What Exactly is Onkyo's "Pure Audio" Mode?

Discussion in 'Audio Hardware' started by jordanb87, Feb 13, 2013.

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  1. jordanb87

    jordanb87 Well-Known Member Thread Starter

    Location:
    Winnipeg, Canada
    Hello everyone,

    I have a beginner question. My Onkyo TX-8050 receiver has a "Pure Audio" listening mode. According to the owner's manual, this mode (1) disables the video signal output; (2) turns off the display; and (3) bypasses the bass and treble controls.

    I usually leave this mode off, however I've been experimenting with it on and off lately. Just wondering if it's a marketing gimmick or not. (I use my system for listening to music only, it's not connected to a TV or DVD player, so I'm interested in this feature.) When I play an LP and switch the Pure Audio on and off, there is a very noticeable difference. When it's on, the sound is quieter, more blended, less bass. It sounds too . . . bare at first, but after awhile I forget it's on and the more natural sound is nice.

    Can someone who is familiar with this feature tell me, is it better to listen to vinyl with this Pure Audio mode enabled? Does it reproduce a sound closer to what is intended by the artist? Or perhaps more accurately allow the benefits of vinyl to come through? And what might be its pros and cons (in layman's terms)?

    Thanks,

    --
    Jordan
     
  2. Steve Hoffman

    Steve Hoffman Your Host Your Host

    Um, yeah, use it. The less crap between you and the music is always best. If you need tone controls when playing obnoxious music turn it back on temporarily.
     
    Dave likes this.
  3. c-eling

    c-eling Forum Resident

    It's up to you, I have the 709 and don't really care much for the direct, but I do however have Audessey off and a few tweaks adjusted on the equalizer, I have a sub because my polk tsi 400's lack in the lower frequencies and with direct enabled I lose it
     
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  4. Paul Saldana

    Paul Saldana Forum Resident

    Location:
    Hallandale Beach
    The only thing better than a tone / processor bypass circuit is having no tone controls at all.
     
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  5. direwolf-pgh

    direwolf-pgh Well-Known Member

    you hit that button when the audiophiles drop by.. especially when you're playing 5.1 Blu-ray via HDMI.
     
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  6. ChrisWiggles

    ChrisWiggles Well-Known Member

    Location:
    Seattle
    I basically only see pros unless you want to take advantage of processing or EQ features on your receiver. For pure audio listening, I always listen in direct or pure direct on my Denon.
     
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  7. Vidiot

    Vidiot Now in 4K HDR!

    Location:
    Hollywood, USA
    Be aware that Sound & Vision has reviewed some receivers that claim to have "bypass" modes that don't really bypass anything. I'm not convinced these circuits do any good, because so much depends on how the component is designed.

    But I'm also suspicious of playing straight stereo material on surround receivers. Every one I've tried over the years inevitably mucks up the sound with unnecessary processing of some kind. The only way I've ever gotten decent, listenable results has been with a regular stereo preamp and a stereo amplifier (or amplified speakers). There's way, way too many gimmicks crammed into surround receivers.

    I don't have a problem watching 5.1 surround movies through surround receivers, since that's what they're intended to do. I just think they're optimized for that, and not optimized for stereo/mono music-only performance.
     
  8. When I use that mode on my Denon receiver it turns my subwoofer off, so that then defeats any benefits from using it in that setting.
     
  9. ChrisWiggles

    ChrisWiggles Well-Known Member

    Location:
    Seattle
    You can adjust this option in the menus to enable sub out while in direct on most (or all?) Denons.
     
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  10. Thanks, I'll have to look into that
     
  11. struttincool

    struttincool Forum Resident

    Location:
    Anacortes, WA
    I followed your Rega RP1/P3/24 thread.
    You do realize you are listening to vinyl through a $15 phono stage?
     
