Recommendations for older/S.H. "audiophile" AMP (Stereo or 5.1) ?? - AVS Forum | Home Theater Discussions And Reviews
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post #1 of 16 Old 10-07-2016, 06:57 AM - Thread Starter
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Question Recommendations for older/S.H. "audiophile" AMP (Stereo or 5.1) ??

Hi,
I'm in search of good, older / second hand AMP that will not exceed 400$
The 1st priority is sound quality and transparency (but not to the extent where i need to pay 200% for a 5% improvement)
2nd would be analog 5.1 input .. Or at least 4 speaker output in stereo mode.
3rd.. nice tone control (treble/bass) in case i need them
4th.. a good integrated DAC would also be nice
5th.. Power


I have no idea if H.K. is considered audiophile or not, but what i've stumbled upon so far, is a Harman Kardon AVR 8500 in very good condition, for about 380$. And a Harman Kardon AVR 3000 for half that price.
Although the extra features are welcome, i don't think i'll use audio processing, or video inputs, or other bells and whistles that it may have..
And i'm thinking that i might find a better AMP for this kind of money, instead of paying for stuff i might not use.
Also i'm not too keen about the Rotary Encoder Volume control, instead of the old-fashioned potentiometer, coz i think it might mess with the sound, and they also have a shorter life span..

For the last 10 years i've owned a Pioneer VSX-D557, and i'm kind of fed up with it's muffled sound (unless i crank the treble to the max, and turn the Loudness on)

I'm not an expert by any chance; so i have no clue what to buy, i don't even know what brands lean towards audiophile or not.
So i really need some help with this..
Thanks!
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post #2 of 16 Old 10-08-2016, 06:47 PM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by B24Fox View Post
Hi,
I'm in search of good, older / second hand AMP that will not exceed 400$
The 1st priority is sound quality and transparency (but not to the extent where i need to pay 200% for a 5% improvement)
2nd would be analog 5.1 input .. Or at least 4 speaker output in stereo mode.
3rd.. nice tone control (treble/bass) in case i need them
4th.. a good integrated DAC would also be nice
5th.. Power


I have no idea if H.K. is considered audiophile or not, but what i've stumbled upon so far, is a Harman Kardon AVR 8500 in very good condition, for about 380$. And a Harman Kardon AVR 3000 for half that price.
Although the extra features are welcome, i don't think i'll use audio processing, or video inputs, or other bells and whistles that it may have..
And i'm thinking that i might find a better AMP for this kind of money, instead of paying for stuff i might not use.
Also i'm not too keen about the Rotary Encoder Volume control, instead of the old-fashioned potentiometer, coz i think it might mess with the sound, and they also have a shorter life span..

For the last 10 years i've owned a Pioneer VSX-D557, and i'm kind of fed up with it's muffled sound (unless i crank the treble to the max, and turn the Loudness on)

I'm not an expert by any chance; so i have no clue what to buy, i don't even know what brands lean towards audiophile or not.
So i really need some help with this..
Thanks!
Anyone?
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post #3 of 16 Old 10-08-2016, 06:52 PM
 
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You're looking for an avr, not an amp (altho I realize in some parts of Europe anything that has an amp in it can be called an amp but not generally used here in the forum as a catch all descriptor for amps, integrated amps and audio or audio/video receivers). Harmon Kardon isn't even in the avr business any more so you're looking at used gear? Their reliability has been a question mark from much of what I've read, but no personal experience. I'd look at Denon, Marantz, Yamaha for the most part for your budget. Muffled sound either sounds like you have a defective Pioneer or your speakers are the problem....sound quality is largely in your speakers and room, not the electronics.....
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post #4 of 16 Old 10-08-2016, 09:53 PM
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Right, an AVR or receiver would be the proper avsforum term for what you're looking for.... If you don't need HDMI, there are a lot of great sounding 5.1 receivers that can be had for a song (because most people don't want them, because they only have HDMI devices now).

In the past, I've had units from NAD, Arcam, Rotel, B&K Components. (B&K's gone out of business though.) Should be able to find any of those for under $400. And I think for under $400, those will probably offer best sound quality and meet all of your requirements. I can think of a few other 5.1 receivers that might sound even better, but I don't think you'll find them for under $400 (Anthem, McIntosh, Theta come to mind).
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post #5 of 16 Old 10-09-2016, 04:55 PM - Thread Starter
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Thanks for the inputs!
It's true, that at the moment i don't have "brand" speakers; but i have a friend that has a similar pioneer, and has the same problem with all the speakers he has had.. the treble needs to be turned way up.

