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Can you upgrade the decoders in older AVRs? Exteriors?


Gerry
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   I have an older Denon AVR-3805 and I love the sound this thing can produce. The quality of sound from the analog 5.1 is awesome but while the Burr-Brown decoders were state of the art in it's day, that was 15 years ago when all of this was more or less in it's infancy! I was told that the decoders now have come a long way since that and while I don't know it for a fact, it only makes sense that such is the case. Is it possible to upgrade the decoders in an older Denon AVR or are there external decoders one can use and somehow connect to the older AVR? I don't want to get rid of my Denon AVR 3805 - the sound is just awesome (nor could I afford to as I've since retired; that AVR cost me about $1200.00 fifteen years ago, I can't even imagine what the new top of the line models cost!!). Any input/suggestions most appreciated.

   (Just a note: you guys are an impressively knowledgeable bunch! I tried using other sites only to get dumb advice from people who knew less about the subject matter than I did!)

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I do not know if the AVR DAC chips can be changed out, but you could buy an external Dac and run everything through it to your Denon, which I have done with an x4300h. Most source gear, CD, Bluray and Cbl/Sat have an audio digital out. You have to know what your gear has and then match the physical connections to a new Dac. 

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I do not know if the AVR DAC chips can be changed out, but you could buy an external Dac and run everything through it to your Denon, which I have done with an x4300h. Most source gear, CD, Bluray and Cbl/Sat have an audio digital out. You have to know what your gear has and then match the physical connections to a new Dac. 

My question using an external DAC is related to output and input into an exiting AVR like the Denon mentioned. If the DAC is doing the decoding, doesn't it need to have an output for each channel and doesn't the AVR need inputs for each to bypass its internal DAC?


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@ MC39693 - I use the 5.1 analog inputs (the "external inputs" on my AVR) with my DVD player and the sound is truly awesome but obviously can only use that with DVDs. I've seen external decoders online that have several digital inputs to which you can connect multiple pieces of equipment and the decoder's output to the AVR uses the analog 5.1 external inputs on the AVR in the same manner as I have my DVD player connected. One then just uses the switches on the front to choose the device one is going to use. Is this what you're referring to? (Seems logical given the term "digital to analog converter" but I'm prone to making wrong assumptions LOL!) Thanks.

Edited by Gerry
clarify something I wrote
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If you don't have to have the latest model there are lots of good buys in the used market. I would suggest finding a 3-4 year old Integra unit. The depreciation on this stuff is ridiculous.

I just picked up a second DHC-80.3, a $2,500 processor when new 4-5 years ago, for $300. A very good preamp with excellent DACs, also decodes SACDs so you can turn a cheap Sony Blu-ray player into an outstanding SACD player.

I am sure your Denon is still a nice unit, but multi channel has come a long ways in the last decade.

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 I would recommend that you look at the reviews on the Audio Science Review forum to find better alternatives (there is at least one multichannel DAC that's reviewed there):

 

https://www.audiosciencereview.com/forum/index.php?pages/Audio_Equipment_Reviews/

 

I changed out my Onkyo PR-SC886 AVP (2009 vintage) for an Emotiva XMC-1 Gen 2 AVP (2015 vintage) recently and found that the sound quality did improve a little. I based my choice on the test results from the site linked above, which is the first place that I've seen that actually does fairly extensive testing (although their interpretations of results are sometimes uneven--that's okay, I can judge from the data myself).  It's much better to have data rather than "it sounds nice to my ears" testimonials.  The Emotiva model measures well and also sounds a bit better. 

 

An AVP is the workhorse of a setup. I find that a solid unit that's not using analog outputs from a player but rather using HDMI for multichannel audio is a step up in sound quality.  I also found that buying by product brand is not something that I'd recommend.  It's better to look at performance instead.

 

You can use an AVP and then use the amplifiers in your old Denon (like you are using it now) if using an AVP. 

