Originally Posted by John2e
Thank you for the excellent review Joe!
Do you have any experience with the Anthem D2V or Mcintosh MX-150? I am interested in how it compares to those more expensive processors.
The Anthem D2 had a retail price nearly double the cost of the AV8801 (and that was over 6 years ago when I got it). Its follow-on, the D2V, is significantly more (nearly $10k, I believe). I was interested in the D2V, but the price is too high. Unlike the old audio-only days, technology changes fast enough that paying this much for a processor will make it very hard to upgrade/keep up often. The old Denon AVP-A1HDCI would have been another great processor to have due to their upgradability (if you bought it years ago), but it seems that it's at the end of its lifecycle, and I get the impression that Marantz is being positioned on the higher end than Denon.
I'm generalizing here (so there's always exceptions), but IMO the very high end processors give the hope of better sound, particularly when it comes to critical music listening. Whether the improved sound is worth the significantly higher cost is based on the eye (or ears) of the beholder. Unlike many years ago, I no longer just sit down in front of my system just to listen to music, and try to hear every subtle difference that a change to my system brings. My system is 100% for watching movies, so any subtle improvements on audio that result in multiple times the cost of a less esoteric processor is not very noticeable or significant enough a factor compared to other considerations. One thing about the "less esoteric" brands like Marantz and Denon is that they have an advantage in volume. I believe that their expertise and product experience ranging from low to high end components results in better "vetting" of problems such as firmware bugs, resulting in higher reliability, particularly with HDMI handshaking, video syncing, etc. Plus, the video processing of the really high end esoteric components aren't any better (nor necessarily advertised to be better) than more common components. Finally, the really high end processors are usually a few features behind must cheaper components (e.g. they don't provide TCP connectivity, user interface not as nice, etc.; I don't care about Internet apps like Netflix, though, since you can usually do better by getting cheap media servers like Apple TV).
I also looked into the Classe SSP, but again, very expensive. Supposedly great sound, thought. But, no video processing (but IMO, that's the job of the display anyway). It also doesn't have automatic room correction.
Anyway, there's a large gap between the price of the AV8801 and higher end products like the Anthem D2v and Classe. Looked at a couple of McIntosh models too. The cheaper one didn't have features that I liked, while the more expensive one was, well, too expensive.
If I know I can comfortably keep the same processor for many many years, I may be tempted to spend more, but these days, I think it's better to spend less and upgrade more :-) (not that the AV8801 is cheap, but relative to the other components mentioned earlier....).