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: 28 50.9%
  • No, Separates and AVRs sound about the same

    Votes: 12 21.8%
  • No, Separates and AVRs sound about the same when they are similar in price range

    Votes: 15 27.3%

  • Total voters
    55
Mikado463

Mikado463

Audioholic General
Ratings
432 4 6
#41
2Ch: Integrated Amp or Preamp/Amp is better than AVR?
to me , yes.



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?
depends, but since you didn't put a dollar amount on the separate side of the ladder I'll say that speaker selection will also play a part.
 
panteragstk

panteragstk

Audioholic Ninja
Ratings
1,557 7 1
#42
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?
I doubt it will sound better. I'm going on the upgrade path train of thought instead of sound quality. I don't have high end enough gear (maybe) where a higher end pre/pro or amp would make a difference.

I think it's interesting and worth mentioning that the speaker plays a large role in this question as well. Easy to drive cheaper (~$500/pr) speakers will sound as they should with just about any amp that has the power the user is needing.

Difficult speakers are what will throw a wrench into this debate. I'd never trust a speaker that dips to 2ohms to an AVR amp. The amp may survive the short term dip to that level, but I'd be much more confident in an amp that is designed to handle that load.

EDIT: I will say that I'd love a 2ch version of a Denon 3300 that had HDMI for audio ONLY and no video processing. That'd be a sweet little system.

I just would feel dumb buying an AVR that has SO MANY things I'd never need from a 2ch system.

2ch is more difficult than people give it credit for...
 
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Mikado463

Mikado463

Audioholic General
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432 4 6
#43
I think it's interesting and worth mentioning that the speaker plays a large role in this question as well.

Difficult speakers are what will throw a wrench into this debate. I'd never trust a speaker that dips to 2ohms to an AVR amp. The amp may survive the short term dip to that level, but I'd be much more confident in an amp that is designed to handle that load.
agreed, a few years back, on a bet we hooked up a Yammie AVR I had to a pair of Martin Logan CLS's, wasn't pretty ..........
 
AcuDefTechGuy

AcuDefTechGuy

Audioholic Jedi
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8,298 23 6
#44
agreed, a few years back, on a bet we hooked up a Yammie AVR I had to a pair of Martin Logan CLS's, wasn't pretty ..........
I'd never trust a speaker that dips to 2ohms to an AVR amp.
But if AVR-power is the only issue and not the AVR-preamp section, people can always add an external amp to something like a Denon X3000 or Yamaha 1000 series.
 
panteragstk

panteragstk

Audioholic Ninja
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1,557 7 1
#45
But if AVR-power is the only issue and not the AVR-preamp section, people can always add an external amp to something like a Denon X3000 or Yamaha 1000 series.
In that case as long as the analog out measures the same I don't see why you wouldn't use an AVR. Just seems like a lot of wasted features...
 
AcuDefTechGuy

AcuDefTechGuy

Audioholic Jedi
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#46
I doubt it will sound better. I'm going on the upgrade path train of thought instead of sound quality.
Just seems like a lot of wasted features...
I see. I think TLS Guy and a few others probably said similar.

It’s a lot more about logistics and long-term quality (higher-end parts in higher-end separates may function better in the long-term),and not so much about the actual sound quality for the short-term?

An Denon AVR-X3400 could be on sale for $550-$600. It may sound just as good as a separates preamp/amp or pre-pro/amp today and the near future.

But the idea is that separates will last much longer, hold better value, and exude better pride of ownership because the logistics and quality of the separates are much better?
 
lovinthehd

lovinthehd

Audioholic Slumlord
Ratings
6,189 21 51
#47
In that case as long as the analog out measures the same I don't see why you wouldn't use an AVR. Just seems like a lot of wasted features...
Not using the amp = a lot of wasted features?

Ah, didn't scroll up enuf first, see you're talking about use for 2ch.
 
AcuDefTechGuy

AcuDefTechGuy

Audioholic Jedi
Ratings
8,298 23 6
#48
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.
Yeah. Pre-pros become obsolete just as fast as AVRs, don’t they?

