Next time I'll use spell check! I apologize.
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I absolutely LOVE my Onkyo 905. I can't imagine you being disappointed with the 706. I see someone got an 805 ( a step up, a model back) used here for $500.
The things I love about my Onkyo are the sound, great DACs', video up sampling quality, ease of set-up, and ease of use, quiet operation, and looks.
I bought an Onkyo 805 for $550 here at Audiogon a few months back...I like it a lot. It replaced my old Sunfire prepro, which was one of my worst buys ever at ($3,000)....not because the Sunfire wasn't very good, it was good.
But, I would NEVER spend that much money on this type of component again because this technology changes yearly.
I would keep away from Ice and class D amps. They just don't have it (yet). I have the Elite VSX 92 (linear amp). The SC's mentioned above are Ice. The Linears blow them away. I am eying the Marantz for my next receiver upgrade. Marantz one of the few not going the Ice route. Ice is good for manufacturers-not so good for the sound.
You can easilly hear the difference between Ice and linear if you compare them. The Ice is flat, no slam and just no emotional connection.
Cerrot, respectfully, I can't disagree more. While tube, solid state, hybrid, and switching, amplifiers may have differences in their presentation, even in their own categories, your statement is simply to broad.
Many people who have tried switching amplifiers without taking proper steps to integrate them into their systems have had some issues with RF and VAC supply to the amplifier. These problems were audible and directly limited their performance. Pioneer has taken many of these issues seriously and, for the most part, remedied them. I've owned three different switching amplifiers as well as tube and solid state. The Pioneer receiver is the first switching amplifier that was simply plug and play. It's unusual captive two prong VAC cable / plug is an obvious design element.
In my comment above I cite my actual experience with two different designs that I have lived with. Some years ago in my auditions of the Integra, Denon, Marantz, NAD, Sony, and Arcam, receivers I compared their sonic as well as their build qualities for use in a modest HT system. I was fortunate to audition the Integra, Denon/Marantz, and the Arcam, at the same location using the same system.
Sonically the Arcam had the nicest upper midrange to highs of the bunch. Looking inside all of these units the Arcam had excellent build quality yet it ran hot and lacked, some bass punch, and was seriously lacking in HT features.
The Sony had good bass, up to date features but had little in the way of finesse in the mids and highs, a sort of flat presentation.
I was unable to directly compare the NAD. It's build quality was good and it was pleasant to listen to.
The Denon/Mrantz for all intents and purposes are the same build with some minor differences. Along with the Arcam I was able to compare them with the Integra in the same system. The Arcam and the Integra clearly had a better selection of parts. Since both the Arcam and the Integra had a better overall sonic presentation and could play louder with less fatigue my choice between the Arcam and the Integra was made simple by the Arcam's shortcomings. The Intgra didn't just edge out the Denon/Mrantz it was flat out a better receiver.
While I can't speak of the latest offerings of the receivers I've mentioned above I will say the ICE powered switching amplifier section of the current Pioneer SC receivers is a huge improvement in HT receiver format audio. Since each channel essentially has its own power supply there is no need to suck power off of a shared transformer. This will become stunningly apparent to the ICE receiver owner when they listen to a film at theater like levels. The absence of fatigue will amaze you at just how loud the thing is actually playing. My Integra, which could easily out preform the other linear solid state amplifiers I auditioned, simply could not play this loud without breaking up or distorting.
At lower levels the Pioneer's all important midrange simply sounds more liquid than it did with the Integra. Since my system is crossed over at 80Hz to a subwoofer, bass is not an issue in my system. Keep in mind switching amplifiers have been used in subwoofers for many years. Their bass reproduction is is almost unparalleled, if at all.
Cerrot mentions, "yet" in regard to switching amplifiers. I would somewhat agree with that. Switching amplifier's have only recently come into their own with the advent of faster processors which now do the switching at a very high bandwidth. Along with RF and circuit improvements these designs are evolving rapidly. Pioneer has used many of these improvement as well as some of their own in this their first generation switching amplified receiver.
