Cannot decide, A-S801 or R-N803 - AVS Forum | Home Theater Discussions And Reviews
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post #1 of 149 Old 12-14-2017, 08:41 PM - Thread Starter
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Cannot decide, A-S801 or R-N803

First time posting here, but I have read through quite a number of threads on this forum, just haven't really had to ask a question until now...

A little info, I am setting up a 2 channel system with 2 Martin Logan Motion 40's which I recently acquired. Most of my media is digital or via streaming. Usage is 50%/40%/10% TV/music/movies.

I have spent many many hours narrowing down what I want, but cannot decide between Yamaha's R-N803 and A-S801, and here's why:

From all I can tell, they are almost the same besides the following differences.

If I were to go with the S801, I know I am getting:
---better DAC (ES9010K2M, supports native DSD resolutions (2.8 MHz / 5.6 MHz) and PCM (384 kHz / 32-bit) USB-B port)
---potentially better overall sound quality due to the lack of the AM/FM receiver and the wifi/Bluetooth network card introducing "noise"

If I go with the N803, I will get:
---wifi and Bluetooth onboard.
---a "lesser" DAC (SABRE 9006AS 192 kHz/24-bit DAC, supports DSD 5.6 MHz, FLAC / WAV / AIFF 192 kHz / 24-bit, Apple® Lossless 96 kHz / 24-bit playback)
---YPAO

And a couple little things like number of optical and coax inputs, AM/FM tuner... not deal breakers for me.

What really bothers me is that the N803 costs $150 less than the S801, comes with more "features", has the same specs (output, freq response, THD, etc) , and weighs 2.4 pounds less? So what did I do? Called Yamaha... guess what they told me. They share nearly all the same internals, but it is possible that Yamaha was able to source the components for the N803 at a lower price, resulting in the lower end cost. And this was after waiting 3 days to get a reply from their "tier 2" tech support. They couldn't even explain the the difference in weight... Not that I care about how much my receiver weighs, but there is no way one can have more features/internal components, and weigh less if all else is equal, something had to go.

To further complicate this decision is how I play my content. I currently use a Nvidia Shield and my PC to play music/movies via Plex . Right now I can play media from my PC over my home network to the Shield, Shield to the TV via HDMI, TV to receiver via optical. OR stream from the Shield (Pandora app for example) to the TV, then TV to the receiver. Obviously with the N803 I can bypass the need to pass through the Shield and the TV, which is much simpler and I assume since the signal does not have to pass through so many devices, the end result should be better sound quality (key word is assume, I'm not quite sure if this is true or not)

Some things I have in my head that are clouding my decision:
--I can't see any use for the better DAC in the S801, both the Shield and Plex cap out at 24-bit/192 kHz and I didn't even know what DSD stood for until today... and my PC is too far away to use USB-B (which is the only way to utilize the 32 bit capabilities of the DAC), unless I run a ridiculously long USB cable thru the attic...
--It boggles my mind how the N803 can do more, supposedly have the same amplifier specs, but weigh less and cost significantly less...there has to be some sacrifice somewhere.
--Am I losing audio quality when passing through the TV and converting signal path from HDMI to optical? Even tho the Shield and Plex support FLAC, Lossless, 24/192? I hear so much about how important a direct/short signal path is, it can't be conducive to that theory when there are so many things involved post amp/receiver.
--I know there was a recent thread about the same 2 units, but what complicates my situation is the method in which I play my media.
--AM/FM tuner is not a big factor in this either.

I've gotten myself to the point of confusion, so I apologize if this post came across that way... I just need some input from peers, I only know one guy who I can talk to about this kinda stuff that knows what he's talking about. Problem is, he is a little old school and slightly biased towards the S801 due to the lack of "extras". Firm believer of "less is more" he is... He's also not into digital media and wireless technology. Turn tables and discs are where it's at for him...

Anyways, thanks for hearing me out.

