AV Receivers: Cambridge Audio Azure 551R vs Rotel RSX-1560 - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 13 Old 07-29-2013, 07:33 AM - Thread Starter
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Hey guys, I am looking for a new AV receiver as I am fed up with Denon notoriously bad sounding and under-powered stuff and am looking for a replacement in one of these two: Cambridge Audio Azure 551R vs Rotel RSX-1560.

I can get either for a similar price of 1000-1200€. I know the Rotel is usually more expensive, but that does not mean it has to be necessarily better sounding.

I am looking for a reply from someone who heard either, preferably both. I can also get a NAD T757 for the same price, but I read on many sites from people who heard the NAD and CA 551R that the Cambridge is far better sounding, so the NAD is off the short list.

Thanks!

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post #2 of 13 Old 07-29-2013, 09:05 AM
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I would reckon to jack up your budget slightly and go for Azur 651R. IMO 551R is not worth it. I have no direct experience with rotel, but I can compare CA with denon, onkyo, and yamaha. I am using CA Azur 751R and it is a fantastic receiver and beats all those receivers hands down in terms of audio performance.

651R and 751R are essentially the same with some minor differences. Anyway, if pure sound and video are your requirements; be ready for extreme a/v experience. So, go for 651R instead; if at all you buy CA.

Also note that CA customer services is terrible but the product is worth buying. Which speakers are you using btw?

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post #3 of 13 Old 07-29-2013, 09:20 AM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by braveheart123 View Post

I would reckon to jack up your budget slightly and go for Azur 651R. IMO 551R is not worth it. I have no direct experience with rotel, but I can compare CA with denon, onkyo, and yamaha. I am using CA Azur 751R and it is a fantastic receiver and beats all those receivers hands down in terms of audio performance.

651R and 751R are essentially the same with some minor differences. Anyway, if pure sound and video are your requirements; be ready for extreme a/v experience. So, go for 651R instead; if at all you buy CA.

Also note that CA customer services is terrible but the product is worth buying. Which speakers are you using btw?

Hey there braveheart123,

thank you for your recommendation! I think 651R is twice the price but hey, good to know it is worth it!

Sorry for this, but I totally forgot to write one more important thing!!! I cannot stand my AVR in black, that is why I went for the 551R, cause that one they offer in silver too. I know, it is shallow, but aesthetics matter to me. So the 651R is unfortunately not an option.

I will be driving the KEF AV100 package, which is 4xQ100, 1xQ200c, 1xQ400b in 5.1.

However, I read a lot of good about the 551R! Many pleasant reviews! Denon really is no comparison.

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post #4 of 13 Old 07-29-2013, 10:14 AM
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Those KEFs are not terribly efficient with only around 85dB sensitivity. Azur 551R is 60 wpc at 8 ohms. Now it will be perfectly fine for this combo to work if you watch movies at moderate listening levels. If you crank it hard, 551R will struggle.

Remember speaker sensitivity drops by 6dB for every doubling of distance. So, if your MLP is 10 feet away from the front stage; 1 watt of amplifier power will produce roughly 73dB of SPL from these KEFs at the main listening position. 551R can only push your speakers to 91dB during dynamic peaks, which is way too lower than the movie reference of 105dB. Your subwoofer will drown the response of your speakers. You may loose detail, clarity, and channel separation at high volumes. 551R will simply clip the signal without the aid of an external amplifier.

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post #5 of 13 Old 07-30-2013, 08:52 AM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by braveheart123 View Post

Those KEFs are not terribly efficient with only around 85dB sensitivity. Azur 551R is 60 wpc at 8 ohms. Now it will be perfectly fine for this combo to work if you watch movies at moderate listening levels. If you crank it hard, 551R will struggle.

Remember speaker sensitivity drops by 6dB for every doubling of distance. So, if your MLP is 10 feet away from the front stage; 1 watt of amplifier power will produce roughly 73dB of SPL from these KEFs at the main listening position. 551R can only push your speakers to 91dB during dynamic peaks, which is way too lower than the movie reference of 105dB. Your subwoofer will drown the response of your speakers. You may loose detail, clarity, and channel separation at high volumes. 551R will simply clip the signal without the aid of an external amplifier.

Hi braveheart,

the CA 551R is rated at 60W/8Ohm in 7.1. I will be driving only 5.1 so the redistributed power is a bit higher. Yes, the Uni-Q speaker drivers are a bit less sensitive. I live in a building where listening to reference volume is out of the question so max SPL is not really my concern. I am rather interested in the ability of the amp to drive the speakers well at low volume.

