Dedicated Processor vs. using a receiver as processor?

AcuDefTechGuy

AcuDefTechGuy

Audioholic Jedi
Can you provide some links where receivers measured better than processors? I'd find that interesting. Just curious... not calling you a liar here.

Are you saying that the Marantz technologies actually sound worse than Denon, because of HDAM?
The online source was started by a guy name Amir. He started a forum and named it Audio Science Review. He started out measuring a bunch of DACs. Then was lucky enough to have many forum members to support him and actually loan him their equipment like AVR and processors. It is an online forum, not a magazine like Stereophile, Sound & Vision, etc.

Before anyone gets too exited about these numbers, they are completely inaudible- unless you can hear the difference between THD of 0.0007% vs 0.01% in your house.
 
P

PENG

Audioholic Slumlord
Everyone hates on the LSiMs here :(

They are not as easily replaceable as 1 box.

I've asked it before, what would be a good improvement to SQ over the LSiM series? I truly thought they measured very respectably from people who were skilled at measuring speakers.
Not everyone! I don't hate them, I have had Polk Audio speakers before and had no issues with any of them. I would say in the price range of the LSiM series, you will have hard time finding better sounding speakers based on measurements and specs. You bound to get all sorts of comments about them but those are mostly subjective. If you can set up a DBT comparison between them and comparable popular speakers from KEF, Monitor Audio, SVS, Revel etc., the LSiMs will do quite well. You want them to sound good, use high quality contents, and give them the juice they need to do what you want them to do (in terms of SPL, amplifier headroom). Chasing the "better sounding" AVR, AVP, separates would be the wrong path imo because any electronics designed to sound "neutral" within their limits will "sound" the same in a DBT when the listener won't know what he/she is listening to.
 
P

PENG

Audioholic Slumlord
Can you provide some links where receivers measured better than processors? I'd find that interesting. Just curious... not calling you a liar here.
Wow, thanks for not calling me a liar, that's something I don't do, though of course I could have misstated things from time to time unintentionally and/or unknowingly.

ADTG has already provided you the source so you can see the measurements for yourself. I have compiled a comparison table of the AVRs, AVPs Amir has tested so far. The Denon AVR-X8500H current ranks top, and 4 other Denons are in the top 10. The Marantz AV7705 is way down on the chart/table but did do quite well at lower output (2.4 V XLR, or 1.2 V RCA). The Emotiva RMC-1 ranks 3rd and the $6,000 JBL SDP-55 ranks 13th, based on THD+N measured at the pre-out at 2V RCA or 4V XLR, just to give you some ideas.

So based on measurable facts, more expensive, and/or separate components, do not always equal "better" based on measurable performance. On the subjective side, all bets are off, and/but "subjective" is not measurable, can't prove, can't debate on that front. That's why like most other engineers, I tend to ignore hearsay, and focus on calculable and/or measurable facts. Engineers design products base on know scientific facts, principles and measurable performance, people who sale such products usually (obvious there are exceptions) don't understand the technical stuff, but obviously they are the one who influenced/biased potential buyers, not the engineers who work in the background.

If you are interested in learning more about the technical/objective side, Hometheaterhifi.com has a 5 parts article on AVR builds, highly recommended. I don't believe everything on that article are 100% correct as some of those were not completely unbiased, but I would say most of it are well based on facts.

Below is the link to Part I of the five part article I mentioned earlier, about AVR/AVP builds:

Are you saying that the Marantz technologies actually sound worse than Denon, because of HDAM?
No I have never said such a thing, and never will. Let me emphasize an important point again, that is, "sound better", "sound worse" are a subjective in nature. I will say though, that because it is subjective, so even if something does "sound better" to you, it may not, or may even "sound worse" to others.

I prefer to focus on specifications and measurements, that are verifiable by precision instruments. For example, if Gene found the SR8015's pre out THD+N measured 0.001% at 2 V (I just pick a number as an example), another competent bench test site, such as HTHI, ASR will not likely report 0.01% on their benches, though it would be reasonable to see some slight variations due to the inexact conditions under which the device was measured, and there would have to be slight variations between devices of the same model anyway.

