Modern AV Receiver vs Amp / Pre-Amp separates? Genuine question


Do modern AV receivers (mid-range price on up) with the latest DACs deliver the bulk of the musical experience that a separate AMP+DAC or AMP+Pre-Amp+DAC can deliver for about the same price?  What if one purchased a twice as expensive Amp+Pre+DAC combo, would you necessarily get 2X the musical quality and experience?  I ask this because I think there are quite a number of folks who believe for the most part, clean, powerful amps pretty much should deliver the same sound, with no significant differences.  Some believe that a pre-amp could improve sound, but perhaps it's due to better impedenace matching at play.  In other words, maybe the dedicated power supply, higher quality inner components, and cleaner circuit and cabling bring some benefit but not necessarily musical experience improvement in direct proportion to the price increase.  And a well designed, modern receiver with modern dac and direct-mode for 2-channel audio can be nearly as good for less money and greater simplicity.  Also, the room settings of modern receivers may also be a distinct advantage of a modern receiver over separates.

Do most of you agree that it's easier to tell the differences between speakers, DAC and sources than it is to tell the difference between amplification sources like recievers vs pre-amp/amp/dac/source combos?  Would there be greater diminishing returns for the money when looking specifically only at receivers vs pre-amp/amp/dac/source combos?

It seems some blind tests conducted found that listeners were hard pressed to tell the difference between amplifiers, or between receivers vs separates.


What are your own experiences?









5bf6407a 7353 43f1 96d6 5950644a1f86ethanhallbeyer
Good quality AV separates (AV pre pro + power amps) will way outperform AV receivers. No question asked. 

That would be my bias as well.  Now, my newest AVR are 12 years old, and maybe the best of the newest would do better....I am thinking of getting a newer AVR to go with my new TV and I might just plug in in the two channel system first just to give it a spin so I will return to this thread in a month or so
Are separates going to sound twice as good?  No.  Will a system with a decent preamp and dedicated DAC sound better than most AVRs?  Yes, noticeably.  The most recent AVPs I've had in my main system were Marantz AV8801 (the flagship at the time) and now a Marantz AV7704. 

My Modwright LS100 has substantially better sound quality and I'm using an Auralic Vega for my DAC. 

The AVP just can't extract the same level of detail (or holds back some of the detail, however you want to look at it).

On the other hand, I added a Jolida Fusion to my bedroom system and I would not say it sounds substantially better than my Integra DHC-80.3, which sounds surprisingly good for 2 channel listening.  I'm not sure if the Jolida just isn't all that great or the Integra is that good, but there's not the same night and day difference between those two units that there is between the Marantz and the Modwright.
Look at the Audioholics measurements of the Denon X3300; the DAC/pre-amp/amp isn’t as good as separates, but it’s nowhere near bad. In rating the % of importance for speakers, the room/treatment, and your gear, the speakers are 80%, the room/treatment is 15%, and the gear is 5%.  
  
If doing surround sound, always use an A/V receiver as your pre-amp/professor, as separates, even if costing $10,000, won’t have the software update support that A/V receivers do. The DACs in them (AKM 4458 usually) is also pretty good, so not a huge benefit in upgrading, so that just leaves the power amp.
thanks for your replies.. to the last poster, I looked at your modwright ls100 and the interior is pretty clean and bare.. seems kind of hard for me to understand how something with minimal circuitry and components inside could still cost thousands of dollars?  and if minimalism and the fewest components in the way is the goal of a good pre-amp, would it stand to reason that an even better solution would be SOURCE to DAC to AMP to SPEAKERS, bypassing use of a pre-amp altogether?
@ethanhallbeyer

No, most every system sounds better with a pre-amp, unless using like a Benchmark DAC hi h can output >20Vrms with balanced connections.  
  
Also, if using a subwoofer(s), the room correction (Audyssey for Denon/Marantz) is highly beneficial (some audiophiles debate whether to bypass DSP for the L/R or not, but almost everyone agrees it helps with bass).
AV preamp processors receive regular software update supports as AVRs do. 
I've always been using AV pre pro in my dedicated HT room and I received software update support regularly. 
I don't know where you got the info from and what made you think that AV pre pro do not receive software update supports.
@caphill

Name a process that’s <$4000 that has Dolby Vision, Dolby Atmos, and HLG (throw in AirPlay 2 for good measure).
@ethanhallbeyer Someone else can probably explain this better than I can, but the fact that there are so few electronics and that they are of better quality and more isolated in a unit like the LS100 is exactly what allows it to sound better. 

There's so much stuff crammed into the typical AVP/AVR that you have issues with lower quality parts, interference, signals passing through printed circuit boards, etc.  There are many compromises made in the goal of providing a huge range of features. 

It's easy for me to switch back and forth between the Modwright and my Marantz AV8801 (a $4000 AVP when new) and hear the differences in sound quality.  They are not subtle.
It's just that when I look at the inside of something like an LS100, which looks very clean, with minimal components inside, it just makes me wonder which parts inside of it make it cost $4000.  I
I can't answer that question, but Modwright is a small company and everything is hand assembled.  They don't have the economies of scale someone like Marantz would to recover their initial design and machining costs. 

I bought mine used and did not pay $4000 for it, but it's definitely worth every penny I paid for it in terms of sound quality and musical engagement.

I've only looked inside it a couple of times when swapping out tubes.  At the end of the day, what I paid for is the enjoyment I get from it.
@mzkmxcv

I’m currently using the Lyngdorf MP-50 ht processor that supports Dolby Atmos DTS-X 4k HDR etc etc.

The new Marantz AV8805 processor street prices are less than $4k new. But if you purchase it from a dealer it retails for $4500 new. The AV8805 supports all latest formats and codecs eg Dolby Atmos DTS-X Auro-3D 4K HDR etc etc. Also equipped with Airplay and HEOS. The Marantz is loaded with latest features and bells & whistles.

The new Marantz AV7704 processor retails for around $2200 new when purchased through dealers or stores. Its street prices are way less than $2k new. This AV7704 processor supports the latest formats and codecs. Equipped with Airplay & HEOS.

Marantz & Denon are few of AV brands that’s always ahead of the game and early adaptor. They are very quick when adapting new formats and codecs in their AV receivers and AV processors.
@ethanhallbeyer 

big_greg nailed it. He gave you very good basic explanations.