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AV receivers that give top 2ch stereo

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I run an Onkyo AV and dedicated 2ch amp with HT pass through for stereo sources.

 

I saw the promotion from Arcam for their AVRs. So I was wondering what opinions are for AVRs of sufficient 2ch quality that I would put it “all in” and cover both needs?

 

Speakers are Yamaha Soavo speakers.

 

 

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I'm not sure how the NAD would pair with your Yammies, but I ran a NAD T787 for a number of years with my Osborn's and the 2 channel performance was excellent.

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addams are very good, but I member an arcam engineer himself posting saying still their top avr at time was about as good as their budget 2ch integrated. so something to keep in mind.

 

if wanting the digital connectivity of the avrs, both arcam and classe make really good 2ch integrated that have incorporated all the digital inputs etc that the avrs have :)

 

part from arcam mentioned, historically the nad, rotel, cambridge audio units have been very good 2ch wise. in the japanese avrs you have to go to the top end as 2ch capability (analog stages, pre stage power supplies etc all improve as go up the ladder in my experience.

 

all that said in pure sound quality dollar for dollar dedicated 2ch gear will always win out and at fraction of cost. and makes sense your dollar is spread rathe thinly across so many things in an avr vs integrated that needs to just cover 2ch and hence dollars concentrated on that. apart from say the nad, rotel, cambridge, arcam avrs you'll also find even basic 2ch integrated have more decent power supplies than many avrs from the other brands so will tend to be more able to deliver power claims vs the more marketing based claims from a lot of avr makers. 

 

one simple approach to all this is combining systems i.e. dedicated 2ch with av gear to attain best of both worlds. and its a combination that can work seamlessly e.g. with universal remotes so in operation be no different than say an all in one approach.

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I have experienced Pioneer LX, Arcam's base model AVR360 and Cambridge Audio 751r.

 

Arcam was a big jump on the Pioneer for both AV & 2ch, the Cambridge was a big jump over Arcam for both AV & 2ch given its Torodial transformer and a lot more grunt. The 751r even has enough performance to make me happy compared to the Arcam A38 2ch integrated.

 

In my setup the Arcam and CA were run analogue direct using my klien DAC for 2ch without any need for bass/treble tweaking.

 

Depends on the budget but based on pure performance per dollar Cambridge would have it over Arcam IMO. Im sure the top Arcam models are very special and will out perform the Cambridge but you are paying 2-3 times the price for an Arcam over the top of the range Cambridge.

 

If price is no issue the word is that the Arcam 850 is very special indeed!

 

 

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I’ve heard a “Rumor” that Classe might be going kaputski…………………

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9 minutes ago, Sime said:

I’ve heard a “Rumor” that Classe might be going kaputski…………………

it was just a rumour as turned out though, and there is no good to be made in rumour mongering :) 

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Should mention theres only one pre pro in this price category that is dual differential balanced from input/output for 2ch with no single ended conversions ; perfect for other fully balanced components both source [like a oppo bdp105/205 say] and power amp :) .And of course common mode noise reduction for those internal circuits ..

http://www.audioholics.com/av-preamp-processor-reviews/xmc-1-7.2-av-processor 

 

And its modular design can be upgraded to 7.2.4 as can the classe sigma ssp be upgraded to 5.1.2 if you have a small room . The upgraded classe ssp only has 1 hdcp2.2 input though ..

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I've owned an Arcam AVR as well as one of their top end AV888 surround processors. I now have a basic Integra AVR and actually find it better than the Arcams for both surround music and AV. I use an Arcam 7 channel power amp which i bought originally with the Arcam processor and use it with the preouts on the Integra.

 

I have a separate system for 2 channel but for every day use and a secondary system I use a Bryston CDP running analogue RCAs into the Integra for 9.1 playback as well as an Oppo connected to the Integra with hdmi for 5.1 SACD. 

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17 minutes ago, onthebeach said:

I now have a basic Integra AVR and actually find it better than the Arcams for both surround music and AV.

Yes exactly, i agree 100%. I am glad someone here shares that same view because i get scoffed at for sharing that view.

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if you don't need any bells and whistles, the old rotel rsx-1550 with conventional class ab amplifiers were great for movies and music.

 

the class d 1560 etc. not so much.

 

 

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I like the Cambridge and Primare avrs and could live with them if I had to but I agree with above that a decent but cheapish 2 channel sounds better.