And if you pay $4,000 for the Pre-pros, instead of $1,000, it hurts a lot more, doesn’t it? :D

I think the ultimate advantage of owning separates (especially high-end) is pride of ownership, isn’t it?

Making us feel good.....how much is that worth? :D
 
S

shkumar4963

Audioholic
Ratings
45
#49
I am told that the difference is in economy of scale. AVR are sold a lot more than separates and so their manufacturing and selling costs are much less. In other word, for the same price AVR generally has much better technology and components than equivalent separates. Of course, at a much higher price point, you can always buy better separates.

Sent from my SAMSUNG-SM-G930A using Tapatalk
 
Mikado463

Mikado463

Audioholic General
Ratings
432 4 6
#50
I think the ultimate advantage of owning separates (especially high-end) is pride of ownership, isn’t it?
The ultimate ? not sure about that but at the end of the day I wouldn't trade my separates for any AVR. While todays AVR's are feature laden, capable of a multitude of 'things', will they have the almost cult following of a classic Marantz, Sansui or Pioneer from the seventies ? I doubt it, good Lord knows they won't last that long !!

Making us feel good.....how much is that worth? :D
priceless ..........
 
KEW

KEW

Audioholic Warlord
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#51
Yeah. Pre-pros become obsolete just as fast as AVRs, don’t they?
Yes... often, faster, because most manufacturers of separates cannot integrate the newest features into their next model as quickly as a company like Denon or Yamaha can into their high volume AVR's.

And if you pay $4,000 for the Pre-pros, instead of $1,000, it hurts a lot more, doesn’t it? :D
That is why I am a fan of using the AVR as a pre-pro. It does suck that I must get the amps even if I don't intend to use them. I would rather that space go to air-flow/cooling. It would be nice if you could truly switch off the amp section, but I don't think any AVR's actually do that today! OTOH, I can use those amps for the less relevant surround channels and since teh AVR (Pre-pro) will become obsolete soon enough, it seems most AVR's last long enough.

I think the ultimate advantage of owning separates (especially high-end) is pride of ownership, isn’t it?
That is definitely an advantage, however, the other advantage is the ability to invest in a very high quality amp that will last far longer than the AVR. As MCODE has pointed out in the past, modern AVR's are designed with the goal of reducing the price by having a limited life span (maybe 10 years?). A good amp will last 2-3 decades. So putting that $4000 into an amp makes more sense than putting it into a pre-pro.

Making us feel good.....how much is that worth? :D
It is probably worth a fair amount unless you come here and we explain it is largely wasted money!
 
3db

3db

Audioholic Overlord
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#52
The ultimate ? not sure about that but at the end of the day I wouldn't trade my separates for any AVR. While todays AVR's are feature laden, capable of a multitude of 'things', will they have the almost cult following of a classic Marantz, Sansui or Pioneer from the seventies ? I doubt it, good Lord knows they won't last that long !!
I think the top tier models will but the bottom tier wont. You dont see many bottom tier Sansui, Pioneers, or Marantz kicking around either.
 
3db

3db

Audioholic Overlord
Ratings
3,658 11 12
#53
agreed, a few years back, on a bet we hooked up a Yammie AVR I had to a pair of Martin Logan CLS's, wasn't pretty ..........
There was a forum regular here who used his Yamaha RX-V2500 to drive his Electrostats without issue. He sold his high end gear and went to the Yamaha and he never looked back. If one grabs an entry level AVR from any manufacturer, of course they are going to run into issues. The entry level stuff was NOT designed to drive very difficult loads.
 
Irvrobinson

Irvrobinson

Audioholic Spartan
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3,067 11 13
#54
I think the ultimate advantage of owning separates (especially high-end) is pride of ownership, isn’t it?
That's not what I would call it, at least not with separates in general. It's more about finding the most efficient and appropriate solution to the application problem.

That's not to say that esthetics can't mean a lot, they can. I spent a small fortune on a Levinson #39 CD player in the 90s (and other ML pieces too),partially because it was such a pleasure to use, touch, and look at. I also felt strongly enough that it sounded better to spend big bucks too. The emotion of pride didn't enter my mind, but deep satisfaction certainly did.

