgiving and sound better for this reason.

I know some people suggest that you really don't want to get that close to the point.

"But this one goes up to 11"
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post #11 of 23 Old 04-23-2013, 08:26 PM
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True, more expensive does not mean better sounds. I had an old Sony receiver from the 80s and an old set of large speakers Audio Logic ( maybe older than me) only 35 watts but enough to rock the party, the highs were crisp and lingering, bass was clear and punchy, over all sound was rich and every sounds were just perfectly blended in versus today receivers/speakers some feature 500 Watts plus -IMHO, just waste your money on electricity bill with them- tend to reproduce the sound of large concerts or a jet engine screams by your ears, you get synthetic high sounds, overly loud thumping bass but flat and muddy.

I have a $500 Pioneer receiver and $400 Sony Slim design floor standing tower speakers for upstairs, well, they do look fancy in the room.

Down in my basement, I bought a used Mitsubishi receiver ( before remote control was invented) and a set of old fashion large 14" X 23" Audio Logic speakers, all cost me $25. I plug in an Airport express ( $15 for a used one) and I can Airplay my iTunes, ipod touch iPhone playlists wirelessly from the other rooms.

At night when I chill out and want to listen to my fav music, I go to the basement to hear music from the old stereo set because they sound so much better and richer than the fancy looking stereo system upstairs. And that is $25 vs $900. smile.gif
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post #12 of 23 Old 04-24-2013, 02:45 AM
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All I know is when I went from an entry level Sony receiver to an entry level Harman/Kardon receiver, the difference in sound quality was night & day. The Sony sounded like a clock radio in comparison.
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post #13 of 23 Old 04-24-2013, 03:14 AM
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You will get very little difference (if any) in sound quality based on the receiver that you buy. And even at that it would not be because of the amplifier but would be because of better room correction software. Higher prices are for better features.
By far the biggest difference in sound quality you can invest in is the speakers you choose.

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post #14 of 23 Old 04-24-2013, 12:07 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pittsoccer33 View Post

I suppose I don't really have one yet - I am just trying to figure out how much is enough without buying features I don't need.


The plan is to support 7.1 sound for movies mostly and occasionally music. I will be reusing my current satellite speakers for the sides and rear, and buying a new sub, new center channel, and two front towers. I know multizone is a big thing now but I'm not interested.


I guess my main question is what on the $1000 Pioneer system is going to make it sound better than the $200 Sony one?

To answer your main question, the $1000 Pioneer will have the acoustic equalization feature. This will make it "sound" better because it will correct for any room acoustics issues. Other than that, sound quality will probably be not much different.

However, outside of sound quality, if you want 7.1 for movies, then you will need a newer AVR which will have HDMI connection that supports 7.1 sound. As said many times here in this thread, the "money" part is in the speakers. That is where you will pick up the sound quality improvement.

In the end, it is about "listening". Go to a few stores and audition different receivers. Keep the test simple, use the same speakers and media across the different AVRs to judge any difference.

Sometimes I have to remind myself that I bought all this "stuff" to enjoy it!
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post #15 of 23 Old 04-24-2013, 04:47 PM
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I just can't disregard the placebo effect. I was reading reviews about the Anthem mrx 300 and everyone just can't get over the sound quality, even before their ARC was tuned in. I wonder if people just have it in their heads that more expensive, high-end stuff (Anthem, Rotel, etc) have to sound good because they are so expensive, and the result is: they do, because they believe it. And I really think manufacturers play into this. (Monster cable anyone?) Is Anthem's amp a better sounding than my PIO's? This is not news by any means, just my 2 ¢.
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post #16 of 23 Old 04-24-2013, 07:07 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by johnBlanker View Post

I just can't disregard the placebo effect. I was reading reviews about the Anthem mrx 300 and everyone just can't get over the sound quality, even before their ARC was tuned in. I wonder if people just have it in their heads that more expensive, high-end stuff (Anthem, Rotel, etc) have to sound good because they are so expensive, and the result is: they do, because they believe it. And I really think manufacturers play into this. (Monster cable anyone?) Is Anthem's amp a better sounding than my PIO's? This is not news by any means, just my 2 ¢.

