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Discussion Starter #1
Edit: D'oh, when I went looking for verification by actual users of this feature several days ago, the 4311 wasn't available in stores. But it is NOW and the feature is true, though I don't know the technical details of exactly how they do it. So I will edit what I can to reflect that...

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We were talking about using AVRs strictly as pre-pros the other week. About how they are pretty good for that, and are typically a relative bargain compared to true pre-pros and even those from the same company.

Denon doesn't offer a pre-pro for anywhere near what most of us might consider an affordable price. But I read on one of the audiophile forums a few days ago (forget where) that the 4311 (replacement model to the 4310) will have the ability to shut off all of its amplifier circuitry for those who want to use it as a pre-pro. This is interesting because many use the 4310 as a pre-pro, and it seems Denon is acknowledging this fact. The 4310 is a nice sweet-spot for features vs price, especially for Canadians.

Theoretically, depending how it's done, not having the amps powered at all should be superior to just letting them idle (i.e. almost as if they weren't there). One would assume cooler too. OTOH, depending how it's done, switching the power to the amps could theoretically make things a bit less optimal for those who *do* use the amps.

For one thing, it allows Denon to make one model (rather than a "cheap" similar pre-pro) with its attendant economy of scale. Plus it would need to be priced without the "audiophile markup" we see so much with many other pre-pros, in order to appeal to the much larger AVR market. Most people don't absolutely require the XLR outputs these pre-pros usually have as their amps aren't pro models (often XLR only) and/or are relatively near their pre-pros anyway. I think this could be another winner model from Denon, not that it wouldn't be anyway as long as it sticks to the successful 3808->4310-> path.
 

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i wonder if it's (not so much) AVR vs. processor or the quality of the design and components used. i suppose within that thought, probably reasonable (to assume) one can expect a $ 2000 AVR to process (proceed .ha!) better than a entry level AVR (with Pre-outs)

i think it's a clever idea (and marketable to boot) to develop (design) for improved result, particularly referring to this Denon feature. gee ..be interesting to see how competitors (AVR manufacturers) respond. i suppose (one can think) it's a reversal of role when speaking of the intent of pure direct (or analogue by-pass) to improve analogue playback in AVR's. what can be done to improve A/V digital processing in AVRs.

i recently added in a separate pre/processor i purchased "on the cheap". albeit it doesn't have the feature set, but it has allowed greater ensight on some fundamentals for me vs. risking the price tag of dedicated processors (generally speaking). call it a test (or whatever), without the overhead. regardless, i didn't want to fall into 90% of the cost for 10% of the improvement category ..

i am comfortable saying (from my interaction) comparing the analogue sections of the Pre -2DSP vs. my AVR (approx. $1500 original MSRP) - the sound quality from a musical POV, is improved significantly for me. great 2 channel listening. from an HT POV, i have lost convenience and feature; however the audio character of the Pre is forwarded unto multichannel listening as well. additionally, i think when i find a good phono stage (pre-amp) for my TT, it will fit in nicely, musically.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
I may be misinterpreting what you're saying, but I hope no-one would think a $2k AVR comes remotely close in stereo SQ to even a modest stereo preamp, never mind a stereo-only preamp for $2k (which is still quite "modest" as these can go).

A stereo preamp does almost nothing, but (hopefully) does it well. An AVR does a helluva lot of things. This is an apples and oranges comparison. People who need both functions done well use both. Thus the using of an AVR as a pre-pro direction. Presumably it's hooked to a decent 2ch amp (plus other channels maybe) that is also used by the stereo preamp for the fronts. Almost everybody I know and have ever heard of who use their AVR as a pre-pro do this, so I think it's very relevant to the 4311's feature.
 

