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Some thoughts about my AVR upgrade path towards 3D sound

coolstuff

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Currently I am investigating a replacement of an older 7.1 AV-receiver (5.1 + 2nd stereo zone) to try out Atmos by adding 2 Atmos enabled speakers in 1st path to gain some 3D sound experience. Video/Music 70/30. Streaming and input sources are: 4k Apple TV, BlueRay player and for music only I have setup SnapCast and Shairport sync for streaming inside the house with SnapClients where needed. So I would not need other streaming apps/functionality implemented in the AV-receiver, esp. when I have to pay for and when I will be locked into a closed vendor system. My new target system should support solid audio decoding including 3D, ideally with software update path to follow the ever envolving standards, multiple HDMI inputs, proper room calibration and good performing audio signal path and amplification.

The Denon X3800 and Onkyo RZ50 review results here are a major concern to me as outlined in the reviews. Although Denon is currently selling at lower prices I am hesitant to buy one.

One aspect and very interesting are the class-d reviews and I tried the Fosi V3 amp myself also looking at Hypex, ICEPower, Purifi as well as semiconductor class-d portfolio evolving. There are other markets and use cases like automotive and mobility driving this. Since my current receiver emits a lot of energy as heat even in idle mode (class A/B), this is triggering me thinking why do we not see more innovation such as class-d energy efficient amps in the current AV solutions? DSPs ADCs/DACs and even very power efficient and fast switching GaN transistors with super low RDSon are available as well as companies who could design an affordable but performing class-d amp such as Fosi v3, which made it to the recommended list.

During investigation I discovered that Pioneer, formerly using a class-d technology, is now using class A/B amps likely from their mother company. In this context that looks like a major step back wrt efficiency. The EU has introduced energy labels and it is expected that the product catalog may be extended so the efficiency is more transparent to the end user. This initiative and higher energy bills in Europe resulted in TWh of savings per year. Time where TVs consume 20+ watts in standby are over.

Maybe it is too early for my investigation but I would love to invest in something that has been well engineered and being energy efficient with features needed at decent audio performance. The trend how I see it is going towards soundbars connected to the Smart-TVs being the HDMI hub with eARC audio path back to the receiver, which still needs audio decoding amps and room calibration. But so far the TVs are not smart in the sense that the display could be turned off during audio playback in such setup using HDMI pass through only; at least I am not aware of... And the processors I have been looking at that are recommended are overpriced from what I understand about their electronics and software content. Semiconductors are still following Moore´s Law in productivity and complexity but in AV-receivers including Pre Pro I cannot see this happening.

Anyway looking for an affordable (not cheap) processor I thought Emotiva could be an option. Besides the issues addressed in the review their BasX MC1 is missing flexible channel assignment / zone support, which I think could be worked around accepting some inconvenience. There are also used MC700 available, which could serve as a 1st setup at budget cost if no better solution available worth the money. Maybe a higher risk could also be accepted dealing with such device in terms of product maturity and time to spend.

To date there are only three recommend AVR/AVP (Pre Pro) devices out of 26 tests with 5 having no (N/A) recommendation. The recommended three devices starting 3,800 up to 17,000 USD. In case AVR/AVP (Pre Pro) with good audio performance and room calibration could easily be combined with a set of commercially available and recommended class-d amps such as Fosi, Hypex, ... But where are these affordable preamp devices ? Or what is wrong with my observations and train of thoughts about looking for affordable AVR/AVP (Pre Pro) devices ?

Another topic is room calibration performance. It is not clear to me where to find evidence about it´s effectiveness, esp. When proprietary solutions are used. Calibration is a complex thing and certainly not easy to compare. Are there any reviews accessible with real measurement results that could be interesting to read?

Current options I see
  1. Take X3800 getting started with 3D sound at first.
  2. Investigate further into GaN SMPS + Class-D amp e.g. 4 x Fosi + processor (which?).
  3. Take X3800 and experiment with class-d DIY or Fosi V3 amps as needed. It will not solve the DAC issue but have some effects like on clipping - right?
    Is x3800 good enough being used as recommended AVR/AVP (Pre Pro) together with the Fosi V3?
    What about efficiency and heat dissipation of X3800 is such case ?
  4. Wait and continue investigation if other value processors being launched.
  5. Your recommendation which I am very interested to hear.
 
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coolstuff

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Nov 16, 2023
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after seeing Denon further reduced offer for X3800 I decided to take it and continue with option 1).
thanx for those reading through my long post.
feedback still welcome...
@Amir great to have these fact based review resources !
 

G-Can

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Nov 21, 2023
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after seeing Denon further reduced offer for X3800 I decided to take it and continue with option 1).
thanx for those reading through my long post.
feedback still welcome...
@Amir great to have these fact based review resources !

so how is your experience, I am literally in the same boat, and would love to hear from first hand
 
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