ADVICE: OPPO 203 (Preamplifier) + Emotiva A-5175 (Living Room Home Theater)

V

Venue

Junior Audioholic
To all you knowledgable enthusiats on audioholics.com.

What do you think of using the OPPO-203 as a multichannel preamplifier feeding an Emotiva A-5175 for home theater usage in a living room, instead of your average A/V receiver?

I only have one video source, the OPPO-203, I watch 1080p SDR blu-rays with my JVC X7900/X790R/RS540, no other source, so no need for HDMI switching, if the need were to arise, the 203 has an HDMI IN.

I watch movies only, might listen to some music at times, be it multichannel or stereo, I also love watching blu-ray concerts.

I have Klipsch RP-8000F, RP-504C, RP-502S, and two SPL-150's in a 5.2 setup, Atmos/DTS:X does not interest me, nor will it ever in my living room, and 1080p blu-rays are 99% TrueHD/DTS-HD MA anyway.

My room is rectangular, but with a big *ss fireplace on one side at the back, and a big archway leading out to the hallway close to FL and one of the subwoofers, LFE's are placed 1/4 and 3/4, front wall.

I have bass traps in all four corners of the room, diffusers covering the rear wall, window blinds folded to disperse the glass surface, floor mats where my wife allows, all speakers are placed 100% symmetrically, but my three seats are positioned far from optimal, basically no main listening position and all seats are movable and could be moved from one session to another.

I'm thinking, perhaps the trim/distance and crossover settings offered by the OPPO-203 are sufficient for a manual calibration, taking my somewhat quite troubling seating positions into account, I don't really see a point attempting to calibrate an environment that's constantly changing, my wife insisted on three movable armchairs instead of a sofa, for increased flexibility depending on what the room might be used for, I insisted on a projector and a 5.2 setup, so there you have it...

I know most will recommend an A/V receiver for the purpose, and everyone will say 'Denon', I feel I might be better off actually NOT calibrating by using a room correction software, because the environment is *its up no matter what, be it Audyssey, MCACC, Dirac, what have you.

Instead spending my money on decent amplification, lifting my setup to a different level is a better approach.

The analogue sound card in the OPPO-203 was given a great review by Gene himself, and in my case it's fed by a linear power supply, the card could also always be modified by better voltage regulators, capacitors, better mainboard clock etc, also benefitting the video.

I feel like the OPPO-203 will give me the best of two worlds, since the system also could be used when listening to music, the Emotiva would not care if it was music or movies, the OPPO being be the very heart of the system.

The 203 has 2Vrms on the RCA's, the Emotiva has an input sensitivity of 1.2Vrms, so that's fine, I will throw in a miniDSP 2x4 for LFE EQ/PEQ which I feel is a must, compared to EQ/PEQ on all channels.

I mean, IF I REALLY would need room calibration, I could always purchase a miniDSP 10x10HD and add it inbetween?

What I don't like about that though is that the DSP is done on the analogue side, adding a ADC-DAC conversion into the chain, would much rather correct it on the digital side, subwoofers being a completely different case.

The OPPO-203 controls the volume digitally, so compression will be applied to anything lower than 100% volume, but I hear the 203 has rather good algorithms and the SQ is still superb if you avoid lowering the volume below 50%, which I doubt I will ever do, muting aside.

With the OPPO as a preamplifier, I would have very nice power delivery inside the OPPO, and likewise in the Emotiva, both linear power supplies, short signal paths.

With an A/V receiver, god knows what's happening inside, and in my case, 95% of all settings/features would be turned off, leaving me basically with an 'amplifier' anyway.

What if I want to hear the characteristics of my Klipsch speakers, and my room, and not equalizing away everything to a flat response, I don't always agree on this room calibration thing, I'll be honest, perhaps in my case I'm better off without it, properly adjusting speaker positioning instead, and treating my room?

What do you guys think, I could use some real enthusiastic, knowledgable inputs on this, drop a comment below and I would be very grateful!

Cheers!
 
TheWarrior

TheWarrior

Audioholic Ninja
To all you knowledgable enthusiats on audioholics.com.

