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Frankly, it's hell to choose an AVR

christo9

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Currently I have a Yamaha RX-A2060 for home theater and a Primare stereo amp for music.
Due to lack of space, I would like to replace both of them with a new Home Theater AVR.

It's really hard to make the right choice. When I go to listen to an AVR, it is each time in different conditions (room and speakers).
In these conditions, it is difficult to compare.

When I read the posts of others, I see that I am not the only one in this situation.

As I am satisfied with my Primare stereo amp, I looked at the AVR Primare SPA-25. To tell the truth, it's quite expensive and it doesn't support 8K (I don't need it now but there might be more 8K content in 5 years).

Then I saw a good opportunity on an Arcam AVR20, even on the AVR30 (currently, with the release of the new AVR 21/31, the “old” AVR20/30 are much cheaper than the primare). Lots of positive reviews but it seems pretty buggy compared to models from Marantz/Denon, Yamaha, etc...

Then there is also the Nad T778 which seemed to have good qualities. Like the Arcam, a lot of bugs.

Then I see a thread on this forum where an Arcam and compared to a Denon. According to Amir, you can't go wrong with a Denon.

In short, I don't know what to think anymore.
 

Chrise36

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Currently I have a Yamaha RX-A2060 for home theater and a Primare stereo amp for music.
Due to lack of space, I would like to replace both of them with a new Home Theater AVR.

It's really hard to make the right choice. When I go to listen to an AVR, it is each time in different conditions (room and speakers).
In these conditions, it is difficult to compare.

When I read the posts of others, I see that I am not the only one in this situation.

As I am satisfied with my Primare stereo amp, I looked at the AVR Primare SPA-25. To tell the truth, it's quite expensive and it doesn't support 8K (I don't need it now but there might be more 8K content in 5 years).

Then I saw a good opportunity on an Arcam AVR20, even on the AVR30 (currently, with the release of the new AVR 21/31, the “old” AVR20/30 are much cheaper than the primare). Lots of positive reviews but it seems pretty buggy compared to models from Marantz/Denon, Yamaha, etc...

Then there is also the Nad T778 which seemed to have good qualities. Like the Arcam, a lot of bugs.

Then I see a thread on this forum where an Arcam and compared to a Denon. According to Amir, you can't go wrong with a Denon.

In short, I don't know what to think anymore.
I have 2 Denons they both work perfectly cant go wrong with them.
 

Astoneroad

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Device Type
Brand
Model
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Price Each USD
Reviewer
Recommended
Descending
Review Date
Review Link
AVR/AVP (Pre Pro)Trinnov AudioAltitude 16100$17,000.00amirmYes5/27/21Review Link
AVR/AVPMarantzSR801599$3,299.00amirmYes6/7/21Review Link
AVR/AVP (Pre Pro)Storm AudioISP 16 Mk299$15,000.00amirmYes4/8/21Review Link
AVR/AVPYamahaRX-59684N/AamirmYes12/11/19Review Link
AVR/AVPYamahaR-N80392$800.00amirmYes6/5/20Review Link
AVR/AVPSonySTR-ZA1100ES90$1,000.00amirmYes6/18/19Review Link
AVR/AVPDenonAVR-X8500H103$4,000.00amirmYes8/12/20Review Link
AVR/AVPDenonAVR-X6700H100$2,500.00amirmYes8/21/20Review Link
AVR/AVPDenonAVR-X4700H97$1,700.00amirmYes7/2/20Review Link
AVR/AVPDenonAVR-X3700H101$1,200.00amirmYes7/31/20Review Link
AVR/AVPDenonAVR-X3600H99$1,100.00amirmYes4/17/20Review Link
AVR/AVPAnthemMRX 112097$3,500.00amirmYes3/7/20Review Link
AVR/AVP (Pre Pro)AnthemAVM 7099$3,799.00amirmYes11/14/21Review Link
AVR/AVPDenonAVR-X4800H95$2,499.00amirmYes3/10/23Review Link
 

ban25

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Most of the niche brands like Arcam, JBL, Anthem, and NAD lack the scale in terms of production and R&D to truly compete with the major producers. Storm and Trinnov can compete, but their tiny customer base pays a huge per-unit premium for that privilege, and even then, neither currently offers HDMI 2.1.

Anybody can make an amp in their basement. Same for speakers. That's why you see the market flooded with so many boutique manufacturers in those categories. These products require little capital investment (see Schiit, Wilson, etc) and are mostly marketed based on emotion because "sound quality" is in the ear of the listener.

Technology is hard and engineers are expensive. Routing 7 channels across a PCB at 40 Gbps is not trivial. Doing it with software and an all-in-one solution that is bug-free, has sophisticated DSP and automation capabilities, and is continuously supported requires teams of engineers, designers, QA, and product management to accomplish.

