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#416691 - 01/26/16 08:33 PM Disappointed with the current round of AV units
MatManhasgone Offline
aficionado

Registered: 05/06/14
Posts: 975
Loc: Lost in the great wide yonder
I know that I am not in the market for a new AV receiver or pre-amp at the current time, but thought it might be interesting to see what is listed as new by the major retailers. I can understand the desire of Atmos in the theater in expanding the sound field to give better coverage and the ability to break out from the matrix speaker model to address individual speakers for better sound placement.

The fun part to this is how to bring that sort of sound back into your home.

Looking at the Pioneer line, there is just one new Atmos ready seems to be a 7.1 unit. Seems rather strange that they would put out a unit with support for so few speakers. How they call this Atmos is beyond me in it's just standard Dolby Digital with 7 speakers. Sound wise it should not be any different to any 7.1 unit before it.

Yamaha doesn't do much better, but at least their receiver does support DTS-X. Again with a 7.1 system it hardly seems worth it. I had high hopes for their CX-5100 pre-amp but they killed off the most important speaker option, the front wide channel. That was the biggest part of Atmos to kill the sound dead zone between the front and surround speakers when panning. In older DD or DTS they rely on a phantom speaker fill that spot and it just bakes a sound blur that really looses the effect.

So we are left with Marantz and Dennon. At least both of these units do offer a 9.2 receiver. The Marantz scores bonus points in their 9.2 receiver supports 11.2 pre-out capability. I don't really want to drive my main speakers from an underpowered receiver but the surrounds don't take that much power so it's kind of nice to hopefully be able to pre-out the Fronts & Center that do all the real lifting and just have the lower powered surrounds running from a receiver. Now it would have been more nice if they could pre-out a 13.2. They also support the needed Front Wide option. Yet sadly not a hint of word about DTS-X

Dennon on the other hand has got the DTS-X at least mentioned as a ready feature so I guess that would be a firmware thing. it too says it has 11.2 on the pre-out so it looks like this one is the only option going right now.
_________________________
Anthem: AVM60
Axiom: ADA1000, LFR1100, VP180, QS8, EP500, M3, M3comp
AudioSource: Amp One/A

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#416693 - 01/26/16 08:50 PM Re: Disappointed with the current round of AV units [Re: MatManhasgone]
nickbuol Offline
axiomite

Registered: 09/16/04
Posts: 5319
Loc: Marion, IA
Yeah, I have been looking at receivers for a while just to track the Atmos/DTS:X progress in receivers for about a year and it is disappointing. I mean, the general consensus is that 7.1.4 is ideal for any room that can do it, and the biggest limiter in the room is if you have 2 rear surrounds (7.1 vs. 5.1) and if your seats are at least a couple of feet from the back wall.

So what do we get? Mainly 5.1.2 receivers for under $1000, 5.1.4 or 7.1.2 for under a couple of grand, and to get a 7.1.4 system (without needed a separate amp) it is even more.

Then there is DTS:X... The receivers out there that came with the "free upgrade" to DTS:X (first update to hit in 2 days) have a few limits due to the hardware specs that the manufacturers were given and what the codec is actually requiring. One of these that is making a lot of people frustrated at AVS is no support for "wide" speakers, so no 9.1.2 option, which some experts say is superior to even 7.1.4 for most people.

Top it off that most receiver manufacturers dropped Audyssey for their own auto-setup/room correction software, and most of those aren't very good in comparison.

