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post #1 of 5 Old 01-24-2013, 08:19 AM - Thread Starter
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I've been holding on to my ancient Denon AVR-3801 (the first 7.1 receiver...) for a veeeeery long time now and my plans to upgrade to the 4311 just didn't come to fruition.

One of the reasons for that is that I have in fact no use for all the source switching prowess of a receiver and find mindself wondering whether there are no cheaper alternatives instead of blowing cash on things I do not really need?
You see, I'm a HTPC kind of guy and don't find myself confronted with an abundant amount of sources I want to hook-up to my receiver.
I only have one, the HTPC, that does my Sat reception, has my video and audio library and can handle pretty much anything else I throw at it.

That's why I played around with the idea of just having my HTPC as the decoder for all DD/DTS related formats instead of bitstreaming it to my receiver. Granted, the sound quality would suffer unless I was to invest in a pricey (external for crosstalk avoidance purposes) soundcard, but more crucially the thing I found lacking compared to simply buying a new receiver was the fact that I could not get automated room calibration such as Audyssey.

Things have now gotten a bit more complicated due to the fact that I turned the HTPC more into a server and decided to only have a Mede8er MED1000X3D mediaplayer in my home theater. This effectively gives me the opportunity to stream everything (including 3D iso's and my SAT streams) I could possibly want to watch in my home theater to that room from my server. This also means however, that bitstreaming is once again a necessity since I will have to feed my HDMI-out from my Mede8er to a receiver... And then I'm back to square one since the only source that will ever be hooked up to the receiver will be the mede8er and I think that is just such a waste... :S

The question then is: isn't there anything out there that only accepts a limited amount of inputs (thereby driving down the price), still has automated room calibration (preferably Audyssey, but I'm sure they don't have something like that) and where I can simply use my 3801 relic as amp-section-only?
Something like the latest Outlaw prepro was heading in the right direction, but they didn't include any room calibration dagnabbit... Otherwise that would have been an easy call to make at least for my situation.

I guess the only real alternative is to go the manual route with calibration, but I just don't have the time to invest in that.
Other pre-processors are as expensive or more expensive than their receiver counterparts, so in that case I might aswell go for the receiver.

I can't imagine I'm the only one who is in this kind of situation and while I realise that the price for a receiver is made up out of more than just the source-switching part, I find that things such as video-upscaling, Sirius, DLNA, whatever, really does not add much to warrant the investment.

Now if only this post could convince the people from Audyssey to make a limited-source, no-frills prepro with MultEQ XT32 in the Outlaw price-range biggrin.gif
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post #2 of 5 Old 01-24-2013, 08:24 AM
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Welcome to the middle range blues. What you want is an advanced pre/pro, but they cost a lot. The processing electronics you need are available in low-mid range receivers, but most of those don't support the pre-outs needed to drive external amplifiers, although it seems reasonable to believe that the appropriate level of signal is sitting there on some set of contacts inside the box.

It comes down to the size of the market. LOTS of people buy receivers, few buy dedicated preamp/processors, and the prices reflect this.

Just for the record, my recently acquired 3312CI is being used in a hybrid mode, driving four surround channels with its own amplifiers and sending the sound for the left, center, right channels to my fairly ancient 4802R, which is acting like a deficient power amp in much the same capacity as you're considering for your 3801.

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post #3 of 5 Old 01-24-2013, 08:38 AM
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It's actually cheaper for the manufacturers to amke a one-size-fits-all device than separately design, tool up for, make smaller runs of, and separately certify for each country's electrical powers that be (UL in the US) 2, 4 or 10 different receivers that have slightly different connections/software, etc. My WAG is that the cost of all those connections you won't use, for all of the 4311 receivers they sold, is less than the cost of getting a separate UL listing for multiple models. So leaving manufacturing efficiencies aside, you'd have a unit with a higher (or as high) intrinsic cost to the manufacturer, and would pay exactly the same, or more, for the unit with less unneeded cr@p. Welcome to the real world.
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post #4 of 5 Old 01-25-2013, 03:25 AM - Thread Starter
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Hey JD and JHAz,

@JD: Well there are also some things missing in the lower-end receivers that I would like to see in 'my' prepro unfortunately. So to me it's not just a question of the lower end recievers not having pre-outs. MultEQ XT32 comes to mind: to get that at this point in time, you have to shell out for the top of the range receivers... frown.gif

@JHAz I still believe there is room in the market for someone to focus on this type of minimalist device. It doesn't have to be a range of devices with varying input/output selection, I agree that would be prohibitively expensive to manufacture, market and distribute, but rather the device should have a good cross-section of most-used options.

For the sake of continuing my daydream cool.gif, my vote would go out to the following:
- Your common array of DTS/DD audio decoders
- Good not superduperexpensive DACs (think Denon AVR-4520 style)
- 11.2 pre-outs
- MultEQ XT32
- Dual HDMI 1.4a output (for monitor purpose in a projection environment)
- 1 HDMI input would suffice for me, but I would understand people wanting a couple more wink.gif
- No analogue inputs for me thx, but again I suppose we could include 1 set just for legacy purposes smile.gif
- Definitely no analogue outputs (S-Vid, composite)!
- No component inputs or outputs
- No multichannel Ext-inputs
- No amps
- No multizone stuff
- No video-upscaling
- Optional: Network port, but only for the sake of remote controlling. No need for DLNA or other streaming solutions, (airplay, spotify, flickr, whathaveyou...)
- Optional: coax and/or optical connection.
- Pricepoint: between 600 and 1000$

Or if I'm taking it even further out there, what about a completely modular system?
The AV input section can be readily bought. All you need is something with 1 HDMI-out and your flavor of inputs, which you can hook-up to the HDMI-in of the decoding&roomcorrection module wich leads in turn to your amp-section via its pre-outs where the amps obviously take the signal out to the speakers.
That's basically disecting a receiver into not just a prepro but one step further. This would also allow me to only need the second module biggrin.gif
Personally I would only need item 1 through 6 on the above list: a box with one HDMI-in, 2 HDMI-out and decoding and roomcorrection ability.

The benefit for people would be tremendous:
If their sources change: just move towards another switcher.
If new sound formats come up: replace the decoder/roomcorrection module
Moved to a bigger room: beef up the amp section.

I can imagine receiver manufacturers shuddering at the thought as they would not sell nearly as many receivers due to this flexible upgrade path.

If you do need a video scaler, then you can simply inject it between your AV switcher 2 or in my case between my source and module 2 or just put it at the end of the chain. Lots of good choices already exist there if I'm not mistaken.

Ah well... JHAz, you're probably right anyway: nothing but a pipedream...
But still, I think it holds merit! wink.gif
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post #5 of 5 Old 01-25-2013, 03:55 AM
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Yes, that sounds like it would be awesome. In today's world it would be very expensive to play in that realm, but who knows what tomorrow will bring? Fully modular subcomponent stereo systems would lead to all kinds of wonderful discussions about whether one can hear the difference between interconnects, too. biggrin.gif

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