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Use Onkyo TX-NR906 as a power amp: Good or bad idea?

Robert-Hifi

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My 15 year old Onkyo TX-NR906 is getting more HDMI issues (no video/audio) recently.
I wanted to replace it with the Onkyo TX-RZ70 (2800 euro), but the price difference with the Denon AVC-4800H is getting really big with the Denon going on sale for 1500 euro at the moment.

Makes me wonder if the RZ70 is worth the jump in price.
I was thinking the Denon AVC-4800H would be a good choice using it as a pre-amp. Assuming it runs a bit cooler in pre-amp mode?

The Onkyo TX-NR906 has a multichannel input, but how does it go with the two volume controls? Which one to use?
The TX-NR906 manual states: "Input Sensitivity and Impedance 200 mV/ 47 kΩ (LINE)".
Assuming that goes for the multichannel input as well.

So, is it a good or bad idea to re-use my old Onkyo as a power amp with the Denon?
 

fpitas

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145W vs 125W? You may never notice that difference.
 
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Robert-Hifi

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145W vs 125W? You may never notice that difference.
That are the numbers on paper. Don't know how noticeable it is with music or movies.
My setup is only 5.1, so that makes the amplification job a bit easier.

The plan is to eventually upgrade the speakers to something like KEF R11 (non-Meta), Arendal 1723 Tower THX or Wharfedale Aura 4 as fronts.
 

fpitas

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That are the numbers on paper. Don't know how noticeable it is with music or movies.
My setup is only 5.1, so that makes the amplification job a bit easier.

The plan is to eventually upgrade the speakers to something like KEF R11 (non-Meta), Arendal 1723 Tower THX or Wharfedale Aura 4 as fronts.
Your hearing is logarithmic, so that increase in power would be just barely noticeable. Doubling the power might help, but not that small increment. In any event, there's no problem using the Onkyo.
 

ban25

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That are the numbers on paper. Don't know how noticeable it is with music or movies.
My setup is only 5.1, so that makes the amplification job a bit easier.

The plan is to eventually upgrade the speakers to something like KEF R11 (non-Meta), Arendal 1723 Tower THX or Wharfedale Aura 4 as fronts.
Also note that both the R11s and the Arendals are rated for 90 dB sensitivity or beyond, so they are easy to drive and do not need massive amps. I would just use the Denon.
 
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Robert-Hifi

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Also note that both the R11s and the Arendals are rated for 90 dB sensitivity or beyond, so they are easy to drive and do not need massive amps. I would just use the Denon.

That's why they're on my list. It makes the job a lot easier.
I'll try to get the Denon AVC-X4800H and see if it fits my needs, but I'm afraid the build quality of the Denon is a huge step down from my old Onkyo.
 

ban25

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That's why they're on my list. It makes the job a lot easier.
I'll try to get the Denon AVC-X4800H and see if it fits my needs, but I'm afraid the build quality of the Denon is a huge step down from my old Onkyo.
The 4800 is well-built, made in Japan. If you really want something bigger, then the RZ70 will give you 2 more channels of amplification, Dirac Live built-in, DLBC upgradability, Roon Ready (soon?), better DACs (not audible), etc.
 

techsamurai

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My 15 year old Onkyo TX-NR906 is getting more HDMI issues (no video/audio) recently.
I wanted to replace it with the Onkyo TX-RZ70 (2800 euro), but the price difference with the Denon AVC-4800H is getting really big with the Denon going on sale for 1500 euro at the moment.

Makes me wonder if the RZ70 is worth the jump in price.
I was thinking the Denon AVC-4800H would be a good choice using it as a pre-amp. Assuming it runs a bit cooler in pre-amp mode?

The Onkyo TX-NR906 has a multichannel input, but how does it go with the two volume controls? Which one to use?
The TX-NR906 manual states: "Input Sensitivity and Impedance 200 mV/ 47 kΩ (LINE)".
Assuming that goes for the multichannel input as well.

So, is it a good or bad idea to re-use my old Onkyo as a power amp with the Denon?


If you can buy the 4800H for $1,500, then it's a no-brainer. It's $2,500 here in the States, nearly as much as the RZ70. It's also made in Japan.

I just bought a RZ50 for a little over $1,000 to replace a Marantz SR8002 (same era as 906) with more power hungry speakers that I bi-amp. I was also thinking of using it as a power amp unless I buy another toroidal or class d amp.

