Is there any receiver that is transparent for stereo?
In the past I have owned multiple AV receiver. Onkyo, Rotel, Marantz.
I sold my last AV received back in 2013. At that time, I was running a Marantz Pre-Amp (not an AV receiver) with Emotiva 5-channel amp.
B&W 804S, HTM-4, 805 rears. Oppo BDP-105 as my source.
I switched to a 2.1 channel setup and matched with Marantz PM-15s2. Oppo BDP-105 -> Marantz PM-15s2 -> B&W 804S + Velodyne sub.
Completely different world. Completely different world.
Lately felt like getting a HT system back up.
However, I had forgotten how much of a difference and how transparent an integrated amp is compared to AV products.
In the past month, I have purchased the following:
All items were burned in.
All tests were conducted with my wife and my younger son (to see if it was just me hearing the difference or not)
The Marantz PM-15s2 has the ability to act a power amp. It's called "Power Direct". So I can test just how transparent or not the pre-amp portion of the unit it.
So I have done the following test.
Oppo (used as source only) -> Marantz PM-15s2 = sound "A"
Oppo (used as source + pre-amp) -> PM-15s2 (in Power Direct mode. So the volume or tone or anything does absolutely nothing) = sound "A" same sound as above.
I tried the SR7012 first.
Oppo (source) --digital connection --> SR7012 = sound "B"
It sounded good.. but it made the speakers sound like... speakers.
I tried the Oppo's higher end analog output to the SR7012. It sounded better. But only marginally.
The Marantz SR7012 still made the speakers sound like speakers.
I switched back to the PM-15s2.. and it's just soooooo good. No, it is not like a veil being lifted. It's like the speakers completely disappear and the sound becomes real. Like you can touch it.
Next item purchased. Power amps. I didn't know which one I would like so I bought both.
Oppo (used as source + pre-amp) -> PM-15s2 (in Power Direct mode) = sound "A"
Oppo (used as source + pre-amp) -> Emotiva = sound is very similar to sound "A".
Oppo (used as source + pre-amp) -> Rotel = sound is very similar to sound "A".
So I can confirmed that regardless of which power amp I used, they all still kept the B&W 804S at their real potential levels.
Oppo (as source, using higher-end analog output) - > Marantz SR7012 -> Marantz PM-15s2 (as power amp) = sound "C")
Yes, it had a bit better. A more full sound compared to the Oppo + SR7012 only combo.. but it still brought the B&W speakers back down to "speaker levels".
Same as above, but with the Emotiva.
Same as above, but with the Rotel.
I tried so many different things on the SR7012. I tried their Direct Pure Mode. I tried disabling any and every setting adjustment on the SR7012.
I tried resetting the unit to factory reset, then tried again to see if I had any setting that was adding some kind of effect to the sound.
No matter what I tried with the Marantz SR7012, the pre-amp portion of the AV received always changed the sound. It always changed the sound.
The following tests, I used only the Oppo, the PM-15s2, and the SR7012
Oppo as source -- analog-- > Marantz SR7012 = sound "B"
Oppo as source -- analog --> into Marantz PM-15s2, then using the PM-15s2's pre-out --> Marantz SR7012 = sound "B"
So adding the PM-15s2 in the middle, I skipped the PM-15s2's power amplification. It only used the PM-15s2's pre-amp section. The sound did not change at all. This showed me that the Marantz PM-15s2 really is transparent.
Next I reversed the test.
Oppo as source -- analog --> Marantz PM-15s2 = sound "A"
0 Oppo as source -- analog --> Marantz SR7012 input, then using the pre-amp outputs --> PM-15s2 (as power amp) = sound "B"
This test uses only the pre-amp section of the SR7012. This showed me that it the SR7012 really is NOT transparent.
People always say it's the power amp that fails these AV receivers, but I have found that it's the pre-amp section that really degrade it so much.
Researched, researched, researched...
I went ahead and bought a Marantz AV7702.
I did the same exact tests as above.
I do not mean to offend any AV77XX owners, but man does Marantz rip people off with these.
Even repeating the same as test #9
and test #1
0, the AV7702 degraded the sound so much. Even with the AV7702 (which is suppose to be so good), the B&W 804S once again sounded like.. speakers.
I did test #1
0 with the SR7012.. and then the same test with the AV7702... hardly any difference at all. That was so sad to find that out. Such a rip off.
Now, don't get me wrong, with all the tests, it always sounded great.
However, it wasn't a case of "marginally better". It was that once you see what your speakers can REALLY REALLY REALLY do.. it's hard to accept going back to such a downgrade.
So... back goes the AV7702, the SR7012, and then sold the Rotel.
I thought I would be fine using the Oppo + Emotiva for HT purposes, but no.
So back to the point of this thread.
Is there really any AV receiver that is truly transparent?
Is there an AV receiver that has a pre-amp section that is as good as a real integrated amp?
Would especially love to hear the feedback from NAD, Yamaha, Arcam AV receiver owners.
And sorry for the long post.