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Denon DRA-800H Review (Stereo Receiver)

User_22

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Did you try to swap your generator / measurement eqipment input/output left/right to be sure, the 800H has defects not your stuff? I'd do first it. It's strange the similar difference seen on poweramp measurement.
Yes, post 200 Calibration mode. I connect RMA FIFEFACE Audio Interface Output to Audio Interface input. Testing generator is Audio interface output. Software: SpectraPlus_SC. Testing equipment SINAD is about 108 dB. All OK!
It's strange the similar difference seen on poweramp measurement.
You read the measurement incorrectly. I measured only left canal output Main Zone (top chart) and output Zone 2 only left canal (bottom chart). No association with poweramp.
 

User_22

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These DAC measurements look excellent! to me, almost 15 db better than Amir's original values!
I marked 1,2,3 points on the ANALOGUE SOUND BLOCK chart. I shorten those points and check the signal path.
At CD input (coaxial), zone 2 Source: source, no signal sent to PCM1690. The signal passes through the PCM5100A DOWNMIX DAC (Point 3). Signal drop shorten only to point 3. Sorry I didn't expect this option before :(. PCM5100A and 98 dB ???
 

SoundsGood64

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I marked 1,2,3 points on the ANALOGUE SOUND BLOCK chart. I shorten those points and check the signal path.
At CD input (coaxial), zone 2 Source: source, no signal sent to PCM1690. The signal passes through the PCM5100A DOWNMIX DAC (Point 3). Signal drop shorten only to point 3. Sorry I didn't expect this option before :(. PCM5100A and 98 dB ???
@User_22 Nice work in the machine and thanks for the posts, including block diagram.
For point #1 on your analog block diagram, did it shorten when playing Main Zone CD digital coax source in direct mode? This would directly confirm (as opposed to inference) that PCM1690 is upstream of your "modded" (do-it-yourself modification) Main Zone pre-out and the stock Main Zone amps. I recall that you were hesitant to shorten at the PCM1690 chip--understandable because it would be difficult to be precise with the small pin size.

When you have HEOS set as the source for in the Main Zone, and you set Z2 source to source, which DAC(s) is(are) upstream of the modded Main-Zone and stock Z2 pre-outs? You mentioned part of this before, but there's been some changes in your posts, so just want to see what you're thinking now. Based on your posts, I suspect the answer is: PCM1690 for Main Zone and PCM5100A for Z2.

Might be interesting to see if one can play digital coax CD in Main Zone (via PCM1690) but HEOS in Z2 (via Network Z2 PCM5100A DAC). This would contradict the user manual (my post 206), but based on some block diagrams I've examined, seems like a possibility. The reason one cannot play one digital source in Main Zone and a different digital source in Z2 (ref post 206) is because it appears there is only one pathway for the various digital sources, excluding HEOS. In contrast, HEOS digital signal appears to have a branch (not a switch) that goes to the Net Z2 PCM5100A, and another that goes to a switch in the PLD that toggles between multiple possible digital sources that is upstream of both the Main Zone DAC and the Downmix DAC.
 

User_22

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When you have HEOS set as the source for in the Main Zone, and you set Z2 source to source, which DAC(s) is(are) upstream of the modded Main-Zone and stock Z2 pre-outs? You mentioned part of this before, but there's been some changes in your posts, so just want to see what you're thinking now. Based on your posts, I suspect the answer is: PCM1690 for Main Zone and PCM5100A for Z2.
PCM1690 for Main Zone and PCM5100A NETWORK DAC for Z2. When I have a HEOS Main zone and set Zone 2 Source to HEOS is the same.
Might be interesting to see if one can play digital coax CD in Main Zone (via PCM1690) but HEOS in Z2 (via Network Z2 PCM5100A DAC). This would contradict the user manual (my post 206), but based on some block diagrams I've examined, seems like a possibility.
That's how it works. PCM1690 for Main Zone (SINAD 101dB) and PCM5100A NETWORK DAC for Z2 (SINAD is not measured by HEOS).
 

SoundsGood64

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Thanks again to User_22 for these measurements. User_22 has been using Google translate and there have been some changes in the results, so I took the liberty to summarize the most up-to-date results from digital sources. @User_22, please review, edit, correct, and add information as needed.

