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

Alice of Old Vincennes

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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:



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? :)
I think if you listened long enough your brain will adjust.
 

truwarrior22

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Yeah, that's an interesting one about the sound possibly changing - details, clarity, and center image are words I would also use. I've been trying to pull the sound to the center and give it a warmer tone. I wonder if you had the same issue I had.

We'll see if a new calibration with my old approach and limiting frequencies gets me there.
Consider trying an Arcam. You may find it at a reduced price as an open-box item at Best Buy. You can take advantage of the extended holiday return policy to try it out for a month. This might be a good option if you’re not satisfied with the sound quality of certain music genres. I couldn't get certain genres like punk rock to sound good on my SR8015 (even with Audyssey). All the Arcam models sound good so it depends on how much power and features you need.

For a high-quality two-channel music experience, maybe consider using an integrated amplifier with a Home Theater (HT) bypass feature. This setup involves connecting the integrated amplifier between your Audio/Video Receiver (AVR) and speakers, allowing you to bypass the AVR’s processing for a "purer" sound.
 
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Steve Dallas

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Sorry off topic but your curve is so nice, what does your room looks like?

The room looks like this:


Bought the Dirac license during the Black Friday sale. Still hammering it into submission, but so far it looks like this:

F206 Dirac Custom Full Left Right Psy.png



Versus previously posted Audyssey XT32 results:

F206 Left Right Def Sub+ 1100.png
 

peng

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I bought the DLBC license at BF price too. I have to use the PC standalone version and for now only use one sub. The other sub just failed at the time anyway, it is fixed now but windows can't really do 2.2 so I'll be using one sub only when using DLBC on the Anthem. Eventually I have to buy the MOTU 4 channel DAC and then I can take better use of DLBC. It still requires tweaking for the curves to look pretty, but it is easy enough to get much better looking curves than with ARC G. Where DLBC does well is in the bass range and impulse response. For some reason, ARC G just couldn't do a better job on the bass, and strangely, after the last FW update, that should have nothing to do with REQ/C, I re-run ARC G mainly because one of sub had the amp replaced, and I found that ARC G was able to sort of dial in the bass, still rough but a lot better than before. I spent the whole morning tweaking with the help of REW and it still could not come close to the performance of DLBC, or XT32 using the Editor app. It does well from 500 Hz and up and also in positions not far from the MMP so overall it is still good, just not as good as the other two.

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