Question Processor vs AVR being used as a pre amp

UMAR 3:16

Moderator
Been trying to read some info on this but its vague on avforums. Other sources its a mixed bag. The question is, with a good power amp supplying power to the speakers, is there a big sonic difference using a processor say a Marantz 8805 and a reasonably priced AVR like the Denon 4500H being used as a processor? Interesting read here .... AV Receivers vs. AV Separates: Which Is Right for You?

obviously there is a difference in price as well... so from a cost perspective is there it worth the difference? Obviously cost vs quality is a personal perspective but in general terms? Thoughts please...
 

KelvinS1965

Distinguished Member
Argh...opening a bit of a can of worms here I think. ;) However, I've been using an AVR as a processor for years now, after running an older (7.1) processor before that. I don't feel I've lost anything, though measurements on other forums might say otherwise I can't hear the 'noise' my AVR is supposed to suffer from (but then I run with speakers set to small, so possibly the SINAD is better than that particular 'review' implies).

Having said that I'm one of those people who can't hear a difference between different power amps (so long as they are up to the job in the first place). Maybe I'm not the person to ask, but I do a lot of REW measurements and my avatar might hint that I know my way around a guitar too, so it's not like I'm tone deaf. :)

The biggest issue is that if you bought an 8805 you would have to run a fresh Audyssy calibration: This alone could give you a different result. If there was some way to load that calibration into your 4500H then I wonder whether in a blind test you would know the difference? In theory it should be possible to do this test with an Arcam AVR verses AVP, but I don't know anyone who has done this: I chose to buy the lowest powered AVR version because I knew I wouldn't use the power amps (well apart from two channels driving the surround backs now). I don't believe that the different power supply makes much difference when used as a processor (they have exactly the same processing stages and even firmware in my case).

Not trying to offend, but I do sometimes think that spending more can bring a certain amount of expectation bias and it's obfuscated when a fresh Audyssey calibration is involved: This will always make it sound different to the last calibration due to variances in mic position, let alone other influences like slight room layout changes and temperature.

EDIT: My comments apply to the more mainstream companies that produce AVRs and AVPs in the same range, using the same processor stages. Whether the higher end companies that don't produce an AVR equivalent sound 'better' is another discussion.
 
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UMAR 3:16

Moderator
Very interesting post Kelvin. This is also my thought process, although I’m not sure if XT32 Re run would make as big a difference as you are stating. Ive run the calibration many a times and usually know extacly where to place the Boom mic Stand. My thinking was more around the internal components being used in the processor which might lead to better audio output. but 3 times the cost better is what I am trying to get without having the opportunity to actually trail one...
 

KelvinS1965

Distinguished Member
I'm pretty careful when I'm doing my measurements and take a 3D measurement for the initial mic position to help with consistency. However, I still see a variation with results. Same when I used Audyssey on previous AVRs (and one in my second room).

Recently I remeasured my system because I added surround backs: It sounds quite different to how it was previously, even in stereo mode (so the new surround backs are out of the equation). I still did my usual post Dirac REW sub tweaking (as I used to with Audyssey), but that was just fine tuning the sub integration.

Unless the calibration can be copied to another device, IMHO you can't consider it is a 'like for like' comparison: You might put the changes down to something else you changed at the same time (like your new power amp for example), but maybe if you'd just remeasured then you'd have got the same result. Only difference is that you hadn't spent money on a new item, so that expectation bias wouldn't kick in.

I think I'm getting far too cynical lately, maybe I ought to drop out of here. :D
 

DT79

Well-known Member
Personally I think processors are one of the worst AV components for value for money. The chipsets are clearly the same as the processor section of an AVR, but because it’s a specific thing that people want, the manufacturers take the power amp section away and charge considerably more money.

Sure they’ll tell you that the processor has an ultra low noise power supply blah blah, and maybe fit balanced outputs, but essentially they’re exploiting the opportunity to charge more money.

You can get a very decent AVR costing £500, so where’s the processor based on that model for £300? The Arcams are a case in point. The AVR860 processor is functionally identical to the AVR390/550/850, but costs a shed load more.

Anyway rant over... I say don’t get sucked in to handing over more cash than you need to!
 

UMAR 3:16

Moderator
Personally I think processors are one of the worst AV components for value for money. The chipsets are clearly the same as the processor section of an AVR, but because it’s a specific thing that people want, the manufacturers take the power amp section away and charge considerably more money.

