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Need Help Upgrading My Setup


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I've decided to upgrade my home theater system to take advantage of the new sound formats, and the HDMI interface on newer components. After much question asking and research, I've narrowed down my choices to the following:

 

Onkyo TX-SR705 or Onkyo TX-SR805

Pioneer Elite VSX-92TXH

 

At some point, I think I'll get a dedicated HD-DVD player and use a PS3 as my primary Blu-Ray player.

 

My question is this:

1. What does speaker wattage mean? That is the difference between the two Onkyo models (705 is about 100 while 805 is 130/140 I think). Does more watts equal better?

 

2. Onkyo vs. Pioneer Elite: the Elite is $300 more. Is there a performance difference, or am I paying for name brand? Specification-wise I find the models similar although I've heard video processing is better for Pioneers.

 

3. Are there better models than these for what I want (I need a minimum of 3 HDMI inputs, and analogue to digital over HDMI)?

 

4. Is it better to buy a cheaper receiver and use a seperate HDMI switcher?

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Dome,

 

I've owned both the Onkyo 805 and now the Pioneer Elite 92TXH. IMHO the Pioneer is the better receiver. To me the sound quality is more pleasing coming from the Pioneer. Even after tweaking the Onkyo endlessly I found the sound to be a bit harsh. Also Onkyo's implementation of Audyssey auto calibration and equalization leaves a lot to be desired. Pioneer's MCACC does a better job if you ask me.

 

The Pioneer also runs much cooler than the Onkyo. You could basically fry an egg on top of the Onkyo. While the Pioneer doesn't weigh as much, I believe the amp section is just more efficiently designed, resulting in roughly the same power with less heat produced.

 

You're always welcome to stop by and listen to the Pioneer Elite if you like. I don't have the Onkyo anymore so a comparison would be hard.

 

Good luck!

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Brandon,

 

Do you see any problems with the 92TXH's video? I took the plunge and bought one this week. I hooked up my HD Cable, 360 and PS3 through it and now the black level seems too bright compared to when I had the components hooked directly to my TV. It will take me a while to figure out all the ins and outs of the new receiver, so maybe I just need to mess with some settings.

 

 

On the audio side, I am very pleased with the sound from the 92TXH. Even on my crappy speakers (my next upgrade) everything sounds a hell of a lot better than it did on my old and decrepit Kenwood.

 

Like you Dome, I was looking at the Onkyo or the Pioneer. I decided on the Pioneer because of the complaints I'd seen elsewhere that echo Brandon's about Onkyo's sound being too harsh. And I just really like the slick look of Pioneer's Elite line.

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To answer your questions:

 

1. Not really. The Onkyo 804 for instance was rated at 105 wpc x7 but only put out 35x5 before the amp clipped. The 805 has fixed that issue but that's besides the point. In general, in order to produce 3 more db, you need to double the power so if you have a 90 db 8ohm speaker, to produce 93db, you need 2 watts instead of 1. To produce 96db, you need 4 watts instead of 2. The problem is watts aren't watts. I'll put a 19 watt class a tube amp up against a 100 watt receiver and produce a better sound.

 

2. Could be. The most likely differences are the dacs and room eq's.

 

3. Not for the price IMHO. The yamaha's and denon's are more expensive and offer nothing better than these 2.

 

4. It's clunky and not recommended. At this price range you are buying a better amp in the receiver over a cheaper one. I would not suggest downgrading the receiver.

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Eric,

 

To be honest the only video I have running through the receiver is the PS3 (which I use to watch Blu-rays of course). My understanding is that the Pioneer should just pass the signal straight through without altering anything. I know the 92TXH does have some picture controls, but it would be wise to disable them and just pass the video through untouched. My PS3 signal shows no change is black level whether it's through the receiver or straight to the TV.

 

From what I remember the manual doesn't do a great job of addressing all the video funtions of the receiver, but I know there is a way to get all the signals through without altering them.

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To answer your questions:

 

1. Not really. The Onkyo 804 for instance was rated at 105 wpc x7 but only put out 35x5 before the amp clipped. The 805 has fixed that issue but that's besides the point. In general, in order to produce 3 more db, you need to double the power so if you have a 90 db 8ohm speaker, to produce 93db, you need 2 watts instead of 1. To produce 96db, you need 4 watts instead of 2. The problem is watts aren't watts.

 

 

Not only that, there is no real set standard to measure the wattage. That's why you see $50 amps with 100000000 watts or whatever.

 

I would give the wattage very little attention unless you are trying to produce mega-volume in a very large room, or using very non-standard ohm speakers. Since everyone seems to measure theirs with a different yardstick it makes it hard to give the numbers much credence (except IIRC HK has a good reputation for having fairly accurate wattage numbers).

 

I wouldn't advise using a seperate HDMI switcher and a cheaper HT receiver unless you are a hardcore Harmony remote or macro-writing user. Even then (I love my Harmony) it's a lot simpler to do all the switching on one device.

 

If you are really confortable using a Harmony type remote all the time I don't see why you couldn't do that. But remember that the more HDMI devices in the chain, the more likely you get bit but some annoying copy-protection weirdness / handshaking problems from them.

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I just finished getting my 360 and PS3 hooked up via HDMI instead of component and my issues with the black levels went away. In the case of the 360, I had to adjust the video setting to "Expanded" (I think). With the PS3 the problem went away with just switching the cable. :tu

 

And I am now experiencing the uncompressed sound of Blu-ray. :tu

 

Unfortunately, it just demonstrates how woefully inadequate my speakers are. :td

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