Originally Posted by chrisreeves
Now that I have a flagship AVR - Denon 7200WA - of course I am wondering what the difference is at the "next level." Can someone help me understand? Let's assume all else is equal in two scenarios where the only difference in a system is the AVR vs the Pre/Pro. . . .
You ask a great question. Here are some differences:
- All high end processors use balanced outputs to the amplifiers. This results in a lower noise signal, but more importantly, higher output voltage.
Higher output voltage
- The higher the output voltage, the more headroom the signal has without being clipped. The SMPTE standard is +24 dBu (12.28 Vrms). The Denon X8500 does +3.8 dBu (1.2 Vrms) except on the subwoofer output which is higher. My minimum requirement is that a processor should do at least +20 dBu. The higher output voltage also lets one use a lower gain amplifier. This results in an overall lower noise floor.
Better Volume Control
- A higher end processor may use a higher bit depth for volume adjustments and then dither for output. Some now also have a hybrid volume control that combines the best of analog and digital volume controls.
Lower noise DAC section
- Getting a hiss or noise with consumer receivers and processors is something I hate and shows up with high sensitivity speakers. A high end processor may use a dual or quad DAC output section, like a high end DAC, to lower the noise floor.
Better 4K HDMI input/outputs
- A high end processor should have quicker switching of HDMI sources and no dropouts or handshake issues. You can also use combine audio and video inputs separately. Want to listen to music while watching a football game? - no problem.
- You need different lip sync for 24p vs 60p. A higher end processor can give more lip sync settings for those that desire to make it perfect. You can have both global lip sync and lip sync on a per input basis.
Extensive bass management
- A high end processor will give one more options for bass management including 1st-4th order crossovers of various kinds. This allows one to better integrate the mains with the subs. There may also be options such as routing the LFE to any speaker, routing redirected bass to any subwoofer, grouping/ungrouping subwoofers, and outputting to more than just two subwoofers
Bass and main speaker integration
- Audyssey and all other "room correction" software run after the processor's crossovers have been set. Both Trinnov's room correction and now Dirac Live Bass Control handle the crossover between the speaker and subwoofer for tighter integration and better time and phase alignment. I'm not aware of any thing else that will do this.
- Most high end processors have the capability to group channels for active crossovers
- A receiver locks you in to their channel routing. A high end processor lets you reroute channels. This is helpful for not only measuring, but also for creating different setups based on stereo vs multi-channel sources. It is just another tool for optimizing the system depending on content. You can even route differently for Atmos, DTX:X, and Auro:3D depending on what layout you might want to use.
- Yamaha is the most flexible consumer processor regarding presets, but it is still minimal compared to a high end processor. By preset I mean the ability to save decoding, layout, levels, delays, routing, EQ and switch on the fly either automatically depending on content or manually.
- Some high end processors let you use excess channels for mono, stereo, and even multi-channel zones. You can use the processor for a two channel room and a high end home theater, two home theaters, whole house audio, etc.
- You don't have to rely on a miniDSP. With a high end processor you get extensive EQ capability and can sometimes import EQ settings from REW or other software.
- The precision of a room correction filter is dependent on the number of taps. A high end processor will use a higher number of taps for the ability to correct the bass frequencies without high latency FIR filters.