Warm, bright, laid back, front receiver ?


Among these receivers (Harman, Onkyo, Marantz, Yamaha, Denon) w/c can you consider warm, bright, laid back, front?

Can someone describe warm, bright, laid back, front


I would describe warm as well balanced, full bodied sound with lack of vocal sibilance and lack of harshness in the upper ranges. Imaging and a deep soundstage are traits as well. Bright is a unit with harsh vocal sibilance, hollow sounding and lack of full bodied sound. Warm units would be: H/K, Elite,Marantz, Nad, Rotel,Onkyo/Integra. Bright would be :SonyES, Denon, and Yamaha. Not all units of each brand meet these generalizations which makes this rather difficult to quantify. I had 2 different Denons [2802,3803] which had different sounding vocals. The 3803 was very bright while the 2802 was not. Go figure.

Any amplification that has a sound quality is poorly built amplification and definitely poor amplification for your speakers. One often finds this lousy circuitry in some tube amps (particularly triodes)and some engineers that are alterring the amp output (either on purpose or through incompetence). Hence, what one may find as a warm "tube" sound is nothing more than an incompetent engineer or an engineer that is doing electron alteration because he/she likes the distortion. Amplifiers should have zero sound quality and just act as a pass through (and amplifier :-))for the electrons. Unless the engineer is bad, the amplification should have zero effect on the sound. Any audio or electrical engineer will tell you this. Obviously if your amp is clipping during playback or your speakers are not compatible with your amplification this will effect the sound.

But I have played both my Monitor Audio GR10's (2 pr) and in another room my PSB Stratus Gold's with Aragon separates, with Pioneer Elite 49txi, and an inexpensive Sony receiver and have gotten great results from all three. Now, when I pushed the Sony under difficult and loud music passages (particularly with the PSB's) I could hear the clipping, but under most conditions it was fine.

Buy the separates or receiver that has more than sufficient power (headroom) for anything you will listen to and get the one with the features and remote you like. The only time your receiver should have a sonic quality of its own is when you do processing in the preamp section. But then it is you requesting the colorization of the sound.

I think we had this arguement before but I will again say that no 2 receivers or amps sound the same. All one has to do is listen to 2 different amps thru the same speakers in the same room to hear the difference. Why the old saw that all amps sound the same? Simply not true.

Elite--All I can say is you'd have a hard time finding an electric or acoustic engineer that agrees with you on this. I have never found one, although one or more may exist.

I agree that a lot of magazines say otherwise, but if you go to a professional Audio Engineer Society meeting and speak to real accreditted professionals, they will tell you differently. And even if you can find an engineer that may say there are slight differences, I am sure they will all say these differences are so slight as to be unimportant to the listener. They all say that loudspeakers, their placement, and the interaction of the speakers with the room effect the sound you hear.

I have listened to many receivers and amps and all well made solid state amplification (without their outputs diddled with) sound basically the same when driven within their parameters at the exact same volume.

This is not to say I wouldn't rather have a Bryston amp and pre-amp than a Parasound, Marantz, or NAD. I would. But it is mostly a pride of ownership issue and the firsthand knowledge that the engineers at Bryston build amps with incredible precision, the best specs, and the cleanest and best layed out circuitry I have ever seen. So I wish someone would buy me a Bryston 5 or 7 channel amp:-)

Heck, I would rather have a Rolex than a Timex--even if they both tell time the same.

But hey---to me it is like different religions. I basically don't care what people want to believe as long as they let me be skeptical and try to rely on facts:-)

I will add one more thought and then never talk about this issue again. If two amps have 100 watt/channel amplification--and basically the same distortion and headroom specs--how can they be different? They can only be different if the engineer messed with the output on purpose or through incompetence. And normally headroom only comes into play when the amp reaches its' limit. Otherwise there is no measureable reason for the amp to sound different.

In theory or in a lab you might be correct. What I am saying is that in the real world for whatever reason you might point to not amps sound the same and that is why it is so important to match amps and speakers for their sound characterisics. In this case the theory doesn't match reality.

I think it is important to match speakers to your listening preference, to the room, and obviously to the amp (as far as the amps power envelope is concerned).

Obviously you don't want to match an inefficient speaker with a low powered amp. To me the killer with many receivers is the lousy menu interface and the universal remote. Afterall, you spend a lot of time with the remote and it can really make your life miserable if it isn't very intuitive.

If the amplifier makes the speaker sound different there must be a reason THAT IS MEASURABLE why this occurs. If there is no measurable difference that is significant I would almost guarantee the difference is the human component. And people are very much subject to suggestion by others, magazine reviews, pride of ownership issues, notion of brand quality, etc.

I would bet anything that if I had a A/V store and 100 potential customers walked in I could convince over 90 of them that speaker "A" (a badged Paradigm speaker) sounded better than speaker "B" with a Technics badge (even though I removed the Paradigm badge and stuck on a Technics badge) and they were both connected to the same amplifier.

