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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I currently have a hybrid 2-channel/HT system set up as follows:


2-channel:

Vortexbox server feeds Logitech Touch coax to Marantz SA8004 (also listen to CD/SACDs on this unit)

Cambridge 840a v2

B&W CM7


The Cambridge has a HT bypass so its power amps run the mains for HT. AVR is Marantz SR7001 feeding a 5.1 system.


I'm looking to consolidate equipment, but I don't want to take a step down in quality on my 2-channel setup.


I've been out of the AVR world for four years since I bought my current one, and am wondering if things have improved.


How far up the food chain do I have to go to get something that would consolidate this gear? I'm thinking of something like this:


-Have the same DAC quality as the Marantz SACD player

-Be able to stream gapless FLAC/ALAC files (I listen to a lot of classical) like the Logitech

-Have 2-channel preamp qualities as good as my Cambridge


I'm thinking I could feed it via HDMI with a decent blu-ray player that can also read SACDs.


I'm not too concerned about a power amp, because I will be using an external amp even for an AVR (perhaps just continue using the power amp in the Cambridge).


Here's the kicker: I also want Audyssey XT32 for HT and possibly multichannel SACD.


Am I looking for the pie in the sky?
 

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I don't know what makes you think that Audessy is the solution.


Be aware that the Audessy is a digital processing system that will lower the sound quality of anything it processes, and should not be used in a high-quality sound system.


This is why Cambridge, and some other high-end manufacturers, do not use it.


It is a tool for improving the sound of mediocre AVRs and speakers, but IMO should never be used with a high-quality AVR.


I suggest that you put your money into a Cambridge 551R AVR, and the improvement in sound quality will be very rewarding. You also will not need an external amplifier.


Cambridge AVRs, IMO, are far better than any other AVR on the market in terms of REAL speaker-drive capability and sound quality.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by commsysman  /t/1499570/avr-or-pre-pro-for-two-channel-help-me-consolidate/0_100#post_23947370


I don't know what makes you think that Audessy is the solution.


Be aware that the Audessy is a digital processing system that will lower the sound quality of anything it processes, and should not be used in a high-quality sound system.


It is a tool for improving the sound of mediocre AVRs and speakers, but IMO should never be used with a high-quality AVR.


I suggest that you put your money into a Cambridge 551R AVR, and the improvement in sound quality will be very rewarding. You also will not need an external amplifier.


Cambridge AVRs, IMO, are far better than any other AVR on the market in terms of REAL speaker-drive capability and sound quality.

LOL - Beware audiophools spreading myths.




and FYI:
Quote:
Full Room Audyssey Room EQ Our latest-generation EQ, dynamic volume and phasing automatic setup system means the 751R will always sound at its best, no matter what shape or size your room is, and no matter where you sit - with setup optimised for three separate seating locations.
azur 751
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·

Quote:
Originally Posted by Kal Rubinson  /t/1499570/avr-or-pre-pro-for-two-channel-help-me-consolidate#post_23947165


Marantz AV8801 prepro, if it fits your budget.

Thanks Kal. I've read your reviews of the 8801 and the AV7005. 8801 is pushing the budget, but if it means I can sell ALL of my 2-channel stuff, the money gap is less. Of course I'd still have to come up with a power amp.


Anyway, can you comment on the 2-channel differences between the 7005 and 8801? Via digital and analog? Sounds like you are confident that the DACs in the 8801 would be able to replace those in the SA8004 SACD player, but would the 7005? I remember in your 7005 review you said something like you were very happy with its stereo playback via digital or analog.


I know the 7005 doesn't have XT32, but at its current price that might be a sacrifice I'd be willing to make.


Anyway, thanks for your help!
 

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I really have little recollection of the 7005, so I had to go back and read what I wrote.  But I guess you know as much about that as I do and I cannot add much.

 

What I can say is that I bought the 8801 because it was the best under-$4k prepro that I had found and, as good as the 7005 was, it didn't make that impact on me.  However, it was/is an excellent value.

 

The 8801 is bigger and better and, although I cannot itemize these without doing your research, I'd bet that the streaming on it is much more advanced than that of the older 7005.

