Q: looking for 5.1+ receiver with preamps



I worked a lot with professional audio equipment and I tend to think that all HiFi/HiEnd equipment is -- sorry -- junk. "Warms" of this, "crips" of that. Come on. If two systems have the same frequency responce curve and frequency range they sound the same. If not it means they have different frequency responce. So essentially manufacturers are selling (at ridiculous prices) tuned frequency responce. Well, I know how to operate an equalizer... (I apologize to anyone whose feeling are hurt; after all, opinion is opinion).

Though I didn't listen to music or watched TV at home for years (get enough at work), my family deserves good sound (TV/DVD is secondary priority, say, 90% music, 10% DVD).

So I am thinking to use good old studio gear. Say, Mackie HR824 active studio monitors ($650-700 a piece, 120db @ 1m, 39Hz-20KHz +- 1.5db; what else do I need? :-). Not to mention that I won't have to run gauge 0 wires in all directions...

The problem is receiver choice. Since I won't use the power amplifier that drives passive speakers I don't care about it. What I need is a) preamp outputs for all channels, b) good preamp (preferably no more than +- 1db from 20Hz to 20KHz), c) I don't wanna spend more than $500-600 on that (it shouldn't cost more, IMHO; good preamp nowadays is exceptionally simple device -- my $150 Behringer mixer that I use as headphone amp is +- 3db from 10Hz to 120KHz and +-1db from 20Hz to 40KHz, and it has more than a dozen of preamps inside).

Now I own you all an apology for my total ignorance in consumer-grade electronics.

I tried to find something with balanced XLR outputs and -- oops! -- it looks like XLR outputs is automatic +$3000 to price tag. Bagger!..

OK, I looked at who's having preamps at all. Looks like only Yamaha HT-R5660 ($320), Yamaha DV-X740 ($430) and Denon 3803 ($800 new, $530 refurb -- alas, refurbs are out of stock everywhere) suit my requirements.

So my questions are:

1. I presume that quality of these receivers varies wildly (esp. when it comes to power amplifiers), but what about preamp quality?

The reason I am asking is that I do like pro Yamaha music gear, but when I talked with our audio engineers and mentioned Yamaha a/v receivers they started to spill poison claiming that in the same price range Denon makes much better and balanced gear. Unfortunately, their emphasis was, again, power amplifier; they don't know much about preamps. That makes me worry a little bit -- usually these guys know what they're talking about.

2. Did I miss something? Is there A/V receiver (well, better say "preprocessor" because I never listen to the radio) that is not terribly expensive, has all preamp outputs and can handle latest incarnations of Dolby? I am aware of Rotel RSX-1055 and RSP-1066 but they're way too expensive...

Thank you,


Why are you looking for a receiver if you only want a preamp? Wouldn't it make more sense to buy a preamp? I suspect you'd find something that fits your needs from NAD, Adcom, or Outlaw Audio.

Have you looked at the Kenwood VR-6070?(available for $229 refurb retail $599)
It is an awsome receiver if you only use the pre-amp outs. (which is 7.1 + 2 room B outs) It is 6.1 and my studies showed it had a good pre-amp. Plus it is THX certified (Goerge Lucas propaganda) although it doesnt mean much the badge looks nice. It is not bad when u use the internal amps, but the rear channel amps are weak. Adam T does have a point there, why would you want to use an A/V receiver for a pre-amp only? Also look at Marantz SR-7300 NAD 752 and Pioneer Elite VSX-43TX(if u can find one)

FYI, It is 7.1 since you would be using the pre-amp outs, sorry my bad.


You can have your opinion and I will not argue the points with you, although I do have a different view. However, some points need to be made.