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yes ... i understand (prior to as well). good points cfraser .. as usual. lets attribute this to limitation(s) of communicating through text (writing) ..vs. a verbal discussion .etc. :D .. plus i don't wanna throw your specific title off topic.

be interesting if there were social get togethers, people bringing select gear to demo .. discuss. not much of a market for that @ my coordinates though ..unfortunately.

back on track. some light reading from audioholics re: the 4311. the feature (as you are aware im sure - but for others to read, enjoy) is called Pre-Amp Mode.

the AVR-4311CI has a feature that we've only seen on two other receivers before (Yamaha RX-Z7 and RX-Z11) - Pre Amp Mode. For years we've been suggesting to our readers that they get a receiver with pre-outs so that, if they feel the need, they can add an amp later. Dedicated separates were (for a very long time) out of the reach of most consumers and were (until recently) usually lacking some of the most recent features. Opponents of using a receiver as a pre amp often sited multiple reasons (not all of which were valid ) for not using one. Denon has addressed all that with their new Pre Amp Mode. Now, the external amplifiers can be disconnected from the power supply section, thereby allowing all other operating components to receive the purest power and also eliminating any chance of “noise” from the amplifier section infiltrating and potentially degrading the audio/video paths. In a brilliant move, Denon has allowed the Pre Amp Mode optional setting in which selected amplifier channels may also be configured for multi-zone use, while the main zone amplifiers are shut down. This gives users a tremendous amount of flexibility in setting up their system in a variety of ways without compromising fidelity or features.

another notably (among others)

The inclusion of two additional internal amplifier channels over the AVR-4311CI's predecessor makes this receiver a true 9.2 channel system. This gives the user and the installer much more flexibility to use the additional height/width channels now available for in the advanced processing of the latest DSPs or just more flexibility when powering more zones of audio. Denon also claims the AVR-4311CI is expandable to 11.2 channels to handle any future formats wanting to add speakers to the ceiling or the bathroom so you don't miss a beat while doing your business
"first look" found here

enjoy your weekend. PS: if you get your hands on a 4311, be sure to let us know .. ;)
 

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Discussion Starter #5
Yes, meeting in person is always better, or at least talking.

As in all situations, stores or homes, comparing mch HT stuff is very difficult due to so many variables. Hardly anybody wants to port an AVR to somebody's house, and even if they did, it's a total pain to swap them in your rack etc. I had the 3808 and 4310 both here for several months and even then they were hard to properly compare audio-wise. Comparing source components or stereo preamps is much easier and more fun...

I think they should have called it Pre-pro Mode, since a preamp is the "least" of the functions it does, most of us want it for the processing part, the whole point of us getting a major-brand AVR for use as a pre-pro instead of a smaller-brand pre-pro in the first place. But we get the idea...

I won't be getting a 4311 anytime soon.* I will wait until it's been out at least a few months and probably had at least one FW update. :) It does have the Audyssey MultEQ XT32 I was looking for in my next purchase, which would definitely put it ahead of the Marantz pre-pro I was also thinking of. The 3808 is doing its job just fine. The last firmware update degraded some things that worked perfectly for a couple years LOL...hope they go back and tune that (Denon AVR FW updates are extremely restrictive and have no user options, very controlled from their end).

*Edit: I always say that. I'll probably have one sooner than I pretend. I very much prefer the internal build of this compared to the 3808 I'm using, way better design IMO and looks like it addresses some of the "concerns" I've mentioned before re the internals of the 3808/4310. This is actually a big deal for me, knowing that something is constructed in a way I like even if I never look at its guts. Thanks for the link to the "first look", I wasn't paying much attention to the 4311 for the last week and missed it. Is there a Canadian list price floating around? We talking like $2500, or closer to the $2k mark? I guess I could find out pretty quick, I'm afraid I might just order one if I talk to somebody who has them...

More: I may be mistaken, but it *looks* to me now like there are 2 fans on the bottom of the 4311. They never mentioned that in the "first look", if true. This may be how they seem to have crammed in more of higher power amps into the same space, with smallish looking (considering...) heatsinks. I am not a fan of fans :) in A/V gear, because I can't think of any instance where they haven't ended up annoying me to some extent eventually. And I would never buy a separate home hifi amplifier with a fan in it, they all have terrible reputations over the longer term (the cheaping out on heatsinks wasn't the only cheaping out...). I'll need to see what people say about this once they're out there, maybe the fans won't come on in Preamp Mode so it'll be moot for me, but for others it may be something to consider. Or they could be like all the fans (4 IIRC) in my Pio display: have never once come on...
 

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Discussion Starter #6
For those who may be interested, I see the manual is now available for downloading from the Denon site. Haven't gone through it yet, it's usually a big "project" for me, to make sure I'm not losing features I use for the sake of new ones I (probably) won't.

