High end AV receivers, worst investment in audio?

Discussion in 'General Audio Discussion' started by Jenkster, Nov 9, 2017.

  1. toddalin

    toddalin Super Member

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    Only in the audio rhelm. The video output is only HDMI, so is not being decoded to analog. If you have 1080i/720p component video, you're out of luck.

    This is why I just bought an Oppo-95 complete with streaming stick for use with my Yamaha RX-Z9. ;)

    BTW, what I haven't seen mentioned is the longevity of the older TOTL equipment. I bought my Yamaha RZ-Z9, new, the first time there was ever a sale on them, reducing the price by 10%. I paid $4,050+ tax.

    That was over 15 years ago and the unit is used 4 - 5 hours a day, every day, since that time without failure! It still looks and plays like new. Does anyone here think a new receiver is going to have that kind of durability?
     
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  2. MannyE

    MannyE Exterminate! Subscriber

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    Absolutely. Too bad the processors are also so expensive. But the good news is that from 5.1 to 11.2, they all sound great and if I'm not mistaken, most DVD and streaming options are backwards compatible to Dolby Digital 5.1, not sure about the first gen dolby surround, but I'll bet it wouldn't make too much of a difference.
     
  3. Audiofreak71

    Audiofreak71 Boerboelicious Subscriber

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    That's how I have my home theater setup, been that way for years. I went through most of the Uber receivers as a test to see which ones were the best sounding to my ears and to see how they stacked up against Seperates. I am currently using a Yamaha RXZ-1 with an Oppo udp 203 and have a 4k setup and couldn't be happier. I am also currently using the big Yamaha ad. Preamp to my Aragon 4004 MKII, I put it against a couple other preamp configurations and to me the yamaha was the best sounding. But back on track these older ubers like @superdog said from around 00-08 punch way above there weight and can compete with many Seperates sound wise, but the best thing about them is there very inexpensive now compared to there retail and when used with say an Oppo via its analog inputs you get exceptional sound that is still up to date with current recievers.

    Audiofreak71
     
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  4. superdog

    superdog AK Member

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    That would be my thoughts also, uneducated as they may be.
     
  5. MannyE

    MannyE Exterminate! Subscriber

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    Most of my equipment is now older than 15 years. The Reference 50 S2 was bought used and last year started acting up. Something about the power supplies. I was pretty upset about it since nothing new that could equal it was affordable but then I found the guy in NYC (Long Island actually) that bought out the remaining stock of proprietary chips and whatever other components went into the B&K preamps and $300 later, it was back in action! That's another thing that isn't mentioned about the older TOTL stuff. It's built with repair and upgrades in mind. Where else am I going to get something with balanced outputs that sounds as sweet as the B&K for movies and music for $300?

    The Reference 30 had also been sent back to B&K for the upgrade, so it's essentially a Reference 50 without balanced outputs and that one is still going strong. Well, it's been sitting for about a year now, but it's always there "on deck" in case I need a second system somewhere or the 50 explodes.
     
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  6. MannyE

    MannyE Exterminate! Subscriber

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    By the way, does anyone know where the engineers that were working at B&K went when the place went belly up? There were some good people working there!
     
  7. Audiofreak71

    Audiofreak71 Boerboelicious Subscriber

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    The B&K receivers were essentially there amplifiers (Same layout internally) except had a tuner and were built like tanks, I owned the 507s2 as well as the 200.7 at the same time and couldn't tell the difference between the two sound wise and they had the same amount of headroom, both excellent sounding amps. The difference was that I got the 507s2 for $400 and the 200.7 set me back $1100 clearly the better deal being the 507s2. At the time I had an Oppo bdp 105 and ran it the same way for home theater, through the analog inputs and let the oppo do the coding. The sound was exceptional and I do the exact same thing with my Yamaha RXZ 1 oppo udp 203 setup.

    Audiofreak71
     
  8. Audiofreak71

    Audiofreak71 Boerboelicious Subscriber

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    I believe there at ATI in California.

    Audiofreak71
     
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  9. blhagstrom

    blhagstrom Mad Scientist, fixer. Subscriber

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    AVRs and HT was an area that looked confusing and daunting.
    Videophile was a term I learned when I started processing all the stuff I get.

    The very early stuff, when companies first started going 5 channel is interesting.
    Some gear still had the nice audiophile style design and build and looks.
    But mostly just pro-logic or some such. I still don't know all the terms and types.
    I just test, clean and flip as fast as possible.

    I get everything from bottom shelf to OMG high end.

    Personally, I have stashed off and use separates.
    Marantz M500 mono amps are just simple plain amps. The problem is they have no gain controls so you need an AV pre-amp that controls the signals.
    Multi-channel power amps can be very nice. Parasound, Speakercraft, Niles, etc...
    Many have gain controls so you can tweak them as needed.

