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Any AVR Suggestions?


Gerry
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I have (very reluctantly) decided to replace my old Denon AVR-3805 (I use Heresy 2s all the way around). The sound from the unit is astonishing but it's now 15 years old and those old Burr-Brown decoders are primitive by today's standards. I tried a DAC but that didn't work out. I've been a classical musician since I was a kid so I'm really picky about the quality of sound; if it isn't really good sound, I won't listen to it at all. I'll be connecting any AVR in 5.1 as I no longer have room for surround/back speakers. I really don't need a lot of bells and whistles like huge amounts of power, multiple zones etc. (I have those in my Denon but never used them). What I need is an AVR with the best quality sound possible, a good number of inputs and the best possible surround processing. I'm trying to stay under $1,000 (less if possible) so I'm willing to go used/refurbished if it can get me a better unit and if I can find a reliable seller. I would appreciate any suggestions regarding AVRs and if you know any good reliable online dealers, please suggest them! Thanks. I forgot to mention, my speakers are Heresy 2s which can handle up to 100w constant/400w peak (though I've never used anything remotely close to that).

Edited by Gerry
forgot to include speaker wattage
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1 hour ago, Gerry said:

I really don't need a lot of bells and whistles like huge amounts of power, multiple zones etc. (I have those in my Denon but never used them). What I need is an AVR with the best quality sound possible, a good number of inputs and the best possible surround processing. I'm trying to stay under $1,000 (less if possible) so I'm willing to go used/refurbished if it can get me a better unit and if I can find a reliable seller. I would appreciate any suggestions regarding AVRs and if you know any good reliable online dealers, please suggest them!

My suggestion would be NAD or Anthem if music quality over mac daddy HT is your main priority.

 

https://www.safeandsoundhq.com/collections/a-v-receivers-and-amplifiers/products/nad-electronics-t-758-v3-7-2-channel-a-v-surround-sound-receiver-factory-refurbished

 

A little more $$$ but could not find any refurbs online.

https://www.safeandsoundhq.com/collections/a-v-receivers-and-amplifiers/products/anthem-mrx-520-performance-collection-5-2-channel-a-v-receiver

 

Bill

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Thanks, Bill! The Anthem is too steep for me but I'm going to take a closer look at the NAD, haven't looked at the specs yet but I liked what I read in the product description. They also specifically mention that the decoders are modular and can be replaced/upgraded when significant changes occur ... if only that were the case with my old Denon (I called and asked).

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What don't you like about your Denon?  I'm using a Sony STR-DA5000ES receiver from 2004 and it's the best sounding receiver I've ever had.  It was $1,500 new.  I paid $40 for mine last year.

My speakers are 1981 Heresys. 

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5 hours ago, wuzzzer said:

What don't you like about your Denon? 

@wuzzzer Actually, I love my Denon AVR3805 ... it was their top of the line in 2005 when I bought it on sale for $1,200 and run through my Heresy 2s, the quality of the sound is awesome and to this day sounds it better than most but here's the problem: in 2005, "surround sound" was in it's infancy and decoders were primitive by today's standards. This was made quite clear to me some weeks ago when I helped a neighbor set up a new lower end Sony home theater system. The sound quality was okay but nothing to write home about but the "suround" effects from the rear speakers were a lot better than mine. If I only listened to music, I wouldn't change it but now that I've retired, I watch a lot more TV and movies and compared to new systems, the surround from the rears is just lacking. I emailed Denon and asked if the decoders could be upgraded but they can't. I tried bypassing the old internal decoders with external ones through the system's 5.1 analog inputs but that just didn't work out. Now that I'm retired, I do a lot of drawing and painting (my hobby) while watching TV and movies and if I'm going to spend this much time doing that, I want to enjoy it as much as possible. When I helped my neighbor set up his system, I wasn't impressed with the quality of the sound but when I heard the effects coming out of his rear speakers (and not terribly good speakers at that) I remember thinking "Damn, I wish mine could do that". I've got two astonishing Heresy 2s in the rear which are capable of delivering a lot more than the very old decoders in my Denon 3805 can provide. Thanks

Edited by Gerry
forgot to mention something
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5 hours ago, wuzzzer said:

I'm using a Sony STR-DA5000ES receiver from 2004 and it's the best sounding receiver I've ever had.