I have an Anthem MRX-300 and I agree with your post about the amp section.
Wasn't a night & day difference for me, BUT, ARC is a big time game changer.
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post #17 of 23 Old 04-24-2013, 07:28 PM
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I really like the simplicity of the anthem 300. The 4 inputs is a real downer and the fact that I have to go to a specialty shop to get it. My experience with those places have not been good. They tend to stick their nose up at people if they are not dropping serious coin. They don't take kindly to returns either. Shame. I only have two stores on Long Island that deal anthem. I'm looking at the onkyo 818. Btw, didn't mean to say anything derogatory about anthem or rotel owners.
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post #18 of 23 Old 04-24-2013, 08:42 PM
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^^^^^Sorry I got off topic.
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post #19 of 23 Old 04-25-2013, 05:47 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by johnBlanker View Post

I just can't disregard the placebo effect. I was reading reviews about the Anthem mrx 300 and everyone just can't get over the sound quality, even before their ARC was tuned in. I wonder if people just have it in their heads that more expensive, high-end stuff (Anthem, Rotel, etc) have to sound good because they are so expensive, and the result is: they do, because they believe it. And I really think manufacturers play into this. (Monster cable anyone?) Is Anthem's amp a better sounding than my PIO's? This is not news by any means, just my 2 ¢.

As a wise man once stated somewhere on this forum....."Listen with your ears, not your wallet......"

Sometimes I have to remind myself that I bought all this "stuff" to enjoy it!
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post #20 of 23 Old 04-25-2013, 08:01 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MichaelJHuman View Post

One interesting point is that the current limiting circuits can lead to audible issues (according to some engineers.) And if I understand the implementation, they may kick in even when not strictly needed.

I have reviewed a number of service manuals for modern AVRs, and find that their schematics seem to not contain current limiters.

Here are some sample schematics from popular AVRs:

Onkyo NR 807



Onkyo NR 809



Could you provide an documented example of such a thing, or a technical test that conclusively shows such a thing in action?
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post #21 of 23 Old 04-25-2013, 08:03 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bizwiz41 View Post

Quote:
Originally Posted by johnBlanker View Post

I just can't disregard the placebo effect. I was reading reviews about the Anthem mrx 300 and everyone just can't get over the sound quality, even before their ARC was tuned in. I wonder if people just have it in their heads that more expensive, high-end stuff (Anthem, Rotel, etc) have to sound good because they are so expensive, and the result is: they do, because they believe it. And I really think manufacturers play into this. (Monster cable anyone?) Is Anthem's amp a better sounding than my PIO's? This is not news by any means, just my 2 ¢.

As a wise man once stated somewhere on this forum....."Listen with your ears, not your wallet......"

The trick is listening with your personal biases and endemic systematic biases under control. For example, how many audiophiles have ever quick-switched between two level-matched AVRs?
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post #22 of 23 Old 04-25-2013, 05:04 PM
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AVR's have to be one of the hardest things to demo. Online is out since you usually have to pay return shipping, excluding Amazon or Newegg, and you obviously can't demo online. B&M stores/custom shops might give you hassle or inflict restocking fees. This usually leaves you with best buy. I am generalizing. Any store is not going to sound like your living room with your speakers. Once you get it home, hook it all up, figure out how it all works, dial it in, who wants to go through all the work returning the thing?
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post #23 of 23 Old 04-25-2013, 07:49 PM
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I don't think I ever demo'd a receiver.....ever. Really, whats the point? Pick a couple of AVR's that interests you, check the specs, read some reviews online and make up your mind.
The things I've always considered are features and reliability and of course, within budget.
Now with room correction systems applied almost to all receivers, thats another thing to put on my short list.

As of now, my MRX300 fits the bill nicely. ARC is a Godsend.tongue.gif
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