All using DIRECT mode (as opposed to STEREO mode)
Power at a load of 8 ohms 5W

Main Zone Source: digital coaxial CD 1khz tone
Main Zone DAC in revised DRA-800H is PCM1690, confirmed by shorting the analog output with resistor at Point 1 in block diagram (post 257) and detecting drop in signal from Main Zone Pre-out, which User_22 created by modifying the machine. SINAD measured from Main Zone pre out is -101 dB. SINAD measured from speaker posts is 71dB for L and 88 dB for R. User_22 attributes the distortion measured from the L speaker post (compared to R) to a faulty transistor.
Z2 Source: Source (in this case digital coax CD), Downmix DAC PCM5100A with SINAD from Z2 preout -98 dB. PCM5100A confirmed by shorting at Point 3 in block diagram.

Main Zone Source: digital coaxial CD 1khz tone
Main Zone DAC is PCM1690, SINAD -101 dB from Main Zone pre-out
Z2 Source: HEOS, Network Z2 DAC PCM5100A, SINAD not measured by HEOS. PCM5100A confirmed by shorting at Point 2 in block diagram.

Main Zone Source: HEOS
Main Zone DAC is PCM1690
Z2 Source: Source, Network Z2 DAC PCM5100A, SINAD not measured by HEOS
 

User_22

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Thanks again to User_22 for these measurements. User_22 has been using Google translate and there have been some changes in the results, so I took the liberty to summarize the most up-to-date results from digital sources. @User_22, please review, edit, correct, and add information as needed.
I made a table to remember. I think that will be a summary. Comments are welcome.

DRA-800H_measure.jpg
 

ttt

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I made a table to remember. I think that will be a summary. Comments are welcome.

View attachment 178045
Thanks. Strange that the headphone (HP) output measurements. The HP left open on my device, the PCB is empty, also left out from the scematic. It uses divider resistors and a relay from the main PA output. Do you have the separated one NOT empty on your PCB? So you measured NOT the PA?
 

User_22

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Thanks. Strange that the headphone (HP) output measurements. The HP left open on my device, the PCB is empty, also left out from the scematic. It uses divider resistors and a relay from the main PA output. Do you have the separated one NOT empty on your PCB? So you measured NOT the PA?
I checked the PCB. No H / Phone parts installed. In practice, I measured the output of the Poweramp through 470 Ohm resistor.
The artificial load was a resistor 33 Ohm /5W. In H / Phone mode disconnects the relays of speaker A and speaker B. There are no separate relays for H / Phone.
Conclusion: The Poweramp Left channel almost meets the DENON specification. And Channel Right is much better. DENON PMA-2500NE (3000 USD) Amplifier has 0.07% at 8 ohms / 80 W THD + N.
You can try to select a pair of final transistors for the channel Left. We'll get 0.003%?
 
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peng

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I made a table to remember. I think that will be a summary. Comments are welcome.

View attachment 178045

The downmix DAC PCM5100A is not even differentially connected and according to the datasheet, SINAD is 90 dB typical, can you explain how it could measure 8 dB better in your test? I understand there is always going to be tolerance, but 8 dB is a lot. Also the 90 dB spec is for just the DAC IC itself. I am not questioning your test equipment and method, just being very curious about such great results on the PCM5100A.


1641920487778.png
 

User_22

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The downmix DAC PCM5100A is not even differentially connected and according to the datasheet, SINAD is 90 dB typical, can you explain how it could measure 8 dB better in your test? I understand there is always going to be tolerance, but 8 dB is a lot. Also the 90 dB spec is for just the DAC IC itself. I am not questioning your test equipment and method, just being very curious about such great results on the PCM5100A.
I set the source level to + 6dB. At a source level of 0 dB, SINAD is about 94 dB (My post 200). The measurement was at highs signal levels - the measurement conditions were excellent. Maybe 90 dB is the minimum manufacturer specification to the sampling frequency 384 kHz. At a sampling frequency of 48 kHz, for example, the dynamic range of the DAC will be larger.
 

peng

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I set the source level to + 6dB. At a source level of 0 dB, SINAD is about 94 dB (My post 200). The measurement was at highs signal levels - the measurement conditions were excellent. Maybe 90 dB is the minimum manufacturer specification to the sampling frequency 384 kHz. At a sampling frequency of 48 kHz, for example, the dynamic range of the DAC will be larger.