    I've found that optical connection from DVD to AV processor works easily and sounds best.
    It seems that even the high end players don't put out great 5.1 decoded audio, at least not as good as a dedicated AV preamp can do with the optical. (PCM?), but then i get really high end AV preamps.
    Proceed is really sweet..

    What i enjoy, is that any AVR makes movies work so much better that its like watching them for the first time only better. They put so much in the center channel that just gets lost in the stereo RCA output.

    BTW, i get high end DVD players that are near worthless.

    Point being, if you have a collection of good speakers and a good stereo rig. Keep a stereo arrangement together for audio. You can slap up a nice home theater rig for under $1000 if you need to ship. Under $500 if you find local. DVDs are worthless and plentiful. You can have a decent entertainment, movie night thing that is actually nice.

    Unless you pay through the nose for the super duper channels, that is nothing worth watching from cable. Seriously, most basic packages and many extended packages are all reruns full of ads. At $100/month its stupid not to just have a good used pile of HT stuff and a mountain of old DVDs.

    But, then you get lazy and want all the movies stored so you get a DVD jukebox. Wrong, most of those are bad or will be. OR you rip all the movies to a server. HAHA, just another frickin craputer but its specialized and junk when it messes up.

    AVR and HT are cult just like our beloved vintage stereo.
    Unless you have time to study it up, weigh all the options, shop around, waste time worrying about it all, just grab some cheap stuff and play with it. Or, grab some simple stuff like cheap or inexpensive separate and enjoy with the option to swap out stuff.

    The AV pre-processor is the key.

    I would recommend avoiding the stuff with all the bells and whistles.
    XM, HDMI, network, whatever. Just more craputer junk to fail and bring the system down.
    I would avoid junk that can only be controlled by remote.
    Having controls on the unit is best.
    I have a nice Lexicon AV preamp, quite desirable for its decoding ability. But the last fool set it to stereo on all inputs and without the remote, I can't change it. Being a crap company selling super expensive gear, there aren't any remotes around and I'm sure the company dropped support if they ever had any. Lexicon has a bad history.

    Oh, BTW, I have contacted a few of the small high end companies about support and their attitude is, "its old, just buy a new one". So even they feel it's crap after a short time.

    DO think of it as consumable, like food and gas and toilet paper.
    Buy it, use it, enjoy it.
    When its done, throw it away and buy more.
     
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  10. RGA

    RGA Super Member

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  11. satkinsn

    satkinsn low end audio Subscriber

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    Fascinating thread. Here's my take - and a question:

    You can buy from Amazon inexpensive, new stereo receivers for sub-$200. So assuming the point of buying a used AVR is to repurpose it as an audio-only/stereo-only unit, the price point has to be really low. Say, under $100.

    Now you can argue that maybe you get an AVR with HDMI outs and it becomes mildly more useful, so that changes what you're willing to pay, but for my thought experiment, I'm going with the "you're buying to build a stereo on the cheap" line.

    What would make me pay (a little) more for an AVR would be built-in streaming capability, say, Sirius/XM, Pandora, Spotify. Not too much more though; if a streaming service overhauls the codec it uses, you run the risk of it breaking the hardware's ability to play it.

    All that said, what are the best buys in used AVRs?

    s.
     
  12. E-Stat

    E-Stat Super Member

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    His loss was certainly your gain!
     
  13. MannyE

    MannyE Exterminate! Subscriber

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    Yep. It was there that "the guy" (I guess ATI is a small shop still) told me about the repair shop in Long Island. ATI appears to have bought the B&K name and kind of left everything in Buffalo.

    Which brings us to the downside (or not...depending on how much you enjoy solving mysteries) of owning older sometimes orphan high end products. You often have to do some detective work, make a few phone calls and write some emails to get repair work done or find proprietary chips or firmware. But I enjoy the hunt and don't mind the extra cost that sometimes is involved. Mostly it's shipping unless you're lucky enough to live near the place where your old receiver or amp needs to go.

    I have found that if you get hold of someone that actually worked on your product, they are usually sentimental/proud or both and enjoy talking to someone that enjoys the work they did. They instantly become that "handy friend" that knows how to bias your amp and will often go way beyond regular customer service to get your product up and running.
     
  14. MannyE

    MannyE Exterminate! Subscriber

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    Would this help?

    https://www.amazon.com/LEXICON-Replacement-Control-VERSION-75013211/dp/B009D5PDUK
     
  15. Hak Foo

    Hak Foo Active Member

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    The equation of interest is "how much do we discount the used AVR for complexity and unobtanium parts and poor 2 channel performance" versus "how much can we mark it up foir high spec and quality." compared to what is likely to be a fairly low-spec BOTL new 2-channel reciever.