My comments were about the possibilities that the HDAM buffer stage, being right at the end of the pre out signal path, may actually result in higher distortions overall, based on the HTFI review comments, and at least one ASR member who seems knowledgeable in amplifier design. Aside from that, as an EE myself, I do understand the logic that a well design buffer is not an EQ. In this case it doesn't even amplify because the gain is "1", so all it does is to affect the output impedance and/or allowing the pre out to clip at higher output level. All these things are measurable, yet measurements so far did not show better results. One thing for sure, an extra stage must result in higher THD+N because there is no such thing as perfect/ideal amplifier, buffer or not, not even the best available op amp IC, let alone a discrete opamp that the HDAM basically is. So while I was only quoting others, I do believe they are right, as it is logical that an extra buffer stage would add distortions and noise of it's own. The only question is, what benefits it would bring, and that's the part that I looked for supporting evidence, and found none so far. Now the HDAMs circuitry and applications used in Marantz integrated amps are quite different so the resulting benefits could be different too.

Below is just one reference on the HDAM (specific to AVRs/AVPs only)related topic:

In the paragraph just before the "Conclusions" heading, the author commented:

"Harmonic distortion has not improved from the AV8802 to the AV8805 as was expected from the new chips. The change in the worst-case THD specification between the chips used in the AV8802 and AV8805 points to a 50% distortion reduction. We know the distortion is not from the AKM AK4490 DAC since the THD increased as we changed the output level from 2VRMS to 4VRMS with the volume control.

It is possible the HDAM discrete circuits past the new analog ICs are the dominant distortion source. The only way to find out is to open up the case and start probing internal boards which is not something we do here at Secrets."


That is not to say it made the unit sound worse than anything, in fact the review concluded that:

“The Marantz AV8805 is an outstanding 13.2-channel processor and is highly recommended.”

Measurements are not always about sounding better or worse, and it isn't hard for today's mid to high end AVRs, AVPs to have THD+N good enough to fall below the threshold of audibility, unfortunately, more people would still buy in to marketing hypes such as HDAM, AL32, flag ship DAC ICs, 1% tolerance resistors, audiophile grade caps, toroidal transformers, copper shielding, gold plated connectors, exotic interconnect cables, fully differential balanced circuitry etc etc etc.... I went back from a >$3,000 Marantz flag ship AVP to a $1,200 AVR and am very happy about the decision.
 
TLS Guy

TLS Guy

Audioholic Slumlord
Hi guys.


So I've always owned decent Denon receivers in my home theaters, but I've never tried a dedicated "true" home theater processor/preamp. I have added amplifiers to my Denons, with noticeable improvements in power and SQ.

Right now I'm using an Emotiva XPA-7 as my amp, while a Denon X4500h is just acting as a processor. (I don't need to connect any more speakers than 7.2 system, so please disregard the need to connect more speakers)

I am considering swapping out the Denon x4500 to a true processor, or some kind of higher-end receiver to see if that makes any improvements in Sound quality.


  1. Is there any kind of real sound quality differences by moving to a real processor from a high-end receiver?
  2. How can these differences be explained? Like, what makes the processor produce superior SQ to a receiver acting as a preamp?
  3. Is there any point in the receiver lineups, where the receivers basically match the quality of a good processor? (i.e., would a Yamaha RX-3030 or Denon x8500 be closer to a processor than RX-1080 or Denon x4500?) In this case, I may just upgrade receivers to get more flexibility.
I just want to understand what exactly makes a dedicated processor sound better than a nice receiver, or if anyone has done some A/B comparisons in the same system to see if it makes any difference.


Thanks for any explanations, or feedback from your experiences.
If you have the amps, then I would get a pre/pro and not a receiver.

If you are not going to use the power amps, then why buy a receiver?

A pre/pro runs much, much cooler, and does not waste electricity. If you buy a receiver, most of the running costs will still go to the amps you won't use. That is just stupid, especially in this day and age.