Not really, below is from the data sheet, you can see that -90 dB is typical, not the worse. Also for 48 kHz it could get a lot worse, only -80 dB THD+N, that is 80 dB SINAD. So far nothing can explain your good numbers, but I'll take them if they are actually that good.:)

1641927952429.png


If you look at the curve for the better 5102A, higher input level actually would get worse:

1641928039161.png
 

User_22

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Not really, below is from the data sheet, you can see that -90 dB is typical, not the worse. Also for 48 kHz it could get a lot worse, only -80 dB THD+N, that is 80 dB SINAD. So far nothing can explain your good numbers, but I'll take them if they are actually that good.
The theory is when everything is fine and not working. The practice is when everything works, but everyone doesn’t know why? :) I practice more. When I set my RMA audio interface to Sample Rate 48 kHz I have about 114 dB SINAD. Sample Rate at 192 kHz remains at about 110 dB SINAD.
 

ttt

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Anyway, anyone here around has tested and compared it's sound quality to other bigger brothers like Marantz, NAD? I mean stereo music, not movies. Focus on music quality by ears. Would it be worth paying many times more for them or the difference is negligible? I read listening tests many places, but they usually saying it's acceptable and good. Without comparing to others, I think they also biased by listening mainly streams.
 

Nonick

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I've managed to test(audition) DRA800H / Marantz NR1200 / Yamaha R-N803D / Cambridge Audio AXR85 --> all on JBL Stage A180. All impressions are strictly subjective (i tend to like mid/treble clarity and not much of an bass "oomph").
Yamaha R-N803D: i was expecting more "grunt" and clarity. Slightly "flat" and boring sound. Turned on Pure direct mode - no spectacular changes. I like to listen at low volume levels, and R-N803D wasnt spectacular in that field: emphasized bass (almost boomy), distant treble (although i was much much better then R-N402).
Denon DRA 800H: more treble clarity, slightly better on low volume, tightened bass. Certainly an improvement over R-N803D. I got the impression of a "electrified impulse" sound (clear but artificial). 20% better then R-N803D.
Marantz NR1200: this was a pure winner. On low volume it has the best clarity and balance, tight bass, incorporated mids. Its not warm or muddy/ smooth sounding, it's very precise and clear. I liked it more then Yamaha and Denon. Turned on Pure Direct: even better on low volume. Upon increasing volume, it had (subjectively) the same clear, connected and tight sound as on low volume. JBL Stage A180 started to sound really nice with NR1200.
Cambridge Audio AXR85: didn't impress me much. Sound wise - between Yamaha and Denon. Strong bass, slightly muddy. Managed some treble/bass controls, but i couldnt set the sound right. Also it has an active fan which started to spin during presentation.

In the end i checked Denon DRA800H and Marantz NR1200 manufacture dates and DACs. Any DRA800H/NR1200 units manufactured after May 2021 use a PCM5102A, 32-bit DAC from Texas Instrument.
So this was a test with PCM1502A DAC within DRA800 and NR1200.
Didn't have the oportunity to audition AK4458 unit.

Edit: i went beserk with Yamaha R-N402D hiss from JBL tweeters, so i plugged in old Denon AVR 3803. Very similar sound to Denon DRA800H, but more calm. I'm waiting to pull the trigger on Marantz NR1200... or assemble miniPC / Topping E50 + PA5 :)
 
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ttt

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Thank you @Nonick , its very informative. I hear very similar things on my Q3050i. I feel the DRA800H sound a bit tiring, "electrical", not natural. Not distorted, but somehow mixing sounds compared to an older, self-made amplifier. Denon is more coloured than it. Somewhere I read, this is the so called TIM distortion. Don't know, but hearing it. So, I'm thinking about a new one.
 

peng

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Thank you @Nonick , its very informative. I hear very similar things on my Q3050i. I feel the DRA800H sound a bit tiring, "electrical", not natural. Not distorted, but somehow mixing sounds compared to an older, self-made amplifier. Denon is more coloured than it. Somewhere I read, this is the so called TIM distortion. Don't know, but hearing it. So, I'm thinking about a new one.

