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jyeung80

Best AV Receiver for <$3000

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i think the title says it all :)

i'm tossing up between the following and would really appreciate any feedback:

- pioneer sc-lx85 (replaces the 83)

- onkyo tx-nr5009 (replaces the 5008)

- denon avr4311

- marantz sr7005

- anthem mrx700

the pioneer and onkyo seem to both have excellent reviews.

i'll be running a 7.1 setup for HT and gaming, but my wife listens to a lot of stereo music (everything from eva cassidy to usher :), so i'm wondering if any of these would be good enough to run as a dedicated 2 channel setup?

otherwise, i could easily be convinced to buy a 2 channel power amp :)

in this case, i'd be using the AVR's pre-outs, and not sure if their preprocessing capabilities are any good?

thanks (be kind, this is my first post :)

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Good question. Anywhere in Melbourne to demo them?

Their gear looks pretty good and reasonably priced

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A friend just faced an almost identical question, he went with the Denon 4311.

I have a Denon 3808 and am very happy with it still. The mark up by the distributor of Denon gear is pretty painful when you compare to overseas prices though. The 4311 is apparently a very popular device on AVS so would be well worth tracking one down to have a listen to I'd say.

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I've been hearing conflicting reports about the LX85. Is it still using ICE modules from B&O?

Most AVRs fail to deliver their rated power for all channels when fully loaded because the transformer and the storage caps just don't have enough. ICE doesnt have a transformer bottleneck so it delivers closer to it's rated power.

The 85 and the Onkyo 5009 are the latest models. So they have the latest bells and whistles. Denon seems particularly hard hit by the tsunami and hasn't really gotten a successor to the 4311 this year.

That said the 4311 is still closest to my ideal replacement.

Audyssey DSX support for 11.2 channels (Onkyo and even the Pioneer is limited to 9.2)

Audyssey MultiEQ XT32 (much finer resolution in room EQ)

Audyssey SubEQ supports dual sub calibration (basically an SVS AQ1 without the added degradation of A to D and D to A conversion)

The only thing it lacks is the new DTS Neo:X standard.

I plan to run with external power amps anyway so I can switch the 4311 into Pre amp mode and turn off the internal amps.

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Good question. Anywhere in Melbourne to demo them?

Their gear looks pretty good and reasonably priced

Unfortunately no afaik. Unless an SNA'er who owns the kit you want is kind enough to allow you an audition. Emotiva sells factory direct. You could buy and return within the trail period if you are not satisfied.

I'm of the view that one should not spend too much on HT gear and the Emotiva gear fits the bill. I would rather channel funds to a dedicated 2 channel system. But YMMV.

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My nephew recently bought a 4311 for ~$2600 in ACT

he is very happy with it.

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Hi Jyeung;

I think you have hit on most of the main contenders at that price, although the 5009 would have to be quite heavily discounted. I think the amp stages on the 5009 would possibly be the gruntiest of that lot if you are not going to use/evolve to a power amp add on. The Pioneer has big power on paper, but the ICE modules can struggle with some speaker loads, so the pio would need to be well matched to the speakers IMO, but could be quite impressive with the right speakers.

I am looking for a similar amp, another option is the Yamaha aventage series. A lot of people are getting the runout 3000 for around 1700 (RRP is 2500). The new 3010 will be a 9.2 amp, the 3000 is 7.2. These are pretty good value, especially the 3000 at around 1700.

regards,

Ray

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ICE module struggle on loads? Where did you hear that? The ICE module is THX rated down to 8 ohms. The Denon goes down to 6 minimum only IIRC.