I would submit that you have been looking in all the wrong places for all the wrong reasons. I agree with the above poster that the Denon X3800H is the best value you can find among AVRs.
 
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christo9

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Super interesting !
Thank you @Chrise36, @Astoneroad, @staticV3, @abdo123, @ban25

@ban25, your explanation makes a lot of sense.

Can you elaborate this ?
I would submit that you have been looking in all the wrong places for all the wrong reasons. I agree with the above poster that the Denon X3800H is the best value you can find among AVRs.
 

ban25

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Super interesting !
Thank you @Chrise36, @Astoneroad, @staticV3, @abdo123, @ban25

@ban25, your explanation makes a lot of sense.

Can you elaborate this ?
I would submit that you have been looking in all the wrong places for all the wrong reasons. I agree with the above poster that the Denon X3800H is the best value you can find among AVRs.
Of course, there are many options, but in my opinion, it's best to focus on 1/ Feature Set 2/ Reliability 3/ Support 4/ Cost. The current generation of Denon and Marantz offerings get top marks in all four categories, with excellent 40 Gbps HDMI 2.1 implementations, Dirac Live upgradability, modern OSD and feature sets (amp disconnect, etc.), and all at priced ranging from $1500 to $7000 depending on your budget. You can't go wrong with one of these.

The current generation of Onkyo, Pioneer, and Integra offerings are quite compelling as well. They all have bug-free 40 Gbps HDMI 2.1 and ship with Dirac Live standard in the box. The recently announced RZ70/LX805/DRX-8.4 even support upgradability to DLBC and will see an update to support Roon Ready in June (probably about the same time the units are available for sale). This is in contrast to Anthem, which has promised Roon support for nearly 3 years but failed to deliver.

Features and reliability are what's most important. Measurements generally don't matter and sound signatures aren't real. As to cost, that just comes down to your budget.
 

GPx86

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How do we know these 40Gbps HDMI 2.1 implementations are “Bug Free?” This seems like a sweeping generalization but I would like to hear more.

I have been trying to help a buddy find a new AVR or Pre/Pro and I am also having a hard time coming up with anything that seems worth the exorbitant asking price that I am seeing in the modern market. He has a separate power amp so we do not need an AVR with its own power. But, when I look at what’s available it’s hard to really justify any of today’s product offerings between AVR and Pre/Pro. Between performance regression (Denon), history of software bugs or reliability issues (Onkyo, Emotiva), and the illusion of future software updates (nearly all), I am inclined to keep recommending everyone avoid multi-channel audio entirely. Every time I have tried multi-channel I just go straight back to 2-channel because it is never worth the hassle.

Also, who is actually using 16 channels, or 19 channels? I’d love to see a poll for this. I’ll put stake on the fact that most people are still using 5 audio channels, maybe 7. Why can’t I get a high performance AVR, or preferably a prepro that doesn’t use bottom of the barrel components and DACs with 5 channels? The inflation of superfluous numbers is another marketing trend that makes me despise where the multi-channel market has gone.
 
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Fahzz

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I think the Denon 3800 getting Dirac bass control in the near future and having 4 independent subwoofer outputs makes it the most competitive product hands down this year.

I would not know why anyone would buy anything else.
Don't know if this is what you are talking about, but I got an email the other day from Denon about Dirac Live now being available. Maybe old news but I thought I'd mention it.
 

ban25

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How do we know these 40Gbps HDMI 2.1 implementations are “Bug Free?” This seems like a sweeping generalization but I would like to hear more.

I have been trying to help a buddy find a new AVR or Pre/Pro and I am also having a hard time coming up with anything that seems worth the exorbitant asking price that I am seeing in the modern market. He has a separate power amp so we do not need an AVR with its own power. But, when I look at what’s available it’s hard to really justify any of today’s product offerings between AVR and Pre/Pro. Between performance regression (Denon), history of software bugs or reliability issues (Onkyo, Emotiva), and the illusion of future software updates (nearly all), I am inclined to keep recommending everyone avoid multi-channel audio entirely. Every time I have tried multi-channel I just go straight back to 2-channel because it is never worth the hassle.

Also, who is actually using 16 channels, or 19 channels? I’d love to see a poll for this. I’ll put stake on the fact that most people are still using 5 audio channels, maybe 7. Why can’t I get a high performance AVR, or preferably a prepro that doesn’t use bottom of the barrel components and DACs with 5 channels? The inflation of superfluous numbers is another marketing trend that makes me despise where the multi-channel market has gone.
They are out in the market now and people are using them to pass 4K120 and Dolby Vision on Xbox Series X and PS5. These are excellent HDMI 2.1 implementations, unlike the 1st generation in 2020.