What do you think of using the OPPO-203 as a multichannel preamplifier feeding an Emotiva A-5175 for home theater usage in a living room, instead of your average A/V receiver?

I only have one video source, the OPPO-203, I watch 1080p SDR blu-rays with my JVC X7900/X790R/RS540, no other source, so no need for HDMI switching, if the need were to arise, the 203 has an HDMI IN.

I watch movies only, might listen to some music at times, be it multichannel or stereo, I also love watching blu-ray concerts.

I have Klipsch RP-8000F, RP-504C, RP-502S, and two SPL-150's in a 5.2 setup, Atmos/DTS:X does not interest me, nor will it ever in my living room, and 1080p blu-rays are 99% TrueHD/DTS-HD MA anyway.

My room is rectangular, but with a big *ss fireplace on one side at the back, and a big archway leading out to the hallway close to FL and one of the subwoofers, LFE's are placed 1/4 and 3/4, front wall.

I have bass traps in all four corners of the room, diffusers covering the rear wall, window blinds folded to disperse the glass surface, floor mats where my wife allows, all speakers are placed 100% symmetrically, but my three seats are positioned far from optimal, basically no main listening position and all seats are movable and could be moved from one session to another.

I'm thinking, perhaps the trim/distance and crossover settings offered by the OPPO-203 are sufficient for a manual calibration, taking my somewhat quite troubling seating positions into account, I don't really see a point attempting to calibrate an environment that's constantly changing, my wife insisted on three movable armchairs instead of a sofa, for increased flexibility depending on what the room might be used for, I insisted on a projector and a 5.2 setup, so there you have it...

I know most will recommend an A/V receiver for the purpose, and everyone will say 'Denon', I feel I might be better off actually NOT calibrating by using a room correction software, because the environment is *its up no matter what, be it Audyssey, MCACC, Dirac, what have you.

Instead spending my money on decent amplification, lifting my setup to a different level is a better approach.

The analogue sound card in the OPPO-203 was given a great review by Gene himself, and in my case it's fed by a linear power supply, the card could also always be modified by better voltage regulators, capacitors, better mainboard clock etc, also benefitting the video.

I feel like the OPPO-203 will give me the best of two worlds, since the system also could be used when listening to music, the Emotiva would not care if it was music or movies, the OPPO being be the very heart of the system.

The 203 has 2Vrms on the RCA's, the Emotiva has an input sensitivity of 1.2Vrms, so that's fine, I will throw in a miniDSP 2x4 for LFE EQ/PEQ which I feel is a must, compared to EQ/PEQ on all channels.

I mean, IF I REALLY would need room calibration, I could always purchase a miniDSP 10x10HD and add it inbetween?

What I don't like about that though is that the DSP is done on the analogue side, adding a ADC-DAC conversion into the chain, would much rather correct it on the digital side, subwoofers being a completely different case.

The OPPO-203 controls the volume digitally, so compression will be applied to anything lower than 100% volume, but I hear the 203 has rather good algorithms and the SQ is still superb if you avoid lowering the volume below 50%, which I doubt I will ever do, muting aside.

With the OPPO as a preamplifier, I would have very nice power delivery inside the OPPO, and likewise in the Emotiva, both linear power supplies, short signal paths.

With an A/V receiver, god knows what's happening inside, and in my case, 95% of all settings/features would be turned off, leaving me basically with an 'amplifier' anyway.

What if I want to hear the characteristics of my Klipsch speakers, and my room, and not equalizing away everything to a flat response, I don't always agree on this room calibration thing, I'll be honest, perhaps in my case I'm better off without it, properly adjusting speaker positioning instead, and treating my room?

What do you guys think, I could use some real enthusiastic, knowledgable inputs on this, drop a comment below and I would be very grateful!

Cheers!
Hi! I think you'd be using the OPPO 203 to its fullest as a preamp. There's a reason the 203/5 sell for a grand or more, USED!

If your room is multipurpose and things get moved around, then yeah, alot of time and even money could be wasted with getting in to 'room correction'.

