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I have a set of Paradigm Studio speakers and a REL T2 sub. While not top of the line they are pretty good speakers. I need to get a new receiver but will I ever notice a big difference in sound quality between a $400 unit or $1500+ one? I am tending towards the new Yamaha V6A but I feel like I am paying for features not sound. If this is true will a $400 5.1 setup like Sony or Denon work just the same?
Thanks
Mike
 

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Lower-end AVRs have gotten better over the years, but if the price point of the Sony or Denon makes the difference, go to Costco and look at the Yamaha TSR-700 and have the best of both worlds.
It's a Costco/Warehouse model, but it's basically a RX-V6A clone for the price of the lower-end models.
Availability has been spotty on the website, so you may want to call a local warehouse.

I am tending towards the new Yamaha V6A but I feel like I am paying for features not sound. If this is true will a $400 5.1 setup like Sony or Denon work just the same?
 

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Thanks but I am in Australia and we don't have those deals.
 

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Usually the less expensive receivers have smaller power supplies and are not as powerful as the larger, more expensive receivers. So generally speaking, the worst that can happen by purchasing a less expensive and smaller receiver is that you will not be able to play your speakers as loud.
 
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It's like asking if you can run a top fuel dragster off of 87 octane gas and get the same performance. You have to match the fuel (methane/amp+preamp) to the engine (rail drag car/speakers). I would recommend that you look at the efficiency of your speakers and pair it with your amplification and consider signal path treatment (power supply topology, DACS, OPAmps, shielding etc) of your electronics. If you're going with those studios they're fairly efficient at 92db in room. If you are going to hit Dolby reference SPL (just saying here) you would need something like 200 REAL watts out of an amp. Why so much? it's about the loudness of the sound effects relative to the dialog track but that's another forum post. If you have a 97 db efficient speaker that goes down to something like 80 watts. Please don't take those numbers for gospel. There is actual math to figure that out precisely and I'm too lazy to look it up. I'm not trying to talk you into changing your speakers as they are really probably great for what you want, but you will need to drive them with something that actually produces 140+ watts. On top of that you want something engineered to cleanly reproduce all of that.

Cheap electronics are built to a price point. Instead of using circuits crafted to maximize sound quality, they use an amplifier package component that keeps component costs down (sound quality is not top of the list here) but is also reliable and easy to integrate and test on an assembly line. The prices are beat down by the penny in the quantities these parts are purchased in. If you go a little higher end, the manufacturers have more margin and can be nicer, use slightly higher quality parts, do more troubleshooting on the assembly line etc... We could talk about class D vs class AB but it's about the amount of quality you're getting out of the unit I would expect to be in the $600-&700 range for a receiver that would drive these and have a moderate quality of construction. I would also lean more towards an onkyo or a denon than a yamaha. I think they sound much better, please make your own decisions. A better option would be almost any quality amp and a receiver with preamp outputs or a dedicated processor. I would even go with a used amp and a new receiver. My amps are 20 years old and still going strong. I'm sure I will need to re-cap them at some point but they will be good for another 20 years at that point.
 

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In my experience, sound quality is most influenced by speakers, room, placement of speakers (in this order), way before the amplifier. Of course, all within reason, but most recent AVRs fall into the above order. And some may add sound source on top of this list, but again we’re talking about current sources that most use.
If you add “sound volume” as one of the must-haves, then you will need to check that the combination of speaker’s sensitivity, room size and amp power produce the SPL you want/need at the listening position in the room. There are online SPL calculators to help.


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Solid state amplifier technology was perfected in the 60's. All amps are capable of playing back 20-20Khz in a flat line. The distortion difference between amps is so small, you can't hear a difference. This assumes the amp isn't pushed too hard causing clipping.

When you buy a more expensive receiver, you're paying for features and more watts prior to clipping, but keep in mind, you need 10x the power to hear 2x the volume, so you have to buy a way more powerful amp to notice much difference in volume.

People would be amazed at how loud 1 watt is. And also amazed at how little difference there is between say 50 watts and 100 watts.

If all you need is a receiver capable of playing 5.1, save your money and don't buy a 9.2 receiver that has 15 more wpc. Unless you want features the more expensive unit has.
 

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A lot depend on the impedance, sensiivity/efficiency of the speaker itself, listening distance, room acoustics, how quiet the room reads and so on.

The price of the speaker means nothing--it don't. If you have a high sensitivity speaker of 95dB 1w/1m at a solid 8 ohms, listen at around 100dB/C peaks at a listening distance of around 3 meters/10 feet at the absoute maximum power required if your room size is a palace--that would be a max watts required of 32 watts. In a typical living room with boundry gain it will be in the range of 20 watts or less. It don't matter if the speaker costs $200 or $20,000 because it presents a light load to the amplifier as a chip amp will give you the performance you require.