    For the deluxe makes-- the Sony ES, Integra, Pioneer Elite-- the build quality and likelihood of actually hitting the specs on 2-channel might be worth it, mostly because the secondhand market tends to price those units not a lot higher than Magnavox and RCA theatre-in-a-box garbage.

    I had a few OK to good AVRs for a while, but I find ordinary two-channel units work just as well for me, and tend to be less "can't be set up without a remote, a TV set to Video Out 1, and a six-year postdoctoral study in the manual."
     
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  16. MannyE

    MannyE Exterminate! Subscriber

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    The thing about it is the stigma of "poor two channel performance" from TOTL AVRs is one of those audiophile snobbery things that persists today and is essentially untrue.

    Not that I'm complaining because it keeps the prices in the basement. Just ask any owner of B&K or Parasound or Emotiva or Theta (especially Theta which last year was still offering upgrades to processors from as far back as 1996...) if they feel two channel performance is sub-par. Even the "normal" brands like Pioneer, Yamaha and Marantz have two channel performance that almost as good as dedicated "music only" equipment and I suspect that a 20 year old Pioneer Elite AVR, for example, will out-perform a $150 throwaway dedicated two channel Best Buy special you buy today.

    Although you are absolutely correct about setup. It can be daunting and extremely time-consuming. This is part of the reason AVRs get a bad reputation. I would bet that 80% of them are sitting in a system without ever being properly set up.
     
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  17. Bodyblue

    Bodyblue AK Subscriber Subscriber

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    HUH? I had a cheap Sony that I bought in 2012 and just sold working perfectly. Now I am using a Marantz AVR built in 2009 that is working perfectly.

    It is amazing how people extrapolate "facts" from things they read. Older Onkyos had terrible HDMI board problems, very true. But many other brands have had little trouble in that area.
     
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  18. Bodyblue

    Bodyblue AK Subscriber Subscriber

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    Some posters have a HUGE rod-on against AVRs and it is really amusing. They are what they are. Some items I expect to have for a long time and some I dont. Fast moving tech like HT/4K I dont expect to keep for more than 5 or so years. I dont have to be super cutting edge but when the tech makes a big jump AND is out for a while and prices drop, then I go for it. I thank God for the derps standing in line and waiting to overpay for the newest item so that I can pay less a year later.

    Even a 9 year old HDMI unit like my Marantz 4002 still sounds great (I use 5.1 since 7.1 is overkill in my small living room) and is compatible with my newer items like my PS4 that I use for blu ray playback. When 4K is more mainstream (at least 3 years) then I will consider going for a full 4K TV/AVR setup. If my TV died today I would get a 4K unit but still wait to get a 4K AVR because there is so little 4K content for now, it is smarter to wait (for me). I have an old Marantz DVD/SACD player that I use for watching DVD movies, but I watch fewer and fewer of them because they just dont look as good as blu ray or the everyday 1080 resolution on cable.

    There has to be a happy medium between those that obsess over having the newest and very best and those that still think that 2 channel stereo sounds as good with modern TV and Blu Ray encoded for 5.1/7.1 (and higher) sound.
     
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  19. MannyE

    MannyE Exterminate! Subscriber

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    When I got into it in the 90's I was quickly soured by the changing hardware, especially video connections. If anyone remembers, we went from composite through RCA to S-video to component through RCA to DVI and then finally HDMI... all in the space of a few years. Audio went from stereo RCA to SPDIF RCA then optical in what seemed like an hour after. Each step requiring a brand new AVR or

    These were AVRs and separates (named separates because they separate you from your money) costing between $1,000 and on up into 5 figures. Audiophiles used to buying a piece of equipment which was still relevant 50 years later and inherited by their kids were having conniptions when just two years later the equipment they had was obsolete! Anyone remember when Dolby Surround became Dolby Pro-Logic? That sucked if you had just dropped big bucks on a surround setup.

    I guess the happy medium is if you still get the "wow" factor when you watch a movie in your HT. I'm enjoying music and movies a lot more now that I stopped reading the magazines and specialty websites. I only go there when I'm in the market for a new setup.
     
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  20. Bodyblue

    Bodyblue AK Subscriber Subscriber

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    And HDMI being backward compatible has been great for keeping older AVRs usable. Yes one still needs the newest version for 4K items to talk to each other (and the anti copy software), BUT even if you dont have all 4K equipment, the items still work, they just show the lower resolution, so its not like one is getting a blank screen. Using the old non HDMI AVRs is not worth my time or effort for most media......but the old high end units do sound great for 2 channel so they do have some value.
     
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