On the other hand, I can't claim that any of my current electronics fall into that category. Certainly the industrial, mid-80s Adcom look of the ATI amps I own don't make me think of pride of ownership. ;-) (One guy a couple of years ago actually asked me if the AT3000 was an Adcom product.) The Benchmark DAC, the Tascam CD drive, or the Outlaw prepro don't exactly make me think of pride of ownership either. They're not much to look at. More like just good engineering solutions.
 
KEW

KEW

Audioholic Warlord
Ratings
5,584 22 9
#55
I think the top tier models will but the bottom tier wont. You dont see many bottom tier Sansui, Pioneers, or Marantz kicking around either.
Point taken, but you will never see the kind of following that came out of the 70's.
The 70's was when audio came to age in that high quality sound became available to those willing to spend some money on it. Before then, audio was mono and largely of poor quality (both recordings and home systems). Generally recording from before the 50's were crap, in the 50's they were very spotty, by the 60's they were generally pretty decent and by the late 60's, early 70's, a decent stereo system (on which to play those decent recordings) was attainable to the average family. We are talking huge strides in a relatively short time span.
In contrast, today many people are satisfied with the quality of their soundbars, Bluetooth speakers such as Sonus, or simply using earbuds!
The sound is not great, but it does not suck nearly so bad as a stock car radio from the 60's.
In the 70's, people bought systems to avoid crap for sound quality. Now we buy systems to get better sound quality!
When I was in high school/college I saved my money to buy a high quality stereo system, but if I could have bought the equivalent of a 90's vintage $300 boombox (or a CD player and earbuds) for an inflation adjusted $125 in 1978. I probably would have considered it good enough and eaten better than the daily generic Mac & Cheese that my budget mandated!
Pardon the digression, but my point is the 70's was the golden age of the audio system, and something like a classic great amp will never mean as much for gear manufactured in the 2000's as it did in the '70's!
 
3db

3db

Audioholic Overlord
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#56
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.
You and I both proved in spades that top gier or near top tier will last a very long time. Both my RX-V1500 and RX-V1900 have been both used and work perfectly, the former being produced in 2004. The 1900 was replaced the 1500 only because I needed the HDMI ports. You have a couple of older Denons if I recall.
 
lovinthehd

lovinthehd

Audioholic Slumlord
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6,189 21 51
#57
My first receiver was a Fisher from the late 60s that my dad handed down to me. I replaced that a while later with a Marantz 2270 I think it was. Seems if I still had that Marantz I might sell it for more than I paid back then :) I don't miss it, tho, it wasn't the best (had a little leakage from the tuner into other sources). It died after a massive house party and I replaced it with separates, as that was the advice of the audio shop, and used separates for many years after.

Then I tried melding audio and video in the late 90s I think it was and found the avr a nice way to go, especially price wise. I've been using multi-ch and mixed audio/video since then for the most part, still have most of my 2ch gear, just don't use it much, it doesn't do all the things I want with incorporating video, digital sources, etc. My current avrs have phono stages so my only remaining analog/2ch source still works with my avrs. Going from 2ch gear to the avrs wasn't a downgrade in sq, tho I did expect one from what I'd read.

I suppose YMMV. If I do want a separate power amp I'd just use an avr, and have done so, altho currently no need. I never had very difficult speakers but once, and used high capacity power amps with those. I kinda like the one box thing, too.
 
<eargiant

<eargiant

Senior Audioholic
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#58
I think someone mentioned transistors available today being better, possibly true if we're looking back at the late '60s and early '70s but as always- it depends. The transistors pictured below are from ~'79-'80 and all 12 are in the amp pictured in my avatar. There are only a few modern transistors that I believe can equal their performance but you will probably not see them in any typical or even above average consumer gear (and definitely not an AVR).

Sanken 2SA1068 & 2SC2493 (look up the specs)



As for AVRs, I have a pristine (barely used and never driven hard) Denon AVR-3803 I purchased new in the early 2000's and when I needed HDMI I considered getting a newer unit for my HT and using the 3803 to power my SDA-SRS2s that I was going to put back into rotation downstairs. Instead I decided to purchase an HDMI converter for the 3803 and an integrated amp for the SDA SRS2.

