The SEPARATES vs. AVR Thread

Do Separates (Preamps or Pre-pros + Amps) Sound Better Than AVRs in Direct/Bypass Modes?

  • Yes, Separates sound better than AVRs

    Votes: 26 51.0%
  • No, Separates and AVRs sound about the same

    Votes: 11 21.6%
  • No, Separates and AVRs sound about the same when they are similar in price range

    Votes: 14 27.5%

  • Total voters
    51
P

PENG

Audioholic Overlord
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#21
But you think the AVP-A1HDCI + POA-A1HDCI ($15K combined) would unequivocally sound better than a $1K Denon X3400 (let's assume the X3400 is not clipping and not over-driven at all) ? :D
Not unequivocally as such, but under some conditions I supposed they would, though if you inflict the DBT thing then I have to say they probably would not.
 
Irvrobinson

Irvrobinson

Audioholic Spartan
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#22
Like in the case of the $7,500 Denon AVP-A1HDCI Pre-pro + $7,500 POA-A1HDCI Amp vs. the $5,500 Denon AVR-5308CI?

Both the POA-A1HDCI Amp and the AVR-5308 have 150WPC (the POA has 10Ch, while the 5308 has 7CH).

DENON AVR-5308CI:
236W x 2Ch continuously into 8 ohms @ 1% THD
339W x 2Ch continuously into 4 ohms @ 1% THD
185W x 5Ch continuously into 8 ohms @ 1% THD
169W x 7Ch continuously into 8 ohms @ 1% THD
SNR = 110dBA with 2.83 volts into 8-ohm load 10 Hz - 24 kHz

https://www.soundandvision.com/content/denon-avr-5308ci-av-receiver-ht-labs-measures

DENON POA-A1HDCI AMPLIFIER
197W x 2Ch continuously into 8 ohms @ 1% THD
318W x 2Ch continuously into 4 ohms @ 1% THD
188W x 5Ch continuously into 8 ohms @ 1% THD
182W x 7Ch continuously into 8 ohms @ 1% THD
SNR = 114dBA with 2.83 volts into 8-ohm load 10 Hz - 24 kHz

https://www.soundandvision.com/cont...mplifier-ht-labs-measures#dKXCbwMe8fxhVuLr.99

But you think the AVP-A1HDCI + POA-A1HDCI ($15K combined) would unequivocally sound better than a $1K Denon X3400 (let's assume the X3400 is not clipping and not over-driven at all) ? :D
The Denon amp is a really bad example, as it is a poor value overall. More show than go.
 
TLS Guy

TLS Guy

Audioholic Slumlord
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#23
I really do prefer to have the preamp section separate from the power amps.
I really don't want power amps on if I'm never going to use them. I do not believe that all power amps sound the same. I will continue to use my current dumping amps. Which to me sound far more neutral and relaxed than any other amp I have used.

In any event I need the balanced and unbalanced out which saves me adding a bunch of buffer amps.

I do think though it would be really nice to have a prepro, with no bells and whistles though. I'm a huge believer in keeping the signal path as simple as possible. That includes doing minimal damage with crossovers of all types. I have no time for any auto Eq programs or frequency spectrum dabling programs like Dynamic Eq. I leave them unused and locked out.
 
P

PENG

Audioholic Overlord
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#25
How about an AVR as processor and use a dedicated power amp to power the speakers. Main channels taken care by the power amp and surrounds or heights by the AVR. Will that be considered as separates?
I would like to have a type of AVR that are designed for use as a propro, but incorporate X number of amplifier channels that could be freely assigned to any surround channels. For example, I only need the old school 7.1 so I would configure such an AVR to drive the surround channels and use pre outs + some cheap 1,2,or 3 channel power amp(s) for the L/C/R. The X number of freely assignable channels will be rated for say 100/150W 8/4 ohms 0.1% THD+N, SN>-110 dB A weighted, XT> 80 dB etc. That way, a 9-11 channel AVR will be downsized to 6-8 channels, more room to breathe, and more money for things that may improve SQ. It is probably true that most people don't need a lot of power for their surround speakers because they are typically smaller, and are placed much closer to their listening positions, among other things.
 
