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AVR suggestions


mansr
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My Marantz SR7010 is acting up, and I've pretty much ruled out everything except a hardware fault. That means I'm looking at replacement options, and I'd appreciate any input.

 

My requirements:

  • 5 speaker channels. Well, as few above 5 as possible to avoid putting money into unused channels.
  • 2 subwoofer outputs is a plus, as I've considered getting a second one.
  • Room correction, Audyssey XT32 or better.
  • UPnP/DLNA streaming with gapless  FLAC playback.
  • Good sound quality (no, I'm not interested in comparing to $10k stereo amps).

 

The Marantz SR8012 (a tad expensive) or SR7012 would meet my requirements, but I really don't need all those channels, and I'd rather that money went into quality instead of quantity.

 

Arcam has a couple of acceptably priced models (AVR390 and AVR550) with only 7 amplifier channels. They also lack the bells and whistles Marantz has that I don't use as well as some that I might want such as image tuning. Dirac room correction ought to be decent. The local dealer carries them, so I should be able to take a look.

 

Some Yamaha models seem to fit my requirements at first glance, but I have no direct experience with them. For instance, is the room correction any good?

 

Anything else I should consider?

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Nad has o̶n̶e̶ a few with Dirac that could be cheaper than the Arcams.

 

And why not a 2nd hand XMC-1 and something for it to drive ?

 

If that matters at all, I also seem to remember reading something about sampling rates of the built-in Dirac functions being somewhat limited in some cases. Maybe @flak can enlighten us.

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DiracLive runs at up to 24/192 as a program, at this moment.  The implementations in various hardware devices (miniDSP, Emotiva, Arcam, NAD and any others I have missed) depend on the DSP horsepower that the manufacturer is willing to provide and the licensing agreements between them and Dirac.  

Kal Rubinson

Senior Contributing Editor, Stereophile

 

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I would consider anything that is modular in design.  So, NAD or Emotiva comes to mind.  As you know video formats keep changing and this may help in the long run to upgrade.  I have a Marantz Sr7007 and even though it says it passes 4K signals through it doesn't work with my my new 4Ktv.  So I have to go directly from 4KBlu-ray to TV.  Making the receiver almost pointless now.  I'm having the same delima.  

 

I've auditioned both  NAD 758v3 and Marantz's 7012.  NAD to me sounded a lot better and was only around $1,100, comes with Dirac.  My 2 channel music goes from rendu/DAC/Amp/Speakers, so I kind of don't use my receiver as much anymore, which had me looking at higher end soundbars.  Unfortunately my center channel speaker costs more that most higher end soundbars so it's hard to give that up.

PC/NAS/JRiver/Roon - PS Audio P5 Regenerator - KEF LS50 Nocturne - Rel 328 subwoofer - PS Audio AC5 Power cables 

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10 minutes ago, ShawnC said:

I would consider anything that is modular in design.

Too many modular designs fail to ever deliver any upgrade modules. That's not an argument against them per se, if they otherwise perform well, but it's not something I'd place high on the list of priorities.

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1 hour ago, mansr said:
Quote

or the Anthem 520 on your radar. 

Lacks network features.

It does have an Ethernet connection , so what network features are you requiring , it looks like a nice AVR

 

The Truth Is Out There

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3 minutes ago, mav52 said:

It does have an Ethernet connection , so what network features are you requiring , it looks like a nice AVR

The Ethernet connection seems to be only for some rather crude remote control, not DLNA streaming. It looks nice otherwise.

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The Sony STR-ZA810ES receiver is a very nice choice.  Not as pricey as some you are looking at but ticks most if not all the box's you requested.  Good solid piece.  Handles being a Roon endpoint well, Apple Airplay functionality, DLNA along with a rudimentary control app.using Roons app is better I believe.Above all it has good sound ad is able to easily drive speakers above its cost and sound good in the process.  Unfortunately as you move up Sony's ES line of receivers they do not include the networking functions you are looking for as they believe if you are in the higher price points you have or will have a network device to use with it.  I actually agree with the premise as better control options and better network players are more suited to their higher priced receivers.

David

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1 minute ago, realhifi said:

The Sony STR-ZA810ES receiver is a very nice choice.  Not as pricey as some you are looking at but ticks most if not all the box's you requested.  Good solid piece.  Handles being a Roon endpoint well, Apple Airplay functionality, DLNA along with a rudimentary control app.using Roons app is better I believe.Above all it has good sound ad is able to easily drive speakers above its cost and sound good in the process.

I am not GUTB. I consider low price a good thing.

 

1 minute ago, realhifi said:

Unfortunately as you move up Sony's ES line of receivers they do not include the networking functions you are looking for as they believe if you are in the higher price points you have or will have a network device to use with it.  I actually agree with the premise as better control options and better network players are more suited to their higher priced receivers.

While I can understand the that reasoning, I only have desire (and room) for so many different boxes.

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I see Outlaws and Anthems mentioned. I have been looking at those myself.

The Outlaw 976 is only a preamp processor. It does have a basic type of room correction, "Room EQ Wizard", which must be used with third-party software and adjusted manually.  Also no Atmos, if you think you'll ever be into that sort of thing.