Sure they’ll tell you that the processor has an ultra low noise power supply blah blah, and maybe fit balanced outputs, but essentially they’re exploiting the opportunity to charge more money.

You can get a very decent AVR costing £500, so where’s the processor based on that model for £300? The Arcams are a case in point. The AVR860 processor is functionally identical to the AVR390/550/850, but costs a shed load more.

Anyway rant over... I say don’t get sucked in to handing over more cash than you need to!
Very interesting again. Thanks for sharing. Processor aside, surely there must be a difference in quality as you go up the ranks? i.e a Denon 8500 vs 4500? This cannot be just because of a better ampilifer? The chipsets must be different too no? I do agree, in terms of value, they are the worst part of an av system.
 

Rock Danger

Distinguished Member
A lot of the point is being missed here. Processors are better but overpriced, especially in the D&M range.

You can't take it on the value of it having less or more amps or what chipsets may be similar, because the power amps, speakers and room correction are going to be what makes all the key differences.

On a modest system there's nothing wrong with hooking some power amps on to an AVR. Going up the scale into better speakers and room correction is where processors dominate.

So unless you want something like a Lyngdorf MP40 - throw an emotiva on the end of whatever Denon you have Umar. At least that way if you do want a processor you have the amps and speakers to handle it.
 

UMAR 3:16

Moderator
A lot of the point is being missed here. Processors are better but overpriced, especially in the D&M range.

You can't take it on the value of it having less or more amps or what chipsets may be similar, because the power amps, speakers and room correction are going to be what makes all the key differences.

On a modest system there's nothing wrong with hooking some power amps on to an AVR. Going up the scale into better speakers and room correction is where processors dominate.

So unless you want something like a Lyngdorf MP40 - throw an emotiva on the end of whatever Denon you have Umar. At least that way if you do want a processor you have the amps and speakers to handle it.
That’s what i have now mate. an XPA-11 connected to the Denon. Budget only allows me to eye up an 8805... would love a Trinnov or an Lyngdorf but thats out of the question at the moment and not sure i would want to spend that kind of money.
 

Rock Danger

Distinguished Member
That’s what i have now mate. an XPA-11 connected to the Denon. Budget only allows me to eye up an 8805... would love a Trinnov or an Lyngdorf but thats out of the question at the moment and not sure i would want to spend that kind of money.
Just leave it then unless you need a fancy feature and if not save for something much nicer. No point in endlessly upgrading the same thing. In the middle there might be some fancy Anthems on the way, but i'll never tell.........
 

rccarguy

Active Member
Thats why I'm still using a Lexicon MC-8, AV pre prices are absurd. No way would I pay >£2000 for a AV pre. Marantz AV7705 area is my limt.
 

Rock Danger

Distinguished Member
Thats why I'm still using a Lexicon MC-8, AV pre prices are absurd. No way would I pay >£2000 for a AV pre. Marantz AV7705 area is my limt.
Right, but that's only when you're dealing with a run of the mill room correction system. If you want a better sounding unit you have to pay for it. It's not like they don't get any better after £2,000 otherwise that's all we'd have - room correction, amps and speakers are all part of this.
 

rccarguy

Active Member
Whether Lyngdorf MP-60 is ten times better than AV7705 it's insane price couldn't justify it.
 

mb3195

Distinguished Member
Whether Lyngdorf MP-60 is ten times better than AV7705 it's insane price couldn't justify it.
Price and justification is always relative to the buyer.

Clearly it’s not 10 times better.
 

Rock Danger

Distinguished Member
Whether Lyngdorf MP-60 is ten times better than AV7705 it's insane price couldn't justify it.
No one's asking you to tho. My point was that quality doesn't end at £2,000

Absurd or not if you want the best, you have to pay for it - welcome to capitalism.
 

DT79

Well-known Member
I have no problem with the Lyngdorfs at that sort of money. Leaving aside quite what the profit margin must be, at that level the concept of value for money is almost null and void; if you want the best, you've got to pay for it. If I had that kind of dosh to spend on AV I'd do it in a heartbeat.

But none of the Lyngdorfs are based on the same architecture as a mid range AVR, and neither do Lyngdorf make mass produced AVRs that they could quite easily derive a processor from at reduced cost to the consumer, instead of sticking in a processor that ostensibly offers less at the top of the range and charging more.
 

shug4476

Active Member
Personally I think processors are one of the worst AV components for value for money. The chipsets are clearly the same as the processor section of an AVR, but because it’s a specific thing that people want, the manufacturers take the power amp section away and charge considerably more money.

