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Replacement for an old AVR used mostly for music

sliboo

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Hello ASR,

I've been reading the forum for some time, and being an engineer, really enjoy the focus on measurable facts and not marketing stuff/audiophile legends!

Sadly a while back my beloved 17 years old AVR (Marantz SR 5400 OSE -- supposedly "better sounding" version) stopped working and can't be repaired as the faulty part (standby transformer) is no longer available from Marantz. It was driving a 5.1 set of speakers from Focal (2x714, 2x705 and 1xCC700) with a Focal sub.

I started looking for replacement candidates with a focus on good sound quality (since our usage is mostly music and a little bit of movies) and a ~2k max price, and identified some candidates, ie. Marantz SR 6015, Nad T758i, Anthem MRX 540, Arcam AVR5, all praised by various subjective reviews....

Off course reading how they really perform here was revealing and led me to think the only reasonable choice would be a Denon x3700h (that I had not even looked at, in favor of the usual "better Marantz sound" -- what a joke!)

However seeing how it's always referred as being good "for an AVR" and our main usage being music, I wondered if I should just put surround aside and stick with good stereo; I then started to look at integrated amps with digital inputs (for a RPI streamer, BR player, TV settop box) and a few analog RCA inputs (phono preamp, tuner), such as the Yamaha RN-803D or Denon DRA-800H.... Ha, the irony: turns out these are just ripped off AVRs in disguise, they perform similarly or even worse!

So now I'm a bit wondering about options to look at:
- other, good performing, integrated amps (I didn't seem to find many tests for these), any suggestions?
- separate elements with eg. a good desktop DAC and/or a DSP (for bass management/subwoofer and maybe room correction), a HDMI switcher/splitter, an analog entry switch, and a good class D 2-channel amp. What about ease of use (multiple remotes, configuration of inputs...)? Performance of the combination? And total price close or higher than the Denon AVR...
- or simply go for the Denon AVR for its versability and on the basis that it would likely already be an improvement over the old one then later consider adding an external DAC for music and/or a 2-channel class D amp for the fronts using the AVR preouts?

I realize this is a long post, sorry but I tried to be complete :).
Thanks for all your comments, ideas, suggestions... !
 

AnalogSteph

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I'd think that a standby transformer of all things should not be overly hard to find a decent replacement for at an electronic parts dealer / distributor... they're usually a single secondary, and sizes are more or less standard (EIxx). This guy generates an unregulated 9 V= after rectification, which translates to a ca. 7.2 V~ secondary... I'd look for 7.5 V as the nearest standard value. Probably no more than 3 VA, maybe 5 (the size of the existing one usually is a good indication). A generic part may have 2x 115V~ primaries so wire up as required (observing phase!). Observe the stricter insulation requirements for primaries in an IEC Class II device if any bodgery is required.

The issue that may have killed the xfmr in the first place is it not being fused in any way. If one of the filter capacitors or rectifier diodes ever decides to call it quits, that's pretty much it, so check for any such issues, starting with 3300µ/25V C888 and 1N4004 D809-D812. I would be tempted to replace the jumper in position R884 on the secondary side by a fuseholder and pop in a 0.5A T or thereabouts (maybe split the link and run a current measurement first so you know what to expect).

(I was looking at the SM for the plain SR5400, not sure whether the OSE might be different. Can't hurt to identify the type of main power relay L801 and see whether it is the specified SDT-S-109DMR which takes 9 V DC. Be sure to check coil voltage with the new xfmr in place.)
 

snaimpally

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I picked up a used Yamaha RX777 cheap, sprayed some DeOxit, and now it works great - I love it. The RX797 has the same specs but features expanded multi-room capabilities. Both are stereo receivers with 100 watts per channel and a phono input. Check Mercari, OfferUp, etc.
 
OP
sliboo

sliboo

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I'd think that a standby transformer of all things should not be overly hard to find a decent replacement for at an electronic parts dealer / distributor... they're usually a single secondary, and sizes are more or less standard (EIxx). This guy generates an unregulated 9 V= after rectification, which translates to a ca. 7.2 V~ secondary... I'd look for 7.5 V as the nearest standard value. Probably no more than 3 VA, maybe 5 (the size of the existing one usually is a good indication). A generic part may have 2x 115V~ primaries so wire up as required (observing phase!). Observe the stricter insulation requirements for primaries in an IEC Class II device if any bodgery is required.

The issue that may have killed the xfmr in the first place is it not being fused in any way. If one of the filter capacitors or rectifier diodes ever decides to call it quits, that's pretty much it, so check for any such issues, starting with 3300µ/25V C888 and 1N4004 D809-D812. I would be tempted to replace the jumper in position R884 on the secondary side by a fuseholder and pop in a 0.5A T or thereabouts (maybe split the link and run a current measurement first so you know what to expect).