A pre/pro will give more versatile connection options as well.

At this time a pre/pro will now actually cost you less then the equivalent receiver on which it is based. This is especially true if you negotiate with your local B & M dealer.

I bought my last pre/pro for significantly less money for the receiver on which it is based.

In addition I am certain that pre/pros have a longer life as a group.

Honestly receivers are basically something to run from. So I will give you a strong push to pre/pro. Quality for quality you will now pay less for a pre/pro than a receiver, if you already have your power amps.
 
Landmonster

Landmonster

Audioholic
If you have the amps, then I would get a pre/pro and not a receiver.

If you are not going to use the power amps, then why buy a receiver?

A pre/pro runs much, much cooler, and does not waste electricity. If you buy a receiver, most of the running costs will still go to the amps you won't use. That is just stupid, especially in this day and age.

A pre/pro will give more versatile connection options as well.

At this time a pre/pro will now actually cost you less then the equivalent receiver on which it is based. This is especially true if you negotiate with your local B & M dealer.

I bought my last pre/pro for significantly less money for the receiver on which it is based.

In addition I am certain that pre/pros have a longer life as a group.

Honestly receivers are basically something to run from. So I will give you a strong push to pre/pro. Quality for quality you will now pay less for a pre/pro than a receiver, if you already have your power amps.
Without knowing all the details, it does seem logical that a pre-pro would sound better than a receiver.
And it may not have anything to do with total harmonic distortion or noise differences.

The problem is the processors just seem to cost a lot more than receivers. You can get a nice modern mid range receiver around $1000 new to $1500 new. Like my Denon X4500.
I can’t find any processor for less than $2000. Can you recommend me a good home theater processor under $2000, that has the latest the DACs and all the formats like DTSX and Atmos?
 
Irvrobinson

Irvrobinson

Audioholic Spartan
The problem is the processors just seem to cost a lot more than receivers. You can get a nice modern mid range receiver around $1000 new to $1500 new. Like my Denon X4500.
I can’t find any processor for less than $2000. Can you recommend me a good home theater processor under $2000, that has the latest the DACs and all the formats like DTSX and Atmos?
While I agree with @TLS Guy in principle, if you have a modest budget for a pre-pro IMO you're just better off getting an AVR and using it as a pre-pro. We have a modest HT system which is seldom used for action movies or science fiction, and I gave up my pre-pro strategy and bought a $500 Marantz AVR. I still use an external amp with it, just because I have an amplifier, but for a modest budget nothing beats an AVR.
 
mazersteven

mazersteven

Audioholic Warlord
Without knowing all the details, it does seem logical that a pre-pro would sound better than a receiver.
No where did he mention "Sound Better" SMH

Cooler
and does not waste electricity.
Versatile Connection
Longer Life
 
AcuDefTechGuy

AcuDefTechGuy

Audioholic Jedi
I can’t find any processor for less than $2000. Can you recommend me a good home theater processor under $2000, that has the latest the DACs and all the formats like DTSX and Atmos?
Like TSL Guy says, talk to a dealer. See what they can do.
 
B

Bonscott

Enthusiast
If using the preouts on an AVR sounded as good or the same as going with a PrePro
Then why would anybody buy one. Maybe in some situations there would not be that much difference. Speakers, Lack of a subwoofer etc.. All of the high end Audio I have seen all have PrePros. Ever heard of a $30,000 AVR?
 
P

PENG

Audioholic Slumlord
Without knowing all the details, it does seem logical that a pre-pro would sound better than a receiver.
And it may not have anything to do with total harmonic distortion or noise differences.
I tried to explained earlier, that it only seems logical a preamp/processor would measure better, in terms of transparency/accuracy, but that does not seem to be the case based on available measurements of the devices measured by ASR. As to "sound better", you believe what you want to believe, no one can contradict you on that because, for the last time I repeat, that tends to be a subjective matter.