I'm dealing with Dirac and doing UMIK-1 calibrations - pain in the absolute posterior.... Apparently, the app doesn't like 90% of the measurements despite them being identical to the ones it likes so you're going to be recording longer than Taylor Swift spends to mix her albums.

The bigger thing you'd be giving away is the type of transformer which is a toroidal I think for the 906 (as opposed to EI for the 876) vs EI - everyone says it doesn't matter but all high-end Class A/B Audio Equipment come with toroidals and some with two or more.

My Marantz (also toroidal) is capable of religious experiences with music in movies - the RZ50 (EI) has yet to deliver one smile on my face. I'm tweaking like there's no tomorrow.
 

Chrispy

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The difference in the avrs amp sections are minimal (less than 1dB), if you need an actual power amp I'd get a fairly powerful one for a more significant difference.
 
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Robert-Hifi

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The 4800 is well-built, made in Japan. If you really want something bigger, then the RZ70 will give you 2 more channels of amplification, Dirac Live built-in, DLBC upgradability, Roon Ready (soon?), better DACs (not audible), etc.
I also like the fact that the Denon comes with Audyssey MultEQ XT32 as the out-of-the box Room EQ.
Start with that and if it leaves something to be desired the optional Dirac comes into play.

The two extra channels of the RZ70 are not going to be used in my setup, so basically I'm paying for something I'll never be using.
 
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Robert-Hifi

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If you can buy the 4800H for $1,500, then it's a no-brainer. It's $2,500 here in the States, nearly as much as the RZ70. It's also made in Japan.

I just bought a RZ50 for a little over $1,000 to replace a Marantz SR8002 (same era as 906) with more power hungry speakers that I bi-amp. I was also thinking of using it as a power amp unless I buy another toroidal or class d amp.

I'm dealing with Dirac and doing UMIK-1 calibrations - pain in the absolute posterior.... Apparently, the app doesn't like 90% of the measurements despite them being identical to the ones it likes so you're going to be recording longer than Taylor Swift spends to mix her albums.

The bigger thing you'd be giving away is the type of transformer which is a toroidal I think for the 906 (as opposed to EI for the 876) vs EI - everyone says it doesn't matter but all high-end Class A/B Audio Equipment come with toroidals and some with two or more.

My Marantz (also toroidal) is capable of religious experiences with music in movies - the RZ50 (EI) has yet to deliver one smile on my face. I'm tweaking like there's no tomorrow.
The Denon clearly has the better value, no doubt about that. And the TX-NR906 does indeed has a toroidal transformer.
I think you can only find it in the Marantz SR8015 among the "big five" (Denon, Marantz, Onkyo, Pioneer and Yamaha).
But I don't like the Marantz design (small round display) and the same goes for Yamaha.

Since all other "big five" AVR's don't have a toroidal transformer anymore there's not one AVR that's head and shoulders above the rest in this particular case.
 
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Robert-Hifi

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The difference in the avrs amp sections are minimal (less than 1dB), if you need an actual power amp I'd get a fairly powerful one for a more significant difference.
And with the Denon having a good pre-out voltage it's easier to use it as a pre-amp in case you want to use a power amp.
 

techsamurai

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The Denon clearly has the better value, no doubt about that. And the TX-NR906 does indeed has a toroidal transformer.
I think you can only find it in the Marantz SR8015 among the "big five" (Denon, Marantz, Onkyo, Pioneer and Yamaha).
But I don't like the Marantz design (small round display) and the same goes for Yamaha.

Since all other "big five" AVR's don't have a toroidal transformer anymore there's not one AVR that's head and shoulders above the rest in this particular case.

Well, my house is officially a crime scene :) I was playing Dire Straits Sultans of Swing and Private Investigations and the RZ50 murdered the entire band especially with Dirac Live turned on.

I also watched Why Women Kill (the 1st 2 episodes of the 2nd season) and it has a really good score so I can compare it to my Marantz. The music and effects play quite loud on the RZ 50 as my average volume is 62db but there are spikes to 80-90db with thunderous bass that feels almost out of place for a TV show.

I'm going to switch back to the Marantz and hear how it handles the same songs and shows. I can't figure out why they are so different.
 

techsamurai

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Well, my house is officially a crime scene :) I was playing Dire Straits Sultans of Swing and Private Investigations and the RZ50 murdered the entire band especially with Dirac Live turned on.

I also watched Why Women Kill (the 1st 2 episodes of the 2nd season) and it has a really good score so I can compare it to my Marantz. The music and effects play quite loud on the RZ 50 as my average volume is 62db but there are spikes to 80-90db with thunderous bass that feels almost out of place for a TV show.

