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Why are modern AV Receivers so terrible?

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#21
Yes - basically. It's a receiver without the power amps (pre-outs instead). Then somehow they end up costing more than most receivers for less hardware. I always chalked this up to the assumption of better performance, which thanks to ASR, we now know is apparently not a given.
 
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#22
Yes - basically. It's a receiver without the power amps (pre-outs instead). Then somehow they end up costing more than most receivers for less hardware. I always chalked this up to the assumption of better performance, which thanks to ASR, we now know is apparently not a given.
Under what circumstances would these audio formats need to be decoded? Blu-ray? And if so, why is it not decoded in the Blu-ray player?

Basically I want a decent living room setup that can switch between a TV, and a turntable.
 
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xr100

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#23
The early surround processors were all initially separate and people bought separate amplifiers for the surround channels, usually pressing into service their existing main amplifiers they already owned. This situation continued well into the early dolby digital days. If you wanted proper performance home theatre, that was how it was done.
Quite a lot of the "early" surround processors also had the additional channels of amplification needed on-board. Granted, there were more choices then that were processor only.

AVRs have always been a compromise and nothing has changed.
Hmm, I think some of the early ones were REALLY bad. And don't forget VCA-based Dolby Pro-Logic decoders and bucket-brigade delays for the rears. ;-) I still have an early 1990's AV amp somewhere, Sony... it's just absolutely dire.

These days, at least at the lower end, I think that you get an awful lot for your money and "OK" performance.
 

xr100

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#24
I'm guessing the reason this doesn't exist is because Dolby doesn't want to license their algorithms to cheap fully-digital consumer products for piracy-paranoia reasons..
Atmos (and Vision, for that matter) is a massive PIT*. At least with the discrete formats, you can do all the decoding on a PC, if you want--no need for any AVR or surround processor.
 

ShiZo

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#25
That's why I would just go with a nice 2.1 with a dac. Either powered speakers or a power amp to two passive speakers and sub.
 

xr100

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#26
That's why I would just go with a nice 2.1 with a dac. Either powered speakers or a power amp to two passive speakers and sub.
Nah, what's needed is a full-blown Atmos system with digital active crossovers for all channels. :)
 

Blumlein 88

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#28
Yes - basically. It's a receiver without the power amps (pre-outs instead). Then somehow they end up costing more than most receivers for less hardware. I always chalked this up to the assumption of better performance, which thanks to ASR, we now know is apparently not a given.
That is one of the stupid things. An AVR does everything a pre/pro does only single ended instead of balanced. Plus it has usually at least 7 power amps. At a bare minimum, they could use the same box, leave out the power amps and keep the processing for less money even if only a little less.
But that isn't an option. The pre/pro will have a bit more output voltage via XLR, might be a little cleaner (they still are mediocre), and cost 300% to 1000% what the AVR with all the processing and power amps cost. There is no reason they should cost that much. Denon and Marantz list the same specs without change for a decade and meet those specs. I think it is the same basic audio circuit with only changes in video and the new decoding of newer formats.

Dolby et al try and market the superior quality, but in fact are to blame for the cost of licensing along with a closed system creating a situation where you can't even get good quality much less excellent. You can get overpriced mediocre quality with some convenience. And the ever expanding formats so they can sell you on the need for a new box every few years.
 

amirm

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#30
Under what circumstances would these audio formats need to be decoded? Blu-ray? And if so, why is it not decoded in the Blu-ray player?
Stereo decoders are given away or cheap so that is all you get in the Blu-ray player. Decoding full formats was done at one point with players having 6 outputs and such but those times are long gone.
 

raif71

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#31
Despite the many terrible measurements from AVRs and perhaps more will have similar results the more hopeful I am that buying any branded AVR, should be "fine". I mean how can all these AVR sound "terrible" ? In my lifetime, I have bought at least 5 receivers and to my ears they sound fine and they were enjoyable. I couldn't for the life of me felt disappointed of my AVR purchase. I'm hopeful that what constitute as "terrible" measurement in AVR may not sound "terrible" and in the end what sounds good to me is what matters but that's just me. YMMV
 

xr100

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#32
Despite the many terrible measurements from AVRs and perhaps more will have similar results the more hopeful I am that buying any branded AVR, should be "fine". I mean how can all these AVR sound "terrible" ? In my lifetime, I have bought at least 5 receivers and to my ears they sound fine and they were enjoyable.
Measurements are just not as good as they could be the if designs were engineered right and penny-pinching corners weren't taken. Certainly not "SOTA". But certainly not "lo-fi" terrible, either. Well, except in cases where the implementation is out and out "broken."

