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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
So, in the age of digital amplification, are separates still worth the hassle, or can you really get the power and sound quality necessary from an all in one AV receiver?

I’ve been running an ATI 1807 for years, which, iirc, puts out around 220 RMS to my speakers setup (6 ohm load) with plenty of peak watts. It is easily able to hit reference in my theater. Now though, I need to update my Aventage receiver which I used strictly for processing with the preamp outputs since it is not 4K or Atmos.

Is it even worth the expense of trying to find a preprocessor or receiver with preamp outputs since both get into much higher end devices? (Aside, I’ve never bought into the former since you are paying for a device with no amplifiers at all and they are multiple times the cost ). Are the digital amps in the receivers without preamp support able to put out enough legitimate watts to just take the separate amp (and power/cooling requirements) out of the rack?


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I think it comes down to Speaker Sensitivity.
Since I went to DIYSG speakers, I no longer run a separate amp.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
I think it comes down to Speaker Sensitivity.
Since I went to DIYSG speakers, I no longer run a separate amp.

Good point. That is my next project. Currently running 92 dB Monitor Audio speakers, but I think I can get closer to 97 and possibly better sound with some of the DIY options out there...and it is a fun project! Not to mention I really want to move to an AT screen, wall mounted speakers all around, etc.


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Discussion Starter #4
BTW, which DIYSG models did you go with?


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I think I know exactly how you feel on a smaller scale. Coming from a coding background, I love the idea of modularity, because it means one can isolate the parts that need upgrading more often from the parts that can last longer. In computers it's the processor, in home audio it's speakers. It seems however that AV Receivers and TVs in particular are becoming really good value bundles, because the competitive market forces in features just like in PCs and phones. I love my Sony STRDN1080, it's a value beast.

So let's learn a lesson from the PC and phone market and know that planned obsolescence in product design is also a thing, and that makes electronics a bit more complicated than they used to be. IOT is just going to make things worse. I don't stay as strict to my ideals anymore. I was trying to buy a USB to digital audio out so I could get the audio out of my computer. I was happy to use the pretty decent DAC on my Pioneer Receiver because that is a big enough upgrade over my sound card, but I ended up buying an AudioQuest DragonFly instead, buying a second DAC for no reason just because it was easier and cheaper that trying to keep the signal digital just to extract value.

If you are savvy you may consider the used market, just because you seem to want to get that bang for buck. There are obvious risks I think you know to look out for, but you can stretch your budget (if you on that 2020 budget like the rest of us). These big black boxes are pretty rock solid when treated right from my limited experience. When things open again, maybe take the opportunity to test a product from a reputable seller. Perhaps you might find that internal compromise you are looking for? I just got the Pioneer I mentioned above, a SX-N30AE, for £200. I am using a the built-in Chromecast to stream Spotify while typing to you right now. Feels very 2020, with a 2018 pricetag :)
 

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Fusion 10 Pures up front(behind an AT Screen), Angled Volt 6 L/R surrounds.
 
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Fusion 10 Pures up front(behind an AT Screen), Angled Volt 6 L/R surrounds.
I am running Volt 6 V1 - side surrounds and V2 as rear surrounds. outstanding speakers. I was using them as temp mains when I first put them together.

I am thinking about a volt LCR , but it would require me to rebuild the fireplace mantel...
 
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Discussion Starter #8
I think I know exactly how you feel on a smaller scale. Coming from a coding background, I love the idea of modularity, because it means one can isolate the parts that need upgrading more often from the parts that can last longer. In computers it's the processor, in home audio it's speakers. It seems however that AV Receivers and TVs in particular are becoming really good value bundles, because the competitive market forces in features just like in PCs and phones. I love my Sony STRDN1080, it's a value beast.