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Hopefully the Anthem MRX 720 is good for 2 channel, haven't fully tested yet.

Edited by powerav

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Interesting - For example I thought John Dawson said of the old AVR300 "Another way of putting it is that it is different from, but comparable with, the A80/A90 in terms of stereo performance". which means probably that such an AVR was likely punching above the base integrated so some AVRs can stand out from the crowd e.g. the AVR600 got some storming reports from people and those in the trade (bar the notoriously bad hdmi/heating/popping issues etc) and punched way above the bottom end integrated from any manufacturer.

 

I'm sure we could vote a resounding "yes" (no not like that) that you could be the voice of reason to test out the AVR850 or older 750 for stereo with your current range of decent integrated as comparators - at least the AVRs could be tested directly alongside the current A19/29/39 series - After all It's not as if you are coming from low end amplification stuff or have only one kind of good sound at the homestead to judge? - I mean like if it was me that did it, people would think "ah he couldn't tell the difference between a red-wall and a brick-book" and I do find amplifiers hard to judge compared to source things as they kinda grow on you or you on them.

 

I listened to the A29 recently but I was distracted enough with curvy speakers covered in leather that made my vegan tummy churn so I left to get some more kale.

 

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21 hours ago, Jimboz said:

Interesting - For example I thought John Dawson said of the old AVR300 "Another way of putting it is that it is different from, but comparable with, the A80/A90 in terms of stereo performance". which means probably that such an AVR was likely punching above the base integrated so some AVRs can stand out from the crowd e.g. the AVR600 got some storming reports from people and those in the trade (bar the notoriously bad hdmi/heating/popping issues etc) and punched way above the bottom end integrated from any manufacturer.

 

I'm sure we could vote a resounding "yes" (no not like that) that you could be the voice of reason to test out the AVR850 or older 750 for stereo with your current range of decent integrated as comparators - at least the AVRs could be tested directly alongside the current A19/29/39 series - After all It's not as if you are coming from low end amplification stuff or have only one kind of good sound at the homestead to judge? - I mean like if it was me that did it, people would think "ah he couldn't tell the difference between a red-wall and a brick-book" and I do find amplifiers hard to judge compared to source things as they kinda grow on you or you on them.

 

I listened to the A29 recently but I was distracted enough with curvy speakers covered in leather that made my vegan tummy churn so I left to get some more kale.

 

I owned the 300 for years. Not long after the 600 was around the 888 pre pro which was twice the price of the 600 was released. It was of course meant to be better than the 600. I owned it and moved it on as for me a basic Integra AVR bettered it in sound and picture quality.

Yes lots of lovely reviews. I've blown lots of cash by reading and believing reviews. No more. I trust my own ears now and maybe a select few people whom I know and trust their ears as well. How can you trust someone advice if you haven't heard their system or what they think sounds good to them? You cant.  Plenty of people think something sounds great where to me its clinical, cold, thin and bright. Or muddy.

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9 minutes ago, onthebeach said:

Yes lots of lovely reviews. I've blown lots of cash by reading and believing reviews. No more. I trust my own ears now and maybe a select few people whom I know and trust their ears as well.

good on you ! it sure cuts through the BS. or atleast sure gives headsup whats to your liking or not.

 

reviews and such are good reading for interest. but i sure as hell wouldn't use to make a buying decision. I've had enough instances where read a review saying best thing since sliced bread and only to check out to wonder what drugs the reviewer was on.

 

re the 888 it was a curious beast, not sure the link up there was with audio control but it was a carded things etc. it makes me wonder just how much of an arcam it was or some co developed thing. but as per jimboz above 2ch wise I do think dedicated 2ch gear can still improve upon :) 

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On 24/09/2017 at 1:16 PM, powerav said:

Yes exactly, i agree 100%. I am glad someone here shares that same view because i get scoffed at for sharing that view.

I’m agreeing with that as well. Have had the top Arcam, Lexicon etc and prefer the Integra AVR to all of them.

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Sadly you rarely find a negative published review about anything, after all the Manufacturer provides products and likely pays for the marketing opportunity. 

Bad reviews get swept under the rug and forgotten. They seem to have a snowball effect though once theres a few rave reviews, everybody seems to find love for the thing.

