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Looking for the right receiver

 

Unregistered guest
I have a pair of Klipsh RF7s. They are the first speakers I've owned that have the ability to get too loud and stay clean. That's the way I like my music. I have a budget of about $700 to put towards a receiver. My main pleasure is music. I do want to run the TV through the speakers but I dont require surround sound, stereo is sufficiant for my TV watching. The music is what is important. Anyone have a recommendation as to what receiver I might check out? Is there a difference in music sound quality between a stereo receiver and a muti channel AV receiver being played on stereo? I'm looking for lots of clean power and a dynamic frequency responce range. Help?
 

New member
Username: Hawk

Post Number: 4
Registered: 02-2004
Richard:

For a budget of $700, and to get the right sound for your Klipsch speakers, I would look at a Harman/Kardon first. Check out the H/K 430, a new receiver that One Call is offering for $660. Here is the link:

http://ww3.onecall.com/PID_21074.htm

H/K makes a wonderful combo with Klipsch as the softer H/K sound smoothes out the very detailed and somewhat bright sounding Klipsch. Together they make an excellent combo.

While I appreciate that you say you don't need surround sound, the fact of the matter is that almost all receivers, certainly all I know of that go for less than $700, simply suck. The sound is very two dimensional and flat sounding. Receiver manufacturers have tended to put all of the quality and attention into their surround sound receivers and their stereo products tend to be rather poor cousins sold through the back door. Besides, by getting an AVR you will have the flexibility to go to surround sound later if you so want without having to start over. Your best step would be to simply add a center speaker when you want to try it and later on adding the surrounds. But even if you stick with stereo sound, it is more likely to sound better through many AV receivers simply because they have put more quality parts and effort into getting them to sound right than they do their stereo receivers.

Good luck!
 

Two_cents
Unregistered guest
There might not be many good stereo receivers in that price range, but there are some wonderful amps that could mate well with the Klipsch. I believe Creek, Rega and Audio Analogue still make great-sounding integrated amps in that price range. I use the AA to drive my Klipsch speakers. (It's been a while since I auditioned these amps so I'm not sure if prices have gone up.) Notice these companies don't make AV receivers, so they're putting all their energy into audio.

I think those amps will sound better for music than AV receivers in the same price range, but the receivers will provide greater flexibility in the event that you do commit to home theater. I eventually gave into surround sound for HT even though I still prefer stereo for music. I've ended up with separate systems for audio and HT, which works the best in our household.

Hope this helps.
 

Unregistered guest
In my trip to the local stereo guys, they have tried to sell me a Denon stereo receiver. They insist that the stereo model 685 will have better sound than the equivalently priced Denon AV model, AVR-1804. This is the point I'm having the hardest time with. None of the stores I have been to have my Klipsh speakers in a room with stereo receivers so a comparison has not been available.
Is the stereo setting on an AV stereo capable of generating the same sound quality as a straight stereo component?

The idea of using an amp and preamp or an amp and my Sony STR DE545 receiver has crossed my mind. Would this Sony with an amp possibly give me the sound quality of a new HK or Denon receiver? Would using an amp eliminate the noise I'm getting now from my receiver? My speaker and component wires are all high quality ($) Monster cables.

I really appreciate the time and effort you all have given to help me increase my understanding.

 

New member
Username: Hawk

Post Number: 7
Registered: 12-2003
Richard:

In my mind, Denon and Klipsch are a very poor combination. I have now been through two Denons and the sound is dry and somewhat lifeless sounding. What was he offering to sell the Denon 685 for? I am curious what the street price is for a MSRP $700 stereo receiver.

I do endorse what Two Cents has to say--rather than a receiver, if you want stereo, then the integrated amp is the way to go. It seems that audiophiles and other concerned with stereo sound have migrated to the integrated amp as the way to get quality sound. I would recommend the Cambridge Audio Azur 640 as a good match for your speakers. Here is a link with a very good description:

http://audioadvisor.com/store/productdetail.asp?sku=CAMB640A&product_name=Azur%2 0640A%20Integrated%20Amplifier

I hope this helps!
 

