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Receiver/Amp Advice Sought
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bevhoward



Joined: 24 Jun 2005
Posts: 245

PostPosted: Tue Oct 25, 2005 11:57 am    Post subject: Receiver/Amp Advice Sought Reply with quote

Ironically, where the JP1 finally made our vintage Pioneer vsx-3800 even more productive than it had been for almost twenty years, it appears that this great piece of equipment is now approaching the end of it's life.

So, I am soliciting, from this group of knowledgable posters, advice on the best replacement for it.

In addition to driving speakers, the 3800's prime function over the past several years has been to control the inputs from VCR, DVD/CD, (both audio and video) plus tape, computer audio streams and now Satellite Radio and MP3 player inputs.

All video content is currently routed via the 3800 to a dlp projector via a composite video connection, but I have Component-I cables run to the projector location as well.

My search has been for a mid to low end (power/fidelity/cost wise) Receiver/Amp with my primary focus on the audio/video switching capabilities along with the hope that I might find one with TV tuning capabilities (especially with the impending advent of hdtv service) to bypass using the VCR for our limited TV viewing needs.

Obviously, JP1 compatible IR would be a "must have"

All input will be appreciated.
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Capn Trips
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Joined: 03 Oct 2003
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PostPosted: Tue Oct 25, 2005 1:03 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Boy, are YOU opening a kettle of fish! Twisted Evil

I would wager there are as many opinions as there are ... ARMPITS (yeah, that's it! 8) ) out there, and they all stink.

Well, to start the odor-fest, I would encourage you to look at newer versions of the already-familiar (to you) Pioneer. I have a VSX-D710S, but its cousins (-510, 810, ...) are essentially the same, with varying numbers of various inputs.

It accepts (and outputs) Component, composite, and S-video.
It accepts AC-3, DD, DSP, and analog stereo audio inputs via RCA, coax, and optical digital connections.
You can mix and match most of these inputs to match your A/V device(s).

It has an integrated radio tuner, but does not have a video tuner.

To be frank, I have not come across a Receiver/Amplifier that is a TV tuner/HD tuner. I would wager you're better off keeping that part of it separate, as your video source can be any one of many (Dish, DirecTV, Cable, OTA HD ("set-top box"), OTA analog TV, ...) and get something that meets your needs. For example, Dish and DirecTV have integrated Satellite and OTA HD receivers. I can't imagine anybody building an integrated receiver trying to guess which combination of video receeiver/decoder you will ultimately want.

As for other receivers, I, in general look at Consumer Reports:
Quote:
Ratings Digital receivers

CR Quick Recommendations
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
All but three of the lowest-rated receivers were judged very good for amp/tuner performance, indicating that they delivered clean sound with minimal distortion. The three judged good for amp/tuner performance weren't quite as crisp and noise-free. All the tested models support Dolby Digital 5.1 and DTS surround sound, all that most consumers need. All but Panasonic (9), Pioneer (12), and JVC (13) also support 6.1, a less common format that adds a third rear channel.

The Ratings rank models by performance. Quick Picks highlights models you might want to consider based on how they scored and on factors such as price, features, and inputs.

QUICK PICKS

Best values for most:
2 Panasonic $300
3 Yamaha $260
8 Onkyo $300
9 Panasonic $200
12 Pioneer $200
The Panasonic (2) was the slimmest model tested, and it has ample video connections and a useful Help button. But it has a one-year warranty rather than the more typical two years. The Yamaha (3) is among the few tested models rated for use with 4-ohm, as well as 6-ohm and 8-ohm, speakers. Given its modest power ratings, it wouldn't be the best choice for unusually large rooms. It lacks S-video inputs. The Onkyo ( 8 ) is a fine choice, and it has many inputs. The Panasonic (9) and Pioneer (12) give you solid performance at the lowest cost. They lack 6.1 support, but that format is still uncommon. The Panasonic has a front-panel input, which is missing on the Pioneer, but it lacks component-video inputs. Both have a one-year warranty.

If you want more power, features, and video connections:
4 Yamaha $400
6 Pioneer $400
These fine choices have enough inputs to connect lots of gear, enough power for large rooms or noisy parties, and auto calibration to simplify speaker setup. The Yamaha (4) has a few pluses such as on-screen display and multizone capability. For $150 more, the similar RX-V750 adds a phono input and has higher-rated power, not shown in our tests. Like the Yamaha (3) above, both are rated for use with 4-ohm speakers. If you don't want auto calibration, you can save $100 with the Pioneer VSX-D814K, $300, similar to (6). Both Pioneers have a one-year warranty.