You've chosen the easy path. Enjoy it for ALL that it is worth!
 
lovinthehd

lovinthehd

Audioholic Jedi
Give it a shot, only way to see. Seems like it'd work for your purposes. I've never considered using my 203 that way, but figure it's available as a back up of sorts if needed.
 
TheWarrior

TheWarrior

Audioholic Ninja
Give it a shot, only way to see. Seems like it'd work for your purposes. I've never considered using my 203 that way, but figure it's available as a back up of sorts if needed.
If I had a spare 3 channel amp, I would absolutely use the 203 this way to simplify my remote control situation. Only need the OPPO remote and display remote, and ditch an AVR remote!
 
P

PENG

Audioholic Slumlord
To all you knowledgable enthusiats on audioholics.com.

What do you think of using the OPPO-203 as a multichannel preamplifier feeding an Emotiva A-5175 for home theater usage in a living room, instead of your average A/V receiver?
Oppo mentioned in the manuals:

"The VOL +/- buttons on the player’s remote control are
provided as an alternative way of controlling the audio
volume. It is recommended that you use this control to make
the audio volume from the player the same as from other
sources, such as TV programs or a VCR."


As you know, that's a compromise way but if everything matches well (such as your power amp's gain, short interconnects etc.) it can work well.

You do have some sensitive speakers so depending on your seating distance, you may have to go below 50% though any degradation may not result in an audible difference.

One person you can ask for his experience/feedback is @RichB. As far as I can remember he has done that for a while, but may have migrated back to an AVP by now. If I remember right he was getting good results. His big Revels have much lower sensitivity though, so I would say he wouldn't need to go lower than 50 or even 60%. His was either a 105D or 205 so he has at least 8 dB more DR on hand too, compared to the 203.

Question: Why do you think DSP would be done on the analog side? Did you mean the minidsp? If so, it really should be an issue because you will be using it to EQ the subwoofer only right?
 
V

Venue

Junior Audioholic
Question: Why do you think DSP would be done on the analog side? Did you mean the minidsp? If so, it really should be an issue because you will be using it to EQ the subwoofer only right?
I was talking about the miniDSP in two cases, for one, the 2x4 for subwoofer PEQ only, which I think is a must no matter the solution, and I'm perfectly fine with the DSP here.

The other case was a 10x10HD to add room correction possibilites via REW on all channels, but then you add the DSP on the analogue side for the whole bed layer, I think better approaches can be found and perform the PEQ on the digital side instead, would you not agree?
 
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P

PENG

Audioholic Slumlord
I was talking about the miniDSP in two cases, for one, the 2x4 for subwoofer PEQ only, which I think is a must no matter the solution, and I'm perfectly fine with the DSP here.

The other case was a 10x10HD to add room correction possibilites via REW on all channels, but then you add the DSP on the analogue side for the whole bed layer, I think better approaches can be found and perform the PEQ on the digital side instead.
Agreed, otherwise it sort of defeats your purpose of using the Oppo to keep things "pure, or purer".:D Again, using it (with REW) to EQ the just subwoofer should be fine.
 
V

Venue

Junior Audioholic
Give it a shot, only way to see. Seems like it'd work for your purposes. I've never considered using my 203 that way, but figure it's available as a back up of sorts if needed.
If I had a spare 3 channel amp, I would absolutely use the 203 this way to simplify my remote control situation. Only need the OPPO remote and display remote, and ditch an AVR remote!
I will tell you both, I have been looking at the Emotiva MC-700 processor, but it uses a switching power supply and does basically nothing that the OPPO-203 doesn't offer, well - it has 11-band PEQ on all channels, so there we are again - room correction... and a 3-band PEQ on the LFE channel, but unable to treat multiple subwoofers individually, so the miniDSP 2x4 actually is better considering it's capable of treating them separately.

You could also add BEQ files on the input if you want to, I could also feed it from the USB output on the OPPO-203, feeding it with my linear power supply, it's only 5VDC. The MC-700 is $1000, I could better spend that money on the A-5175 I think, pretty much the same money here in Europe, best bang for the buck, they say?
 