Unregistered guest
Thanks Hawk. I'm am very inexperienced with sound systems. In the 60s I had a Fisher 800C (?) receiver with Fisher XPs(?)speakers and a Tandberg reel to reel. And then came the B&O turntable. It was so simple.

I'm ready to go the integrated amp way. Would I still use my Sony receiver or do I need a pre amp?

Again, mucho thank yous.
 

Richard Thomas
Unregistered guest
The price for the Denon was $465 on sale.
 

New member
Username: Richard_t

Post Number: 1
Registered: 02-2004
I will be posting under my new registered name.

Whoopee!

Are today's receivers capable of better quality sound than an old tube type?
 

Silver Member
Username: Hawk

Post Number: 342
Registered: 12-2003
Richard:

Your old Sony is probably best used only as a tuner for your new integrated amp. Just run the patch cord out from either its pre-amp outs (if it has any--if not, use a Tape Outmaking sure the input selector is on Tuner) into the integrated amp's tuner input. Otherwise, a good integrated amp pretty much has it all (BTW, do you still have the B & O turntable? Those were so cool). FYI, the integrated amp is called "integrated" because it has both the amp and the pre-amp built into the same box. A straight amp only is generally referred to as a "power amp."

BTW, I have found another place that is offering the Cambridge Audio Azur 640 and it is $50 less than the price quoted by Audio Advisor (and it offers free shipping). Here is the link I found for this other dealer:

http://www.value-audio.com/amps.htm

Now, your Klipsch RF-7s are a very fine speaker and will need good amplification to get the most out of them. I would think that the Azur 640 would be a minimum to give them the power they need. Also, before I forget, most power ratings from the big guys are pretty suspect. I think you will find the Cambridge's 65 wpc will be just as much or more real power than the typical "100 wpc" quoted by a mass manufacturer. I have actually compared this Cambridge amp against the 80 wpc Denon 395 stereo receiver, and there was no question in my mind that the Cambridge had more real power, despite being rated 15 wpc less than the Denon receiver. I really can't explain it (must have to do with the way the power output is measured), but it was pretty obvious to me.

Good luck!
 

New member
Username: Petergalbraith

Post Number: 6
Registered: 02-2004
Hawk,

I'd be surprised if anyone could tell the difference between 65 W and 80 W. That is less than 1 dB difference.

Also, I wonder what you mean by "good amplification" to drive the Klipsch. Do you mean power (as implied by the later statements)? Why would this be so if they are very sensitive?

My old power amplifier has LED power meters. Sometimes I wish modern receivers used them too, since people would realize how little power they actually use. I turned off the speakers on my power amp last night and cranked up the volume on my h/k receiver to hit peaks of 120W on the power amplifier at around a -5 dB reading on my receiver, so I suppose that dB reading if fairly accurate in my case (with 0dB corresponding approximately to the maximum capability of the receiver). Note that no sound was coming out from any speakers; they were switched off. Then I listenned to some jazz at -40 dB, which was a comfortable level (and it was late) on Klipsch LaScala (106 dB at 1 W and 1m). So amplifier output was around 0.01 W per channel at that point. Any receiver could do that. So I'm more concerned with sound quality than I am with output power capability.

My two cents... Nothing more.
 

Silver Member
Username: Hawk

Post Number: 351
Registered: 12-2003
Peter:

I obviously didn't explain myself well. I agree that it is not simply a question of "power" as much as it is that the sound of the Cambridge simply sounds "fuller" and not as strained as the Denon. That was the difference I was alluding to, but I was trying to put it into terms to explain why I thought a 65 wpc integrated sounded better than an 80 wpc Denon receiver (many people simply look at the numbers and cannot believe the Cambridge would have a louder, cleaner signal). Although an amp may not be approaching its power limits, most people can hear when an amp is "straining" to pump out the power. When set to a relatively loud level, I find the Denon 395 stereo receiver had that "I'm really working hard" sound when an amp is straining. Conversely, the Cambridge sounded effortless at the same volume and it "disappeared" from the room.