I'm starting to come around a bit, as to what brands i should be looking into. But i have no idea of the models.. And i'm sure there are audible differences between them.
HK Avr8500 (8000 in the US), seems to be known for one of the best sounding receivers HK has ever built, and to be almost up there with the likes of McIntosh.. But it's also true that sadly a lot of people have had reliability issues with them.. and some of them have never been able to be repaired even by certified shops :-/
It's mostly sad, because the 8500 could have been the best sounding amp/avr that i could afford used.
New, it rolled around 3000$; and when you look at the internals you immediately realize why it cost so much.
It almost makes me wanna risk it

In any case, could i please get help with choosing a model?
..Someone recommended Yamaha DSP-A1, RX-V995, and the Marantz SR-8000 (said he owns all of them, and the Yamaha A1 is the superior of the three). And i did find only one Yamaha DSP-A1 for sale in Romania for 225$, and the trip will cost an additional 75$ , going to a total of 300$. (Is it worth it?)

I live in Romania, btw..
1$ (USD) = 4 Lei/Ron
Places i would shop second hand, would be: w w w .olx.ro & w w w .okazii.ro
Maybe i could get help picking something as close to "audiophile" as possible, from here..
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post #6 of 16 Old 10-09-2016, 10:50 PM - Thread Starter
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Also, would you say that between "NAD, Arcam, Rotel, B&K" , NAD would be the better one?
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post #7 of 16 Old 10-09-2016, 11:14 PM
 
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I'd first try and determine what is wrong with the speakers/room as far as higher frequencies go. It could be your hearing or expectations as well as the avr. Can't think why just the high end would fail in two avrs like that....just not very likely IMO.
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post #8 of 16 Old 10-10-2016, 09:47 AM
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Depending on how "vintage" you want to get, the older Marantz AVR do a good job with Music and i think meet all of your criteria. I am still running a Marantz SR9600 for my AVR and used it for years as my only system. Good analog inputs. You can routinely find for less than $400 on sites like Ebay or US audiomart,etc. The SR9600 was Marantz flagship back in early 2000

tomg
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post #9 of 16 Old 10-10-2016, 09:53 AM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by lovinthehd View Post
I'd first try and determine what is wrong with the speakers/room as far as higher frequencies go. It could be your hearing or expectations as well as the avr. Can't think why just the high end would fail in two avrs like that....just not very likely IMO.
Throughout time, i've had the setup throughout 5 homes, and from different input sources.. and it's always been the same with the lack of sound brightness (especially if i use the "direct" mode) and it's the same if i plug in headphones too..
And it's pretty much the same for my friend. and he had/has a few sets of speakers.. ranging from "bookshelf" to "HUGE".

But although it's built like a tank and has served me well over the years, the treble thing is not the only thing that bothers me about my old 1998 Pioneer.. And i'm thinking that instead of taking a soldering iron to it, and shoving 50 to 100$ in Elna Capacitors and other parts (+ a lot of time and energy) to try and make it better; I might be better off getting something that is newer and already better from the get go.
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post #10 of 16 Old 10-10-2016, 11:51 AM
 
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Originally Posted by B24Fox View Post
Throughout time, i've had the setup throughout 5 homes, and from different input sources.. and it's always been the same with the lack of sound brightness (especially if i use the "direct" mode) and it's the same if i plug in headphones too..
And it's pretty much the same for my friend. and he had/has a few sets of speakers.. ranging from "bookshelf" to "HUGE".

But although it's built like a tank and has served me well over the years, the treble thing is not the only thing that bothers me about my old 1998 Pioneer.. And i'm thinking that instead of taking a soldering iron to it, and shoving 50 to 100$ in Elna Capacitors and other parts (+ a lot of time and energy) to try and make it better; I might be better off getting something that is newer and already better from the get go.
No experience with that unit but still doesn't make sense and either does your proposal to change capacitors to "fix" the problem. Good luck with trying to fix the problem via amplification....
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post #11 of 16 Old 10-10-2016, 01:50 PM
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Can you describe what type of speakers you have? When you say "muffled", I can't tell if you mean it's just not as clear sounding as you'd like, or it's literally like someone threw a blanket over your speakers. If the latter, definitely no amp should be that bad (unless it's defective)...

In any case, a reasonably modern receiver off the list I mentioned will be light years ahead in build and sound quality compared to your Pioneer, and no amount of upgrades to it will change that. I'd say maybe even better than the HK AVR's, remember that quite a few of these units selling for under $500 today were $1-3k when brand new. As to which is better, it's hard to say, an NAD flagship could easily be better than an Arcam entry-level. They're all in the same ball park though.
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post #12 of 16 Old 10-10-2016, 06:21 PM - Thread Starter
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@Oilmanmojo
I'm thinking post 2000 would be a good bet in terms of how old the amp/avr should be. I'm looking for the most audio precision i can get for 400$, preferably with 4 or 5.1 active channels. The Year is not really a factor.
I will be looking into more details about the SR9600. Thanks!

@lovinthehd
Capacitors are an integral part of every Amp, PreAmp, SoundCard, etc.. They can make or brake any analog audio device... and can even screw up digital audio, if they're bad enough.
Every model capacitor will give a slightly different sound to any device. And if the caps have gone out of speck, they can majorly screw up the sound.

