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Receiver vs. Preamp + amp

post #1 of 86
Thread Starter 
Hello all

I'm planning to build a new home theater system

I'm trying to decide what to get, a receiver or a preamp + amp combo

A preamp and amp combo costs more than a receiver, but if the watts per
channel are the same (or sometimes more in the case of a receiver), what are the advantages of getting the combo?

example:

preamp 7 x 140W Continuous Power

vs

receiver: 160 watts per channel

I'm getting a pair of Polk Audio speakers, Rtia9 and a pair of Fxia6 and
a Csia6

I would appreciate any feedback

Thanks
post #2 of 86
Personally I'd get the best avr I could afford, something like the denon 4311 and then decide later if I needed to add separate amps. The room correction processing on most avr's is far superior to stand alone preamps, as well as being more flexible in my opinion.
post #3 of 86
My understanding is that the room correction is the same with a high end receiver, except the pre-amp processor might have the 'pro' version. The big advantage is getting a separate amplifier which will outperform any amp section stuffed into a receiver. The receiver may be rated at 140/channel but will never be able to achieve this with 7 channels, or have the dynamics of an amp doing it.

But I would stay away from multi channel amps from Onkyo/Integra or Marantz. They all make good pre-amp processors though. The question is what size is your room and are you going with a 5 speaker or 7 speaker system?
post #4 of 86
Quote:
Originally Posted by runnin' View Post

My understanding is that the room correction is the same with a high end receiver, except the pre-amp processor might have the 'pro' version. The big advantage is getting a separate amplifier which will outperform any amp section stuffed into a receiver. The receiver may be rated at 140/channel but will never be able to achieve this with 7 channels, or have the dynamics of an amp doing it.

But I would stay away from multi channel amps from Onkyo/Integra or Marantz. They all make good pre-amp processors though. The question is what size is your room and are you going with a 5 speaker or 7 speaker system?

The Denon 4311 can use Audyssey Pro. Well you'd still need to buy the license and microphone kit to use Pro. But XT32 is still pretty damn good by itself. I'd recommend getting it than deciding whether or not you need a separate amp.
post #5 of 86
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by runnin' View Post

My understanding is that the room correction is the same with a high end receiver, except the pre-amp processor might have the 'pro' version. The big advantage is getting a separate amplifier which will outperform any amp section stuffed into a receiver. The receiver may be rated at 140/channel but will never be able to achieve this with 7 channels, or have the dynamics of an amp doing it.

But I would stay away from multi channel amps from Onkyo/Integra or Marantz. They all make good pre-amp processors though. The question is what size is your room and are you going with a 5 speaker or 7 speaker system?

Hi and thank you for your response,

the area is approximately 40 sqm., and it'll be a 5 speaker set up for now,
although I obviously want the receiver/amp+preamp combo to be ready
in the future, in case I need to add another pair

Please forgive my ignorance, but when you say that a receiver won't be able to achieve the hypothetical 140w/channel, what do you mean exactly?

Regards
post #6 of 86
Quote:
Originally Posted by theblademan View Post

Hello all

I'm planning to build a new home theater system

I'm trying to decide what to get, a receiver or a preamp + amp combo

A preamp and amp combo costs more than a receiver, but if the watts per
channel are the same (or sometimes more in the case of a receiver), what are the advantages of getting the combo?

example:

preamp 7 x 140W Continuous Power

vs

receiver: 160 watts per channel

I'm getting a pair of Polk Audio speakers, Rtia9 and a pair of Fxia6 and
a Csia6

I would appreciate any feedback

Thanks

Manufactures power ratings, usually Watts/Channel, is an "almost" a meaningless number to compare. I am trying to keep this very short. Very rarely are you comparing apples to apples, you need to be very careful with this comparison. Dig deep, read up (a plethora of useful info on AVS), determine your needs now & in the future, and have fun doing so (you will learn a lot).
post #7 of 86
I agree, get an AVR such as the Denon 4311 or Anthem MRX series. Pick one based on the features you want/need. The amps will most likely be adequate for at least the surrounds, if not all of your speakers. You can always buy a 2 or 3 channel amp for the LCR if you need it. It all depends on the sensitivity of your speakers, the size of your room, how far you sit from the mains and how loud you like to listen. Remember you have to double the power for each 3db extra volume you want.
There's just no good reason I see to get a separate pre/pro, there's little to no added value until you start spending big bucks. The receivers are a better deal because of economies of scale.
post #8 of 86
I added amps to a Yamaha RX-Z7, and did not notice a difference in sound quality. That suggests you can live with a receiver alone. Note that the Z7 was the most expensive Yamaha at that point in time (but cheaper models probably work as well, up to a point.)
post #9 of 86
If you want a receiver with lots of REAL power AND the best sound quality of any receiver on the market, you want the Cambridge 650R. It is rated to put out 100 watts per channel with all 7 channels driven; the only receiver I know of that can make that claim.

