Move From AVR to Integrated?


I know this topic gets thrown around a lot, but I recently bought a pair of Ascend Acoustic Sierra 1s I love and a Hsu VTF2 MK5 subwoofer. Right now, I'm using a Denon AVR-X2600H to power them. 

I hear a lot of chatter that I'm not getting the most out of my speakers using the AVR. The drawback is my room is not treated, and I like having the bass management. 

It seems difficult to find an integrated with 100wpc+, ability to stream things like Tidal, that also has ability to at least EQ the low bass, and have the ability to connect to digital sources like a PS4/5. I do like the idea of a better built power source, and I will never go past 2.1 or 2.2. Most of what I do is music and TV. 

Any suggestions? Ideally I'd like to stay under 1200. 
coolhandduke
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I would check out the Parasound  NewClassic 200 Integrated Amplifier. Has HT bypass, so would be seamless with your AVR. I think it has sub bypass as well. About 110 WPC IIRC. New, $1,200.
You have committed the fatal error of buying speakers less than 92dB. There's solid reasons I would never even consider yours at 86dB and now you know what it is: like feet cast in concrete you are going nowhere but down. A now tragic decision since you would have your choice of many, many fine amps had you only speakers 92dB or better. See how critically important this is?

Okay, water under the bridge. Smart thing to do now is accept your mistake and resolve to never repeat again. Realize your current speakers are the problem, even worse than your receiver (which yes is a dog, not yours in particular, they all are) and work on finding a really good integrated amp.

Honestly I would not even factor those speakers into the equation. They are like Fredo: dead to me. 

Also realize the nature of power being logarithmic means a 50 watt amp is only 3dB less volume than 100 watts. So you can forget 100 watts. Which you (and everyone else) should anyway. Watts aren't even watts anyway, you will find out if and when you get a proper tube amp. 

Focus, as always, on sound quality first and foremost. How many watts you get are pretty much beside the point. Because when you go shopping for proper speakers, 92dB and up, even better 95dB and up, anything 20 watts and up will be plenty.
Listen to the Anthem line.
I don't have any recent experience with Denon, but I do with Onkyo and the Anthen's are sooo much better.

Best,
E
@millercarbon I am still in trial period with these and love how they sound. I am aware of how sensitivity works logarithmically with power, but didn't realize I would have a problem. However, I am probably limited in my choices within my price range for sensitivity that high. 
Just a few thoughts.

Without having heard one so far, I would check if NAD has anything that would check most of the boxes. crutchfield does offer a return period so you can check how well it suits you and your speakers.

I am not sure if this is what you are looking for, but NAD D 3020V2 specifications mention...

"The sub output is equipped with a 100Hz low-pass crossover."

They also have NAD D 3045 model but check if it has what you want.

Both are well under $1200.

By the way, many people play speakers with impedance like yours with less than 100 W amplifiers with good results. Although Watts are Watts, do not get stuck on their number quite yet. Home trial will resolve your doubts, one way or another.
1200 bucks is not a lot of bucks for a quality integrated. Especially a feature packed one like you are asking for. It's best to focus on a solid amp and use separate streamers  You can manage your bass by finding the best location in the room, room correction software is not always the best way to attack that issue. 
@erik_squires Thank you. I placed the sub using a calibrated mic and REW to find best response. The bass management helped smooth out what placement did not. 

Yeah, it's rough. I want to stream and use digital sources. I'm considering moving to an AVR with pre outs, and utilizing a separate 2 channel amp or 2 mono blocks. That way I only use avr for processing. 

May not be feasible for me to get what I'm looking for without really running up the bill. 
Similar to what  I did. My TV/HT and 2 channel are in the same space, the living room. My AVR has pre outs, so first bought a separate amp for the mains thinking that would make an improvement, it did, but not good enough, so finally bought a separate 2 channel preamp with HT pass through, and now life is much better. All my 2 channel is separate from my HT setup, and I can change with a press of a couple buttons on my remote.

The music sounds great, better than ever, and the HT? Just fine and dandy for non critical music listening.

We all cannot have dedicated music rooms. Fine with me, my setup works.
For whatever reason, perhaps XLR connectivity, Anthem AVR's are significantly cheaper than the processors.  Check you get an AVR with enough pre outputs though.  I think the 720 has 11.2 outs.
@erik_squires I don’t plan on using more than 2.1. Which is why I wish there were more features in integrated amps. Just a bit of connectivity would be great.

