B&K 307 vs. Denon 5800 Debate

Thank you to those of you who helped me earlier. So my decission is narrowed down to the B&K 307 and Denon 5800 and boy is it a tough choice. Both seem great for HT. The B&K probably edges on stereo sonics due to the room equalization feature and has a great build quality, but the Denon has the nice NEO 6 Music feature which sounds good. Tough trade-off. Does anyone wish to share their experiences, regrets, thoughts about how these two products compare? Thanks.
During the xmas week off. I was lucky enough to listen to both units at two diffrent showrooms in San Jose, CA. I thought the B&K sounded better on both movies and two channel stereo but then again in each showroom the associated gears used were different on each unit. I could be biased too since I just purchased a B&K Ref30 pre/pro. Just my $0.02.
If the Neo 6 is your sticking point, be advised that B&K has "stereo 7" mode--maybe this decides for you? Also, as I may have stated earlier, the factory support that B&K provides is second to nobody.
I personally think that the 202 105 watts+5 sounds better than the 5800,especially on music. Personally i am not into the fluff that they sell with any av receiver. it is the sound above all that counts.
I'm a B&K fan. I have a REF20, and listened to the REF30 the other day. Nice stuff. I personally like it better then the Denon
Though I haven't heard the 5800, I'd say the B&K is the way to go. I'm very pleased with the 202 in my system. By all accounts I've seen, 2 channel performance is a strength of the B&K components at this price point. If you're able to arrange home auditions, that'd be best. Then, you can get what works best for You! Regards, Mel.
I would vote for the B&K piece as well; keep in mind that as new technologies become available, B&K will offer them as an upgrade. Denon ? No way... your stuck with the 5800's features forever.
I plan on purchasing the 307 as well. HOWEVER, you should know that at the moment, the 5800 provides a discrete 6th channel (rear center) for the new 6.1 titles, whereas most if not all others (including the 307) create the rear center info by matrixing the 2 surround channels. Be sure to listen to the staircase scene in "the Haunting" for a good example of the difference when you A/B the two models. However, everything being considered (upgradeablity, overall sound quality, flexibility, etc) I go with the B&K.
I have a feeling that the next generation B&K unit, as well as the upgrade, will address the discrete 6th channel issue...
The support for B&K is unanimous. I too think (hope) there will be an updgrade to DTS:6 Discrete and DTS NEO6. I don't think I will be unhappy either way, but choosing the B&K would be a little easier if Robert Harley had not written such a glowing review of the Denon 5800 in this month's Perfect Vision.
I DEFINITLY prefer the Denon piece. It has way more thrust an dynamics than the B&K. The Neo6 and those sound modes shouldnt really matter when purchasing an AVReceiver. Its like buying a car. don't choose one just because it was the one with the cupholders. the cupholders. get the one that has the performance where it counts. The Denon has the best processing and amplifier engineering.
I lean towards the B&K (actually I have one on order at the moment) but its a tough call. Yes, Denon has nice processors (they use the 24 bit SHARC throughout), but B&K is the alpha test site for all Motorola chips--a nice advantage. So much so that they are frequently first to market with new surround technology. Additionally, regarding flexibilty, B&K are much more easily upgradeable than is the Denon (inluding a serial port right on the unit to upgrade from your PC). Lastly if you like the idea of multi-speaker stereo, B&K's stereo-7 channel is a bit more flexible in allowing you to convert your THX rear center speaker pair into a stereo pair for music( in conjunction with your side speakers, if you have them)---the Denon does not (it has spkr terminals for "rear center" and they are essentially ONLY for movies) . Best of luck!
If it must be one of these two receivers, go for the B&K 307 but do yourself a favor and try the Marantz SR-18 or if you prefer the SR-18EX. Audio quality of this unit is FAR superior to the B&K. I used to LOVE the B&K and compared it to many Marantz products since they were sitting in the same room as the B&K. The B&K was clearly better than ANY of the Lower end (sub SR-18) receivers. But.. one day I ventured into the other room and found the SR-18 and even without an A/B comparison, I could tell the Marantz SR-18 was better. Fuller, richer, more detailed sound, no harsh brassy highs, and transparency not common in this price range. Now I understand why they keep that Marantz SR-18 in the other room.... Because it would be impossible to sell a B&K with it around. To make matters even more interesting, the B&K was hooked up to B&W N-805 speakers and the Marantz in the other room used "in wall" B&W speakers. Clearly the B&K had the advantage of sounding better but still did not. I was heartbroken at the time and I felt stupid for thinking so highly of the B&K. Anyhow.. this is my experience and I hope that you can use this information to your benefit.
I own the 202 and i am very happy with it.I listened to the 5800 and 307 at the same dealer and prefer the 307.I drove a block away and listened to the marantz flagship model and prefer the 307 over that also.Considering the b&k receivers are upgradable and the others are not,i do not even see this as a decision,it is a no brainer.all the other brands will be outdated steel boxes in two or three years,while the b&k units will be state of the art.
Hey Ears, Update? What are you going to update to? Can you update your 202 to Dolby Ex? Can you update to 7.1 channel sound now that it's available? Can you add additional line level outputs for other speakers? Does it have extra slots for additional amps?