How do you mean the sub will drown the response of the speakers? Can you kindly explain?

Thanks

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post #6 of 13 Old 07-30-2013, 02:38 PM
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Even in 5.1 configuration, it's only 68 wpc. You need double the amplifier power in order to get just a 3dB increase, so 8 extra watts are worth a grain of salt. Like I said before, you will be perfectly fine at moderate listening levels. Since you say you want performance at low volumes, so you are pretty much covered on that account.

About the sub drowning the mains bit....I was referring to listening at high volumes. Since your AVR will struggle with your current speakers at high volumes, your subwoofer is a powered one with its own dedicated internal amplification. So, while your speakers may not get enough wattage from the AVR at higher volumes; your sub may still be gaining on SPL. Hence, it will over power your mains at high volume. Keep another thing in mind......a subwoofer has more room gain compared to speakers coz of longer wavelengths of bass frequencies.

But there should be no problem at low volumes, which basically is your requirement.

So, you are good to go.

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post #7 of 13 Old 08-02-2013, 10:49 AM - Thread Starter
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Hey guys,

so, my KEF AV100 arrived today. I hooked them up to my Denon AVR-2113 and boy was that a bad idea. It sounds like rubbish. Honestly, the Denon was my worst purchase ever.

But my new Cambridge Audio 551R arrived just now and I cannot wait to test it out and compare to the Denon! I tried my NAD C320 and the Q100 sound amazing! Slightly different to my LS50 but really beautiful sound. BTW, braveheart, my NAD C320 is rated at only 35W but it seems to have like 10x the power of the Denon. At half volume it is so loud I cannot go any louder, but still unbelievably clear and clean. I hope the Cambridge sounds like that but only in 5.1 biggrin.gif

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post #8 of 13 Old 08-02-2013, 12:47 PM
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NAD is very conservative when it comes to stating their specs. They always over-achieve. I'm not surprised that you hated Denon with those speakers. Btw, I have auditioned NAD T787 and CA sounded better to me. Um sure you will not regret the purchase. NAD is a great AVR too, though. I love their M25 amp.
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post #9 of 13 Old 08-02-2013, 12:52 PM
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Quote:
BTW, braveheart, my NAD C320 is rated at only 35W but it seems to have like 10x the power of the Denon.

Yes that's because NAD always publishes full disclosure power with all channels driven from 20hz to 20,000Hz and also coz it has toroidal class a/b transformer.
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post #10 of 13 Old 09-09-2013, 04:47 AM - Thread Starter
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Hey guys,

sorry for my long delay in posting a comparative comment I promised earlier.

OK, so, me and my friends did a comparison of the Denon AVR-2113 and the Cambridge Azure 551R and my old trusty NAD C320.

We compared all of them with speakers: KEF Q100, Kef LS50, Yamaha NS 333 and Dali Icon 2. The purpose was to compare all the amps and also the speakers with amps and their optimum combinations and also compare the speakers and specifically with the Denon, compare each Audyssey listening mode combination.

We compared them at two listening levels 75 and 95db. So that they are comparable. Sometimes when you hear a louder sound it may fool you into thinking it is better as well.

RESULTS:
1/ Audyssey

- Now this was a very funny thing. Would you have guessed that the receiver actually sounds best with the Audyssey turned off? Yes it does. We tried all combinations the AVR offers, but at the end of the day it sounded at its best, clearest and most accurate when switched into pure mode with everything else turned off.

2/ Results for the amps:

- At the 75db listening volume, all the amps were pretty much the same, only minor differences and among the 4 of us each one preferred a different amp sound.
To my ears CA souded the most clear and NAD most muffled. Denon had a good balance. Also, none of the speakers seemed to not fit any of the amps.

- At 95db everything changed. Where to start? Ok, first, NAD seems to roll of and smooth the treble a bit, this does miracles for LS50s. The CA has the cleares and purest treble of all. Denon is a tough cookie. The NAD plays at 95db at about half of its power, CA at about 60% but Denon at 95%. Simply, this much volume, even at stereo is too much for it. The sound was dry, lifeless, muffled, blurred even. Yes, it was loud, but that was it. It was very unenjoyable. Now, each Both the NAD and CA sounded amazing but, each sounded better with different speakers. Which brings me to...