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  12. Claude

    Claude Forum Resident

    Location:
    Luxembourg
    you should try it out, but with amps/receivers in this price range ($250 on Amazon), there will probably be no audible difference at all, unless the circuit design is flawed. The company already has to make many compromises in terms of component quality, so that bypassing a tone control or disabling a display will not make a significant difference in the overall sound.

    These "pure audio" buttons are rather marketing gadgets to give an entry-level component a more audiophile appeal.
     
  13. dat56

    dat56 Well-Known Member

    Location:
    SW Missouri
    If you like the sound better in pure direct, then you should use it. If not, don't. That would be all the proof you need whether it is a marketing gimmick or not. And either way, so what? You paid for it so if you like it, use it.

    I find it a bit troubling that some makers would market a "pure direct" mode that wasn't pure or direct. I'd think that would be considered false and misleading advertising. My old Pioneer A/V receiver has a direct mode, but it really does seem to be direct. At least it bypasses the tone controls, EQ and surround processing.

    I don't think there is a right or wrong here. And "better" is totally subjective. Better -to you- is all that matters.

    I think the worst thing about direct mode features is the loss of the tone controls, which while they may be evil, they are often neccesary evils. Especially if you listen at low volume, or have some music that is really out of whack, tonally.

    Personally, I've never really heard much difference with or without pure direct, unless some processing was engaged, then you definitely hear the difference. I would think that if you heard a definite improvement in direct mode otherwise, then something is wrong with the design.
     
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  14. Paul Saldana

    Paul Saldana Forum Resident

    Location:
    Hallandale Beach
    Good points, but I can certify that this is not the case with the OP's receiver or any in the Onkyo line. The sound on those pieces on pure direct is lean and dry. If they want something that sounds heftier, they are indeed better off with a dedicated stereo rig (and preferably not as 'mass-market' as Onkyo), a 10wpc tube VAC with an outboard phono preamp would cost $650 or a little more and would give amazing results with all but the most inefficient speakers.
     
  15. jupiterboy

    jupiterboy Forum Resident

    Location:
    Buffalo, NY
    My integrated has a tone bypass. Every pot in the signal path makes a bit of a mess. If you can cut something out, you are going to get a better signal.

    This is my amp in direct (tone bypass)
    99AMCfig02.jpg

    And in normal mode with the tone controls engaged.
    99AMCfig03.jpg
     
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  16. direwolf-pgh

    direwolf-pgh Well-Known Member

    you'd notice it ~ its not unlike turning off an EQ in your system chain + it also cuts the speakers to match the original signal source played.

    (example: a 7.1 system might drop to 2channel only)
     
  17. Claude

    Claude Forum Resident

    Location:
    Luxembourg
    OK, but the receiver mentioned in this thread is stereo-only, so this is not about deactivating multichannel processing.
     
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  18. direwolf-pgh

    direwolf-pgh Well-Known Member

    all Onkyo AVRs have a 'Pure Audio' button/mode.
    you'd like it.. the receiver display goes dark and a really cool blue light turns on :D blue!
     
  19. jordanb87

    jordanb87 Well-Known Member Thread Starter

    Location:
    Winnipeg, Canada
    Hi all,

    Thanks very much for the responses. I should have mentioned at the beginning that my receiver is, as Claude notes, 2-channel only. I have two Axiom M3 bookshelf speakers and no subwoofer, so I don't have to worry about the sub being cut out.

    As direwolf has said, there is quite a difference in sound when switched on or off. I know that using the feature comes down to personal preference, I was just wondering about what's behind the difference I am hearing. As I'm just starting out, I know little about the inner workings of receivers.

    Struttincool: Thanks for following my Rega thread. Yes, I do realize that I'm relying on the cheap integrated preamp in my receiver; hence my subsequent thread on budget phono preamp recommendations (http://forums.stevehoffman.tv/threads/budget-phono-preamp-recommedations.308333/). I plan on getting a solid preamp eventually, possibly at the same time my cartridge wears out. I'm just on a budget and can't get everything all at once.