 

Chris

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Okay, a demonstration of ignorance here, but what the hell ... using my Denon strictly as a power amp, would connecting the toslink from my TV to my old AVR actually work or is it just gimmicky junk:

https://www.ebay.com/itm/5-1CH-DTS-AC3-Digital-Audio-Sound-Converter-Decoder-OPT-COX-AUX-to-6RCA-Analog/164005241743

 

DACto5.1analog.jpg

jy-m2-4.jpg

Edited by Gerry
just wanted to be a bit more specific
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49 minutes ago, Gerry said:

Okay, a demonstration of ignorance here, but what the hell ... using my Denon strictly as a power amp, would connecting the toslink from my TV to my old AVR actually work or is it just gimmicky junk:

https://www.ebay.com/itm/5-1CH-DTS-AC3-Digital-Audio-Sound-Converter-Decoder-OPT-COX-AUX-to-6RCA-Analog/164005241743

Are you talking about using your TV as a redistribution for HDMI signals to TOSLINK?  If so, then technically yes.  Just be aware that TOSLINK's transfer rate and bandwidth is much more limited than HDMI.  It will still pass straight Dolby Digital and straight DTS, or straight 2-CH Matrix. 

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8 hours ago, The History Kid said:

Are you talking about using your TV as a redistribution for HDMI signals to TOSLINK?  If so, then technically yes.  Just be aware that TOSLINK's transfer rate and bandwidth is much more limited than HDMI.  It will still pass straight Dolby Digital and straight DTS, or straight 2-CH Matrix. 

No. As much as I love the quality of sound from my Denon AVR 3805 (I've got it connected to Heresy 2s all the way around), HDMI didn't come out until the next year's model, the 3806 which, I admit, was rather annoying. All the inputs/outputs are component, composite rca, toslink etc. which does make for a mess of cables if not organized. I have my DVD/Blueray player (which I also use for CDs) connected to my AVR via six RCA cables to the analog 5.1 "external inputs" on the AVR and the sound is spectacular - this bypasses the decoders in the AVR and creates an awesome "surround" effect but the AVR is 15 years old and the decoders are primitive by today's standards. My question is: if I were to connect my TV's toslink output to the DAC above and then connect it's six RCA analog cables to the external inputs on my AVR, would it improve the "surround" effects from my TV? This would bypass the old decoders in my AVR in the same way that my DVD/Blueray does but do these DAC decoders really work? I love the sound from my old AVR and don't want to get rid of it simply because it's old, I'm looking for a way to improve the surround effects from my TV. Thanks.

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  • 2 weeks later...

I bought the above unit on the condition that I could return it. I connected it today and ran into something of a catch 22 situation:

 

Pros: 1)The surround effects are in fact a great deal better than the decoders in my old Denon AVR3805.  2) The quality of sound of my Denon (which I love) remains unaffected. It's seems a bit boomier but nothing I couldn't adjust on the receiver.

Cons: The remote and the user's manual are in Chinese! The front and back panels of the unit are in English but the remote is in Chinese and the only English on the user's manual are the words "User Manual"! I couldn't find one in English online. The sound is awesome but I can't get the memory function to work and can't figure out why because I don't read Chinese! I have to reset everything every time I turn it on. As awesome as the surround effects are, I'll have to send it back.

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  • 2 months later...

It's been some time since I posted this but I thought I'd post an update. As much as I loved the sound of my 15 year old Denon 3805, I decided to take a chance a bought a new Denon X3600H because the decoding in new AVRs is so much better than the old ones. I couldn't be happier ... the sound quality is as good as my old 3805 but the surround capabilities are far superior and the height speakers really makes it far more immersive.

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  • 7 months later...

Great info (AV-3805) owner..with the new Samsung, only optical, no HDMI and unfortunately the optical input in this unit does not send info to Zone 2 or 3.

Sounds like an upgrade to Living room, and move the 3805 to the Garage (Double upgrade) as the Denon in the garage is older yet no Sub pre out. 
now what to get, Denon, Marantz, Yamaha, Imotiva, maybe Onkyo but but my Onkyo before the Denon only lasted 2 years. It may have been over loaded with zone 2 not having a separate Amp, and inexperience at the time. So decisions, decisions... But great info here!

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