Weaknesses in common HT receivers ? - diyAudio
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Old 21st February 2014, 07:03 PM   #1
Bigun is offline Bigun  Canada
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Default Weaknesses in common HT receivers ?

I suspect that HT receivers out-sell hi-fi amplifiers by a wide margin. To all intents and purposes the HT receiver is the new 'hi-fi' for most homes. I'm more familiar with common wisdom on how to improve a 2-channel hi-fi system and feel somewhat lost when it comes to the ins and outs of sound quality with todays HT receivers.

A typical HT receiver (for example, I currently have a Pioneer 823K) offers a lot of convenience that I want. But sound quality is limited by the budget constraints the designers had to work with. I'm sure they tried their best to make what were at the time the best engineering compromises. But I would be interested to know where the weak links are most likely to be ?

Where should the money be spent - a 'better' HT receiver ? outboard amplifiers ? a better blue-ray player/source ?
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Old 21st February 2014, 07:46 PM   #2
boris81 is offline boris81  United States
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High-end receivers usually have good sound quality but are very expensive(>$1500). Their resale price however plummets after a few years so there are always second hand receivers at 1/3price on ebay and craigslist. I got a Pioneer Elite receiver for $300 that uses the ICE-Power classD amplifier modules. You can't beat that value, even if you DIY! Since they are consumer electronics many people don't know what amplifiers are inside HT receivers, they buy into the latest HDMI or Apple standard.

Take a look at your local used electronics listings and educate yourself on what amps are in the high-end brand receivers. When purchasing a receiver the owner will usually let you test it first. Bring a small speaker and audition the receiver's amplifier channels. You could even bring an audiophile amp you have and compare it against the receiver. Be up-front with the seller, tell them you want to test the sound quality before deciding to spend hundreds of dollars and ask if it will be OK to bring some equipment to compare. You should not need more than 5min of playing music to decide if you want to make a purchase.
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Old 21st February 2014, 07:52 PM   #3
Bigun is offline Bigun  Canada
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Hi,

Thanks for some good ideas.

The amplifiers are probably the one area I am confident with - so far my DIY efforts are to design and build them. I can readily modify the amplifier inside my HT receiver to significantly improve it's distortion performance (it's a simple topology). But I don't really know if this is worth the effort unless the amplifier the most common weak link ? If it is, then I'm home and dry because it's not hard to improve.
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Old 21st February 2014, 08:08 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bigun View Post
Hi,

Thanks for some good ideas.

The amplifiers are probably the one area I am confident with - so far my DIY efforts are to design and build them. I can readily modify the amplifier inside my HT receiver to significantly improve it's distortion performance (it's a simple topology). But I don't really know if this is worth the effort unless the amplifier the most common weak link ? If it is, then I'm home and dry because it's not hard to improve.
The weal link is 2 channel, most AV receivers sound mediocre in two channel.

If you get a properly designed properly matched surround speaker system, the DPLII playback in an AV receiver will surpass the 2 channel playback and elevate the performance of the AV receiver into competing with audiophile 2 channel systems of similar price.

If you have a well matched speaker system, I can help you get better sound through PLIIx-z . You're stuck with a surround sound amp, So stop thinking about only 2 channels of it.

Last edited by DEFjammer; 21st February 2014 at 08:23 PM.
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Old 21st February 2014, 09:32 PM   #5
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Does your receiver have a "pure" or "direct" or some such mode? Evaluate the differences with this mode on/off and the differences between combinations of that mode and analogue and digital inputs. This should give you an idea where the "weak links" exist. DAC? DSP? If there is a commonality in all, it may very well be the amps. It's good to isolate your variables in any way you can.
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Old 21st February 2014, 11:46 PM   #6
Bigun is offline Bigun  Canada
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Hi DEFjammer, the front three speakers are all the same brand/family but the rear surrounds are a different brand. I should say that I use my HT receiver predominantly for movies as I do have a dedicated music system elsewhere in the house. With my music system I feel confident in optimizing it. But HT receivers are highly integrated and I really don't have a clue what kind of compromises are made in them. I value sound quality for movies and right now it's not as good as I think it should be.

Hi Thetwinmeister, good suggestion to do some experiments. It does have analogue inputs too so I'll see what I can find out.
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Old 22nd February 2014, 12:17 AM   #7
Pallas is offline Pallas  Pakistan
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A typical HT receiver *** sound quality is limited by the budget constraints the designers had to work with.
I question that assertion, for the most part.

However, the weak link in most current AVR's is the room correction. Anthem's ARC is the only one that's really good, because it takes into account room gain (not neutering it as Audyssey does) and allows one to limit correction to just the modal region.
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Old 22nd February 2014, 12:31 AM   #8
kouiky is offline kouiky  United States
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I am not so certain that a home theater receiver can be improved. The basis for this is that they are all they can be for the price. A company is not going to handicap their product, because competition is fierce in today's ultra-cheap buyer market, and thus it is survival of the fittest. If people chose to improve what they feel is not up to par, there will be size constraints and the cost can push the total investment into the range of something else that performs more to your liking. The fact is, the engineers who designed the receivers had tools and access to equipment and suppliers that DIYers do not.

I hate to see someone sink hundreds of dollars into "improving" a professionally orchestrated cumulation of knowledge in design. All to often some mentions a semiconductor or opamp that they are using and suddenly the upgrade strobe lights and alarms go off like a saturdaynight disco. While there are parts with better performance in specific aspects, many of the benefits are useless for audio reproduction. For example, the average audiophile that reads too much would jump all over a 5532 opamp and replace it with an OPA627 or what have you. This offers absolutely no audible benefit. The rise time and slew rate of redbook or even SACD is far lower than even the cheapest opamp is capable of, and distortion and noise in well thought out circuits is inaudible. Now, is a couple series stages amplify each other, then yes, hiss may be audible. I find that for many pieces of gear it is. But noise amplification and distortion are not the same. The distortion is not magnified.

To add to this, changing parts is not as straight foreard as directly replacing them with audiophile substitutions. Each chipset has strict requirements, and deviations will make them sound different, but these differences are unwanted non-linearities, not hidden details you are hearing for th first time. Many times the change is not really an improvement at all. There will be suggestions of resistors, chipsets and transformers, no doubt. However, there is much more to design than just buying more expensive or audiophile-recommended parts. The design inside that case is like a microcosm of any larger system of events. It has been chosen and layed out to be all it can be.

Last edited by kouiky; 22nd February 2014 at 12:51 AM.
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Old 22nd February 2014, 12:47 AM   #9
Bigun is offline Bigun  Canada
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Hi Kouiky, what you say makes a lot of sense.
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Old 22nd February 2014, 12:55 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Pallas View Post
I question that assertion, for the most part.

However, the weak link in most current AVR's is the room correction. Anthem's ARC is the only one that's really good, because it takes into account room gain (not neutering it as Audyssey does) and allows one to limit correction to just the modal region.
One only has to watch the power supply collapse under modest load on one AVR after another to realize his assertion is more times correct than not.

An Anthem Receiver is a far cry from his Pioneer at <$300.

I also agree with Kouiky that upgrading an AVR will be difficult, they are hard to repair let alone redesign! And all the parts have been boiled down to the LCD.

To answer your original Question, speakers matter the most, then the AVR, because it is your DAC/Pre and amplifier.....then your source component which does need to be competent, but I use a PC as a transport, I will never buy a cd or any kind of player ever.

Last edited by DEFjammer; 22nd February 2014 at 01:00 AM.
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