HT Labs Measures: Onkyo TX-NR5008 A/V Receiver

Five channels driven continuously into 8-ohm loads:

0.1% distortion at 79.1 watts

1% distortion at 95.5 watts

Seven channels driven continuously into 8-ohm loads:

0.1% distortion at 78.7 watts

1% distortion at 94.6 watts

For Pioneer ICE model (older LX-83)

Five channels driven continuously into 8-ohm loads:

0.1% distortion at 135.7 watts

1% distortion at 171.9 watts

Seven channels driven continuously into 8-ohm loads:

0.1% distortion at 125.4 watts

1% distortion at 164.7 watts

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I didnt hear it, it is experience, and a lot of industry folk know ICE modules struggle with difficult loads. Try a top of the line TACT (NOW KNOWN AS LYNGDORF) with an inefficient speaker like an ATC, it does not work well at all.

Have experienced this with other Bel canto power amps also.

This is absolute terms, of course all receivers will struggle with difficult speakers (ie not all speakers are 8 ohms), comes down to how much vs power supply quality and size amongst other things.

Edited by Raeyz

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Yes but I don't think the Onkyo is any better off. As the HT Labs shows.

Frankly if you are using a good speaker like an ATC, you really are crippling its potential with an AVR's amp

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Numbers dont tell the whole story, you need to hear and experience the sound the ICE modules make under difficult load.

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Yes, the last model ie the 5008, but only in a demo, i havent owned it like the other products I am talking about. The 5008 has a pretty grunty power amp stage IMO. Dont get me wrong Im sure the Pioneer is good (i have not heard it at all), I am just pointing out my observations with the ICE modules, and this is from observations from 3 years ago, they may be getting better for all I know.

cheers.

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We've managed to compare the Pioneer LX83 vs the Onkyo 5008 vs the Denon 4311 in the local showroom. The Pioneer consistently came up tops in terms of dynamics and detail. Partnered with Dynaudio Focus series which are 4ohm loads. No overheating as in the Onkyo either.

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Nice, that is indeed counter to what I have said, the Dyn's are not a straight forward load.

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Check out the emotiva gear. Cheaper than an all in one and better sounding too.

http://www.emotiva.com/

+1.

Anyone near Canberra is welcome to come over and check it out.

The dynamics of the XPA-5 (as an external amp) is unmatched by any receiver I have heard. 300 watts/ch all channels driven at 4 ohms. That kind of headroom makes for an immersive soundstage - I will never buy another receiver again. They don't even get close. Separates all the way. Only problem is that the amp weighs about 20kg and is heavy and awkward to move.

SQ for UMC is top notch, but any receiver with pre-outs could would suffice. Some have had reliability problems with theirs, but for me the UMC has been awesome and has seen my Yamaha 3900 relegated to the bedroom.

The whole lot was about $1,500 delivered. I will be buying from Emo again without a problem - in fact I will get an XMC processor, XSP pre and a couple of their XPA-1 monoblocks during their christmas sale.

The other advantage of separates is that you use a 2-ch pre amp with Home Theatre Bypass, use better quality amplification, decent DAC for the main channels and have musical performance that will murder any receiver under many thousands of $. That is the path I have gone and I am happy, but there are other options and I am sure that you will be happy whichever way you go.

Edited by Vitruvian

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thanks everyone for all the responses!

regarding the AVR, i'm less concerned about how much power it puts out, as i've decided i'll buy a 2 channel power amp anyway... i guess i'd like to know which would be the best as a pre-processor for stereo music? i read somewhere that the Pio 83/85 is only supposed to drive 6 ohm speakers, would there be any issues driving 4 ohm loads?

vitruvian, had a look at the emotiva website - their gear looks awesome and the reviews are very positive... the problem i can see is that i'm after a 7.1 setup, so i'd need to buy the UMC, XPA-5 and either the XPA-3 or the XPA-2 plus an XPA-1 (i'd probably prefer the latter option)... i think shipping + duty/gst (>15%) would be a killer... do u remember how much u paid for shipping? what else did u order besides the XPA-5?

also, the UMC is currently on clearance... any idea if a new model is coming out? (Possibly with HDMI 1.4?)

