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The Pre/Pro to buy under $5000?

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Sure, it would be great to splurge on a Trinnov, Storm, or Lyngdorf. If I really wanted to go wild, something I’d like to try is the JBL SDP-55 and leverage Dante. Get a couple 8 channel Dante equipped JBL (Crown) DSi 2.0 amps…unlimited active crossovers, 10 band PEQ per each individual driver, Time Alignment independent for tweeter vs midrange, adios passive bottlenecks!…I digress

But if you, like me, need something more conventional or just can’t (or don’t want to) afford any of the above, I’d say the options are easily narrowed down to the Arcam AV40 vs Anthem AVM70.

The only other honorable mention is the Rotel RSP-1576MKII, yet it lacks Dirac Bass Control and balanced outputs. Looking back, the MKI unit was a tantalizing piece, it had 10 band PEQ per channel, and no Dirac.

I have excluded all other options because Dirac is miles better than Audyssey, ARC is generally well regarded/something I’d like to try. I also think if Audyssey is good enough for you, then just get an X3700H and call it a day, no pre/pro with Audyssey as a bottleneck is worth buying in 2022. I have an X6500H, it was a waste of money. It can’t sufficiently power the Focal Chorus 700 series (floor)/ Sonance (ceiling) 7.1.4 system it’s currently paired. The Audyssey phone app lets you dial in decent sound for the front, but it’s terrible for dialing in cohesive surround. Really, all you do on the phone app is change the filter range to 500hz and down, uncheck the “midrange compensation” and tweak levels/crossovers. And yet, Audyssey is much, much worse than a mediocre REW operator like myself.

When shopping for surround audio gear, the question becomes, what is the solution that doesn’t bottleneck you to death? Dirac is the clear answer. Dirac really works, and it’s even starting to catch on in entry level receivers. Although, I can not envision the average Joe that has zero interest in hi-fi successful running dirac in their home unsupervised.

I have had an M33 in the same room as the 6500H for about a month to do AB comparisons. For two devices with -similar- SINAD ratings, the difference in audio is astounding, not subtle. The bass region of the M33 is so good it feel like an auditory illusion. Pleasantries behind us, let’s dig in:

Arcam AV40
Pro:
-Dirac with multiple sub, bass control
-MQA support
-UMIK-1 compatibility (Arcam supplied calibration file)
-5 year warranty

Con:
-1v Unbalanced/2v Balanced preamp output (not a problem for my Parasound amps)
-questionable reviews

Questions:
-MQA via USB only?
-no on screen display?

Anthem AVM70
Pro:
-good review
-2v unbalanced/4v balanced preamp output
-adjustable sub phase, phase frequency, polarity and crossover slope
-proprietary surround upmixer for music that disables the center channel
-$1200 less expensive retail

Con:
-no MQA
-ARC vs Dirac
-3 year warranty

I have some questions about both units:
-Can the preamp channels be reassigned to allow biamp front L&R with 7.2.4? (15 channels total)
-does ARC/Dirac work for Zone 2?
-coax input support 24/192k? (Or only HDMI & USB?)
-3 sub support? (Or limited to 1, 2 or 4 subs?)
-Tidal Connect?
-do they process internally at 24/192 or higher?

I am not at all concerned about HDMI versions or 8K, 4K far surpasses the threshold of my eyes and I use a Wyrestorm HDMI matrix for multi-zone distribution.
 

dlaloum

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Unless you have an absolute requirement for balanced XLR outputs, you should also include the better mid range AVR's...

Often the circuits in these are the same as used in the pre-pro's and with much more competition in the marketplace, they can be more economical.

You can use them as straight Pre-Pro's or as partial pre-pros... using the internal amps for the less demanding surround/height speakers.

Shortlist would include Onkyo/Pioneer/Integra models with full sets of pre-out (Integra 3.4/5.4, Pioneer LX505, Onkyo RZ50)

I am using my Integra 3.4 as a prepro... with the exception of 1 channel of surround (2 speakers) being powered internally

The V output from the pre-out's is ample to run 1.4Vrms pro level poweramps - with peak outputs at around 3.5Vrms - that is plenty to cover 99% of all power amps.