    Thanks again everyone,

    Jordan
     
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  20. Synthfreek

    Synthfreek Please label the photos you post

    Location:
    Austin, TX
    I'd sell the receiver and buy a nice 2-channel budget integrated with a phono option like the Marantz PM5004.
    [​IMG]
     
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  21. TVC15

    TVC15 Well-Known Member

    Location:
    New Jersey
    Versus whatevers in a Rega Brio? How much do you think *that* costs after currency conversion, distributer markup, and dealer markup? A phono stage doesn't have to do to much to be decent. The guys at DIY tore open a NAD phono pre and determined there were 50 cents worth of parts, and it was of the lowest build quality. Does that matter?

    Truth is... I've heard the tx-8050's phono stage and it's fine. In fact, the tx-8050 is quite fine itself. I wouldn't be so judgemental because it's an Onkyo.

    The tx-8050 has nice networking features as well, and an internal DAC of reasonable quality, which the OP may very well be using, so not sure why people are reccoing he dump it for a barely-if-at-all-better marantz. Onkyo's Pure Direct mode is a legit bypass circuit. It shuts down not only tone controls but also all the onboard DAC's and iPod integration features.

    Everyone's tossing in opinions, without even knowing what the tx-8050 is.
     
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  22. Synthfreek

    Synthfreek Please label the photos you post

    Location:
    Austin, TX
    Sorry for voicing MY opinion...carry on. I'm sure the Onkyo is much better than the Marantz.
     
  23. TVC15

    TVC15 Well-Known Member

    Location:
    New Jersey
    Except that OP does have a nice 2-channel budget integrated with phono option with some additional networking and DAC capabilities he may be utilizing. Somehow everyone assumed it was an A/V receiver, which it ain't.
     
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  24. jordanb87

    jordanb87 Well-Known Member Thread Starter

    Location:
    Winnipeg, Canada
    Thanks for the suggestion. I took a look at the Marantz's specs on the manufacturer's website. However, I am not looking to replace my Onkyo at this time; it has a number of features I like and make use of regularly; plus the Marantz has no tuner, and I like listening to FM radio sometimes.
     
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  25. jordanb87

    jordanb87 Well-Known Member Thread Starter

    Location:
    Winnipeg, Canada
    Thanks for your comment. Perhaps I should have initially posted a link to the TX-8050's specs so that folks could easily see them. Here is a link for those interested: http://onkyo.ca/model.cfm?m=TX-8050&class=Receiver&p=s

    As you note, it is sometimes sobering to think of markup and about how much a certain component cost to make.

    By the way, I'm curious: was that NAD preamp that was torn apart the PP2i by chance? Though surely 50 cents worth of parts was a bit of an exaggeration, no?
     
  26. jupiterboy

    jupiterboy Forum Resident

    Location:
    Buffalo, NY
    Resistors, diodes, and capacitors can be had for cents. I think to design and produce a PCB is not a cost that is easily known. It is the circuit design, after all, that is the thing. Designs have to be implemented with the parts that are readily available during the production run. It often may be that a less expensive component, not in the signal path, may exhibit desirable characteristics in a particular circuit even though it may not be the highest grade available at the time.
     
  27. Erik Tracy

    Erik Tracy Forum Resident

    Location:
    San Diego, CA, USA
    If the onkyo is like my yamaha avr, then here is a block diagram of what "Pure Direct" is"
    [​IMG]

    As you can see, Pure Direct is a 'mode' that allows for the connection and listening of 2-channel analog connected source components when you want to listen to them....as 2-channels - no DSP, no EQ, no funny ambient effects, and the signal path is maintained as analog throughout the avr.

    It can also be used for digitally connected source components where again the path presumably bypasses 'extraneous' circuit components for a presumably more "pure" sound.

    Ears on and decide for yourself....ymmv......
     
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