I’ll probably upgrade to 3xxx Denon and then pre out to stereo 200wpc power amp or mono block. I can use the streaming, bass correction and video capabilities but leave the amplification to a dedicated A/B amp. May be the best trade off for me and could do for 2k or under.
Ahhh, if you are oinly doing 2.1, get the Anthem integrated (not receiver). Built in room correction, sub output, upgradable, or the Anthem pre version of this:

https://www.anthemav.com/products/model=str-integrated-amplifier/page=overview
@erik_squires Far out of my price range I think. Thank you though. Kind of affirms I can't get those things unless going to premium models. 
Which is why I recommended the Parasound New200 integrated. But, was unaware you don’t have pre outs. Otherwise, the mix of that and your AVR might have worked, to a point.

just be careful of expecting too much from a separate amp while using an AVR as your pre. I didn’t find that out until I stopped using my AVR as my pre. Only then did I understand what I was missing in music listening. Night and day difference with a dedicated 2 channel preamp. That said, yes, I do have a separate streamer, DAC, etc. all connected to my 2 channel pre. I run 5 channel via my TV/AVR, so, that’s really all it does....all the HDMI via the TV/Roku, my center channel, and rear speakers are controlled with the AVR. Even my subs are connected via the high level connections and my main amps speaker connections. I don’t use LFE, as the subs are tuned for music independently. Yes, I lose some impact via 5.*1* channel LFE for TV and movies, but that isn’t as important as my subs for music.

I also worried about losing room correction, but don’t miss it at all. I would say room correction was more trying to correct the short comings of using the AVR as my 2 channel preamp, more than anything else. That concern went away after getting a dedicated pre. 2 channel music listening was transformed for the better, and room correction was no longer important, at all. Also some fairly inexpensive room treatments helped in a large way as well.


AVRs are for surround. What possible other reason could you have for using one?  If you need a bunch of cheap features crammed in a box you seem to be at the wrong forum.
@bkeske I am attracted to the integrated route. I am just trying to be realistic about having a shared living room/listening area and placement/treatment has its limitations. If it was a separate space I'd certainly go that route. I'm looking more into the Parasound. Looks like it has on board DAC but you use a separate one? Which streamer do you use? I don't know how everything fits together. Really, I have 1 TV with 1 or 2 video sources, a turntable,  2 speakers, and a sub. If all of it can connect, I'm certainly willing to simplify from needless AVR stuff. 
@fuzztone I don't think there's a need to be condescending. I thought the AVR was not a cheap investment. They don't manufacture many products that have ability to use hdmi audio, stream, offer some correction, etc. In 2 channel varieties. If everyone here is able to have a dedicated listening space, treat the room, have multiple subs for more even response, then yes, maybe I am in the wrong place. I'm just looking to know more not be difficult. 
I have seen the  Parasound Halo Integrated amp @160wpc selling used for $1200-1400.00. Brand new it sold for $2500.00.  That should drive your speakers quite nicely.    I had one in 2016-2017 and it was an excellent integrated.  It took a much more expensive McIntosh integrated to better it.  It also has a sub output with adjustable crossover for seamless integration. 
@coolhandduke honestly, just keep your receiver. You’re going to get advice from a very strange group here, like people telling you a speaker is no good because of the sensitivity rating... You can try pre-outs to an external amp but for the investment, I don’t think you’re going to hear much difference. That’s a sacrilege to say around here but it’s been my experience with many receivers and many amps that cost way over your budget. You can of course do much better than your setup but it’ll cost more than you budgeted and open a can of worms. Or perhaps better said, Pandora’s box. If you’re liking what you hear, stick with it. Maybe you can research options over time while you save up. The type of device you seek is starting to become more common. Options nowadays include the NAD M10 and M33, Arcam SA30, Lyngdorf TDAI-1200 and 3400, etc. So you’re talking $2k starting point.

@bkeske I am attracted to the integrated route. I am just trying to be realistic about having a shared living room/listening area and placement/treatment has its limitations. If it was a separate space I’d certainly go that route. I’m looking more into the Parasound. Looks like it has on board DAC but you use a separate one? Which streamer do you use? I don’t know how everything fits together. Really, I have 1 TV with 1 or 2 video sources, a turntable, 2 speakers, and a sub. If all of it can connect, I’m certainly willing to simplify from needless AVR stuff.

I’m not using an integrated, but did buy a Parasound preamp without a DAC. Thus, I have a separate DAC. Right now a Denafrips Ares II, before that a PS Audio DAC. IMO, I like the idea of a separate DAC as the technology shifts and advances. That said, I would assume the DAC inside the 200 would be pretty darn good, so not a necessity to purchase separate.

