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
<eargiant

<eargiant

Senior Audioholic
Ratings
193 37 2
#61
Not equivalent measurements. Source?
Audioholics.

I also wonder how much worse the AVRs graph would look (and how much worse it would sound) if you ran demanding speakers on it all day long and didn't have a few aftermarket fans on top cooling it off. Unless it's designed to run optimally at extremely high temperatures it's not going to sound better when it's overheating. Got any eggs to fry?



Denon AVR-X3300


Yamaha A-S801
 
P

PENG

Audioholic Overlord
Ratings
5,760 9 1
#62
They may be equivalently priced (with discounts),but the AVR is an AVR and that has more amp channels on top of the whole bunch additional AV features. That's why I would compare the price point of an integrated amp to that of an at least one model year older AVR to partially level the playing field. This is getting difficult too as the near flag ship AVR models are getting much more features and channels, widening the price gap between integrated amps and AVRs with similar output ratings of the yesteryear (but brand new)

For the time being, I would propose to compare the A-S801 with something in the Denon 4000 series, or the older 3000 series such as my AVR-3805. I also have an AVR-4308CI so I am very familiar with it, and I know I am 100% in pure direct one (you could be the exception:D though) cannot ID either my 3805 or 4308 and the A-S801 better than 60% of the time, in even a SBT.

Note that the 4308 performed equal or better in the 10-150W range, and it is only rated 140W.
I know it is not a good comparison because they were done in different labs, but you can look up similar graphs done in the S&V labs on a few integrated or even separate power amps easily and will see that the AVR-4308CI competes well in this criteria.

Like loudspeakers, we can't draw conclusions on how an amplifier would sound based on just one criteria, so my post is just to counter (meant in a friendly way) yours, and am not drawing any conclusions other than noting the apparent differences in these particular set of plots.


Yamaha A-S801 (rated @ 100 watts)


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





 
<eargiant

<eargiant

Senior Audioholic
Ratings
193 37 2
#63
I believe the 4308ci graph you posted is for one channel only but I get your point. I put up another set of graphs in post #61 that are clearer than those in post #58.

I think when the 4308ci came out the decline in AVR build quality has already taken hold. My brother-in-law had a beast of a Yamaha Elite from the '90s and when it gave up the ghost he got one of those ci model Denons (I forget which). I know it came out after my 3803 and it was much flimsier/cheaper feeling. He expected it to be better than his old Yamaha but quickly realized that it did not compare. Even in 2 channel mode the thing could not drive his speakers the way he was accustomed to. During the musical crescendos the thing would go into protect.

I later had him try an old integrated amp I had (much lower power rating- about 35-40 watts less) and he could not believe the difference. He could not believe that this old "outdated" 85 watt amp drove his speakers with ease and sounded better, "more musical" (his words) in the process. In all fairness, the little amp did have dual mono block transformers, plenty of filter capacitance and adequate heatsinks.;)
 
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P

PENG

Audioholic Overlord
Ratings
5,760 9 1
#64
I believe the 4308ci graph you posted is for one channel only but I get your point. I put up another set of graphs in post #61 that are clearer than those in post #58.

I think when the 4308ci came out the decline in AVR build quality has already taken hold. My brother-in-law had a beast of a Yamaha Elite from the '90s and when it gave up the ghost he got one of those ci model Denons (I forget which). I know it came out after my 3803 and it was much flimsier/cheaper feeling. He expected it to be better than his old Yamaha but quickly realized that it did not compare. Even in 2 channel mode the thing could not drive his speakers the way he was accustomed to. During the musical crescendos the thing would go into protect.

I later had him try an old integrated amp I had (much lower power rating- about 35-40 watts less) and he could not believe the difference. He could not believe that this old "outdated" 85 watt amp drove his speakers with ease and sounded better, "more musical" (his words) in the process. In all fairness, the little amp did have dual mono block transformers, plenty of filter capacitance and adequate heatsinks.;)
Yeah, the old 38XX and up were much heavier too, but the main reason why the newer crops are flimsier is probably to shed weight and cost in order to accommodate the forever increasing need to add features and channels, thanks to the marketing people. The latest Denon models now all have fans, even the 52 lbs X8500H have at least two internal fans. I don't believe they are using smaller PS, in fact the opposite is true, but they have more mouths to feed so power will suffer in ACD, but likely not in 1,2 channel driven. I still have some concerns with their current 3000 series, that's why I always recommend the X4000 series and every time ADTG saw that he would add the X3000 series to the list.:D I am more picky than him for sure.

