AVR vs Integrated (mixed use, 2.1, 100wpc+)

lovinthehd

lovinthehd

Audioholic Jedi
But it was a gateway toward separates- they tended to be quite a bit better than a typical receiver, although exceptions definitely existed. I have had integrated amps that sounded far better than the receivers of the time and I don't remember seeing any receivers that matched the specs. However, this was 30-40 years ago and integrated amps basically died on the vine because they couldn't do what was needed for a surround system.
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But it was a gateway toward separates- they tended to be quite a bit better than a typical receiver, although exceptions definitely existed. I have had integrated amps that sounded far better than the receivers of the time and I don't remember seeing any receivers that matched the specs. However, this was 30-40 years ago and integrated amps basically died on the vine because they couldn't do what was needed for a surround system.
So were receivers such a gateway...depended whether you wanted a separate tuner or cared about radio.... Does make me somewhat curious about the timeline for such products but not too much :). Can't say the "sound" of receivers was all that different from integrated amps or separates....and still do.
 
highfigh

highfigh

Audioholic Overlord
So were receivers such a gateway...depended whether you wanted a separate tuner or cared about radio.... Does make me somewhat curious about the timeline for such products but not too much :). Can't say the "sound" of receivers was all that different from integrated amps or separates....and still do.

If receivers were a gateway from anything, it would be from a combo unit that had the receiver & turntable or receiver, turntable and some kind of tape deck, even though they became monstrous (the Pioneer SX-1980 was over 20" wide, 20" deep, 8" high and weighed 98 pounds). Oddly, even with 270W/channel, I could never get enough output from one of those with the same model of cartridge for it to be usable, but my 30W/channel Sony integrated could do that with the volume control at 12:00.

Separates and receivers were always pretty far apart, but I'm referring to a time that was probably before your first exposure to audio equipment and any fascination with it. My first receiver was a Pioneer SX-525 that was able to put out a ground-pounding 13W/channel at 1% THD (it was tested at a McIntosh clinic). When I started college, a friend got a job at a stereo store and several of the others in the dorms had better stereos than mine and it wasn't long until I became more interested. I changed he turntable from a real POS to a better one, but it wa very prone to feedback, so putting it in a different room would have been best. Then, I upgraded my midrange drivers & woofers, cobbled together different cabinets and eventually bought a pair of speakers that I still have and enjoy.

But I digress. The typical receiver at the time didn't have pre out/power amp in unless it was close to TOTL and my receiver really was poor, it had a good tuner, so I kept it after buying my first integrated amp which was better in every way- it had more inputs, pre out/power amp in, a much better phono section, outperformed the rated power output spec by a large margin AT or below rated distortion. Also, if someone wanted to use the tone controls, they had different 'turnover' points, so they would affect the signal starting or ending at different frequencies, depending on what was needed. Also had a low and high filter, so turntable rumble and excessive hiss could be removed. Oddly, the MM phone section was capable of letting me use my moving coil cartridge, even though it wasn't the high output version. A couple of years later, I found another integrated that had similar features, but was much more powerful, had a MC preamp and was one of the first to have a PWM (Pulse Width Modulation) power supply. I kept that until only a few years ago, but hadn't ben using it because the volume control would periodically become noisy and it was a royal PITA to clean. When I got it ready to ship, I connected it and listened- my first thought was "Damn! This sounds freaking great!".

My point is that before AVRs became the norm, integrated amplifiers were the next step before going to separates- a receiver may have had a lot of power, especially after the manufacturers started their spec race, but they still weren't as good as separates, even though many integrated amps were easily as good as some very good separates. However, even if you look at the newest Sony, Yamaha and other integrated amps and compare them with what was available before about 1990, the new ones don't have the power, don't have the inputs and not all have pre out/power amp in and almost none have a MC preamp. While the last point doesn't matter to the vast majority, it was important in the past. The lack of power output is something I don't understand.

I would put some of the best integrated amps up against the receivers of the time in a listening test- I think the receivers would lose. The Dynamic Headroom spec came out during that time and receivers almost never did well. IIRC, NAD had an integrated amp that was rated for almost 3dB of dynamic headroom, which is excellent.
 