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On a more topic related note though, I've found the Marantz gear seems to work reasonably well for 2Ch depending on your budget (my SR6005 is $1699 RRP so I wouldn't call it high end if thats where you're reaching towards)

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30 minutes ago, Gremrock said:

On a more topic related note though, I've found the Marantz gear seems to work reasonably well for 2Ch depending on your budget (my SR6005 is $1699 RRP so I wouldn't call it high end if thats where you're reaching towards)

the marantz in my experience, tend to go with better toroidal power supplies, better analog implementations, HDAM modules and such all to benefit of pre stages and typically a step up from the denon cousins :) and tend to cost a tad more as well for the privilege :)

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They are indeed the "premium" Denon considering its the same company now, but in the *005 series onwards at least theres no Toroids to be found. More like NAD/Cambridge for typical brown box retailer brands here (Even the 351R  Baby Slim Cambridge i'm selling runs a 500watt Toroidal for its quoted 50W out)

My Marantz is the second top model (sounds better than middle one) and runs a 650w Switch mode job.

 

You have to be careful looking at specs though.. Marantz like to quote 2 channels driven and only offer a 70% power guarantee, most other brands only quote 1 channel driven for further increased figures. Cambridge is about the only brand I can think of that rates all channels driven equally.

 

All that said, I'm happy enough with the Marantz for its "Loungeroom" purpose. 

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I don't mind Arcam bashers - I have a graveyard of Arcam stuff from half dead to DOA to mostly functional. I did have a marantz receiver that was over 2K new 12 years ago and that power stage went dead after 4 years.

 

I tried the A38 for a night - polarised reviews some good some bad e.g. WHF sent it back. I preferred my old AVR300 by some margin on stereo with my speaker combination and found the A38 far more clinical, not enough grunt & narrow sound stage. So that is a case where I preferred the AVR to the same brand more recent/quite decent amp. I almost convinced myself that this must be the way of higher end sound and I should be splashing out and getting better source, better speakers and doing something with my ears.

 

I ended up with a second hand AVI S21 (also got good reviews back in its day) that I shipped from UK without even listening to one. Lots of power for my speakers and loads of detail and far bigger soundstage than the A38 (much more musical, but neutral?) and I'm pleased I trusted some old reviews but also trawled through old forums to try and get a better idea of people who 'lived' with it. I knew it was a little on the detailed side but could drive any speaker apparently so I could change speakers too. Now I just combine it hotch potch with an old avr300 for bluray so no fancy HT (>5.1) surround setup.

 

Even with the trade in thing - that's a whole lot of de niro - and the 850 should be very special for that price.

could get a rather nice old dual mono MF "blingy" amplifier - only if you were quick mind you and I bet it would probably be a bit better than 10% of the 850. @ :) al.

Edited by Jimboz

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4 minutes ago, Gremrock said:

They are indeed the "premium" Denon considering its the same company now, but in the *005 series onwards at least theres no Toroids to be found. More like NAD/Cambridge for typical brown box retailer brands here (Even the 351R  Baby Slim Cambridge i'm selling runs a 500watt Toroidal for its quoted 50W out)

My Marantz is the second top model (sounds better than middle one) and runs a 650w Switch mode job.

 

You have to be careful looking at specs though.. Marantz like to quote 2 channels driven and only offer a 70% power guarantee, most other brands only quote 1 channel driven for further increased figures. Cambridge is about the only brand I can think of that rates all channels driven equally.

 

All that said, I'm happy enough with the Marantz for its "Loungeroom" purpose. 

yeah look i owned one of the flagship denons for 8 years, it had two torroids ! :D and  weighed more that my 7 channel power amp and it was only  pre amplifier. denon do their flagship gear very well and make some lovely 2ch gear as well. yes marantz just like most of the other japanese brands in marantz/denon/onkyo/integra/yamaha/sony/pioneer and theres anthem as well in avrs I see all quote their power outputs very enthusiastically more towards optimism to the extreme than realistically could support..

 

your marantz 6005 though 100% is not a switch mode power supply driven unit. it is a conventional class AB amp and has a conventional frame type power supply  and looks healthily sized, even though yeah not quite upto their crazy power claims ! 

 

marantzsr6005innen_555642.jpg

 

ps brands with more reasonable and honest power claims tend to be arcam, rotel, cambridge audio and nad. 

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Okay @:) al you're mostly right. Not toroidal but after a closer look its definitely a laminated core job.

Still smaller than any of the 3 used in my 28w Valve amp though haha.

My take is 650w-30% inefficiency/7channels = approx 60watts. Still plenty of power but I wish these companies would all rate honestly. 

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