The most economical Dirac prepro I could find is the Integra DRX 3.4.... and it has been sounding great here for about a month now. (it is limited to 9 channels of processing... which is fine for me... other models have 11 channels)
 

Blumlein 88

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I agree that Dirac is worlds better than any Audyssey I've heard (though I've not heard the very latest of these).

I don't know about ARC. In case you missed it here is a review on ASR of the AVM 70.
 

Vincentponcet

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Sure, it would be great to splurge on a Trinnov, Storm, or Lyngdorf. If I really wanted to go wild, something I’d like to try is the JBL SDP-55 and leverage Dante. Get a couple 8 channel Dante equipped JBL (Crown) DSi 2.0 amps…unlimited active crossovers, 10 band PEQ per each individual driver, Time Alignment independent for tweeter vs midrange, adios passive bottlenecks!…I digress

But if you, like me, need something more conventional or just can’t (or don’t want to) afford any of the above, I’d say the options are easily narrowed down to the Arcam AV40 vs Anthem AVM70.

The only other honorable mention is the Rotel RSP-1576MKII, yet it lacks Dirac Bass Control and balanced outputs. Looking back, the MKI unit was a tantalizing piece, it had 10 band PEQ per channel, and no Dirac.

I have excluded all other options because Dirac is miles better than Audyssey, ARC is generally well regarded/something I’d like to try. I also think if Audyssey is good enough for you, then just get an X3700H and call it a day, no pre/pro with Audyssey as a bottleneck is worth buying in 2022. I have an X6500H, it was a waste of money. It can’t sufficiently power the Focal Chorus 700 series (floor)/ Sonance (ceiling) 7.1.4 system it’s currently paired. The Audyssey phone app lets you dial in decent sound for the front, but it’s terrible for dialing in cohesive surround. Really, all you do on the phone app is change the filter range to 500hz and down, uncheck the “midrange compensation” and tweak levels/crossovers. And yet, Audyssey is much, much worse than a mediocre REW operator like myself.

When shopping for surround audio gear, the question becomes, what is the solution that doesn’t bottleneck you to death? Dirac is the clear answer. Dirac really works, and it’s even starting to catch on in entry level receivers. Although, I can not envision the average Joe that has zero interest in hi-fi successful running dirac in their home unsupervised.

I have had an M33 in the same room as the 6500H for about a month to do AB comparisons. For two devices with -similar- SINAD ratings, the difference in audio is astounding, not subtle. The bass region of the M33 is so good it feel like an auditory illusion. Pleasantries behind us, let’s dig in:

Arcam AV40
Pro:
-Dirac with multiple sub, bass control
-MQA support
-UMIK-1 compatibility (Arcam supplied calibration file)
-5 year warranty

Con:
-1v Unbalanced/2v Balanced preamp output (not a problem for my Parasound amps)
-questionable reviews

Questions:
-MQA via USB only?
-no on screen display?

Anthem AVM70
Pro:
-good review
-2v unbalanced/4v balanced preamp output
-adjustable sub phase, phase frequency, polarity and crossover slope
-proprietary surround upmixer for music that disables the center channel
-$1200 less expensive retail

Con:
-no MQA
-ARC vs Dirac
-3 year warranty

I have some questions about both units:
-Can the preamp channels be reassigned to allow biamp front L&R with 7.2.4? (15 channels total)
-does ARC/Dirac work for Zone 2?
-coax input support 24/192k? (Or only HDMI & USB?)
-3 sub support? (Or limited to 1, 2 or 4 subs?)
-Tidal Connect?
-do they process internally at 24/192 or higher?

I am not at all concerned about HDMI versions or 8K, 4K far surpasses the threshold of my eyes and I use a Wyrestorm HDMI matrix for multi-zone distribution.
You talked about the amp limitations of the 6500h for your loudspeakers. Add a dedicated amp for the front, like the 3 channels purifi, at 2000e.
 

dlaloum

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In terms of powering speakers - all the AVR's tend to be current limited (to various degrees... the X6500 less than the ones further down the range).