It also allows you to biamp the front 2 speakers with the unused channels when running 5.1 or 5.2, which gives you 200 watts per channel for the front two.

Home Theater tested it and concluded that it has the best sound quality of any receiver on the market, and that is my opinion also. You should read that article.

There are a bunch of receivers selling for $3000 or so that can't touch it, and it is only $1800.



Quote:
Originally Posted by theblademan View Post

Hi and thank you for your response,

the area is approximately 40 sqm., and it'll be a 5 speaker set up for now,
although I obviously want the receiver/amp+preamp combo to be ready
in the future, in case I need to add another pair

Please forgive my ignorance, but when you say that a receiver won't be able to achieve the hypothetical 140w/channel, what do you mean exactly?

Regards
post #10 of 86
Sadly, Cambridge equipment does not yet include any room equalization capability. External EQ can be quite expensive.

You'll pay at least a 50% premium for pre/pro + amps with the same capabilities and quality as a good AVR like the 4311. Still, there are reasons other than just audio quality for getting separates. You'll have to decide if they matter to you. Many people like the Integra DTC 80.3 pre/pro, for example, which can be quite effective when teamed with Emotiva (or your other favorite) amps.

Don't forget that you should be spending at least 2/3 of your budget on quality speakers.
post #11 of 86
Quote:
Originally Posted by selden ball View Post

sadly, cambridge equipment does not yet include any room equalization capability. External eq can be quite expensive.

You'll pay at least a 50% premium for pre/pro + amps with the same capabilities and quality as a good avr like the 4311. Still, there are reasons other than just audio quality for getting separates. You'll have to decide if they matter to you. Many people like the integra dtc 80.3 pre/pro, for example, which can be quite effective when teamed with emotiva (or your other favorite) amps.

Don't forget that you should be spending at least 2/3 of your budget on quality speakers.

+1
post #12 of 86
Thread Starter 
Hi guys and thanks for the responses

I've heard good things about the 4311 and I'm going to check it out

How does the Onkyo txnr3009 compare to it?

Heard any feedback?

Regards to all
post #13 of 86
Quote:
Originally Posted by commsysman View Post

If you want a receiver with lots of REAL power AND the best sound quality of any receiver on the market, you want the Cambridge 650R. It is rated to put out 100 watts per channel with all 7 channels driven; the only receiver I know of that can make that claim.

Good grief, would you stop shilling for that Cambridge AVR in nearly every single thread? Frankly, you are becoming a joke.

And you do not even have your facts straight. The Cambridge AVR cannot hit 100 W/ch with seven channels driven unless measured up to 1% THD. Several Onkyo/Integra and Pioneer AVRs can do so at less than 0.1% THD.

AJ
post #14 of 86
^+1
Quote:


Receiver
"If you want a receiver with lots of REAL power AND the best sound quality of any receiver on the market, you want the Cambridge 650R. It is rated to put out 100 watts per channel with all 7 channels driven; the only receiver I know of that can make that claim.

It also allows you to biamp the front 2 speakers with the unused channels when running 5.1 or 5.2, which gives you 200 watts per channel for the front two.

Home Theater tested it and concluded that it has the best sound quality of any receiver on the market, and that is my opinion also. You should read that article.

There are a bunch of receivers selling for $3000 or so that can't touch it, and it is only $1800."

The abuse of a 'canned comment' drags a thread down, not to mention ones' creditability.
post #15 of 86
Quote:
Originally Posted by theblademan View Post

Hi guys and thanks for the responses

I've heard good things about the 4311 and I'm going to check it out

How does the Onkyo txnr3009 compare to it?

Heard any feedback?