The S&V graphs are most likely for two channel driven as they typically seem to match up with the output figures given in text too, but as you observed, I don't know why they wouldn't show two traces but only the left channel. So my guess is that the two channels look almost identical and they pick the left just for consistency.

Below is pasted from that review:

This graph shows that the AVR-4308CI's left channel, from Multi input to speaker output with two channels driving 8-ohm loads, reached 0.1% distortion at 198.6 watts and 1% distortion at 218.9 watts. The distortion level remained at or below 0.002% across all power levels until it reached about 165 watts. Into 4 ohms, the amplifier reached 0.1% distortion at 298.0 watts and 1% distortion at 343.4 watts.

Read more at https://www.soundandvision.com/content/denon-avr-4308ci-av-receiver-measurements#8BCZScyKXLIAJ4YK.99
 
AcuDefTechGuy

AcuDefTechGuy

Audioholic Jedi
Ratings
8,216 23 6
#65
I've owned four Denon 3000 series and one Denon AVR-5308. All have worked great and still working for over 6-9 years now.

If I were buying Denon, I would buy the 3000-series or higher. If I were buying Yamaha, I would the 1000-series or higher.

Considering that many people upgrade every 3-6 years anyway, I think a Denon-3000s or Yamaha-1000s (that could be on sale for $600 and lasts 6 years or more) seems very logical and economical, especially if it sounds just as good (at least in the Preamp section when using an external amp) as a $2K-$4K Pre-pro.

And if the AVRs sound as good as the Pre-pros, does it matter if they have too many amps inside the chassis? If having too many amps inside the chassis does not adversely affect the sound quality, why does it matter, especially if the cost is significantly less ($600 vs $2,000)?

I think we all agree that it hurts a lot less to replace a $600 AVR every 6 years than to replace a $2K-$4K pre-pro.

If a robot from another planet asks us why we would spend $2K on a Pre-pro that sounds just like a $600 AVR (used as a pre-pro) and then replace it every 6 years, I think we would have a difficult time explaining it. :D

Audiophile: Pre-pros last longer
Robot: But you replace it every 6 years and the AVR lasts longer than 6 years

Audiophile: Yeah, well I want the pre-pro to last 19 years even if it's obsolete
Robot: $2K pre-pro/19YR= $105/YR, $600 AVR/6YR = $100/YR

Audiophile: With Pre-pros, I can just replace the Pre-pros and keep the amps.
Robot: But you can do the same with the much cheaper AVR

Audiophile: Pre-pros have better logistics - AVRs have too many amps inside
Robot: But AVRs are so much cheaper and sound the same

Audiophile: AVRs have too many features I don't use - it's a waste
Robot: But AVRs are so much cheaper and sound the same

Audiophile: Oh yeah, well Pre-pros have better measurements
Robot: But AVRs are so much cheaper and sound the same

Audiophile: Oh yeah, well I feel happier with Pre-pros. And they do sound better to me. And I don't care about any double-blind testing. I trust only my ears. :mad:
Robot: Oh, I see, humans are very strange :D
 
<eargiant

<eargiant

Senior Audioholic
Ratings
193 37 2
#66
Yeah, the old 38XX and up were much heavier too, but the main reason why the newer crops are flimsier is probably to shed weight and cost in order to accommodate the forever increasing need to add features and channels, thanks to the marketing people. The latest Denon models now all have fans, even the 52 lbs X8500H have at least two internal fans. I don't believe they are using smaller PS, in fact the opposite is true, but they have more mouths to feed so power will suffer in ACD, but likely not in 1,2 channel driven. I still have some concerns with their current 3000 series, that's why I always recommend the X4000 series and every time ADTG saw that he would add the X3000 series to the list.:D I am more picky than him for sure.

The S&V graphs are most likely for two channel driven as they typically seem to match up with the output figures given in text too, but as you observed, I don't know why they wouldn't show two traces but only the left channel. So my guess is that the two channels look almost identical and they pick the left just for consistency.

Below is pasted from that review:

This graph shows that the AVR-4308CI's left channel, from Multi input to speaker output with two channels driving 8-ohm loads, reached 0.1% distortion at 198.6 watts and 1% distortion at 218.9 watts. The distortion level remained at or below 0.002% across all power levels until it reached about 165 watts. Into 4 ohms, the amplifier reached 0.1% distortion at 298.0 watts and 1% distortion at 343.4 watts.