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All choices quite good but why wasn't Sony ES series included. Highly regarded as a stand alone 2ch amp and in particular when combined with SCD XA5400ES has the ability to decode pure DSD into 2 or 5ch playback. This alone would embarrass the aforementioned choices simply because of the technology involved. It would pay to at least audition the topline Sony, I think known as DA5600ES. Can be had for $2700 at absolute hi fi or imported for approx $1400 US. A fellow SNA member has the combo for memory and I myself will be included once finances prevail. Best to read up on the Sony duo....very positive reviews.

Cheers Maximus

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The Denon 4311 includes a DenonLink4 connection that not only decodes DSD, but uses a master clock for BD HD audio as well.

Pioneer uses PQLS which is their version of Sony's HATS, i.e. their implementation of HDMI 1.3 Audio Rate Control aka ARC (not to be confused with HDMI 1.4's ARC aka Audio Return Channel)

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thanks everyone for all the responses!

regarding the AVR, i'm less concerned about how much power it puts out, as i've decided i'll buy a 2 channel power amp anyway... i guess i'd like to know which would be the best as a pre-processor for stereo music? i read somewhere that the Pio 83/85 is only supposed to drive 6 ohm speakers, would there be any issues driving 4 ohm loads?

vitruvian, had a look at the emotiva website - their gear looks awesome and the reviews are very positive... the problem i can see is that i'm after a 7.1 setup, so i'd need to buy the UMC, XPA-5 and either the XPA-3 or the XPA-2 plus an XPA-1 (i'd probably prefer the latter option)... i think shipping + duty/gst (>15%) would be a killer... do u remember how much u paid for shipping? what else did u order besides the XPA-5?

also, the UMC is currently on clearance... any idea if a new model is coming out? (Possibly with HDMI 1.4?)

The price I paid of about $1,500 included shipping. My contact is sarah@emotiva.com, simply email her with the gear you're interested in (and delivery address) and get a quote. The quote will include shipping, but excludes customs duty - so add a couple of hundred dollars. You would have your gear delivered and in your house in less than week after ordering and have change from $2k.

As for for HDMI 1.4, they are running out the UMC-1 to make for the UMC-2 (around $600US) and XMC-1 (around ($1000US), both due early next year. The XMC will be HDMI 1.4 unit, the UMC-2 is modded HDMI 1.3 to give 3D capability.

In terms of amplification, you are correct. If you wish a 7.x system you would need to get an addition 2 channels of amplification. I use Bel Canto monoblocks with a dedicated DAC and pre amp for 2-ch. I am sure that people here know for more than I, but I have yet to hear any reveiver with a DAC and 2-ch preamp that compare to even mid range gear 2-ch gear (for example, I found my Citypulse DAC with Cambridge Audio 840A murders my Yamaha 3900B (the Yammah sounds a little too brittle and forward for music), my higher level system is the Balanced Havana DAC tube rolled with the Bel Canto Pre3, or a hypothetical cheaper yet great system is an Emotiva USP-1 and an AudioGD/ Emo XDA-1 DAC/ Rega DAC et cetera).

Frankly (as I wrote above), when faced with the same choices as you I went for a UMC and XPA-5 for the centre/ surrounds/ rears. No regrets at all. But again I note that some people have had serious issues (e.g. centre channel drop out after using an extended pause, which requires cycling off the power). I have experienced maybe 5 total instances of niggly performance, but I am happy to pay that price for that level of SQ.

Whilst I have found that Emo service is awesome, it could be expensive if you had send the gear back for some reason. That said, they also seem happy to send parts to you and then you need only find a local repairer. I have not needed to do this, so I only know this through disucussions with others on forums.

