• WANTED: Happy members who like to discuss audio and other topics related to our interest. Desire to learn and share knowledge of science required as is 20 years of participation in forums (not all true). There are daily reviews of audio hardware and expert members to help answer your questions. Click here to have your audio equipment measured for free!

Lamenting the lack of good quality budget A/V Preamplifier/Processors

Sprint

Senior Member
Forum Donor
Joined
Sep 19, 2019
Messages
429
Likes
253
Have you tried the RCA outputs from the Yamaha CX-A5200 with the RCA XLR adapters and your speakers?
@Roland68 A day ago, I tried XLR and RCA on the same 2ch music. I did level matching using a DB meter. My dB level was set to -56dB on the dB meter. With RCA, the volume in CX-A5200 was -34dB whereas with XLR it was -40dB to achieve -56dB on the dB meter. This is absolutely ok as one would get 6dB more with XLR.

To my ears, I definitely noticed the difference. The RCA sound was bit restrained whereas the instrument separation was better with XLR. Clarity and Crispness was also better with XLR.
 

zuker81

New Member
Joined
Jan 2, 2022
Messages
3
Likes
3
Location
Texas
Also really appreciate the direction of this thread. Someone noted the HDMI multichannel DAC from Essence ("Evolve II-4K") which I've been eyeing, but from what I can tell, Amir has only measured the "HDACC II-4K" model which is 2-channel only (and it reviewed quite well for what it is). Unless I'm missing something, we really don't know how the multi-channel unit performs and whether it was built to a similar spec, even though the manufacturer seems to say it was in that thread. But for those with older multi-channel AVRs or other existing setups this could be a cost-effective bridge to skip the those poor old DAC sections and keep them running without dropping $1.5k USD on an AVR which outstrips many of our 2ch amplification set ups cost and duplicates a lot of their functionality.

The real challenge, as mentioned, is DSP with something like this. So in my mind you're either going to spend over 1-2k on an AVR, or several hundred on a multichannel processor, another 700 or so on a miniDSP unit, and then maybe running in to clocking issues? And that's if we can get something like the Evolve II-4k measured. Affordable HDMI processing is rough.
 

pseudoid

Major Contributor
Forum Donor
Joined
Mar 23, 2021
Messages
1,697
Likes
989
I run an HTPC (NUC-10i7FNH) thru the Rotel Pre/Pro (RSP-1576) to a 4K TV (LG-GX).
I had studder/tearing (video) issues when watching 4K and resolved issue by doubling up on shared memory (16GB RAM to 32GB - ouch).
I normally use mouse-friendly 'ZoomMAX' VideoPlayer [not to be confused w/that conferencing app] or '5Kplayer' on the NUC, in full "UHD" mode.
If I bypass the Rotel HDMI functionality, using only the NUC's output @3.5mm jack (or @opto from OLED) thru Rotel audio inputs, provides the least latency (lipsync).
Unfortunately, using the NUC for NetFlix streaming is pathetic compared with the LG-OLED direct 'netflix' button.
I have not investigated this problem as I think it is with NetFlix controlling/throttling bandwidth depending on what type of hardware is being fed content.
 

dlaloum

Major Contributor
Joined
Oct 4, 2021
Messages
1,032
Likes
677
I run an HTPC (NUC-10i7FNH) thru the Rotel Pre/Pro (RSP-1576) to a 4K TV (LG-GX).
I had studder/tearing (video) issues when watching 4K and resolved issue by doubling up on shared memory (16GB RAM to 32GB - ouch).
I normally use mouse-friendly 'ZoomMAX' VideoPlayer [not to be confused w/that conferencing app] or '5Kplayer' on the NUC, in full "UHD" mode.
If I bypass the Rotel HDMI functionality, using only the NUC's output @3.5mm jack (or @opto from OLED) thru Rotel audio inputs, provides the least latency (lipsync).
Unfortunately, using the NUC for NetFlix streaming is pathetic compared with the LG-OLED direct 'netflix' button.
I have not investigated this problem as I think it is with NetFlix controlling/throttling bandwidth depending on what type of hardware is being fed content.

I am running something fairly similar... HTPC to AVR & Sony TV.

I have not had an issue running Netflix on either the HTPC (my normal source) or from the TV (AndroidTV).

Having said that - I have not tried to go 4K and have been sticking with 1080P... once my new AVR (Integra 3.4, 4k capable) arrives - I may try to reconfigure everything to 4k.

Please update us on how you go the the Netflix PC vs TV issue as that may be a concern for many of us going forward.
 

Roland68

Senior Member
Joined
Jan 31, 2020
Messages
452
Likes
299
Location
Cologne, Germany
@Roland68 A day ago, I tried XLR and RCA on the same 2ch music. I did level matching using a DB meter. My dB level was set to -56dB on the dB meter. With RCA, the volume in CX-A5200 was -34dB whereas with XLR it was -40dB to achieve -56dB on the dB meter. This is absolutely ok as one would get 6dB more with XLR.