(I was looking at the SM for the plain SR5400, not sure whether the OSE might be different. Can't hurt to identify the type of main power relay L801 and see whether it is the specified SDT-S-109DMR which takes 9 V DC. Be sure to check coil voltage with the new xfmr in place.)
Well thanks for this repair advice !

Indeed I felt like the transformer itself might have equivalents, but the Marantz accredited repair shop here told me they couldn't do anything more, and not being into electronics I didn't feel like experimenting with high current boards ;-) I kept the unit though in the hope to maybe try to fix it as a hobby later.

From their report I thought the affected part was the T801 item, aka CLT5I002ZE/TS001940R on the unit (Euro version in 230V), so is that what you though could be replaced by more generic component ? If so, I might look for some help in a local repair café of such and try that at some point !
 
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sliboo

sliboo

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I picked up a used Yamaha RX777 cheap, sprayed some DeOxit, and now it works great - I love it. The RX797 has the same specs but features expanded multi-room capabilities. Both are stereo receivers with 100 watts per channel and a phono input. Check Mercari, OfferUp, etc.
Interesting, that has specs that would fit me and can be found at reasonable prices, but do you know how it rates on measurements compared to eg the Denon ?
 

SoundsGood64

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I find 5.1ch or 5 ch recordings more enjoyable than 2ch, this is for classical in which the production goal is often recapitulation of the concert hall experience. So my opinion is to keep the 5.1 ch since you already have it.

If you're considering a new AVR-X3700H, know that the main zone dac probably won't be what was measured here at ASR. The main zone DAC was originally AKM4458 (8ch), but has been replaced in new units (due to fire at AKM factory) with a series of lower spec 2ch PCM5102A as documented by photo in Post 252 in this forum "Denon Replaces AKM AK4458 DAC IC in X4700H and X6700H". Might be better off with a used X3600H (also measured well).

If you're not opposed to something older and want a bargin, consider something like a used AVR-3808ci, AVR-2809ci, or AVR-2808ci. These each have HDMI but only for 1080p video, not 4k like the newer models. They also have an earlier version of the Audyssey Room correction, there's forums on those, but I remember reading that the newer XT32 (not in those old models) is much improved from the older XT, a consideration if you're doing 5.1. The nice thing with those 3 in my opinion is that they still have pretty good DAC that are capable of receiving a DSD signal (direct mode, not when using room correction whereby the DSD is transcoded to PCM) as well as conventional PCM. The DSD comes in via HDMI, typically from a blu-ray player that also plays SACD. A very minor limitation with the older models is that some hi-res DTS-HD Master Audio is limited to 96 khz (there's blu-ray audio at 192khz), but it doesn't matter anyway if you're using room correction since it has to be downsampled ~48khz. But PCM 192khz is handled by these old machines. I guess if you like those blu-ray audio then that would be another reason to go with an AVR rather than a 2ch receiver.
 

teched58

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Well thanks for this repair advice !

Indeed I felt like the transformer itself might have equivalents, but the Marantz accredited repair shop here told me they couldn't do anything more, and not being into electronics I didn't feel like experimenting with high current boards ;-) I kept the unit though in the hope to maybe try to fix it as a hobby later.

From their report I thought the affected part was the T801 item, aka CLT5I002ZE/TS001940R on the unit (Euro version in 230V), so is that what you though could be replaced by more generic component ? If so, I might look for some help in a local repair café of such and try that at some point !
You're a beginner, don't start effing around with transformers. You may shock and/or electrocute yourself.
 

escksu

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Looking the age of the marantz amp, i would say its better to retire it and get something else.... Imho, the new denon AVRs are good. Amirm has reviewed a few of them

If you are going stereo integrated and looking for a used one, look no further than krell kav-400xi or 300IL... You wont find anything better for less.
 

flyzipper

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driving a 5.1 set of speakers from Focal (2x714, 2x705 and 1xCC700) with a Focal sub.
our usage is mostly music and a little bit of movies
go for the Denon AVR
☝️my vote

You've already got 5 speakers, so you may as well continue to benefit from them -- even if it's primarily for music.
The current Denon AVRs measure well, and will provide additional convenience features over what you're used to from your 17 year old Marantz.
 
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sliboo

sliboo

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Thanks all. This confirm my most logical course of action is to go for a Denon AVR (ideally used 3700 or 3600 but not a lot to be found!), and look into better stereo gear to enhance it later.

As for repairing the old unit, yes I was not planning on doing it alone but with help of more experienced people ;).
 

