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Looking for an actual quality AVR?

hfcobra

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#1
Does anyone know of any quality AVRs for sound reproduction?

Now that I have read the reviews on some common AVRs (most much nicer than my own) I feel that I cannot logically upgrade or form any opinions about my home theatre sound until I get a Receiver that is capable of even simply reproducing sound to a degree that warrants it. For reference I own a RX-A780, which sits below the reviewed unit RX-A1080 by two steps from Yamaha.

If these units are testing badly, and highly regarded brands like McIntosh are still putting tubes in their top end Receivers, what hope is there to find a transparent AVR?
 

Dj7675

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#2
I guess a good start would be to define transparent and what you are shooting for. It seems like something around cd quality (96 SINAD) is reachable. Getting to some of the amazing 2 channel DAC and amp level, does not seem possible in a receiver. Seems to be very unlikely in separates even. It is probably too soon as there needs to be a lot more testing (in particular in the high end). It will be interesting in the next 6-12 months on what other receivers and prepro’s get tested to see what the best measuring one will be. Seems like everything is full of compromises... whether in stability, features, or performance. I decided to skip separates and go with a Denon X8500 which seems like it should measure reasonably well (for receivers anyway) but it will have all the features and stability I need. I hope to send in the X8500 in to have Amir measure it at some point.
 

hfcobra

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#4
I guess a good start would be to define transparent and what you are shooting for. It seems like something around cd quality (96 SINAD) is reachable. Getting to some of the amazing 2 channel DAC and amp level, does not seem possible in a receiver. Seems to be very unlikely in separates even. It is probably too soon as there needs to be a lot more testing (in particular in the high end). It will be interesting in the next 6-12 months on what other receivers and prepro’s get tested to see what the best measuring one will be. Seems like everything is full of compromises... whether in stability, features, or performance. I decided to skip separates and go with a Denon X8500 which seems like it should measure reasonably well (for receivers anyway) but it will have all the features and stability I need. I hope to send in the X8500 in to have Amir measure it at some point.
Ideally I'd like to see all those ugly and extremely messy analog outs getting taken out. I don't know why you'd need them in 2020ish. They just take up so much room and make the back of the I/O terribly cluttered. There has to be some cost savings to recuperate there which can allow some higher quality DAC/Amps.

The Denon definitely looks like a winner and the brand has some quality units but I'm not sure if that's what I should be looking for personally. I'd love to see it measured but since I'm running a 5.1 system with 683s2's I just can't justify a $4k AVR.
 
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hfcobra

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#6
Price isn't necessarily the problem. Mostly I just like getting a really good value in my purchases. If I spend $2k but it's better than $5k AVRs then that's probably my purchase. The cheapest of the top 5 of anything is usually what I end up buying.

Right now I just think that the list of tested AVRs is too small to really make a choice. I can't wait for Amir to review more hardware. I honestly can't get enough of these no frills reviews.
 
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#7
Send yours to Amir for measurement?

Eventually one will measure up, overall to make a sound purchase.
That Integra AV receiver I linked above, it would be interesting to measure.
It's only $700. I don't think you need to spend more, like $2,000 and up.
 

Dj7675

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#8
Ideally I'd like to see all those ugly and extremely messy analog outs getting taken out. I don't know why you'd need them in 2020ish. They just take up so much room and make the back of the I/O terribly cluttered. There has to be some cost savings to recuperate there which can allow some higher quality DAC/Amps.

The Denon definitely looks like a winner and the brand has some quality units but I'm not sure if that's what I should be looking for personally. I'd love to see it measured but since I'm running a 5.1 system with 683s2's I just can't justify a $4k AVR.
100% agree on getting rid of the analog inputs. Give me HDMI/coax/optical/usb. Also understand on the $4k price. I would not pay that either. What pushed me over the edge was around $2700 delivered for new full manufacturer’s warranty. At that price it worked for me. Also Denon has promised to have an upgrade path to HDMI 2.1 (they have done this on past receivers).
 
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#9
My last four AVR have all been Pioneer Elite class D receivers. I always buy one below the top which is currently the SC-LX701. I’ve always found them plenty powerful and very clean. Not sure how they measure but I’ve always been satisfied. The SC-LX701 can be picked up for around $900.