To my ears, I definitely noticed the difference. The RCA sound was bit restrained whereas the instrument separation was better with XLR. Clarity and Crispness was also better with XLR.
Thank you very much for your trouble, that's very interesting, especially considering that the Yamaha only generates the signals for XLR before the outputs.
Really an ingenious device, I envy you for sure
 

pseudoid

Major Contributor
Forum Donor
Joined
Mar 23, 2021
Messages
1,697
Likes
989
LG OLEDs run the webOS but it's full features are ONLY available if you are willing to "opt-in".
All I really wanted was a 4K OLED 'monitor/panel' as I had little use for all of the 'smarts'.
... so, my settings ("op-outs") make our relation a hardship; going all the way down to my network access and connections of the LG.
I really don't get involved with copyright management issues anymore and when confronted; I have learned to cut my losses and just walk away.
Who knows maybe a NUC (being a NUC) alarms Neflix that I am about to steal/distribute their content; whereas the LG-OLED may not pose such risk to Netflix streams.
I really dunno nor care anymore (or any less)!
ContentProtection efforts assume you be guilty before being proven you be not.
It has come to contempt for me; yet, I am just a paying content 'consumer'.
...once my new AVR (Integra 3.4, 4k capable) arrives...
Didn't they close shop? I think there is a thread here that states so...
 

dlaloum

Major Contributor
Joined
Oct 4, 2021
Messages
1,032
Likes
677
Didn't they close shop? I think there is a thread here that states so...
Onkyo Japan sold the AV business to a partnership between Voxx and Sharp (77% / 23% ) - so "Onkyo/Integra/Pioneer" are now run/owned by Voxx and made by Sharp. - The Onkyo Japan business has put two of its other subsidiaries into bankruptcy proceedings (the Japanese custom install business and the OEM division) - but kept "Onkyo Japan" out of it- it continues to receive licencing payments from Voxx/Sharp.

Short answer is NO, Onkyo, Integra and Pioneer are still in business.
 

Sancus

Major Contributor
Forum Donor
Joined
Nov 30, 2018
Messages
2,328
Likes
5,898
Location
Canada
Unfortunately, using the NUC for NetFlix streaming is pathetic compared with the LG-OLED direct 'netflix' button.
I have not investigated this problem as I think it is with NetFlix controlling/throttling bandwidth depending on what type of hardware is being fed content.
HTPCs are unfortunately not really a thing anymore because they will never be whitelisted for full Dolby Vision and Atmos streaming by any streaming service and additionally are usually a pain to even configure to output those formats properly to an AVR.

The standard nowadays is an AppleTV or Nvidia Shield TV Pro and running Plex or another media server separately if you have local BluRay rips or whatever.
 

Blumlein 88

Grand Contributor
Forum Donor
Joined
Feb 23, 2016
Messages
15,249
Likes
25,078
HTPCs are unfortunately not really a thing anymore because they will never be whitelisted for full Dolby Vision and Atmos streaming by any streaming service and additionally are usually a pain to even configure to output those formats properly to an AVR.

The standard nowadays is an AppleTV or Nvidia Shield TV Pro and running Plex or another media server separately if you have local BluRay rips or whatever.
Yet even with the Nvidia Shield don't you need an AVR or pre/pro for the sound portion?

I do agree one of these or a Roku Ultra are much simpler than an HTPC. I basically do this with a Roku and do have a Plex server for local rips and the occasional thing. The Plex server is running on a 10 year old laptop. This lets me access everything on the laptop via the Roku using Plex.
 

pseudoid

Major Contributor
Forum Donor
Joined
Mar 23, 2021
Messages
1,697
Likes
989
Ya ofc, I was merely referring to source device(the poster above has a Rotel Pre/Pro, RSP-1576).
Yah! I should have mentioned that the pass-thru UHD (4K/10b) by the Rotel pre/Pro does requires a Win10 (works in Win11) driver install.
Once that is done; the LG OLED does recognize the NUC/HTPC as legit hardware. That is not so difficult.
But trying to figure out Netflix streaming requirements (via Win10/11) is way above my pain tolerance to attempt to sort-out or hack-away.
I am okay with even crappy audio in movies, but the whole house is hard-wired for only 2-channel audio.
Although my overall system is capable beyond stereo, the audio hardware is really designed around my massive music library which is fully 2-channel.
Going atmos (etc.) for me would be like putting lipstick on a pig .;)
 

dlaloum

Major Contributor
Joined
Oct 4, 2021
Messages
1,032
Likes
677
A brief 2 line review...