If your speakers require more current to drive them properly (quite common especially with woofers....) - then you can often resolve it simply by power the front L/R with a good Power amp.... that frees up more current for the center, often allowing the AVR to then drive the C and surrounds.

In my case I have connected L/C/R to my external power amps... I initially connected L / R and left the center to the AVR - results were excellent - Yesterday I got around to trying all 3 on the AVR - there was no noticeable difference... with all speakers on the AVR, the sound was muddy/congested - I theorise due to current constraints.... once I moved the L & R speakers off the AVR onto power amps, it all cleared up, and the AVR was handling the C speaker just fine.

I am running 2 x Crown XLS2500 - was previously using them in vertical biamp mode (each amp was driving woofer on one channel and mid/tweeter on the other) .... - with the AVR running C

Now I have switched to using one Crown amp for L&R, and one channel on the other one for Center.... - I have not noticed a difference between the two configurations.

All of which is to say - it is heavily speaker dependent, and also AVR dependent - my previous Onkyo & Integra AVR's (vintage 2008 & 2014) had enough current capability to drive the speakers on their own. - The current Integra I have doesn't.

You may not need to power all your channels externally (especially given that the 6500 is quite a heavy duty beast) - it may be enough to run L/R or L/C/R....
 

Sancus

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Dirac Bass Control is $500 extra with the AV40 while it's included with the JBL SDP-55. So I don't really see it as meaningfully cheaper. But I'm also not sure what people are actually paying for the SDP-55 cause of JBL's absurdly anachronistic dealer system.
 

Sparky

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In my experience, Arcam is an overpriced unit with a clunky/outdated UI and I'm not a big fan of DIRAC either with its 10dB boosting of your channels (I think it's for headroom reasons) but it can cause clipping when doing measurements. Nothing worse than getting to your 12th measurement out of 24 only to find that it starts to clip and you have to go back to square one! :(

Anthem Room Correction is by far a better option. Much easier to use and, with the latest Genesis update, a much better all round product. Anthem used to be quite buggy with LG TVs so do your research.
 
OP
D

Deleted member 46062

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Unless you have an absolute requirement for balanced XLR outputs, you should also include the better mid range AVR's...
I have a requirement for bass management, which is not available for Integra/Onkyo/Pioneer/NAD. Arcam AVR20 is the lowest model with DLBC for multiple subs, and costs roughly the same as the AV40.

You talked about the amp limitations of the 6500h for your loudspeakers. Add a dedicated amp for the front, like the 3 channels purifi, at 2000e.
This pre/pro is for a completely different home and speakers. I already have Parasound amps, A31 and A52+. The 6500H setup is finalized and staying put.
Dirac Bass Control is $500 extra with the AV40 while it's included with the JBL SDP-55. So I don't really see it as meaningfully cheaper. But I'm also not sure what people are actually paying for the SDP-55 cause of JBL's absurdly anachronistic dealer system.

I can get an A-Stock AV40 for about $4000 right now, and B-stock closer to $3500.
Anthem Room Correction is by far a better option. Much easier to use and, with the latest Genesis update, a much better all round product. Anthem used to be quite buggy with LG TVs so do your research.

I have all LG TVs. 3x 65GX. Is this something I really need to be concerned about?
 
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Sparky

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I have all LG TVs. 3x 65GX. Is this something I really need to be concerned about?
I remember an old MRX720 I used to use which had a bug where the hdmi would not do the handshake properly and cause black screen regularly. It could've just been a faulty unit but thought I would mention it.
 

Vacceo

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I'm on a similar boat right now. I hace narrowed down my options to two sets of electrónicos: McIntosh MX100 vs AVM70.

I'm not completely Happy with the features of any of those two fue to lack of HDMI 2.1.

The streaming capabilities of the Anthem are better, but I already have an Nvidia shield, so the whole bluetooth and Chromecast parte does not really matter.

Room correction seems to be far better in Anthem than McIntosh (Audyssey) and the second seems to be silent about unlocking the web-based Audyssey (and that could really bring up them to Dirac and ARC performance).

I think I'll just wait on the processor for some months as HDMI 2.1 will eventually show up probably on both, perhaps with some refresh components such as DAC's.

