AVR vs Integrated amps for 2 channel playback general consensus?

Discussion in 'Audio Hardware' started by PiperAtTheGates, Apr 12, 2017.

  1. PiperAtTheGates

    PiperAtTheGates Member Thread Starter

    First off, I know this thread has probably been done 1,000 times over. I'm not looking for any recommendations or anything but just wondering what other peoples thoughts are and wanted to discuss it a bit.

    Of course at similar price points we all know that AVRs do not perform as well as a comparatively priced separte/integrated amp configurations.

    Just wondering if there's a general consensus on how much better or worse one is than another?

    So for instance I usually think that one's price range on an amp should fall between what they paid for one speaker and what they paid for the pair. i.e. if your speakers were $800 each buy a 2 channel amp between $800 - $1,600. Given this, how much would one spend on an AVR to get comparatively similar sound quality for music listening?

    Putting it another way, how much better is a $1,000 integrated amp vs a $1,000 AVR for 2 channel music listening?
     
  2. Ntotrar

    Ntotrar Supper's ready

    Generally speaking AVRs need to so many things that at any equivalent price point they will be at a disadvantage musically against a stereo only integrated amp. But then as you no doubt realize the modern AVR provides many more functions. DAC, DSP for various surround sound schemes, additional speaker channels, video switching through a number of possible formats, satellite radio and more I haven't thought of. I would guess a thousand dollar integrated would be equal to a several thousand dollar AVR. THX rated units would be a good place to look for an all in one unit to do home theatre and music. Still all of the extra circuits sitting idle will likely have some affect on good old stereo playback.
     
    McLover likes this.
  3. toddrhodes

    toddrhodes Forum Resident

    Location:
    South Bend, IN
    If I had a normal room, didn't love the thump of a well-integrated subwoofer (or two in my case), and had no need for multichannel? I'd go integrated. Just so happens I require all of the above so avr it is, or at least was, for me. Now it's a very nice home theater pre/pro with an outboard amp but the point stands.
     
  4. ukrules

    ukrules Forum Resident

    Location:
    Union, Kentucky
    IMHO, modern AVRs at that price point are essentially computers with mediocre amps. Moving to a high-end integrated amp changed my world.
     
    Linger63, bluemooze, scobb and 9 others like this.
  5. Brother_Rael

    Brother_Rael Forum Resident

    Location:
    Scottish Borders
    I use an Onkyo TX-NR818 AV amp. Long ago dispensed with regular integrated amps when SQ was matched and comfortably so. No regrets.
     
  6. Rolltide

    Rolltide Forum Resident

    Location:
    Vallejo, CA
    This might sound amazingly counter-intuitive to audiophiles, but I feel the way to get the best out of AVRs for music listening is to NOT use "pure direct" mode. In all of my experiences with this, it sounds dull and lifeless by comparison to the standard mode. I believe the reason for this is these receivers are designed from the ground up to use DSP. Note by DSP I don't mean the 1990's "stadium/hall/arena" stuff, just the normal stereo mode. All of the modern room correction stuff that is included at about every price point these days can be very desirable as well.

    I'd also suggest buying used, unless you need modern 4k/HDR video processing. I think around 2010 was about the peak of useful HT audio technology, from there it became kind of gimmicky and about running a dozen surround speakers at once.
     
    TerryO, SandAndGlass, TEKWRX and 4 others like this.
  7. BayouTiger

    BayouTiger Forum Resident

    Location:
    New Orleans
    Having fallen prey to the AVR phenomenon for about 25 years with mostly Sony ES AVR's and them a couple of far superior Anthem MRX AVR's, I can say that the performance is just not comparable to what I have heard from integrated in the $1000-$1500 range. Today I would put forward what has become one of my favorite A/V purchases ever which is the little Nova150 I bought a few months ago for $1200. Sitting here listening to Branford Marsalis' amazing Eternal on Roon and it's simply sublime. I really should take it to the den and the ARC system that costs roughly 10x what the little Peachtree box and System Audio Aura 10's cost but the sound in my little cubbyhole office makes it just too hard to get up and move.

    I've never experienced this kind of quality with an AVR, in fact I must say that I don't remember the last time I was really taken with an AVR's output, and the MRX510 was very good.
     
  8. nopedals

    nopedals Active Member

    Location:
    Columbia SC
    If you have the shelf space, you can buy a 3k totl pre hdmi avr for a couple of hundred bucks. There are no comparable integrateds at anywhere near that price point.
     
    BigGame and rodentdog like this.
  9. Helom

    Helom Forum Resident

    Location:
    U.S.
    I think most here will agree that dollar for dollar, a 2ch integrated will almost always beat an AVR. I believe even a $500 integrated will typically sound better than a $1000 AVR.

    Anthem allegedly makes good AVRs for music lovers.
     
  10. Gibsonian

    Gibsonian Active Member

    Location:
    Iowa, USA
    In nearly all cases (some exceptions out there I'd venture to guess), no contest, not even worth debating. If you're after 2 ch and care, don't use your AVR for that purpose.
     
    SandAndGlass, Linger63 and F1nut like this.
  11. Dennis0675

    Dennis0675 Forum Resident

    Location:
    Ohio
    Pure direct is dull and lifeless mostly because that is the sound of an AVR. Adding the processing is a bit like wearing rose colored classes on a cloudy day.
     