 

Seems like a matter of budget.  If it can accommodate the 8801, get it.  If the accommodation  is too painful, get the 7005.
 

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If you are trying to consolidate, it doesn't make much sense to get a pre/pro + amp + source player. There is not going to be a difference in sound quality, and contrary to what was stated above Audyssey is a very useful tool and does not make things sound worse. Furthermore, having something like SubEQ will make a very big difference for your HT sound.


I think the Denon AVR-X4000 is a great choice for you, and the only source/DAC you need is an Oppo 105. This covers all your needs in two units.
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by commsysman  /t/1499570/avr-or-pre-pro-for-two-channel-help-me-consolidate#post_23947370


I don't know what makes you think that Audessy is the solution.

Nobody thinks that about Aydyssey, even its advocates. It is one solution of many, and your chosen adverse wording may indicate prejudices against it.

Quote:
Be aware that the Audessy is a digital processing system that will lower the sound quality of anything it processes, and should not be used in a high-quality sound system.


The above seems to reflective of very old-school prejudices - the basic idea that digital always degrades sound quality.

Quote:
This is why Cambridge, and some other high-end manufacturers, do not use it.

You mean Cambridge Audio who make the azur-751r AVR?

http://www.soundandvision.com/content/cambridge-audio-azur-751r-av-receiver


Letsee:


"This receiver’s back panel is smaller than that of a typical topof-the-line receiver. However, the real estate is well used. It’s hard to imagine anyone needing more than six HDMI inputs and two outputs (the latter are both ARC compliant). There are also three high-def-capable component video ins and one out, one for second-zone use. (A separate Zone 2 remote is supplied, and a “Follow Main” function allows digital sources to be routed to the second zone.) Cambridge is one of the few receiver makers to support S-video for legacy analog source components as well as the more customary composite video. A set of 7.1-channel analog inputs is provided to patch in an old universal disc player; there’s also a set of 7.1 outputs (with the option to run twin subs) to feed a separate amp.


One extremely noteworthy addition to the connectivity suite is the back-panel USB Type B jack. It allows you to connect a Windows or Mac computer and play audio files with resolution of up to 24 bits and 96 kilohertz through an onboard digital-to-analog converter (up to 192 kHz with a downloadable driver). This is only the second receiver I’ve reviewed—after the Pioneer Elite SC-68—to include a computer-friendly DAC. And it uses asynchronous technology similar to that used in high-end DACs selling for hundreds or even thousands of dollars as separate components. The advantage of an asynchronous DAC is it wrestles the clocking function away from the computer, stabilizing the bitstream to eliminate potentially sound-polluting jitter. Additionally, all digital content coming into the remaining digital inputs is upsampled to 24 bits/192 kHz by Anagram’s ATF (Adaptive Time Filtration) anti-jitter technology, said to be an exclusive here among AVRs."



Yup no digital in Cambridge's line of products - what alternative universe did you say you are posting from? ;-)

Quote:
It is a tool for improving the sound of mediocre AVRs and speakers, but IMO should never be used with a high-quality AVR.

"

Auto setup and room correction are significant features of any modern audio/video receiver, regardless of price or aspirations. Cambridge has licensed Audyssey 2EQ. There is no such thing as bad Audyssey room correction—although a listener paying $2,999 for a receiver should note that of the four Audyssey schemes, 2EQ has the lowest filter resolution. The others, in ascending order of quality, are MultEQ, MultEQ XT, and MultEQ XT32. There is no bass correction in 2EQ, a notable omission given the near-universality of uneven bass response in real-life rooms. One possible workaround would be to use a sub that supports bass-related room correction, such as my Paradigm Seismic 110.

"


What was that you were saying about Cambridge and Audyssey? ;-)


Of course I'd recommend that pmd spend $299 like I did and get an AVR with a higher level of Audyssey than this 10-times as expensive boat anchor...
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kal Rubinson  /t/1499570/avr-or-pre-pro-for-two-channel-help-me-consolidate#post_23948000


I really have little recollection of the 7005, so I had to go back and read what I wrote.  But I guess you know as much about that as I do and I cannot add much.


What I can say is that I bought the 8801 because it was the best under-$4k prepro that I had found and, as good as the 7005 was, it didn't make that impact on me.  However, it was/is an excellent value.


