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Review and Measurements of Marantz AV8805 AV Processor

Kal Rubinson

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No, wasn't thinking of (just) the Trinnov and not HT at all. I meant "afford" in the more general sense of reviewing a (any) piece of gear I couldn't afford to buy. As in a pair of speakers worth more than my house, or a set of interconnects (or stereo preamp) worth more than my car. Back when I was in the biz and knew, or at least spoke with, a few reviewers that would come up now and then -- the really awesome piece of gear reviewed that was unaffordable to the guy reviewing it. After hours at CES that was usually one of the topics over dinner and drinks.
When I started with Stereophile, I soon encountered a crisis of logic. I was reviewing a pair of DACs by mbl and Burmester (along with their mated CD transports) and I could not afford any of the four brutes, let alone a set. So, I had no "skin in the game" and, despite my positive impressions of the products, it was hard to be enthusiastic. Then I resolved to review only products that I could/would purchase, even if it caused some financial stress. Exceptions are made only for products with new and unique technology that, I believe, deserve examination because they may affect the future direction of product development.
But now that I think about it, are there many if any multichannel processors that focus on music?
Nope. Some may say so but I think the closest was the Bryston SP3 (I have not tried the SP4).
 

Kal Rubinson

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If we will rephrase it: “I don’t really care very much about multichannel musical sources even knowing that some of them are magnificent”, does it sound right?
Nope, not even close.
 
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Nope, not even close.
Ok, so do you have another multichannel surround setup for music comparing to your main setup for music (I assume it is a stereo one)?
I am trying to understand the logic - if you don’t care about the HT setup, and still have to use it for multichannel musical sources, why can’t you find a good setup for your level of demand - which can be used for both HT and surround music sources?
 
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DonH56

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When I started with Stereophile, I soon encountered a crisis of logic. I was reviewing a pair of DACs by mbl and Burmester (along with their mated CD transports) and I could not afford any of the four brutes, let alone a set. So, I had no "skin in the game" and, despite my positive impressions of the products, it was hard to be enthusiastic. Then I resolved to review only products that I could/would purchase, even if it caused some financial stress. Exceptions are made only for products with new and unique technology that, I believe, deserve examination because they may affect the future direction of product development.

Nope. Some may say so but I think the closest was the Bryston SP3 (I have not tried the SP4).
Very wise indeed, sir.
 

Fitzcaraldo215

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No, wasn't thinking of (just) the Trinnov and not HT at all. I meant "afford" in the more general sense of reviewing a (any) piece of gear I couldn't afford to buy. As in a pair of speakers worth more than my house, or a set of interconnects (or stereo preamp) worth more than my car. Back when I was in the biz and knew, or at least spoke with, a few reviewers that would come up now and then -- the really awesome piece of gear reviewed that was unaffordable to the guy reviewing it. After hours at CES that was usually one of the topics over dinner and drinks.

But now that I think about it, are there many if any multichannel processors that focus on music? I'd think you'd either have to go with a multichannel player like an Oppo into something fairly simple (or a group of simple preamps or passive switches and level controllers), or buy an HT processor to get EQ, bass management, and all that jazz. I am behind on reading but IIRC a high-quality surround system for music has been one of those things you've had to struggle with a bit?
Don - It’s not up to me to answer for Kal, but we have our similaries. I am a big classical music fan, first and foremost, in Mch. Home theater is a distinctly lesser preference, less in Kal’s regard, a bit more so in mine. But, home theater is still way, way down compared to music listening in Mch. I own at least 4,000 in pure music in Mch and Kal has at least as much. Videos in Mch make up the lesser, residual complement to our libraries.

So, why do you disregard the Marantz, as it has been used in Kal’s Connecticut system with music listening in mind. He has alternatively his big Manhattan with exaSound E38, big B&W’s, etc. - all primarily based on music listening. He can compare the two.

I guess what I am saying is there is no difference between music listening and home theater. Sound is sound. If the quality of reproduction is transparent, it really will make no difference.

I really do not change my settings one way or the other for home theatre or to use a different room/system. It sounds extraordinary for music and home theater.
 

DonH56

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Don - It’s not up to me to answer for Kal, but we have our similaries. I am a big classical music fan, first and foremost, in Mch. Home theater is a distinctly lesser preference, less in Kal’s regard, a bit more so in mine. But, home theater is still way, way down compared to music listening in Mch. I own at least 4,000 in pure music in Mch and Kal has at least as much. Videos in Mch make up the lesser, residual complement to our libraries.

