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.
- 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.