I finally received my Integra DRX 3.4 (same as the Onky NR7100 but with full pre-outs)

I set it up as a pre, with my power amps powering the L/R, and the internal amps doing centre and surrounds

Without Dirac enabled - the sound was on a par with my previous Onkyo TX-SR876 and Integra DTR 70.4 (Audyssey never really worked for my system and my speakers... sounded best with it turned off)

With Dirac measurements done, and a slightly adjusted Harman target curve dialed in, my setup is sounding better than it ever has.

I would heartily recommend the current generation on Onkyo/Integra/Pioneer AVR's as budget AV Preprocessors.
 

jefny

Member
Joined
Jun 15, 2021
Messages
28
Likes
11
Some 21 years ago I set up my first home theater system with 5.1 sound and an overhead projector. I started out with separates, an Outlaw 950 pre-amp and an Outlaw 770 amp (7 by 200). 10 years ago I decided to go to 7.2 and was looking for a new pre-amp. What I found was quite expensive. A friend, who had based his system using a PC as a pre-amp offered to help me do the same but the whole process seemed too complicated. My friend eventually abandoned his own pc set up and bought a high end receiver. At the suggestion of Outlaw, I purchased from them a Marantz receiver (SR5005) to use as a pre-amp in my 7.2 system.

Last year I decided to replace my Marantz to get up to date technology and started looking for a pre-amp. I went to several local dealers and everything they pushed was in the $3,000 to $5,000 range. I finally settled on the Denon x3700 as a pre-amp (at one third the cost) and after a few set up glitches everything is working fine. Also, my 21 year old Outlaw amp is working fine too which is one of the pluses of separates. I should mention that the dealers selling the expensive pre-amps said I would get superior sound but I could not tell the difference.

Of course why can't someone make the equivalent of the x3700 without amps? It appears pre-amps are a niche market and without a market to sell thousands of units, unit costs remain high.
 

pseudoid

Major Contributor
Forum Donor
Joined
Mar 23, 2021
Messages
1,697
Likes
989
I finally settled on the Denon x3700 as a pre-amp (at one third the cost)
What a shame (and a waste of money/energy) using a 'receiver' as a 'pre-amp'!
 

dlaloum

Major Contributor
Joined
Oct 4, 2021
Messages
1,032
Likes
677
What a shame (and a waste of money/energy) using a 'receiver' as a 'pre-amp'!
Not necessarily - he now has additional channels available if he wants to take the system to 5.1.4 or 7.1.4...

The internal amps will handle the less critical surround and/or height duties with ease... without needing an additional external power amp.

And in most cases, the performance of one of the better AVR's will be identical to the performance of a Pre-Pro.
 

pseudoid

Major Contributor
Forum Donor
Joined
Mar 23, 2021
Messages
1,697
Likes
989
Not necessarily - he now has additional channels available if he wants to take the system to 5.1.4 or 7.1.4...
Exactly! That is the exact reason as to why we carry an additional 3.1.4 or 5.1.4 spare tires in our cars, just in case... ;)
 

SwampYankee

Member
Joined
Mar 2, 2021
Messages
37
Likes
38
Amazon audio support is janky as heck even on actual TV devices. It falls back to stereo instead of Atmos all the time on my Shield TV and I have to completely kill and restart the app and show to fix it :/
I realize this comment is pretty old, but you can try turning the surround sound options in the nV Shield TV to manual (rather than the default Auto). Leave the Dolby Digital option off, but turn all the others on. These setting seems to have finally fixed my Amazon Prime Video audio headaches with a Shield Pro (2019).
 

Miker 1102

Active Member
Forum Donor
Joined
May 21, 2021
Messages
109
Likes
48
A brief 2 line review...

I finally received my Integra DRX 3.4 (same as the Onky NR7100 but with full pre-outs)

I set it up as a pre, with my power amps powering the L/R, and the internal amps doing centre and surrounds

Without Dirac enabled - the sound was on a par with my previous Onkyo TX-SR876 and Integra DTR 70.4 (Audyssey never really worked for my system and my speakers... sounded best with it turned off)

With Dirac measurements done, and a slightly adjusted Harman target curve dialed in, my setup is sounding better than it ever has.

I would heartily recommend the current generation on Onkyo/Integra/Pioneer AVR's as budget AV Preprocessors.
I just sent you a message wondering your opinion. I jut bought on of these. I feel like Audyssey was driving me nuts.
 

dlaloum

Major Contributor
Joined
Oct 4, 2021
Messages
1,032
Likes
677
I just sent you a message wondering your opinion. I jut bought on of these. I feel like Audyssey was driving me nuts.
Me too - I could never get it sounding right on the midrange/vocals - probably due to the midrange dip - at a guess....

Dirac fixed that problem right away and took the system a notch upwards in performance across the board - very impressive.

I look forward to Dirac's release of Unison on AVR's !
 
Top Bottom