So, why do you disregard the Marantz, as it has been used in Kal’s Connecticut system with music listening in mind. He has alternatively his big Manhattan with exaSound E38, big B&W’s, etc. - all primarily based on music listening. He can compare the two.
I think you misunderstood, sorry for not being clear. I don't disregard the Marantz at all, but it is fundamentally an AVP with a lot of HT features. I was curious if there were any "stereo" preamps/processors that added multichannel capability vs. buying an AVR or AVP. Kal answered that for me.

I guess what I am saying is there is no difference between music listening and home theater. Sound is sound. If the quality of reproduction is transparent, it really will make no difference.

I really do not change my settings one way or the other for home theatre or to use a different room/system. It sounds extraordinary for music and home theater.
That is exactly how I see it. And how I have implemented my system. But arguably without that big TV in the middle I might be able to better optimize for music. For one thing, I'd have a spot for my TT, if I was so inclined. But, I only have one media room, and I like watching movies too. But, in no small part due to Kal's influence, I have upgraded my system to better support full-range surrounds for music.
 
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closest was the Bryston SP3 (I have not tried the SP4).
I am not sure if it even worth to try SP4 - it uses 16 channel AD DAC chip ADAU1966, which has only -98dB THD+N per data sheet (rev E) - almost resolution of a compact disk (or a budget codec).

For comparison Marantz 8805 uses AK4490, which has -112dB THD+N.
It is 14dB difference or 5 times in levels. Then all those distortions will be amplified by a power amp by 23-29dB.
Isn’t it bad to have 5 times less distortions for 1/3 of the price?

SP4 with such price tag shall use top notch DAC chips as we see in good 2-channel DACs - for example AK4497 (for “velvet sound”) or ESS9038PRO for superior transparency and details.
 
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LTig

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I guess what I am saying is there is no difference between music listening and home theater. Sound is sound. If the quality of reproduction is transparent, it really will make no difference.
In theory you're right. In praxis I am much more critical when listening to music blind (or without the video screen) compared to listening to a concert video. Somehow the accompanying picture makes me less critical regarding sound quality - which is in fact a good thing since otherwise I may not enjoy some concert BDs as much as I do.

The same is actually true for real live concerts. Closing the eyes lets me realize short comings of the FOH mix more easily. Does not happen in the local concert hall though, where I close my eyes more often than not (unamplified symphony orchestra).
 
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Lets get back to the “flat broken” DAC filtering.

In reality Kal is absolutely correct with his listening experience, NOTHING is broken.

The measurement graph limit is 96kHz, to get to this FR one needs to use the sampling rate 96kHz x2 =192 kHz, and it has been used.
AK4490 has 5 digital filter modes, each mode has different roll off filtering graphs for different sampling rate, it is visible on the AK4490 data sheet graphs.
If we use another sampling rate comparing to the expected 44.1 kHz, the digital filter mode switches as well accordingly.
Why would anyone expect to see 22.5 kHz DAC filtering mode roll off using 192kHz sampling rate?
 
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Kal Rubinson

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Ok, so do you have another multichannel surround setup for music comparing to your main setup for music (I assume it is a stereo one)?
Yes, I do "have another multichannel surround setup for music" but not a stereo system.
 

Kal Rubinson

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He has alternatively his big Manhattan with exaSound E38, big B&W’s, etc. - all primarily based on music listening. He can compare the two.
Actually, I have A/B-ed them by calibrating a Smyth Realiser in NYC and compared it with the live system in CT. Remarkably similar in a somewhat superficial way.
 

Sal1950

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SP4 with such price tag shall use top notch DAC chips as we see in good 2-channel DACs - for example AK4497 (for “velvet sound”) or ESS9038PRO for superior transparency and details.
So do you really believe these sonic attributes you've attributed to the various DAC's would be audible under blind comparison?
 
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So do you really believe these sonic attributes you've attributed to the various DAC's would be audible under blind comparison?
Yes, I do.
Otherwise, why do we need to measure anything at all, why good parts like PCM1704U-K become to be obsolete, why guys from dCS designed their own Ring DAC, which sounds and measures almost perfectly?
DBT has to be performed properly though.
 