First, your engineer buddies are right about Yamaha home audio equipment. That is not just my opinion but Yamaha's. As I related on another thread, a buddy of mine who is a Yamaha dealer showed me communications from Yamaha to dealers about how their new line of receivers "now sounds as good as Denon." Obviously, they have had a few problems there. Second, one of the big problems that handicap Yamaha engineers is the fact that they are required to use the company's in house fabricated DSP and DACs, which are inferior to other brands such as Crystal and Cirrus Logic. So it isn't just the amp section, but the pre/pro that also has a few problems. Now, there are many fine people on this board that love Yamaha and they are entitled to get what they like the best--I am not going to tell them that they are wrong because we all hear things a little differently and perhaps Yamaha sounds best to them. You may be one yourself, so I suggest you listen to Yamaha home audio gear and decide for yourself.

However, the fact that two different receivers measure the same does not mean that they sound the same. You are presuming that we humans have figured out what is the right thing to measure and I am not convinced that we have figured that out yet. Twenty years ago, audio companies stopped talking about total harmonic distortion (THD) because you couldn't hear any difference between 0.1% THD and 0.2% THD, and instead started talking about Transient Intermodal Distortion (TIM) and the race was on to see who could squeeze out the most TIM. Now, that race is over (you hardly ever hear anyone mention TIM anymore) and they are looking for other ways to make you believe they know what they are doing. Frankly, it is all marketing nonsense that means nothing ["It is a tale told by an Idiot, full of sound and Fury, but signifies nothing." Macbeth, Act V, Scene II]. Meanwhile, some small English comapnies like Naim and Linn were cranking out products that did not measure nearly as well as the Japanese giants, but boy did is sound good! I have a Denon 3803, for example, and it measures great, but I am ready to replace it because it just doesn't sound realistic enough for my ears. It has that typical "receiver sound" which is probably why you loathe consumer electronics. Well, there is a wider world in audio than just the Japanese giants, who all tend to sound pretty much the same. While I respect the fact that we should be able to measure what sounds right, we aren't there yet. I am convinced that the engineers have yet to figure out how to measure the right thing to tell us what sounds good, so all of these spec sheets they like to produce are providing as much disinformation as information. Therefore, we are left to our own subjective tastes.

You want a great pre/pro for a reasonable price? Get an Outlaw 950. It will embarrass anything and everything from the Japanese giants and costs less than half as much. Buy it for $799 directly from Outlaw (www,outlawaudio.com). Blows my Denon 3803 away, much less the other receivers you have suggested. I would also point out that it is the identical pre/pro as the one Sherbourne sells for $1599 through dealers, except the Sherbourne has a black face rather than the Outlaw's industrial grey.

If you want a receiver instead of a pre/pro, get the NAD 752. Superb pre/pro section with Crystal brand DSP and Crystal brand Delta-Sigma 192/24 DACs which are considered the best in the business right now. Cost is $699 from several on-line dealers. If you use the amp section, as well, you just might have to change your opinion about home audio products.

Thanks for the Macbeth quote. Just what I needed after a long week at work . Good advice also, my friend.

Thank you very much for a lot of valuable ideas!

Just few more words.
Definitely, Outlaw 950 specs looks like that'll do the job. However, it's quite a bit above my price range (though I'll keep it in mind -- thanks a lot for the hint!).

Marantz SR-7300 costs as much as Outlaw 950, and Outlaw seems like better product.

According to this forum, NAD products demonstrate respectful consistency in exceptionally low quality of quality control, if I can say so. Let's put them aside.

Kenwood VR6070 sounds interesting, but its specs say it (like VR7060) has preamps for surround back channel and subwoofer only. According to www.kenwoodusa.com, only 7070 and 7080 have preamp outputs for all channels (though 7070 is available for less than $300 -- refurb? -- it may be good deal, though I am not really impressed with idea of swithing TV source after I switch video source). Though what really embarrasses me is complete lack of information on Kenwood cite. I cannot even tell the difference between 7070 and 7080 -- ad pages Kenwood put out are identical.

So it looks like search is narrowed down to Pioneer Elite VSX-43TX (about $500). And Outlaw ($800, hmm).

Thank you! -- that was very helpful.

-- Andrew
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