Martin
 
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#10
The Denon X8500H receiver's rear ...




51.4 lbs (net) and power consumption: 900 watts (to give an idea of its power transformer's size/kVA).

Looking @ the rear connections; all 18 video connectors (composite and component) are obsolete. Nobody use those anymore, less than zero percent in 2019 for people buying this type of flagship receiver. All new receivers should eliminate them all and put the money to better use (ESS DACs). I'll keep all the analog preout connectors...29 of them here. The stereo analog inputs (7 pairs total)...I would eliminate 3 pairs (6 connectors).

It's not the most ever loaded AV receiver's rear...the old Denon 5805 was (97 lbs).

Amir measured the Marantz AV8805 flagship pre/pro ...
https://www.audiosciencereview.com/...urements-of-marantz-av8805-av-processor.6926/

The Denon receiver IMHO wouldn't measure better from its digital section (DACs).
The power I'm sure would be sufficient, plenty enough because anyone purchasing this receiver has also a powered subwoofer or more (2, 3, 4). You just need an additional stereo amplifier for channel 14 & 15 (9.2.6 configuration).

Would the sound quality in music stereo be high-end enough?
For most people buying this type of Learjet flying machine, probably.
For serious audiophiles they'd be better off with a dedicated stereo rig.

That Integra receiver's link I posted above ($700); it would sound equally better in music stereo listening I bet. And of course it's only nine channels of amplification.

The OP was asking for a good actual quality AV receiver. I posted two German links from Arcam and JBL Synthesis latest flagship offerings (AV receivers). Expensive for sure, ESS DACs in both, and equipped with some of the very best Room Calibration EQ sytems in the marketplace today.

Then I came down in price for what I thought was an example or two of good quality AVRs for $700 and $500.

Amir had the Onkyo 805 receiver in the past, but it hit the dust...heat killed it I think from memory. That receiver required a good fan on top rear right corner. I know because I had it too. After ten years it still is going strong @ my brother's place. And power is aplenty.
The DACs? I just don't know...Amir knows best...he's got the measuring machine.
They were the old TI B-B PCM1796 DACs (cheap compared to ESS), and most likely less sweet sounding than the AKM DACs (in general).

From experience (listening); Anthem sounds good, Integra/Onkyo detailed, Marantz warm, Denon warm too, Pioneer sweet chocolate, Yamaha natural caramel, ...my ears don't hear like any other set of ears, they have their own unique shape. What I hear nobody else hear.

So, what is an actual quality AVR? :)
 
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#11
Does anyone know of any quality AVRs for sound reproduction?

Now that I have read the reviews on some common AVRs (most much nicer than my own) I feel that I cannot logically upgrade or form any opinions about my home theatre sound until I get a Receiver that is capable of even simply reproducing sound to a degree that warrants it. For reference I own a RX-A780, which sits below the reviewed unit RX-A1080 by two steps from Yamaha.

If these units are testing badly, and highly regarded brands like McIntosh are still putting tubes in their top end Receivers, what hope is there to find a transparent AVR?
TBH, I would concentrate on which AV receiver had the best room correction system followed by having useful preamp outputs. This would likely lead you to the reviled NAD T758 V3 AVR because it has the DIRAC room correction followed by any Denon/Marantz with Audyssey XT32 and SubEq. AFAICT the amp sections in most midlevel and higher receivers would be 'audibly transparent' in a double blind test played within their power limits.

Therefore I'd argue that the NAD's deficiencies in S/N and THD are much less likely to be audible than better room correction esp with auxiliary amp(s). In general AVR's are underpowered relative to powering 5/7/9/11/13 channels so at a minimum 2 channel power amp and preferably a 5 or 7 channel power amp is preferable.

Your budget seems to be much higher than mine so the previous JBL and Arcam recommendations are reasonable.
 
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#12
And with an inexpensive receiver that sports preouts for all channels you can use it as a SSP by adding your own multichannel amplification...5, 7, 9 channel amps...or more...11.
But preouts are a must...IMO.

For DACs, look for ESS Sabre first and AKM second. ...Or Wolfson, or B-B PCM-1704K or PCM-1792A.