V

Venue

Junior Audioholic
Oppo mentioned in the manuals:

"The VOL +/- buttons on the player’s remote control are
provided as an alternative way of controlling the audio
volume. It is recommended that you use this control to make
the audio volume from the player the same as from other
sources, such as TV programs or a VCR."


As you know, that's a compromise way but if everything matches well (such as your power amp's gain, short interconnects etc.) it can work well.
Have to ask, do you know of a simple solution/device I could use for volume control, only, so that I may set the OPPO-203 to 100%? The miniDSP 10x10HD does have a master volume knob, but perhaps this is controlling the volume the same way as the OPPO, i.e. digitally?
 
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P

PENG

Audioholic Slumlord
Have to ask, do you know of a simple solution/device I could use for volume control, only, so that I may set the OPPO-203 to 100%? The miniDSP 10x10HD does have a master volume knob, but perhaps this is controlling the volume the same way as the OPPO, i.e. digitally?
I don't want to say avr but the best bang for the dollar would be the sr6014 if you want to use the 7.1 analog outputs from the 203, otherwise the avr-x3600h if you use hdmi. It sucks because those are avrs, but the fact is, the x3600h, x3700h as prepro measured as good as or better than some much more expensive avps.

Again, the way you plan on using the 203 may work very well so you should just try that first.
 
V

Venue

Junior Audioholic
I don't want to say avr but the best bang for the dollar would be the sr6014 if you want to use the 7.1 analog outputs from the 203
I don't understand, the Marantz surely would apply an ADC conversion on it's 7.1 analogue inputs, must be so much better to just connect the 203 directly to the Emotiva, the Emotiva is also cheaper, not exactly a fan of purchasing an A/V receiver just to use it as a prepro, would then perhaps instead buy a more decent A/V receiver with better than average amplification built in.
 
V

Venue

Junior Audioholic
I'm reading the review done by Gene, specifically about 'Bass Management'.

To quote his last sentence in the review section, it reads:
If you want the very best in bass management for multi-channel, doing it in the player isn't the answer.
Get a separate AV receiver or preamp/processor and do it there.


I cannot bypass the bass management, setting all speakers to 'Large', and adding a miniDSP 2x4, right?
Because, that couldn't exactly be seen as 'bass management' since the speakers are being give a full range signal?
The Klipsch might be capable of full range, incuding the surrounds and center?

For the miniDSP to work effectively in bass management, I would need the 10x10HD to control all channels, correct?

bass.png
 
V

Venue

Junior Audioholic
With the Emotiva A-5175 and the 10x10HD, we are closing in to the cost of a decent A/V receiver.
 
P

PENG

Audioholic Slumlord
I don't understand, the Marantz surely would apply an ADC conversion on it's 7.1 analogue inputs, must be so much better to just connect the 203 directly to the Emotiva, the Emotiva is also cheaper, not exactly a fan of purchasing an A/V receiver just to use it as a prepro, would then perhaps instead buy a more decent A/V receiver with better than average amplification built in.
There will be no ADC required if you use the 7.1 analog inputs. Even if you use the 2 channel analog inputs, there won't be ADC/DAC either if you select direct mode. I have this confirmed by Marantz customer support in writing. Same with Denon's. I understand you are not a fan of AVR right from your first post and am not trying suggesting you go that route at all. I only brought that up because you asked if I know of a simpler way, so I am only making a statement of facts, that there is, but clearly not one that would like to go with.

By the way, using avr as prepro is not my preference either, but after using two prepros, and having seen how the recent models performed on test benches, I can no longer justify keep paying more for less. It is a sadly reality right now. As soon as a Marantz or Yamaha prepro get tested with better results than the current Denon AVRs, I would likely jump back in. For me, It has nothing to do with the actual perceived sound quality, but a matter of "engineering excellence", or rather, "principle". I think the same can be said about using Oppo direct with power amp, that if everything matches up, it should be as good as using a good quality preamp. In fact, as you mentioned, the 203 does have a 32 bit DAC (so you won't likely lose bits) so there should be little concerns.

