ONKYO vs. DENON vs. HK vs. YAMAHA

 

Anonymous
In general, which receiver has better sound quality for movies at a price tag of $450 to $500? In addition, I repeatedly hear that Denon receivers provide a "warm sound", what does this mean?
 

Aw, these questions are so unanswerable.

In general, the reciever that sounds best to YOU is the receiver that will sound best on movies to YOU.

All of the brands you mention make excellent products no matter what opinons or loyalities people have about one or the other.

In sweeping generalities (which I do not ascribe to) Denon make a quality receiver, Yamaha may lead the pack in DSP (which may be pain in the a$$ to others), people say that HK is good for 2-channel music, Onkyo offers THX select at a price point lower than the others you mention (TS-RX800) and one could go on and on. But, to be sure, for every person who trumpets one of these generalities, you can find another who would say just the opposite.

The ONLY thing to do is define your features, your budget, read both expert and consumer eviews, shop for the best price and then go LISTEN!!!

I also implore people to do searches in the archives before posting incredibly general (and essentially unanswerable) question like these.

Myself and dozens of others have writen thousands upon thousands of words (and read as many) in response to this very question.

Just search the archives.

-h1pst3r
 

Anonymous
In general, I agree with h1pst3r. You have to listen to the receiver and people need to search the archives--many times questions are answered multiple times.

...but even though you search the archives, the same question may have been asked a year ago, and are not valid for today's products.

The other question about what "warm sound" mean is valid. It's like when people describe "boomy" vs "tight" bass. Until you hear it, you may not understand what people are trying to describe. The "warm sound" lingo is not familiar to people new to buying receivers...I still don't quite know "warm sound" vs ??? (not warm sound).

-C
 

michael smith
It is my understanding that 'warm' sound emphasises the mid-range frequencies (some people like this for voices / movie dialogue), while the term 'bright' refers to an emphasis on the high frequencies in a given recording. It is also my understanding that a piece of 'solid state' equipment such as an AV receiver is not going to 'color' sound one way or the other, making it niether warm nor bright. Speakers do that, largely based on the materials the domes (highs) & cones (mids & lows) are made of. Notice that I did NOT say that a 'good' receiver won't color the sound. No receiver is going to do that, in my humble opinion. It's sending signals here & there, ultimately to the speakers where the signal is turned into sound. Now, if you get into DSPs (digital sound processing), those alter the signal sent to the speakers & will change the sound, but ultimately, those aside, the receiver is designed to simply send the sound, not to change it. HTH
 

John A.
I think the questions asked are valid ones. what may be a good receiver today may not look so good in the future. Look at the problem people are having with the Onkyo.

Things change and the longer these products are in the hands of the people that really use them there is no telling how they hold up.

People thought the Yugo was a great car when it first came out!

I think Mike is right on. The speakers have as much to do wotht eh sounds as does the head unit. People tend to over look that. You should spend as much time looking into the speakers as you do the receiver.
 

Mike,

Respectfully, I couldn't disagree more that receivers (specifically, pre-amps and amplifiers inside the receiver) don't "color" sound. while I do agree that speakers have a greater tendency to impart their own characteristics on signal more than receivers, the simple fact is that every single stage in any piece of electronics introduces "artifacts" into the pure signal. Some artifacts are deliberate (loudness button) some are not (audible distortion of underpowered amps).

With regard to solid state versus say, valve or tube-based electronics, there is no doubt that tubes are far more inconsistent with regard to how they deliver sound. Altitude, humidity, and current will affect a tubes ability to impart the same sound over and over far more than solid state but IC (integrated circuits) are hardly innocent. Any guitar player that has played through a decent tube amp will attest to the fact that their amps sound slightly different at sea-level than they do in Summit county, Colorado. Also, the stability of the power supply, the life of the tubes in question, and the relative volume impart huge swings in the "voice" of one's amp.

But to think that Integrated circuits (cheap ones versus high-quality) or RF isolation, or a power supply's ability to deliver consistent current DON'T have an impact on overall sound coloration of solid-state electronics is crazy. Again, none of this even touches on the *deliberate* choices that a manufacturer makes.

Also, take a 300 watt/ch receiver and compare it to a 50 watt/ch receiver at the same volume and you will hear gobs of difference. Take a $1500 reciever and a $400 receiver and you will hears gobs of difference. Take a cheap DAC and Burr-browns and you will hear...you get it.

Also, none of this even touches on the fact that manufacturers have so many different places to "tune" the voice of the amp and pre that they can make it sound like anything they want (and THEY DO). Compression is a choice, deliberately enhancing highs and lows is an ages old trick in lower-end recievers to simulate the enhanced dynamic range. While a pronounced mid will always make pop/rock sound more punchy (these are the frequencies we are very susceptible to which is why music producers Q so many of our favorite tunes into that range).

