Originally Posted by ruadmaa
I highly suspect that if I had your Arcam in my living room I would notice none of these differences that you mention. I have often heard how BRIGHT Yamaha receivers were, yet I have had several of them and have yet to notice any brightness whatsoever.
Originally Posted by mgkdragn
In blind listening tests, no one has been able to differentiate the sound of one AVR over another .. room treatments and speakers have the most effect on set up ..
The differences are slight between AVRs, but they are real. But this is a complex subject. Your speakers and the recordings you listen to are going to dictate the overall character of sound you hear, so you may not notice the slight character the AVR brings to the equation. Also, if you don't have the ability to do quick switching, I could very well see the differences between AVRs becoming lost.
Not too long ago, I did a blind test between several AVRs at the local AV store with the salesman doing the switching. First up was the Denon AVR4310 vs the Arcam AVR500, connected to Monitor Audio RX8s. Listening was done blind with instant switching between the two performed by the salesman. Within just a couple of switches back and forth, I was surprised to clearly and easily hear a difference, and it was always in favor of the Arcam. The Arcam sounded fuller and more harmonically complete while the Denon sounded comparatively thin and electronic.
In next demo room over, I listened to the Denon AVR5308, the Arcam AVR600, the Primare SPA22 AVR, and the Primare SP32 / Primare 5CH amp. This time the gear was powering Martin Logan Vistas and later a pair of Sonus Faber Liutos. Testing was still blind and the salesman did the switching on command.
The first comparison was between the Denon AVR5308 and the Primare SPA22 AVR. Again the differences were easily noticeable and easily repeatable. However, much to my surprise I consistently chose the Denon as my favorite between these two. The 5308 sounded much like the Arcam in the previous room. Nicely fleshed out, smooth and balanced. The Primare sounded mid-forward and borderline brash at times. I wasn't expecting that considering what I've read about the Primare house sound.
Then I compared the Denon AVR5308 to the Arcam AVR600. This was a closer call and I had to take a break to clear my mind about 15 minutes in. During the first listening session I flip-flopped between the two as to which I preferred. They both sounded quite good, but one sounded more forward through the upper mids, and a bit more "open". The other in comparison was either neutral or a little recessed though the mids depending on the song. When I came back from the break, my preference became clear when I chose music tracks that already had good presence through the mids. On these tracks the forward/open AVR became a bit aggressive. This turned out to be the Arcam AVR600. The bass on the Denon was also fuller, warmer. I could see someone picking either of these depending on the type of sound they were after but I preferred the slightly laid-back, richer bass presentation of the Denon. It sounded less forced to me.
Finally I listened the Primare separates vs the Denon 5308. Again, no contest, I always chose the Denon. The Primare still sounded forward / brash through the mids.
In the end though, I agree that there are usually bigger fish to fry for most people.