Also, if you are going to use the 203 with an Emotiva A-5175, then I would think the amp would be the limiting factor anyway (in terms of specs only, not subjective "perceived sound quality" as such).
 
V

Venue

Junior Audioholic
Excellent write-up, thank you!

My conclusion is then you are suggesting the Marantz/Denon only to have 100% fixed volume from the 203, and instead use the volume control on the Marantz/Denon, correct? I'm quite surprised there's no ADC conversion on the analogue inputs of the brands you mentioned, I've seen several other brands applying this method of signal processing, so my bias going into your recommendation was already bloated, my apologies.
 
P

PENG

Audioholic Slumlord
I'm reading the review done by Gene, specifically about 'Bass Management'.

To quote his last sentence in the review section, it reads:
If you want the very best in bass management for multi-channel, doing it in the player isn't the answer.
Get a separate AV receiver or preamp/processor and do it there.


I cannot bypass the bass management, setting all speakers to 'Large', and adding a miniDSP 2x4, right?
Because, that couldn't exactly be seen as 'bass management' since the speakers are being give a full range signal?
The Klipsch might be capable of full range, incuding the surrounds and center?

For the miniDSP to work effectively in bass management, I would need the 10x10HD to control all channels, correct?
Gene's talking about "..the very best multi-channel bass management...". You can definitely set the speakers to small, and use the mini 2X4 to manage the subwoofer(s) only without using an AVR or AVP, just as Gene said, not the best way.. In my opinion, if you are keen on getting good bass management and EQ, using the 203 with a 10X10 HD, REW is just too complicated for no good reasons and as you said yourself, the cost would approach that of a decent AVR, that will save you tons of time and effort, and avoid the wiring nightmare. I felt so good removing the wire clutter from adding just one 2XHD, after experimenting for a few weeks realizing no benefits. Can't imagine a 10X10HD induced clutter!
 
P

PENG

Audioholic Slumlord
Excellent write-up, thank you!

My conclusion is then you are suggesting the Marantz/Denon only to have 100% fixed volume from the 203, and instead use the volume control on the Marantz/Denon, correct? I'm quite surprised there's no ADC conversion on the analogue inputs of the brands you mentioned, I've seen several other brands applying this method of signal processing, so my bias going into your recommendation was already bloated, my apologies.
That is correct. To me, all else being equal, simplicity goes a long way to enjoying music/movies more. I only have the older BDP-105 and I never found any reason to use the variable volume feature so after some initial playing around, it was left in the "fixed" setting. I have two other Oppo devices, the HA-1 and the Sonica, both are set to "fixed" as well. Line level preamps, passive and active, are no longer rocket science (in fact never was:D). They are typically not the bottleneck.

About the ADC bypass feature, no worry, I have been challenged on the same when I mentioned it here on AH and on ASR way back when the question was asked. Even though I have seen the presence of switches for bypassing the ADC/DAC blocks on the block diagrams, I email Marantz (and Denon too iirc) for confirmation, because just because the block diagram shows the bypass route does not necessarily mean it was in fact implemented. I also requested ASR to take measurements to confirm the same, and thanks to Amir, he did it.
 
V

Venue

Junior Audioholic
I have to thank you for all your help, really, good help is very hard to find, my hats off to you!

Wow, good find, you sure do you home work/research well before pulling any trigger!
Yes, I try.
Lip syncing is probably the most basic out of all audio calibration steps, so I think the 203 loses here, clearly.
Meanwhile, while we have been discussing the 203, I haven't fully given up on A/V receivers, I will be honest.

I have been looking at Pioneer's SC-LX704, let me know what you think of it, by judging the following information.

SC-LX704 amplifier board, it uses two ES9026PRO DAC's, also Class D, keeps cool.

exclusive.png


Bi-amping from an A/V receiver that only uses 1x transformer is pure *ullshit, right?

Perhaps the A/V receiver is the most convenient, simplified choice in the end after all, offers room calibration to an extent as well, if I would like to try it.
 

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