So yeah, I'm not impressed either.
_________________________
http://ht.buol.us
2-M60s, VP180, 8-M3s, SVS 20-39PCi, DIY Sub, 8-Shakers, JVC RS45, Anthem MRX-1120

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#416699 - 01/27/16 11:59 AM Re: Disappointed with the current round of AV units [Re: MatManhasgone]
casey01 Offline
aficionado

Registered: 07/03/08
Posts: 851
Loc: Toronto
Actually as some who has owned a few Yamaha pieces over the years(currently a 11.2 CX-A5000 pre-pro)for the record, Yamaha never had a "front wide" speaker option nor the Audyssey room correction system in any of their models. It has always consisted of elevated front and where possible rear "presence" speakers and their own YPAO room set-up system. In their latest line-up the top two models, the 2050 is 9.2 and the 3050 is 9.2 with the option to go to 11.2 IF the owner wishes to add an external amp. The CX-A5100 is fully 11.2, however, being a pre-pro it, of course, requires external amplification for all channels.

In the case of the above models, while implementing the DTS and forthcoming DTX formats, Yamaha just chose to go the route of using the existing presence speakers and with the front presence in particular giving the owner the option of elevating them over one`s head. I am somewhat surprised though that other than Denon, no one else has chosen to offer the "Auro" option which, after hearing a couple of demos, I was quite impressed. Since they, in particular, have developed it with music in mind as well, their system leans towards a total envelopment experience as opposed to primarily directional cues.

Owning a Marantz and Onkyo in previous years, for my particular option choices, I ultimately gravitated back to the Yamaha because compared to similar models of other mainstream manufacturers, they were a little better value, their "Aventage" line in particular, has a better warranty and I always preferred their DSP and in particular, the full parameter adjustable movie sound fields that none of the others even had in their feature set.


Edited by casey01 (01/27/16 12:16 PM)

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#416703 - 01/27/16 07:55 PM Re: Disappointed with the current round of AV units [Re: MatManhasgone]
Stilljoe Offline
buff

Registered: 04/05/12
Posts: 41
Loc: Greater Toronto Area
Pioneer Canada's website only lists one SC-9x receiver - the SC-91. In fact there are three in the range above that (95, 97, and 99) which all appear to be 9.2 channels, and all will apparently get an upgrade for DTS-X. They are shown on the US site, and are available at Canadian dealers. Why not on the Canadian site? I guess they have too many of last year's in stock.
I'm pondering the SC-95 myself. It could do 7.1.2 or 5.1.4 without external amplification, or I could use my existing receiver as an additional amp and do 7.1.4 - if I can afford the speakers and if I decide the room is big enough.

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#416704 - 01/27/16 08:31 PM Re: Disappointed with the current round of AV units [Re: MatManhasgone]
MatManhasgone Offline
aficionado

Registered: 05/06/14
Posts: 975
Loc: Lost in the great wide yonder
I honestly fail to understand why so many people are fixated with putting more speakers overhead with Atmos.

Atmos from what I have understood is the ability to define sound as objects and better correlate the location of sound inside the theater space. They did that by being able to address more speakers. So your surround side and rear speakers now are not just one big mass, but a whole string on individually addressed speakers that can be used to better pinpoint the sound. Yes they have given overhead sound now, but that is only a small part of what Atmos offers.

Give yourself a scene where a car is coming up a street and races past you on your left hand side. With the older 5.1 and 7.1 the sound would start in the center channel and move to left front speaker, then part of this mass of sound that is somewhere behind you. With Atmos as they can address more than 3 (or 4) speaker sets, the pan of sound will be far more realistic as it can move now through a potential 15+ speakers progressing down the side of the cinema wall giving you the feeling as if there is an actual car driving past you.

But to do that you need a whole bunch of speakers. In that example, ZERO of the ceiling speakers will get used. Perhaps a scene with a space ship shooting overhead, or in a jungle with sounds directly overhead, but the perception of that can be closely generated by side speakers as your ears aren't really good at perceiving overhead sound as they are at sounds on the same plane as they are.