What a wonderful world it would be if every receiver did nothing more than faithfully and accurately recreate EXACTLY what was on the source. Unfortunately, that sonic neutrality is usually only available in very high-end gear.

Heck, even the simple choice of what digital-to-analog decoders a receiver or DVD-player manufacturer chooses to use will have a HUGE impact on the overall sound qulaity.

Again, go LISTEN people...you have two lobes on each side of your head...they are an engineering miracle...and absolute feat of sonic and perceptible greatness. Go use them and put your opinions away.

PLUS, guys, any sound that comes out of 99% of your receivers is digitized within the receiver before it leaves and hits your speakers. You are in fact hearing as much of the DAC than you are of the source...this is why audiophiles think all AV receivers are garbage (I do not think this), but the fact is they are right. Why do you think that around $1000 you see features such as "pure audio" paths which allow the signal to bypass the digitization.

Alas, ugh!

-h1pst3r
 

John A.
So maybe there is a answer to the question that someone like yourself could answer. I tend to think that someone that had as much experience as yourself wouldn't need to ask such a question.On the other hand most of us might.

Not all receivers are built the same. I think thats what you are trying to say, and God gave us two ears and one mouth for a reason. If you used your's you might realize that the person asking the question thinks someone other then themselfs might be able to steer them in the right direction.

you can listen to a lot of receivers. but that doesn't mean they are built good or a good value. It doesn't mean they will last over he long haul. If you bought a car, boat, plane, house, dog, cat. I think you would ask people that have them on their experience with them, ask about a good buy, or maybe just a little help moving on the right direction.

When it comes to Audio and Video things change very fast and someone like yourself that seems to be very up on the subject might be a great help. It's very hard for most people to keep up on whats changing.

This is a great web sight and people like h1pst3r help keep it that way.There is a lot of information on here and sometimes it's hard to get through or is old. Just keep in mind that we are not all as HIP as ther rest when it comes to this stuff.

Thanks, John A
 

John,

You may have missed my point, respectfully. My intial reply to the original question was simply to implore the folks that ask (very) general questions to read the points that I and many others have already throughtfully offered on this very good sight. I do agree with you.

In terms of your analogy about boats, planes, dogs and cats...I fear it falls a bit short. The poster didn't ask "how do Denon owners like their receivers for movies," but instead asked, "which receivers are good for movies?" If this were a boating forum, that's the equivalent to asking which brand of boat is good for bouyancy. Well, all boats are bouyant, it's part of their definition (if it don't float...it ain't a boat, right?)

So to ask which reciever is good for movies is kind of too vague to answer. They're all good for movies...it's part of what makes an AV receiver an AV receiver. To make matters worse, the answer at best is highly subjective. What's harsh and bright to some folks is warm and muddy to others and vice versa. $3000 to some is nothing more than abudget for speaker cable, while $400 is alot of money to others for their receiver. The point is that with no real informed frame of reference all you have is grist for a flame war.

Again, I was (and perhaps obstreperously, sorry) trying to illustrate that vague questions garner vague answers. As to the details, again, many of us have invested alot of time and expereinces into helping people here. I have been both a beneficiary and benefactor of that help and I only ask that folks use those past messages in order to help ask more informed questions.

With all that said, I still offered what I think few would dispute as the conventional wisdom as lumped by manufacturer. But even that I didn't feel was spot on. Another poster here, Phil Krewer, who I respect, and I have completely differing opinions on Denon and HK despite what generalities the trade mags may or may not make. Again, my point is that the more vague the question, the more subjective and potentially divisive the answer... Ears, ears, ears.

To the intial question about what does "warm sound" mean I feel like that's a good question that is answerable and I think folks here did an admirable job of answering.

Thanks for your thoughtful reply though, and I do not intend any disrespect to anyone in this thread ;-)

-h1pst3r
 

Ooops,

and I didn't mean to say, "put your opinions away."

Maybe morning coffee was a little weak this morning ;-)

Cheers,

-h1pst3r
 

Anonymous
How important is a good reciever as oppossed to a good Speaker? Currently I have a Kenwood VR 409 reciever and Paradigm Titan Speakers, and am not impressed with sound quality at all. I am looking to up grade my reciever to a Marantz SR 5300, will this improve the sound quality alone? Or is it the speakers which need the upgrade?
 

Anon,

Paradign Titans are a pretty good speaker for the money...no, actually they are an excellent speaker for the money.

I think in your case it's the receiver that needs an upgrade. Hypothetically with speakers, with all things being equal, they simply expose what is being pushed into them. If the receiver upstream isn't capable of pushing a quality signal to the speakers, there's not too much they can do.