Andy
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post #2 of 149 Old 12-15-2017, 07:35 AM - Thread Starter
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Well I figured out the weight difference, quoted from Yamaha's website:

"In order to effectively dampen the vibrations that have adverse effects on sound quality, the A-S801 chassis has a double-bottom design with a 1 mm iron plate."

as opposed to-

The N803 has "a low-vibration chassis of high rigidity. The chassis is equipped with the special resin frame "Art Base" that absorbs and blocks unnecessary vibration. The result is sonic purity and an accurate stereo image of your music."

Basically my question is do I want an isolated amp with a more rigid chassis, but a more complex signal path post amp (PC>Plex>Shield>TV>Receiver)? or a receiver that sacrifices chassis rigidity, contains more internal components, but has a more direct path from the media source (PC direct to Receiver)?
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post #3 of 149 Old 12-15-2017, 09:42 AM
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post #4 of 149 Old 12-15-2017, 11:25 AM - Thread Starter
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Apparently! Either that or Yamaha wants to make sure you can use the S801 as a makeshift bullet shield by fitting an iron plate to the bottom of it...
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post #5 of 149 Old 12-15-2017, 11:28 AM
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Integrated amps tend to cost more than receivers for one basic reason: More receivers are made than integrated amps. The difference between the two is one has a tuner built in. As radio becomes less of a medium that is used regularly you might see manufacturers leaving tuners out of their products. I suspect the difference in sound quality between the two is near zero. I don't think a 1mm iron 'plate' is going to make much difference. 1mm is more like sheet metal.
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post #6 of 149 Old 12-15-2017, 11:42 AM
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While I can't speak for the R-N803, I CAN say with authority that the A-S801 is a superb piece of equipment. REALLY well built and wonderful sounding. While I have no doubt that the N803 is great too, perhaps the A-S801 is built to a slightly higher standard? Often times weight is a sign of bigger power supplies, beefier caps, etc. In this case, it MIGHT just be that plate but I couldn't say for sure. One thing I can say is that the S801 is one of those classic amps that is built to last for a very long time. I'm a fan of it. Personally, on an integrated amp, I prefer a simpler amp and leave the bluetooth and other such goodies to an external device, such as the Yamaha WXC-50.
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post #7 of 149 Old 12-15-2017, 01:57 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Knucklehead90 View Post
Integrated amps tend to cost more than receivers for one basic reason: More receivers are made than integrated amps. The difference between the two is one has a tuner built in. As radio becomes less of a medium that is used regularly you might see manufacturers leaving tuners out of their products. I suspect the difference in sound quality between the two is near zero. I don't think a 1mm iron 'plate' is going to make much difference. 1mm is more like sheet metal.
Interesting. If the guts are pretty much the same in each model, one would figure that the cost to manufacture would be pretty close, resulting in a similar MSRP. Heck, I would expect the S803 to be at least $150 MORE than the 801 with the added capabilities, front display, etc.

Quote:
While I can't speak for the R-N803, I CAN say with authority that the A-S801 is a superb piece of equipment. REALLY well built and wonderful sounding. While I have no doubt that the N803 is great too, perhaps the A-S801 is built to a slightly higher standard? Often times weight is a sign of bigger power supplies, beefier caps, etc. In this case, it MIGHT just be that plate but I couldn't say for sure. One thing I can say is that the S801 is one of those classic amps that is built to last for a very long time. I'm a fan of it. Personally, on an integrated amp, I prefer a simpler amp and leave the bluetooth and other such goodies to an external device, such as the Yamaha WXC-50.
As I have heard as well from many sources referring to the 801. And most of these guys get their hands on some serious equipment, tells alot about how good this integrated truly is. I have yet found anything "bad" about it. About the "slightly higher standard", according to Yamaha they have the same transformers, capacitors, main components. I really don't buy that the N803 has all the same parts and then some, yet weigh 2.4# less... the "plate" is the only thing I can see that it does not have in comparison to the S801. And if I do go with the S801, I'm going to have to use the WXC-50 if I don't want to pass thru the Shield and the TV. I'm not sure about you guys, but I don't really like the idea of requiring the TV on in order to play music...
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post #8 of 149 Old 12-15-2017, 02:49 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mech5700 View Post
Interesting. If the guts are pretty much the same in each model, one would figure that the cost to manufacture would be pretty close, resulting in a similar MSRP. Heck, I would expect the S803 to be at least $150 MORE than the 801 with the added capabilities, front display, etc.
I would think so too.