AcuDefTechGuy

AcuDefTechGuy

Audioholic Jedi
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8,030 23 6
#26
I really do prefer to have the preamp section separate from the power amps.
I really don't want power amps on if I'm never going to use them. I do not believe that all power amps sound the same. I will continue to use my current dumping amps. Which to me sound far more neutral and relaxed than any other amp I have used.

In any event I need the balanced and unbalanced out which saves me adding a bunch of buffer amps.

I do think though it would be really nice to have a prepro, with no bells and whistles though. I'm a huge believer in keeping the signal path as simple as possible. That includes doing minimal damage with crossovers of all types. I have no time for any auto Eq programs or frequency spectrum dabling programs like Dynamic Eq. I leave them unused and locked out.
I think we can all understand the rationale of owning pre-pro + amp.

But is Sound Quality your salient reason?

Or is the main reason (s) other than Sound Quality?

Do you think your Marantz pre-pro sound better than a comparable-priced Marantz AVR used solely as a pre-pro?

Do you think a $4,000 Marantz AV8802 Pre-pro unequivocally sound better than a $3,000 Marantz SR8012 AVR using the same current-dumping amps?
 
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P

PENG

Audioholic Overlord
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#27
I use separates because well-chosen examples have better ergonomics on the front and back panels, less heat, higher reliability, smaller size, and overall better build quality as measured by mechanical sturdiness.

I think AVRs generally suck, I have no interest in surround sound, and there's no way I'll ever have another one in any of my systems.
I would agree they generally suck, when specifically used in a two channel setup, but they don't suck that much if when a obsolete/redundant unit such as my 3805 is used in a secondary system, instead being left in the dust or idle in the original box. My 3805 definitely has much better specs and can do a better job serving my 2nd secondary two channel system than many entry level separates can.
 
AcuDefTechGuy

AcuDefTechGuy

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#28
My (DENON) 3805 definitely has much better specs and can do a better job serving my 2nd secondary two channel system than many entry level separates can.
You're thinking of the AVR-3805 vs a separate amp like the $3,600/pair Arcam P1 Monoblocks? :D

Denon AVR-3805:
Dynamic Power Output into 1 ohms: 170W (1%THD) x 2 Ch
http://www.milleraudioresearch.com/download/reports/aug04/denonavr3805.html

Arcam P1 Monoblock Amp:
Dynamic Power Output into 1 ohms: 46W (2%THD)
http://www.milleraudioresearch.com/download/reports/nov04/arcamp1.html
 
TLS Guy

TLS Guy

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#29
I think we can all understand the rationale of owning pre-pro + amp.

But is Sound Quality your salient reason?

Do you think your Marantz pre-pro sound better than a comparable-priced Marantz AVR used solely as a pre-pro?

Do you think a $4,000 Marantz AV8802 Pre-pro unequivocally sound better than a $3,000 Marantz SR8012 AVR using the same current-dumping amps?
The answer is that I really don't know. I have only ever done 1 DBT with a current dumper and that was against an exotic Perreux amp. I and the owner could consistently pick them out and had a string preference for the dumper.

The other thing is that I have never had a high end receiver on my bench and have no idea pf head room. I do know that the headroom of the Marantz pre pros I have is impressive and nicely in excess of anything that would ever clip with any sane use. I have no idea of the performance of preouts of a receiver in that regard. Having been strongly influenced by Peter Walker about the importance of parameters that can be measured, but too often are not. Headroom is certainly in that category. In power amps it is very low output performance. That is often unexpectedly poor. Important yes, as the ear is much less likely to perceive distortion on a loud forte then as soft dimenundo as it dies away.

The other issue and a big one is that I suspect a pre/pro with good external power amps, is going to win on reliability criteria hands down, and will long term be the more cost effective approach.