Reviews of the Titans I've read pretty much say that their strength is their accuracy. With that being the case, I think an upgrade to a quality receiver (the Marantz being one--but also Denon, HK, Yam, Onk) will reveal some capabilities that you didn't know your speakers had.

I would strongly suggest hitting Tweeter, Circuit City, Best buy, or Crutchfield (they all have very consumer-friendly 30 day return policies and Tweeter and CC have trade-up programs) and taking home a new receiver for an in-home demo.

You may be surpirsed at what those little Titans can do...and it's no risk to you!

With that said, there are limits and if your speakers spank then your hamstrung. When I brought home my HK AVR525 and plugged in my Boston Micro8000 system...the Boston's, while sounding better, still stunk on hot ice.

But the Titans are a better speaker than the Bostons.

Good luck,

-h1pst3r
 

David
Thanks h1pst3r! Do you recomend any particular reciever? And can I get a quality reciever that will make diffence in the $600 range?
 

Hey David,

Just a quick note (will say more in a bit) but $600 will *definitely* buy you a really nice receiver from just about any quality manufacturer. I'll expand more just a little later...bit busy right now.

Was that you with the Titans?

-h1pst3r
 

David
Yes thats me with the Titans. let me know when you get a moment
 

I had problem with the 7300 Only with optical cabel connected, and playing a CD. It has to be in DSP mode and when you hit play there is a high pitch noise heard from the speakers for a second.I replaced the first one but the 2nd one made the same noise.If you use analog cabels or leave the DSP off, and use auto mode, it was OK.The SR 7300 has a nice menu ,great look, easy setup. The noise and customer support was pretty upseting. No Marantz for me! I did try the Yamaha RXV2300, great sound for movies, clean look, setup is a bit difficult if you dont like spending much time playing around.Didn't like the sound for music playback. Yamaha is a good choice if you use it for moore movies than music. I decided to give a try to Onkyos TX-SR800 . This one has it all. I can't find any problem with this machine, (Marantz and Yamaha remote was better I think) music or movie it sounds great,setup is not bad ,has 7.1 THX , DTS-ES, DTS96/24. Nice look, great sound, keeping this one.
 

CT
Back to the poster's original question - I am nowhere near as knowledgeable as hipster, but I tend to agree with his analysis. Five bills CAN buy you a great receiver, but you have to set some parameters for yourself based on what you want and how that matches with what you have. Otherwise, will may end up being 'sold' something rather than you making a purchase. All of the brands you mention-all of them-are great choices, but you have to know what you need.

Are you building this system from scratch or are you integrating this with the rest of your system? What kind of user are you, mainly movies, audio, or a good mix of both? Each of these manufacturers has positioned themselves toward a slightly different audience, as previous posters have said. If your focus is on th visual portion, I would audition the Onkyo and Yamaha products. If you have really efficient speakers, I probably would look at the HK, maybe even exlusively, as it is strong in sooo many areas! I think the Denon is an excellent piece for music, I could care less about THX (I am more interested in how George Lucas' business than in this specific technology, and its a good thing too, entry-level prices for quality THX equipment is sky high, and in this department, Onkyo takes the cake), if I could afford to do so properly, I would have bypassed the entire AV market and opted for separate components. But my wife does focus on the movie side, and components are prohibitavely expensive at this point. That said, I have both a Denon in the car and in the house.

Also think a bit about connections, what kind of flexibility does your current setup provide? Do your components stress, analog or digital (coax and optical). You may prefer, or may be required, to stress one form over the others and you will find some receivers may not meet your needs on that basis alone. The last thing you want to do is be forced into upgrading pieces that still have years of service left.

The goal is (or should be) to get exactly what the source data intended, so you want to match your speakers accordingly. If you have, for example, Paradigm speakers, the field is really wide open, since they have made a commitment extremely accurate imaging. Many speaker companies also target a certain slant on the way they reproduce sound, and not that this is bad, but you reeeely need to give some thought to this aspect as well.

Though I would spend some quality time thinking about this stuff BEFORE you set foot in a storefront, as you are likely to be sold something that doesn't truly meet your long-term needs and you will truly be $500 poorer.
 

CT,

Great post and really good advice about defining the needs that are applicable and usefull, and therefore *valuable* in each individual's choice!

Thanks!

-h1pst3r
 

David
Thanks for the post CT. My setup currently includes Paradigm titan speakers, Toshiba SD 2705 CD/DVD player with Digital and Coax connections, and of course the Kenwood VR409 which I would like to upgrade. The main use and most important for me is listening to music. Based on that info are there any particular recievers you'd recomend which would blow me away in terms of music?
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