I'm going to switch back to the Marantz and hear how it handles the same songs and shows. I can't figure out why they are so different.

Well, I switched to the Marantz and I played Dire Straits and Mark Knoplfer grazed me with his guitar pick :) In music, it's not a contest.

In movie/tv show playback, that was interesting. Like a Denon I tried 15 years ago, the Onkyo tries to prove itself in every scene. Even the shows I watched yesterday felt like a movie at a theater. The Marantz is very polite and I finally understand what WhatHiFi meant in their review when they talked about the Marantz 8002 and the Onkyo SR876 (the baby brother of the 906). That politeness makes it the ideal living room AVR.

I really expected the RZ50 to wow me with Dirac Live. But I think the Denon with Audyssey especially with the app to configure it is a sweet choice.
 
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Chrispy

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Well, I switched to the Marantz and I played Dire Straits and Mark Knoplfer grazed me with his guitar pick :) In music, it's not a contest.

In movie/tv show playback, that was interesting. Like a Denon I tried 15 years ago, the Onkyo tries to prove itself in every scene. Even the shows I watched yesterday felt like a movie at a theater. The Marantz is very polite and I finally understand what WhatHiFi meant in their review when they talked about the Marantz 8002 and the Onkyo SR876 (the baby brother of the 906). That politeness makes it the ideal living room AVR.

I really expected the RZ50 to wow me with Dirac Live. But I think the Denon with Audyssey especially with the app to configure it is a sweet choice.
What is the point of comparing different avrs/pre-pros this way? You remember what something sounded like 15 years ago!? Whathifi is full of nonsense, tho.
 

techsamurai

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What is the point of comparing different avrs/pre-pros this way? You remember what something sounded like 15 years ago!? Whathifi is full of nonsense, tho.

I own the 8002 (3 of them) used in 2 5.1 systems so I do remember them and I can say I know their sound really well. Whathifi's reviews are an opinion.

Anyway, I'll get on the phone with Onkyo and see if I can fix the sound but as of now, it's going back. I really want to try out Dirac Live and had high hopes for it.

A lot of people here have been touting room correction as the #1 feature in an AVR. I think it's like trying to add software to improve a car - if the car drives well like, say, a Mazda Miata, the software is just the icing on the cake. If on the other hand the car is unsorted and drives bad like so many courtesy cars I've gotten over the past few years where I press the gas and the car is looking for gears, no amount of software will fix it. You can't fix bad and you can only improve great slightly.
 
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Robert-Hifi

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Yesterday I ordered the Denon AVC-X4800H for 1539 euro with the warranty extended to 5 years (for free) and 60-days return policy.
I'm curious how it will stack up to my old Onkyo TX-NR906. Let's see how 15 years of evolution sounds.
 

techsamurai

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Yesterday I ordered the Denon AVC-X4800H for 1539 euro with the warranty extended to 5 years (for free) and 60-days return policy.
I'm curious how it will stack up to my old Onkyo TX-NR906. Let's see how 15 years of evolution sounds.

Smart choice, I'm curious to hear what you think. I wish I could get a Denon 4800H for $1,650 with a 5 year warranty.

Are you still going to use the 906 as an amp or try it with and without?

If I can't get Dirac Live to work magic on the RZ50, I'll be returning it. Over 15-20 years, I have realized that the most important thing in an AVR is how it handles music because music is actually everything in movies, games, shows, and stereo. Dialogue clarity for the center is #2 and almost as important as music but subtitles can remedy it whereas nothing can make a score sound musical and grab you. Then come room acoustics, tonal accuracy, 3-dimensionality, dynamics, bass etc. Many people place bass at the top which is hilarious.

I'm thinking of the following options:

Cinema 70 $1,200 with the 8002 as an amp handling 5+2 channels (bi-amp) - cheapest solution - I'd be stuck with Audyssey MultEq which is what I have now but also keep all kinds of old connections (of course, I would need to connect the speakers to the 8002)
Sony STR-AZ5000ES For $2,100, I get Sony's Trinnov-like spatial audio and decent stereo
Cinema 40 For $3,500 and no toroidal, it had better match my old 8002 in music

I may have seen a Denon 3800h for $1,000. Maybe I should add that to the list of options with the 8002 powering all speakers. That would buy me Audyssey XT which is so close to the best Audyssey version XT32 that REW measurements are practically identical.

However, the more I think about this, the small Cinema 70 as a pre/pro is almost the easiest solution and I can stack it vertically in my BDI cabinet making life so much easier.
 
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