However, if I was comparing two different units that perhaps were made by the same manufacturer and used very similar parts, I would whole-heartedly agree that I wouldn't be able to tell the difference between a 65 wpc amp and an 80 wpc amp. It just isn't within the ability of the human ear to hear a less than 1 db difference--provided the amps are comparable. Instead, it is the qualitative differences I hear, not the quantitative difference. I apologize for not making that clear.

As for the issue I raised of quality amplification, again, I am merely suggesting that there is a serious qualitative difference between amps. I am sure you would agree that a $300 Sony receiver (rated at 100 wpc) is not going to sound nearly as good as a $700 integrated amp (rated at 60 wpc) from say, Rotel. I do not believe the Klipsch are overly "sensitive" but I am trying to suggest that they are very revealing speakers. Consequently, I think it is very important to get a high quality signal or the sound will be very dissatisfying. Those Klipsch speaker go for well over $1K per pair, so I wouldn't mate them with a poor amp (or receiver) as that would be very unworthy of the quality represented by those speakers and it would seriously degrade the sound.

I fully agree with your point about how little power people generally use. Power is, unfortunately, one of the few quantitative measurements we have to measure the quality of an amp or receiver. There are no measurements for "quality sound" (unfortunately!), so we tend to talk about power instead. But, as I said before, some amps sound like they are constipated, which makes them hard to listen to for me. An amp that can really make the sound effortless also makes the sound more engaging and realistic, which is my objective in putting together a system.

So, I regret I was not clear with what I was trying to say, but hopefully I am doing a better job of making my point now--which actually sounds like it agrees with you! Quality of sound is the key, and power is merely one component of that standard.

Cheers!
 

New member
Username: Petergalbraith

Post Number: 8
Registered: 02-2004
Hawk,

Thanks for the clarification. I'm glad to see that we're on the same page. I agree with what you have said above, but I would simply urge people to keep something in mind: if a high quality amplifier sounds better than an entry grade receiver at low levels, then these low levels are likely only fractions of 1 W. Therefore the entry grade receiver does not have the excuse of being strained close to its maximum output; it must sound like that a any level. So a 1W Rotal amplifier (if they made one) would still sound better than a 100W entry grade receiver.

I've never had the difference between amplifiers shown to me (and did not believe it 20 years ago), but I believe and trust you guys when you say you have. A close friend of mine was convinced of the difference by a demonstration when he bought an Onkyo receiver and Magnat Vector Needle speakers about 5 years ago and I believe him too. Unfortunately I just hate going to snob Hifi stores to hear stuff for myself, and it's just about the only place where you could change only that one variable. Also, I find my auditory memory is not very good to compare setups when it takes time to change said setups.

Back to the power level subject... I've heard things like: "It's a 100W amplifier and the volume dial goes up to 10. I'm using it at 4 so I must be at 40W". While you and I know that's wrong on so many levels, but many people don't.
 

New member
Username: Joolz

Post Number: 1
Registered: 02-2004
Peter, just wondering how you're enjoying your new H/K 325? How was your experience with ecost? Did it arrive in good shape? Can you tell its been factory refurbished? I'm still hesitating on my purchase...but getting a pretty strong itch to make a deal!
 

New member
Username: Petergalbraith

Post Number: 9
Registered: 02-2004
Hi Julene,

I am enjoying the h/k 325 indeed, but have yet to go through everything to give a full review. It arrived in a box clearly labeled as "reconditioned" which is good news for everyone buying new since they don't have to worry about getting a refurb passed on as new. :-) There is a tiny nick on the top of the faceplate. I only noticed it in full daylight when I unpacked it and can't really see it otherwise. The zone II remote is missing so I emailed ecost about that yesterday morning and have not heared back from them yet. Apart from that, it all works. I'm certainly satisfied paying less than half-price than I would have paid locally only a few months ago!

About the unit itself. At 40 lbs, it's not a lightweight, so that's good. I have noted some minor poor design points:

- It lights up like a christmas tree, so I'm glad to have moved it away from next to the TV so I don't see it. There no front panel switch to dim the display; you must navigate the OSD to do that, and it doesn't remember the setting when you power off and back on. The dimming only affects the main display but not the various other source and surround indicators.