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CoolHandDuke

Junior Audioholic
Sorry, I learnt to bite the bullet and do it right the first time even if it means a waiting period for the budget to rise. If your concern is just bass management you can just get a sub that offers that. For Dirac Live you obviously would need something like the minidsp's solution.
I will probably just relax with what I have for right now. Maybe play around with Ratbuddyssey more when I feel like taking more measurements.

With one sub, that sounds pretty damn good even with just basic XT correction, I wonder if moving to an integrated is only going to sound better because of confirmational bias. As it stands, my system sounds pretty damn good. I do wish I had more power, but even doubling to 200wpc gets me, what, an extra 3dB? If 3600s were to be found for a deep discount I'd jump on that and sell my 2600, but they seem to have dried up. I recently posted my setup on another forum, and I was getting a lot of "You need a quality amp/ preamp to do those speakers justice". I'll admit it got in my head. On one hand, dedicated components with low noise measurements theoretically seem like they would be better. But when it comes to amplifying the signal in their specified range, would I really hear a difference? Plus Denon makes it easy for me to do other things I like.

Rather than spend a bunch of money on different amplification, I think I will just exchange my Sierra 1s for 2EXs which will no doubt play a much bigger role in perceived sound quality.
 
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CoolHandDuke

Junior Audioholic
@PENG Those Topping preamps you mentioned, are those designed to work with more powerful stereo amplifiers? Seems like most references I see are for headphone use.
 
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PENG

Audioholic Slumlord
@PENG Those Topping preamps you mentioned, are those designed to work with more powerful stereo amplifiers? Seems like most references I see are for headphone use.
Absolutely, based on the specs and actual bench measurements I have no doubt. If you read the fine print, they do tell you it is not just a headphone amp, but a preamp as well. Obviously if and when used as preamp you shouldn't use the headphone jack, even though you could if you want to try just for fun.:D
 
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PENG

Audioholic Slumlord
@PENG Those Topping preamps you mentioned, are those designed to work with more powerful stereo amplifiers? Seems like most references I see are for headphone use.
Would you consider a cheap DAC that has preamp function such as:

Amazon.com: Topping D50s Bluetooth5.0 USB DAC HiFi Audio Decoder XMOS XU208 2 x ES9038Q2M DSD512 32Bit/768kHz USB/Opt/Coax(Black): Electronics

All my DACs including my 3 Oppos have volume control for use as preamp and I don't feel there is any need for my Cambridge audio and two other full blown preamps any more.:)

RichB has tried different things including AVPs and he settled on using his Oppo BDP-105D (or the 205, don't remember which one for sure) as preamp to drive his power amps including his Halo amp and the Benchmark AHB2 amps if I remember right. Try PM him if you want his opinions, I don't want to page him on AH too often.:D
 
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CoolHandDuke

Junior Audioholic
Would you consider a cheap DAC that has preamp function such as:

Amazon.com: Topping D50s Bluetooth5.0 USB DAC HiFi Audio Decoder XMOS XU208 2 x ES9038Q2M DSD512 32Bit/768kHz USB/Opt/Coax(Black): Electronics

All my DACs including my 3 Oppos have volume control for use as preamp and I don't feel there is any need for my Cambridge audio and two other full blown preamps any more.:)

RichB has tried different things including AVPs and he settled on using his Oppo BDP-105D (or the 205, don't remember which one for sure) as preamp to drive his power amps including his Halo amp and the Benchmark AHB2 amps if I remember right. Try PM him if you want his opinions, I don't want to page him on AH too often.:D
That's pretty cool and would certainly free up some cost for power Amp. It would be nice to have 1 RCA input for my turntable, only drawback I see. I've gone thru some of ASR's Amp measurements but wonder what would be good choice for about 150wpc at a less than state of the art price.

It would be great if I could have the functionality of the AVR (timing and room correction, sub integration, high pass filtering) along with the nice measurements and low noise some of these products offer, but that's the tradeoff. Won't know which I prefer without trying. A small DAC/preamp with some kind of streamer and a solid amplifier would look clean and simple.
 
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PENG

Audioholic Slumlord
That's pretty cool and would certainly free up some cost for power Amp. It would be nice to have 1 RCA input for my turntable, only drawback I see. I've gone thru some of ASR's Amp measurements but wonder what would be good choice for about 150wpc at a less than state of the art price.