Some people may like more harmonic distortions than less, and/but many would prefer less. Regardless, it would be tough for you to try and find out which preamp/processor happened to have higher distortions of the type and magnitude that you like. If there are such pre/pros, would the higher distortions be purposely selected and designed into the product, and would the manufacturers know for sure they know what kind of distortions, and of the right magnitude, that more people would enjoy? If that actually knows that, would it be just as easy to do the same to their AVRs? I don't know the answer. I don't believe in such approach, and it would certainly don't seem logical to me for anyone to adopt such approach, or rather, tactic.
 
P

PENG

Audioholic Slumlord
If using the preouts on an AVR sounded as good or the same as going with a PrePro
Then why would anybody buy one. Maybe in some situations there would not be that much difference. Speakers, Lack of a subwoofer etc.. All of the high end Audio I have seen all have PrePros. Ever heard of a $30,000 AVR?
I believe I have sort of provided some reasons, in my post#11, and TLS Guy listed a few reasons in post#24. Neither one of use cited "sound better" as one of the reason. A $30,000 prepro, or power amplifier should be better than a $6,000 prepro, AVR in many ways, "sound better" may not be one of them, depending on who's listening, among other things.:D
 
lovinthehd

lovinthehd

Seriously, I have no life.
The online source was started by a guy name Amir. He started a forum and named it Audio Science Review. He started out measuring a bunch of DACs. Then was lucky enough to have many forum members to support him and actually loan him their equipment like AVR and processors. It is an online forum, not a magazine like Stereophile, Sound & Vision, etc.

Before anyone gets too exited about these numbers, they are completely inaudible- unless you can hear the difference between THD of 0.0007% vs 0.01% in your house.
Then again before that forum Amir Majidimehr, an EE, started another forum called What's Best Forum for high end audio/video and owns a high end av company called Madrona Digital and is a contributing editor of Widescreen Review Magazine. Before that VP of Digital Media at Microsoft. The reviews aren't obvectively oriented at ASR, but rather based on measurements, altho he will do some listening tests and make brief comments.

Some claim to hear the difference in separating the pre-amp/processor away from the amps....good luck with that. If the pre-pros sold at anywhere near the volume of an avr, the prices might reflect that. Much in audio isn't logical....especially a dive into the so-called high end.
 
TLS Guy

TLS Guy

Audioholic Slumlord
If using the preouts on an AVR sounded as good or the same as going with a PrePro
Then why would anybody buy one. Maybe in some situations there would not be that much difference. Speakers, Lack of a subwoofer etc.. All of the high end Audio I have seen all have PrePros. Ever heard of a $30,000 AVR?
Well if you really compare apples to apples a pre/pro is cheaper. The MRSP of the receiver my pre/pro is based on is $2999.00 I bought my pre/pro at a good discount from my B & M dealer for $1750.00 That is $1150.00 cheaper. I understand the dealers get a bit bigger mark up on pre/pros.

So at those savings you have a good leg up on power amps.

Now my rig can not be controlled from a receiver. So for my main system I have to use a pre/pro. In addition at the cost of top end receivers, the risk of loss from premature failure is just too great. From my experience I am certain that pre/pros are highly likely to outlast receivers. Even if a pre/pro should fail, I still have my power amps. I am also certain that my power amps are a much better proposition than any power amps in any receiver.

In my other two systems I have pre/pros also. I have bought 5 pre/pros since 2005. The first one I sold after two years. The other four are still in working order, though the oldest is not currently in use. The other three are in regular intensive use and have been since purchase.

That is why people buy pre/pros. If you really want a full blown 11/2 channel or more system, then I think the case for going with a pre/pro and separates is now overwhelming. The current higher end receivers to me now make no sense whatsoever, and if you are prudent you will avoid them.
 
lovinthehd

lovinthehd

Seriously, I have no life.
Well if you really compare apples to apples a pre/pro is cheaper. The MRSP of the receiver my pre/pro is based on is $2999.00 I bought my pre/pro at a good discount from my B & M dealer for $1750.00 That is $1150.00 cheaper. I understand the dealers get a bit bigger mark up on pre/pros.

