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Does anybody make modern-style AV amps?

Discussion in 'Apple TV and Home Theater' started by blanka, Aug 22, 2013.

  1. macrumors 68000

    The AV-receiver as media-center/switching hub with dozens of inputs is a thing of the past IMO. We move toward the single content box and just need a good amp. I run everything from my Mini now (live TV, IP TV, BR playback, DVD playback etc) and I need the following:
    • Very well sounding 5-6 channel amplifier in the 1000$ range
    • Preferably based on a T or D-amp, to keep it small and energy efficient.
    • Optical/Coax in (HDMI passthrough is OK too).
    • All the decoders: DTS(HD),Dolby(HD)
    • Decent speaker terminals
    • 5.1 Analog in/out (I still have a SACD player)

    I don't want Video input, video scaling, IP connections (unless it is for the User Interface),tuners and all the other crap of the average AV receiver.
  2. macrumors 601

    An Amp does nothing but amplifies.

    AV receiver has all that crap you hate.

    So what's left, available in real life is an AV Preamp + Power Amp combo.

    Am looking into the Emotiva UMC200 or the Outlaw 975 AV Preamps myself, both are low profiles. I already have discrete power amps.
  3. macrumors 68000

    But then again: the preamp probably does all the video scaling/switching again.
  4. macrumors 601


    Am not sure, haven't read the manuals completely. But u do go down from like 100 jacks to 30, and you get clean front panels, and did I say they are low profile?

    If u insist in 1 box, I don't think you are going to find it.

    U know u can just ignore the extra inputs and don't use them. In my current setup since my TV has 4 hdmi inputs, there is no need for them go through the amp at all, I have them connected up directly to my sources and my universal remote programmed to do the rest.
  5. macrumors 6502

    I'd almost like to suggest the Sonos Playbar.

    The Playbar accepts optical in, and would replace your front three speakers. Buy a pair of Sonos Play3 speakers for your rear channels and add the Sonos sub and you have a complete surround sound package, minus the traditional AVR.

    This probably isn't exactly what you're looking for, and it's over the $1000 budget, but it would definitely work.
  6. macrumors 68000

    Is the main concern size or paying for stuff that you won't use?

    If it is the latter, most of the processing and audio correction is simply standard and you really aren't paying extra for what is already on almost every receiver. As mentioned, you can simply ignore the inputs you aren't going to use.

    I haven't seen a receiver with all the codecs that doesn't have video inputs. They usually go hand in hand.
  7. JAT, Aug 22, 2013
    Last edited: Aug 22, 2013

    macrumors 603

    The Emo has no video processing, except to add its menu to the signal. The Outlaw does have processing.


    You are talking about an integrated amp. But they don't really have those for multichannel, just stereo. What a power amp won't have is a volume control. You could almost get by with a power amp with a standalone DAC, or a PC that has full output, or an Oppo BD player with analog outs....but the volume control is a problem. The HTPC is the closest to what you want, probably. But I'd also recommend:

    Look at the UMC-200 plus U-level 5 or 7 channel amp, you might like that with this list of specs. The combination is right near $1000. And if you wait for one of their sales, you'll see a nice little price drop.

    Also of note, you asked for HD audio decoding, but you listed no way to get that signal into this device. It can't go over SPDIF connectors, and it can't go over multichannel analog. Only HDMI or expensive proprietary digital connections. Another point that leads back to a preamp/receiver, whether you are happy about other features or not.
  8. macrumors 6502

    This is route I'm thinking of going but just the Playbar and subwoofer to start.
  9. macrumors 68000

    The main reason would be
    - smaller
    - running less hot. A nice 5 channel T-amp could sound fantastic yet stay really cool and don't consume too much electricity. Sony had some nice DSD amps a few years ago, but they returned to oldfashioned Mosfet mammoths as well.

    But right now, I will stick with my Onkyo TX-SR701. It decodes everything (well not DTS HD, but I can't tell the difference between a HD stream and a 1536 kbit core signal), and it has a nice amp, but it is kind of obese (even though it is pre HDMI-Ethernet-Wifi-4K-Upscaling crap era).
  10. palmharbor, Sep 3, 2013
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 5, 2013

    macrumors 6502

    I had an Emotive preamp/processor and there was no subwoofer output
    and it was unfixable, I has sent it back once...they could not fix it.
    Set up is a two plus hour, complicated process.
    I bought a Denon AVR 4310 CI, and it has many features that the Emotiva
    does not have and setup was easy, very easy. I cannot recommend Denon Enough and I would stay clear of Emotiva...its Chinese made by an undisclosed company
    Based on what you wrote in the post, you need a 7.1 system.Mine is 7.1.
    accessories4less.com has the best prices
  11. macrumors 68000

    Denon is made in China as are our precious Apple iDevices.

    China produces quality stuff too.
  12. macrumors 68000

  13. macrumors 68030


    You are simply making a broad generalization based upon your wants and needs. These aren't things of the past, they are simply things YOU don't care about. If you don't want reference video or sound, fine. Some people do.. Most people will only use a subset of a good AVR's capabilities.


    Yeah, the Denon products are great but I think only their top AVR is made in Japan.
  14. macrumors 68000


    Look at Denon, Onkyo etc. They make 10 products, exactly the same, only with very small increments in amplifier power and number of channels. TX-SR 309, TX-SR09, TX-SR 509, TX-SR 609 and so on and so on where every year they give it a firmware upgrade and change the last digit. That is treating everyone as being the same. THAT is a broad generalization that nobody wants!
  15. macrumors 6502a

    No, it's not. The average person doesn't have a Mac Mini in their living room. They have a cable box and a DVD/BluRay player (with most probably being DVD only still). There's 2 inputs right there. That means if they want a home theater experience, done right, they need one of those "things of the past".

