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-   Receivers, Amps, and Processors (http://www.avsforum.com/forum/90-receivers-amps-processors/)
-   -   AVR-4520CI vs NR5010 ... Pro's, Con's, Reliability ? (http://www.avsforum.com/forum/90-receivers-amps-processors/1440581-avr-4520ci-vs-nr5010-pros-cons-reliability.html)

scbartling 11-22-2012 05:09 AM

Decided to move this question to it's own thread instead of burying it in the official AVR-4520CI thread and make a few changes.

Hi Folks,

Am shopping for a new receiver. Am replacing a venerable Pioneer Elite VSX-95 that I bought around 1992 or so. I tend to buy higher quality units and use them for 20 years or more. Reliability is a top priority for me in addition to audio/video quality and feature set. Ease of use is also important since my wife is not very technical and just wants to watch TV, Blu Ray/DVD movie, or something like netflix and doesn't want to use 5 remotes and change 15 settings in the bowels of on-screen menu's in order to switch between watching a movie and watching TV via dish network.

I have a high end media room and a family room with home theater setups. Today, I'm focused on upgrading my family room system. It is presently a 5.1 surround system, but I'll change this in the future. Key features of interest are video streaming over local network and over internet, support for the latest connectivity standards (HDMI w/ARC, 3D, Deep Color, etc), ability to reassign amplifiers so I can bi-amp my front left/right (and center ?) speakers in all audio modes (surround modes, stereo direct mode, etc).

The existing speaker configuration has Emotiva ERM-6.3's for left, center, right front speakers, an SVS PB12-NSD subwoofer, and Paradigm dipole ADP-190 v.6 rear surround speakers. The Emotiva's are 4ohm speakers but are relatively easy to drive (the old Pioneer VSX-95 can make your ears bleed using the Emotiva's at 35% of full scale volume). I will be using this system in a L shaped "great room (living room, breakfast nook, kitchen)" with about 8000 cu ft of space so I need higher output capability.

I have evaluated Onkyo NR5010, AVR-1520CI, Pioneer Elite SC-68, and the Yamaha RX-A3020. I have eliminated the Yamaha from consideration (too many gee whiz useless DSP modes) and the Pioneer as well (even though all of my current receivers are Pioneer Elites, I'm not impressed with the newest model's build quality, the GUI, and the class D amps).

That leaves the NR5010 and the AVR-1520CI. They both seem to have acceptable audio and video quality.

So, I have three questions:

1. I have heard both Onkyo and Denon have had quality problems over the last few years. Is this still an issue ? If so, why ? If not, why not ? On what basis do you provide your answer (experience working in A/V store, consumer big box store, experience with a zillion forum posts, etc)?
2. Which receiver would you recommend and why ? I'm especially interested in hearing from anyone that has owned both, or has had significant face time with each of them (want unbiased views if possible, please hold back on any "fan-boy" responses )
2. Assuming I go with the AVR-1520CI, where can I get the best deal (and maintain full factory warranty) ? If the answer is "Mike @ AVS", how can I reach Mike ?

Thanks in advance,


gurkey 11-22-2012 07:12 AM

Originally Posted by scbartling View Post

Hi Folks,
Am shopping for a new receiver. I tend to buy higher quality units and use them for 20 years or more. Reliability is a top priority for me in addition to audio/video quality and feature set.
Thanks in advance,

20 years. Can't believe it.

Today's AVRs are rather short lived, meaning, most of them are not supposed to make it (technically) beyond, may be, 3 years or max. 5 ?
The rule of the game has changed quite a bit within the last few years, because a lot of technical changes, spec revisions and "featuritis" have caused at least some sort of "planned obsolescence".
Nowadays all relevant manufacturers seem to push a new model series to market each and every year, leaving active support behind most of the time for those units which have been just discontinued.
Additionally most of the AVR manufacturers don't make much, if any, money from this business right now, causing them to save each and every cent in the manufacturing process, except for marketing.
I don't know about Denon / Marantz but Onkyo / Integra seem to have gotten hold of that infamous heat related HDMI problem starting with series x009 and newer.

scbartling 11-22-2012 07:51 AM

Thanks for the response.