Regards to all

They have similar sound quality. Use features set to chhose what you want more. Also keep in mind that Onkyo has major quality problems in the last few years. I do not know if they solve them now.
post #16 of 86
Quote:
Originally Posted by ap1 View Post

They have similar sound quality. Use features set to chhose what you want more. Also keep in mind that Onkyo has major quality problems in the last few years. I do not know if they solve them now.

Not everyone has a problem with their onkyo, but there are threads with the few unlucky ones making it seem bigger than it really is. Which is a good reason not to buy a refurbished unit. Some will say other wise..
post #17 of 86
Quote:
Originally Posted by MichaelJHuman View Post

I added amps to a Yamaha RX-Z7, and did not notice a difference in sound quality. That suggests you can live with a receiver alone. Note that the Z7 was the most expensive Yamaha at that point in time (but cheaper models probably work as well, up to a point.)

finally someone pointing out the truth!!!

I added a $4k amp to my Denon 3810 - no difference whatsoever in SQ.

Whoever tells you differently is either a dreamer or a salesperson.

I you get separates do it for other reasons.

Don't waste your money
post #18 of 86
Quote:
Originally Posted by commsysman View Post

If you want a receiver with lots of REAL power AND the best sound quality of any receiver on the market, you want the Cambridge 650R. It is rated to put out 100 watts per channel with all 7 channels driven; the only receiver I know of that can make that claim.

It also allows you to biamp the front 2 speakers with the unused channels when running 5.1 or 5.2, which gives you 200 watts per channel for the front two.

Home Theater tested it and concluded that it has the best sound quality of any receiver on the market, and that is my opinion also. You should read that article.

There are a bunch of receivers selling for $3000 or so that can't touch it, and it is only $1800.

do you work for Cambridge ? are you at all connected with their products (distribution, retail) ??
post #19 of 86
I am not saying that no one will benefit from external amps, to make that clear. I can only related my own experience with the Z7.
post #20 of 86
What I noticed when adding an ATI 2007 is that the harshness which bothered me so much with the Denon 4311ci amps disappeared and that details and sounds seemed to spring from my surrounds.

Could be psychological....I don't know...but I like my system now.
post #21 of 86
Quote:
Originally Posted by windwaves View Post

finally someone pointing out the truth!!!

I added a $4k amp to my Denon 3810 - no difference whatsoever in SQ.

Whoever tells you differently is either a dreamer or a salesperson.

I you get separates do it for other reasons.

Don't waste your money

Needing an amp comes down to SPL requirements that you want at the listening position. In a treated room you can lose 6db for doubling of distance starting at one meter. You also can lose 3 to 9db for power compression. If you are listening at 13' in a treated room and have 3db of power compression then that takes a lot of wattage to make up for. So in that same room if you want a system that can play clean (3db headroom) reference peaks and your speakers are 90db sensitive. You are going to need a speaker that can reproduce 117db at one meter so that you get 105db peaks at the listening position. That right there knocks most speakers out of the running. Anyway if the speaker could take the wattage to reproduce 117db then the speaker would need to be feed more than 500 watts.

It all comes down to what goals you are trying to achieve with your system. Clean reference levels is a tough goal to achieve and most do not achieve it. If it is harsh or hard on your ears when you have the volume level at 0 (reference level) then you probably are not playing clean and/or have a reflective room.
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post #22 of 86
Quote:
Originally Posted by Glashub View Post

What I noticed when adding an ATI 2007 is that the harshness which bothered me so much with the Denon 4311ci amps disappeared and that details and sounds seemed to spring from my surrounds.

Could be psychological....I don't know...but I like my system now.

As I recall, some ATI amps have relatively high gain (32 dB) on the RCA inputs. When you installed the amp, did you recalibrate appropriately?

AJ
post #23 of 86
Quote:
Originally Posted by windwaves View Post

finally someone pointing out the truth!!!

I added a $4k amp to my Denon 3810 - no difference whatsoever in SQ.

Whoever tells you differently is either a dreamer or a salesperson.

I you get separates do it for other reasons.

Don't waste your money

A mind is like a parachute...it works best when its open. I have problems with people who box close others into categories. It would be like me writing that people who make statements like yours are either legends in their own minds or a** h****!