The 8801 is bigger and better and, although I cannot itemize these without doing your research, I'd bet that the streaming on it is much more advanced than that of the older 7005.


Seems like a matter of budget.  If it can accommodate the 8801, get it.  If the accommodation  is too painful, get the 7005.

My main gripe with the 8801 (other than it's so freaking big) is that it lacks an asynchronous USB input for direct PC-based audio streaming. I think an AV preamp that expensive and with that many inputs on the back should include an asynchronous audio input. On the other hand, to my knowledge, no AV preamp includes an asynchronous USB input. But some AVRs do, including the Cambridge Audio Azur 751R mentioned above.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Brownstone322  /t/1499570/avr-or-pre-pro-for-two-channel-help-me-consolidate#post_23950125



My main gripe with the 8801 (other than it's so freaking big) is that it lacks an asynchronous USB input for direct PC-based audio streaming. I think an AV preamp that expensive and with that many inputs on the back should include an asynchronous audio input. On the other hand, to my knowledge, no AV preamp includes an asynchronous USB input. But some AVRs do, including the Cambridge Audio Azur 751R mentioned above.
So does my Meridian 861v8.  

 

I agree with you about the USB but I actually prefer using ethernet so I can leave the computer/NAS in another room.  I think we will see all this soon.  
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kal Rubinson  /t/1499570/avr-or-pre-pro-for-two-channel-help-me-consolidate#post_23950243


So does my Meridian 861v8.

At 25 Large, it better not be lacking in anything that I can actually name and understand.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Shaun B  /t/1499570/avr-or-pre-pro-for-two-channel-help-me-consolidate/0_100#post_23951235


I would stick with a pre/pro. Not an AVR  It is basically, a jack of all trades and a master of none.

out of curiosity, what can a pre/pro do that an avr w/ pre-outs cannot do?
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by 67jason  /t/1499570/avr-or-pre-pro-for-two-channel-help-me-consolidate#post_23951393

Quote:
Originally Posted by Shaun B  /t/1499570/avr-or-pre-pro-for-two-channel-help-me-consolidate/0_100#post_23951235


I would stick with a pre/pro. Not an AVR  It is basically, a jack of all trades and a master of none.

out of curiosity, what can a pre/pro do that an avr w/ pre-outs cannot do?

Generally, the pre/pro sells at a premium price. So it can alleviate the pressure of extra cash in your pockets. ;-)


For example the Denon AVP-A1HDCI is priced at $7500 while Denon's most expensive AVR runs only about $2500.


You can compare their features and performance here

http://usa.denon.com/us/product/pages/productdetail.aspx?catalog=denonna_us&pcatid=avsolutions(denonna)&catid=avreceivers(denonna)&pid=avr4520ci(denonna)

http://www.livingsound.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2013/02/Denon-AVR-4520-Review.pdf

http://www.whathifi.com/review/denon-avr-4520


(no S&V or other technical review seems avaialble)


versus:

http://usa.denon.com/us/Product/Pages/ProductDetail.aspx?CatId=AVSeparates(DenonNA)&Pid=AVPA1HDCIA(DenonNA)

http://www.soundandvision.com/content/denon-avp-a1hdci-surround-preampprocessor-and-poa-a1hdci-10-channel-power-amplifier

http://www.audioholics.com/av-preamp-processor-reviews/denon-avp-a1hdci
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by 67jason  /t/1499570/avr-or-pre-pro-for-two-channel-help-me-consolidate#post_23951393


out of curiosity, what can a pre/pro do that an avr w/ pre-outs cannot do?

Nothing. In fact, it will likely do less, as AV preamps typically are less focused on the feature war that drives the AVR market. To me that's a good thing, because AVRs are usually heavy on gimmickry that I neither want nor need, so I use a separate AV preamp. But, as Arny mentioned above, you'll pay a premium for the "neatness" of separates, and there's no objective way to argue that a separate A/V preamp delivers better performance. Why would it? How would it?


