Newer Mid Market Receiver vs Older Gen High End Pre/Po's - which better for sound quality & recommedations? - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 35 Old 08-19-2012, 05:31 PM - Thread Starter
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I've been running for about a year now a Marantz SR 5005 receiver as a preamp / processor (using external amplifications). Perhaps it's prejudicial or snobbery, but can't help feeling with all that is crammed into modern receivers that the pre-amp section is weaker - and therefore ultimately the sound quality suffers.

So been considering lately actually taking a step backward & taking advantage of the many older pre-HDMI super high end preamp processors being sold second hand. Yes, I'd be losing the convenience of HDMI switching and some other bells & whistles, but on the other hand I think gaining a lot on audio quality.

Anyone care to weigh in on this thought process or gone that route?

Also, looking for an older generation high end pre-amp / processor in the sub $1,000 category & have been considering the following. If you have any thoughts on what would be the best choice or have any personal experience using these, would appreciate your thoughts:

1. Krell Showcase (HTS out of my budget)
2. Anthem AVM30
3. Arcam AV8
4. Arcam AVP700
5. Rotel RSP-1098
6. Any others of note in this price range?

Have not put B&K Reference 50 as supposedly these have a bad rap as being buggy. If your experience is difference, would appreciate knowing that as they seem to be quite a good bargain.

Also have not included Mcormack MAP 1 as this is purely analog & would like something that does digital multi channel audio processing.

Thanks!
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post #2 of 35 Old 08-19-2012, 05:36 PM
 
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Two thoughts, HDMI eliminates a boatload of interconnects; a fact I'm very happy for and second, the pre-pro also does today's coded processing. Nothing better than a dose of modern technology to smooth the way.

An added thought, upgrade to the SR5007 and later if you're so inclined, add an outboard amplifier. I'm not sold on today's pre-pros as they're as vulnerable to obsolescence as a current AVR is. If you do go separates, you'll find that you'll be able to keep the Amp but you'll have to occasionally replace the pre-pro as technology changes on you.

Other than the above, it's all good.

Hope the above helps.

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post #3 of 35 Old 08-19-2012, 06:11 PM
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What's the budget?

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post #4 of 35 Old 08-19-2012, 06:20 PM
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imo/ime, a modern mid-level unit will give you "better" sound due to the ability to perform room correction...

going "older", while seemingly attractive on the surface, doesn't really gain you anything...

- chris

 

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post #5 of 35 Old 08-19-2012, 06:28 PM
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I had an Anthem AVM 30 a number of years ago and really liked the sound and flexability it offered. But I wanted HDMI 1.3 and room correction so I bought an Onkyo 805 to replace it. I then went from the 805 to the 885, 886 and now a Denon 4311. A number of times I saw used AVM 30s at great prices and was tempted to grab one. But I did not want to give up Audyssey or HDMI. So I would say you are good with the 5005 or grab a current model AVR with Audyssey XT32. All the prepros you listed are great but I believe none have room correction.

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post #6 of 35 Old 08-19-2012, 11:01 PM - Thread Starter
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Thanks for all the comments.

Just to repeat, I'm looking at a change purely from a sound quality perspective as opposed to convenience. So I guess to clarify : is the analog preamp section in one of the higher end processors such as I mentioned going to be substantially better than what would be in a mid market receiver such as the Marantz I have? I've experienced the difference quality pre amplification can have in 2 channel stereo, but not multi-channel home theater or audio applications.

Assuming the answer to the above is "yes" (which may be a big assumption), what's the best bang for the buck in high end used pre/processors?

I don't have / use many sources, so HDMI switching is not a big deal. Room correction if necessary I can do w/ an older units manual settings. I would likely lose the newest audio standards such as DTS-HD & DD True-HD, but w/ 7.1 channel analog inputs, I could always run that off the blu ray player if necessary.

To answer previous questions : I do use external amplification - a Krell 400XI for mains (home theater bypass mode) and an Acurus 125 x 5 for the other 5 channels. Speakers are all older Energy but will soon be changed over to all Magnepans - 1.7 up front, MMG-C center, MMGs for sides, and MMG-W for rear surrounds.

Budget for a pre-po is $500 - $1,000.

At this point I'm leaning towards Krell Showcase or Classe SSP 60.