- I would have preferred to turn a knob to change input sources from the front panel instead of a hard-to-find-in-the-dark button to press repeatdly.

- The back panel connection divide video input and corresponding audio input on either side of the unit. If you use a single 3-wire RCA cable to carry both audio and composite video, the connectors can't be separated sufficiently to connect them all, and if they can it makes a mess of wires anyway. Luckly I only use such a cable for the VCR since the other gear is on S-video.

- There's no remote code for Canadian Bell ExpressVu satelite.

- The fan seems to turn on at high dB reading regardless of load on the speakers (e.g. it turn on even with no speakers connected). It's not a heat trigger, I guess.

- There's a huge gain difference between various inputs, so I have to be careful to turn down the volume before switching inputs. I might listen to Sat at -50 dB and a DVD at -20 dB for similar sound output.

Note that these are all minor issues; nothing to make me regret my choice. It just lacks a little User Interface polish.

On the plus side, I love the various surround modes on plain stereo input, like TV. There are a few Dolby Digital encoded programs on the satelite dish (mostly the Movie Network), but most (or all?) network programming is in plain stereo and it's nice to feed sound to all channels. The effects are quite pleasant and not distracting, to my surprise. The only problem is that there are so many to choose from!

I haven't yet tried the automatic speaker level adjustment since it was late at night and the manual said to put the volume at -15 dB to do it, which is quite loud. My main speakers are at -10dB while my surrounds are at +7dB, so I was lucky to fit it within the +/- 10dB possibilities. I'm currently using the RP TV speakers as center using the pre-out on the receiver so I no longer play with the TV volume level. That's working out okay, but I haven't tried watching a real DVD movie yet.

I'll need to do more testing on music before I report about that. :-)

I should probably have posted this in one of my many h/k thread... Ah well.
 

New member
Username: Richard_t

Post Number: 3
Registered: 02-2004
You guys are great. I really appreciate getting some of this straight in my head. This one question is still bugging me. I understand that with the integrated amp I can use my Sony as just the tuner. Does that mean the Sony will have no effect on the sound when I play a CD?

TIA
 

New member
Username: Richard_t

Post Number: 4
Registered: 02-2004
PS

Yes I do still have the B&O. Its the one that has 2 arms that travel accross the back of the unit. The first arm is a tracker. The second carries the stylus. I'm afraid it needs some work.
 

Silver Member
Username: Hawk

Post Number: 357
Registered: 12-2003
Richard:

I had the same turntable for about three to four years in the mid-eighties! My wife really loved it as it was about the most hi-tech looking piece of audio gear we ever owned--as much art as audio gear. Get it fixed, friend--it is a real classic! If you need help locating a new cartridge for it, check here:

http://www.garage-a-records.com/cart.html

BTW, you shouldn't hear the Sony (acting as a tuner) at all when playing a CD. After all, its amps are not connected to the speakers. If you are concerned about "bleed through" (a signal from a source not selected by the pre-amp but is audible when another source is selected), I don't think you need to worry. Although bleed through is always a concern, I would be very surprised if you would hear any bleed through with a quality integrated amp. This used to be a real problem with many receivers in the 70s and 80s, especially when playing LPs. However, audio manufacturers are much better at suppressing spurious signals today and the quality of the source selectors is simply much better, so with a quality integrated, bleed through should not happen. If it does pop up, however, simply turn off the Sony while listening to a CD or other source. This ability to simply turn off the offending tuner is one of the joys of owning separates.

Good luck!
 

New member
Username: Richard_t

Post Number: 5
Registered: 02-2004
You have answered my questions so that even a dumb guy like me can now come to a decision.

Many thanks to Hawk and all the rest.

 

Bronze Member
Username: Petergalbraith

Post Number: 22
Registered: 02-2004
Richard,

I sincerely doubt that you're dumb guy! And I do hope that my answers never came across like that. :-)

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