Availability: Most models at stores through June 2005.

In performance order. Excellent Very good Good Fair Poor
Brand & model/Price/Watts per channel (8-6 ohm)/digital audio inputs optical/coax/S-video in/out/Component video in/out

1 Onkyo TX-SR701/ $800/ 130-156/3/1 5/3 2/1
2 Panasonic SA-XR50/ 300/93-121/ 2/2 3/1 2/1
3 Yamaha RX-V450/ 260/84-64/ 2/1 0/0 2/1
4 Yamaha RX-V650 RX-V750/ 400-126/73/ 4/2 5/3 2/1
5 Sony STR-DE897/ 400-125/ 4/2 3/2 2/1
6 Pioneer VSX-D914K VSX-D814K/ 400/143-75/ 3/2 4/2 2/1
7 Kenwood VR-8050/ 350/128/ 2/2 5/2 2/1
8 Onkyo TX-SR502/ 300/102-122/ 3/1 4/2 2/1
9 Panasonic SA-HE75/ 200/112-125/ 2/1 3/1 0/0
10 Sony STR-DE697/ 300/130/ 3/2 3/2 2/1
11 JVC RX-7042S/ 300/140/ 3/1 3/2 2/1
12 Pioneer VSX-D514K/ 200/ 135-74/ 1/2 3/2 2/1
13 JVC RX-6040B RX-6042S/ 200/94/ 2/1 2/2 2/1

Enjoy studying these.
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Remotes:Atlas OCAP URC 1056, Harmony One, OFA XSight Touch, AR XSight Touch
TVs: Panasonic TH-50PE700U; LG 65" Smart LED TV; RCVR: Pioneer VSX-D2016S;Onkyo TX-SR875
DVD/VCR: LG Blu-Ray player, Pioneer DV-400VK (multi-region DVD), Sony BDP-S350 (Blu-ray), Toshiba HD-A1 (HD-DVD), Panasonic AG-W1 (Multi-system VCR);
Laserdisc/CD changer: Pioneer CLD-704.
Streaming: Intel NUC PC
(But I still have to get up for my beer)
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jherrick
JP1 Vendor


Joined: 31 Dec 2003
Posts: 222
Location: South Berwick, ME

PostPosted: Wed Oct 26, 2005 9:48 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'll try to keep my answer fairly short. I did a lot of research on this sort of thing just about a year or so ago, and the three amp/receivers that made my cut were the H/K (Harmon Kardon), the Marantz, and Outlaw Audio.

An important thing to keep in mind is the current that the amps put out. Another is how trustworthy you think the specs are for that a company puts out. Are they trying to appeal to a younger crowd who is Watt hungry, but doesn't know what it all means? In many cases yes. I have heard lower watt/channel rated amps kick the s**t out of cheaper ones higer rated. Bear in mind that there is no set international standard for how the ratings are obtained or reported.

Ultimately, I went with the Marantz based on it's D/A conversion specs, but they are all very good, even their lower -mid range models. I am an amatuer audiophile, and listen to both music and movies through my setup, a couple of full range floor-standing Infinitys in front, center and surrounds all Infinity, voice matched and from the same family.

If you are going to be using satellite speakers primarily, just about any amp will do, but for good floor standing models that will show an amp's weakness or strength, the three brands above shine.

If you go the Marantz route, there are usually some dealers in or around where you live. H/K is a little harder to find a dealer for, but some AWESOME deals can be had at http://www.harmanaudiooutlet.com/ and if you want to try Outlaw they are internet only.
Jim
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bevhoward



Joined: 24 Jun 2005
Posts: 245

PostPosted: Thu Oct 27, 2005 11:15 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Excellent information from both of you... thanks, esp the complete matrix from Capn Trips

Hit the stores today and felt a lot better... on my budget, (and my tin ears) am still drawn to the Pioneer because of the great value received from the 3800.

Specifically, the VSX-515K which, from the ones I looked at, seemed to have the best video switching capabilities, including

2 componet i inputs, 1 out
3 composite inputs, 2 out

I also like the fact that it can deal with WMPlayer output... not going to be able to tap that at the moment, but the way my digital audio education is proceeding, WMA compatibility promises to be important.

I did stumble across the first "in store" hdtv tuner box after a year of keeping my eyes open for one... $275, so anticipate more will appear in the not so distant future which will work with the setup I am planning.

There will be several more days in the stores, but your help has been very valuable.