So let's learn a lesson from the PC and phone market and know that planned obsolescence in product design is also a thing, and that makes electronics a bit more complicated than they used to be. IOT is just going to make things worse. I don't stay as strict to my ideals anymore. I was trying to buy a USB to digital audio out so I could get the audio out of my computer. I was happy to use the pretty decent DAC on my Pioneer Receiver because that is a big enough upgrade over my sound card, but I ended up buying an AudioQuest DragonFly instead, buying a second DAC for no reason just because it was easier and cheaper that trying to keep the signal digital just to extract value.

If you are savvy you may consider the used market, just because you seem to want to get that bang for buck. There are obvious risks I think you know to look out for, but you can stretch your budget (if you on that 2020 budget like the rest of us). These big black boxes are pretty rock solid when treated right from my limited experience. When things open again, maybe take the opportunity to test a product from a reputable seller. Perhaps you might find that internal compromise you are looking for? I just got the Pioneer I mentioned above, a SX-N30AE, for £200. I am using a the built-in Chromecast to stream Spotify while typing to you right now. Feels very 2020, with a 2018 pricetag :)

You are right about planned obsolescence and that is part of it. I don’t want to keep upgrading my processing at a premium price. If I can find a receiver that puts out enough watts, I’m happy. The issue back in the solid state world was always that they would make big claims, but RMS, all channels driven watts always fell way off. Now that we have digital amplifiers, where space and thermodynamics are not nearly as much of an issue, the point may be moot. I have a Behringer digital amp that puts out up to 3000 watts driving 8, 12” subs in 4 enclosures and it doesn’t break a sweat. If the same tech is in modern receivers, driving 7 channels should be relatively simple and inexpensive, allowing me to ditch the ATI and start treating the receiver as more of a throw away item when you need to upgrade.


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So, in the age of digital amplification, are separates still worth the hassle, or can you really get the power and sound quality necessary from an all in one AV receiver?

I’ve been running an ATI 1807 for years, which, iirc, puts out around 220 RMS to my speakers setup (6 ohm load) with plenty of peak watts. It is easily able to hit reference in my theater. Now though, I need to update my Aventage receiver which I used strictly for processing with the preamp outputs since it is not 4K or Atmos.

Is it even worth the expense of trying to find a preprocessor or receiver with preamp outputs since both get into much higher end devices? (Aside, I’ve never bought into the former since you are paying for a device with no amplifiers at all and they are multiple times the cost ). Are the digital amps in the receivers without preamp support able to put out enough legitimate watts to just take the separate amp (and power/cooling requirements) out of the rack?


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One way of looking at it is: if it ain't broke, why fix it? full pre-outs start at mid- to upper mid on most manufacturers lines. and if you aren't pressed for rack space / cabinet space, just stick with separates. the an entry pre-pro is about the same price as an higher end receiver. good news is if you go with a receiver with pre-outs, and you don't like the sound of the amplification section, you can put the ATI back in play...
 

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Discussion Starter #10
One way of looking at it is: if it ain't broke, why fix it? full pre-outs start at mid- to upper mid on most manufacturers lines. and if you aren't pressed for rack space / cabinet space, just stick with separates. the an entry pre-pro is about the same price as an higher end receiver. good news is if you go with a receiver with pre-outs, and you don't like the sound of the amplification section, you can put the ATI back in play...

What I am finding is this has changed. Most receivers with pre-outs seem to be only in the higher end models, which is not how it used to be. If I am going to spend the additional money for a receiver with pre-outs, I would just stick with the ATI. The question really boils down to is it still necessary to do so, or has amplification tech advanced to the point that even mid-range receivers have enough juice now, with the idea being to swap them out more often as the processing changes.


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What I am finding is this has changed. Most receivers with pre-outs seem to be only in the higher end models, which is not how it used to be. If I am going to spend the additional money for a receiver with pre-outs, I would just stick with the ATI. The question really boils down to is it still necessary to do so, or has amplification tech advanced to the point that even mid-range receivers have enough juice now, with the idea being to swap them out more often as the processing changes.


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What do you consider "higher end"? A Denon AVR-X3500H (7.2) has pre-outs for all 7 channels. It's a 2018 model, current closeout price around $550. The 2019 X3600H is twice that, but it processes 11 channels and has 9 amps, and resembles the X4500H more than a 3500.

