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Struggle replacing Old AVR - tried RZ50, 4800h, and Cinema 70 - what now?

techsamurai

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Speaking of upgrade hell, I find myself in the middle of it after trying 3 new AVRs

My Marantz 8002s (3 of them) are getting old and I'd like to get HDMI 2.1 and eArc. I also thought I could go separates and use the 8002s as an external amp as they certainly have better power than almost any Denon or Marantz on the market today.

My original expectation was better sound especially in stereo with the 8002 as the amp. Now I would settle for similar or very close sound since clearly none of these are the 8002's equals.

My focus is on music because I've lived with the 8002 for 15 years and as we'll find out later, it's very musical and almost an anomaly in the AVR world. My jaw often hits the floor in movies, shows, and games when the 8002 decides to show off. There's zero fear that anyone's jaw will hit the floor with any of the 3 AVRs I've purchased. In that regard, they are quite safe choices.

I bought a RZ50 and quickly returned it - the Onkyo sounded clinical in music and Dirac Live could not save it. It was difficult to switch between the 8002 and RZ50 in music - the RZ50 has a massive soundstage but it was barren. The 8002 is a much smaller canvas but that canvas has the quality of a Monet painting or a reproduction of it.

I bought a Denon 4800h and I had high expectations as it's similar to the Cinema 40 (the current top of the line AVR in Marantz's lineup) and made in Japan. I ran Audyssey XT32 and I was hoping that would also help bridge the gap to the 8002. Also, the 8002 is used as the amp in stereo so the 4800h is just a preamp, hopefully giving a leg up in musicality.

Unfortunately, the Denon 4800h even with the 8002 as the external amp cannot reproduce the music as the 15 year old SR8002 - guitars don't sound the same, voices have no presence etc. I enjoy it as background music a lot because it completely disappears sonically but I'm not sure that's a quality that Denon would like to be known for.

In movies, it has slam and is amazing but it's almost a bit too much for a living room theater and it gets tough taming its volume so I can hear the center channel without irritating my family. But the RZ50 and Cinema 70 are also slammers and would fare better in a dedicated home theater than a living room theater.

Finally, I bought a Cinema 70 + 8002 (amp) to use in preamp mode with all channels powered by the 8002. The Cinema 70 sounds stellar in music, well, stellar, until you play the same song with the 8002 and you hear parts of the song that are important.

But part of that can be my personal preference or what the 8002 does in Stereo mode which bypasses surround processing and seems to do its own thing. It seems to find a lot of nuance and detail in voices, guitars and all instruments and I've isolated that to the 100hz to 1khz range which is the fundamentals range of sound as I'm learning. Whatever the 8002 does there, it makes it different and imho magical. I've always wondered why folks thought that AVRs can't play stereo music and I suppose if you are used to the sound of your amazing stereo receiver, you're in for a surprise when you hear these AVRs which is where I find myself, only I have an AVR that does that.

I can't fault the RZ50 because it's a cheap AVR on sale and is well made. I can't fault the Cinema 70 because it sounds great for a cheap AVR with separates and is also well made.

I can only find fault with the 4800h which has the best version of Audyssey and is the Cinema 40's cousin. At its normal price (I paid $1,400), I'd expect the 4800h to match the 8002 in stereo music given the fact that 15 years have passed by.

Here's a review that sums up the 8002 and this is echoed by anyone that's heard this puppy:

Power and panache
Now, if all this makes this Marantz sound like something of a beast, it is; but it's a beast that's about as house-trained as Lassie. Pushed hard, the top-end stays smooth and refined, while the midrange has a hint of warmth that's rare in the world of multichannel amps.

Play a movie with a low-key soundtrack such as The Proposition and this Marantz is right at home, making the most of vocal nuances and small-scale effects of the kind that create an atmosphere rather than make your windows rattle.

The good news continues with music, where the company's reputation of making fine, musical-sounding kit remains intact.

It's exactly what I would have said. It's a magical AVR and now I wonder if even the AH1 can come close in 2 channel stereo. People have even been critical of the $14,000 AV10 and AMP10 in music... My BDI cabinet cannot accommodate any of those so they are not even in consideration, nor am I inclined to pay that much.

I can keep the 8002 and use it for music but it's a massive pain changing the volume.

Also if I keep the 4800h or Cinema 70, I'll have to settle for a less refined movie theater, TV, and game experience which are 75% of my use case.

So what choice do I have? Should I call Marantz and Denon and ask them to get back to work? :)
 

DVDdoug

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If you want different sound get different speakers or different recordings...

it's very musical

Onkyo sounded clinical in music

8002 is a much smaller canvas but that canvas has the quality of a Monet painting

It seems to find a lot of nuance and detail in voices, guitars and all instruments
These words are non-scientific and meaningless, or they might mean one thing to you and another thing to someone else. Can you get 3dB more "musicality"? "Audiophiles" have a dictionary full of meaningless terminology...

With electronics, there is only noise, distortion, frequency response, and output power. Plus any DSP effects to alter the EQ or apply surround effects or delay/reverb, etc.. Most electronics is better than human hearing unless you're hearing noise (hum, hiss, or whine in the background) or you overdrive it into distortion. You are unlikely to hear a difference in a blind level-matched ABX test (assuming no EQ or DSP, etc.).

See Audiophoolery.
 

snickers

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I'm in a similar or same situation as you. I have an old Harman AVR 7550HD from 2009 and would like to replace it due to lacking modern technology like new HDMI standard and others. I tried a few new AVR's, but no one was on the same level. The closest I was with a Yamaha, as it had after calibration the most option to "adjust" the sound to my likings.
But at the end, I bought the Evolve II 4k v2.0b Multichannel DAC and feed my Harman to the 8-channel analog in trough it. For me the best sounding and also cheapest solution. HD-Furry has also some interesting devices for this use cases.
 