You are right, changing interface standards is driving rapid obsolescence right now. In fact, it's the main reason why I am upgrading. My old but venerable Pioneer Elite VSX-95 does not support the interfaces I need anymore as many A/V appliances are dropping analog and S-Video support.

In terms of support, Pioneer has been exceptional. The main board in my VSX-95 died about 5 years ago. The main board developed a crack that slowly propagated across the board due to expansion/contraction from heat. Believe it or not, Pioneer was able to supply a brand new main board 15 years after the VSX-95's manufacturing date.

Historically, the Elite's have been spectacular.

I don't expect to get the same lifespan/ruggedness out of anything I buy today unfortunately, but I don't want to unintentionally buy a unit with a high probability of issues based on prior model reliability. Life is too short to be in frequent communication with customer support departments wink.gif

- Steven

gurkey 11-22-2012 08:05 AM

If you don't like to spent a lot of money on such an item just to make sure, it has the utmost quality available today, it is mostly unknown if and when a particular model of a specific manufacturer will develop any problems, which might shorten its lifespan.
I have owned and still own a lot of different AV equipment from several manufacturers including some higher end Onkyos (905, 875, 876, 5509 and 3009) without any (known) problems, but i do take care, that nothing will cause premature death.

scbartling 11-22-2012 08:13 AM

Hi Gurkey,

Do you have an opinion as to which of these units might be a better fit for my needs ? If so, which one and why ?

- Steven

scbartling 11-22-2012 03:22 PM

I am going backwards in the decision process. Have decided to add the Pioneer SC-68 back into consideration due a long history of high quality and reliability.

Am stuck at the moment on the decision process. Have to do some more thinking about what features are most important to me.

- Steven

rchwallace 11-22-2012 06:34 PM


I am in the exact same boat. I am currently looking at the Onkyo 5010, Denon 4520 (I currently have the 4310) and the Pioneer Elite SC-68. The -68 to me though does not look like a '13 model but I might be mistaken. To me the Onkyo is edging out the 4520 just due to what I have seen online but I have not spent a huge amount of time there looking yet. NAD is still in the mix for me as well but I am not sure. More research is required but I will be watching this post and adding my comments as I get some ideas in the next few days.

Good luck

scbartling 11-22-2012 07:20 PM

I'll copy my response from the AVR-4520CI thread in case it spurs some more thinking by folks reading this thread.

Hi rchwallace,

Some points on each receiver (not complete by any stretch). All of these will sound just as good, so it's features/quality/reliability that matter:

1. THX Ultra2 Plus certified (yes, it does mean something)
2. Menu's have a reputation of being byzantine/hard to use
3. 3rd generation class D amplifiers (runs cool, lot's of dynamic range, this is a plus)
4. 2K and 4K pass through
5. Pioneer has a reputation for quality/durability/reliability
6. Capable of driving 4 ohm speakers easily
7. Pioneer in-house custom auto-equalization system w/o subwoofer compensation
- Some folks consider Pioneers custom system a plus, others think it is a minus
8. Very gimmicky android/iphone app
9. Airplay support
10. Probably the best overall video processing

1. THX Ultra2 Plus certified
2. Easy to use menu system
3. Audessey 32 bit auto-equalization w/subwoofer compensation
4. "Home Media" = ability to mount any windows hard drive and access it directly
- bypasses DLNA, so you can load mp3's, DSD, FLAC, etc directly without the meta data tags needed by DLNA
- It essentially is a linux samba server running on the NR5010
- This is a major plus in my book, much simpler to set up home media server this way
5. Push-Pull Darlington amps are proven design, but are less efficient.
- For each output watt into the speakers, it pulls more current from the 110V supply.
- They also are capable of sourcing/sinking current quickly (= wide dynamic range)
6. Rated for 4 ohm speakers
7. Spotty quality/reliability record (historically the last 3 - 4 years)
8. No option to pass through 4K signals
9. 2 year warranty
10. No main zone 12 triggers (zone's 2 and 3 only)
11. Amps are not fully re-assignable, only some fixed configuration options are available
12. No Airplay support
13. Second best video processing

