Integra processors good?

Looking to update my 16yr old Denon AVR-3000. I stopped by a local audio store & they suggested the Integra DHC-9.8 which is last years model & almost $1,000 less then the newer DHC-9.9 ($2300ish).

I know nothing about the company or their products so I though I would ask here. The store stated they are the best sounding processor for under $5,000 & are totally hand built!

He would let last years go for $1300, is that worth doing? Is there anything else I should consider?

thanks for any input/help!
My comments:

Viggen - do it - you will be a happy guy- I could not be happier with mine.

First, Integra is a flagship line for Onkyo - sort of their Lexus.

At $1,300 he is just a few bux above what used ones have been going for here. Make sure it has the latest software. You might be able to push him some.

If you read the boards diligently you will find that there was some rough sledding at first release but everything has been all mo betta for some time. You will also find some comments about them running hot which I have seen no sign of at all.

There are a lot of things to really like here - the Audyssey EQ is a marvel and works very well (we ran an analyzer on it). I am running my two mains in the bi-amp mode since I only have a 5.1 system. The HDMI switching is rock solid. There is a nice set of HDMI specific features like lipsync which are essential. And it sounds very good on music and even better on movies and TV.

I just buzzed through the e-brochure for the 9.9 and it seems that the differences are all software or firmware - the hardware seems to be the same.

The 9.9 has a couple of more nice to have but not deal killer Audyssey features. I did not take the time to download and check out the owners manual to see what they actually mean by "ISF Certified Calibration Controls per Input (Custom/Day/Night)". BTW compared to other manuals from Denon and B&K the Integra manual and programming is the model of clarity.

One shortcoming if you want to call it that, of the 9.8 is the Reon processor settings are applied globally - so your 1080p BluRay, your 1080 DTV and your old DVD player are all managed the same. (Hopefully this is what the new ISF function mentioned above addresses) When we did the ISF set up we completely bypassed the Reon. We uprez the DVD in the Oppo. The BluRay, Apple TV and DTV go straight thru and the Pioneer does whatever is needed at the end.

Which brings me to Kr4s thoughtful link to the Stereophile review. And the subject of the miracle of HDMI. As Forest Gump liked to say, the Integra and HDMI go together like peas and carrots... Sure it will work fine without HDMI or HD but you won't get all the magic in the box.

This is especially true when you consider that you can have the soon to be announced Oppo BluRay/DVD (or a Pannie BD30 and a Oppo 983) and a new DTVHD box for under a grand. The BluRay (1.2 and 2 standards) is an essential component because it is the only 1080p source and it is the only way to get the uncompressed Dolby and DTS formats now being offered on some of the latest movies. A big wow.

The remote is massive and reasonably hateful requiring reading glasses but very easy to use for programming. I have all my devices integrated through a Logitech Harmony One which once programmed makes it very manageable day to day.

Finally, I am not aware of anything near this price point that delivers this feature set. I do believe the urban legend about it being a handbuilt statement piece. Plus I think the next stop would be the Marantz separates. And again without HDMI sources and BluRay it is a moot point anyhow.

I do very much like having a separate amp. Gives you a huge amount to choose from especially if you are only running 5.1 - everything from Krell and Pass to Anthem and Butler.

Finally if you are undecided a lot of folks are buying lesser receivers with the same or similar feature set then using the preamp out to go to the amp of choice - something you could of course do in stages.

Ping me if I can be of further help. I do have a few more posts about all this you can find as well.

But at $1,300 its a no brainer if you plan to bring your entire system to a new level of performance by using all the related technology (HDS, HDMI, BluRay)
As far as features and to get you into a pre/pro, they are ok but the 2 channel sound(and thus HT sound) is very lean according to some. That is the tradeoff for all the video features. It just doesn't sound good, imo, as a preamp.

Cary's new 11a audio processor (it doesn't have a video section but will of course accept and pass HDMI signals) is much better sounding but retails for $3500. There were some initial release issues on some units but I belive those issues have been cleared up with the new software update release. It processes all the new codecs etc.

So it depends on what you value and what your budget can handle. I've owned the 9.8, the Anthem D2 and the Cinema 11a. The Cinema 11a sounds the best of the three but the other two are more feature laden and have integrated video sections. Cary separates the video section in another unti called the 11v if you need one. I run my DVD straight to my TV for Blu-Ray and the HDMI cable to the 11a for lossless decoding.
[quote]As far as features and to get you into a pre/pro, they are ok but the 2 channel sound(and thus HT sound) is very lean according to some. That is the tradeoff for all the video features. It just doesn't sound good, imo, as a preamp.[/quote]

I think this statement must be amended to say that the 9.8 is somewhat lean and less than superb on its analog inputs. That is, regardless of the number of channels used, the performance with digital inputs is very good while the the performance with analog inputs is less so.

It's not a stereo vs. multichannel issue.

On that note, to take advantage of the Audyssey processing, you really need to be using digital inputs anyway, and letting the preamp do all the digital conversion and processing. I think I'm right on this. I would assume most of your important inputs would be on the digital side.
If anyone was planning on using a preamp such as this for 2 channel dubties from analog sources, I would suggest a high end 2 channel preamp.
Just know that you're not going to be taking proper advantage of the excellent room DSP correction, and you deal with your acoustical issues accordingly.
If I had one of these, I'd be doing all digital input application, personally.
You could also look into the Emotivia coming down the pike. Verdict out on what it would sound like though.
thanks everyone.... I am not 100% sure on what to do but this is definantly helping me out a LOT. I was leaning towards a Denon AVR-4308 or a yet to be determined processor (I figured something used for $$ reasons). Then a local shop suggested this piece which is less then what I was planning on spending & offers a lot of nice features..... Do you guys think the integra would sound better then a AVR-4308? I hated the idea of buying a receiver with all the amps in there & not using them at all, seems like a waste to me.