No... of course you cannot. Maybe though you can update your 202 with an emulated version of 7.1 so it makes 5.1 sound like 7.1 with only 5 speakers.

I'm just being sarcastic and kidding around a bit because I don't get what this "upgradable" thing is all about. Your 202 is DTS compatible and I really don't see another format comming down the pipe which would be WORTH upgrading to. If anyone has any input on this I'd love to
hear it.

Oh.. of course you might be able to upgrade your 202 or 307 processor to decode DVD-A... but... then you'd need a new DVD player to go with it.

Any insight on what this whole "Upgrade" thing is all about?
Update = Sending the unit into B&K to get the hardware current with the LATEST technology. i.e. the 202 currently does DD and DTS, I have been told the next upgrade is to add DTS-ES, DPL-2, and THX certification. This is why B&k customers are so loyal, because their equipment is never outdated.
Thanks Justy..... Except what good does DTS-EX do for a 5 channel receiver? DTS-EX is 6.1 and the B&K 202 is NOT a 6.1 capable amplifier/receiver i.e. it does not have 6.1 amplifiers, or outputs which leads me to belive that there is truly NO point in upgrading. What is the point of being able to decode DTS-EX if you cannot listen to it on all six channels?

B&K customers are loyal because this product is likely their first venture into "higher end" audio and they have to justify the price of these "mediocre" sounding boxes
somehow. Then, along comes marketing with the idea of being able to upgrade.

I guess it's like upgrading your PC right? So I could go out today and upgrade my Pentium 233 with a Pentium 4 processor so I have the LATEST technology!!!

Just like updating a B&K to the latest technology!

Oops.. The fitting of the new Pentiums doesn't fit in the P233 motherboard. Wait a second, the RAM is different! Oh No!! The System bios is not Win ME, 2000, NT4 or even 98 compliant? YIKES!!!

SO my main point is be careful when people tell you that you can UPGRAGE your $3000 receivers as new formats come out. It is likely that any new format will require a change in not just software... but hardware as well.

So.. Justy, be careful when you presume that your equipment
will never be outdated.
The dacs can be upgraded,next years dacs will be better ect. Who in there right mind would want to be dvd audio compatible,when there is the superior format sacd which i already have.Bwhite no one said the b&k receivers were levinson beaters.I for one am not interested in adding 6.1 or 7.1 or 10.1 when there are about 5 movies available with 6.1 .All five of my speakers have the revelator tweeters in them,so i am in no hurry to buy one or even two more.By the way Bwhite my speakers for testing the different receivers on the market are probably better than 99% of the home theater buffs and the b&k sounds better period.I have had seperates in surround systyms[before pro logic] iv'e also had many different cdp,dacs,wires cables ect.the b&k receiver is a good deal if you compare what it would take in seperates $$ wise,even the denon is cheaper than seperates.also i paid 1600.00 for my 202 with optional silver face[2900.00]i could put it on audiogon tommorow and get 1600.oo for it.you can open the b&k and in ten minutes move your front two channels two the rear or side and add a two channel amp to the front channels.

OBVIOUSLY the B&K Upgrades are hardware as well as software driven; i think every internal component can be swapped out. Therefore if 6.1, 7.1 or 8.1 channels need to be driven; the amplifier would be upgraded to accomodate.
Okay.. Okay.. I get it... :) Lets look at the size difference between the 202 and the 307. The 307 is MUCH larger than the 202. The 307 is a 7 channel receiver and the 202 is a 5 channel. Justy, how will the extra amplifiers, cards and powersupplies fit inside the 202 box? I believe the B&K 202 (as with most multi-channel manufacturers) uses descrete amplification, which means one 105w amp (plus associated components) per channel.