I can understand that.  My 2004 52.8 lbs NAD T773 AVR($1799.00) is the best sounding receiver I have ever heard.  It drives my Heresys just about as well as anything I have paired them with.

 

@Gerry,

 

If you love the Denon sound. maybe look for a "newer" flagship Denon AVR from 2005 to 2010.

AVR-4806CI, AVR-4308CI, etc.

 

or even this brute AVR-5308CI

 

Image result for Denon 5308

 

Bill

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31 minutes ago, willland said:

even this brute AVR-5308CI

LOL! They are "brutes" aren't they! The old Denon I have sure is one hell of a work horse! What I fear about your suggestion is that I'd have the same problem I have now ... great and awesome sound from the fronts but obsolete decoders which make the rear speakers lack the sophistication of the newer models. You suggested NAD AVRs as did Willand (Bill) and while I've never heard one, I've liked what I've read - the specs are impressive and I'm guessing that the sound quality is too. What also got my attention with the NADs (and what the reviews all rave about) is the modular design of the decoders ... if some new and innovative decoders should be invented and come on the market, the old decoders can be popped out and replaced with new ones. From what I've read, very few AVRs are capable of this. If my old "brute" of a Denon were capable of this, I wouldn't be having this problem and expense. After going though this, that particular advantage with the NADs is well worth considering because I'm NOT looking forward to connecting a new AVR. I really use to enjoy getting on the floor with my head behind my equipment and a flashlight in my teeth, connecting everything while cussing like a trooper but at nearly 70 years old, I'm not quite as nimble as I use to be. Getting on the floor behind my equipment is easy, it's getting up again that's a pain in the backside! ... still, I'll manage. Thanks

Edited by Gerry
bad typing
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What surround sources are you listening to?  What surround modes do you use on your receiver?  Have you level balanced all your speakers?

Receivers like ours have tons of settings that can adversely affect the sound.

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On ‎3‎/‎19‎/‎2020 at 3:06 AM, Gerry said:

I'll be connecting any AVR in 5.1 as I no longer have room for surround/back speakers

If you are only going to run 5.1, then new codecs like Dolby Atmos and DTS:X would not apply.  Those AVR's that I linked to all do lossless Dolby True HD and DTS-HD Master Audio.

Something to think about.

 

Bill

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When I moved recently, my Denon was unplugged for some three weeks so I had to re-initiate/reset the Burr-Brown decoders which I did and that's fine and back to normal. I have a new living room so I used my mike to reset that balance of my speakers (those things do work remarkably well). Some years ago, I discovered that I much preferred the way that my unit processes 5.1 analog over 5.1 digital so I disconnected my toslink and coax cables and watch or listen to DVDs and music CDs through my blueray player and the surround effects of the rear speakers are nothing short of awesome when connected in this fashion. The only digital audio I'm using now is my television which is connected to the AVR via toslink/optical. I've been doing a lot of reading on this subject since I helped my neighbor set up his system and I discovered that my problem is a common one - again, because fifteen years ago, all this was quite new technology and the decoders made then simply don't hold a card to the technological advancements in the newer decoders. I did buy an exterior DAC which I tried a few days ago and for the first time, I did get quite good effects from the rear speakers but I realized that it was just putting a band aid on the problem because I constantly had to readjust the settings on the DAC and I don't have the patience for that - constantly having to do that would drive me nuts so I boxed it up and sent it back. That was when I decided that I'm simply going to get a new AVR.

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I have a Denon x4300h, but haven't run it with all Klipsch Heresy (I have 4, would like to add a 5th as center channel ... working on that).  With the Heresy efficiency, it's ok. But when I add in my Martin Logans which are relatively  inefficient and 6 or 4 Ohms, the Denon doesn't do as well.  I've also got a Parasound A23 to offload the front mains, plus I have a couple of chip amps which I can use.  But then it all gets messy.

 

Given you have all Heresy, I think I'd chase a used Denon, something like a 6300H should do quite well or as @willland said a new XX08 model.  The NAD route would be really good, but a fair bit more $$$ vs used Denon at least.  It all comes down to budget.