The 3 year warranty for this model also made it to Canada :), they don't always for some brands (*cough* Sony). Much better than the 1 year I got on the previous 4310/3808...not that I needed it for repairs, but it *does* make it much easier (being under warranty that is) to sell an AVR, and for more, if you flip them every couple years...
 

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Discussion Starter #7
A few things I checked on that aren't obvious by a quick perusal of the 4311 data sheet, or even the manual in one case...

XM radio is indeed supported...one might assume that since Sirius is supported, but always worth making sure...

The Anchor Bay VRS video processor (very good!) can be seen on the main/DSP board, but is not mentioned anywhere at all (no video chipset is)...weird, this is a big feature for many.

Now that I have a good pic I can really blow up, two fans are definitely in there. Weird not one other person has mentioned them so far. Fans have been the harbinger of quality death for "certain" :) AVR brands...it's not so much that fans will bother me, since I would use Pre Amp mode, but what they *might* signify. Might need that 3 year warranty after all...

OTOH I question a lot about the data sheet, it could be a total mock-up. For instance, it shows the 4311 as being made in Japan, but other photos and data sheets show it's made in China. I guess we'll see when it officially comes out, probably in a couple weeks.
 

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Sounds interesting, I've always liked Denon. Especially their quality to cost ratio.

We sell Denon in the front, I'm in service. I'll have to look for that model!

{Before we move down south (to an apartment building!) I purchased 2 Adcom AV/SS pre-amps (or control amps as the used to be called) (1 as a spare or parts) to hook up to my Kenwood Basic M2-A & 'cough' Scott rack mount driving a pair of vintage Kenwoods (MV-7?) a pair of Alesi? towers & a pair of smaller wall mounts (Pyramids I think). But now that's all in storage for now & we're using an LG Home Theatre system (speakers sound alot better than they look!).}

I'd call them "pre-amp proc". because they're not before the processing, they do the processing!

Al.
: > )
G2G!
 

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Discussion Starter #9
Strangely Denon was never at all on my AVR/processor radar until a couple of years ago. I didn't even know it was supposed to be a "premium" brand, or at least positioned itself as one. Mostly I used Canadian brands, but they IMO/E just couldn't keep up with the newest processing stuff in a reliable and timely manner. So I had to bail, and Denon just happened to look like it did what I wanted and I had never had any negative experience with it... I guess I'm not brand loyal in the strictest sense, though I will keep buying a brand until I get something lousy from them.
 

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I really like what I see. I want to upgrade my 3801. There are two things that I don't like, what happened to all the S-Video connections? I still have my S-VHS VCR, Laser Disc player, PS2 etc. Also, there is no switched AC outlet. I use a A/V cooling shelf from Antec that I plug into the switched AC outlet and the fans come on when the receiver is on. It's very quiet.
http://store.antec.com/Product/cooling-media/av-cooler/0-761345-75007-3.aspx

The other option would be to go with the new Integra DTR-80.2, but it's more money.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
^ Yes, a switched outlet can be useful. I once used one with an AC adapter to provide a heavy-duty trigger voltage for something. Looks like back panel space was at a premium with the additional speaker BPs.

I used to have a large Whisper fan beside my 3808. I controlled it with an X-10 module while I was playing with it...these Denon AVRs don't seem to be hugely bothered by heat, least the way I used them...so I don't use the fan. Likewise I control my display backlight with an X-10 module; it comes on automatically when I press my "system on" remote button. Just saying...it's one cheapish way to control non-critical AC "appliances", but not nearly as cheap as getting up and walking to a switch... There are also outlet strips you can get that will trigger with the signal available from an AVR (very simple to make these too); if you aren't familiar, the Denon AVR trigger signals are extremely flexible and programmable, not just simple AVR-power on/off things.

S-video has slowly been disappearing from all sorts of A/V gear I've noticed. Never mind what *we* may think, but it was never really very popular in the mainstream world. Flimsy/delicate too, not that HDMI connectors can't be. At least they still have the composite video connectors which will usually do instead, at least giving some connectivity. Still think they could/should have left one S input and output, but not one for each source.