I mentioned in a previous post an early 1990's AV amp that I still have somewhere. The rears had an absolutely audible noise floor. The fronts weren't great, either. Pretty terrible.
 

Sancus

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#34
Under what circumstances would an individual need to decode these formats? Are they included on Blu-ray movies as an option for people with the ability to decode them?

What is a prepro?

What are height channels?
A prepro is literally "preamp + processor". So it decodes audio formats and does the DAC step. Atmos is available via BluRay and also via various streaming services(Vudu, Netflix in a compressed form, etc).

Height channels are literally what they sound like, sound channels that are meant to be above you, either ceiling or high-wall mounted(there are various specifications for Atmos and Auro3D). They are one of the major benefits of the new sound formats although not the only one.

If you can't decode those formats, you still get 7.1 or 5.1 surround, typically.

What setup could I put together, that is 5.1 and measure well? Has multiple input options for switching between a TV, turntable, and if possible the internet.
We haven't seen any AVRs that measure particularly well, but the Denon ones seem to be pretty good as long as you don't exceed 1.5V output. That's an annoying limitation, but it is what it is. You can spend $4000 on the Monoprice HTP-1 and get ~5db more SINAD, but it still has voltage limitations. Audyssey XT32 is pretty good, although allegedly not quite as good as Dirac, but better than the other "cheap" AVR competitors RoomEQ. And RoomEQ is very important.

We have only seen measurements of one Essence product, but it turned out pretty well, so maybe the Essence Evolve 8 channel HDMI DAC is good too. Buy one and send it to Amir for measurement! That's another direction you could go, but if you do, you need to provide your own amplifier and room EQ if desired. A cheap HDMI switch would take care of the switching need. But that is more complexity and cost even if the DAC itself is only $300.

I can't recommend any set of products in particular, it really just depends on your budget, level of technical knowledge, and tolerance for defects, since Amir has yet to review any HDMI AVR or DAC and give it a stellar grade. They've all got issues. You have to do your own research and make your own decisions.
 
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#35
Yes - basically. It's a receiver without the power amps (pre-outs instead). Then somehow they end up costing more than most receivers for less hardware. I always chalked this up to the assumption of better performance, which thanks to ASR, we now know is apparently not a given.
More about market segment and lower volumes. They are normally for a more enthusiast market segment which means lower volumes that in turn reduces the economic benefits you get from manufacturing at high volume.
Manufactures offset this by sharing things like board designs and components between their Prepro and AVR models if they sell both but there are certain costs they can't offset so the lower volume Prepro product will still potentially cost the same or more as the AVR even though it's missing amplifiers.

Then there is the fact that people that buy Prepro's are more likely to be willing to pay a bit more than your average person that buys a cheaper AVR. At the upper end the difference is less and in some cases the Prepro is cheaper than the top end AVR, which is a bonus for people that have already invested in the Power Amps.
 

dshreter

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#36
I really hope that WiSA takes off. What we have learned from WiFi is that wireless tech can get very inexpensive over time. Building pre/pro or AVRs that have complex DACs, switching, amplification, and more with all of the channels required by the modern standards makes them stupidly expensive.

If you can move the majority of what these boxes do to the digital domain and pass the output along to a wireless transmitter, the pre/pro itself has the potential to be much less expensive and less painful to upgrade periodically. Then do DAC and amplification on the speaker side, and only pay to have as many channels as you prefer. This makes much more sense in a world where active speakers have overtaken passive for performance.
 
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#37
A prepro is literally "preamp + processor". So it decodes audio formats and does the DAC step. Atmos is available via BluRay and also via various streaming services(Vudu, Netflix in a compressed form, etc).

Height channels are literally what they sound like, sound channels that are meant to be above you, either ceiling or high-wall mounted(there are various specifications for Atmos and Auro3D). They are one of the major benefits of the new sound formats although not the only one.