Room EQ: Dirac Live of course, Trinnov, ARC, Audyssey MultEQ XT32 are the four generic ones to look for...IMO. And a good part of Room Acoustic EQ in a receiver is the room treatments.

* It's funny today compared to yesterday...70s stereo receivers weighted 50-70 pounds...top ones. Today 9-channel (amps) receivers weight less...30-40 pounds.
But most people use a sub or two...that's a big help.
I'm not surprised @ the weight deduction in today's AV receivers with so many channels of amplification. I remember 60...70...100 pounds multichannel receivers ... Yamaha, Onkyo, Denon. It's the scale of our times...features over real performance. An AV receiver today is like a "quantum" computer (digital). In 1970 a receiver was totally a different thing; a radio AM/FM stereo (analog) inside a stereo integrated amplifier (analog).

Look @ today's Denon X8500H receiver (51.4 pounds) with internal amps for thirteen channels! 200 pounds would be more like it.

The transformer is mini small...not even 1kVA, roughly 1/8 (make that 1/12) of the inside's real estate.
You'd better use few subs with this baby. The heatsinks are not bent metal...but almost.
And where are toroidal transformers today! By the way, that Denon receiver above is the same weight as the old $600 (on sale) Onkyo 805 receiver (51 pounds) with seven channels of amplification.

Things are downsizing today...it's all about the number of features...Ethernet Wi-Fi USB Bluetooth Streaming IMAX Enhanced Dolby Vision Atmos dts:X Oreo cookies ...

So, where do we look for an actual quality AVR today?
 
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#15
Let’s see:

We want 9-11 channels of quality amplification+analog stages
11 channels with high quality dacs
Quality room correction software
Processor-crossover functions
HDMI 2.0
Airplay, Spotify, Roon, Tidal, Dolby Atmos, Auro3D, DTS, MQA etc etc compatibility (+royalties!!!!)
All that in one case, functioning smoothly

Do the math...it can’t cost 2000$
 
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#17
With the two hi-end receivers above (Arcam & JBL) an additional 8-channel amp plus a powered subwoofer (minimum) are required for 16 channels total (amplification and processing). ...And, a whole bunch of speaker wires...several hundred feet of them.
 

levimax

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#18
I would be careful spending a lot of money on a AVR... not because they don't perform or don't have an amazing list of features but rather because of reliability issues precisely because they have so many features.. Maybe I just had bad luck but I had several high end AVR's the last one being Sony ES that after just a few years ended up having a problem that was "un-repairable" due to cost and parts availability. It is one thing to buy a cheap AVR and throw it away if it has problems after several years of use but quite another with the expensive high end AVR's. After these experiences I went vintage and then DIY because I knew I could fix them myself if something went wrong. I also went the "separates" route as often times only one part of the AVR would die but what good is the super duper AVR power amp if the HDMI board went out ? ...... it just made it more aggravating to throw it away.
 
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#19
Good advice because next year they'll come up with a new must have feature (C4E - Cineramax 4D Experience, for example) and the receiver you buy today for eight grands will be obsolete in twelve months or so.
 
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#20
Anyone noticed about those two AVRs above...Arcam and JBL?

The rears (both):
• None S-Video outs
• None Composite video outs
• None Component video outs

Their rears are not cluttered with superficial and gratuitous connectors...only the essential.

• And, both are so similar that you would think that they hired the same designer.
I mean similar like the exact same...even the three antennas and the class G amplification. Only the DANTE dual ports of the JBL doesn't appear on the Arcam. Everything else is the same.

I didn't find an internal picture of the JBL SDR-35 AV receiver but I bet it's similar to the Arcam AVR 30.

I was a little puzzled by their weight, which are quite different, but I believe the JBL is simply a typo from their brochure (23.4 pounds seems very light compared to the Arcam AVR30's 39.9 lbs ... both net weight). Yes, I'm pretty sure the JBL receiver's weight is in fact for their multichannel pre/pro...the SDP-55. They simply typed it for the receiver as well.

The price for each? ...A lot, but below five digits.
• Arcam AVR30 = $6,000 (US MSRP)
• JBL SDR-35 = $7,500 (US MSRP) * That's $10,000 Can (five digits)
 
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