Now if you have 4 ohm speakers which dip down into the 2 ohm range down in the bass region, you will require a high current amplifier which costs some bucks to provide the current demanded by the speaker--don't hatter if the speaker is $200 or $20,000.... you have to match the impedance of the speaker to the amplifier. If your 4 ohm speaker is inefficient at 85dB 1w/1m, you are listening at a distance of 4 meters or 13.3 feet and demand 100dB/C...or want reference levels of 105dB/C then you need hundreds of watts of high current amplification to get the required SPL. Nothing personal, just math and physics as it is a machine that runs on electical power--how it works.

Long ago amplifiers became very accurate so the big things to look for are the S/N ratio, this can be easily manipulated with specs listed them at max power. A 50 watt per channel amp with a S/N ratio of 105dB at max power will be quieter than a 500 watt per channel at 110dB at full power. This is why testing sites like Audio Science Review will test the S/N ratio at 5 watts to keep everyone even.

What about distortion? Well, read the charts and get the distortion at 0.01 watt to full power to answer that. The spec of X watts at X distortion depends on what they determine the maximum power should be. You can have the exact same amplifier give a reading of 0.05% distortion at 100 watts, 0.1% distortion at 125 watts, 1% distortion at 140 watts and 10% distortion at 160 watts--same amplifier so it depends on how you want to market the thing.

Generally speaking, I don't worry about distortion below 0.1% because I fully understand that the speakers have much, much higher distortion. Easy to spot, look at distortion readings on speakers when driven at 95dB or higher at one meter...you usually see over 1% speaker distortion which is the far larger problem than 0.05% VS 0.03% at full power. The more power you throw into a speaker, the farther the diaphram moves (the entire point) which creates more non-linear movement, hence higher distortion. If you are are reference levels and your speakers are generating 3% distortion, the tiny amount of distortion the amplifier generates is completely swamped by the speaker distortion.

For example, my garage speakers are line arrays and will generate 100dB/C at 12 feet listening distance from a 10 watt chip amp that is not clipping. Sure, my adjustable limiter amp can tap the limiter lights at 200 watts and I get 116dB/C at 12 feet (waaaaay too loud!) I get 114dB/C with a 120 watt studio amp at clipping and 110dB/C from an old 50 watt or so receiver at 12 feet. I use the chip amp when doing woodworking to cover up the studio amp to protect it from getting chocked on sawdust. The PA amp gets pressed into service for summer BBQs/parties because it can cool itself in the scorching summer heat a few times a year. The arrays have a minimum impedance of just under 6 ohms, they average over 8 ohms across their bandwidth and even the old receiver runs cool with such and easy impedance load not to mention the very high efficiency. The thing I do notice is the higher background noise from the chip amp, high efficiency speakers really show any noise in the system. Fun to mess with people, the chip amp is driving the speakers and I'll turn on the PA amp with nothing connected--so the audiophile types feel better. :) Most people enjoy the speakers and don't care about whatever amplifiers drive them... it is generally not a point of conversation.

I do like my full DSP controlled PA amp, it is pretty, has more power than I can use (why I adjusted the limiters down) but it is not there for sound quality. The studio amp generaly drives the system as I prefer extensive power output lights, clip lights and that sort of thing. I know when the amp is pushing around 30 watts per channel which is about the max the neighbors will put up with--the PA amp allows me to meet the members of local law enforcement.

For me, I look at the S/N ratio of the amplifier/receiver whatever in question because I use very high efficiency 8 ohm speakers in my living room. The the LCR is 98dB+ 1w/1m or higher so any noise in the system is easily heard. The compression driver mid/tweeter makes it really easy to hear any noise--so I pay attention to that as it is a real world concern. Any kind of grounding problem is obvious with high efficiency speakers but that is the price you pay for performance.

Now if you don't want to learn about speaker impedance, impedance varies depending on frequency, how to read the test reports to spot any impedance issues with speakers under test, calculate power requirements and all that jazzx... then just keep throwing money at it. Plenty of people do! For me, I read books about it in my youth so fully understand how to get the design correct the first time be it car audio, PA systems, HT systems and simple 2 channel--the same rules apply. To get some education under your belt, go to Audio Science Review, they actually test audio equipment and you will be surprised to note how price does not equal performance. Plenty of holy grail amplifiers have been stripped of their clothes so if you are a brand fan boy--best stay away from ASR! Since subwoofers distort the most,go to data-bass.com and they have plenty of information and testing about the distortion king subwoofers.