I think I'm going to call B&K and tell them I want to upgrade my 202 to a 7 channel unit just to see how long
they laugh at me.
Ears, it remains to be seen whether DVD-A is better or worse than SACD. I agree that SACD is a great format but DVD-A hasn't yet been released, so making comparisons at this point is not fair.

You are correct, DAC's can be upgraded and in MOST cases upgrading a 20bit DAC to a 24bit makes a tremendous difference! I encourage all who can do this to do it.

You use ScanSpeak Relevators on your speakers huh? They are highly rated and are used heavily by DIY'ers... So.. Did you build them yourself? I know you reference how much better your speakers are than 99% of the home theater buffs out there but could you give us more detail? I'm also curious why someone who has within the top 1% of speakers of all of us "buffs" out here would settle on a B&K or the "best deal" receiver to drive those amazing speakers!

People should buy what they like. I am not dissing B&K by any means. I think it's a great product and before I did extensive research which ultimately led me to buying separates, I thought it was the ultimate! I loved it! But after comparing the 307 to a Marantz 18ex, I just went limp, and became very bummed out by the B&K. I didn't buy the Marantz but it led me to McIntosh and from there, to Krell.

I still believe the Marantz 18ex is the best sounding "comsumer grade" receiver out there. I'm curious if anyone else has listened and done A/B comparisons between the Marantz and the B&K.

My gripe is with upgrading and the belief that one can simply upgrade to a format (which currently doesn't exist) some day when it becomes available. How can anyone make that claim?

in the above post from bwhite,the marantz 18 is by no means
the better sounding receiver of the pack,i own both the 18 and the later model sr14,sold the sr14 and now have the onkyo 989 in both 2ch stereo and 5.1 surround it's by far a more sonically pleasing receiver.the marantz is hard and bright.the b&k is a wonderfull sounding unit but did not care for it's looks.
Bwhite,dvd audio players and software are available and the owners of both say sacd wins hands down.I think sacd will end up as an audiophile standard and dvd-a will be mass market.Check out audio asylum sacd/dvd threads for more info.Yes my speakers are diy as the cheapest commercial speakers with the revelator are 20,000 to 50,000 and beyond.I may add a 5 channel 4000.00 dollar multi channel amp to the b&k 202 as the processor/preamp is the reference model.by the way this amp is rated above the krell 5+100 amp and the krell ht will not pass full sacd output and the b&k will. Not saying you own either of these,just that you can not buy on name alone.Not even when the name is krell.
Ears, The new (silver) Krell KAV-HTS has true analog bypass for SACD. Older version of the Krell HTS sound HORRIBLE when playing SACD. Thank god Krell realized this and will be upgrading older versions in the second quarter.

Are you trying to tell me that a B&K amp or pre/pro is better than a Krell?

So you say that DVD-A disks and players are availiable? Really? I didn't know that! I thought that the only thing close which was currently available was DAD (plays on any DVD player) which is different but commonly confused with DVD-A will not play on non DVD-A compliant DVD players. Ears, who has a DVD-A player available and where can I find the media?

Chesky shows that DVD-A will not be available until late February - March...
Bwhite, no i am not saying b&k reference pre in the receiver is better than the krell,just that there are better rated multi channel amps than the krell for less money.Like i said go over to www.audioasylum.com if you want info on dvd-a or sacd.they have info on were to buy and reveiws of fleetwood mac rumors on dvd-a ect.I have made my choice and it is sacd,although i wish there were more titles available.What i meant on the krell avp is that it would not do analog direct but the b&k would.Krell has a great rep but they dropped the ball on this one.Every reveiw i have read on the krell hts,said the two channel sound left a lot to be desired.
Ears... I've looked, searched and scoured the net. I cannot find any DVD-A players, or media currently available. The only thing I can find is DAD which is DVD without the video. Even Audio assylum is full of speculation and no real comparisons.
Ears for better information on DVD-A go to http://www.digitalaudioguide.com

It seems that very few (if any) players are available and even there are fewer than 40 DVD-A releases available.

This makes a true comparison between SACD and DVD-A very difficult and speculative.

The true "format to own" will be dual format capable and dual capable disks SACD/DVD-A!
The JVC 723GD and the Denon 3300 and the Panasonic A7 are a few that can be found on the net. As far as software goes go to KenCranes.com to the DVD audio section. Some are DAD's but they have DVD-A discs from Warner and 5.1 on there. Also I have a few from DTS that I picked up at the CES show that should be available this month from their website.