Head_Unit

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Denon 3600
Had one. Should have kept it. As noted elsewhere, spent $6k "upgrading" to Anthem AVM70 + ATI525NC. Still sounds great, slightly different we think, but not better. Driving Focal 936/CC900/SR900. Audyssey App is a nice tool, we turned off the goofy midrange dip and gave a gentle 1 dB lift to upper mids. Yes it's true that the only extremely great measuring surround piece was the Mark Levinson 502* but the X3600H and some followers measured very well (until maybe recent chip changes as noted by @SoundsGood64)

*https://www.audiosciencereview.com/...s/a-deep-dive-into-hdmi-audio-performance.56/
 
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sliboo

sliboo

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Yep, I ended up finding a good deal on a new x3700h so I went with this. Hopefully the new DACs in it will have close performance to the AKM ones.

So far, it seems to be similar to what I remember of the previous amp (hardly a blind comparison since the old amp has been dead for several months....) with the addition of the HDMI switching which is useful for video sources. I still struggle a bit with Audyssey, and I'll likely ask for some advices in a different topic later on.

Thanks all!
 

JorisCeoen

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☝️my vote

You've already got 5 speakers, so you may as well continue to benefit from them -- even if it's primarily for music.
The current Denon AVRs measure well, and will provide additional convenience features over what you're used to from your 17 year old Marantz.
Even though it looks like you already made a choice, I agree with the above comment ☝️

Similar to your situation but essentially different, I also always had an AVR (a simple Akai, and then another simple Onkyo), but instead to drive a simple stereo setup (KEF's 105.4) as opposed to a surround. I wasn't too aqcuainted with the difference between stereo/surround before actually going into a HiFi store to actually test the setup. Going in, I had the Denon X4700H in mind and I was 100% convinced to buy it, but the audio specialist just wanted me to test a wide range of amps first to make an informed choice, including stereo amps that didn't have the bells and whistles of AVR's but designed specifically for the setup I had.

As expected (for me very unexpected at the time) the stereo amp sounded so much better for music on my stereo system. So much in fact that I went ahead and couldn't but make the switch. Even if I was already sold on the X4700H, I felt like I would be lying to myself if I still chose the Denon AVR.

This was in comparison with the X3700H/4700H/6700H vs my now Yamaha S-1100. However, he made me listen to a KEF surround setup with those Denon AVR's for comparison, and it sounded really amazing when combined with movies AND music, albeit it's really just a different experience. In other words and all summarized: AVR is simply the only possible and great choice when coupled with a surround setup, as it's designed to drive just that: multiple speakers. It doesn't mean it won't work for a stereo setup, but you'd need 40%-60% more budget for an AVR that offers an equivalent output as a stereo amp for quality. Advantage also is that you can always couple a stereo amp later on through the pre-amp section of your Denon if you really wish for that stereo quality on a good pair of stereo towers in your surround setup instead ;)

In this case, your X3700H is just what you need, and an excellent choice! Although I'm sure most pre-2020 Denon AVR's are now out of stock or sold, do make sure that (since you had a good deal) your Denon version isn't pre-May-2021 with the HDMI bug.

Enjoy!
 

DVDdoug

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- separate elements with eg. a good desktop DAC and/or a DSP (for bass management/subwoofer and maybe room correction), a HDMI switcher/splitter, an analog entry switch, and a good class D 2-channel amp. What about ease of use (multiple remotes, configuration of inputs...)? Performance of the combination? And total price close or higher than the Denon AVR...
If you're going to be using it for movies, most stand-alone DACs only work with uncompressed audio and can't decode the various DVD & Blu-Ray formats.

An AVR makes most things easier... And the sound quality is usually completely-acceptable. Plus, you get a remote control and multiple inputs, etc.
 

dr_nick

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Ha, same same but different.
Current setup: yamaha rx-a2080 running dynaudio xcite44s and a dynaudio centre; and 2musicast10s as the surrounds (probably not my longterm solution! But what i have)
Problem is - yamaha avr is pretty big and on the hunt for something smaller. Probably use the system more for av duties, but pay more attention to music use in stereo.
Just brought home c658/c298 combo. Whoa. Seems to be a big improvement. But of course subjective af.
Plan- demo anthem 540 (can get at 30%off just now) and do ‘blind’ test switching between nad dac and anthem preouts. Gonna use a test tone and basic audio meter to ‘match’ volume outputs before blindfolding and making the boss switch the inputs back and forth. Yes, xlr vs rca cables i know i know….
My suspicion is the anthem will be audibly indistinguishable when used as a stereo dac, and maintains versatility for av use; and that the c298 is the main reason it (seems to) sound so much better. But if the nad dac is obviously better… well, then what…. Maybe the mdc hdmi module to deal with the various hdmi inputs?? Not going to be allowed nad AND avr…. We need less not more!!
 
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