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Discussion Starter #1
Tough question!

I currently have a harman/kardon AVR230 - this $900 beauty was bought in 2004, and runs 65W/channel at 6.1 or 80W/channel in stereo. It has loads of clean distortion-free HK power, beautiful for music, but a bit soft for HT. It also has 7.1 analog ins.

So even though I enjoy my Blu-Rays with DTS or DD via optical from my PS3, I always wonder what I am missing by not having the DD-TrueHD or DTS-MA soundtracks instead. Also, I am disappointed with Shaw Direct's SD broadcasts, and wouldn't mind a receiver that upconverts them to 1080P.

So, in considering a new AVR, I am torn. Although I would like the new features stated above, are they worth the upgrade? And my greatest fear - would upgrading to a new AVR destroy the great 2.1 sound and clean power I get from my current receiver? Really the questions are:
- Is DD-THD and DTS-MA that much better?
- How good are the D/A converters on BDPs? Would a player with a 7.1 analog out (like a Samsung 6500 or a Panasonic 85) be adequate teamed with my current H/K?
- How solid are the current mid-range AVRs? Are they even comparable to a six year old H/K?

Some models I am looking at are the Denon AVR-591 or the Pioneer VSX 920.

Opinions welcome!
 

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Unless something the AVR230 is broken, stick with it. The other two receivers mentioned might have more features but I'm betting the sound will about the same or worse overall. I'm still using a high end 2001 receiver and loving every minute of it. Don't miss all those new features at all. If you want to get a new receiver, save your money for a real upgrade that will be a big improvement on the AVR230. I'm talking about spending more than $900 on a high end receiver that will be much better in quality, durability, power and features.

I always wonder what I am missing by not having the DD-TrueHD or DTS-MA soundtracks instead.
They are of little use if the receiver does a poor job of delivering the sound to the speakers.

wouldn't mind a receiver that upconverts them to 1080P.
The TV should do a good job of that.
 

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I always wonder what I am missing by not having the DD-TrueHD or DTS-MA soundtracks instead.
Quite a bit actually. Lossless sound is pretty amazing.

I'm not suggesting you should upgrade your receiver, I'm simply saying that lossless sound is a joy.

Regarding your potential new buys, I would really want to audition, not sure the quality of amps in them will be as good as your existing rig.
 

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How good are the D/A converters on BDPs? Would a player with a 7.1 analog out (like a Samsung 6500 or a Panasonic 85) be adequate teamed with my current H/K?
If you are happy with the sound of your H/K, this should be an attractive route.
 

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Like hugh said there is a difference between a lossless sound and DTD/DD , but the true about why anyone change there receiver as to do with cutting on exixting wire like everything goes to the receiver and only one output to the tv , since before , me included we had a really good receiver but it was a pass-thru and in matter to enjoy some DD when need it another optical cable , multiplying that with PS3, 360 , BR , satellite/box receiver we just narrow down the amount of cables behind our sets .
 

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Discussion Starter #6
Thanks for the quick opinions guys.

Scary, what I'd really like starts with an M and ends in an arantz. Doesn't quite fit into the current budget, though I think you offer good advice as to these other units' amp sections.

However, maybe the upscaling wouldn't make that big a difference on the SD anyways if the signal is extremely poor. Now that I think about it, my TV does upscale my PS2 from 480P quite nicely, and my PS3 is a very nice DVD upscaler. Maybe this is a Shaw signal limitation that an upscaling receiver wouldn't fix.

Good note about the audition as well Hugh. I've always recommended buying from a place that allows 30-day returns as you won't know how well something sounds until you have it in your place with your gear.

Good poke at it CSKS, but the question is how good is the sound generated by the D/A converters on the Blu-ray players? My experience with non-AVR D/A converters has been quite mixed, even though some have "good" names attached to them.

Almadacr, wires are not an issue as I already own all the wires I need and have them tucked away neatly. For me, it is all about sound.

Has anyone ever A/B'd a Blu-ray via analog (BRP decoded) versus a Blu-ray via HDMI (AVR decoded)?
 

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Has anyone ever A/B'd a Blu-ray via analog (BRP decoded) versus a Blu-ray via HDMI (AVR decoded)?
This would depend on the quality of the BD player. For example, the Oppo BDP83 may be better than many AVRs, but most BD players that decode may be equivalent to the "average" AVR with analogue inputs. I would think in your situation, a BD player that decodes to analogue would be the way to go, if you don't need anything else at this time from your AVR. It's also a lot less money.

In order to go to the nth degree, you would want to decode in the AVR, provided the AVR is also to the nth degree - say $1500+
 

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...the question is how good is the sound generated by the D/A converters on the Blu-ray players? My experience with non-AVR D/A converters has been quite mixed, even though some have "good" names attached to them.
Looks like you've already done your homework and as you know, it would be impossible to make generalized statements, and often it often boils down to personal preference as well. In short, only you can decide what works for you.

Having said that, I'd venture to say that in most cases, lossless audio will beat the lossy tracks hands down, regardless of where the D/A conversion is done. YMMV.
 

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Discussion Starter #9
57, csks, thanks for the feedback.

57, just not in the plans financially to go to the nth, though I'm still happy with the H/K. I've never owned an amp with such clean distortion-free power, even at higher volumes!

csks, lossless decoded anywhere better than lossy via AVR D/A. That sounds like a pretty strong endorsement! And yes, you are fully correct that the sound of different D/A converters really is a personal preference (which you notice if you use the D/A converter on your CD player- which I do).

