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 Post subject: silent AV receivers?
PostPosted: Mon May 04, 2009 3:07 pm 
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Location: Dallas, Texas
Hi all,

I'm looking for a silent AV receiver. I don't know much about receivers, but I do know that my previous Home Theatre in a Box had a really loud fan when I turned it on. I'm guessing this is not the case for the majority of receivers in the $200-400 range, but I'd like your suggestions anyway.

I'm looking for a small, simple HDMI receiver/amp to power 2 speakers for my HTPC. Why are receivers so large nowadays? Most Onkyos are almost as big as my computer case.

Thanks in advance from a forum newbie,
chris


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue May 05, 2009 12:49 pm 
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Receivers are so big because they are now almost all A/V receivers without support for dozens of inputs and multi-channel surround sound. The few "plain stereo" models you can still find tend to be high-end models catering to music listening enthusiasts, rather than the low end entries you might expect.

One model to consider would be the Panasonic SA-BX500. I see you can get this for $300 at a few places now. It is a digital amplifier and thus produces relatively little heat. It does have a fan, but I would expect it to be very quiet. At the original SRP of $800, this thing was a terrible deal, as it has relatively few features compared to receivers in that price range, but at $300 it is hard to pass up -- especially for someone like you who doesn't need the missing features.

I'll also say this: Any receiver in the price range you listed will need have a fan or be of very questionable reliability. For that reason your best bet would be to go to a big box store and listen to the models they have available (stick your ear right up to the rear of the case). The "nice" thing about receivers is that they tend to draw relatively very high power even at idle, so the fan will be on even if the receiver is not outputting any programming.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sat May 16, 2009 3:51 pm 
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Yamaha AV recievers usually don't have fans. Mine is 5 years old now, but this doesn't seem to have changed. Something like http://www.yamaha.com/yec/products/prod ... ID=5000300

Ofcource you should check if like the sound of yamaha recievers.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon May 18, 2009 6:33 am 
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Location: Austin, TX
I can't really speak for current or lower-end models, but my Pioneer VSX-1015TX (I don't remember when I got it, exactly, but by the model number it looks like it would have been a 2005 model) has no fans, though to accommodate the huge heatsink it's a larger case than other similar models. It was the highest non-Elite model and is THX-certified, though, so it's hard to say if either would have affected the exclusion of a cooling fan.

I'd definitely second jessekopelman's advice on going to a store and looking at and listening to (if possible) the models on display to see (and possibly hear) if there's a fan. Chances are the cheapest options will, but you might be pleasantly surprised. You can also try and find clearanced/discontinued models as that could extend your buying power somewhat (for example, my receiver was bought at the very end of the model's life, as I recall, so I got a pretty good deal on it). You could also see about the option of used receivers, but I know personally I get nervous about things like that, as well as HDMI being a relatively recent connection. But it would be something else to consider if you find a model that meets all your needs but is a little out of the price range new.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon May 18, 2009 6:43 am 
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Just check stores, i know i chose a yamaha because it didn't have a fan (i was looking at another model which did). A reciever with no speakers attached might stay cold'ish. I know i attached my fathers speakers once (i use it only for headphones atm) and then i knew why there was a huge piece of aluminium in it (it got warm). Also keep in mind that passively cooled recievers need breathing space for cooling.


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 Post subject: Re: silent AV receivers?
PostPosted: Mon May 18, 2009 8:40 am 
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chrsjav wrote:
I'm looking for a small, simple HDMI receiver/amp to power 2 speakers for my HTPC. Why are receivers so large nowadays? Most Onkyos are almost as big as my computer case.

You could get something simple like a integrated amplifier.
Receivers do a lot of things which you don't need if you have one source and two speakers.
You should decide how you want to control volume (remote-controlled amplifier, analog dial on amplifier, via PC (worse for sound quality)).
Integrated sound on most PCs is still abysmal (why didn't the Vista Premium requirements make a difference?) so you'll probably need a separate card if you go with this route.
NB If you don't have speakers yet you could get active speakers instead. It's the technically correct way to do it and you can get good sound quality at good value.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon May 18, 2009 8:41 am 
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madman2003 wrote:
Also keep in mind that passively cooled recievers need breathing space for cooling.