Oh btw I say B&K all the way as I own a ref 30 but haven't compared the 5800 side by side with the 307.
I saw some of the debate going on previously so here's a few thoughts about the extent of the upgrades possible.

B&K is hardware and software upgradeable

To upgrade a 5.1 reciever to 7.1 just isn't going to happen as the cost to do it and the practicality of doing it would be harder and more expensive than buying a new receiver. So what is upgradeable?

Now some B&K amps use the same chassis for different channel configuration and to add a channel or two wouldn't be a problem.

B&K is an Alpha site for Motorola and the DSP's could be swappable to add Dolby pro Logic II, SACD or MLP decoding, the dacs on the 307 are also swapable to add 24/192 dacs with the same pinnout. The operating software is also swapable to add things to the current system. MP3 decoding could be added.
B&K gives you this and a great performing product at much less a price than the traditional upgradable companies (Lexicon, Meridian)

I read on Meridian's website once about how they target their products to have a product life (upgradeability) of 5 years. Not saying it's going to break in 5 but that there comes a time when upgrades don't make sense (just like computers)
B&K says the same, that they want there product to last more than one generation before you have to buy a new one.

I think we have hit a point where the technology expansion will slow down. It went so fast when DVD's came out that we first had DD coming and then DTS and THX EX and DTS ES and now all I can see on the horizon is SACD and DVD A and then I think there will be a stability in these things as the technology catches up with DVD. Not that there won't be advances but that they will take some time to come to market as there comes a point where even if it's better consumers won't buy into it (beta).

I think we are hitting that point now with DVDA and SACD as how many of the general consumers are dying to have one? How many know what it is? They are just getting their first DVD player let alone going to get another one to play music.

Just my thoughts.
Phyre3, Finally a reasonable explaination. Thank you!
So what if I bought the high end of the B&K amplifier line (the one with the same chassis as lower end ones) with all the channels... What is my upgrade path? I presume NONE
other than buy new.

Traditional "upgrade" companies upgrade the processors and do not ADD amplifiers to their products. Before home theater, there was never a need to upgrade your stereo to a "trieo?"... Whatever... three channel sound.

My whole point on this issue is that since HT is SO relatively new and formats are changing so often, a firmware upgrade may do nothing becuase in order to
enjoy your new firmware/format, you need additional
hardware to support it.

Just like your point of SACD "upgradability". Upgrading
my Receiver to be able to decode SACD will give me no benefit since my current sources DO NOT READ SACD. The media first must be read before it is decoded.

And... if you buy a SACD player.... guess what comes with it? A DECODER!!! I seriously doubt we'll be seeing SACD transports in the near future. But... who knows, this is a strange industry.
You make some good points. If you are talking about upgrading a receiver to more channels then yes a firmware upgrade to a format of more channels may not be the best route. But there are other format upgrades besides adding channels.

Yes you are correct that you don't traditionally upgrade amplifiers but processors though many companies are making modular amps to accomodate more channels in the future.

SACD players do come with their own decoding so it may not be worth it for that but Dolby Prologic II is a different story. It is closer to a Discrete 5.1 than any other algorythm and is designed for music as well as music. I would love to hear my broadcasts and VCR tapes and some CDs in this format and from other reports it is going to be great. Of course you may say DD and DTS is better. Well yes but how much 2 channel stuff is out there that will sound great with this?

How about the rumored upgrade of DTS ES to DTS ES discrete. Now there is some real benefit to B&K upgrade program because for a smaller fee I can have my processor upgraded to a Discrete 6.1 system without droping 3K to get a new one. I believe Dolby and DTS have also released upgraded decoding for better performance and there is something else that would be nice.

But yes eventually the upgrade path will be used up and no longer worth doing which gives some of us a perfect excuse to buy new gear. But like I said in my preivous post I don't think your going to see that much more coming out in the way of new formats as the industry has seen a fair share and more than 8 speakers in a room is an impracticality for a great many people no matter how good it sounds. I do think there will be much more integration of the components and that could be the future of av components not adding more channels than 8. A 10.1 channel receiver would be huge and cost a ton if it was any good and a $1000 one would be cheap and probably sound bad so I don't think that the industry is going to jump onto that. I think they will spend more time improving their formats and probably Dolby will introduce a Discrete system as well which B&K should be upgradeable to but you never know for sure right?

Anyway more of my thoughts.