My girlfriend's receiver is a yamaha RXV-2092 that she presently uses & since she is moving in with me we are combining systems. Her receiver is 7yrs newer then mine but it's still 10yrs old.... she has 4 parasound amps (HCA-1500a) which we will be using to run my old infinity kappa speakers. I plan on purchasing used Bryston amps (pr of 7b's or 14b) to power my main speakers (unless there is something better for similar money).
"I am not 100% sure on what to do"

Join the club! I'm almost 100% certain none of us are either! - lol. But I'm glad it's all "helping", as you say.
To answer your question about sound quality between two receivers, I would say it will depend a bit on your needs, and your associated equipment, room, setup, acoustics, etc. One choice may or may not match up better for you than another. To ask "which receiver would sound better?" is relative, basically. I would need more info on your system, to properly qualify that question (system matching is very important), personally. Both are likely not so distance in relative sound quality however. You'll likely though get similar results, from my experience with those brands over the years.
On another note, you say your girlfriend owns a 2092 and Parasound amp combo?
OK, you'll have to forgive me here, and I have to ask - as I can't resist - as someone who's been selling hi-fi to almost exclusively the male popluation, for almost 2 decades now, can anyone else here on the Gon get there head around this scene?!!! Please excuse me but I'm having difficulty envisioning this scenario - lol.
Nevertheless, What's your system like?
LOL.... I know what you mean, definantly not many females into music/stereo stuff (I also sold equiptment but that was 16yrs ago). She has another yamaha 2095, 7 pairs of Boston Acoustic speakers, a pair of mirage subs (only the 8in versions though) & that's it since before we hung out. Since we started dating she purchased a 73in mits diamond TV. The bad news is the reason we are dating (known her for 15yrs) is her husband passed away 2yrs ago of cancer (he was 37). He was really into music (has a parasound pre amp somewhere) & enjoyed HT as well. Left 3 kids behind who are know 6, 7 & 9. fortunantly she does still really enjoy the hobby & is OK with me tweeking her stuff a bit :)

With the room setup.... 13x21 with 8ft ceilings. about 1/2 of the side wall & back wall open up to another room. I purchased a PS3 for blueray duty & I will probably get something else in a year or so, I want a new receiver & main amp before I get a dedicated B ray player.... I think she agrees with me that my speakers sound a better which are infinity kappa 8.1vII's for front & rear with kappa video for center & hopefully side effects for 7.1 sound. I am not a fan of the mirage 8's so I plan on making 2 enclosures for hopefully a pair of 15's.

I have a adcom gfa5500 that we might use for side effects untill I can get a bryston to power the main speakers. I wanted to bi-amp the main 8.1's untill I could snag a better amp.

Hopefully that's enough info.... thanks!!
I agree with Skippybo - you get one of these because of what it can do with your digital sources. It is the center of an HT system. Movies sound amazing. Sports sound amazing.

You can hook a turntable up to it but I doubt it will sound amazing.

FWIW like any preamp the sound of the Integra is influenced by the amp. It will have a Parasound flavor for sure.
Well.... I took the plunge today & purchased the processor. Thanks for everyone's help/info!!!!

Definantly helped me out a LOT in my decision!!

& FIWI I do not have a turntable thus not a issue for me.... also after talking to the salesman he suggested that I do not go the 7.1 route.... stated 5.1 will be all I need for the room I have
Congrats and enjoy

I think your salesman gave you good advice - you will be plenty happy with 5.1 especially if you can get it on the side walls instead of the back wall

If you want you can set the Integra up to bi-amp your speakers - meaning that it will split the signal into high and low then output each on a dedicated RCA. Sort of but not really an active crossover. Anyhow if you have enough amps lying around, give it a try - I am pleased with it.
Should the rear speakers be close to where we would sit or much behind us? I have room to put them a few feet back so they would be on the side wall but a few feet behind where I would sit. They are floor standing speakers so they will not be wall mounted.

We have 4 parasound amps so I figured bi-amping would be the way to go up front. Do you know if I can bi-amp the rears? I want to get a Bryston amp (I think 14b st... used) for the front mains then I thought I could bi-amp the rears. Not sure if I can do that though.
The Integra does not have a provision for bi-amping the rears. I guess if the speakers are set up that way you could just have at it - maybe vertical biamp - and see if you like it.

As far as speaker placement. There is a lot of information here on the Gon in the HT Forum. But as an overview:

The 5.1 surround format assumes a L,C & R across the front. Then two speakers on the side walls of the listening area firing across the seating area at each other. And of course the sub.

The 7.1 format adds a pair of speakers on the back wall firing across the audience towards the screen.

The only sure way to sort this out is to spend some time trying different positions. Every time you do a major change run Audyssey - it will measure the distances and adjust the delays.

I have found that the main trick is to get as much distance from your sweet seats to the surround speakers. In my case (5.1) there is no way to place the speakers on the side walls. Instead I have them on the rear wall above the seating area and about 30" behind it. Audyssey does a fine job of balancing them out. Unless you are playing material with exaggerated panning you are not particularly aware of them - like the sub they just expand the sense of presence.
For useful help in using Audyssey, you should look at the links provided here:

Sure, they make a good processor. I would say it's probably either the top or next to the top of the line in it's price range.

On a personal opinion note, though. Here is my favorite at the moment, the Marantz AV8003. I feel it sounds better than the Integra's.