So in our home, why would you need 4 speakers overhead to make sound that your perception is hard to determine where its coming from, and skimp on placing speakers where your hearing is the most accurate? I would want my speakers to best match what the capability of the cinema is and use those 4 extra speakers to put 2 more speakers on the sides, an extra one behind me and give just 1 speaker to overhead. But the systems are not really designed to accomodate that.
_________________________
Anthem: AVM60
Axiom: ADA1000, LFR1100, VP180, QS8, EP500, M3, M3comp
AudioSource: Amp One/A

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#416706 - 01/27/16 09:00 PM Re: Disappointed with the current round of AV units [Re: MatManhasgone]
nickbuol Offline
axiomite

Registered: 09/16/04
Posts: 5319
Loc: Marion, IA
I had an Atmos receiver (Onkyo 646 I believe) for about a week while my receiver was being repaired. I can tell you this, even playing back Atmos audio with a regular 7.1 speaker configuration (nothing overhead) and the improvement in sound vs. the non-Atmos soundtrack... No overhead speakers required.

I also agree that it is important to focus on your "bed" layer speakers (traditional 5.1 or 7.1 speakers) first. These WILL product a majority of all audio even with Atmos.

With that said, I still could tell that I was missing something by not having overhead speakers. The space still felt like it was somewhat "flat" (my best way to describe it). I am confident after hearing A/B demos of 7.1.4 vs 7.1 material demos at CEDIA 2014, plus the CEDIA 2015 demos, and with my own experience with a 7.1 playing Atmos sound, that I want/need overhead speakers. Even though they may only be used 5-10% of the time, there is a noticable improvement. Heck, I was just reading something in one of my latest Sound and Vision magazines and another thing online about the top 10 technologies to look forward to in 2016 (NOT a home theater article, but list of ALL tech) and they both talked about Atmos being huge for 2016. S&V said something that I heard elsewhere before too. Dolby Atmos is to movie audio what DD5.1 was when it came out and you could send audio signals to all 5 channels and subwoofer separately. This isn't a gimmick or fad like curved TVs, this is an actual significant improvement in the audio presented.

But again, you really need to have something decent for your primary 5.x or 7.x first like Matt said above and good placement of those speakers is really important as well to proper sound imaging.
_________________________
http://ht.buol.us
2-M60s, VP180, 8-M3s, SVS 20-39PCi, DIY Sub, 8-Shakers, JVC RS45, Anthem MRX-1120

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#416707 - 01/27/16 11:31 PM Re: Disappointed with the current round of AV units [Re: MatManhasgone]
Stilljoe Offline
buff

Registered: 04/05/12
Posts: 41
Loc: Greater Toronto Area
I can see Matt's point, to a point. How many speakers do we really need? Hell, I thought the stereo hooked up to a 4 head VCR and a 20" TV was amazing.
But right now I'm watching Ender's Game in 1080p on a screen almost as wide as the room, with 7.1 courtesy of Axiom and SVS. It can get better than this? Bring it on.
What I hear about Atmos is pretty much what Nick says. Some people aren't impressed. More are. Some say it's the biggest advance since surround. I think I'll find out.

Getting off topic here... My gallery is out of date. Delete the TV and add a Sony VPL HW40ES projector and a 108" fixed screen. I still need room treatment... but I'm not in a rush, it sounds pretty fine. I hope this works: Gallery entry

Back on topic. The new Pioneer receivers have a new version of MCACC - at least a lot newer than my 2008 version. By all reports it's significantly better than the earlier, and I already liked that as much as Audyssey. Class D amps; I know there are different opinions, and different implementations, but (ahem) Axiom uses them...


Edited by Stilljoe (01/27/16 11:39 PM)
Edit Reason: url tags fixed

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#416708 - 01/28/16 08:09 AM Re: Disappointed with the current round of AV units [Re: Stilljoe]
MatManhasgone Offline
aficionado

Registered: 05/06/14
Posts: 975
Loc: Lost in the great wide yonder
Originally Posted By Stilljoe
Class D amps; I know there are different opinions, and different implementations, but (ahem) Axiom uses them...