In the meantime, I'm thinking about going for a class D amp. My choices for multi channel are also the McIntosh Mi347 (hypex based) or an Apollon Purifi.

Probably both will sound the same to my ears, so I guess any will work just fine.
 

dlaloum

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I have a requirement for bass management, which is not available for Integra/Onkyo/Pioneer/NAD. Arcam AVR20 is the lowest model with DLBC for multiple subs, and costs roughly the same as the AV40.
Fair enough! - I have a reasonable degree of confidence that the Flagship models from Onkyo/Integra/Pioneer, due to be announced/released this year would have DLBC (or possibly the next step up Dirac Unison)... but getting hold of one will most likely a 2023 affair!
 
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I'm on a similar boat right now. I hace narrowed down my options to two sets of electrónicos: McIntosh MX100 vs AVM70.

I'm not completely Happy with the features of any of those two fue to lack of HDMI 2.1.

The streaming capabilities of the Anthem are better, but I already have an Nvidia shield, so the whole bluetooth and Chromecast parte does not really matter.

Room correction seems to be far better in Anthem than McIntosh (Audyssey) and the second seems to be silent about unlocking the web-based Audyssey (and that could really bring up them to Dirac and ARC performance).
In your comparison, the Anthem is the clear winner. To me the whole point of buying anything McIntosh is because it holds its value and stays relevant for the long term. The biggest exception is pre/pros because the technology changes every few years. I’d rather spend that $5500 MX100 price tag on an MC152.

The $200 web based Audyssey unlocks manual control over the parameters Audyssey sets automatically. It’s going to take ALOT of work to get a surround system dialed in manually. Plus, I do not trust the Audyssey mic for pro results. You can not use your own mic, there’s nowhere to load a calibration file. The $20 Audyssey phone app is definitely worth the price, mostly because you can just dial down how much processing Audyssey does.
 
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Deleted member 46062

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AV40 Questions:
-MQA via USB only?
-no on screen display?

I have some questions about both units:
-Can the preamp channels be reassigned to allow biamp front L&R with 7.2.4? (15 channels total)
-does ARC/Dirac work for Zone 2?
-coax input support 24/192k? (Or only HDMI & USB?)
-3 sub support? (Or limited to 1, 2 or 4 subs?)
-Tidal Connect?
-do they process internally at 24/192 or higher?

Can anyone comment on the above?
 

Dj7675

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In your comparison, the Anthem is the clear winner. To me the whole point of buying anything McIntosh is because it holds its value and stays relevant for the long term. The biggest exception is pre/pros because the technology changes every few years. I’d rather spend that $5500 MX100 price tag on an MC152.

The $200 web based Audyssey unlocks manual control over the parameters Audyssey sets automatically. It’s going to take ALOT of work to get a surround system dialed in manually. Plus, I do not trust the Audyssey mic for pro results. You can not use your own mic, there’s nowhere to load a calibration file. The $20 Audyssey phone app is definitely worth the price, mostly because you can just dial down how much processing Audyssey does.
I would add that McIntosh amps hold their value. Processors don’t seem to.
 

cputoaster

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Btw, I bought the SDP-55 for less than $5k, there might be some deals available where you are too. And you can just use it as is first and later grow by using Dante.
 

Dj7675

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Btw, I bought the SDP-55 for less than $5k, there might be some deals available where you are too. And you can just use it as is first and later grow by using Dante.
Is it pretty stable/bug free now?
 

cputoaster

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Works well for me, with a Genelec / Arendal sub Atmos HT setup, apart from a known Dante HW problem (clock) that I will have it serviced for under warranty in the next week's. But ymmv.
 

Dj7675

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Works well for me, with a Genelec / Arendal sub Atmos HT setup, apart from a known Dante HW problem (clock) that I will have it serviced for under warranty in the next week's. But ymmv.
Good to hear that it is working well for you. When I was shopping, I was a bit scared off by some of the issues. If those past issues aren’t an issue, it is definitely worth looking considering the feature set.
 
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I agree that Dirac is worlds better than any Audyssey I've heard

Why is it that it's "all about the measurements" until it involves Dirac vs. Audyssey?