So at those savings you have a good leg up on power amps.

Now my rig can not be controlled from a receiver. So for my main system I have to use a pre/pro. In addition at the cost of top end receivers, the risk of loss from premature failure is just too great. From my experience I am certain that pre/pros are highly likely to outlast receivers. Even if a pre/pro should fail, I still have my power amps. I am also certain that my power amps are a much better proposition than any power amps in any receiver.

In my other two systems I have pre/pros also. I have bought 5 pre/pros since 2005. The first one I sold after two years. The other four are still in working order, though the oldest is not currently in use. The other three are in regular intensive use and have been since purchase.

That is why people buy pre/pros. If you really want a full blown 11/2 channel or more system, then I think the case for going with a pre/pro and separates is now overwhelming. The current higher end receivers to me now make no sense whatsoever, and if you are prudent you will avoid them.
What about your system control requirements make a pre-pro more useful over an avr?
 
TLS Guy

TLS Guy

Audioholic Slumlord
What about your system control requirements make a pre-pro more useful over an avr?
It is because it is a 7.2.4 system, but there are in fact 18 audio channels.

This is because of the number of active crossovers and the need to blend in the sub and LFE channels to truly full range right and left front speakers.

So for the mains, both balanced and unbalanced out puts are used, the same for the center. Balanced and unbalanced outputs for subs 1 and 2 are used. The electronic crossover for the rear backs requires balanced outputs. Only the surrounds and the four ceiling speakers use unbalanced connections only.



I really can not use a receiver as a pre/processor.
 
T

Trebdp83

Audioholic Chief
:oops: Would you like Alfredo, Marinara or Pesto sauce with your noodles?
 
lovinthehd

lovinthehd

Seriously, I have no life.
It is because it is a 7.2.4 system, but there are in fact 18 audio channels.

This is because of the number of active crossovers and the need to blend in the sub and LFE channels to truly full range right and left front speakers.

So for the mains, both balanced and unbalanced out puts are used, the same for the center. Balanced and unbalanced outputs for subs 1 and 2 are used. The electronic crossover for the rear backs requires balanced outputs. Only the surrounds and the four ceiling speakers use unbalanced connections only.



I really can not use a receiver as a pre/processor.
So not a scenario but a handful might have....
 
P

PENG

Audioholic Slumlord
Well if you really compare apples to apples a pre/pro is cheaper. The MRSP of the receiver my pre/pro is based on is $2999.00 I bought my pre/pro at a good discount from my B & M dealer for $1750.00 That is $1150.00 cheaper. I understand the dealers get a bit bigger mark up on pre/pros.
Case in point, Crutchfield.com currently have the AV7705 for $1,799 and SR7013 for $1,599.
In Canada, the SR7013 had been down to as low as $1199, that is around the US$900 mark, that happened 3 times last year, at Bestbuy and Amazon, authorized dealers!!

So for someone who is doing 5.1, or 7.1, AV7705+Monolith 5X200 would cost $3,300
SR7013+Monolith 3X200 would cost only $2,850, using the internal amps for the surround channels.
That's only a difference of $450, but for someone who wants to do 7.1.4, the savings would increase to

AV7705+Monolith 3X200 + 8X100 that would cost $4,300, vs
SR7013+Monolith 3X200, using the internal amps for the surrounds and heights, would still cost only $2,850. So the difference would be $1,450.

Assuming the power amps will last at least 6 to 8 AV/AVR model cycles, that's not too bad after the first investment. I went back to AVR because I figure I would likely replace it every 3 to 5 years.

For a mid range AVR that are used to drive only the surround/height channels, with a fan or two on top, I bet it will last as long as if not longer than a corresponding AVP. The AVP (Marantz, vs AVR) will have more parts in the prepro section because of the balanced connections, therefore more chance of failures. The power amp section is a relatively simple device, typically simpler than most power amps in the same price range, and less part counts too. All it needs is adequate cooling for it to last for a long time.

On money no object basis, then sure, go AVP for sure even if they performed a little worse on test benches.:D
 
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