I think the biggest issue that, at least I have with them owning a 2013 Pioneer Elite receiver that brags at 120w, is the method they use to come up with those numbers. Now on the latest versions they also give a number for the total number of watts possible for the unit, but start to divide that out to all the channels and it will fall short. I understand that as surround speakers really don't need huge watt numbers if set to small and not played loud. Yet, it seems the receivers are not really designed well to work with Axioms (or anyones) 4ohm speakers. I doubt that there is anything near doubling down from 8ohm to 4ohm. The manual on my receiver says it is 4ohm compatible but I wonder.

There is the blind listening side that people hear what they thing they should. Well, when I got my first Axiom speakers I hooked them up to an old 60watt amp and was blown away at how they sounded. After listening to them for a bit, I figured it would be worth while plugging the speakers into the newer (and at the time I thought better) Pioneer SC amp. The sound dynamics diminished even though it's on paper a higher rated amp. I saw the same thing on my LFR's when I went from a high quality 250w amp to a lower powered 120w amp. There just is not the physical real current in the amp to drive the speakers.

Not to say that Pioneer or Class D amps are bad. I just think the design and power supply inside and it's ability to deliver current needs to be there if you are trying to drive a demanding speaker.
_________________________
Anthem: AVM60
Axiom: ADA1000, LFR1100, VP180, QS8, EP500, M3, M3comp
AudioSource: Amp One/A

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#416724 - 01/28/16 08:42 PM Re: Disappointed with the current round of AV units [Re: MatManhasgone]
Strider53 Offline
veteran

Registered: 04/11/12
Posts: 154
Loc: Detroit
Is there a receiver or preamp available that supports 9.2.4?
I have currently a typical 7.2 set up and would like to add front wide and 4 ceiling speakers for Atmos/DTS:X.
Looking online I have found only 9.2.2, 7.2.4. It seems you must give up a pair of surrounds or ceiling speakers in order to use front wides. My preference is a preamp and adding an additional amp
rather than going with an all in one receiver.
thanks, Jeff

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#416728 - 01/29/16 08:38 AM Re: Disappointed with the current round of AV units [Re: MatManhasgone]
MatManhasgone Offline
aficionado

Registered: 05/06/14
Posts: 975
Loc: Lost in the great wide yonder
As I have said many times here, I feel that the surrounds are FAR more important to me that multiple speakers overhead.

As for the pre-amp vs receiver. The issue that I have is in part the marketing force/perception and supply/demand and what that seems to do with price.

I have bought a used pre-amp, that I don't believe was totally worn out. Yet I don't think that I could tell any difference between the sound that I got out of it and the sound that I got out of a receiver acting as a pre-amp. Yet the cost of the unit new is more than double (almost tripple) the cost of a similar spec receiver.

Some believe that a pre-amp must sound better as they cost a whole lot so they have better parts inside of them and so they must make better sound. I can't say if the parts are better, nor if these better parts give any ounce of better sound.

I will agree that most receivers don't have adequate power to drive the front and center speakers. That is why I will not buy a receiver unless it has pre-out connectors.

I use to believe that XLR was for some reason far better than RCA. Now I have realized that over the short distance of the cross connect, it doesn't make a lick of difference. Some of the biggest and more expensive names in equipment use RCA and get rave reviews. So why do I need to pay extra money to get XLR if it gives me no benefit.

On the flip side, a receiver that has pre-outs probably has more than enough power inside once you offload the front/center channels to drive the surround speakers with more than enough precision, dynamics and clarity that I don't need to spend money to buy yet another amp for them.

I have saved money buying a receiver over a pre-amp and then save more money not needing additional amps for surrounds. That leaves me more money in my pocket to either buy a better amp for the main channels that need it, or better speakers for those channels.

If money was not object then sure you can buy the most expensive of everything. But money is an object and inside a reasonable budget I believe I can get more better sound out of a receiver and better other components than getting a pre-amp and having to buy lesser components to get the same dollar price tag.
_________________________
Anthem: AVM60
Axiom: ADA1000, LFR1100, VP180, QS8, EP500, M3, M3comp
AudioSource: Amp One/A

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