 

The Anthem MRX 520 is a full receiver but may also be too basic for your needs. The next steps up, the Anthem MRX 720 and MRX 1120 (and the AVM 60 preamp/processor) have more channels but also more features, including DTS Play-Fi for DLNA. All the Anthems have a network-connected room correction feature, which I think includes a microphone kit.

 

The Anthems have received great reviews for sound quality. I haven't done as much reading on the Outlaw, but these two brands are really in entirely different classes.

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My two cents is consider atmos if your setup works for it. I added 2 sets of Elac A4 upfiring speakers (sit on top of my front L&R and back L&R). Total cost only £240. But without a doubt the biggest bang for buck upgrade I've managed in a long time. Really increases the size and dynamics of the surround sound field. 

But admittedly comes at the cost of a compromise in terms of having to place speakers on top of your precious front and back speakers. Worth it IMHO. 

 

If I was to replace my SR7010 I'd probably go the SR8012 but for the better amplification rather than extra channels. 

Anthem is the other brand that catches my eye but they're pretty pricey. 

 

Cheers, 

Alan 

Synergistic Research Powercell UEF SE > Sonore OpticalModule (LPS-1.2 & DXP-1A5DSC) > EtherRegen (SR4T & DXP-1A5DSC) > PinkFaun modded Buffalo BS-GS2016P (Farad Super3 & LPS-1.2) > (Sablon 2020 LAN) Innuos Zenith SE server > (Sablon 2020 USB) Innuos Phoenix > (Sablon 2020 USB) PS Audio Directstream DAC > PS Audio M1200 monoblocks > Salk Sound Supercharged Songtowers 

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5 hours ago, BigAlMc said:

My two cents is consider atmos if your setup works for it. I added 2 sets of Elac A4 upfiring speakers (sit on top of my front L&R and back L&R). Total cost only £240. But without a doubt the biggest bang for buck upgrade I've managed in a long time. Really increases the size and dynamics of the surround sound field. 

But admittedly comes at the cost of a compromise in terms of having to place speakers on top of your precious front and back speakers. Worth it IMHO.

I'm sure Atmos and DTS:X are great. However, I mostly watch Netflix and Amazon Prime which don't provide either. Spending £20 each on Blurays just isn't worth it (to me), even though both picture and sound are better.

 

5 hours ago, BigAlMc said:

If I was to replace my SR7010 I'd probably go the SR8012 but for the better amplification rather than extra channels.

It does look like they put some effort into improving those amps. I just don't need 11 of them.

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31 minutes ago, mansr said:

I'm sure Atmos and DTS:X are great. However, I mostly watch Netflix and Amazon Prime which don't provide either. Spending £20 each on Blurays just isn't worth it (to me), even though both picture and sound are better.

 

Hi Mansr,

 

Agreed and I own like 3 Blu-Rays that actually have an Atmos mastered soundtrack. But the SR7010 will do it's best to bring the atmos speakers into play on pretty much all 5.1 soundtracks.

 

For instance my SKY tv box outputs 5.1 via an optical cable to my SR7010 and it plays on Dolby Digital & Neural X (i think, might not be the right name) and the sound is 5.1 + the 4 Atmos speakers.

 

Ditto all Blu-Rays, normal DVD (with 5.1), Netflix via my PS4 etc.

 

I haven't paid a great deal of attention to the technology so I don't know what the gap is between proper Atmos and the Neural X thingy. But it definitely adds something to the surround sound and the sound stage size. Bullets whizzing across the ceiling and all that fun stuff B|

 

Cheers,

Alan

Synergistic Research Powercell UEF SE > Sonore OpticalModule (LPS-1.2 & DXP-1A5DSC) > EtherRegen (SR4T & DXP-1A5DSC) > PinkFaun modded Buffalo BS-GS2016P (Farad Super3 & LPS-1.2) > (Sablon 2020 LAN) Innuos Zenith SE server > (Sablon 2020 USB) Innuos Phoenix > (Sablon 2020 USB) PS Audio Directstream DAC > PS Audio M1200 monoblocks > Salk Sound Supercharged Songtowers 

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1 minute ago, BigAlMc said:

Agreed and I own like 3 Blu-Rays that actually have an Atmos mastered soundtrack. But the SR7010 will do it's best to bring the atmos speakers into play on pretty much all 5.1 soundtracks.

 

For instance my SKY tv box outputs 5.1 via an optical cable to my SR7010 and it plays on Dolby Digital & Neural X (i think, might not be the right name) and the sound is 5.1 + the 4 Atmos speakers.

 

Ditto all Blu-Rays, normal DVD (with 5.1), Netflix via my PS4 etc.

 

I haven't paid a great deal of attention to the technology so I don't know what the gap is between proper Atmos and the Neural X thingy. But it definitely adds something to the surround sound and the sound stage size. Bullets whizzing across the ceiling and all that fun stuff B|

Neural X is a DTS algorithm that creates fake additional channels from a stereo or basic surround track. Dolby has something similar. I'm not fond of such trickery personally, though I understand some enjoy the effect.