The advantage of separates lies in a separate power amplifier, which will almost always outperform the amplifier section crammed into an AVR chassis. Whether you'll actually need or use that extra power is a separate discussion, however, and, as you've already mentioned, an AVR with line-level outputs will achieve the same results.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by arnyk  /t/1499570/avr-or-pre-pro-for-two-channel-help-me-consolidate/0_100#post_23951596

Quote:
Originally Posted by 67jason  /t/1499570/avr-or-pre-pro-for-two-channel-help-me-consolidate#post_23951393

Quote:
Originally Posted by Shaun B  /t/1499570/avr-or-pre-pro-for-two-channel-help-me-consolidate/0_100#post_23951235


I would stick with a pre/pro. Not an AVR  It is basically, a jack of all trades and a master of none.

out of curiosity, what can a pre/pro do that an avr w/ pre-outs cannot do?

Generally, the pre/pro sells at a premium price. So it can alleviate the pressure of extra cash in your pockets. ;-)


For example the Denon AVP-A1HDCI is priced at $7500 while Denon's most expensive AVR runs only about $2500.


i
Thanks arny, i was hoping the person who I quoted would mention why he thought what he did.
Quote:
Originally Posted by Brownstone322  /t/1499570/avr-or-pre-pro-for-two-channel-help-me-consolidate/0_100#post_23951883

Quote:
Originally Posted by 67jason  /t/1499570/avr-or-pre-pro-for-two-channel-help-me-consolidate#post_23951393


out of curiosity, what can a pre/pro do that an avr w/ pre-outs cannot do?

Nothing. In fact, it will likely do less, as AV preamps typically are less focused on the feature war that drives the AVR market. To me that's a good thing, because AVRs are usually heavy on gimmickry that I neither want nor need, so I use a separate AV preamp. But, as Arny mentioned above, you'll pay a premium for the "neatness" of separates, and there's no objective way to argue that a separate A/V preamp delivers better performance. Why would it? How would it?


The advantage of separates lies in a separate power amplifier, which will almost always outperform the amplifier section crammed into an AVR chassis. Whether you'll actually need or use that extra power is a separate discussion, however, and, as you've already mentioned, an AVR with line-level outputs will achieve the same results.


these "gimmiks" in avr's how do they affect overall sound quality?


why do many pre/pro's have just as many "gimmiks" as their avr cousins? take marantz 8801 for example, its feature set is very comparable to the denon 4520 and x4000 (after all they come from the same parent compay). why/how would the 8801 be "better" even though it has the same "gimmiks"?


Personally, when I shop, I get the best value I can find with the feature set I am interested in. Often times there will be other features that come along as part of the package that I may not necessarily have a use for, if I dont use these features, how does having them included but unused affect sound quality?
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by 67jason 

these "gimmiks" in avr's how do they affect overall sound quality?

I think they're audible, so it'd be up to you to decide how "good" they sound. My point was that most AVRs are feature-laden; in the AVR market, there's a general perception that "more is better" -- seven, nine or even 11 channels, height/width channels, Dynamic Volume, Dynamic EQ, video processing (probably redundant), it goes on and on ... that's all a bit much for my needs, but it might have appeal to you. I'm primarily satisfied with 5.1 channels and lossless codecs coupled with high power amplification, and that's pretty much all my Rotel A/V separates provide. (On the other hand, I don't doubt that room correction, such as one of the Audyssey MultEQ products, may have positive effects; almost all listening spaces will probably benefit from careful equalization.)

Quote:
Originally Posted by 67jason 

why do many pre/pro's have just as many "gimmiks" as their avr cousins? take marantz 8801 for example, its feature set is very comparable to the denon 4520 and x4000 (after all they come from the same parent com pay).

I think you answered your own question. D+M Group is a large operation, and it's cost-efficient for the company to spread features (and circuitry and licensing fees) across its preamp and AVR lines. But even in such cases (and the AV8801 is not typical of AV preamps), AVRs have a shorter product cycle, so most receivers get the latest features before AV preamps do. The issue is whether these features add any real value.

Quote:
Originally Posted by 67jason 

why/how would the 8801 be "better" even though it has the same "gimmiks"?

I don't think an intellectually honest person will tell you that the AV8801 is any "better" than a higher-end Denon/Marantz AVR or any other good AVR. In my case, I want a separate, high-powered amplifier, so an AV preamp is appealing to me, not because it's "better," but because I don't like the idea of seven or nine amplification channels idling inside the "control box." But that's just me; an AVR with line-level outputs should and does function as a fine control/processing unit.