Read more at https://www.soundandvision.com/content/denon-avr-4308ci-av-receiver-measurements#8BCZScyKXLIAJ4YK.99
What current Denon model is equivalent of the 4308ci?
 
AcuDefTechGuy

AcuDefTechGuy

Audioholic Jedi
Ratings
8,216 23 6
#67
I still have some concerns with their current 3000 series, that's why I always recommend the X4000 series and every time ADTG saw that he would add the X3000 series to the list.:D I am more picky than him for sure.
It's probably because I personally own the new X3000-series and have put them through loud-volume karaoke hell with 4-ohm speakers in a 22'x20' wide open room. And they pass with flying colors. :D

If they had failed this torture test, it would be a different tune. :D
 
Irvrobinson

Irvrobinson

Audioholic Spartan
Ratings
3,015 10 12
#68
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!
Kurt, we agree on so many things, but this isn't one of them. We are in as golden an age of audio as there has ever been. Digital sources are equal to the best there have ever been, and prices have become a small fraction of what we paid for CDs in the 80s and 90s or vinyl in the 70s. I routinely buy box sets which average about $1 per CD. Even vinyl is back. (Ugh.) For less than $500 you can have a really decent high power stereo amp. DAC-preamps are everywhere. Speakers, well, IMO there's no comparison. A couple of thousand dollars buys speakers today that would be in the 98th percentile if they were sold in the 70s. And more than anything else, this is the golden age of subwoofers. What was available in the 70s that would do 103db at 20Hz? I think nothing.

Yeah, some components were better looking back then, but I wouldn't want to go back to the 70s.
 
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Irvrobinson

Irvrobinson

Audioholic Spartan
Ratings
3,015 10 12
#69
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).
That was me. I understand that you think TO-3 packages are cool-looking, but what is your evidence that these 1980-vintage units out-perform currently available power transistors?
 
P

PENG

Audioholic Overlord
Ratings
5,760 9 1
#70
What current Denon model is equivalent of the 4308ci?
The gap is now so huge that I would say there is no equivalent as such. If we can stretch the facts a little then the last year model X7200WA may be considered equivalent, but it is no longer current. The current Marantz SR7012 would be closer, but not quite to the 4308CI's level on the basics.
 
P

PENG

Audioholic Overlord
Ratings
5,760 9 1
#71
It's probably because I personally own the new X3000-series and have put them through loud-volume karaoke hell with 4-ohm speakers in a 22'x20' wide open room. And they pass with flying colors. :D

If they had failed this torture test, it would be a different tune. :D
Of course, if I had hands on experience with one, I might not be as concerned.
 
Irvrobinson

Irvrobinson

Audioholic Spartan
Ratings
3,015 10 12
#72
I've owned four Denon 3000 series and one Denon AVR-5308. All have worked great and still working for over 6-9 years now.

If I were buying Denon, I would buy the 3000-series or higher. If I were buying Yamaha, I would the 1000-series or higher.

Considering that many people upgrade every 3-6 years anyway, I think a Denon-3000s or Yamaha-1000s (that could be on sale for $600 and lasts 6 years or more) seems very logical and economical, especially if it sounds just as good (at least in the Preamp section when using an external amp) as a $2K-$4K Pre-pro.

And if the AVRs sound as good as the Pre-pros, does it matter if they have too many amps inside the chassis? If having too many amps inside the chassis does not adversely affect the sound quality, why does it matter, especially if the cost is significantly less ($600 vs $2,000)?

I think we all agree that it hurts a lot less to replace a $600 AVR every 6 years than to replace a $2K-$4K pre-pro.