You are always going to pay a premium for a Processor over an AVR. It's a *much* lower volume market. Stop tilting at windmills and just get an AVR -- you can't hear an amp anyway.

You can't hear a DAC either. There is no "performance regression" with the Denon X3800H. It uses the same DAC as every X3700H manufactured after 2020.

Lots of people are using 16-channels in high-end multi-zone home theaters worth north of $50k, if this isn't you, simply look elsewhere.
 

Mr. Widget

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Look up retina resolution and you'll see that 8K is a huge waste of money and resources.
The subjective differences between 1080p and 4K on my 110" diagonal projection screen are less than the differences in mastering/disc authoring quality. Meaning there is 1080P content that "looks" better than some 4K content. Since it will probably be years, maybe decades before we have native 8K production, all 8K will be upscaled from lower resolution.

I think 8K is a solution creating a problem.
 

ban25

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The subjective differences between 1080p and 4K on my 110" diagonal projection screen are less than the differences in mastering/disc authoring quality. Meaning there is 1080P content that "looks" better than some 4K content. Since it will probably be years, maybe decades before we have native 8K production, all 8K will be upscaled from lower resolution.

I think 8K is a solution creating a problem.
Regardless of what you think of the viability of 8K (and with 100"+ screen sizes becoming more and more common, a case could be made), higher-bandwidth brings real benefits right now in terms of frame-rate and color depth.
 

Mr. Widget

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Regardless of what you think of the viability of 8K (and with 100"+ screen sizes becoming more and more common, a case could be made), higher-bandwidth brings real benefits right now in terms of frame-rate and color depth.
I agree that color depth and frame rates can be improved, but as screens get larger you want to step back further so you can comfortably take in the entire image. With this in mind a 200" screen will be viewed further away than a 100" screen... from a typical viewing distance you can't perceive the pixels at 4K on a 100" screen so what is the point of adding pixel density?

Personally I think this is being driven by manufacturers who need to keep "improving" their tech to stay relevant.
 

Mr. Widget

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You are always going to pay a premium for a Processor over an AVR. It's a *much* lower volume market. Stop tilting at windmills and just get an AVR -- you can't hear an amp anyway.
While there are plenty of AVR dogs, I agree with this statement. I wouldn't get an entry level unit without pre-outs, but many competent AVRs with pre-outs can be improved with more robust external amplification.

While good amplifiers may be audibly indistinguishable, the under powered AVR amps sharing a smallish power supply can be a performance limitation.
 

ban25

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I agree that color depth and frame rates can be improved, but as screens get larger you want to step back further so you can comfortably take in the entire image. With this in mind a 200" screen will be viewed further away than a 100" screen... from a typical viewing distance you can't perceive the pixels at 4K on a 100" screen so what is the point of adding pixel density?

Personally I think this is being driven by manufacturers who need to keep "improving" their tech to stay relevant.
Economies of scale. I run two 5120x2160p monitors on my PC (5k2k x 2). The manufacturing capacity for the pixel density is there, might as well use it. And I cannot bear to watch any 1080p content anymore compared to my library of 4K Dolby Vision HDR content.
 

ban25

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While there are plenty of AVR dogs, I agree with this statement. I wouldn't get an entry level unit without pre-outs, but many competent AVRs with pre-outs can be improved with more robust external amplification.

While good amplifiers may be audibly indistinguishable, the under powered AVR amps sharing a smallish power supply can be a performance limitation.
Agreed, but it's marginal. I run R11 towers and R3 surrounds on a 105wpc Denon X3700H and see no improvement when I run a Rotel RB-1582 MKII amp to the front L+R. Often times you are running less than 1W per channel or less. Denon AVRs are not underpowered. And even if you feel otherwise, then just get an external amp, like I did.
 

GeorgeBynum

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Look up retina resolution and you'll see that 8K is a huge waste of money and resources.
For use as a television, I 100% agree with you. Some folks in photo and video editing, and engineering graphics work appreciate every bit of those levels of resolution on monitors in the 27" to maybe 40". But I'm off-topic s they wouldn't be using an AVR.
 

HooStat

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Set a budget. Select the Denon AVR that fits the budget. Bob's you're uncle.
I completely agree. I am having a hard time justifying separates. Today's receivers with DSP/Dirac provide state-of-the-art sound in the simplest package possible. If you have "normal" speakers in a "normal" room, particularly if you use a sub, they all provide plenty of power. Obviously there are exceptions and there are many ways besides a receiver to make wonderful sound. But I don't think there is a way to do it in a simpler fashion. Even for 2-channel.
 
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