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#253166 - 03/22/09 10:16 PM Denon 3808, Axiom A1400-8, M80s and a full HT
jakewash Offline
shareholder in the making

Registered: 12/26/03
Posts: 10415
Loc: Calgary, Alberta
So this weekend I had the pleasure of meeting onn(Mel). He was coming to town today to enjoy some Junior hockey playoff action. He contacted me with the idea of bring down his temporarily unused A1400 for me to try out with my system. I just couldn't say no to such a deal. He arrived around 11AM, we went downstairs and I gave him a quick audition of the PB13 and the QS8's as surrounds, with the 3808 running on it's own, he has M80s as surrounds in his sytem.

While he went to the game, I quickly hooked up the 1400 to run in 2 channel with the M80s and was able to simply plug and unplug the speaker wires from the back of the M80s(banana plugs) while switching between Denon amp and Denon/A1400. The Denon was set for 2 channel, direct, no sub, so mains are set to large.

I checked for calibration differences with pink noise from the Denon to see if the extra power or anything else would allow for the A1400 to have greater SPL at the same speaker settings, too my dismay or luck there was a minimal 0.5 db differential between the 2, the Denon amp being quieter. I also confirmed the same levels were used while listening to various sources and music just ensure something wasn't amiss.

I wasn't prepared for the differences I was about to hear.

First up was Pink Floyd - Time, I love this track for it's open and airy sound and great bass line. After a quick listen with just the Denon measuring around 83db, I switched the speakers over to the cables from the A1400 and turned it on. The sound stage opened up as well as lifted up well above the M80s, the bass was also tighter, yet more pronounced. I was shocked. I wasn't about to believe what I was hearing, I doubled checked the SPL and it was reading the same as just the Denon on it's own. I went back and forth between the 2 amps for about 20 min. and everytime the A1400 sounded better/crisper and the bass was nice and tight, I found the bass on the 3808 to sound boomy and loose by comparison.

Ok, so it sounded good on that song, next was Gwen Stefani - Sweet Escape, a bass heavy song to validate my feeling of better bass with the A1400. It was confirmed. The bass was indeed tighter and hitting lower than on the A1400. I could hear pictures rattling when using the A1400, but not so with the 3808 on it's own. Again I double checked the SPL and it was the same, around 83db.

So I thought let's see what some of my lesser quality cd's are like, I put on Simple Plan, Journey - Greatest Hits, Van halen 1984, a few others I failed to write down, they all sounded more open and spacious with better bass. \:\)

OK, so it sounds better across the board, How much more power, SPL, can I get out of it, I achieved 103-105 with the Denon on it's own and reached 110-111 with the A1400, holy @#%$ that is loud!

Well the A1400 was better at everything at reasonable to reasonably loud levels and beyond, can I hear a difference at lower volumes?

I set the volume to read an SPL of 65 db and yet again I could hear the differences, the top end being the most obvious. It still had that wider and higher sound than the 3808 alone.

I still wasn't believing what I heard, so I asked my wife to come and have a listen. We played some INXS - Listen like Thieves, while she was listening I was busy switching the wires back and forth knowing the SPL was nearly identical, it shouldn't matter, she only smiled and nodded that she could indeed hear a wider and higher soundstage than with the A1400 compared to the Denon on it's own. Next up was Elton John - Levon, she felt the piano had much more presence and sounded like it was right in front of her. She asked for Simon and Garfunkel - Sounds of Silence, this was the song that she didn't like the more open, airy, detailed sound the Ninja XO's gave to the M22's. The A1400 sound fantastic, no harshness and still all the detail that the modded M22s offered, amazing was the word she used. We continued with many other of her favorite songs, Neil Young - Harvest Moon, The Who - ..Fooled again, Journey - Anyway you want it, and so on. All sounded even better on the M80' swith the A1400 than with the Denon 3808 on it's own at all volume levels.

The difference so much for the better she actually asked me which I wanted more, a new TV or a new amp. I WANTED this amp more than a new TV, it is that much better, IMO. I know I will end up with a new TV before I get this amp, or any other amp(maybe ) due to it's cost and the fact TV's are not changing that much and I know there are new pre/pros to come yet, so I will wait for a new amp, at least at the time of this review.

I have yet to try the A1400 in a full HT environment to see if it is that much better with Soundtrack material, this review to come later this week, as Mel was kind enough to let me hang onto this amp, until he is ready to put his HT back together when the EP800 gets back to him. He also has those expensive Denon seperates to tide him over till then, so he isn't missing this amp too much.

Edited by jakewash (03/22/09 10:21 PM)


#253169 - 03/22/09 10:29 PM Re: Denon 3808, Axiom A1400-8, M80s and a full HT [Re: jakewash]
CV Offline
Founder, Axiom Upgrade Club
shareholder in the making

Registered: 07/20/06
Posts: 11677
Loc: Richland, WA, USA
Hey, I'm glad you got to directly compare the A1400 to the Denon. It'll be nice to hear more of your thoughts when you've spent more time with it.