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Originally Posted by mech5700 View Post
About the "slightly higher standard", according to Yamaha they have the same transformers, capacitors, main components. I really don't buy that the N803 has all the same parts and then some, yet weigh 2.4# less... the "plate" is the only thing I can see that it does not have in comparison to the S801.
I guess the only way to truly find out would be to crack 'em both open side by side and do a thorough examination, ifixit style (Ref: https://www.ifixit.com/Teardown )
Any volunteers? Inquiring minds want to know!
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post #9 of 149 Old 12-15-2017, 04:19 PM - Thread Starter
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If Best Buy carried both of these I would go buy both to test and compare, open up and investigate, then return the one I decide not to go with. I tried searching to find someone who has reviewed each of these independently to maybe reach out to them, but no such luck.
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post #10 of 149 Old 12-15-2017, 04:31 PM
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The old 'economy of scale' kicks in when a manufacturer builds similar items such as integrated amps and receivers. Receivers sell more so the manufacturer builds mostly receivers - maybe in a 10:1 ratio? Which one do you think has higher labor costs per unit?

I've heard similar discussions over the years when it comes to cars and trucks. While everyone knows that Chevy and GMC pickups are made side by side - and probably on the same assembly line these days - everyone 'thought' that GMC had better built components. They don't. Those pickups are identical except for the nameplates.

Didn't Yamaha say those two products use the same components? If thats the case I'd bet a month's pay that no part was tested just for a particular model. Parts are presumed to be in good working order when it comes from a sub-contractor and are not routinely tested other than sampling for defects. Maybe 1 in 20 (or 30-50) samples are tested for performance. If that one part tests ok then it's presumed that the other 19 (or 29-49) are good to go.

Years ago there was a thread on Onkyo/Integra products where some were making the claim that the Integra parts were scrutinized closely for exact performance since Integra is Onkyo's 'premium' product with it's 3 year warranty vs 2 on the Onkyo products. An Integra dealer posted his take - he had recently visited an Onkyo production line where both were assembled. No such discrimination was made for Integra parts. Yamaha probably follows this same practice. The costs involved to test each part is not cost effective.
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post #11 of 149 Old 12-15-2017, 07:43 PM - Thread Starter
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I get what you are sayin knuckle. But I bet the N803 might be slightly more popular than the S801, but nowhere near the level of the AVR market share...

Another observation:

N803
S801

Notice on the right of the S801, there is quite a bit of circuitry that is not anywhere in the S803. Also, the components on the top left of the S801 are moved to the right side of the N803, leaving empty space in the top left corner. However, the transformer, amp section, appear nearly identical.

I wonder what all that commotion is on the right side of the S801? Perhaps it is the secret sauce that makes the S801 sound so good?!
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post #12 of 149 Old 12-16-2017, 05:59 PM
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I had the same dilemma a month ago and picked R-N803. I spent quite some time researching. From what I can tell by reading the specifications, both amps are 99% identical. Which means you have to choose between:

the extra optical/coaxial inputs, tuner, bluetooth and internet services (803)
OR
the better DAC on paper and the USB input (801)

There are structural differences in the chassis as well but I don't think this will affect the sound. I needed the two optical inputs and I knew I will be using Spotify quite often. MusicCast turned out to be a great feature which I am using every day. I am glad I bought 803. For me it makes perfect sense. It just ticks all the checkboxes. And on top of that it is cheaper. People are strange creatures. They want cheaper but once you give them cheaper they start getting suspicious and are even more reluctant to buy. I think both devices are outstanding and future proof and sound-wise you will not be disappointed no matter which one you buy.
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post #13 of 149 Old 12-16-2017, 07:50 PM
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I would get the 801. Just look at the power supply size difference in the pics

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post #14 of 149 Old 12-16-2017, 07:55 PM
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Go with the 803 for the ability to set a sub crossover, and delay the front speakers to get sub truly in phase. That feature alone is a game changer and makes the 803 the best Yamaha 2 channel piece yet.