Thanks again,
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Capn Trips
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Joined: 03 Oct 2003
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PostPosted: Fri Oct 28, 2005 3:35 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

The only "down" side - if you can call it that - that I see of Pioneer is those damned complex protocol and device upgrades for you JP1 remote. Even if you don't need a protocol upgrade, the device upgrade for a pioneer receiver, with the 80 or so buttons on the OEM remote, and two-byte function assignments, becomes very bulky! Evil or Very Mad

Edit: On further review, I see several other drawbacks (Hey! You asked for it!)
(1) Only ONE optical digital audio input. My Satellite receiver and DVD player both have optical outputs, neither of which I would like to forego for RCA connections. (Pioneer seems really wedded to this Coaxial digital audio that in my experience, very few companies use.)
(2) NO S-Video inputs (nor outputs)! Big drawback, as some equipment may not have component output, but still provides better images via S-video rather than composite.
(3) Not 7.1 capable! If you've got 6.1, why not go all the way with 7.1.

Just more gasoline on the fire.
_________________
Beginners - Read this thread first
READ BEFORE POSTING or your post will be DELETED!


Remotes:Atlas OCAP URC 1056, Harmony One, OFA XSight Touch, AR XSight Touch
TVs: Panasonic TH-50PE700U; LG 65" Smart LED TV; RCVR: Pioneer VSX-D2016S;Onkyo TX-SR875
DVD/VCR: LG Blu-Ray player, Pioneer DV-400VK (multi-region DVD), Sony BDP-S350 (Blu-ray), Toshiba HD-A1 (HD-DVD), Panasonic AG-W1 (Multi-system VCR);
Laserdisc/CD changer: Pioneer CLD-704.
Streaming: Intel NUC PC
(But I still have to get up for my beer)
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bevhoward



Joined: 24 Jun 2005
Posts: 245

PostPosted: Fri Oct 28, 2005 4:23 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
(Hey! You asked for it!)


I not only asked for it, I appreciate it!

Thanks... now back to the review process... step one is to see what I currently have with respect to digital audio...

Quote:
Not 7.1 capable!


Can you educate and/or point me to beginner info on this? Found http://www.timefordvd.com/ref/dts-ES.shtml which doesn't seem to hold 7.1 in high reguard

Quote:
SVideo


Noted, but my experience with SVideo has been mixed to bad... especially since I have about a 30' run from the equipment to the projector... SVideo max appears to be less than 20' before the paired signals run into problems.
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jherrick
JP1 Vendor


Joined: 31 Dec 2003
Posts: 222
Location: South Berwick, ME

PostPosted: Fri Oct 28, 2005 5:40 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Capn Trips wrote:
(1) Only ONE optical digital audio input. My Satellite receiver and DVD player both have optical outputs, neither of which I would like to forego for RCA connections. (Pioneer seems really wedded to this Coaxial digital audio that in my experience, very few companies use.)
(2) NO S-Video inputs (nor outputs)! Big drawback, as some equipment may not have component output, but still provides better images via S-video rather than composite.
(3) Not 7.1 capable! If you've got 6.1, why not go all the way with 7.1.

Just more gasoline on the fire.


See this, http://manuals.harman.com/HK/QuickStart%20Guide/AVR135rear.pdf one of H/K's low end models, that has all of what you are talking about except 7.1. Also this for $50 more, that is 7.1 http://manuals.harman.com/HK/QuickStart%20Guide/AVR235rearpanel.pdf

The Marantz SR4600 also comes in in around your price range with all of the bells and whistles.
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bevhoward



Joined: 24 Jun 2005
Posts: 245

PostPosted: Sun Oct 30, 2005 4:43 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks to everyone for the education... especially the headsup for the optical/coax digital inputs.

Seems like I am not destined to fly with the optical eagles soon. I took a look at the devices I currently have and while three have digital audio output only one of those has optical, but even it has a coax out option, plus, only one will normally be connected to the amp, and it has only coax.

The Harmon Karden's are in the running, but their low end's seem to all be "reconditioned" ...couldn't even find the AVR135.

My gut is still with the Pioneer as the 3800 has provided solid satisfaction for the better part of 20 years. Gonna make one more eval run tomorrow to Frys before I make the final decision.

Thanks again for the factor highlighting... even if I don't go higher end this time, the education will be there for the future and when looking at other output devices.
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Capn Trips
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Joined: 03 Oct 2003
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PostPosted: Sun Oct 30, 2005 5:13 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hey, I poke holes, but remain a Pioneer fan myself, so imho, you're choice is as good as any.

(Just make sure you get a "Pioneer" and not a "Pionear" as I've seen in some, shall we say LESS reputable merchants' inventories Twisted Evil )
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Beginners - Read this thread first
READ BEFORE POSTING or your post will be DELETED!