In summation, that depends... performance is performance and although cost is a factor the design is the main driver. Plenty of many thousand dollar amps can't beat a chip amp on the test bench so keep that in mind. One battery of proper testing negates thousands of opinions as test gear is not effected by marketing, room acoustics and such. Go to ASR for more information, learn the basics then select the correct amp/receiver or whatever that meets your needs. Enjoy! :)
 

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Cambridge Audio Azur 540, Paradigm Studio 20 v5, REL T2 sub
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Discussion Starter #10
Solid state amplifier technology was perfected in the 60's. All amps are capable of playing back 20-20Khz in a flat line. The distortion difference between amps is so small, you can't hear a difference. This assumes the amp isn't pushed too hard causing clipping.

When you buy a more expensive receiver, you're paying for features and more watts prior to clipping, but keep in mind, you need 10x the power to hear 2x the volume, so you have to buy a way more powerful amp to notice much difference in volume.

People would be amazed at how loud 1 watt is. And also amazed at how little difference there is between say 50 watts and 100 watts.

If all you need is a receiver capable of playing 5.1, save your money and don't buy a 9.2 receiver that has 15 more wpc. Unless you want features the more expensive unit has.
That's what I think as well. I just thought that more Watts will make my speakers sound better at normal (low) volume.
 

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Solid state amplifier technology was perfected in the 60's. All amps are capable of playing back 20-20Khz in a flat line. The distortion difference between amps is so small, you can't hear a difference. This assumes the amp isn't pushed too hard causing clipping.

When you buy a more expensive receiver, you're paying for features and more watts prior to clipping, but keep in mind, you need 10x the power to hear 2x the volume, so you have to buy a way more powerful amp to notice much difference in volume.

People would be amazed at how loud 1 watt is. And also amazed at how little difference there is between say 50 watts and 100 watts.

If all you need is a receiver capable of playing 5.1, save your money and don't buy a 9.2 receiver that has 15 more wpc. Unless you want features the more expensive unit has.
I agree with a lot you said and take issue with a few things.

First I agree about saving money and do 5.1, how loud 1 watt is, 10x power for 2x volume, how 50 watts vs 100 isn't a big difference etc.

I disagree that amps were perfected in the 60s. An amp from those days would have been NPN transistor based and probably not affordable until the late 60s at best, a clunky topology etc. Basically a transistor version of a vaccum tube amp. Transistor amps I believe were more prevalent in the 70s and came into their own in the 80s and 90s with amps like the Halcro, the zero feedback Thetas, Krell, Mondial Aragon/Palladiums, Hafler, etc... The big iron amps like ATI, Emotiva, etc are still built in much this same way. There is a newer generation of Class D and Class T amps that are transistor based but instead of one of those A/B monsters with a huge analog power supply they are often made with switching power supplies and they switch the output at very high frequencies. The switching can cause goofy anomalies and harmonics. Same thing for DACs. There is no such thing as a resistor ladder DAC anymore. They're all pulse conversion. A well implemented Class D/T amp sounds as good and measures as good as their more analog brethern but a bad one sounds terrible. It's a lot harder to get right and they're both cheaper than an old school NPN or FET based amp. I have a $200 sony receiver in the closet that sounds terrible. It uses some sort of IC package amplifier and a switched power supply. I have a Dennon reciever that also cost $200, it uses a similar IC package amp of some sort and has a transformer in the PSU. It sounds great. Do I think the PSU is the reason? No. I think that Dennon used a superior amplifier IC and implemented a superior topology and signal path. Cost was the same to me, sony probably made a lot more margin than Dennon did in this case. I need to donate the sony or something because I can't stand to listen to it. I also have a NAD 40 watt amplifier that I bought from a pawn shop 30 years ago for $50, probably made in the early 80s, that destroys the sound quality from the Dennon. Just because it was perfected a long time ago doesn't mean all products are now equal, too many ways to cut corners and screw a product up.

Advise to OP would be to try and listen to what you're putting your money into and make sure you like how it sounds.
 