One other (important) point, I found the video processing (VP) of Emo nowhere near as good as the SQ (indeed my 3900B has much better VP than the Emo), so I bought a second hand DVDO Edge for VP duties. If you wanted to go that route then you would simply post a WTB thread on DTV. Price would be arround $300-$500 depending on what you ultimately go for. Video performance and config ability would be second to none. The approach I am suggesting definitely has the disadvantage of multiple boxes, but there are also advantages; modularity (simply upgrade the precise piece of gear/ function you want to) and quality (a one box jack of all trades with single power supply vs. specialised equipment designed to excel in one thing each with a dedicated ps - fishermen/ women know the space - dedicated rods for particular species vs an 8" general purpose rod, or the same analogy with cars: a Subaru Forrester turbo vs a Porche (for on road) and a Land Cruiser (for off road)). Going the path of separates takes up more room (both in your room and on your coffee table with remotes - your partner may need help or a universal remote) but you do get a higher quality end product. Frankly, the whole VP issuse hinges on your taste; my gf cannot see a difference between the VP of the Yamaha and Emo, but can hear the sonic difference. But then again, she is a DJ and has a cultivated sonic palatte...

From Emo I have ordered UMC, XPA-5 , ERD-1 (in the first order), then subsequently 2 pairs of their surrounds (ERD-1) and an UPA-2 (I am going to play with setting up a 9.2 system).

The XPA-1s will be for me to run my little bookshelves Paradigm S2v2. You can never have enough headroom... ;-)

One final point, you also use UPA-1s if you ever wanted to go for monoblocks all round. They deliver 200w @ 8 ohms and 350 @ 4ohms - an idea I may well explore at some point...

If it comes across that I am an Emotiva fanboy - that is unfortunate. I have other brands of gear, and adopt the view that if had more money I would buy the best, such as an Anthem D2 processor, but I am looking for bang-for-buck (since I don't have $10k for new processor) and have found that I the Emo gear is excellent. For example, I bought three pairs of Emo (selectable bi-pol or di-pol) surround speakers for less than $1000 delivered (on sale). One pair of surround speakers matched to my mains is $2.5K. What Emo HT gear has allowed me to do is to create an immersive and dynamic multi-channel system (e.g. relevant surrounds and big power) for less than the cost of single pair of Paradigm Signature surround speakers.

Either way, hopefully some food for thought, and as I said, with your budget and the variety of valid perspectives shared in this thread, I am sure that whatever you choose will bring you years of enjoyment.

Edited by Vitruvian

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I didnt hear it, it is experience, and a lot of industry folk know ICE modules struggle with difficult loads. Try a top of the line TACT (NOW KNOWN AS LYNGDORF) with an inefficient speaker like an ATC, it does not work well at all.

Have experienced this with other Bel canto power amps also.

This is absolute terms, of course all receivers will struggle with difficult speakers (ie not all speakers are 8 ohms), comes down to how much vs power supply quality and size amongst other things.

FWIW, My Ref1000mk2s make my power hungry Paradigm S8s sing like no amp I have paired them with. Granted they do not present a 1 or 2ohm load but they dip below 4ohms; they are not an easy speaker to drive to get the best out of them.

Edited by Vitruvian

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The Onkyo 5009 does 4K video processing and is 1.4/3D compliant.

The Pioneer is is 1.4/3D compliant.

Emotiva is not as up-to-date as Onkyo and Pioneer.

You can compare Emotiva with 2010 models but you have to wait to compare them with 2011 models.

Sure Emotiva offers all you can imagine for that price, but i think it's still too much for an old 1.3 solution.

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The Onkyo 5009 does 4K video processing and is 1.4/3D compliant.

The Pioneer is is 1.4/3D compliant.

Emotiva is not as up-to-date as Onkyo and Pioneer.

You can compare Emotiva with 2010 models but you have to wait to compare them with 2011 models.

Sure Emotiva offers all you can imagine for that price, but i think it's still too much for an old 1.3 solution.

dumb question re the onkyo 5009... is there any point getting an AVR that does 4k upscaling if the projector already does it? (i am looking at getting one of the new JVC 4k projectors some time next year :rolleyes:

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