Quote:
Originally Posted by 67jason 

Personally, when I shop, I get the best value I can find with the feature set I am interested in. Often times there will be other features that come along as part of the package that I may not necessarily have a use for, if I dont use these features, how does having them included but unused affect sound quality?

I don't think having unwanted or unused features will affect sound quality at all. They may affect the product' s price, and they may affect the product's ergonomics and usability, but, if they're properly designed and implemented, they shouldn't affect the sound at all when not in use. In other words, switch 'em off and pretend they're not there.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Brownstone322  /t/1499570/avr-or-pre-pro-for-two-channel-help-me-consolidate/0_50#post_23953555


I don't think an intellectually honest person will tell you that the AV8801 is any "better" than a higher-end Denon/Marantz AVR or any other good AVR. In my case, I want a separate, high-powered amplifier, so an AV preamp is appealing to me, not because it's "better," but because I don't like the idea of seven or nine amplification channels idling inside the "control box." But that's just me; an AVR with line-level outputs should and does function as a fine control/processing unit.
I think some of the HK AVRs allow you to turn the amps off.


I went through the AVpre/AVR conundrum some time back and decided that by and large the AVpres give you zero benefit over an AVR. In some rare instances the AVpre may have an extra feature over an equivalent AVR, but I never found one I needed or wanted, so I went with an Onkyo AVR of which I use none of the poweramps as all my speakers are active. It was considerably cheaper than any AVpre I could buy at the time.


If there is an AVR with preouts that has all the features you need, just buy that. Spend the left over money on important things like booze and strippers.
 

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Quote:
Originally Posted by 67jason  /t/1499570/avr-or-pre-pro-for-two-channel-help-me-consolidate#post_23952091



these "gimmiks" in avr's how do they affect overall sound quality?

Back in the days of all-analog, there were real mechanisms by which gimmicks sacrificed reliability and even signal quality.


Every gimmick needs an on/off switch and switches (and connectors) are often two least reliable parts of any audio gear. So the switch was a reliability and therefore a sound quality liability all by itself.


The gimmick itself was usually pretty benign when switched out of the signal path, but things like a shorted power bypass cap in a gimmick/signal processor could take the whole AVR down. It was impossible to have a master reset function that backed all of the gimmicks out.


Of course digital changed all that. Dedicated switches and dials are now rare, and the gimmicks are implemented by computer code that is branched around if not used. There is usually some kind of master reset function that restores the whole AVR to factory defaults.
Quote:
why do many pre/pro's have just as many "gimmiks" as their avr cousins? take marantz 8801 for example, its feature set is very comparable to the denon 4520 and x4000 (after all they come from the same parent compay). why/how would the 8801 be "better" even though it has the same "gimmiks"?

As I read the feature lists, the pre/pro version usually has more features than the AVR version. Are they also gimmicks? That lies in the eye of the beholder. However, if an AVR lacks something, its rarely a deal breaker since so many deals are at stake.


A lot of pre/pros are quite transparently just AVRs spread over two chassis. And that gets back to an earlier point - connectors are among the least reliable parts of any audio gear, and more signal quality is often lost in the transition between two chassis than is lost internally in either one.


We've been here before - high end CD players early on developed an architecture that spread the components of a CD player over two chassis, one of which was called a transport and one of which was called a DAC. The external interfaces were often done poorly, and band aids such as jitter reducers were a third added component to try to alleviate the mistake that was made when the CD player was spread over two chassis.


Let's be practical about this - if you want 5 or 7 or 9 multi-killowatt power amps, they aren't all going to fit inside an AVR chassis, at least until we have an all-switchmode implementation, which is apparently here a little but mostly around the corner. Of course I anticipate AVRs with more than 1 power cord so you can power it from multiple house circuits due to its maximum power drain.
 

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I am not a believer in the "mischmasch" of HT and HiFi... HiFi in these days getting a unique chance to become important again - this is what we can watch allover the world. 95% of the HT Systems are crap to make quick cash..... selling 5,6 or 9 speakers which cant compete to the performance of 2 simple but good speakers.
 
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