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The Paradigm Studio seems to be a high end line. If you have the tower speakers capable of bi-amp then you will feel better with an higher end AVR: the drivers need current from the power supply.
With a higher price AVR you will have a better power supply, a better DAC and more room correction capabilities. At the end the music should sound better.
After it is a question of budget and taste.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
Thanks @mindedc for your reply. I also have a very old NAD which I bought second hand but gave it to my brother and it is still working fine after 30 years. I think I will keep my Cambridge for now as I mostly use it for Music with a Google ChomeAudio dongle. I really don't care about Atmos, HDR+ and all those features that require more s****t I don't want or can afford.
Cheers
 

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The Paradigm Studio seems to be a high end line. If you have the tower speakers capable of bi-amp then you will feel better with an higher end AVR: the drivers need current from the power supply.
With a higher price AVR you will have a better power supply, a better DAC and more room correction capabilities. At the end the music should sound better.
After it is a question of budget and taste.
Thanks,
I have the Studio 20 v5 bookshelves. Paradigm 20
I agree that higher-end AVR might be better but to what degree? That's my dilemma as most of my audio sources come from Spotify or my ripped CDs via Google Play or movies from Netflix. I am not an Audiophile or purist although I do prefer playing my electric guitars via a tube amp :).
 

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That's what I think as well. I just thought that more Watts will make my speakers sound better at normal (low) volume.
Nope, it is the opposite, sort of. The speakers have a peak performance zone that requires a certain amount of power to get the best designed sound from the speakers; this varies by actual speakers. So, if you have a 500watt RMS speaker and only give it 3watts, it will not perform very well, as a norm. If you have a 25watt RMS speaker and only give it 3watts, it will likely perform better, as a norm. This does not guarantee the "quality" of sound but rather the ability of the speaker to perform the best it can by its design. In my looking for home systems, I didn't really see very many home speakers with more than 250watts RMS because it usually isn't needed in closed in rooms in homes.
To me, if you know you ONLY listen at low levels, I would look for something with the highest quality components in about a 50watt RMS speaker. It depends on the level of sound you want at the distance from your speakers that you sit when listening.
There are a handful of things you want to get in line: Room reflection (lots of glass and wood floors vs. carpet, wall coverings and sound absorbing furniture), matching speaker impedance w/ AVR or Amp (usually not a problem with modern equipment), Speaker sensitivity with the higher the better (generally), Distance you sit from speakers and volume you like to listen to and speaker position in room.
Some people spend thousands and thousands of dollars on systems but don't get the above things lined out and wonder why the systems don't sound incredible. Some people spend hundreds and get those things lined out properly and love their systems. (Yes, some spend thousands and get it all right and love it, too.)
 

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You might get more aussie relevant info if you join stereo.net.au forum (if you haven't already).
Do you have a budget or are you like me and look at value for money, rather just money ?
I have been through quite a few AVRs recently and tend to agree that they all sound good no matter what quality level they are. My cheap Pioneer 7 channel AVR actually sounded better than my mid-range Denon, Although none of them seem to be quite as nice as my top of the range Yamaha (None of which are current models though). ANd I have bought them all second hand without any issues.
The only one I bought new was a Marantz SR7012 with a RRP of $4300 and it was crap - nothing I did to the settings or speaker positioning sounded good. In fact it sounded really bad as I discovered when I replaced it with the Yamaha. But given that Marantz AVRs are generally accepted as being among the best (at affordable price points) leads me to believe I had a faulty unit.

Search for Peak SPL Calculator on hometheater.com (or something like that - can't quite remember the exact website) and put in all your details to work out how much power you need - as stated above you may be surprised at how little it is.
Then buy the best quality AVR with twice the rated power with ALL CHANNELS DRIVEN. You can get a ballpark figure for this if the manufacturer doesn't supply it - take the max power consumption, times it by .8 (you lose 20% in efficiency losses) and then divide by the number of speakers you are driving. That will give a rough max power to each speaker. (this is not scientific method - just a rough guide)
 

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Thanks @niterida . I look for value for money and in the world of AVR (or music in general), the options and variables are so great that deciding on a budget makes the whole process much easier. I don't think I will go wrong with any modern amp/ receiver around the $AU1K mark.
 

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Thanks @niterida . I look for value for money and in the world of AVR (or music in general), the options and variables are so great that deciding on a budget makes the whole process much easier. I don't think I will go wrong with any modern amp/ receiver around the $AU1K mark.
Yep should be sweet at that price point.
Or jump on stereonet and grab a 2nd hand bargain.
What setup do you have 5.1, 2.0, 2.1 or 3.1 ?
You my even be able to grab a cheap AVR and use it as a pre-amp and grab a 2,3 or 5 channel amp for less than $500.
Rotel RB985 amps seem to pop up often (I recently sold one) and they are 5x100wpc (genuine 100w) and go for $400
That will bring any system to life :)
 

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Discussion Starter #19
Thanks. I run a 3.1 but want to add surrounds at some point. I will check the second hand market.
 

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If you look value for the money you can look at the new Cosco deal with a Yamaha TSR700.
It is the last technology (2021) at a very low price.
The first users seem happy with it.
 
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