    You're making it sound like those of us who have AV receivers use every input and feature of it. We all only use a very small subset of what it provides. The problem is that not everybody needs the same small subset. You also only want a very small subset that those boxes provide. Thus, companies make do-it-all boxes that can work for everybody.
  16. macrumors 68000

    There is more to it than just firmware updates which they provide to previous generations as well.

    Look, if you don't want an A/V receiver - fine. Don't buy one, but don't make it sound like there is no value to them. People I know use the inputs with their multiple gaming systems and various media players and cable boxes. You are the outlier and therefore you will be looking a the specialized equipment, which is not a bad thing mind you, but it will require more work on your part to find it.
  17. JAT, Sep 5, 2013
    Last edited: Sep 5, 2013

    macrumors 603

    It's made by Jade Designs, which is the Chinese arm of Emotiva. Dan the owner is quite open in his discussions about manufacturing choices. No "nondisclosure" at all. This info is very easy to find, and Dan made a long post about Chinese assemblage on the AVS forum just a couple weeks ago, which is becoming sorta famous in the A/V forum world.

    To blanka,
    Most digital amps are found in pro audio products, and most of those are either 1 channel or 2 channel. They can be quite inexpensive, but you'd need several to give enough channels for surround sound. Crown is an example of a good company for these, or Dayton Audio. But it seems like you have a different tack on this, anyway.

    And really, the Emotiva UMC-200 preamp sounds like exactly what you wanted. HDMI and multichannel audio input, no video processing, clean and simple. Add amps as desired.
  18. Hevelius, Sep 5, 2013
    Last edited: Sep 5, 2013

    macrumors newbie

    Check out Peachtree Audio - not only are they a highly regarded audiophile's choice but a lot of their kit dovetails well with Apple Devices.

    For instance the decco65: http://www.peachtreeaudio.com/decco65-amplifier-with-dac.html

    This works really well with an Apple TV setup for streaming Hifi audio.
    The ATV has an Optical Out which you can feed to the Optical In of the decco65 and utilise the decco's in-built DAC (yes, it has a DAC it's not just a power amp).
    Admittedly it's not a 5.1 setup, so it doesn't replace a full-blown AV receiver if that's what you need.

    There's a high end audio place near where I live and the guy who runs it swears by this setup. Sooner or later I might even buy one myself :)
  19. macrumors 601

    The Chinese point is moot. Everybody knows China is the electronics factory for the world. SOME are hand-made, not in China, but as they say if you have to ask, you can't afford it.

    Emotiva, just when am warming up to it, their website shows UNAVAILABLE. It seems the umc200 is following the same sorry path as the umc100.
  20. JAT, Sep 5, 2013
    Last edited: Sep 6, 2013

    macrumors 603

    It was the UMC-1, and that had a much more miserable path. Could not recommend that at all.

    The UMC-200 is their first, and I think only, preamp that has a good track record. Not sure what the 'unavailable' is about, but I'm sure I would have heard if it was discontinued, as they just had their annual funfest at the headquarters and all sorts of news comes out. It just needs another mfgr run.

    Note: the UMC is available again.
  21. macrumors newbie

    I've got myself an All-in-One JBL 5.1 Home Cinema System.

    5.1, Opitcal/Coaxial Digital in, DTS/Dolby support, RCA line In etc.
    The only thing it does not have is THX.

    Runs off my Mac Mini as PVR, and Apple TV - but I have to manually switch optical lead if I want 5.1 on Apple TV.

    Works brilliantly. Had it for nearly 10 years now

    You should be able to pick something up like this < US$450
  22. macrumors 601

    I dunno man. Why not just post "Now lead time for delivery is... blah - blah. Why say UNavailable at all. Sounds like as if they found a bug and don't know how to fix it so they stop everything until they figure things out. :rolleyes:
  23. JAT
    macrumors 603

    They do have a bizarre relationship with customers. People rave about their service, when there is a problem or repair to handle, but the day to day selling is just nuts.
  24. macrumors 601

    Again, you're generalizing based on your preferences. The masses do want that otherwise Denon, Onkyo, etc wouldn't manufacture them. If they made stuff that one one bought then they wouldn't be in business. Stop assuming that your preferences are universal. As stated above, you're the outlier.

    Amps don't decode. You need a receiver or pre/processor.
  25. macrumors 68030


    I'll admit that it can be difficult to select an AVR, but I don't agree with your blanket statement.

    The models start basic with 5.1 capability, some number of HDMI inputs, limited handling of analog signals, and maybe very basic handling of a second zone.

    As you move up, you add more amplifiers, robust pre-outs, more power, more ports, scaling and video processing of analog signals, robust room-EQ, the opportunity for multiple subs, etc.

    The frustrating part for me is wanting/needing features that only appear on a high-end model. I will probably stick with 3.1 for a while, moving to 5.1 perhaps. I would like to play digital sources via HDMI in zone 2. I'd like to have sub EQ and 12V triggers, etc. I'd also like full pre-outs. I prefer Denon, but sadly a couple of these items put me in a receiver that is MSRP $1299. 90% of what I need is served by one that's half that..:mad:

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