Afterall, every knows Bob is taller than Bill--even though they both measure exactly 6' tall :-)

This is not to say that there aren't a lot of legitimate reasons to prefer one receiver over another. I like the idea that the equipment I am buying has been engineered to the best level at its price point (even if it isn't audible), the build quality is excellent, and it presents the feautures I want in a logical and well laid-out format.

So even if I couldn't hear any difference between a Parasound amp and a Krell amp I would much prefer having the Krell as a present.

G-man I have a question since you seem so knowledgeable. I used to have a Kenwood a/v receiver and some Dcm towers. The Dcm's specs on paper were 400wtts peak and 200wtts rms at 8ohms, and the Kenwood was 100by5 {which I know is not true at all}. When I would turn the volume up during cd playback{analog} at less than half volume my amp would say clip,clip..But in the manual it says that if run thru an optical cable it would not clip and that only analog in's clip?
Now on here many people talk about clipping as having to do with your amps power/speakers power, and from reading the manual it sounds like its just when an anaolog input is too strong? Any thoughts on this? Thank you for your time.

I am not sure I understand your problem. I have never heard of optical connections between speakers and receivers. There are optical connections between CD or DVD players and receivers, but this has zero effect on the speaker to receiver interface.

When the DCM pamphlet says 400 watts peak and 200 watts at 8 ohms I imagine it means that is the maximum wattage that those speakers can handle without either distorting horribly or ruining the tweeter, midgrange, and/or woofer.

I presume the DCM's are 8 ohm speakers as you say they mentioned an 8 ohm maximum drive capability.

Now if you are experiencing clipping when playing your cd player, but not the tuner, turntable, or other device--I would say that there is a problem or anomaly with either the receivers input, or the cd's output. If your CD player has an optical output and your receiver has an optical input I would recommend buying an optical cable and hooking them up. See if this corrects the problem.

There is no good reason for a healthy CD player hooked up to a healthy receiver to behave this way other than the CD output or the receiver input is shot, or the analog cable you are using is flawed frayed and shorted, or you have connected to the wrong input.

Are you connecting your CD player to the correct input on the Kenwood? If you aren't, that undoubtedly is the problem. If you are connecting to a higher impedance input (which could be an aux. or a phono), then the receiver will clip at medium volume, as it is trying to compensate for the low input it is receiving.

After checking the above out and you still have a problem you should hookup someone elses CD player to your receiver and see if it works. If the problem remains--your receiver needs repair. If it works, you either need to repair or replace your CD player.


Glad to hear you say that amps should not make a difference in sound (all things being equal - which they may not be). I used to get into 'stereo' 25 - 30 years ago, and now that I am getting a little back into it (shopping for an HT)I was confused as to why folks talk about the different 'sound' produced by different receivers. Guess I always attributed 'sound' mainly to the speakers and room.


Yeah I meant through my cd player, sorry.
It said in the manual that if my analog input was too high it would clip but it said it doesnt clip with an optical cable. Sorry for the misunerstanding. Thank you,

Maybe you can borrow someone's optical cable and see if it fixes your problem. If it doesn't, then there is a problem with your receiver's CD input or the CD player's output.

What does exactly mean "laidback" ?
I don't understand exactly all those terms you
use; warm, bright, smooth, laidback, neutral and
all that jazz...

I'm confused because of my english, sorry.
If someone can explain it to me... thanks.

Is there some site where is explained all these
terms ? warm, laidback, etc ?


it's audiophile jibberish....At the end of day, if the sound produced is to your liking, forget what these so-called experts have to say...

is "laidback" the same thing than "warm" ?


Hi all
I have found a website which explains
a lot of audio terms.



Max, G-Man,

Amplifiers and receivers can also 'clip' if they receive too high a level into their analog inputs. All CD players are not created equal and an analog signal (via RCA cable) can be of varying levels. On some amplifiers and receivers, you can attenuate the incoming analog signal to alleviate this problem. A digital connection however, be it coaxial or optical, will never suffer from this problem because only the PCM bitsteam is sent to the reciever, not the converted, low level analog signal.

Hope this helps,


Actually that's not true. Amplifiers usually clip because their output stage runs out of steam not the input stage overloading. It is possible but VERY unlikely. About the only place I see this happening would be if someone turned the subwoofer level all the way up at the receiver and turned the volume down at the sub.

All CD player are created equal as far as their output stage. The standard is 2.0 volts at 0db and almost all CD players adhere to that. Some have variable level outputs but that too is relatively rare and there's no reason to turn it up past 2.0 volts and even then most amplifier can take 5 to 10 volts.

You are right about the digital audio not clipping however, I have an old Sony TAE1000ES preamp in the closet and I actually can vary the digital inputs level AND CLIP IT. There is even a digital input clipping indicator on the preamp.

Hope this helps.
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