If you have no desire to ever add a sub, go with either one. You will not notice a difference between them.
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post #15 of 149 Old 12-16-2017, 08:07 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Contuzzi View Post
Go with the 803 for the ability to set a sub crossover, and delay the front speakers to get sub truly in phase. That feature alone is a game changer and makes the 803 the best Yamaha 2 channel piece yet.

If you have no desire to ever add a sub, go with either one. You will not notice a difference between them.
Oh I didnt realize the 803 had that...that is a different story then....

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post #16 of 149 Old 12-16-2017, 10:08 PM
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I would get the 801. Just look at the power supply size difference in the pics
If you match the size of both units the transformers end up being exactly the same size.
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post #17 of 149 Old 12-17-2017, 07:01 AM - Thread Starter
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I had the same dilemma a month ago and picked R-N803. I spent quite some time researching. From what I can tell by reading the specifications, both amps are 99% identical. Which means you have to choose between:

the extra optical/coaxial inputs, tuner, bluetooth and internet services (803)
OR
the better DAC on paper and the USB input (801)

There are structural differences in the chassis as well but I don't think this will affect the sound. I needed the two optical inputs and I knew I will be using Spotify quite often. MusicCast turned out to be a great feature which I am using every day. I am glad I bought 803. For me it makes perfect sense. It just ticks all the checkboxes. And on top of that it is cheaper. People are strange creatures. They want cheaper but once you give them cheaper they start getting suspicious and are even more reluctant to buy. I think both devices are outstanding and future proof and sound-wise you will not be disappointed no matter which one you buy.
I have read through your thread about a dozen times... What makes Musicast so great for you? I have not yet explored what that app offers. Also, have you had the chance to audition the A-S801 to compare your R-N803?

I only really need 1 optical input for the TV. The cable box and streaming box, both go to the TV via HDMI, then output from TV via optical. I don't really listen to AM/FM at home, and all my streaming/internet services are done thru the Shield currently which supports Hi-Res audio.

http://nvidia.custhelp.com/app/answe...y-shield-tv%3F

Quote:
I would get the 801. Just look at the power supply size difference in the pics
The pictures are not to scale, the N803 itself is smaller in the picture... fairly certain they are the same "custom-made power transformer and 12,000uF block capacitors"

http://edinw.com/images/YAMAHA_RN803BL_SPEC.pdf
http://edinw.com/images/YAMAHA_AS801BL_SPEC.pdf

Quote:
Go with the 803 for the ability to set a sub crossover, and delay the front speakers to get sub truly in phase. That feature alone is a game changer and makes the 803 the best Yamaha 2 channel piece yet.

If you have no desire to ever add a sub, go with either one. You will not notice a difference between them.
I don't plan on doing 2.1, but not sure if that will change in the future. I am using Martin Logan Motion 40's, each tower has 2 6.5" cone woofers. Out of curiosity, what makes you feel there will be no audible difference between these 2 models?

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post #18 of 149 Old 12-17-2017, 11:21 AM
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Originally Posted by Contuzzi View Post
Go with the 803 for the ability to set a sub crossover, and delay the front speakers to get sub truly in phase. That feature alone is a game changer and makes the 803 the best Yamaha 2 channel piece yet.
That is really good to know! That is definitely one of the downsides to the 801 if you're seeking 2.1.
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post #19 of 149 Old 12-17-2017, 11:27 AM
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What makes Musicast so great for you? I have not yet explored what that app offers.
MusicCast is awesome. When it first I came out, I wasn't excited about having yet ANOTHER app to bother with and it was lackluster on its release. Over the past couple of years though, they have it improved it a LOT and now it's one of my favorite apps. It's become really powerful and versatile. Now I actually have fun with it. I use that and the Yamaha AV Controller app on occasion too.