Other advantages to a switching amplifier is their electrical efficiency. They use power on demand through a more efficient power supply which is why they run very cool, take up less space, and use less wall voltage, compared to traditional tube or solid state designs. Lets face it these things are on for long periods of time.
Thank you for your very well written and informative post.
I'm a big Elite fan, just not an Ice fan, so, regret, looking elsewhere to upgrade my receiver. Manufacturers like them because they're cheaper to make, don't need as much room in a rack as they don't need the ventilation and can offer consumers high(er) wattage at a lower price, which generates more sales for them. I do believe that some day, they will get better, but, for now, just not my cup of tea.
The Ice just doesn't give me that presence and impact that I desire. Class D's have been used in subs for ages, agreed, though it is much easier to reporduce an 80hz (or below) somewhat monophonic bass frequency than it is to reporduce the entire frequency range needed for HT. I, personally, am very dissapointed with the direction many HT receiver mfgs are going, embracing the Ice technology. I have heard the SC-07 - had it in my home for over a month (already boken in by dealer) and. for me, it just isn't there yet. We swapped out the SC-07 the other night and went back to the VXS-92 and watched "Knowing" in Bluray and after the first 20 minutes, my girl and I both looked at each other and said "wow". Pure chest pounding, absorbing xperience. With the SC-07, we hadn't felt it (in every bluray we threw at it). With the SC, the highs, mids and bass was there, soundstage decent (though no where as wide, or deep as a linear amp), but the biggest thing for me is the emotional impact.
The new audio codecs are absolutely excellent, and an exponential improveent over compressed dolby digital. Perhaps most who are experiencing the new codecs for the first time are doing so through the class D amps, so, it is easy to believe the better sound is due to the new amps.
IMHO, you need some pretty large power supplys (and good output tansistors, obviously) to bring that HT experience home. ICE amps just aren't very accurate, yet.
Cerrot, I find your dissatisfaction with ICE and or class D amplification's presentation completely understandable. In your first post it seemed to me that it was a typical dismissal of class D that so many give without ever actually living with the technology. Your above post adds a great deal of credibility regarding your preference. Class D, at this point is, indeed, not for everyone.
I have decided to keep some of my old amplifiers to use as a baseline in my evolving class D experience. I find the emotional impact you speak of in my MFA tube amp when I insert in my two channel system from time to time. Living with tubes since 1961 I've grown tired with there shortcomings as well as my linear solid state amplifier.
Once I understood what it took to use a class D amp to its full potential I became addicted to the unique transparency my current Nuforce amps provide in my two channel system. I'm guessing this is where the line between our preferences lies. Many hear the ultra transparency of many class D designs as forward, analytical, cold, or thin. I've heard this myself in mismatched or hastily assembled systems. I hear it as a plate glass clarity with as little playback embellishment I can provide upstream.
While the Pioneer doesn't match the NuForce finesse in my two channel system it comes close enough for me to be used in my HT system. The Pioneer didn't reproduce the same two channel sound stage in my two channel system but that's not what it's intended for. Running room corrected, reproducing 7.1 or even matrixed 5.1 to 7.1 the screen staging is simply stunning. I've already described the difference it provided compared to my previous receiver. One thing I failed to mention is that I'm driving seven Triangle Comete speakers. These provide a very easy load for any receiver.
After checking out your main system (very nice) I have a clearer appreciation of your preferences and am reminded just how we are digging for the same goal using different tools . Thanks for taking the time.
at your budget, there's not a heck of a lot of distinction between avrs--the comparably situated marantz, yam, onkyo, pioneer elite will all do the trick in essentially the same manner. personally, i'm partial to yamaha and integra, which to my ears sounds a bit less "processed" than the other mass market stuff, but as stated, the advantages are subtle.