Originally Posted by JimP
I give you 6 months before you crack.
Ha-ha, probably right...
...Seriously though, you don't really know until you can compare both receivers in the same system.
True. Allow me to expound at length.
I found it necessary to do the tiresome purchasing and gear swapping when I compared HT bypass preamps. No one could tell me what they'd sound like in my room. The HT preamps connected to an Emotiva amp did add some SQ vs the AVR 4310, particularly detail, imaging and clarity to the high end. But without Audyssey the uncorrected bass in the room made the overall SQ poor, IMO unlistenable, as I have no formal acoustic treatments in my fam rm/HT. Audyssey and good bass management are indispensible for me. Once I got the A100, the clarity of the HTpreamps was matched by the AVR, likely due to the superior processing of XT32, vs XT in the 4310. As you may know, XT32 prioritizes fixing the biggest trouble spots-in my room, as is the case for so many of us, is the bass. It seems to leave the highs untouched in any audibly negative way in my room. If interested see http://www.avsforum.com/t/1300698/preamps-with-ht-bypass-for-under-2k
Not really knowing how it'll sound till you try it is why I considered the extreme measure of buying the vaunted Denon flagship preamp, the AVPA1, to do an in-home A/B vs the A100. Unlike the 4520, that pre/pro has the old DenonLink connection that matches my current Denon BDPA100player, but the cost of even a used XT32 upgraded AVP is easily $5K or more. Based on my research on the threads I expected some SQ improvements because of the unique preamp circuits and wiring, etc.-but how much? (if interested, see http://www.avsforum.com/t/1432126/should-i-buy-a-denon-avp-a1hdci-now
) I'll probably never know, as sanity has prevailed for the time being, as I keep in mind the law of diminishing SQ returns per dollar spent as one climbs the summits of audiophile gear. So I have followed this thread with interest, as well as lurking a bit in the new Marantz AV8801 prepro thread. So far my $ seems better spent on more high quality music and films.
BTW, I also ended up buying gear to do an in-home test of DenonLink. With the DenonLink player via CAT5 and an Oppo via HDMI to the A100 it was easy for me to A/B. All I had to do was put in identical discs, level-match and start switching back and forth on identical short musical pasages repeating on both players. BTW DL won handily for music (if interested, see http://www.avsforum.com/t/1349373/does-denon-link-really-matter
). It'd be interesting to hear about a similar test using the new Denon player hooked up via DLHD with the 4520. This comparison can easily be made BAB.
It was a little harder to, say, compare XT32 vs XT32 with Audyssey Pro in the A100 as that involved delay between A and B and thus Auditory Memory (AM) issues. The A/B switch takes about 5-6 min. Though no physical wire switching is involved, each calibration has to Load using the Denon Network Save/Load feature. IME there is an obvious SQ improvement with Pro, similar in quality but not as large quantitavely as the improvement from XT to XT32- and that seems to be the consensus of other Pro users. And that's without using Pro's very cool custom curve editing which can yield even more SQ improvements. I try to get around AM by using very familiar passages and listening to very specific aspects of the recording- string noise on a guitar, echo on a voice and taking notes.
Another example- to simplify comparing the A100 Preamp mode (no signal to amps) to Normal mode, I shut off Audyssey to get around that calibration Load time so switching was about 10 sec. BTW I thought I heard a subtle, slight improvement in fine detail such as airiness/ambiance for Preamp Mode. With such subtle differences, small mistakes in level-matching can skew results. So my conclusion was that even if the difference really existed, it really wasn't worth it to me to run Preamp mode as it necessitates having ext amps for all channels. Now I use the Halcro MC30 for FR/L and CC and four AVR internal amps for surrounds and wides and it sounds fab. I believe that the same would be found with using Preamp mode in the 4520-it'd be interesting for someone with a 4520 to test it.
Teresa's point is well taken. AVRs are some of the hardest hifi components to A/B accurately. Assuming that the room and the speakers are the same, the time involved switching wires introduces AM issues. One thing commonly overlooked is controlling for variance in running Audyssey-after all, slightly different mic positions can result in different SQ in the same AVR! Making sure every setting is identical in both units requires a "preflight checklist". Then there's level-matching. When we finally get to the wire switching back and forth Auditory Memory comes into play. And if you don't have both AVRs in the room at the same time AM becomes nearly insurmoutable. Add it's so difficult to BAB AVRs-how often is that done?
So I read the AVR comparisons posted by respected AVSers especially thosewho are experienced AVR A/Bers. No disrespect intended, I take even those with a grain of salt because of the above-mentioned AVR A/B challenges. Also, pretty much no comparisons use DenonLink and/or Audyssey Pro. My take (in agreement with Chris completely) is that for most, chosing between XT32-equipped upper AVR models of Denon (4311, 4520), and even similar offerings from Onk, should be based on features, pricing/availability and of course ones personal situation. For ex., as I love DenonLink, Onk or Marantz are pretty much off the table for now. They would have to really step it up to tempt me.
As to the 4520, it has yet to be established whether there is a way to make DLHD backwards compatible. So if I got one might I might need a pricey new Denon player. And of course $150 for a new Pro license too. So I'm cooling it for now.
Apologies for overly long post.