At least with the WXC-50 preamp (which I assume has similar functionality to the 803), there are SO many ways you can use it. Plug in an external usb drive with your music, let it tap into your computer via the network, have it stream, etc., etc., etc. Kind of overwhelming (in a good way) how versatile the Yamaha stuff can be.
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post #20 of 149 Old 12-18-2017, 09:57 AM - Thread Starter
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So after spending pretty much every free minute at work and home researching 2 channel amps for the past several weeks, I finally decided to go with the R-N803. Since it is obviously more geared towards network functionality, it looks like the analogue input circuitry was downgraded (or at least simplified) if you study the 2 pictures I posted above. Since I don't own a disc player of any type, nor a turntable, and I would use the network capabilities + optical inputs exclusively, it just makes more sense to go with the N803. If I planned to utilize analogue in addition to network/digital inputs, I would have gone with the S801 + WXC-50 (for about $1,250). Since that is not likely, I'll take the onboard goodies and (possibly) sacrifice some analogue quality and save some cash.

Thank you guys for your input!

Andy
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post #21 of 149 Old 12-18-2017, 10:51 AM
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A-S801 - better build quality typically with higher end parts but it costs more. Heavier materials, heavier power supply (a good thing) and it has aluminum control knobs. If you want to add a tuner or networking capabilities in the future you can.



R-N803 - More bells and whistles including Tuner, Wi Fi, Blue Tooth and networking. A receiver typically uses lighter materials, it has a lighter power supply (not a good thing but adequate) and it uses plastic control knobs. No need to add features in future since you already have them all.



These are basically the difference between the two different lines. I prefer the AS-801 myself since I prefer integrated amps and don't listen to radio except in my car. I mostly listen to CD's or the occasional vinyl album. I seriously doubt you will hear any difference in sound quality between the two.

Whichever you choose, you will get a nice piece of equipment. Yamaha makes decent stuff.

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post #22 of 149 Old 12-18-2017, 10:53 AM
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Originally Posted by mech5700 View Post
Since that is not likely, I'll take the onboard goodies and (possibly) sacrifice some analogue quality and save some cash.
Awesome! While I LOVE the 801, I highly doubt you'd be able to discern the difference in sound quality, if there is any at all. Have fun with your new setup!
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post #23 of 149 Old 12-19-2017, 11:04 AM
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Please, do let us know how you like your R-N803 when you get it.
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post #24 of 149 Old 12-19-2017, 06:30 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Contuzzi View Post
Go with the 803 for the ability to set a sub crossover, and delay the front speakers to get sub truly in phase. That feature alone is a game changer and makes the 803 the best Yamaha 2 channel piece yet.

If you have no desire to ever add a sub, go with either one. You will not notice a difference between them.
I was surprised to read that the 803 has bass managemen! I downloaded the PDF owners manual and
Read thru it twice and found no mention of bass management. I googled it and found the
Implementation Interesting and a bit confusing.

Apparently, after a firmware update, the 803 will work with Yamaha MusicCast smartphone app.
You must run YPAO first and then thru the app set up proper bass mgmt. interesting and definitely
Modern!
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post #25 of 149 Old 12-19-2017, 07:13 PM
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If I can remember I’ll take some screenshots tomorrow once I’m home.

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post #26 of 149 Old 12-19-2017, 10:42 PM
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My cursory look at the 803 owner's manual implies it has no bass management. [I have not examined any firmware upgrades though nor app controls] If it did it would have an on screen display question [oops, I forgot, there are no video connections so it would need to be a front panel display question] asking: "Are the front speakers large or small?" The answer determines if the bass will be managed or not.

UPDATE: Some forum posts imply that the presence of YPAO room calibration via a mic means it has bass management but that is not necessarily true. Also the Crutchfield ad says:

"Subwoofer Output: The network stereo receiver is equipped with a mono-subwoofer output for connecting a powered sub. There is no crossover setting in the receiver; you will need to use the low-pass crossover in your powered sub."

Interestingly Yamaha's variable loudness knob on the front [which works quite well in my experience] will no longer function if YPAO is used according to this:

"• The LOUDNESS control (p. 24) does not function when the YPAO Volume function is enabled."
---

Over time more and more audio formats and consumer devices require the use of a connection called "HDMI", in fact there are some formats and devices on the market which have no other legacy connections/capabilities so without an HDMI interconnection they won't work. In this day and age I think it is a bad idea to design a home audio system which precludes the use of HDMI devices and formats even if one currently owns none.

