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Digital or Analog HT Receiver?... and Some Suggestions

321 Views 2 Replies 2 Participants Last post by  Horsepower
Hi all. I'm looking for an HT receiver for less than $500. It could be either a digital or analog. I keep seeing these digital HT receivers with loads of features for less money than analog units, but a lot of the digitals have a THD of 0.9%. I read somewhere that the THD will be higher on the digitals, but how does that higher THD compare to an analog unit with a THD of 0.09% or lower? I'm concerned about spending my money on something that might have inferior sound and inferior construction.

So I guess my question is this... since the digital receivers have a higher THD but seem to cost less money, is this simply a case of "you get what you pay for" when considering sound and quality? Or is there some real reason why the digital receivers cost less but are comparable to analogs?

On a related note, I would REALLY appreciate some advise on which receivers to consider. The options and features available are a bit overwhelming. I've spent hours on this forum and have learned a lot but still not enough. I just want to go out and buy something and get it over with. Your suggestions would speed this process up for me.

What I have now: a standard definition Directv R10 Tivo with 1 optical out; a dvd player that has 1 digital coax out and can play MP3's; a pair of 3way Kenwood speakers that have 15inch woofers.
What I plan to do: use the above speakers; add the other speakers needed for at least 6.1 sound when i can afford them; add a subwoofer; have the media files on my computers available to be played through the receiver and possibly across my network.

Top 4 things that I want:

1. 100 watts(stereo mode) or more of excellent sound quality for music and movies.(I don't necessarily need 100 watts for surround sound)

2. Future proof. I don't have an HDTV yet, but eventually will get one. I want to know my new receiver will have all the bells and whistles needed for a Directv HDTV Tivo and it's digital connections.

3. Less than $500 price tag. The cheaper the better, but with the features, sound quality and connections needed for the near future.

4. Durability. I'm not interested in receivers that have a higher than normal failure rate. I want something that is going to last for years.

Thanks for your help.
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THD measurements are as sick as power ratings these days, IMHO.

Class AB designs always distort more in higher frequencies than lower, due to feedback. That's why most THD measurements are taken at 1khz at 1 watt. Feedback can even be tweaked to have super low THD measurements at 1khz. Good class-d designs (all "digital" amps should be based on some sort of class-d) are linear in feedback, distortion is linear across the bandwidth - that's why they also measure higher in distortion. Good class-d designs have nice thd levels as well actually, for example Hypex UcD's measure in the 0.0x range, over the entire bandwidth.

Next thing is, you have analog amps, analog class-d amps and pure digital amps - the difference (simplified)? Class-d needs a PWM signal to operate. The analog class-d versions take analog sound in, convert it with A/D to PWM and amplify. full digital designs take the PCM signal, convert it into digital domain to PWM and amplify - no digital to analog conversion before the amplification.

The middle solution can also be very good, because D/A's are already very advanced these days, purely digital should be best on paper, but of course, how well the switching works, and the quality of the power supply, is the defining quality factor in digital amps. Digital not = perfect :D

I've settled on building my own analog class-d amps based on Hypex UcD's. I have 2 channels already, and it's wonderful compared to same-priced (and even much more expensive) analog class-ab amps.
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Thanks for the reply.

I think I understand what you're saying. When comparing receivers I am seeing specifications like "100W/ch x 6 (1kHz, 6 ohms, 0.9% THD)" for many of the digital receivers. But some of the analog receivers rate their THD like this: (20 Hz - 20,000HZ @ 8 ohm, 0.09% THD). Does this mean that the THD distortion levels are 0.09% through all of those frequencies on this particular analog, not just 1k hz?

Another thing I just noticed: why are the digital receivers showing their THD at 6 ohms impedance, instead of 8 ohms? This makes it harder to compare digital vs. analog. From what I've seen, wouldn't the THD be lower at 8 ohms than it is at 6? My current speakers are 8 ohms. I'm not looking to replace them, so the 6 ohm rating isn't helping me decide what to buy.

Can anyone give me a reason to not consider a digital HT receiver? Their prices are falling quickly and I'm wondering why. I don't want to have to spend more money on another HT receiver in a few short years because there are problems with quality or sound with them.

Does anyone have any suggestions on an HT receiver based on the things that I'm looking for in my first post?

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