As far as a steamer, a very simply steamer box from Dayton Audio that connects into my DAC, then to my preamp. I can connect to the steamer via my iPad or iPhone as it is wireless, and use my Tidal app within the iPad or phone. I do not stream a lot, so have not invested into a more comprehensive streaming device. Thinking about it, but just not that important to me. Most all my music is via vinyl, CD, or cassette. My CD player also runs through my DAC instead of using its internal DAC. Thus, my CD/BluRay player is basically a transport. If I want to watch a DVD I have, which is rare, I can still do that with its HDMI connection to my AVR.

The nice thing about that Parasound New200 is the ability to manage your sub at the amp. Similar to how you do your with your AVR internally with its software.

@jnehma1 

Thanks for the level headed response. It does seem like there's going to be trade offs no matter which way I go and particularly at my price point. Maybe I'll save the money I may have spent on an external amp if that doesn't seem like a worthwhile investment. I assumed more/separate power would be less taxing on a dedicated unit, but sounds like that may not result in any audible benefits. 

For the foreseeable future I'm in a setting where I kind of need the system to do everything for me in a limited environment. Anyways, I'm learning as I go. Just hoping to be saving for the right things and not wasting investments. Thank you. 
Nice speakers. If I were you I’d buy a NuPrime IDA-8 integrated from Audio Advisor. It’s $1095, and they offer a 30-day return policy so you can see if it makes nice improvements over your AVR, which it certainly should (read the reviews). It has a nice DAC and also a subwoofer out for your Hsu. I think you should be able to do without the bass management by playing with speaker placement (pull them out from the wall as far as you can) and adjusting your sub settings. Buy a used Bluesound Node 2i for streaming and you should be good to go. That’s what I’d do FWIW, and best of luck.
@soix 

Thanks for the recommendation. Looks like a cool integrated amp. I hadn't really thought about it, but I suppose when it comes to Playstation I could connect hdmi from Playstation to TV, then coaxial from TV back to integrated amp. 

On another note, I'm looking at individual separate components online. Wondering if that might be an option. I'm sure I could find a second hand preamp, DAC, streamer, power amp, and could even use a mini DSP if I wanted to use Dirac. 
Those Sierras are great speakers, I had 2 pairs of them. 85 sensitivity is also fine, there is more than one way to get to musical bliss. At one point I had 250 wpc on them and they were fine, but I didn’t go crazy on the volume, :)

I’d recommend an internet direct company for an integrated, more bang for buck just like the Sierra. Outlaw Audio sells one for 1K or so. 110 wpc, has a dac and a phono section, and it’s entry level audiophile. Check out the Stereophile review. It is worlds better than an avr.  Actually it has a tuner section as well, but just read the review.

The Sierras are an easy load, btw. A benign phase angle and a pretty steady 8 ohms, so you don’t have to worry about expensive speaker cables.
I forgot to mention, it has sub output with bass management too, plus some kind of internet radio and wifi.  Here’s a link:

https://outlawaudio.com/shop/index.php?id_product=56&rewrite=rr2160mkii-stereo-receiver&cont...
@213runnin

Nice. I did consider this one. 

This evening I was also pricing out separate components and curious what you think. Perhaps something like: 

Topping E30 (DAC) - $120
Dayton Wireless Streamer - $60
Outlaw 2200 Monoblock (2x200wpc for $600)
Find a decent preamp used (could do with very basic without phono, DAC, etc. Since I'd have separates. Just enough inputs) 
MiniDSP - between preamp and power amp, I think? If I want to keep low frequency correction and use Dirac. 

Perhaps that would allow upgrades over time instead of relying on one unit. Only concern is if separates play well together. What do you think? 
@yogiboy 

Thanks for the +1. For streaming I could just add a Dayton wireless streamer and looks like the pre outs/ main in would allow for use of mini dsp Dirac if I wanted to utilize that. Just weighing options with buying separates (see my last comment), since I might be able to do it for less or about the same. 
The Marantz PM7000N is another integrated at your price point. A bit lower powered than the 100 wpc but it has a bevy of features and has been well-reviewed. Best of luck.
I would stick to a integrated amplifier with sub out. Purchase a budget outboard streamer which could be upgraded later.

 
The Outlaw 2160 is a great option. Full function.

Audio Advisor has the NuPrime IDA-8 demo for ~$850. Several digital inputs, single analog.
@mesch Seems like the Outlaw is well regarded. If I choose to use Dirac, I imagine a mini DSP unit would get connected via pre out, then back in at main in? 


@mesch Is there a reason why one would recommend integrated vs the separate route? Just ease of use and compatibility? 
Coolhandluke, I’m a fan of separates, but with your budget it would be tough to get a decent preamp with those outlaw monoblocks. BTW, I think their price is back up to $399 each, which leaves bery little $ for a used pre.