3/ Speaker results:

- If I were to give the best combination that I enjoyed, it would be the LS50 with the NAD tied with Dali Icon 2 with CA. Each had its different strengths. The KEF/NAD combination had an amazingly palpably real mid-range. The sax was just THERE, you could almost touch it. On the other hand the Dali/CA has so much clarity in the treble, especially cymbals, it was ecstatic! I could not chose which I like better, because both excelled in their own right.


Now, let me get to the 551R specifically, as this is the receiver I chose at the end of the day to keep (and get rid of my Denon).

I have been living with it for over a month now, I have it hooked to my KEF AV100 5.1. Sources are my HTPC, PS3, wii and Denon DBT-1713UD universal player.
The 551R does a couple of things right and there are some issues as well. Let me start with issues first.

The AVR has issues with stereo 24bit/192khz audio. What happens is that the sound is output through all channels (weird) and the sound is distorted. There is no fix for this, only to use analogue in or 5.1 input. Second issue is maintaining a stable connection with PCs. Both Ati and nvidia have issues maintaining a stable hdmi handshake. The funny thing is that it is OK for the video part, but audio jets disconnected and re-connected. This issue is solved by outputing DTS or DD. Then it does not disconnect. Also if you set the PC output to 5.1/7.1 other than 24bit 96 or higher, it is also fine. Again, I think this is an issue with how the AVR handles 24bit hight res audio. But, this issue is only with PCs. Standalone players have no issue, only the 24/192 issue I mentioned earlier.

Let's get to the good stuff. I have to say, this is the most powerful AVR I have heard at home. Despite the very modest specs, it outperforms any mainstream brand I ever used, like Denon, Onkyo, etc.
The sound is so powerful and there is so much overhead that with my Q series KEF speakers I can go way beyond what is safe for my hearing. The sound has so much dynamism, it can go from calm to blasting very flexibly, it really is the first time I ever had this realistic cinema experience at home. It really is this clear power that makes all the difference for a home cinema. None of the Audyssey tricks ever did anything close to this.

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post #11 of 13 Old 11-04-2013, 03:17 PM
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Thanks, techblogpool, for the info! I'm trying to chose between the top of the line NAD, Yamaha and Cambridge Audio receivers and your thoughts were very valuable.

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post #12 of 13 Old 11-04-2013, 07:06 PM
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The 551R does a couple of things right and there are some issues as well. Let me start with issues first.

Let me point out one important issue that you either forgot to mention or did not observe. CA receivers have a really hard time locking onto the incoming digital audio signal over any of the inputs. Consequently, when listening to CDs, the first second or two get chopped off. Sometimes, this can happen with every single track on the CD. The same thing happens when signal resolution changes over HDMI, e.g., when watching TV and either changing channels or watching commercials during a regular show.

Here's a thread that discusses this issue:

http://www.avsforum.com/t/1497675/optical-audio-glitch-with-cambridge-audio-receiver

Your receiver is a newer model; however, this problem tends to be endemic with certain brands (Sherbourn, Harman Kardon, NuForce), and newer generations may not fix it. Can you listen to some CDs and let us know if CA 551R takes a while to lock onto the incoming digital audio signal?
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post #13 of 13 Old 11-15-2013, 12:44 PM - Thread Starter
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Let me point out one important issue that you either forgot to mention or did not observe. CA receivers have a really hard time locking onto the incoming digital audio signal over any of the inputs. Consequently, when listening to CDs, the first second or two get chopped off. Sometimes, this can happen with every single track on the CD. The same thing happens when signal resolution changes over HDMI, e.g., when watching TV and either changing channels or watching commercials during a regular show.

Here's a thread that discusses this issue:

http://www.avsforum.com/t/1497675/optical-audio-glitch-with-cambridge-audio-receiver

Your receiver is a newer model; however, this problem tends to be endemic with certain brands (Sherbourn, Harman Kardon, NuForce), and newer generations may not fix it. Can you listen to some CDs and let us know if CA 551R takes a while to lock onto the incoming digital audio signal?

Hi there dsv5,

yes, you are right, the CA has locking "issues" which are unfortunately not uncommon among AVRs. My personal experience is such that when I turn on my universay player and the AVR and hit play, it takes about 2 seconds till the lock is achieved. As a result, about 1 second is cut from the beginning of the 1st track. When I hit "back" to play the song again, the lock is maintained and no music is cut. Also, the lock is maintained between tracks. The only issue thus is at the beginning of the first track but I sort of got used to it and I hit play and pause and wait for the lock and then hit play again. It has become second nature. biggrin.gif

Hope this helped,


Martin

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