Thanks again
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post #7 of 35 Old 08-20-2012, 03:20 AM
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Browsing this forum a little should reveal the obvious, that the majority believe all amps sound the same and greatly value room correction. So you're unlikely to get a response which matches your expectation in the same tone. There are people who still use non-HDMI processors and AVRs but they aren't upgrading yet whereas you're actively contemplating going backwards.

That aside, you haven't revealed what is it you don't like about the Marantz. What is weak about the SQ, considering you are using power amps? You haven't said what you used before the Marantz and that might give an idea about your prior experience to compare with. I have the impression from your short-list that you're really after non-mass market products.

You said at the outset you were looking for processor with digital MCH processing, now you say you can use analogue for Blu-rays so you are ambivalent on this. Many BDPs lack decent bass management (we don't know what you have) and the need to boost LFE later and with lack of room correction the analogue route is on most counts inferior to digital.

Audiosceptics accept audio trials using 25 people. A recent Oxford study with over 353,000 patient records from 639 separate clinical trials shows for every 1,000 people taking diclofenac or ibuprofen there would be 3 additional heart attacks, 4 more cases of heart failure and 1 death every year.

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post #8 of 35 Old 08-20-2012, 05:52 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jcarcher View Post

Room correction if necessary I can do w/ an older units manual settings.

Thanks again

this is where you are "missing the bus", so to speak...

a) room correction is always necessary for at least the area that is dominated by room modes...

b) you have no chance of using the manual eq on an old unit to "fix" this the way that "modern" room correction does...

i had an avm30... there is ZERO chance i would replace my current unit with one... it would be a significant step backwards in sound quality...

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post #9 of 35 Old 08-20-2012, 03:02 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kilian.ca View Post

That aside, you haven't revealed what is it you don't like about the Marantz. What is weak about the SQ, considering you are using power amps? You haven't said what you used before the Marantz and that might give an idea about your prior experience to compare with. I have the impression from your short-list that you're really after non-mass market products.
You said at the outset you were looking for processor with digital MCH processing, now you say you can use analogue for Blu-rays so you are ambivalent on this. Many BDPs lack decent bass management (we don't know what you have) and the need to boost LFE later and with lack of room correction the analogue route is on most counts inferior to digital.

Its refreshing to get a different perspective - posting the same question on "audiophile" forums there seems less questioning that SQ will be better from a high end older gen pre / pro vs mass market, but here the perspective seems to focus on other things.

Prior to the current Marantz I was using an ever older Marantz receiver as a pre / pro, but again w/ external amplification. As for unhappiness w/ Marantz, now that I've upgraded the speakers in the HT room (to Magnepan 1.7's front & MMG series for everything else), I'd like to do more music listening as well as home theater. I never felt the Marantz sounded as good as the Krell 400XI integrated I use down there for 2 channel stereo. This is even comparing direct to the Krell integrated vs Marantz as pre-amp feeding the same Krell in amp only mode. Why don't I just then use the Krell for 2 channel? Well, I'd like to sell it on to improve the HT preamp / amp end & maybe simplify as well.

This is why I guess I'm harping about SQ of pre-amp sections.

It's true that I'm not really shopping mass market. Perhaps it's prejudicial, but can help feeling that high end older pre-pro's are going to sound better than newer mass market receivers. This could be a major misconception, and the high end boutique pre-pro's just a rip off, even 5+ years down the road at a quarter of their new price.

As for mutltichannel audio, I'm willing to go to a blu ray player w/ 7.1 channel analog audio outs to get DTS-MA etc, but for the game player, cable box, etc which often just do the older simpler multichannel formats, it would be nice for the processor to do this. Hence why I do want to go to an all analogue pre-amp like the Mcormick MAP 1.
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post #10 of 35 Old 08-20-2012, 03:09 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ccotenj View Post

this is where you are "missing the bus", so to speak...
a) room correction is always necessary for at least the area that is dominated by room modes...
b) you have no chance of using the manual eq on an old unit to "fix" this the way that "modern" room correction does...
i had an avm30... there is ZERO chance i would replace my current unit with one... it would be a significant step backwards in sound quality...