 

Atmos and DTS:X don't encode a fixed set of channels like traditional formats. Instead, they provide "audio objects" with specific coordinates, and it is up to the decoder to map this onto the available speakers as well as possible.

 

As for surround sound in general, I think most films could do a much better job even with basic 5.1. Rather than actual positioning, the surround channels are mostly just used for low-level ambient sounds.

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3 hours ago, mansr said:

I'm sure Atmos and DTS:X are great. However, I mostly watch Netflix and Amazon Prime which don't provide either. Spending £20 each on Blurays just isn't worth it (to me), even though both picture and sound are better.

 

It does look like they put some effort into improving those amps. I just don't need 11 of them.

 

Netflix has some Atmos content now, including that Will Smith movie "Bright".  Amazon has at least one Atmos demo available. I haven't heard any Atmos in a home theater myself yet.

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14 minutes ago, left channel said:

Netflix has some Atmos content now, including that Will Smith movie "Bright".

Apparently it requires a UHD subscription and an Xbox One or recent LG TV.

 

14 minutes ago, left channel said:

Amazon has at least one Atmos demo available.

That too requires hardware I don't have, though a Fire TV is cheap. Guess I'll be waiting a bit longer.

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3 hours ago, mansr said:

though I understand some enjoy the effect.

 

I wasn't looking for a lecture on the technology. I was offering you a data point. It sounds better. Simples!

 

I'd go as far as saying that in over 20 years as a surround sound enthusiast, the £240 I spent on the Atmos speakers is the biggest bang for buck I can recall.

 

Synergistic Research Powercell UEF SE > Sonore OpticalModule (LPS-1.2 & DXP-1A5DSC) > EtherRegen (SR4T & DXP-1A5DSC) > PinkFaun modded Buffalo BS-GS2016P (Farad Super3 & LPS-1.2) > (Sablon 2020 LAN) Innuos Zenith SE server > (Sablon 2020 USB) Innuos Phoenix > (Sablon 2020 USB) PS Audio Directstream DAC > PS Audio M1200 monoblocks > Salk Sound Supercharged Songtowers 

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Anthem MRX series? Includes their ARC calibration system which is more advanced than the standard audessey, as you can see the measurements and tweak the parameters.

They have a 5.2 version as well:
https://www.anthemav.com/products-current/series=mrx-series-gen3/model=mrx-520/page=overview

Used to sell MRX500 and MRX700 a long time ago. Could match same priced 2ch amps.


I still have a spare MRX 500.

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21 minutes ago, FredericV said:

Anthem MRX series? Includes their ARC calibration system which is more advanced than the standard audessey, as you can see the measurements and tweak the parameters.

The recent Marantz models let you tweak a lot more Audyssey parameters than they used to, including setting your own target curve. I haven't seen it in action, so I don't know how well it works in practice though.

 

21 minutes ago, FredericV said:

They have a 5.2 version as well:
https://www.anthemav.com/products-current/series=mrx-series-gen3/model=mrx-520/page=overview

Used to sell MRX500 and MRX700 a long time ago. Could match same priced 2ch amps.


I still have a spare MRX 500.

The Anthem falls short in that it has no streaming ability to speak of, and it does no video processing.

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I could use an updated AV preamp.  So have been watching to see what suggestions were made.  It is inconvenient that to buy just a good pre/with processing and balanced outs costs several times more than the more expensive AV receivers with all of the processing and power amps included.  Even to settle for RCA outs you seem to get short shrift and pay what a good AVR costs.  

 

I would probably get the Outlaw if it were $300 cheaper.  Or the $599 Emotiva MC700 if not for the reports of all kinds of software bugs and QC issues.  

 

I am not as keen on streaming.  I believe that is an area that will change quite a bit over coming years long before the pre/pro otherwise becomes useless.  So a streaming add on suits me better.   

 

A tough piece of gear to get the way you want it right now.  

And always keep in mind: Cognitive biases, like seeing optical illusions are a sign of a normally functioning brain. We all have them, it’s nothing to be ashamed about, but it is something that affects our objective evaluation of reality. 

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45 minutes ago, esldude said:

I could use an updated AV preamp.  So have been watching to see what suggestions were made.  It is inconvenient that to buy just a good pre/with processing and balanced outs costs several times more than the more expensive AV receivers with all of the processing and power amps included.  Even to settle for RCA outs you seem to get short shrift and pay what a good AVR costs.  

That's why I'm looking for an integrated device. A pre/pro plus power amp(s) would cost more than I'm willing to spend. And then there's the space issue.

 

45 minutes ago, esldude said:

I am not as keen on streaming.  I believe that is an area that will change quite a bit over coming years long before the pre/pro otherwise becomes useless.  So a streaming add on suits me better.   

I'm talking about streaming from a local server. It seems unlikely that DLNA will disappear in the immediate future. Longer term, I really hope something sane replaces it. It's a horrid system, but it's the only open spec that's widely supported.

 

45 minutes ago, esldude said:

A tough piece of gear to get the way you want it right now.  

There's also HDMI 2.1 looming. When new models with support for that turn up, the current ones will hopefully drop in price. It's not like I'll be needing 8k video support any time soon.

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