However, my budget may go up - a guy on the local Kijiji was looking for an old NAD - I currently have an underused 7400 that could contribute towards a new AVR.....
 

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If you're planning on spending about C$1K before taxes, I suggest you look at the separates like this pre/pro and power amp.

Their current sale may end on Sunday but Emotiva will be starting it's holiday sales next Monday, Nov 1, so check out the prices.

I have the pre/pro and a bunch of their amps.
 

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How about... Get a good quality preamp to feed the direct inputs on the HK. When you are ready to upgrade the HK, get a good quality amp. Then you will have a really good AV system without breaking the bank now.
 

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Good point scarybob. Forgot to check the OP's AVR and it does have pre-outs already. So he can just wait for a good deal on an AMP and postpone the pre-pro or another cheaper but newer AVR with pre-outs and new codecs.

This scalability is the second reason to go to separates when (never if) financially appropriate.:)
 

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Has anyone ever A/B'd a Blu-ray via analog (BRP decoded) versus a Blu-ray via HDMI (AVR decoded)?
I did this last year with my now bricked 60gb ps3 (which could only lpcm the lossless, not send the signal to be decoded) and my brothers Panasonic DMP BD-35 (which I used to send the lossless to my Marantz for decoding) and what I found was that the sound processed by my Marantz sr6003 sounded light years better than the PS3 doing the decoding. Same thing as when I switched the Panny player to lpcm and had it doing the decoding. The Marantz just did a much superior job processing the sound. Now these are by no means higher end players or receiver, but the difference was significant from going from the player decoding to the receiver decoding.

You said earlier you might be interested in a Marantz, I would say to check out the sr5005, http://ca.marantz.com/Products/2627.asp. I love mine as it may be short on bells and whistles, but like you, for me it is all about the sound (shouldn't it be for a receiver?) and it sounds UNBELIEVABLE for a $1000 receiver (at the time). You might even want to look around for the xx04's as they might be getting cleared out for a significant discount.
 

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Discussion Starter #14
Well, guess I answered my own question.....

Went into FS this weekend, and there just happened to be an open box Denon 591. Haggled with the guy (easy as my wife needed to pick up a couple of things for a fundraiser) and got it for cost (normal retail is close to 5 bills). 5.1 was also fine for my main room - nowhere to place 7.1 speakers anyways.

Regardless, the thoughts on lossless audio were 100% correct. I had Glee season 1 on Blu-ray and found at high volumes with the H/K that the vocals through the centre using DTS 5.1 sounded a bit muffled or compressed. With the Denon, clear, unmuffled, and sharp.

Of course, my fear was that the 2-channel music would suffer somewhat, but the 591 had full Audyssey. I cannot believe how much you can make the AVR sound like whatever you want with the EQ built in. An absolutely superb invention, and something that my H/K was unable to do.

All things considered, Denon were not my favourite AVRs - when I bought my H/K, I demoed a few Denon's and words I would have used to describe them were "strident", "shrill" and "fatiguing". With Audyssey, the firmness in the mids can be easily tamed down, and the AVR can be made to match your room and speakers. This is actually a very impressive piece of hardware, and a steal for what I paid.

The advertised 110W into 6 ohms at 1K also translates to 75W into 8 ohms at 20Hz-20Khz - really, no drop off in power or additional distorion versus my H/K. It doesn't weigh as much, but at least it's a beefy 20+ pounds.

Overall, I'm pretty blown away by a receiver that cost rougly half of my H/K yet delivers equally good sound, and has a tone flexibility that was unheard of 6 years ago. Heck, one of the reasons I bought my H/K was beacuse it has Bass and Treble controls.

It still needs a bit more of an extended listening test (I have 30 days, eh?) but initial impressions are very, very favorable.
 

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Discussion Starter #15
BTW, saw one of the $500ish Samsungs while out the other day. Although impressive looking (like an old power amp), the thing weighs like 5 pounds. What the heck do they have for a power supply? Felt like a Sony.....
 

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Glad to hear that things are working out for you.

While it's good that technology is trickling down and that lossless audio can be had for a fraction of their commanding price from just a few yrs ago it also implies that our investments on those hardware are depreciating faster than ever. I used to be more willing to invest in higher end equipment but my strategy has changed in the last few yrs - I now buy medium grade equipment and change them every few yrs instead.
 

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Yes and one way you can have the best of both worlds is to have a good amp (2, 3 or 5 channels) and then purchase the AVR to use as a Pre-pro. You can keep the amp "forever" and upgrade AVRs as required/desired.
 

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Discussion Starter #18
csks, you are 100% correct. When my new $480 AVR outperforms a 6-year old $900 AVR, mid range seems to be the way to go. I'm still not sure if I'm thrilled with the Denon, or disappointed with how quickly the AVR I bought "for the rest of my life" aged.

The tech manufacturers have it figured out - keep changing things so that you need to keep buying, even if you need them or not (i.e. 3-D).

57, I would love to go the pre-pro route, but hove found space and budget requirements have prevented me from this. I would love to go separates, but I cannot ever imagine my wife/budget ever approving. Heck, my HT room is 12' x 15'.
 

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Its time again

Well here we are two years down the road and im in need of a receiver upgrade again. Im currently using the Onkyo TX-SR 806. This was my first Onkyo and its been great but only has 5 HDMI ins and I need 6. Also I wouldn't mind an LAN port. Ive been looking at the Yamaha RX-A2000. It seems to have the required components I need. Any opinions would be helpful in this matter.
 
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