Stereo vs. Home Theater Receiver

Discussion in 'Amps, Pre-Pros & Receivers' started by Shadow_Ferret, Mar 25, 2008.

  1. Shadow_Ferret Audioholic Chief

    Shadow_Ferret
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    OK. This probably sounds like a silly question, but is there much of an audiophile quality sound difference between a stereo receiver and a home theater receiver?

    The reason I ask is, I currently (still) have my 1970s setup. A Pioneer stereo receiver and two 5-way Sansui speakers which I've hooked up to my TV. (I was given one of those cheap all-in-one 5.1 systems and there was no sound comparison, so I dumped that.)

    The sound and bass is pretty good. I mean they have 13" woofers and make everything shake.

    The Pioneer is starting to show it's age. It has a left channel hiss for about the first half hour it's on, then it goes away. So I'm planning on replacing it and was wondering if I would be better off with another stereo or if I wouldn't notice any difference moving to a 5.1 receiver with the ability to expand?

    Part of me would like to buy a nice 70s era Marantz or Sherwood receiver, but then I'm facing the age issue again. Should I just bite the bullet and get a decent 5.1 (or 6.1 or 7.1)? (Even if today's components seem butt-ugly to me.)

    Thanks.
  2. Exit Audioholic Chief

    Exit
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    Some people prefer stereo, especially for music. You could buy a good pair of current speakers and run them with your old receiver (providing you have enough power). Modern receivers have 5 or 7 channels of amplification for surround sound and they have processors for decoding the surround sound signal, for adaptive equalization, for digital signal processing (DSP) (echo, reverb and time delay for simulating larger rooms). They also have remote controls.

    If you are thinking about going to a modern multichannel receiver some day, then I would recommend picking up a matching center channel when you buy the stereo speakers. The front three channels are supposed to be from the same brand and product line for best transitioning of sound across the room. The center channel may not be available in the future when you decide to go multichannel.

    Modern multichannel receivers also can operate in stereo mode using just two channels.
    Exit,
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  3. fmw Audioholic Samurai

    fmw
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    I think it would proper for you to assume that a modern A/V receiver driving your stereo speaker pair will sound like what you use now. The difference is more available channels and digital signal processing. Oh, I forgot. I modern A/V receiver will have less time, work and age on its components. It will also have more resale value.
    fmw,
  4. BG3 Audioholic

    BG3
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    Too funny! :D
    BG3,
  5. Duffinator Audioholic Field Marshall

    Duffinator
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    Very doubtful. Vintage stereo receivers have been going up in value while modern AVR's lose their value quickly as new technolgy makes them obsolete.

    SF, you can easily improve on the sound quality of the Sansui speakers and most likely improve on your Pioneer receiver. Which model is it? I have an SX-1250 and it still rocks, one of the finest pieces of audio gear ever made. You will find lots of information on your Pioneer at www.audiokarma.org. Your Pioneer receiver most likely just needs to have the controls cleaned with Deoxit.

    [​IMG]
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  6. Nomo Audioholic Samurai

    Nomo
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    A good HT receiver will sound every bit as good as the old receivers, maybe better considering the EQing options that are available in the $500 plus models.

    The real question is: How much do you want to spend over and above the cost of the receiver to take advantage of the extra channels? In the least you will need a decent center channel. Assuming you can find one that is reasonably timber matched to your existing fronts, a decent one can be Ebay'd for around $200. surrounds can be had for far less as they are arguably less important as is their timber matching.

    Bottom line, if you are not interested in the extra channels that an HT gives, an HT receiver would be a waste.
    Nomo,
  7. davidtwotrees Audioholic General

    davidtwotrees
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    You laugh at the remote control comment, but I took it seriously! I got my first remote controlled integrated amp in 1988. It changed my listening habits. I would NEVER get a stereo that didn't have a remote controlled volume. I constantly raise and lower the volume of my music, movies, and tv.
    Use your old receiver for the garage or a basement workshop for background music. Get a new receiver with multichannel capabilities. You won't look back.
  8. BG3 Audioholic

    BG3
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    Sorry to get a little off topic but, I think the remote is the cause of channel surfing...

    I can remember when we got our first tv with a remote...my dad would change channels just because he could :rolleyes: I think many did. Then it just became habit and there you have it, the dawn of channel surfing :)
    BG3,
  9. Nomo Audioholic Samurai

    Nomo
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    That would also explain the recent surge in ADD and ADHD cases.:rolleyes:
    Nomo,
  10. Shadow_Ferret Audioholic Chief

    Shadow_Ferret
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    I have the SX-780. And yes, eventually I'd like to replace the Sansuis, too.
  11. Shadow_Ferret Audioholic Chief

    Shadow_Ferret
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    When I was a kid, I was the remote. "Change it to Channel 6, would you?"

    A remote for my music seems rather unnecessary. Once I have the sound set, leave me alone. But then I grew up with vinyl and having to get up every 15 minutes or so to change album sides.
  12. Nomo Audioholic Samurai

    Nomo
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    You would be surprised how easy it is to get spoiled.;)
    Nomo,
  13. B3Nut Audioholic

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    SX-780's are solid little units, and they're not too difficult to work on. They are at the point age-wise where gremlins are likely to surface, however, and if you're not handy with a soldering iron you might be better served by upgrading to a new unit. I'd recommend a good midrange surround receiver, they're perfecty fine in 2-channel mode and you have options for future expansion.

    I'm a fan of the vintage units, I have an SX-780 that I restored and I love it. Properly refurbished they can give many more years of service. However, paying someone else to do the work can get very expensive. OTOH it's a fine unit to learn techniques on, Pioneer sold a boatload of them so parts units are easy to come by. I have one or two parts carcasses laying around myself. Should you choose to refurb the 780 you'll find it a good match for most modern speakers, and it will happily drive a 4-ohm load too. Common issues are the usual dirty pots and switches, cold solder joints developing under the regulator transistors (easy fix), and occasionally an output module will die. Those are easy to replace if you're handy with a soldering iron, and were still pretty cheap last I looked (I paid $6 or so each for the last ones I bought, the 780 has one per channel.)
  14. Pyrrho Audioholic Ninja

    Pyrrho
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    One thing that no one seems to have mentioned so far is that most modern receivers have poor tuners. If you listen to the radio, you might want to get an old receiver from the era of your current unit. Of course, being so old, it could develop problems, but even if you have to repair it, it is likely to be less expensive than buying a new tuner that works as well.

    Of course, if you don't listen to the radio, this isn't going to matter for you.

    As for an "audiophile" difference between an old unit and a new one, most likely, if a difference is heard with 2-channel stereo (excluding the tuner, of course), it will be due to the old one not functioning properly anymore.

    Also, the controls on new receivers tend to be less user friendly, but also less likely to develop problems from getting dirty (due to them often being not directly in the audio circuit, but simply controlling an audio circuit). With modern receivers, what a button does often depends on what was previously pressed.

    Regarding music as multichannel or stereo only, I like well made discrete 5.1, but hate artificially created 5.1. See:

    http://forums.audioholics.com/forums/showpost.php?p=384797&postcount=10
  15. Midcow2 Banned

    Midcow2
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    But they still get lost

    I need a self-locating remote

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