If a robot from another planet asks us why we would spend $2K on a Pre-pro that sounds just like a $600 AVR (used as a pre-pro) and then replace it every 6 years, I think we would have a difficult time explaining it. :D

Audiophile: Pre-pros last longer
Robot: But you replace it every 6 years and the AVR lasts longer than 6 years

Audiophile: Yeah, well I want the pre-pro to last 19 years even if it's obsolete
Robot: $2K pre-pro/19YR= $105/YR, $600 AVR/6YR = $100/YR

Audiophile: With Pre-pros, I can just replace the Pre-pros and keep the amps.
Robot: But you can do the same with the much cheaper AVR

Audiophile: Pre-pros have better logistics - AVRs have too many amps inside
Robot: But AVRs are so much cheaper and sound the same

Audiophile: AVRs have too many features I don't use - it's a waste
Robot: But AVRs are so much cheaper and sound the same

Audiophile: Oh yeah, well Pre-pros have better measurements
Robot: But AVRs are so much cheaper and sound the same

Audiophile: Oh yeah, well I feel happier with Pre-pros. And they do sound better to me. And I don't care about any double-blind testing. I trust only my ears. :mad:
Robot: Oh, I see, humans are very strange :D
Irv: AVRs = too much size, too much heat, annoying / cheap / cramped rear connections.
Robot: You're so right, Irv. You win.
 
P

PENG

Audioholic Overlord
Ratings
5,760 9 1
#73
eargiant, you mentioned your 3803 again and that it was in good condition, so my question remains, have you really given it a fair shot at comparing with your integrated? I mean in terms of carefully level matching, using the same analog input source, same everything, pure/analog input direct, SBT etc. etc.. I have no experience with the 3803 but given that it was only one model year apart from the 3805 (no 3804 that I can recall),it is hard to believe it would sound audibly worse than the A-S801. It would likely not measure as good, and the internal DACs have lower specs, but THD+N <0.05% 20--20,000 Hz, damping factor >50 etc should get it well over the point of diminishing return.
 
AcuDefTechGuy

AcuDefTechGuy

Audioholic Jedi
Ratings
8,216 23 6
#75
The gap is now so huge that I would say there is no equivalent as such. If we can stretch the facts a little then the last year model X7200WA may be considered equivalent, but it is no longer current. The current Marantz SR7012 would be closer, but not quite to the 4308CI's level on the basics.
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

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

Denon AVR-4308CI
219W x 2Ch continuously into 8 ohms @ 1% THD
343W x 2Ch continuously into 4 ohms @ 1% THD
174W x 5Ch continuously into 8 ohms @ 1% THD
150W x 7Ch continuously into 8 ohms @ 1% THD

Denon X7200
186W x 2Ch continuously into 8 ohms @ 1% THD
266W x 2Ch continuously into 4 ohms @ 1% THD
138W x 5Ch continuously into 8 ohms @ 1% THD
124W x 7Ch continuously into 8 ohms @ 1% THD
SNR = 108dBA with 2.83 volts into 8-ohm load 10 Hz - 24 kHz
 
O

Out-Of-Phase

Senior Audioholic
Ratings
377 1 30
#76
Me: AVRs = so much value, so much neatness, fulfilling / cheap / plentiful rear connections.
Robot: Okay, you're so right, Me. You win.
 
P

PENG

Audioholic Overlord
Ratings
5,760 9 1
#77
Questions for those who believe mid range AVRs ($1499 to $2199, listed, $599 to $999 for Amazon discounted yesteryear models) can sound the same as separates in the same price range for two channel music enjoyment.

1. Have you ever owned integrated and/or separate DAC, pre amp, prepro, power amp, and/or still own them, for 2 channel stereo music enjoyment?
2. Are you still using any separate (meaning a different system that can even be an AVR) components for 2 channel stereo, or the same HT system for both HT and stereo music? If yes, what are they, AVR, 2 ch receiver, or separate components?

Just curious..
 
3db

3db

Audioholic Overlord
Ratings
3,635 11 12
#78
Irv: AVRs = too much size, too much heat, annoying / cheap / cramped rear connections.
Robot: You're so right, Irv. You win.
Where is all this heat you are talking about? The only AVR I had that ever generated serious heat was a class G Technics SA DX940 but it also had a fan at the back that ran. The Yamaha's I own barely get warm, even under heavy use.



 
lovinthehd

lovinthehd

Audioholic Slumlord
Ratings
5,999 21 47
#79
Audioholics.

I also wonder how much worse the AVRs graph would look (and how much worse it would sound) if you ran demanding speakers on it all day long and didn't have a few aftermarket fans on top cooling it off. Unless it's designed to run optimally at extremely high temperatures it's not going to sound better when it's overheating. Got any eggs to fry?



Denon AVR-X3300


Yamaha A-S801
Is that what you do, buy demanding speakers and then run them on an avr at high volume all day without benefit of external cooling? So easy just to add some cooling and not worry about it...and you're still way ahead financially.
 

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