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Which processor should I go for - sound quality being the most important factor?

  • Marantz AV7701

    Votes: 12 42.9%
  • Integra DHC80.3

    Votes: 12 42.9%
  • Other options with Balanced XLR output - pl. write in your choice in the thread

    Votes: 4 14.3%
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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Onkyo PR-SC5508 vs Marantz AV7701 - please help with final processor choice

Folks,

I seem to need some help with finalizing between the following 3 options:

1. Marantz AV7701 - about US$1700, including customs duty and shipping
2. Onkyo PR-SC5508 - about US$2000, including customs duty and shipping
3. Integra DHC80.3 (or Onkyo PR-SC5509) - about US$2600, including customs duty and shipping from

(The DHC60.5 is not available yet outside North America and Taiwan - so I'm forced to look at the above options)

Background: I'm based in India (220V-50Hz AC). My mains (L/C/R)- Neumann KH310 (Active 3 way, balanced XLR inputs). Not yet decided on the surrounds - will add them later... These will be sitting in an untreated, reflective apartment living-room and in a couple of years move to a dedicated HT room (with some treatment).

Sound Quality is the top-most priority. Usage will be Music 70%, Movies 30% - played through a HTPC from media files stored from hard-disks or streamed through.

The PR-SC5508 and PR-SC5509 (Integra DHC80.3) have the following factors in their favor:
1. Audyssey MultEq XT32
2. Sub-Eq
3. 32 bit DACs
4. 2 USB inputs - makes it easier to have 2 disks connected
5. 9.2 Ch

The following factors are against the Onkyo/Integra:
1. Does not offer 4k Pass-through - again not sure if its a simple firmware upgrade or the whole video-card needs to be changed? anyways I don't plant to get a 4k display in the next few years - its still nice to know it will be covered when I do get it... but who knows what will happen to HDMI standards at that point - and by then HDBaseT (found on the DHC60.5) may be the standard.
2. The price is considerably higher than the Marantz.

The Marantz AV7701 has the following factors in its favor:
1. Lower price - a preferred price point for me (considering I've already spent around US$7k for just the LCR)
2. Available locally with better dealer support network than the Integra which is available only in the UAE.
3. 4k pass-through

The following factors are against the Marantz:
1. No Audyssey MultEq XT32 or Sub-Eq
2. 24bit DACs
3. only 7.2 ch

Not sure how to compare the THD and other "performance" figures of the above.

I've also considered the following but dropped due to price or lack of a certain feature or availability or other considerations:
Sherbourn (Emotiva) PT-7030, XMC-1
Marantz AV7005, AV8801
Denon DN-500AV
Yamaha CX-A5000
Krell Foundation, Crestron, Anthem, Cary, Primare, Lexicon, Storm, Meridian
It is quite surprising that there no other processors in the US$2000 price range with balanced XLR output...

Could the experts and regulars of this forum help me make a decision on this decision?
Thanks in advance for any and all responses.
 

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This is really a frivolous poll... no offense. But you are asking members to make a choice for you based on what they like... and on sound quality at that. They have no idea what you will like. Then between two completely different featured processors. The equivalent to the 7701 would be closer to the Integra 60.5... while the 80.3 would be closer to the Marantz 8801.

There will likely not be any sound quality differences in pure direct mode, which is the only way you could legitimately compare sound quality between the two. They will both be neutral and pass a pure signal in Pure Direct mode.

The question might be has anyone done any A/B sound comparisons between these two specific units, probably unlikely, but those would be the only ones qualified to vote. I would not buy either based on what anyone else says about the sound outside of a direct A/B comparison... and even then I would prefer it be a blind comparison.

You have features to compare, but compare them on more closely price products. Your best choice should be what features you like and how much money you want to spend... not what someone else thinks they both sound like.
 

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Discussion Starter #3 (Edited)
Dear Sonnie, Thanks for your response...

I agree with you... in the fact that the DHC80.3 is comparable to the predecessor of AV8801 than to AV8801 or AV7701.

I also know the AV7701 is comparable to DHC60.5 which is not yet available anywhere but North America and Taiwan...

in fact even for the DHC80.3 - I'd have to (or find someone to) make a special trip to UAE - whereas the AV7701 is available locally (but the key reason to consider a UAE purchase is the warranty support that I will get locally for the AV7701 is spotty/doubtful).

I'm being told that the Audyssey MultEq XT32 and Sub-Eq feature alone is worth the price difference between AV7701 and DHC80.2...especially considering my "untreated and reflective cement walls and marble flooring - apartment living room".

Unfortunately I do not want to step-up to the $3500 price bracket - in which case - AV8801 might be the first choice as it offers Audyssey MultEq XT32 and Sub-Eq and 4k pass through... At the $4000 price point other brands may enter the picture.


I really feel Marantz disappointed everyone by not offering the Audyssey MultEq XT32 and Sub-Eq in the AV7701.

The other features found in the Onkyo like 32 bit DACs, 2 USB inputs and 9.2Ch are all nice to haves... but its the lack of Audyssey MultEq XT32 and Sub-Eq that is causing me to hesitate with the AV7701...


considering my setup location as described above and my LCR (Neumann K+H310 - 3 way, 270W, active speakers) - my only question is: would the Audyssey MultEq XT32 and Sub-Eq alone be the clinching factor worth all the trouble and expense to get the PR-SC5508?
 

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Discussion Starter #4
Update: The local Onkyo dealer has offered the PR-SC5508 for US$2000 (incl. taxes, shipping and duty) but with 1 year warranty. Since the DHC80.3 is available only in the UAE - this is a lot more more convenient and I could get it delivered immediately - therefore the I'm dropping the DHC80.3 from consideration and replacing it with the Onkyo PR-SC5508. Since I don't plan to upgrade to a 4K or 3D TV for atleast another 4-5 years - are there any technical issues bugs with the PR-SC5508 that were rectified in the PR-SC5509/DHC80.3?
Any reason why one shouldn't go for a PR-SC5508 - at this point?
 

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Discussion Starter #5 (Edited)
ewardjr69 said:
Hey fellow shacksters I need to piggy back on this post. I currently have a Onkyo 3008 and an Emotiva XPA-3. I am running 7.2 with GoldenEar speakers. The XPA-3 is running my LRC and the receiver is doing the 4 in-celling speakers. I was at my AV shop where I brought my speakers from and I mentioned that I might upgrade my side in-ceiling speakers. The dealer who I respect said that my money would be better spent on a new preamp because the AVR is the weak link in my system. One of the preamps that he recommended was the integra 80.3. Which he had a great deal on. I can get one from a friend for a very reasonable price and his XPA-5 to run my rear 4 if I buy his processor. Much like most of us he has the upgrade bug too. Now to my point ... Sorry trying to provide background but is there a real significance in the processing abilities of this integra vs my onkyo 3008. I will do my own research but I really would like the opinion of a few people in the forum. Thanks!

I got an email saying the above post was made on this thread - but I do not see it on the thread. May be it was removed?

To ewardjr69: The Integra is surely a good processor and if you are getting a good deal go ahead... the 80.3 is the same as Onkyo PR-SC5509 and it has a 192kHz/32bit DAC and Audyssey MultEQ XT32 - these alone are worth the upgrade - since audio is the most important and the lack of 4k pass-through won't matter for a long time or can be by-passed using a dual output 4k player....

the AV7701 has 4k pass-through but has 192kHz/24bit DAC and Audyssey MultEQ Room correction - features that are one step below the 80.3... which is actually comparable to the Marantz the AV8801... in terms of features except for the lack of 4k pass-through
 
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