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@willland  I do have a pair of smaller wall mountables I could put in the back higher on the wall - those level balance microphones do compensate for spacing problems remarkably well but I know from experience that the timber is all wrong, still, it would do until I get something else.

@MC39693 The Heresy's do make for great center channel speakers - they're clean, clear and have a fuller sound as you know. I had a problem at first because of their size. I'm actually using a pair of Heresy 2s for center channel with one speaker on each side for the sake of balance (a center channel speaker that isn't centered is just weird) but when you use two speakers connected to one speaker output, they have to be connected in a certain way or it changes the impedance (or some such thing - a friend who is an electrician did it for me so I'm at a loss to be more specific). I'lll have to change my center channel setup though because I moved into a different place and what I'm doing now just takes too much room.  I will look into the AVRs you mentioned: this is something of a project for me so I want to do my homework and do it right. You wrote " The NAD route would be really good, but a fair bit more $$$ vs used Denon at least.  It all comes down to budget." That is so very true but if these $1,000 economic stimulus checks become reality, I will be a good patriotic American and stimulate away LOL!

Edited by Gerry
forgot to mention something
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Just fyi depending on the TV you have if you're using its optical digital audio out to your receiver, many TVs only output audio in two channel.  Your receiver will only be able to make a matrixed surround out of that which will result in very minimal surround effects.  This will be the case no matter what receiver you're using. 

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On 3/19/2020 at 12:06 AM, Gerry said:

those old Burr-Brown decoders are primitive by today's standards.

 

Are they?  For 5.1?

 

I'd try the minimum first.

  • Make sure that all channels, including surrounds, are at the same volume.  Use an SPL meter.  The Pink Noise usually used to balance is band limited to 500 to 2K, so, since this is midrange, a Radio Shack meter is OK.
  • If need be, turn up your surrounds.  I find that the amount of surround on different movies varies considerably (!) from nearly none to overwhelming.  TV is another varying hare.  So you might need 3 different settings 1) Average movie level, 2) Average TV level 3) Average multichannel disk music level (have you tried these?  Many good ones from many classical to Pink Floyd; I prefer classical, but their surround varies a lot).  I was totally against adding surround to disks that were strictly 2 channel, until a friend persuaded me to try it by using PL II.  It really opens up many classical recordings, so I use it about 60 -75% of the time with 2 channel disks).

If you decide to put out the $$$ for a new AVR, I'd think NAD would be good.  I use Heresy IIs for surrounds, and since my 5.1 system is mix and match, to a degree (see my signature), I use 1/2 of a NAD power amp with one Heresy II, and 1/2 of a Yamaha power amp with the other Heresy II.   The one with the NAD sounds better.  Other NAD power amps sound great through my Klipschorns and Belle Klipsch.  I don't know about their AVRs, but they have a good rep.

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2 hours ago, wuzzzer said:

Just fyi depending on the TV you have if you're using its optical digital audio out to your receiver, many TVs only output audio in two channel.

@wuzzzer I didn't know that; thanks for mentioning it. I'll have to look into that because it would solve something of a mystery: why did the 5.1 digital from from my old DVD player and my CD changer sound so much better in the rear speakers than my TV? At the time, I had them all connected to my AVR via optical. (I've since changed that ... I found that using the 5.1 analog outputs on my Blueray player to my AVR sounded a lot better and fuller (especially in the rear) than the toslink connections. I've since been playing music CDs through my Blurray as well because the sound is nothing short of awesome). Anyway, the toslink connections from my old DVD player and CD changer did sound a hell of a lot better in the rear than my television so maybe you're onto something there. I'll have to look up the TV's specs and, I must admit, I'll feel like a real dope if that proves to be the case LOL! My TV is a Vizio which I rather regret buying; the picture is fine but it's got its limitations - perhaps you've stumbled another one? I'll check and thanks for the info.

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8 hours ago, Gerry said:

I found that using the 5.1 analog outputs on my Blueray player to my AVR sounded a lot better and fuller (especially in the rear) than the toslink connections.

That sounds logical because digital optical(toslink) can't pass lossless codecs(Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD MA).  With 5.1 analog out from your BD player it can pass lossless if your player is set to decode those formats.

 

Bill

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