There is a common notion that AVRs have inferior sound to integrated amps or separates. This is a myth perpetuated because AVRs have a lower profit margin to retailers.

In A/V reproduction accuracy, there IS no concept of "accounting for personal taste/preference". As art consumers we don't "pick" the level of bass, nor the tint/brightness of a scene's sky, any more than we pick the ending of a novel or Mona Lisa's type of smile. "High fidelity" means "high truthfulness", faithful to the original artist's intent: an unmodified, neutral, accurate copy of the original master, ideally being exact and with no discernable alterations, aka "transparency".

Last edited by m. zillch; 12-19-2017 at 11:18 PM.
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post #27 of 149 Old 12-20-2017, 02:39 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by m. zillch View Post
My cursory look at the 803 owner's manual
Interestingly Yamaha's variable loudness knob on the front [which works quite well in my experience] will no longer function if YPAO is used according to this:

"• The LOUDNESS control (p. 24) does not function when the YPAO Volume function is enabled."
---
When using the YPAO volume function, it does basically the same thing that Audyssey Dynamic EQ does. It adjust the EQ curve to take into account the effect of perceived lower bass and treble at lower volumes. (Fletcher Munson Curves of equal loudness). YPAO, Audyssey, Anthem's ARC all do this. It is basically a 21st century loudness button adjusting itself as a function of volume, so this is much better than guessing with the manual variable loudness button. Of course Yamaha would disable the manual adjustment or you'd be applying the correction twice, and the YPAO method is more accurate. I listen to a lot of music, smooth jazz, classical at lower volumes and this feature is one of my main reasons for having a receiver with room correction. Music sounds full at any volume, even low volume, instead of tinny at lower volumes.

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Last edited by glangford; 12-20-2017 at 02:45 AM.
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post #28 of 149 Old 12-20-2017, 06:38 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by m. zillch View Post
My cursory look at the 803 owner's manual implies it has no bass management. [I have not examined any firmware upgrades though nor app controls] If it did it would have an on screen display question [oops, I forgot, there are no video connections so it would need to be a front panel display question] asking: "Are the front speakers large or small?" The answer determines if the bass will be managed or not.

UPDATE: Some forum posts imply that the presence of YPAO room calibration via a mic means it has bass management but that is not necessarily true. Also the Crutchfield ad says:

"Subwoofer Output: The network stereo receiver is equipped with a mono-subwoofer output for connecting a powered sub. There is no crossover setting in the receiver; you will need to use the low-pass crossover in your powered sub."

...
G'day Zillch. Yes, strangely neither Yamaha's product page nor owner's manual appear to make any mention of (digital) bass management capability. My guess is that this is because bass management capability has only fairly recently been added via a firmware release.

As indicated by @grasshoppers and @Contuzzi above, after the unit's firmware is updated and YPAO re-run, various speaker and bass management settings are available via Yamaha's MusicCast app.

I pinched the following MusicCast app screenshots showing some of the settings available from this active thread over on Audioholics. (Hopefully Contuzzi can add some more.)








Last edited by GIEGAR; 12-20-2017 at 06:43 AM.
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post #29 of 149 Old 12-20-2017, 07:20 AM
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wow. Thats really cool. Makes the N803 a no brainer for sure.

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post #30 of 149 Old 12-20-2017, 09:49 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by glangford View Post
When using the YPAO volume function, it does basically the same thing that Audyssey Dynamic EQ does . . .

... the YPAO method is more accurate. I listen to a lot of music, smooth jazz, classical at lower volumes and this feature is one of my main reasons for having a receiver with room correction. Music sounds full at any volume, even low volume, instead of tiny at lower volumes.
Which Yamaha YPAO device is it you use?

In A/V reproduction accuracy, there IS no concept of "accounting for personal taste/preference". As art consumers we don't "pick" the level of bass, nor the tint/brightness of a scene's sky, any more than we pick the ending of a novel or Mona Lisa's type of smile. "High fidelity" means "high truthfulness", faithful to the original artist's intent: an unmodified, neutral, accurate copy of the original master, ideally being exact and with no discernable alterations, aka "transparency".

Last edited by m. zillch; 12-20-2017 at 10:11 AM.
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