What's a "digital" amp? Most AVRs are Class A/B. A few are Class D (switching mode), which isn't really digital. (Analog in, analog out, no ADC or DAC in the amp.)

Current AVRs mostly seem to be designed so that their 1 or 2 channel rated ouputs aren't available if you wanted to drive all channels at the maximum level. The amp channels are often identical, so it's presumably a power supply limitation.

I'd want separates, given an unlimited budget.
 

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What do you consider "higher end"? A Denon AVR-X3500H (7.2) has pre-outs for all 7 channels. It's a 2018 model, current closeout price around $550. The 2019 X3600H is twice that, but it processes 11 channels and has 9 amps, and resembles the X4500H more than a 3500.

What's a "digital" amp? Most AVRs are Class A/B. A few are Class D (switching mode), which isn't really digital. (Analog in, analog out, no ADC or DAC in the amp.)

Current AVRs mostly seem to be designed so that their 1 or 2 channel rated ouputs aren't available if you wanted to drive all channels at the maximum level. The amp channels are often identical, so it's presumably a power supply limitation.

I'd want separates, given an unlimited budget.

By higher end, I mean exactly that. Take the Denon line. Their X series is their higher end line above their S series. In the Yamaha, you have to go to their higher end Aventage, and then, up to the 8 series before you get full pre outs. It did not used to be that way as the RX series used to offer models with pre outs as well. Before you say it, yes, I am fully aware there are more expensive “high end” boutique brands like Rotel, NAD, etc.

A “digital” amp is a class d amp. In the common parlance, they are often referred to as a “digital” amps. Yes, I understand there are analog components. There are analog components to everything “digital”. I also get that receivers are not able to drive their RMS ratings across all channels. In fact. I said that very thing earlier

Lastly, of course with an unlimited budget, we would all go separates. As for me, while I could throw money at a system just to say I did, I try to be a little more fiscally responsible and am not big on paying top dollar for diminishing returns. Again, the point going back to the original post is has the tech in current AVR amplifiers become “good enough”.


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(snip)

A “digital” amp is a class d amp. In the common parlance, they are often referred to as a “digital” amps. Yes, I understand there are analog components. There are analog components to everything “digital”.

(snip)
I used to use that parlance myself, until it was pointed out to me that Class D amps don't use digital signals. Their output transistors are used in switching mode (1 or 0, if you like), but the signals are never digital (8 bit, 16 bits, 24 bits) anywhere in the amp. The processing to do PWM (pulse width modulation) is analog.

If there is such a thing as a truly "digital" amp (what'd that be, a DAC with a 200W output?), I've not heard of it.

I probably shouldn't have said anything. The digital or non-digital nature of a class D amp isn't relevant to most discussions. Most AVRs seem to be A/B, anyway.

As for "high end", I wondered what sense you meant it in. The Denon X series is high end with respect to the S series, although there is considerable overlap in specs. An X1600H isn't in the same class as an X8500H, in my mind.

If you thought I was being critical, my apologies. Not my intent.
 

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What I am finding is this has changed. Most receivers with pre-outs seem to be only in the higher end models, which is not how it used to be. If I am going to spend the additional money for a receiver with pre-outs, I would just stick with the ATI. The question really boils down to is it still necessary to do so, or has amplification tech advanced to the point that even mid-range receivers have enough juice now, with the idea being to swap them out more often as the processing changes.


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as has been discussed in this thread, amplifier tech hasn't changed much, per say. I have seen many comments about receivers and the amp sections as relates to the heft of the power supplies -and older/vintage are reputed to have beefier components. another thing to consider with more current designs, as well as class D amps is efficiency, and/or how much heat is generated. Class D amps do run cooler, typically. Heat can be a killer for the life expectancy of electronics.

the things that change more often is the processing. Which is a benefit of separates that you are will positioned for. you can re-use your amps with a more current processor. thus potentially saving you some money.

hope it helps
 
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