Remotes:Atlas OCAP URC 1056, Harmony One, OFA XSight Touch, AR XSight Touch
TVs: Panasonic TH-50PE700U; LG 65" Smart LED TV; RCVR: Pioneer VSX-D2016S;Onkyo TX-SR875
DVD/VCR: LG Blu-Ray player, Pioneer DV-400VK (multi-region DVD), Sony BDP-S350 (Blu-ray), Toshiba HD-A1 (HD-DVD), Panasonic AG-W1 (Multi-system VCR);
Laserdisc/CD changer: Pioneer CLD-704.
Streaming: Intel NUC PC
(But I still have to get up for my beer)
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bevhoward



Joined: 24 Jun 2005
Posts: 245

PostPosted: Mon Oct 31, 2005 10:20 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
but remain a Pioneer fan myself


Ahhh... can't tell you what a relief that statement is ;-)

Thanks again,
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The Robman
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Joined: 01 Aug 2003
Posts: 18837
Location: Chicago, IL

PostPosted: Mon Oct 31, 2005 10:28 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I say go for the Pioneer! Even though the Capn warned you off because of the nature of the IR signals that Pioneer uses, you should take that as a challenge, not a warning. After all, what fun is JP1 if you don't have to use your brain a little, eh? (And setting up a Pioneer upgrade will certainly test your grey matter!).
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jherrick
JP1 Vendor


Joined: 31 Dec 2003
Posts: 222
Location: South Berwick, ME

PostPosted: Mon Oct 31, 2005 6:41 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

To each their own.
It always makes me wonder a little bit why people don't ask what they really mean when they ask questions like "What should I buy?" when what they really mean is "I'm already pretty biased toward this particular brand and am 90% sure it is what I want, but could someone please confirm that this is what I want by telling me that they like it too, and by the way, everyone can say what they want and all but what I really want to hear is that I am right in my choice and that is all I will really listen to anyway?"
Before anyone starts, I am not upset that you didn't choose the brand I recommended. Rolling Eyes Please. I like what I like and others like what they like. Just that, if you really want to get advice on a particular brand ask for it.
Done with my rant.
Done with this thread.
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bevhoward



Joined: 24 Jun 2005
Posts: 245

PostPosted: Mon Oct 31, 2005 11:50 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Actually havn't "choosen" anything yet, but, it's true that I am still leaning toward the Pioneer.

Spent another day looking (primarily at the backsides) of various receivers keeping their prices in mind.

With respect to the "want to hear my choice is right" I have to disagree... the brand has a history with me, but I have not only gotten a lot of good overveiw input here that is allowing me to make a more informed decision in addition to the history that Pioneer has established with me which does give it an edge.

The other detail that I uncovered since the OP is the WMA decoder capabilities of the Pioneer. I have ended up finding myself accidentally immersed in digital audio, just as accidentally, that majority of that immersion is WMA ahead of MP3 and other formats, and, while the other brands may support it, it hasn't been obvious, so, another check in the Pioneer pro column.

Also, saw an interesting box (Panasonic SA-XR70s http://reviews.cnet.com/Panasonic_SA_XR70S/4505-6466_7-31290106.html) that introduced me to hdmi. It's now in the mix with your other recommendations.

Again, thanks for the input... it _is_ valuable.
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whompus



Joined: 27 Apr 2005
Posts: 540

PostPosted: Tue Nov 01, 2005 2:38 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Will not wma support come from another device hooked to the receiver?

It may be more then you are looking to spend but after my friend got his new kenwood I have had a boner for the kenwood vr 8070 s.
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bevhoward



Joined: 24 Jun 2005
Posts: 245

PostPosted: Tue Nov 01, 2005 11:54 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Quote:
Will not wma support come from another device hooked to the receiver?


My understanding is still limited on this, but...

That was my initial assumption, but, reading the Pioneer blurb, it appears that the receiver can receive raw wma file content and translate it into audio. The blurb refers to digital output from a computer.

I already have an old (win95) laptop that lives in the AV cabinet which provides streaming content and access to media files on my office computer and have been open to putting a newer cpu there if the need arises.

We currently have about 2.5 gig of WMA content which I have converted from our CD collection... after running the bulf of the conversions, realized that I should have probably used MP3 as most current DVD/CD players support MP3, but very few support WMA.

I am also looking forward to learning more and investigating the possibility of using it with other sources.

Bottom line, the existance of the WMA decoder promises to provide a new learing process.
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