If you trust those subjective reviews, okay, but are you going to listen to all of those listed and be able to compare them under the same conditions. If not, then the trouble is, you are going to get different opinions so you probably would still have to hear them for yourself. Another thing, the Denon and the Marantz may have less than 1 dB difference in terms of rated output, but their preamp/DAC and even the power amp section will most likely be identical or near identical aside from the physical difference, yet people who do sighted test will likely tell you one sounds better than the other.

Of those listed so far, between the D and the M it will be the easiest to choose because you can pick the one that looks better and I am 99.9% certain they will sound the same except in sighted test. I do not believe in all amps sound the same, but those two should really sound the same for all intents and purposes as there are no technical reasons for them not to..
 
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GiBo61

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I've managed to test(audition) DRA800H / Marantz NR1200 / Yamaha R-N803D / Cambridge Audio AXR85 --> all on JBL Stage A180. All impressions are strictly subjective (i tend to like mid/treble clarity and not much of an bass "oomph").
Yamaha R-N803D: i was expecting more "grunt" and clarity. Slightly "flat" and boring sound. Turned on Pure direct mode - no spectacular changes. I like to listen at low volume levels, and R-N803D wasnt spectacular in that field: emphasized bass (almost boomy), distant treble (although i was much much better then R-N402).
Denon DRA 800H: more treble clarity, slightly better on low volume, tightened bass. Certainly an improvement over R-N803D. I got the impression of a "electrified impulse" sound (clear but artificial). 20% better then R-N803D.
Marantz NR1200: this was a pure winner. On low volume it has the best clarity and balance, tight bass, incorporated mids. Its not warm or muddy/ smooth sounding, it's very precise and clear. I liked it more then Yamaha and Denon. Turned on Pure Direct: even better on low volume. Upon increasing volume, it had (subjectively) the same clear, connected and tight sound as on low volume. JBL Stage A180 started to sound really nice with NR1200.
Cambridge Audio AXR85: didn't impress me much. Sound wise - between Yamaha and Denon. Strong bass, slightly muddy. Managed some treble/bass controls, but i couldnt set the sound right. Also it has an active fan which started to spin during presentation.

In the end i checked Denon DRA800H and Marantz NR1200 manufacture dates and DACs. Any DRA800H/NR1200 units manufactured after May 2021 use a PCM5102A, 32-bit DAC from Texas Instrument.
So this was a test with PCM1502A DAC within DRA800 and NR1200.
Didn't have the oportunity to audition AK4458 unit.

Edit: i went beserk with Yamaha R-N402D hiss from JBL tweeters, so i plugged in old Denon AVR 3803. Very similar sound to Denon DRA800H, but more calm. I'm waiting to pull the trigger on Marantz NR1200... or assemble miniPC / Topping E50 + PA5 :)
I'm surprised there is such a noticeable difference in listening experience between the Denon DRA-800H and the Marantz NR1200. I'm wondering what are the different internal components besides the final transistors.
 

GiBo61

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I've managed to test(audition) DRA800H / Marantz NR1200 / Yamaha R-N803D / Cambridge Audio AXR85 --> all on JBL Stage A180. All impressions are strictly subjective (i tend to like mid/treble clarity and not much of an bass "oomph").
Yamaha R-N803D: i was expecting more "grunt" and clarity. Slightly "flat" and boring sound. Turned on Pure direct mode - no spectacular changes. I like to listen at low volume levels, and R-N803D wasnt spectacular in that field: emphasized bass (almost boomy), distant treble (although i was much much better then R-N402).
Denon DRA 800H: more treble clarity, slightly better on low volume, tightened bass. Certainly an improvement over R-N803D. I got the impression of a "electrified impulse" sound (clear but artificial). 20% better then R-N803D.
Marantz NR1200: this was a pure winner. On low volume it has the best clarity and balance, tight bass, incorporated mids. Its not warm or muddy/ smooth sounding, it's very precise and clear. I liked it more then Yamaha and Denon. Turned on Pure Direct: even better on low volume. Upon increasing volume, it had (subjectively) the same clear, connected and tight sound as on low volume. JBL Stage A180 started to sound really nice with NR1200.
Cambridge Audio AXR85: didn't impress me much. Sound wise - between Yamaha and Denon. Strong bass, slightly muddy. Managed some treble/bass controls, but i couldnt set the sound right. Also it has an active fan which started to spin during presentation.