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  12. toddrhodes

    toddrhodes Forum Resident

    Location:
    South Bend, IN
    I used an MRX-710 for 2 channel to great effect for well over a year. Having had tube preamps into solid state amps, solid state preamps into solid state amps, I was amazed how well the 710 acquitted itself.

    But, now that I have it's much bigger/badder older brother pre/pro the Statement D2 feeding an upgraded Odyssey Stratos amp? The difference is night and day. Subtle textures and big dynamic swings are not just on a different level, they're a few leaps from what the 710 could do on its own. That said, the 710 is a mighty good backup and unless you've heard better, you wouldn't miss much.

    I will disagree with the general statement that "processing is dull and lifeless." Anthem Room Correction, at least in my experience with three different setups using it, does no harm and only serves to improve what's already there so long as you're starting from a good foundation (sensible speaker placement and sub integration). It can't work miracles, but I would challenge anyone to come to my audio room and call it dull and lifeless with a straight face.
     
  13. DrZhivago

    DrZhivago Forum Resident

    Location:
    Adelaide Australia
    When buying new, you should get much better sound from an integrated in the same price bracket.
    Once you start considering 2nd hand options, it gets much more complicated. There are so many great 'old school' AVR's out there for very little money.

    Regards
     
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  14. High Fidelity

    High Fidelity Active Member

    Location:
    London
     
  15. Joe Laviguer

    Joe Laviguer Forum Resident

    Location:
    Maryland, USA
    I bought my Kenwood VR-255 at a Goodwill store, and it is in very good shape, and everything on it works as expected. I looked at all of the receivers they had on the shelf, looking for phono plugs, and this was the only one with phono plugs that didn't look and feel like a piece of crap. So far I've gotten very good stereo sound from it, but it does have those listening options of Hall/Concert/etc. I haven't studied the user manual thoroughly enough to see if there is a...for lack of a better word...native/natural listening mode.
     
  16. Brother_Rael

    Brother_Rael Forum Resident

    Location:
    Scottish Borders
    I used to think that too. Imagine my surprise when my £1000 AVR out performed a Leema's Pulse and Exposure's 3010 integrateds...!
     
    Last edited: Apr 13, 2017
    DrZhivago likes this.
  17. EddieVanHalen

    EddieVanHalen Forum Resident

    I have a Pioneer SC LX-76 from 2012 sold in the US with the Elite badge (around 2300 $) and i've heard it trounce stereo integrated on the 1000/1200 range. It maybe because sometimes I think it's a bit soft on movie soundtracks, it has plenty of muscle but sometimes I whished it sounded more agressive with movies.
     
  18. High Fidelity

    High Fidelity Active Member

    Location:
    London
    Which £1000 AVR ? if it was the excellent Yamaha 1060 I would agree
     
  19. Brother_Rael

    Brother_Rael Forum Resident

    Location:
    Scottish Borders
    Onkyo TX-NR818.
     
  20. ronm

    ronm Forum Resident

    Location:
    southern colo.
    This.
     
  21. RiCat

    RiCat Forum Resident

    Location:
    CT, USA
    There is no guarantee that a a given price point an AVR design will not be equal in fidelity to a 2ch device. It depends on the brands more than the cost. Some brands will have a greater profit in a 2ch amp than another brand at the same price AVR model. There are the factors of competition in a device type category and current market popularity. In general you would think that spending 1k on either a full featured AVR vrs. a 2ch integrated would buy you superior fidelity in the simpler device. Sadly it is not that linear or true.
     
    gd0 likes this.
  22. rodentdog

    rodentdog Well-Known Member

    I think this can be a case of "what I have has the better sound". If you have an AVR, you think they sound good, if you have an integrated, you think they sound good.
    I know I am right because I have a flagship AVR, the Yamaha RX-Z9, cost almost $5K new in 2004, bought last month for $650. HA!! It does sound very good, though.
     
    ronm likes this.
  23. Helom

    Helom Forum Resident

    Location:
    U.S.
    But dollar for dollar, with the same brand, wouldn't it make sense that the integrated is more likely to outperform the AVR during stereo playback. I know my $300 Yamaha integrated took my similarly priced Yamaha AVR to school when it came to music.
     
    scobb likes this.
  24. PiperAtTheGates

    PiperAtTheGates Member Thread Starter

    I think that's a very valid point. With as much competition as there is in the AVR category you're probably likley to see a few standout units that rival dedicated stereo amps in the +- $1,000 category. I mean there isn't really any engineering reason they can't sound as good, it just generally falls down to specialization and economic factors...


    We all know the law of diminishing returns. I mean how bad can a respectable brand $1,000+ AVR sound? If they were really THAT much worse than a typical integrated amp would they sell as well as they do?


    Well yeah, at an AVR at $300 is going to have a LOT of compromises to hit that price point. The question is how far up the chain do you need to go before the line is blurred, if ever?
     
  25. Helom

    Helom Forum Resident

    Location:
    U.S.
    Well, your original post was about comparing them dollar for dollar, a $1000 AVR vs a $1000 integrated. I've heard a few $1000+ AVRs that don't perform anywhere close to a $400 Yamaha integrated, including Yamaha's own Aventage line and Integra receivers. I'm not saying there's no competitive AVRs out there, but I have yet to hear one that I could live with.
     
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