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techsamurai

techsamurai

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If you want different sound get different speakers or different recordings...


These words are non-scientific and meaningless, or they might mean one thing to you and another thing to someone else. Can you get 3dB more "musicality"? "Audiophiles" have a dictionary full of meaningless terminology...

With electronics, there is only noise, distortion, frequency response, and output power. Plus any DSP effects to alter the EQ or apply surround effects or delay/reverb, etc.. Most electronics is better than human hearing unless you're hearing noise (hum, hiss, or whine in the background) or you overdrive it into distortion. You are unlikely to hear a difference in a blind level-matched ABX test (assuming no EQ or DSP, etc.).

See Audiophoolery.

How I wish you were right - you'd save me a lot of headaches and the RZ50, 4800h, and Cinema 70 would sound like an endgame stereo receiver. I have all the EQ in the world (calibration mics, mic stands and tripods) and it's the old AVR that bypasses surround processing that sounds the best with music.

I'd get rid of the 8002 in a heartbeat and save myself one of the 4 spaces in my cabinet.
 

snickers

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Or you could try an Anthem. I read that ARC is correcting the speakers, but trying to "change" them too much or too aggressive, as other systems sometimes like to do. And due to this, some people say they sound more "musically".
 

Chrispy

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How are you doing such comparisons particularly?
 
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techsamurai

techsamurai

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I'm in a similar or same situation as you. I have an old Harman AVR 7550HD from 2009 and would like to replace it due to lacking modern technology like new HDMI standard and others. I tried a few new AVR's, but no one was on the same level. The closest I was with a Yamaha, as it had after calibration the most option to "adjust" the sound to my likings.
But at the end, I bought the Evolve II 4k v2.0b Multichannel DAC and feed my Harman to the 8-channel analog in trough it. For me the best sounding and also cheapest solution. HD-Furry has also some interesting devices for this use cases.

Thanks, does it have eArc?
 
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techsamurai

techsamurai

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How are you doing such comparisons particularly?

How am I supposed to do them? If I play the 3 AVRs louder and with a sub, am I not helping them sound better?
 
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techsamurai

techsamurai

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I have a Denon 4800. Sounds fine to me and no worse than the expensive HiFi amps it replaced.

What you describe as differences sound so gross that I struggle to see that the AVR is the cause (all three of them )

Try this clip for guitar sound - there's another guitar that comes in at 2:14. How does it sound on your 4800h? Bear in mind, the instrument is a flamenco guitar playing high notes and the 2nd guitar is appreciably higher when it takes over the other guitar.

I'd love to have a roomful of Denon engineers in my room as I play that for them and my question to them would be very simple "Could one of you please explain to me what I'm listening to?"

 
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Chrispy

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How am I supposed to do them? If I play the 3 AVRs louder and with a sub, am I not helping them sound better?

No, I meant how are you doing the comparisons in detail. Blinded? In pure direct mode? I doubt you can do any quick switching and are relying on your sonic memory/biases. Not sure what you mean by louder or what a sub particularly has to do with it.
 
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techsamurai

techsamurai

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No, I meant how are you doing the comparisons in detail. Blinded? In pure direct mode? I doubt you can do any quick switching and are relying on your sonic memory/biases. Not sure what you mean by louder or what a sub particularly has to do with it.

I listen to 2 channel - there's a delay - it's easier going from 8002 to Cinema 70 than vice versa.
 
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techsamurai

techsamurai

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Try this clip for guitar sound - there's another guitar that comes in at 2:14. How does it sound on your 4800h? Bear in mind, the instrument is a flamenco guitar playing high notes and the 2nd guitar is appreciably higher when it takes over the other guitar.

I'd love to have a roomful of Denon engineers in my room as I play that for them and my question to them would be very simple "Could one of you please explain to me what I'm listening to?"



This is a shocker - don't listen to the main guitars listen to the echoing sound in the left and right background as they alternate at the beginning. They have less echo at the end.


My PC doesn't even play it - that's funny.
 
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Chrispy

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He hears what he hears.



The physical time it takes to connect and disconnect the two devices.

Thanks for the translation on the disconnect/connect thing. I think he expects to hear differences and does....
 

antcollinet

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This is a shocker - don't listen to the main guitars listen to the echoing sound in the left and right background as they alternate at the beginning. They have less echo at the end.

Your links are not working for me. But in any case, what is the point. What do you expect to get from me listening to those clips on my gear?
 
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techsamurai

techsamurai

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Your links are not working for me. But in any case, what is the point. What do you expect to get from me listening to those clips on my gear?

Sorry, they worked for me.

The songs are:

Gipsy Kings Moorea 2:15-2:30
Gipsy Kings Inspiration 0:50-1:50

My PC's speakers by JBL completely missed the sizzling sounds in the song Inspiration.

I'm curious to hear how they sound on your 4800h.
 
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antcollinet

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My PC's speakers by JBL completely missed the sizzling sounds in the song Inspiration

Well they sound plenty sizzy to me and this is on an old (about 16 years old) sony AVR - but then I've no idea if the sizzyness I'm hearing is the same as you are expecting or hearing.

And my speakers and room are different than yours.

So that got us precisely nowhere.

It seems unlikely that three different AVR's underperform audibly in the same way - so I am leaning towards the suggestion made above that your previous set up over emphasised some elements of the frequency response in a way you have got used to. You probably do need to listen to one of the new systems consistently for a while to re-tune your hearing.

Alternatively, get a measurement mic, (Umik 1) and measure the frequency response of the alternative setups to see if that shows you any difference.
 
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