In the end i checked Denon DRA800H and Marantz NR1200 manufacture dates and DACs. Any DRA800H/NR1200 units manufactured after May 2021 use a PCM5102A, 32-bit DAC from Texas Instrument.
So this was a test with PCM1502A DAC within DRA800 and NR1200.
Didn't have the oportunity to audition AK4458 unit.

Edit: i went beserk with Yamaha R-N402D hiss from JBL tweeters, so i plugged in old Denon AVR 3803. Very similar sound to Denon DRA800H, but more calm. I'm waiting to pull the trigger on Marantz NR1200... or assemble miniPC / Topping E50 + PA5 :)
I'm surprised that the Denon DRA-800H in you audition sounds better than the Yamaha R-N803D considering that the latter performed definitely better in Amir's tests. I guess it means that often subjective preferences prevail on objective measurements.
 

Nonick

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I'm surprised that the Denon DRA-800H in you audition sounds better than the Yamaha R-N803D considering that the latter performed definitely better in Amir's tests. I guess it means that often subjective preferences prevail on objective measurements.
As stated - all impressions are strictly subjective. I was also suprised during the audition, since i tended to like N-R803D looks most of all. I even arranged all 4 receivers at the same place with same speakers. Its the best looking receiver of the whole bunch. I tried to like R-N803D (based on visual impression and Amir's measurement) sound more then Denon or Marantz, but it just wasnt the case. R-N803D sound was similar to R-N402D sound: emphasized bass (almost boomy), distant treble. Tested Pure Direct, played with Flat controls, bass/treble... on low/mid volume listening it wasn't appealing and clear as Denon or Marantz. Even AXR85 was better.
How is this possible? Seems like SINAD and THD aren't the only factor of appealing sound. What could be a decisive factor is THD + N / power.
Yamaha R-N803D has THD+N 0.1% for power output above 3 W.
Marantz NR1200 has THD+N below 0.1% for power output above 2.2 W.
Since i listened on low/mid volume levels this might be the enigma clue.

Yamaha R-N803D
52142-laboratorium-yamaha-r-n803d-audiocompl-fot3.jpg

Marantz NR1200
58923-laboratorium-marantz-nr1200-audiocompl-fot3.jpg


 

peng

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As stated - all impressions are strictly subjective. I was also suprised during the audition, since i tended to like N-R803D looks most of all. I even arranged all 4 receivers at the same place with same speakers. Its the best looking receiver of the whole bunch. I tried to like R-N803D (based on visual impression and Amir's measurement) sound more then Denon or Marantz, but it just wasnt the case. R-N803D sound was similar to R-N402D sound: emphasized bass (almost boomy), distant treble. Tested Pure Direct, played with Flat controls, bass/treble... on low/mid volume listening it wasn't appealing and clear as Denon or Marantz. Even AXR85 was better.
How is this possible? Seems like SINAD and THD aren't the only factor of appealing sound. What could be a decisive factor is THD + N / power.
Yamaha R-N803D has THD+N 0.1% for power output above 3 W.
Marantz NR1200 has THD+N below 0.1% for power output above 2.2 W.
Since i listened on low/mid volume levels this might be the enigma clue.

Yamaha R-N803D
52142-laboratorium-yamaha-r-n803d-audiocompl-fot3.jpg

Marantz NR1200
58923-laboratorium-marantz-nr1200-audiocompl-fot3.jpg



If that's the case, all you had to do was to turn the volume up by a few dB and your impression would have changed. I understand you said you wanted to like the Yamaha so you were not biased that way, but you would still be under the influence of other factors unless you did follow a tightly controlled protocol.

The importance of THD at below 1 W is valid but one also has to consider the noise floor in most rooms the actual THD level and spl you are getting under that specific condition. Another issue I have is that people often refer to the tests by that site, but if you look carefully, their results look very different compared to ASR's, Audioholics, and others such as hometheaterhifi.com's. I am really skeptical with their methodology and the test gear they use. Just compare the graphs you posted and the one Amir did on the R-N803 and you'll know what I am talking about.

Just curious, have you tried some of those listening test such as Klippel's and see how you could consistently tell the difference between 0.1% THD or even 1% THD? In this case, even going by that Polish site's graphs, the difference in THD+N between the two at 0.1 W is only 0.2%, and at that level, it could have been mostly noise too depending on again, their test gear and procedures use.

 
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