I read that some authorized U.S. retailers are pre-selling the 4311 for $1500 and $1600 inclusive of shipping. I bet even with a typical discount it'll be $600+ more here. List is US$2k there. Good luck getting 25% off newly-released (or anything current for that matter) Denon here, even with a large system purchase IME. Still not available yet AFAIK, the speculation was today would be the day. Yet some units got out more than a month ago (??). I speculate the Audyssey MultEQ XT32 implementation is a delaying issue, as there are problems with it as discovered with new Onkyo AVRs that have it (Onkyo is not exactly known for being conservative about releasing stuff before it's half-decently tested).

BTW, if anyone spots these at a local retailer, or gets some actual Canadian info/pricing, please post it. I am not really paying much attention as this isn't something I "need" to upgrade to as it won't enhance my system functionality, more like a mostly horizontal move with a couple of "wants" thrown in...
 

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One caveat about Denon xx11 AVR's. If the networking features are important (internet radio, streaming music, two-way control over IP, firmware updates), xx10 units were plagued by bad network cards and many reported failures of 3310, 4310, and 4810 units.

Early reports have 3311CIs showing the same problem which is really unfortunate. If the xx11s are any indication, the problems may exist in the other xx11 units and if those feature are important, it's something you should factor into you buying decision.
 

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Discussion Starter #13
^ Yes it *is* important. Thanks for the heads up.

Actually, I knew about the 4310 thing (but didn't know it was that widespread) but not about the xx11s. I'd like to know what kind of "network failures" though because ALL I've seen were trivial to fix. Could be a bad batch of parts or a part change part way through production, so may be something different now. Could be another reason why the 4311 release was delayed (the Audyssey problem is a problem at the Audyssey end, so all AVRs that use XT32 would have it, not just Onkyo). The kind of ethernet interface Denon uses is trivial/simple (annoyingly so) so not much excuse if it's a hardware problem IMO.

I forgot to continue my thought from above, but like I've said many times: I would *never* buy a sophisticated modern AVR without a warranty i.e. cheap from the U.S. without one valid in Canada. Remember the 4311 has a 3-year one.

There's absolutely nothing wrong with my Denon 3808. At least the way I use it. It's had 2+ years of debugging. Why do I want to replace it? You'd think I'd know better, after owning the 4310 for several months, but especially after years of "debugging" Anthem and never even getting remotely close to where the 3808 is in functionality (for multiple times the price). It's the supposedly much better Audyssey in the bass region the 4311 can offer, where MultEQ XT is noticeably sonically weak (compared to analog system). I guess I don't need the grief of being an early 4311 adopter, I use my system way too much and I use too many features to be able to tolerate teething problems at this point. Plus getting crankier than ever with shoddy A/V gear put out at "Canadian-premium" prices so that I can debug it...
 

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Might be trivial to fix, but it doesn't help the consumer who has to rely on warranty repair and can be without an AVR for weeks. My 3310 took four weeks to fix its network card failure issue.
 

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^ Yes, I've heard about such things. And the problem is, the more that are flakey, the longer it's going to take to get fixed as the shops get backed up. Actually, the biggest problem (from what I've heard/seen) is they'd come back from the shop after the longish wait with the Ethernet *still not working*. Thus the DIY fixes. But that's another (and totally related IMO) story... I was hoping they would have fixed what I perceived as the problem for the xx11 models (but then again, I've seen H/K for example carry the same fault that they knew about since Day One through at least 3 generations of AVRs). It's probably cheaper for Denon to not fix the root cause at the production level and to address individual complaints after the fact...since it's impossible for me to believe they don't know about this issue (but I was once told they *didn't* in fact have a problem with the Ethernet, they made it sound like I was the first to mention it, from an official source, = Toyota-style response). Sorry that I purposely have to be vague and not mention details/names, there are good reasons. :)
 

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They tried to tell me that it wasn't production wide and it was "handful of occurrences" ... the fact is that there are hundreds of reported failures by both consumers and CIs, and Denon doesn't seem to have an interest in resolving the problem. Now, the fact that this is the last Denon/Marantz quality control straw for me and that I now run Pioneer is only one customer ... but they are starting to lose CIs over this and you would think that would prompt some action to get it resolved.

None of this really relates to the initial post about the potential of an amp shut-off feature, but simply a heads-up to balance the pros of that feature against the value of working ethernet before making a purchase decision.
 
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