@finiteyoda
this is what i have: https://www.okazii.ro/boxe-blue-tech...ohm-a136647913 (i have 4 of them) (also they don't come with rollers, as in this ad )
They're Romanian made, not audiophile by any means.. But have a very linear frequency response, and sound quite good! (way better than any home cinema system sold in A/V section of supermarkets).

By muffled, i meant that the treble is weak.. Instrument separation is poor... Music is flat and boring. Things that are all fixed when i turn the treble knob to max. It doesn't sound broken.. it just sounds very shi*ty when in "direct" mode.
My sound source is extremely good; so that's out of the question.

----

I think i'll look more into NAD (and maybe marantz, as there are a lot of them for sale here)
But sadly, this is a list of devices that the HK avr 8500 sounds much better than. (based on the user reviews i've gathered)
-Denon 3805
-Denon A1SR
-Marantz 5300
-Marantz SR7005
-Marantz 9200
-Yamaha Z7
-Yamaha AZ1
-Rotel RSP 1066 / 1075
-Arcam A70

It would have been the perfect bargain, but i can't get the HK avr 8500 because they are extremely prone to failure.
Everyone and they're cat, who's ever owned one, has had problems with it :-<

Last edited by B24Fox; 10-10-2016 at 06:32 PM.
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post #13 of 16 Old 10-11-2016, 12:29 PM
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Sorry, not familiar with your speakers, but hopefully you've heard them with good source and amplification, so you should know what they ought to sound like.

Yeah, definitely see if you can find any good units of the brands I mentioned, I think there are a lot of good alternatives to the HK that will meet your price point. The Arcam A70 was not the best btw, it was from their entry-level DiVa line and was an integrated amp only. For Arcam, I'd look for a flagship AVR model, the newer AVR's are from their FMJ line. (I had a pre-FMJ AVR-100, it was reasonably good but not flagship, and I sold it for like $150 if you can believe it.) As for Rotel, I had one of their receivers (RSX), I've never tried their processors only (RSP). One thing I liked about Rotel is they have lots of clean power, so I'm not sure how much I'd like their processors (if anything, I thought the Rotel sound is a little bit dry, so it could maybe come across as sterile or harsh on some speakers).

Anyway, good luck!
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post #14 of 16 Old 10-11-2016, 12:37 PM
 
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Originally Posted by B24Fox View Post
@lovinthehd
Capacitors are an integral part of every Amp, PreAmp, SoundCard, etc.. They can make or brake any analog audio device... and can even screw up digital audio, if they're bad enough.
Every model capacitor will give a slightly different sound to any device. And if the caps have gone out of speck, they can majorly screw up the sound.
You do have some odd beliefs. Go ahead and start soldering....whatever floats your boat.
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post #15 of 16 Old 10-12-2016, 04:56 PM - Thread Starter
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You do have some odd beliefs. Go ahead and start soldering....whatever floats your boat.
Well, i DO deal with repairing electronics, so..

I understand your skepticism though, and how you might think that what i've said falls into the category of "audiophoolery". But if you would understand exactly what a capacitor's purpose is, how it works, howthey behave in time, and how they respond to frequency; then it will make more sense.
--In an audio setup, a capacitor can (very basically speaking) have 2 purposes: To filter audio signal. And/or, to feed power to the components that produce it.
So even without too much knowledge, you should realize what a big part they play in basically anything.

Also, i conclude you don't know very much about digital transmition either. I would advise you to not take it for granted as infallible. Taking into consideration how even a simple wire has capacitance, there are no perfect 1s & 0s in this world. And in many cases it's very easy with shoddy voltages or connections, to constantly miss a few bits of an audio stream, and the stream to go on, and you wouldn't even know. Don't kid yourself by thinking that there is a thorough error correction there, like you have inside a computer. And btw, sometimes even computers screw up, fyi

--
And as i remember, i stated that "i'm thinking that instead of taking a soldering iron to it, and shoving 50 to 100$ in Elna Capacitors and other parts (+ a lot of time and energy) to try and make it better; I might be better off getting something that is newer and already better from the get go."
And again, this isn't because it wouldn't bring an improvement; but because a newer and/or better designed AMP (with better audio transistors) will make more of difference than my pioneer will ever be capable of achieving, even with the top speck passive components i could have put in it.

Last edited by B24Fox; 10-12-2016 at 05:04 PM.
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post #16 of 16 Old 10-12-2016, 05:03 PM - Thread Starter
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@finiteyoda

sadly there's not much of a top-end from these brands that i could find locally And ebay, i'm keeping as a last resort, as shipping might kill me..
I'm still gonna look though.. but i might end up with a Yamaha Dsp-A1 for 280$..

How i wish i could find a Yamaha Z9 at least for 500$.. *sigh*
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