So to answer your question, I don't know, but in the end I'm just not going to buy a unit with a bunch of amps stewing away, that I will not use. Philosophically speaking I just find that a very unsatisfying approach.
 
highfigh

highfigh

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#30
That is not true if you look at D&M, Yamaha and other popular brands, they all specified something like 20-20 kHz, two channel driven, at 0.05 to 0.08 % THD+N, along with the inflated rating for higher THD, peaks, dynamic etc. S&V, and Audioholics.com have quite a few units bench tested, and the results typically confirmed their stated 1 and 2 channel outputs using the CFB-BW (continuous full bandwidth) protocol. For multi-channel (5 or more) ACD, yes they would mostly fall short, and that's the one topic we have had that debate on this forum if that's what you referred to.

https://www.audioholics.com/audio-amplifier/basic-amplifier-measurement-techniques

I fully agree, since I switched to prepro (a pseudo-separate I guess..),I have upgraded from the AV7005 to AV8801 and really feel the pain now that I have to get around the HD audio and 4K thing. Skipped the AV8802A, but the AV8805's now at USD4499 list price is getting ridiculous if it is to be updated again in 2-3 years. So my next upgrade will be to a $999 Denon or Marantz AVR, then I won't feel much pain to upgrade every 3-4 years. That is a big plus for AVRs. I am quite confident that a $999 previous year model AVR can last a year or two past the 3 year warranty period, especially when external fans are installed.
I wrote "all channels driven", not two. If two speakers are OK on a particular AVR, that doesn't mean five or more will be. They need to show the affect on current consumption if they want anyone to see if this is a good idea, or not. While most people don't drive their amplifiers at the edge of destruction, it would be bad for business if they designed AVRs to fail when more than two speakers are connected and it's ridden like a pack mule.

Speaking of pack mules, ever do any hiking in the desert? We can be in pretty good physical condition and still have major problems when the grade, load or temperature increases. If I wanted to attempt what some did when I was hiking into the Grand Canyon, I couldn't- I'm not built or conditioned for that. I was with a group heading in for a rafting trip and about 1/4 of the way down, another group passed us on the trail. About 1/4 of the way from the bottom, they passed us coming up. The people at the bottom when we arrived said the other group had reached the bottom of the South Rim, went up to the North Rim, returned to the bottom and went back up the South Rim. It took a total of seven hours, round trip.
 
highfigh

highfigh

Audioholic Overlord
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#31
The answer is that I really don't know. I have only ever done 1 DBT with a current dumper and that was against an exotic Perreux amp. I and the owner could consistently pick them out and had a string preference for the dumper.

The other thing is that I have never had a high end receiver on my bench and have no idea pf head room. I do know that the headroom of the Marantz pre pros I have is impressive and nicely in excess of anything that would ever clip with any sane use. I have no idea of the performance of preouts of a receiver in that regard. Having been strongly influenced by Peter Walker about the importance of parameters that can be measured, but too often are not. Headroom is certainly in that category. In power amps it is very low output performance. That is often unexpectedly poor. Important yes, as the ear is much less likely to perceive distortion on a loud forte then as soft dimenundo as it dies away.
Was the Perreau the big one they introduced in the early-'80s? I saw that at CES- it won an award. The specs showed something like "Power output- adequate". Kind of over-confident, but it looked nice.
 
TLS Guy

TLS Guy

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#32
Was the Perreau the big one they introduced in the early-'80s? I saw that at CES- it won an award. The specs showed something like "Power output- adequate". Kind of over-confident, but it looked nice.
Yes, it was a big 80s job. The thing was massive. The dumpers were a couple of 405-2 converted to mono blocks at the factory, so 200 watts per channel.
 
Mikado463

Mikado463

Audioholic General
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#33
My 3805 definitely has much better specs and can do a better job serving my 2nd secondary two channel system than many entry level separates can.
PENG, I understand your point, I use an older receiver in my garage two channel set up. I do wonder though what you would consider an entry level 2 channel separates to be ? example ? would you consider a nice integrated for the application ?
 
Irvrobinson

Irvrobinson

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#34
Yes, it was a big 80s job. The thing was massive. The dumpers were a couple of 405-2 converted to mono blocks at the factory, so 200 watts per channel.
My feeling is that there were more audible differences between solid state amps back then, and I suspect that might have been because: 1) the first couple gain stages of the amps were certainly discrete circuits back then, whereas today they're usually ICs (which are better),and 2) output transistor matching in manufacture even in the 80s was lousy, and transistors really had to be hand-matched for highly parallel output stages. Lots of manufacturers did great on their prototypes, less so in production. (Power transistors have come a long way since then.) The Quads do not use highly parallel output stages, so I suspect that could be a significant factor too. I'm pretty sure the Perreux did.
 