1. Not THX certified (the absence of certification isn't meaningful, but the presence of certification is)
2. Better reputation for reliability/quality than Onkyo, but not as good as Pioneer
3. 4K pass through support
4. Three year warranty
5. Completely remappable amp assignments
6. More energy efficient amplifier circuits than Onkyo, but no where near as efficient as the Pioneer amps
7. Reputation for cutting out when driving difficult low impedance loads
8. Probably the best user community (lots of high tech fans)
9. Airplay support
10. Video processing is of high quality, but not as good as the Pioneer and Onkyo

Some of this is my opinion. Don't bother bringing out the flamethrowers, I'm wearing asbestos underwear eek.gif

rchwallace 11-22-2012 08:08 PM

Hey Great post...

I miss-read the 5010's site with regards to 4k, I saw it at the bottom but it is not pass through it is "upscale". I will have to do more research with regards to the video processing etc etc as it is important with all the elements besides the BD Player which are going to use it.

I did read on another post elsewhere that THX certification is something that the manufactures will need to pay for from the THX people. Basically it allows them to claim the performance of their unit but it is a cost which is taken on by the manufacturer which will of course need to be passed down to the consumer (us). It was indicated that it is quite possible if not most likely that other high end units (Denon in this case) will actually also meet or exceed the standards but have not sought the certification (and subsequently paid the royalties) so as a result cant put it in their documentation. (just for thought)

I really am not sure. Like I was saying before I have the Denon 4310 so upgrading to the 4520 seems simple in terms of what I can expect etc etc. I have read elsewhere that the Auddessy 32 is preferred shall we say by users that have experience with it so that would be the Denon or Onkyo... more research......

scbartling 11-22-2012 08:24 PM

You are right, the NR5010 supports upscaling to 4K from most video input sources. In fact, all three of the units will do this.

However, if you have a 4K video source, the AVR-4520CI and SC-68 will be able to pass that signal through to a 4K monitor, but the NR5010 can not pass it. The NR5010 can only receive and use inputs with 1080p or lower resolution. It is not future proof with respect to 4K source material.

You are right with respect to THX certification. While the presence of certification says something about the receiver capabilities, the absence of certification says nothing about the receiver. All we know is that the manufacturer did not want to pay for the certification and for the royalties for each unit. It is possible that the receiver would have met the standard if it had been tested. We simply don't know.

It is up to you to decide if the absence of certification is an issue. I look at it the other way around. Having the THS Ultra2 certification tells me that the receiver can achieve reference sound pressure levels (0db) in a 3000 cu ft room. Since I have an 8000+ cu ft room to fill with sound, the Ultra2 certification indicates that a receiver has a prayer of filling my room with sound at more reasonable volumes (-5 to -15db).

- Steven

rchwallace 11-22-2012 08:38 PM

All good thoughts.....

Looks to me like the Onkyo is out as I definitely want to future proof the AMP. Shame really as I was kind of leaning towards it. I am planning to add an OPPO BDP-103 as well so now I am wondering about how to pass the signal through the amp to the TV without any upscaling or interference from the unit. This way I get what I am after which is a single HDMI for 3d BD as well as the OSD for the amp.

I guess the Onkyo may not be out but I wanted to future proof the amp so it comes down to whether or not I think the price of TV's will come down from the 25k mark for 4k. I wont be able to switch to PJ for about 5 years so that is sort of out of the question as well for now so maybe the whole 4k thing for me is not as important as I think it is if I am not going to consider it for another 4-5yrs. But the TV's are supposed to be doubling for 3d output here soon as per my conversation in a local shop but he didnt tell me much about the technology or what I was looking at. I assumed this was the 4k entering into the consumer market.

Just out of curiosity have you looked at the NAD T787?

scbartling 11-22-2012 09:01 PM

The NAD 787 is a nice unit, but please note is has almost zero video processing. All video is passed through except for 480i which is upconverted to 480p. That's not all that big of a deal since most TV's have perfectly good video processing.

However, the spec doesn't say if the signal path will support the bandwidth needed to handle 2K (basically progressive scan 3D = 2X 1080p = 2K) or native 4K sources. Just supporting pass through doesn't imply that the unit is 4K pass through capable.