#253174 - 03/22/09 11:01 PM Re: Denon 3808, Axiom A1400-8, M80s and a full HT [Re: CV]
onn Offline

Registered: 02/28/08
Posts: 999
Loc: Edmonton Alberta
Hi Jay,
Just got home and it was great meeting you today.
I just want to add that I agree with your explanation on the amp differences. If you hadn't made the switches between the Denon and A1400-8 I wouldn't have believed that there would have been that noticeable a difference.
I'll be interested to hear your thoughts on the full HT hookup to the A1400-8
Have fun \:\)
Mel N.
My system

#253175 - 03/22/09 11:06 PM Re: Denon 3808, Axiom A1400-8, M80s and a full HT [Re: CV]
grunt Offline

Registered: 12/04/06
Posts: 3569
Loc: Nirvana

Thanks for the review and I can’t wait to hear what you have to say about the mult-channel. Do you have the Dark Side of the Moon multi-channel SACD to do a direct comparison with stereo?

I believe Audioholics is planning to publish a review soon. From what little preliminary stuff I’ve read in a couple threads it sounds like they are also impressed. Looks like one more thing to add to my list of things I need to buy.

 Originally Posted By: jakewash

…and reached 110-111 with the A1400, holy @#%$ that is loud!

My aircraft only puts out 114dB with all for engines idling (at TRT it’s a different story).

 Originally Posted By: jakewash

…he has M80s as surrounds in his system.

I’m not worthy.
3M80 2M22 6QS8 2M2 1EP500 Sony BDP-S590 Panny-7000 Onkyo-3007 Carada-134 Xbox Buttkicker AS-EQ1

#253176 - 03/22/09 11:12 PM Re: Denon 3808, Axiom A1400-8, M80s and a full HT [Re: jakewash]
Family Man Offline
old hand

Registered: 10/28/08
Posts: 95
Loc: Montreal, Canada
I love that amp from the first day I got it. I got to try it with my Sony AVR, which is pretty good on its own, but with the A-1400, I would say that there is more presence to any song or movie that I play.

I found that in 7 channel mode some of that Presence is gone, so I use it to power only the M80's and the VP 150. The 4 QS8's are powered by my Sony AVR. I look forward to your HT review.


#253182 - 03/22/09 11:20 PM Re: Denon 3808, Axiom A1400-8, M80s and a full HT [Re: jakewash]
pmbuko Offline
shareholder in the making

Registered: 04/02/03
Posts: 16437
Loc: Ben Lomond, California
Wow. What an amazing opportunity. I'm impressed that you were so thorough in your testing and didn't just sit on the couch and soak in some music for hours. \:\)

I can explain it to you but I can't understand it for you.

#253188 - 03/23/09 12:19 AM Re: Denon 3808, Axiom A1400-8, M80s and a full HT [Re: pmbuko]
StuntGibbon Offline

Registered: 01/24/08
Posts: 374
I don't think you'll be disappointed with it in the HT setting either. I drive my front three speakers with the A1400-8 and my surrounds with my Onkyo 905 (also serving as the pre-amp).

Check out Live Free or Die Hard when you're ready to test it on films. \:\)

#253191 - 03/23/09 12:49 AM Re: Denon 3808, Axiom A1400-8, M80s and a full HT [Re: StuntGibbon]
jakewash Offline
shareholder in the making

Registered: 12/26/03
Posts: 10415
Loc: Calgary, Alberta
Thanks guys, I did sit back for awhile this afternoon and just listen, man, it is going to be hard to give it back. I am going to try the M22's as well, just to see if there is as much difference with a smaller 8 ohm load speaker.

One thing I forgot to mention in the original post, I tried Audyssey, not calibrated with the A1400 so take this for what it is - a rough test, I found Audyssey with the Denon alone to sound reasonably similar to the A1400/M80 no EQ, I found there to be very little difference between Denon/Audyssey and the A1400 without. The main difference was the Denon/Audyssey lost some of the low end, so I can see why Alan/Axiom recommends not use it, it isn't necessary with a very capable amp.


#253227 - 03/23/09 08:38 AM Re: Denon 3808, Axiom A1400-8, M80s and a full HT [Re: jakewash]
MarkSJohnson Offline
shareholder in the making

Registered: 09/27/04
Posts: 11437
Loc: Central NH
Thanks for the writeup, Jay!

I honestly don't see my budget ever allowing for that amp, but it makes me hopeful that some day I'll find something similar with a lower-priced two-channel option!
::::::: No disrespect to Axiom, but my favorite woofer is my yellow lab :::::::

#253245 - 03/23/09 09:41 AM Re: Denon 3808, Axiom A1400-8, M80s and a full HT [Re: MarkSJohnson]
terzaghi Offline

Registered: 04/04/07
Posts: 4870
Loc: Tulsa, Oklahoma
this doesn't help convince me that I don't need one of these. gee thanks! ;\) I wonder how the A1400-2 compares for 2 channel listening?

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