The relatively modern ones using class D amplifiers shouldn't use much power at all. Other classes will get hot.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Mon May 18, 2009 9:05 am 
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Then you should watch out, because class D is probably not a given for "insert random amp".


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Tue May 19, 2009 1:57 pm 
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madman2003 wrote:
Then you should watch out, because class D is probably not a given for "insert random amp".

Indeed. The only quality choice current model I know of, for < $500, is the Panasonic SA-BX500. I'm sure there are plenty of HTiB receivers that use Class D, but these will likely be of the lowest quality. For some reason, the companies that make the best quality low-end receivers (Yamaha, Sony, Onkyo), other than Panasonic, have an unnatural avoidance of Class D. Meanwhile, it is starting to become quite popular at the high end with companies like Pioneer embracing the technology for their flagship models. Kind of the opposite of what you'd expect.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed May 20, 2009 7:14 am 
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Be careful of ClassD amps. There is a reason they are not used by higher-end receivers or in car stereo outfits. They work well and are very efficient in the low frequency range, but begin to lose quality with higher frequency signals. In other words, if not done right, they sound like crap, lots of distortion and warble (like a bad MP3).

Most average listeners wouldn't even notice, but it's there.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed May 20, 2009 5:17 pm 
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jhhoffma wrote:
Be careful of ClassD amps. There is a reason they are not used by higher-end receivers or in car stereo outfits. They work well and are very efficient in the low frequency range, but begin to lose quality with higher frequency signals. In other words, if not done right, they sound like crap, lots of distortion and warble (like a bad MP3).

Most average listeners wouldn't even notice, but it's there.

Actually they are used in both the cases you listed. For example, Pioneer uses them in its flagship Elite SC-09TX, which has a MSRP of $7000. Bel Canto uses them in its standalone amps, which can cost > $10,000. Bang and Olufsen uses them in their very expensive home audio stuff. I don't know car stereo stuff off the top of my head but googling "class d car audio" comes up with plenty of examples. You are not wrong that there are plenty of examples of crappy Class D applications, but that doesn't mean they all suffer from the same issues.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu May 21, 2009 3:15 am 
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I personally think that B&O is more about looks than it is about sound, so i consider it a bad example.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu May 21, 2009 6:39 pm 
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madman2003 wrote:
I personally think that B&O is more about looks than it is about sound, so i consider it a bad example.

My own take on B&O is that the point is to prove you can afford ridiculously expensive stuff, more than anything. This doesn't mean it isn't top notch stuff, just that the actual value proposition is questionable. Like buying a Maybach . . . That said, the Class D amps used by all the brands I mentioned are actually designed by B&O and are very highly regarded -- ICEpower. Personally I find the subject of digital audio amps (Class D, Class T, what have you) very interesting because I like the idea of a device that is not wasting 60+% of its input power as heat and really I just value efficiency very highly in general.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri May 22, 2009 8:01 am 
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jessekopelman wrote:
jhhoffma wrote:
Be careful of ClassD amps. There is a reason they are not used by higher-end receivers or in car stereo outfits. They work well and are very efficient in the low frequency range, but begin to lose quality with higher frequency signals. In other words, if not done right, they sound like crap, lots of distortion and warble (like a bad MP3).

Most average listeners wouldn't even notice, but it's there.

Actually they are used in both the cases you listed. For example, Pioneer uses them in its flagship Elite SC-09TX, which has a MSRP of $7000. Bel Canto uses them in its standalone amps, which can cost > $10,000. Bang and Olufsen uses them in their very expensive home audio stuff. I don't know car stereo stuff off the top of my head but googling "class d car audio" comes up with plenty of examples. You are not wrong that there are plenty of examples of crappy Class D applications, but that doesn't mean they all suffer from the same issues.


Stand corrected, should have read..."not usually used"...

However, the point remains that "if not done right", it's easy to screw them up. It was intended to be more an indictment of the cheap, small HTIB units, than of ClassD amps in general, but my post was misleading the way I wrote it.

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