Otherwise, it is a fantastic unit with very high output drive capability.

It's also very expensive = $4000 MSRP (discounts are not deep on these puppies).

- Steven

rchwallace 11-22-2012 09:05 PM

Hmm, once again great thoughts....

I am thinking for myself anyway that if I get an OPPO 103 then maybe I am looking at that for the majority of my video upscaling and then I should basically pass it mostly through the amp. But then that would mean that I would need my BD Player on all the time for everything we watch. Not what I would think would be best for that unit. Anyway....

rchwallace 11-22-2012 09:14 PM

Just for info: I have noticed that both the Onkyo and the SC-68 use the Marvell Qdeo video chip which is the same as the OPPO 103 BD player. This is being rated as one of the best BD players out there because of its quality so I suspect then that the up-conversion and the like by these two units would be on par. I unfortunately cant find what the Video Codec Chip is for the Denon.

scbartling 11-22-2012 09:23 PM

That's a fair point. Most video sources can be processed by either the display unit or the unit generating the video (blu ray player). The processing in the receiver really isn't needed unless you have a lot of legacy A/V appliances using legacy interfaces (component, composite, S-video, etc) that need to be upscaled. In that case, the receiver processing is necessary to convert everything to hdmi and upscale it.

- Steven

rchwallace 11-22-2012 11:15 PM

Now, just cause you seem to be quite knowledgeable and are answering my posts wink.gif....

If I put my SAT TV HDMI through the AMP the video will upscale it will it not or will it only upscale it if I connect it through the analog connections?? If this is the case then I have vastly miss connected my system to benefit things like my SAT TV etc etc.

joerod 11-23-2012 02:36 AM

Originally Posted by rchwallace View Post

Just for info: I have noticed that both the Onkyo and the SC-68 use the Marvell Qdeo video chip which is the same as the OPPO 103 BD player. This is being rated as one of the best BD players out there because of its quality so I suspect then that the up-conversion and the like by these two units would be on par. I unfortunately cant find what the Video Codec Chip is for the Denon.

Read about it here. smile.gif


joerod 11-23-2012 02:38 AM

As for passing 4K I wouldn't worry about it. Blu ray 4K players will have dual Hdmi outs so that is irrelevant. All the ones that do up scale 4K do too.

scbartling 11-23-2012 10:48 AM

Thanks Joe Rod. I'll show my ignorance here. What are the connectivity/signalling requirement for 4K ? Does it require dual HDMI to handle the total bandwidth (data rate), or just one HDMI connection ?

As for rchwallace, I'm not sure I understand your question. Which receiver are you asking the question about ?

- Steven

rchwallace 11-23-2012 01:57 PM

Thanks for the post joerod excellent read and great find(or shall I say great article). I am now even more confident (I think that I will try a different amp than the Denon). I have ordered the OPPO 103 but dont want to run it all the time to upscale my various video feeds and definitely dont want to cross scale the feeds either (Denon and then OPPO). I would rather buy a unit that has an excellent video processor in it and then use that for SAT, Apple TV, Sat, Tivx, Standard BluRay.... this way my OPPO is used basically just for high quality movies. I might run the second BD Player (which is a Hong Kong region free player to play my non-north american DVD's) through the OPPO but that would I think be the extent of it.

As far as my question there scbartling, I kind of answered it myself after posting. I was wondering if (generally all recievers) were doing any upscaling of the HDMI video source. Basically if I understand it correctly the answer is yes for all threee that we are looking at. The one thing I have learned is that the Pioneer has the ability to fine tune each individual video feed/source which is running through it allowing you to fine tune the video to get the best results for all of the HDMI inputs. This seems to me like a huge advantage.

I have not done much more research, one more SIM tomorrow and then I will be hard looking into the various units and whatever I can find.


Edit: realized that joerod wrote the article linked.... nice job.

PS. joerod: as I sated above I like your review but am not sure about the 4520 for the reasons stated... I dont want to run the 103 all the time as a dedicated video upscaler. Comments: PM if you like. The more I look at the moment the more I am leaning towards the SC-68.

rchwallace 11-23-2012 02:00 PM


Just for info in case you have not seen it... scroll down to the $2000>

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