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Home » Article » Processors and receivers » On processors and receivers Home Cinema

On processors and receivers Home Cinema

I’ve been engaged in designing stereo and multichannel Hi-End systems for quite a while, and after all this time I came to a conclusion that the market suggests just a few (almost none) well-assembled and properly sounding multichannel devices, although many users would probably wish to combine two systems – stereo and multichannel – in one single box. Nevertheless, separate systems are imposed on us – one for music, another one for movies. Supposedly, combining them in one device is impracticable.

Shall we consider the class of receivers and inexpensive AV processors, these devices really a priori do not provide for quality audio reproduction. This feature is unavailable due to objective and marketing reasons. Then why do they support SACD and other high-quality audio formats? Why are they there if the device cannot even handle mp3 properly? Nonsense, you may say, quality content is available in the market, but multichannel devices are so hard to find. Wonders never cease!

Denon AVR-1612 Onkyo TX-NR616

Let’s take a look into the past. SACD was invented and implemented in the 1990th as a substitute for the conventional CD format. It is claimed that SACD has a 50-fold better quality, considerably broader frequency and dynamic range, and allowed for 6 channels which were at those times rather aggressively proposed. However, playback hardware remained a mystery… Imagine yourself listening to a stereo track of SACD on a stereo system, and the multichannel track – on a wretched receiver… Sounds weird, doesn’t it?

In the 2000th, new audio and video formats were introduced - DTS-HD Master Audio and Dolby TrueHD: advanced, with top parameters of audio tracks, besides their number was claimed to be unlimited… The ice seems to have broken up, hurray…but…alas!

Multichannel processor is not a stereo CD player or a stereo DAC, where one or two DAC microchips and several components are installed in a spacious casing with adequate cooling and power unit placed at a distance from ananlog signal circuits susceptible to electric interference. Therefore, a multichannel device comprising 7.1 channels, and since year 2010 – 11 or even more channels, would be crazy expensive if it sounded similar to two-channel devices. Besides, processor or AV receiver includes a sound processor – DSP, multichannel DAC, multichannel preamplifier, multichannel power amplifier, tuner, and many other things. We should realize that a 2000 USD receiver is not even expected to sound more or less decently.

Classe Audio SSP-800 Cary Audio 5 channels Yamaha 11 channels

For instance, among modern premium devices studied by me is preamplifier/processor Classe Audio SSP-800, which costs 14200 USD, sounds pretty good, but still has some flaws. And this is the cheapest processor I could recommend. Simpler Arcam, Primare, Denon sound much plainer. There also are McIntosh, Mark Levinson, Lexicon, and some other brands that cost over 20000 USD for a preamp/processor. Keep in mind that you’ll have to buy power amplifiers in addition. At least for 5 channels, or even all 9 or 11. As regards the receivers, if we study their structure in deeper detail, situation would seem even gloomier. It’s all about compromise. And what’s more, you canot but marvel how it even manages to function with the deficiencies it has. That is why I never recommend purchasing receivers for serious systems.

ONKYO PR-SC5530 Integra DHC-80.6 Yamaha CX-A5000

But every cloud has a silver lining, and the situation is not as hopeless as it may seem. The salvation is in Onkyo and Integra receivers. In terms of sound they are inferior to the more expensive competitors Denon and Yamaha, but they have a number of technical merits allowing for improvements and upgrades, after which their sound may become really decorous and comparable to that of expensive devices, or probably even unsurpassed by those. More details here.

Author: Timur Sheykhov

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Date: 05.01.2015 | Views: 2055 | Total comments: 0 | Rating: 5.0/2
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