It would be great if I could have the functionality of the AVR (timing and room correction, sub integration, high pass filtering) along with the nice measurements and low noise some of these products offer, but that's the tradeoff. Won't know which I prefer without trying. A small DAC/preamp with some kind of streamer and a solid amplifier would look clean and simple.
Yep, for people like me who have a secondary two channel set up where they don't mind losing some convenient features (such as multiple connections), but rather focus on the best sound quality (based on specs and measurements only, not ears..;)), DAC with vol control is a good way to ensure the best possible performance to price ratio, followed by DAC+headphone amp style preamp. For integrated amps, you are not going to find any flag ship class DAC ICs, not even if you are willing to spend $5,000. Take a look of Anthem STR integrated amp and Hegel's H390 (very expensive for an integrated amp), even the Hegel cannot play DSD512, not that you need resolution that high, but still, for so much money, it should be able to play anything available so you won't be limited in your choice of digital files.
 
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CoolHandDuke

Junior Audioholic
Yep, for people like me who have a secondary two channel set up where they don't mind losing some convenient features (such as multiple connections), but rather focus on the best sound quality (based on specs and measurements only, not ears..;)), DAC with vol control is a good way to ensure the best possible performance to price ratio, followed by DAC+headphone amp style preamp. For integrated amps, you are not going to find any flag ship class DAC ICs, not even if you are willing to spend $5,000. Take a look of Anthem STR integrated amp and Hegel's H390 (very expensive for an integrated amp), even the Hegel cannot play DSD512, not that you need resolution that high, but still, for so much money, it should be able to play anything available so you won't be limited in your choice of digital files.
I think having the secondary is key. Down the road, with a bigger house, I might be more keen on a pair of full range (or close to) speakers that don't benefit or need the sub integration. Hopefully, we see more gear come that not only measures well, but also embraces modern technology and the fact that many listeners use subwoofers. Shame the 3600s are dried up and 3700 is full price. When I can scoop one up at discount, I'll move to that and then consider an external power amp.

These Sierra 2-EXs sound beautiful. I just want to give them more clean power and headroom. Philharmonic BMRs are slightly less sensitive. Seems common for that style bookshelf. They get loud enough with the 95wpc on my 2600, but I feel like it's pushing it on high volume passes in movies when I have volume around 70-75 (on absolute scale).
 
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CoolHandDuke

Junior Audioholic
@PENG

What do you think of something like the Yamaha WXC-50 as a starter preamp, DAC, streamer, and feeding it into a decent power amp (maybe Outlaw 2220 or one of the newer class D (March, Purifi, etc.)? Or I can learn some patience, enjoy these speakers with what I currently have, and save for something like a miniDSP SHD with a really nice power amp.
 
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PENG

Audioholic Slumlord
@PENG

What do you think of something like the Yamaha WXC-50 as a starter preamp, DAC, streamer, and feeding it into a decent power amp (maybe Outlaw 2220 or one of the newer class D (March, Purifi, etc.)? Or I can learn some patience, enjoy these speakers with what I currently have, and save for something like a miniDSP SHD with a really nice power amp.
I think you know by now how much weigh I put on the objective side of the equation.:D Yes I think the Yamaha WXC-50 is a great option for under $500 based on specs and measurements, and no I don't have to hear it to believe it.
 
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CoolHandDuke

Junior Audioholic
I think you know by now how much weigh I put on the objective side of the equation.:D Yes I think the Yamaha WXC-50 is a great option for under $500 based on specs and measurements, and no I don't have to hear it to believe it.
Looks great for the price and what you get. The miniDSP SHD might truly be close to "endgame" for me. Well measured and don't have to sacrifice room correction. While Benchmark amps are the clear winner, I think Monoprice has been putting out some great stuff, and the 48lb 2x200 looks like a beast that should power anything I need it to down the line. If I'm not mistaken they are using ATI as their manufacturer.
 
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CoolHandDuke

Junior Audioholic
@PENG

The finicky nature and accounts of frustrating customer support have turned me off to minidsp SHD after more research. I also realized there is no actual sub management, since it's a 2 channel correction. I may end up just sticking with avr. Right now, the x4500H is on sale for same price as new x3700H.

ASR did not do measurements of 4500, but I would hope the performance would be similar. I've been back and around a million times and I just don't see great options to integrate a sub like the XT32 does.
 

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