Certainly agreed on "a", but I think I'm going to need more of an education on "b" at to why you can't achieve the same thing something like a "modern" Audessy would do vs the manual setttings of an "old" Anthem AVM 30 / Krell Showcase / Classe SSP 60 etc. They all to one degree or another seem to allow you by channel to adjust the frequency response. Sure, its more of a pain vs sitting back w/ a mic & letting the software do the work. Don't know about the Anthem, but the Classe even seems to come w/ an attachable mic.
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post #11 of 35 Old 08-20-2012, 03:38 PM
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^^^

from a 50,000 ft view, none of the "manual" equalizers that are available to you will be as effective as the audyssey process... they will not have the granularity of audyssey, and audyssey also works in the time domain (in addition to the frequency domain)...

if you want a more detailed "why", hop on over to the audyssey thread, or check out the audyssey website... smile.gif

- chris

 

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post #12 of 35 Old 08-20-2012, 03:41 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jcarcher View Post

Certainly agreed on "a", but I think I'm going to need more of an education on "b" at to why you can't achieve the same thing something like a "modern" Audessy would do vs the manual setttings of an "old" Anthem AVM 30 / Krell Showcase / Classe SSP 60 etc. They all to one degree or another seem to allow you by channel to adjust the frequency response. Sure, its more of a pain vs sitting back w/ a mic & letting the software do the work. Don't know about the Anthem, but the Classe even seems to come w/ an attachable mic.

I felt the same way you do about having a better analog section and for quite awhile had preamps with HT Bypass in my system. But since buying the 4311 with XT32 I sold my Parasound 2100 and use the 4311 for everything. Those that have a better knowledge of Audyssey will be able to answer why it is better than doing a manual cailbration with older prepros. I know I could never manually calibrate my sub as good as XT32 does at the touch of a few buttons wink.gif.

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post #13 of 35 Old 08-21-2012, 10:41 AM - Thread Starter
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So would I be crazy to think that if I just took down my current audessy settings & manually punched those into the next pre-pro that I wouldn't get the same results?
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post #14 of 35 Old 08-21-2012, 10:45 AM
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^^^

you can't "take down" your current audyssey settings...

- chris

 

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post #15 of 35 Old 08-21-2012, 12:56 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jcarcher View Post

So would I be crazy to think that if I just took down my current audessy settings & manually punched those into the next pre-pro that I wouldn't get the same results?

You could do that but will your manually added in adjustments be as refined at Audyssey's? Things fall apart the very moment something in the room gets moved. Now what?

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post #16 of 35 Old 08-21-2012, 02:16 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jcarcher View Post

So would I be crazy to think that if I just took down my current audessy settings & manually punched those into the next pre-pro that I wouldn't get the same results?

Why not just do another Audyssey calibration with the new Audyssey equipped AVR/prepro that you buy? Especially if you are going from the 5005 which has XT to an AVR/prepro that has XT32.

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You could do that but will your manually added in adjustments be as refined at Audyssey's? Things fall apart the very moment something in the room gets moved. Now what?
-

How do you access the calibration settings for Audyssey (non Pro)?

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post #17 of 35 Old 08-21-2012, 04:38 PM - Thread Starter
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To everyone's great disappointment I'm sure I think I'm going w/ the Krell Showcase, so no, the new pre-pro won't have any kind of automated room correction. I've read the Audyssey kool aid on their website and still don't feel the need to pray at the alter.

As for accessing info on a Marantz SR 5005 or perhaps similar, to see the actual post Audyssey parameters, you go to menu 3.2 : i.e. "autosetup" then "parameter check". From there you can choose to see what audyssey has done for distance, channel level, crossover frequency, and equalization. So yes, you can "take down" the audyssey settings. And no, I don't think they are the "gospel" of audio perfection that can't be improved on without some real world ear-based listening. This is to a large degree still a subjective art vs a cold science, though I can understand now why in via a meta forum called "AVS - Audio Video Science" some would dispute that.

So per above, you can "take down" the audyssey settings, and with the Krell Showcase at least, you also can manually input / adjust all those parameters to a very fine degree. If you don't believe me, download the manual & look it up, like I did.

As for "things fall apart the moment you move something" - get real! Major changes, or even speakers changes, sure. Minor changes to the room - which are unlikely anyway in a dedicated home theater room - no.

Sorta had expected more elevated / researched information from this forum, instead of automated room correction fan boys. Guess we all want to find justification for the actions & purchases we make - whether it's "upgrading" to the tune of whatever new bell & whistle out there, or wanting to "go back" to something "high end" presumably with better sound quality.

I had hoped for more informed comments though.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bill Mac View Post

Why not just do another Audyssey calibration with the new Audyssey equipped AVR/prepro that you buy? Especially if you are going from the 5005 which has XT to an AVR/prepro that has XT32.
How do you access the calibration settings for Audyssey (non Pro)?
Bill

In your AVR menu (in my case Marantz) access Menu > Speaker > Audyssey Setup and you can see the EQ graphs.