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AcuDefTechGuy

AcuDefTechGuy

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#35
PENG, I understand your point, I use an older receiver in my garage two channel set up. I do wonder though what you would consider an entry level 2 channel separates to be ? example ? would you consider a nice integrated for the application ?
Do we consider "Integrated Amps" to be Separates since they also cram the amps inside the same chassis?

Let's look at a $900 Rotel Integrated Amp vs an $800 ELAC Integrated Amp vs a $1,000 Denon AVR-X3400 (which people have bought for $550 on sale).

Rotel A12:
90W x 2Ch/ 8 ohms/ 1% THD
165W x 2Ch/ 4 ohms/ 1% THD
THD 0.015%
SNR 99dBA/ 2.83v/8 ohms/ 10Hz-24kHz

https://www.soundandvision.com/content/rotel-a12-integrated-amplifier-review-test-bench

ELAC EA101EQ-G:
39W x 2Ch/ 8 ohm/ 1% THD
93W x 2Ch/4 ohm/ 1% THD
THD 0.055%
SNR 100dBA/ 2.83v/8 ohms/ 10Hz-24kHz

https://www.soundandvision.com/cont...fierdac-review-test-bench#bL4psTdrJRwgaWsl.99

Denon X3400:
148W x 2Ch/ 8 ohms/ 1% THD
177W x 2Ch/ 4 ohms/ 1% THD
THD 0.004%
SNR 110dBA/ 2.83v/8 ohms/ 10Hz-24kHz

https://www.soundandvision.com/cont...eceiver-review-test-bench#myWItAaWqtvplHQj.99

From a technical perspective, I can see why people think that Pre-Pro and Preamps sound better than most AVRs because Pre-pros and Preamps measure better (although some people consider the measurements to be all inaudible anyway).

But for similar price integrated amps, the measurements seem inferior to an AVR. So aren't integrated amps just audio stereo receivers sans the AM/FM Tuner?
 
P

PENG

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#36
PENG, I understand your point, I use an older receiver in my garage two channel set up. I do wonder though what you would consider an entry level 2 channel separates to be ? example ? would you consider a nice integrated for the application ?
Sure, examples:

- Emotiva BasX series and some of their ups models
- Outlaw 7x125
- The lower range NAD integrated amps such as the C326/356 BEE (I own a 326),I don't consider integrated amp separates but I have the impression some do, on this forum anyway.

To be clear, I meant for two channel use.
 
Mikado463

Mikado463

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#37
From a technical perspective, I can see why people think that Pre-Pro and Preamps sound better than most AVRs because Pre-pros and Preamps measure better (although some people consider the measurements to be all inaudible anyway).

But for similar price integrated amps, the measurements seem inferior to an AVR. So aren't integrated amps just audio stereo receivers sans the AM/FM Tuner?
I think the majority of 2 channel guys much prefer the integrated or complete separate route, especially when building a primary system vs. utilizing a AVR in 'stereo only' mode
 
panteragstk

panteragstk

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#38
I think separating (get it?) this into a 2ch and multichannel category would help this.

I don't care if my multichanel stuff is separate or not. It'd be nice just for upgrade sake. As stated multiple times I'll buy amps and use them until they die in 30 years. Processors are another thing. I'm using an AVR (Denon 4300h) and it's fantastic, but 9 channels is a lot to pack in that chassis. I don't have any heat issues though so all good for now. My speakers aren't difficult to drive either so that helps.

When it comes to 2ch I'd prefer a separate system simply because the integrated amps I've found are lacking in connectivity or cost WAY to much for how little they actually do. Same thing when it comes to stereo receivers. To get one with a USB DAC costs more than it should. I could go with an external DAC, but why do that when I can get one with a pre-amp built in and a 2ch amp and be golden?

So my vote would actually be separates for 2ch and either for AVR. As to which sound better, I'd have to test that and my own bias would make that invalid.

I feel like a GTG for some DBT testing would really help this topic...
 
AcuDefTechGuy

AcuDefTechGuy

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#40
So my vote would actually be separates for 2ch and either for AVR.
2Ch: Integrated Amp or Preamp/Amp is better than AVR?

MCh: AVR is equal to Pre-pro + Amp?

Do you think that for 2Ch only, an integrated amp or preamp + amp will sound better than a $1,000 AVR used in 2Ch mode?
 

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