With all of the features you are looking for, an all in one component makes more sense, because of your budget and desired feature set.  But if you are getting more interested in separates, the Schiit Audio Vidar amp would be an option. I wouldn’t recommend their preamp Saga because as a passive pre, it lacks the dynamic sound of an active pre( I had 2 Sagas before I bought the Freya +). 




@213runnin I think Outlaw shaves off 100 when you purchase 2 of the amps. The budget can also be moderately flexible, just staying around that ballpark. I'm probably buying used for the pre, just would want something well built. I did find a Parasound ZPre3 for a couple hundred that might fit the bill. 
The Zpre3 is well thought of around here, the Erik poster thinks it's better sounding than the Parasound P5.  I had the P5 at one point and found it too compromised for the money.  

Those Outlaw monoblocks look like a great option.  You'll want to find out what their unity power requirements are, and if the Zpre puts out enough voltage drives them to full power.
@213runnin What I see on Outlaw is 1.6V sensitivity for 8ohm load. On Parasound, I show max output of 3.5V and for input sensitivity I see 250mV = 1V output. 
I just checked, and the Parasound Zpre puts out more voltage than unity power of the Outlaw, so you'd be fine there.

There question is, will the Zpre be a good match with the Outlaw amps.  Good vs poor synergy.  This is where an integrated option guarantees good synergy because it's all in one box.

Although I suspect that at this end of the budget spectrum, synergy is less of an issue.
@213runnin I'm certainly out of my depth when concerning synergy. It is nice knowing each component could be upgraded separately over time as opposed to replacing a while unit, but I don't know at what cost. 
The Parasound Zpre3 preamp is what I bought to separate my Belles amp from my AVR for dedicated 2 channel listening. Great little pre for the money. I got mine from Safe and Sound as an open box for $350.

As I already had a separate DAC, phono stage, and streamer, it’s all I needed. And to have the HT bypass makes it work great for TV/home theater/AVR integration. Easy. And very good sound, finally, for all my 2 channel listening.

Highly recommended for the value it brings.
@bkeske I saw an ad for it plus the phono stage for 350, but he may be willing to split them up. I might jump on that deal. Are you just using your subs Internal crossover? 
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@coolhandduke

No, I can adjust my subs crossover and gain at the subs themselves, so I adjust them independently for music. I have high speaker connections at the subs as well, and they are both getting their signal from my Belles 2 channel amp speaker terminals (as well as feeding my front speakers). It takes no power from my front speakers as the subs are powered and have their own amps, thus only receiving a signal from my amp.

As I stated earlier, I no longer use the LFE. For me, this works great, for music.

As far as a used unit going for $350 with a Zphono included, make sure what models they are. My Zpre3 is the newest model, but there are older ones. Not saying the earlier models may not work for you, they might.
The problem with using your sub crossover and sending the full range signal to the speakers is this.  Trying to blend the speakers manually can lead to nulls in the frequency as the sub’s output cancels the speakers low end.  
Bass management in the pre or integrated amp that crosses over the speakers as well as the sub is considered superior.
@coolhandduke

That is a good deal. I would strongly consider that as a package. But it is a bid situation with 4 days left.

That particular Zphono goes for about $200 new, so keep that in mind.

Or, give him an offer and see if he accepts.



@213runnin Does the Outlaws bass management work both to limit low frequencies to sub and also so only those above go to mains? 
There are many different thoughts on bass management. I’ve tried many, and have no issue leaving my Vandersteen 2CE Sigs run full range, and my two subs adjusted to supplement and augment them, not replace their bass.

Paul McGowan of PS Audio was the first I had heard believe in keeping their mains at full range while using subs. So, I tried it. It works, but simply works differently than the more ‘typical’ way or stripping out most the lows at your mains and replacing them with the subwooofer. You can use all of the subs. It just take a bit more time fine tuning. 

In the end, I prefer that method for music. Granted, in HT, it may not be as powerful, but that isn’t my primary goal, music is.

BTW, the ZPre also has a sub RCA/LFE connection. It just does not have the adjustments of the NewClassic 200, Which does allow you to manage your bass to the mains and subs.
213runnin Does the Outlaws bass management work both to limit low frequencies to sub and also so only those above go to mains?

Yes, it crosses over the mains as well as the sub.  Being that you've got bookshelf speakers(albeit very good bass response for a standmount), having a sub is essential to hearing anything below about 40 hz.  I happen to have a HSU sub in my 2 channel rig as well as one in the theater, they are superb at their price points.

To me the best thing about the P5 pre from Parasound was it had this sub crossover feature.  It was the best blending of my Totem Rainmakers that I'd heard.   

I don't mean to try to push the Outlaw on you, just that it's good to know all of the pros and cons of any option before you decide.