I think the new Denon AVR I was looking at was definitely going to be a huge step down in build quality and performance when compared to the 3803 so I decided against it. In all fairness, I am NOT a big HT buff so the HDMI converter gave me what I needed.

I ended up getting a Yamaha A-S801. While not a 'separate', it's a decent unit. Of course, I didn't pay retail for it either (yes integrateds are discounted too). IMO, if you don't need the features of and AVR, don't get an AVR. Overall build quality and performance will suffer. There is no free lunch, plain and simple.

Take a look at the two equivalently retail priced units below (pay attention to the knee). You tell me which is a better value for long term 2 channel listening. With real music, the integrated will handle a larger variety of speakers well and in many cases (depending on the content and SPL) sound better doing so (and I'm not even showing you pictures of the internals of the AVR).

Denon AVR-X3300 (rated @ 105 watts)


https://www.audioholics.com/av-receiver-reviews/denon-avr-x3300w-1/measurements

Yamaha A-S801 (rated @ 100 watts)


https://www.audioholics.com/amplifi...1-amplifier-review/yamaha-a-s801-measurements
 
Last edited:
lovinthehd

lovinthehd

Audioholic Slumlord
Ratings
6,189 21 51
#59
I think someone mentioned transistors available today being better, possibly true if we're looking back at the late '60s and early '70s but as always- it depends. The transistors pictured below are from ~'79-'80 and all 12 are in the amp pictured in my avatar. There are only a few modern transistors that I believe can equal their performance but you will probably not see them in any typical or even above average consumer gear (and definitely not an AVR).

Sanken 2SA1068 & 2SC2493 (look up the specs)



As for AVRs, I have a pristine (barely used and never driven hard) Denon AVR-3803 I purchased new in the early 2000's and when I needed HDMI I considered getting a newer unit for my HT and using the 3803 to power my SDA-SRS2s that I was going to put back into rotation downstairs. Instead I decided to purchase an HDMI converter for the 3803 and an integrated amp for the SDA SRS2.

I think the new Denon AVR I was looking at was definitely going to be a huge step down in build quality and performance when compared to the 3803 so I decided against it. In all fairness, I am NOT a big HT buff so the HDMI converter gave me what I needed.

I ended up getting a Yamaha A-S801. While not a 'separate', it's a decent unit. Of course, I didn't pay retail for it either (yes integrateds are discounted too). IMO, if you don't need the features of and AVR, don't get an AVR. Overall build quality and performance will suffer. There is no free lunch, plain and simple.

Take a look at the two equivalently retail priced units below (pay attention to the knee). You tell me which is a better value for long term 2 channel listening. With real music, the integrated will handle a larger variety of speakers well and in many cases (depending on the content and SPL) sound better doing so (and I'm not even showing you pictures of the internals of the AVR).

Denon AVR-X3300 (rated @ 105 watts)



Yamaha A-S801 (rated @ 100 watts)

Not equivalent measurements. Source?
 
M

MrBoat

Audioholic Samurai
Ratings
1,393 3 6
#60
I intend to use/own them all at some point. But with everything different I have tried, there is no real "better than the other." It's just something else. With most things that start reaching up into audiophile quality, I can fall in like with it over a day of user break in.

I usually end up figuring out the other complimentary ingredients that end up putting whatever hardware I am using at the time the rest of the way over the top. . . . enough. Most of the time it ends up being speakers.

The Denon 3805, in Pure Direct mode + my Tempest speakers is really tough to beat. The same 3805 in Stereo mode + my Bagby Continuums with a subwoofer crossed at 80hz is yet another very nice place to be. This is why I have held off on different amps. Denon 3805 in Stereo mode + Nola (wide band driver) clones/subs is sweet as can be crossed over at 150hz and addictingly so. This is a lot of amp style/spkr combinations from one box.

In other words, when I do get into separates, I'm already going to know something I can wrestle out of the Denon to contend with it. Right or wrong, it's going to end up coming down to current preferences more than any real technical advantages.
 

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