Provide proof that a 4K amp made no diffewrence or your statement is no more meaningful than some saying it did.
post #24 of 86
Quote:
Originally Posted by Glashub View Post


A mind is like a parachute...it works best when its open. I have problems with people who box close others into categories. It would be like me writing that people who make statements like yours are either legends in their own minds or a** h****!

Provide proof that a 4K amp made no diffewrence or your statement is no more meaningful than some saying it did.

Why don't you provide proof that it did for you instead of stating your opinions on the new sound? (Don't take it the wrong way. Just not good at asking nicely hahah)
post #25 of 86
look at the size of the toroidal transformer(s) and capacitors in an amplifier, then compare them to the ones in the AV receiver with a similar power output rating. You'll notice that they are typically much larger in the stand-alone amplifier if the amplifier is of any decent quality. The stand-alone amp will also typically out-weigh the entire AVR. This is for good reason. The stand-alone amplifier is able to deliver a lot more sustained, and cleaner power than an AV receiver can. Besides, even at pretty loud volumes, you're usually using less than 5 watts of power output anyway, so don't worry so much about how much power the numbers say uou get, and worry more about how good the product is made that's delivering that power.
post #26 of 86
Quote:
Originally Posted by WiWavelength View Post

As I recall, some ATI amps have relatively high gain (32 dB) on the RCA inputs. When you installed the amp, did you recalibrate appropriately?

AJ

Yep! I think it's the Emo's that have the high gain. Oh well. You know what's interesting? Prior to the recession many, many people were into amps and built a body of evidence and support for them. Since the recession everyone is against amps.

Do you think if money was flowing free and easy again people would buy amps rather than relying on and rationalizing for the internal amps of a reciever?

Please note this is not directed at you...I'm just asking.
post #27 of 86
Did you say 40 Sq meters? if that's a room of 20 m x 20 m, you will probably want to consider separate amps and plenty of speakers.

separate or additional amps. Likely to need multiple/redundant speakers to get the sound out effectively. Possibly look into some high efficiency designs as well.
post #28 of 86
Quote:
Originally Posted by pokekevin View Post

Why don't you provide proof that it did for you instead of stating your opinions on the new sound? (Don't take it the wrong way. Just not good at asking nicely hahah)

Dude, your post is meaningless. I made it clear that it could be psychological. But I don't put people in boxes for what they believe and dismiss them. Don't take it the wrong way...I'm just saying you and him should have a beer together.
post #29 of 86
Quote:
Originally Posted by Glashub View Post


Dude, your post is meaningless. I made it clear that it could be psychological. But I don't put people in boxes for what they believe and dismiss them. Don't take it the wrong way...I'm just saying you and him should have a beer together.

I don't care about him boxing people its avs lol. I'm saying don't call his post meaningless and asking for proof when you yourself can't provide proof that your ati made a difference. Saying it could be just in your head doesn't really help the op either.
post #30 of 86
Quote:
Originally Posted by GlassWolf View Post

look at the size of the toroidal transformer(s) and capacitors in an amplifier, then compare them to the ones in the AV receiver with a similar power output rating. You'll notice that they are typically much larger in the stand-alone amplifier if the amplifier is of any decent quality. The stand-alone amp will also typically out-weigh the entire AVR. This is for good reason. The stand-alone amplifier is able to deliver a lot more sustained, and cleaner power than an AV receiver can. Besides, even at pretty loud volumes, you're usually using less than 5 watts of power output anyway, so don't worry so much about how much power the numbers say uou get, and worry more about how good the product is made that's delivering that power.

Here is a quote from Jim Salk (speaker designer and manufacturer)

"About five years ago, a friend named Peter Smith conducted a very interesting test at Rocky Mountain Audiofest. He set up a system with both an average-reading meter (standard RMS VU meter like you would find on most audio equipment) and a peak-reading meter. He played the system with the VU meter registering an amplifier output of 5 - 8 watts. To everyone's surprise, the peak meter read as high as 250 watts during transient peaks in the music being reproduced. The bottom line is that if you were using a 100-watt amp to play back music at an average of 5 - 8 watts, it would be clipping during these transients. In may not be all that noticeable since many of these transients would be things like drum hits that are essentially noise anyway. None-the-less, clipping would be taking place."

Peak wattage is a huge difference from average wattage. For an HT system, you should design it based on the peak SPL that you want at the listening position. As I said it takes a lot of power to reproduce the peaks.
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