Sure they’ll tell you that the processor has an ultra low noise power supply blah blah, and maybe fit balanced outputs, but essentially they’re exploiting the opportunity to charge more money.

You can get a very decent AVR costing £500, so where’s the processor based on that model for £300? The Arcams are a case in point. The AVR860 processor is functionally identical to the AVR390/550/850, but costs a shed load more.

Anyway rant over... I say don’t get sucked in to handing over more cash than you need to!
This depends on the brand. There came a point about 10 years ago where manufacturers realised the virtue of product line integration for AV amps/receivers/processors.

So you get the same chassis, the same production line, but the inclusion/exclusion of modular components that serves to differentiate the price (and supposedly the performance) of the product.

Denon were early adopters with the XX08 range. Arcam have followed.

However some processors are still bespoke designs, original from the ground up. Admittedly there are fewer of them now. But the technical benefits of a dedicated processor done well are still very much true. Lyngdorf, Krell, and Theta come to mind. Plus there is a NAD design that is totally bespoke and quite fetching.

However I would agree the arguments in favour of things like the AV860 are fairly weak.

Some of the Denon AV receivers have a processor mode where the power stage is just switched off and you can run it as a dedicated processor. 4311 had it from memory? I don't know if this feature was kept or chucked in later models.
 

GoingGoingGone

Distinguished Member
Some of the Denon AV receivers have a processor mode where the power stage is just switched off and you can run it as a dedicated processor. 4311 had it from memory? I don't know if this feature was kept or chucked in later models.
It was kept for just the top line, most expensive, Denon model but has with their 2020 range been extended much further down the models.
 

UMAR 3:16

Moderator
Yes, the 4700 has a pre amp mode now. Tempting. Wonder how much difference sonically it would make to the 4500 if both avr’s are being used as a pre amp.
 

shug4476

Active Member
Yes, the 4700 has a pre amp mode now. Tempting. Wonder how much difference sonically it would make to the 4500 if both avr’s are being used as a pre amp.
If you try it I would be interested in what you find.
 

UMAR 3:16

Moderator

Thatsnotmynaim

Distinguished Member
How about x6700, same processing channels as av8805 but a broader market product so volumes of scale start to kick in, add to that it has processor mode and you start to test the theory a bit more...
 

UMAR 3:16

Moderator
How about x6700, same processing channels as av8805 but a broader market product so volumes of scale start to kick in, add to that it has processor mode and you start to test the theory a bit more...
Doubt it will be as good as a 8805?
 

Saul Goodman

Well-known Member
IMO If you haven't got a well treated room to begin with, I would avoid an Audyssey AVR/Pro.

You can pick up a decent used Anthem or Arcam for a good price nowadays.
 

mb3195

Distinguished Member
IMO If you haven't got a well treated room to begin with, I would avoid an Audyssey AVR/Pro.

You can pick up a decent used Anthem or Arcam for a good price nowadays.
Just off the top of my head, I’m not sure @Topmetom 2, @DodgeTheViper and @DLxP would agree with this statement.

Pretty sure that there rooms aren’t heavily treated and I believe each had either anthems or dirac based products before.

Again, it’s all about personal preference.

I certainly wouldn’t recommend an Arcam over an 8805 though based on user experience.

@Apollo has just moved his Arcam 550 on and about to install and 8805. I know his room pretty well, it’s dedicated but certainly not treated, it will be interesting to hear his thoughts once he’s installed it.

Genuinely, no dirac based processors in a similar price bracket to the 8805 come close on overall user experience, the anthem avm60 I would hazard a guess does, but you’re then limited to 11 channels which could be a deal breaker for some.
 

Thatsnotmynaim

Distinguished Member
Doubt it will be as good as a 8805?
Would be interesting to test side by side and see / hear if someone would lend you both? The Marantz is now nearly twice the price (£3999) of what the Denon will be (£2299). I also bet the Denon’s price will come down quicker as it’s sold in larger quantities at more places so there’s competition to sell, also as and when you want to sell in say 18-24 months I suspect it will be a more in demand product with broader appeal so may be easier to shift on. I know the Marantz is a fantastic and well regarded bit of kit, just saying it would be interesting as things move on quickly, is the difference huge, small or inaudible? £1700-2000+ is a lot of films, beer and pizza and the new Denon’s with their processor mode may start to reduce a gap that may not have been that big in the first place. It certainly has most of the features that the Marantz has bar XLR, which arguably is not an audible advantage anyway.
 

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