If you can't decode those formats, you still get 7.1 or 5.1 surround, typically.



We haven't seen any AVRs that measure particularly well, but the Denon ones seem to be pretty good as long as you don't exceed 1.5V output. That's an annoying limitation, but it is what it is. You can spend $4000 on the Monoprice HTP-1 and get ~5db more SINAD, but it still has voltage limitations. Audyssey XT32 is pretty good, although allegedly not quite as good as Dirac, but better than the other "cheap" AVR competitors RoomEQ. And RoomEQ is very important.

We have only seen measurements of one Essence product, but it turned out pretty well, so maybe the Essence Evolve 8 channel HDMI DAC is good too. Buy one and send it to Amir for measurement! That's another direction you could go, but if you do, you need to provide your own amplifier and room EQ if desired. A cheap HDMI switch would take care of the switching need. But that is more complexity and cost even if the DAC itself is only $300.

I can't recommend any set of products in particular, it really just depends on your budget, level of technical knowledge, and tolerance for defects, since Amir has yet to review any HDMI AVR or DAC and give it a stellar grade. They've all got issues. You have to do your own research and make your own decisions.
I'm researching speakers. What is available excites me. The KEF Q550's look exceptional and from what I understand KEF makes excellent speakers. They're expensive, but with enough saving are within the realm of possibility.

Then I look at receivers and I'm disheartened. I don't want to spend $1,200 on speakers if they're left lethargic by an underperforming receiver. Don't get me wrong, I know performance is expensive. I'm willing to settle for 90% of what these speakers are capable of, but these receivers barely break 50%. I'm not going to drop $1,200 if I can't get my money's worth.

I don't have the resources to purchase a $4,000+ receiver, and it feels ridiculous that's how much I have to spend to properly drive speakers worth less than a quarter of that price.
 
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#38
Quite a lot of the "early" surround processors also had the additional channels of amplification needed on-board. Granted, there were more choices then that were processor only.



Hmm, I think some of the early ones were REALLY bad. And don't forget VCA-based Dolby Pro-Logic decoders and bucket-brigade delays for the rears. ;-) I still have an early 1990's AV amp somewhere, Sony... it's just absolutely dire.

These days, at least at the lower end, I think that you get an awful lot for your money and "OK" performance.
Mid 90's AVRs in a lot of cases were bad and gave AVRs a bad name. But the upper end AVRs models produced in the early 2000's IMO were quite good considering what went into them (before HDMI and all the other processing modes). They became obsolete quickly without HDMI. Some of the heavyweight AVRs from early 2000's can be had for pennies on the dollar these days and have amp sections that are much better than what you can buy with class D for the same price.

Of course the DAC/DSP sections won't measure up to standards expected that dominate the conversation around this site. But in terms of pure performance on sound who cares, most of the measurements are not audible. And you can always buy a $50 HDMI switch and still use the beasts (which is what I do).
 
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#39
I'm researching speakers. What is available excites me. The KEF Q550's look exceptional and from what I understand KEF makes excellent speakers. They're expensive, but with enough saving are within the realm of possibility.

Then I look at receivers and I'm disheartened. I don't want to spend $1,200 on speakers if they're left lethargic by an underperforming receiver. Don't get me wrong, I know performance is expensive. I'm willing to settle for 90% of what these speakers are capable of, but these receivers barely break 50%. I'm not going to drop $1,200 if I can't get my money's worth.

I don't have the resources to purchase a $4,000+ receiver, and it feels ridiculous that's how much I have to spend to properly drive speakers worth less than a quarter of that price.
The old rule of thumb back in my day is you spend the most on the speakers. The amplifier and other component costs should be less. Spending $4000 on a new receiver these days is nonsense, so I agree. You don't need to.
 
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#40
The old rule of thumb back in my day is you spend the most on the speakers. The amplifier and other component costs should be less. Spending $4000 on a new receiver these days is nonsense, so I agree. You don't need to.
I feel like I should ask, are Q550 good speakers? I want to get as many sources as possible.

And if they are good, what setup should I pair with them? Should I go the receiver route or the prepro + amp route? If it's the latter, do I need anything else other than the prepro and the amp or is that it?
 
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