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Sal1950

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All boards with this new memory started to fail, FPGA and DSP experienced start of corrupted data exchange and then loss of communication in 1-10 minutes, randomly in time.
Shorting of the rework wire from 0.5” to 0.2” (the same type of wire) has solved the issue completely.
Could we measure the difference in clock phase or parameters / interference level / noise? Probably not.
Not having the tech expertise to really comment, but I don't understand how you couldn't measure a failing and corrupted data board?

What has any of that got to do with being able to either measure or hear differences under blind conditions in the analog output of eitther board when operating within normal design parameters?
 
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Not having the tech expertise to really comment, but I don't understand how you couldn't measure a failing and corrupted data board?
In theory you shall be able to measure the clock rail quality no matter if it was a root cause of corrupted data later or worked fine. You could measure / store the parameters of this clock before and after replacement of the rework wire for the failing / fixed device.
 
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What has any of that got to do with being able to either measure or hear differences under blind conditions in the analog output of eitther board when operating within normal design parameters?
It was an example how a minor change in the specification of an electronic component (memory in this case) can change the performance of the entire device. Exactly the same in audio, where similar FPGAs and DSPs, as well as clock rails are used.

Regarding the listening difference: why dCS designers were not satisfied with the quality of existing on the market DAC chips and invested plenty of money in development of their own DAC, if they couldn’t DBT the difference in sounding of DACs or correlate the measuring results to the sound quality? However, listening experience of the Elgar DAC for example, mated with dCS clock, proves that the audible sound quality is definitely related to the measurements of the same DAC.
The major component in it is the Ring DAC, which makes a difference, other used electronic components are more or less the same / similar to used by other high end rivals. The used electronic components are high quality ones and circuits are optimized / engineered properly, but to get to the level of perfection most important components - DAC chip and clock, have to be perfect.
This is just an example again.
 
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LTig

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It was an example how a minor change in the specification of an electronic component (memory in this case) can change the performance of the entire device. Exactly the same in audio, where similar FPGAs and DSPs, as well as clock rails are used.
The case you described was not a change in performance but a change which broke the system which is typical for digital electronics. If digital audio electronics is broken it also does not work any longer or shows dropouts which is easy to detect. This is not the same as subjectively felt differences in sound quality.
 

DonH56

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Yes, I do.
Otherwise, why do we need to measure anything at all, why good parts like PCM1704U-K become to be obsolete, why guys from dCS designed their own Ring DAC, which sounds and measures almost perfectly?
DBT has to be performed properly though.

Let me give you an example (from my experience) how minor changes/difference in specifications in electronics can change everything, including the functionality of a device.
We had a board which had some rework on it, the rework wire was about 0.5” long and located on a clock rail. Everything worked good until the manufacturer changed 20ns memory to the same type and group, but faster, 10ns one. The clock frequency was not even close to 10 nanoseconds difference, it was about 10 MHz (100ns period). The memory has been replaced such as the old one became to be obsolete.
All boards with this new memory started to fail, FPGA and DSP experienced start of corrupted data exchange and then loss of communication in 1-10 minutes, randomly in time.
Shorting of the rework wire from 0.5” to 0.2” (the same type of wire) has solved the issue completely.
Could we measure the difference in clock phase or parameters / interference level / noise? Probably not.
I would be willing to bet you could have measured the clock signal and quickly pinpointed the problem. We have this happen often in my day job and find reflections etc. on the clock traces that cause bigger problems when older parts are replaced with wider-band (faster) parts that end up being more sensitive to the problems. Then there are the parts that differ in more than just speed, e.g. when a customer replaced an LVPECL receiver with an LVDS receiver and did not change the termination/bias network so the new part was not properly biased and the signal's common-mode was completely wrong for the new (better, faster) part. Etc.
 

Sal1950

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Regarding the listening difference: why dCS designers were not satisfied with the quality of existing on the market DAC chips and invested plenty of money in development of their own DAC, if they couldn’t DBT the difference in sounding of DACs or correlate the measuring results to the sound quality?
That's easy, it's called marketing. Can't sell the new and improved products if you don't have something new to offer. How else you gonna make MONEY.
Not that there's anything wrong with trying to improve the breed, that's why Amir continues to measure DAC's here to find the best of the best. But many of us feel the point of audible transparency was pasted long ago. What little supporting listening tests there are to being able to hear differences has little to no backing documentation, IE, that had any oversight by those who didn't have a horse in the race.
 
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