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post #19 of 35 Old 08-21-2012, 04:58 PM
 
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Originally Posted by jcarcher View Post

As for "things fall apart the moment you move something" - get real!

And I am. Get over it and stop flapping your ego in my face. It's not polite. I thoughtfully answered your question and expect respect in return.
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post #20 of 35 Old 08-21-2012, 05:12 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jcarcher View Post

To everyone's great disappointment I'm sure I think I'm going w/ the Krell Showcase, so no, the new pre-pro won't have any kind of automated room correction. I've read the Audyssey kool aid on their website and still don't feel the need to pray at the alter.
As for accessing info on a Marantz SR 5005 or perhaps similar, to see the actual post Audyssey parameters, you go to menu 3.2 : i.e. "autosetup" then "parameter check". From there you can choose to see what audyssey has done for distance, channel level, crossover frequency, and equalization. So yes, you can "take down" the audyssey settings. And no, I don't think they are the "gospel" of audio perfection that can't be improved on without some real world ear-based listening. This is to a large degree still a subjective art vs a cold science, though I can understand now why in via a meta forum called "AVS - Audio Video Science" some would dispute that.
So per above, you can "take down" the audyssey settings, and with the Krell Showcase at least, you also can manually input / adjust all those parameters to a very fine degree. If you don't believe me, download the manual & look it up, like I did.
As for "things fall apart the moment you move something" - get real! Major changes, or even speakers changes, sure. Minor changes to the room - which are unlikely anyway in a dedicated home theater room - no.
Sorta had expected more elevated / researched information from this forum, instead of automated room correction fan boys. Guess we all want to find justification for the actions & purchases we make - whether it's "upgrading" to the tune of whatever new bell & whistle out there, or wanting to "go back" to something "high end" presumably with better sound quality.
I had hoped for more informed comments though.

Folks who have hung around the Audyssey thread know what anybody who looked too closely at the Audyssey site itself woul dknow: the few bars shown in paramater check doesn't actually show each of the hundreds of FIR filters that Audyssey calculates and applies. So, no, you actually cannot see at more than about the 50000 foot level what Audyssey is doing.

Otherwise, let everyone drink their own Kook Aid, sez me.
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post #21 of 35 Old 08-21-2012, 08:42 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jcarcher View Post

Sorta had expected more elevated / researched information from this forum, instead of automated room correction fan boys. Guess we all want to find justification for the actions & purchases we make - whether it's "upgrading" to the tune of whatever new bell & whistle out there, or wanting to "go back" to something "high end" presumably with better sound quality.
I had hoped for more informed comments though.

Wow. Talk about being appreciative to fellow members for trying to help you out rolleyes.gif.

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In your AVR menu (in my case Marantz) access Menu > Speaker > Audyssey Setup and you can see the EQ graphs.
-

Right. That shows the EQ graphs that Audyssey set but you can't access them to change them or to move them to another AVR/prepro as far as I know.

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post #22 of 35 Old 08-21-2012, 11:07 PM
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Wow. Talk about being appreciative to fellow members for trying to help you out rolleyes.gif.
Right. That shows the EQ graphs that Audyssey set but you can't access them to change them or to move them to another AVR/prepro as far as I know.
Bill

You hand transfer them as you're not changing anything.
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post #24 of 35 Old 08-22-2012, 12:41 AM - Thread Starter
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Ok, so, perhaps being too "snappy", but as this thread has moved over to being more about the merits of automated room correction a la Audysessy, just wanted more explanation / proof to merit statements regarding it's importance and not blanket statements nor exaggerations.

I get after reading further the comments here + at their website about Audyessy & that you can't really fully replicate the Audyessy settings manually because, among other reasons, the menu display does not actually show ALL the parameters set, per JHaz & what I read at Audyessy. Thanks JHaz for clarifying "50K ft level".

Why Marantz et all then bother to display some (and not other or all) frequency parameter changes puzzles me........if the info is that incomplete, sorta makes it seem irrelevant.

Can't say I'm still totally convinced still about automated RC - or even EQing - for all what these may due to the audio signal quality. Somehow still seems best to measure / plot the room frequency response, identify issues / problems, then deal w/ it with acoustic treatments (panels / traps / etc) vs hoping electronic processing is gonna solve the problem. More trial & error, time consuming / painstaking / uglier / more costly - perhaps. But I don't see professional music environments, etc going for the electronic processing remedy (though newer ones were designed w/ good acoustics in mind). Guess I'm "old school" in that respect.