ASR can't be about measurement until it isn't. What does "sounds better" mean? Are we talking about psychoacoustics? Why measure anything if all we're going to do is tweak the output until it pleases us? I have no experience with either, though my 12 year old Pioneer "sounds better" with MCACC engaged than not, but I can see why when I compare before and after response curves using REW. I'd like a little more meat on the bones - I've read hundreds of posts and still am not sure why one is described as "better" than the other, other than perhaps the difference in the interfaces, which I could care less about since it should be a "do it once and leave it that way forever" thing, unless I'm expected to turn into a tweakaholic again after I get a receiver that lets me tweak 'till my heart's content?
 
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Why is it that it's "all about the measurements" until it involves Dirac vs. Audyssey?

ASR can't be about measurement until it isn't. What does "sounds better" mean? Are we talking about psychoacoustics? Why measure anything if all we're going to do is tweak the output until it pleases us? I have no experience with either, though my 12 year old Pioneer "sounds better" with MCACC engaged than not, but I can see why when I compare before and after response curves using REW. I'd like a little more meat on the bones - I've read hundreds of posts and still am not sure why one is described as "better" than the other, other than perhaps the difference in the interfaces, which I could care less about since it should be a "do it once and leave it that way forever" thing, unless I'm expected to turn into a tweakaholic again after I get a receiver that lets me tweak 'till my heart's content?

I feel your pain, but I view the situation differently. I believe, to a point, that the best sounding speaker after correction is the best sounding speaker before correction. Other factors are the speaker’s driver layout and the port design; or lack thereof. I have never heard a single uncorrected stereo system that could compete with a properly tuned, corrected system. Right off the bat, unless the speaker uses a horn or waveguide that recesses the tweeter into the cabinet, the tweeter and midrange will not have anywhere near perfect time alignment no matter how well engineered the crossover is. Besides impulse response correction or a DSP with delay; a plinth or stand that angles the speaker are the only other honorable mentions to address this issue.

The best systems I have ever experienced all shared a common element: externally powered active speakers; zero passive crossovers and no internal amps. The benefit is being able to DSP each driver individually. REW let’s you measure a driver and set the PEQ target to compensate for the crossover filter slope. That way, you can focus your PEQ on the area near the crossover, probably the speakers weakest area for even response, helping to blend that driver with the other drivers. Once you integrate each of the active drivers with gain, x-overs, delay and PEQ, a lot of DSPs will let you PEQ or Dirac on top of that, but some won’t.

The best case scenario of an uncorrected system is to have the size and design of the speaker perfectly match the environment. The closest I have ever gotten was with Focal Chorus 705v. The inverted tweeter dome, small 5” woofer and front port design worked excellently in a medium-large size room that was 12x24x10…but people want the bass from their Kanta 3s to sound just as smooth and even in the same size room.

While not completely popular, my opinion is the goal should be flat frequency response from 20-20k. The lone exception to this rule is big bass, but I never boost bass. Big bass should only come from big amps and big woofers.

Dirac has the unique ability of essentially unlimited filters because of its mixed-phase design. Dirac is not limited to IIR and PEQ filters like Audyssey. People talk about which target curve is the best. I do not run a target curve in Dirac. I delete all of the “control points” and let it do it’s thing. The result is even response from 10hz-24k, as long as you have the speakers to do it. A lot of “full range” speakers are really only useful from 40hz to about 18k and room correction can not improve that. The most important thing I have found is that the results heavily depend on the calibration microphone and the accuracy of its cal file. UMIK-1 was a monumental step up from the mic that came with the M33.

I use the EQ function in REW to interpret the graphs. If REW can automatically determine the target and generate PEQ for 20-20k without any warnings about the target being too high or low, that’s a pretty flat speaker to begin with. I’m not an engineer, so I can’t really interpret the graphs visually, I also don’t have the background knowledge of what to look for in the graphs. By tweaking parameters in REW EQ, I can easily gather data I can understand. If I run REW EQ at +/- 1db and it only generates 1-3 PEQ plots for the entire 20-20k spectrum, I know I’ve got it pretty dialed in.
 
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