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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Before I saw the Cambridge Azur 540R I had my heart set on a pioneer 1014TX. Now I have seen the cambridge and have been very impressed with the reviews for sound quality and power. Can the pioneer compete at all with the cambridge?


My reasoning is this I can afford the cambridge, however it takes all my money and I would like to get a HSU STF-2 as well which would be possible only if I get the pioneer within a month.


My Speakers are Focal Chorus 707's, Polk CSI30, Cheap Emerson Rears, Cheap sony sub. I also have an older Sony DE-825 receiver which defintly could be replaced 2nd only maybe to my need for a sub.


I listen to 70% music 30% movies. I could defintly use a sub with the focals I just got, but dont want to waste the money on the pioneer if there is a huge difference between the 2 for the about 270.00 price difference


Please help me with some information as I have been going back and forth for the past 3 weeks so its obvious I cant make up my own mind.
 

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Quote:
Originally posted by Billabongi
I listen to 70% music 30% movies. I could defintly use a sub with the focals I just got, but dont want to waste the money on the pioneer if there is a huge difference between the 2 for the about 270.00 price difference
With that much music I would definitely get the 540R or maybe a NAD T743. If it would be 30/70, then the Pio could be an option.
 

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Every review I read of the Cambridge AZUR 540R stated that it can do justice to music, I have never seen that statement in a review of a Pioneer receiver.
 

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Although the Pioneer has more features, at your ratio of music to movies, I too would go with the Cambridge. If it had been available when I was receiver shopping, there's a good chance I'd own one.
 

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There is not another receiver that I'm aware of in the price range of the Pioneer 1014 that I would rather have. In terms of a receiver that you can get for less than $400, the 1014 is already much more than you could ever ask for. I find that Pioneer has a very balanced and warm tonal character throughout the entire frequency range. Its dynamic when called upon and remains detailed the whole time. In Lue of my recent experiences with my Pioneer Elite VSX-43TX, I have found a receiver that matched MY personal preference in character. I have always been fond of Onkyo as well, but my Pio really is nice. One thing, is that we are all different, and there are certainly many who prefer other brands. I will agree that the Pioneers are very strong for HT, and probably a very safe bet for someone who listens to a majority of HT vs Music. But then again, if you like "Pioneer" sound, then you will also like Pioneer for music as well. Individual results may vary.
 

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For HT, the Pioneer is very dynamic, but for music my Onkyo wins hands down. My Onkyo 800 has a mid-tone/mid-bass richness that cannot be touched by my Pioneer Elite 54tx. For what its worth, the 800 uses the Wolfson DACs, which are also used by Cambridge Audio.
 

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The Cambridge 540/640C CD players use Wolfson DACs but the 540D and 540R use Cirrus Logic DACs, just to clarify. But I would still pick the Cambridge over the Pioneer for audio. Of course, it's only my opinion.
 

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Ovation,

I'm new to actually knowing anything about the DACs and have a 540R. Which processors, Wolfson or Cirrus would you say were better? Or is the difference too slight to really compare? I have done the analog vs. digital input test with my older Sony DVD and my Cambridge Audio 540R and can say the receiver does a finer job decoding than the DVD, much more detail, but I'm thinking about an upgrade later on to a Cambridge DVD unit.
 

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Wolfson DAC's are some of the finest availible.
 

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The DACs issue is one that is frequently debated. In the early days of digital audio, quality differences were easily discernable, as the technology and its implementation were new. Today, the differences appear subtle, if at all. There are those who say that DAC technology has matured to the point that they are indistinguishable (assuming same processing capacity, 24/192 khz, for example) unless some catastrophic design flaw is at work. Others swear by their favourite brand. DACs, of course, are not the whole story. Op amps or alternates like Marantz HDAM system also have a role to play. I'm not an engineer so I can't explain the technicalities. Wolfson, Burr-Brown and Cirrus Logic are a few of the better known brands out there. Each makes high quality expensive DACs as well as less expensive, lower rated DACs, so the name alone is not a proof of top quality, though I don't think one can go wrong with any of these manufacturers. I preferred the sound of the 540D to the 540C when I was looking for a CD player (using the player's DACs) but I can't say that I'd prefer Cirrus to Wolfson all the time (my receiver has Wolfson DACs and I use it for Dolby Digital decoding, not the player). As always, to me it comes down to auditioning the gear and picking the one that sounds best. If two (or more) sound equally good, then I consider features, ergonomics, build quality, warranty and other issues. I auditioned the 540D and 540C using the 540R as the receiver. I also compared the two to the receiver (using the digital connection and the receiver's DACs) and here's how my ear liked them, in order:


1)540D

2)540R

3)540C


The expected outcome before I started the auditioning was


1)540C

2)540D

3)540R


So, in this case, I guess Cirrus won (btw, the Cirrus DACs in the receiver are not the same as the ones in the DVD player at Cambridge).


Have fun auditioning, and I hope I've been of some small help.
 

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I agree with Ovation that DAC in 540D sounds better than in 540R.
 

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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
Is there anything else I should be looking at in the pre 650 range?


I have the Pioneer 1014TX, Cambridge 540R, Marantz 5400 and NAD T743 on my lists. However my biggest problem is no one around here has a good return policy on the last 3. Im currently demoing the Pioneer 1014 just to see how it is.


Can anyone give me their opinions on the above 4 and add anything else that should be on the list? Im buying within the next week and dont want to make a mistake.


To update my previous post above, I have a HSU STF-2 Sub on the way so now I need to get my receiver.
 

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I don't think for the price range, that you could really mess up too bad with these choices you have as long is you don't get a dud or something like that.


I'm biased on my experience with the 540R, but I hear folks rave about the NAD's and the Marantz's as well. They describe Marantz as warm, so if your speakers are warm, that could be an issue. NAD and CA are voiced pretty close I'd say from what I've read. You see a good bit of NAD's in the market as refurbs.. Which shouldn't be a real cause for alarm, because they may just sell a bunch of them.. Like HK, who also has tons of refurbs in the market.


It's a toss up unless you can actually look at, hear, touch and look inside these units to compare the components.. Good quality heat sinks, etc. Do they feel solid? We see NAD boldly placing ads in Stereophile magazine. I don't know if that should mean anything, but they are adventurous for the higher end customers looking for "hifi" without the cash for $5000 separates. Also, there is a review in the latest Stereophile A/V on the NAD T773, which gave it a pretty good write up. The 773 is the current flagship so, take it with a grain of salt. It's all about perception I guess at this price range.


On return policies, audioadvisor is very good to work with.. they have Cambridge Audio stuff.. but it is mail order. Also there's spearit sound for CA and NAD both. Probably shouldn't state retailers but my point is there's lots out there for the mail order thing. I suffer as well with few dealers in my area.
 

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I do not have the Cambridge so I cannot compare them, nor can I say anything, good or bad, because, of course, I do not have the Cambridge.


BUT, I do have the Pioneer 1014, and am very happy with it, I have all 7 speakers hooked up to it and it plays very nicely.


When playing DVD's, (via an older 5 year old Toshiba ) it is very crisp and defined.


I want to get some new speakers, as my L & R ones are about 11 years old, and played everyday, to really see well the receiver sounds, but so far, I sounds much better than my old, Pioneer Elite 1014.
 

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Quote:
Originally posted by Billabongi
Is there anything else I should be looking at in the pre 650 range?


I have the Pioneer 1014TX, Cambridge 540R, Marantz 5400 and NAD T743 on my lists. However my biggest problem is no one around here has a good return policy on the last 3. Im currently demoing the Pioneer 1014 just to see how it is.


Can anyone give me their opinions on the above 4 and add anything else that should be on the list? Im buying within the next week and dont want to make a mistake.
These would be my educated rankings for those receivers.


Sound quality:

1) NAD T743

2) Marantz SR5400OSE

3) CA Azur 540R

4) Marantz SR5400

5) Pioneer 1014TX


Features:

1) Pioneer 1014TX

2) NAD T743 (I like the more adjustable BM, 12V triggers more than 6th ch)

3) Marantz SR5400/SR5400OSE

4) CA Azur 540R
 
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