Well - the proof of the pudding will be in the listening. So sometime by the end of this month when done futzing & A/Bing the Krell vs the Marantz I should have my answer.

Will report back if of interest - and hopefully can be "objective" about results & not biased on the basis of brands / looks / pre-conceived notions, etc. Though "results" being preferred sound is by nature somewhat "subjective".
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post #25 of 35 Old 08-22-2012, 01:10 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BeeMan458 View Post

You hand transfer them as you're not changing anything.

I'm not talking about manual settings that one makes. I'm talking about the actual Audyssey calibration. How would you apply the fine EQ filters that Audyssey applies manually?

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post #26 of 35 Old 08-22-2012, 06:05 AM
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oh well...

if you want explanations or proof, they all exist in the audyssey thread... whether you are aware of it or not, extensive "objective" work has been done by several of us...

the horse has been led to the water...

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post #27 of 35 Old 08-22-2012, 07:41 AM
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I know purists shun eq as it can change the phase of the signal....however as a professional musician and as someone's sole job and career has only been in the music industry I can tell you that all the recordings you all listen to are eq'd and that the highest level of master houses use eq in the playback systems. Live shows are eq's as well among many other things.

I just removed my McIntosh AV Pre/Pro to try out the Integra DHC 80.3 A/V Pre Pro and I am excited to see what Audyssy will do to help my system and room.

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post #28 of 35 Old 08-22-2012, 07:56 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BeeMan458 View Post

You hand transfer them as you're not changing anything.

You need to learn a good deal more about how Audyssey works given that statement. What you see is only a fraction of what is actually occurring - there is nothing in those graphs that addresses time domain.

And even if you could transfer the graphs, how do you plan on reducing thousands of filters and data points to a basic 8-10 band EQ? Simply not analogous.
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post #29 of 35 Old 08-22-2012, 08:55 AM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by ccotenj View Post

oh well...
if you want explanations or proof, they all exist in the audyssey thread... whether you are aware of it or not, extensive "objective" work has been done by several of us...
the horse has been led to the water...
Quote:
Originally Posted by ccotenj View Post

oh well...
if you want explanations or proof, they all exist in the audyssey thread... whether you are aware of it or not, extensive "objective" work has been done by several of us...
the horse has been led to the water...

Kinda convenient answer : "go read all 1,867 pages of the Audyssey thread, then come back to me". Think I've now devoted several hours to "studying" Audyssey, and from different perspectives, and there doesn't seem to be a pre-poderance of consensus on it's merits.

Yes, the horse has been lead to the water, but the water seems kinda foul.....

But - I am willing when all the gear arrives to take the time to compare & discover for myself.

I know my comments have probably rubbed you wrong, but when folks come here for advice & assistance, more than 1-2 liners are expected. I know free advice / comments should be accepted gracefully, but a certain degree of substance and substantiation doesn't seem an unreasonable expectation.

Don't want to get into a "last word" scenario here - not the intention of this post. I am wiling to let it go.
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post #30 of 35 Old 08-22-2012, 09:04 AM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by mdrums View Post

I know purists shun eq as it can change the phase of the signal....however as a professional musician and as someone's sole job and career has only been in the music industry I can tell you that all the recordings you all listen to are eq'd and that the highest level of master houses use eq in the playback systems. Live shows are eq's as well among many other things.
I just removed my McIntosh AV Pre/Pro to try out the Integra DHC 80.3 A/V Pre Pro and I am excited to see what Audyssy will do to help my system and room.

Yes, but you could argue why "add insult to injury".

Some degree of EQing seems to always be necessary or useful, whether to correct for room issues or to produce subjectively more pleasing results. But what something like Audyssey does seems much more aggressive & intrusive on an order of magnitude much greater. If all the language on their website is to be believed, they are seriously messing w/ the original signal. I'd like to think that all the pro's who worked on producing & engineering that sound product previously could reasonably be expected to know what they are doing, ad hominem arguments about "tin ear" engineers to the contrary.

But in the end I think what you & I plan to do is the right approach : shoot out between gear w/ & w/out & judge for ourselves. My intent in starting this thread was to hear back from folks who had undergone that experiment & get some detail about their experience. So will be interested in your experience when you've gotten a chance to try things out.
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