Need Advice re: New AV Receiver and Phono Preamp

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TheWarmth
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Need Advice re: New AV Receiver and Phono Preamp

Post by TheWarmth » Tue Oct 11, 2016 2:47 pm

My old Denon AVR died the other day. It's 15 years old, so I don't think it's worth having it repaired, but chime in if you disagree with that assessment.

I'm considering replacing it with a Denon AVR-S510BT (5.2). It's a modest unit, but gets good reviews and covers all of my bases. I don't use surround sound and will only be running my smart TV, Blu-Ray player and turntable through it. My turntable is a Sansui SR-717 with a Grado Silver Prestige cartridge. I have no idea what I should look for as a phono preamp. I can't go nuts on spending, either. Probably no more than $350, so I might look used.

Any advice?

Here's a link to the Denon I'm looking at:

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00YA ... PDKIKX0DER

olan
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Re: Need Advice re: New AV Receiver and Phono Preamp

Post by olan » Tue Oct 11, 2016 5:00 pm

Hi Paul! Why pay for 5.1 capabilities in the amp if you don't use surround sound? I would concentrate on getting the best 2-channel amp or receiver my money could buy if I were you. In terms of amps, there are shedloads, but Cambridge Audio, Marantz, NAD, Dennon and Onkyo to name but a few should have something decent for the same money. You could also buy something much, much better second hand via HiFiShark or eBay, but there are obvious risks.

In terms of rwo-channel recievers, there are loads of reasons to prefer these to a two channel amp. My eldest daughter uses one of these:
https://www.amazon.com/Marantz-M-CR610- ... ntz+mcr610.
I bought it cheaply for her as an ex-demo item and it has been totally excellent for the money. It is likely to be available more cheaply if you look around as the model has just been replaced. You can get a smaller version, the MCR 510 without the cd player, which you don't need as you have a blueray player. My middle daughter has one of these. The internet radio/spotify and streaming on both Marantz boxes are superb. However, as standalone amps they are really very, very good. Both have the same 60W per channel amplifier into a 6 Ohm load and both have loads of connections, including a TV dedicated TV input. You really are buying an amp, dac, tuner and media hub with one of these kind of devices. There are obvious other competitors, but I've had 2 years of problem-free use with the Marantz kit. Elder daughter blew up two Cambridge Audio Sonata receivers :roll: prior to the Marantz, so I know it can take a proper thrashing on the volume dial :shock: . This is as close to a solid recommendation as I can give.

For the money, the best phonostage I have ever owned was a tiny device by Bellari, the VP129. I'm not saying it is the best, but at about $250 it was an absolute bargain. The VP129 has been discontinued but the VP 130 is available from Amazon. You get a very, very good phonostage, and a decent headphone amp for the money. The rumble filter on the Bellari is simply superb if you have a load of old scratchy/warped vinyl in your collection. You could get a Project or Cambridge Audio Phonostage for under $100, but they simply are nowhere near as good. It is worth thinking about paying the extra, although $150 buys a lot of LPs second hand. The Bellari will last for years, IIRC I got about eight years out of mine and sold it for more or less what I paid for it :D . I see you can get one with a USB output for about the same money, but again I would focus on the phonostage alone. Details are here:
https://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_ss_i ... nics%2C349

Hope this helps.

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Re: Need Advice re: New AV Receiver and Phono Preamp

Post by TheWarmth » Tue Oct 11, 2016 5:31 pm

Hi Olan,
Thanks for the recommendations! I am definitely interested in the preamp you suggested, so I will consider that. The Marantz, on the other hand, doesn't have any HDMI inputs. Seems like that's the modern standard these days and will probably be that way for the foreseeable future. I'm afraid that in the long run I will need them, even if this would work for me right now. Any thoughts on that?

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Re: Need Advice re: New AV Receiver and Phono Preamp

Post by TheWarmth » Tue Oct 11, 2016 5:53 pm

I also noticed in the Q&A section for the Bellari a suggestion to swap out the power supply to avoid hum and upgrade the tube for better tone:

This one should work fine.

http://www.amazon.com/Super-Power-Suppl ... 3PB1YWXECR

It's got 1 Amp of current output, which is plenty for the VP-130. Be sure to get a 12AX7LPS too!

Just curious if you did one or both of those things with yours.

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Re: Need Advice re: New AV Receiver and Phono Preamp

Post by olan » Tue Oct 11, 2016 6:17 pm

TheWarmth wrote:Hi Olan,
Thanks for the recommendations! I am definitely interested in the preamp you suggested, so I will consider that. The Marantz, on the other hand, doesn't have any HDMI inputs. Seems like that's the modern standard these days and will probably be that way for the foreseeable future. I'm afraid that in the long run I will need them, even if this would work for me right now. Any thoughts on that?
I don't watch much TV so I know almost squat about HDMI. I seem to recall that you can buy a wide variety of converters for HDMI for buttons on Amazon. I notice that the MCR510 and 610 only have 1 line level input so if you used a HDMI to RCA converter you would be in trouble to service your turntable. You are probably better off to buy something similar with a HDMI input if such a thing exists. Personally, I would only get bothered about HDMI if I wanted to take sound and image out of the TV. We connect our TV to the soundbar via an optical cable. The TV abounds with HDMI inputs which we use for cable TV and (a never used) Blueray player. We do not use HDMI as we do not need to take the picture out. As the 510 and 610 have optical inputs for a digital feed that might be a possibility for you. Otherwise, buying a HDMI equipped device seems the way to go.
Last edited by olan on Tue Oct 11, 2016 6:36 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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Re: Need Advice re: New AV Receiver and Phono Preamp

Post by olan » Tue Oct 11, 2016 6:24 pm

TheWarmth wrote:I also noticed in the Q&A section for the Bellari a suggestion to swap out the power supply to avoid hum and upgrade the tube for better tone:

This one should work fine.

http://www.amazon.com/Super-Power-Suppl ... 3PB1YWXECR

It's got 1 Amp of current output, which is plenty for the VP-130. Be sure to get a 12AX7LPS too!

Just curious if you did one or both of those things with yours.
This is a tubed device. The first thing an audiophool, sorry audiophile, will do is to experiment with other tubes. The 12AX7 tube is cheap and widely available as IIRC it is used in guitar amps. I tried different brands of tubes in the Bellari but could detect little difference. I never bothered trying the power supply as it seemed fine as it was. (I believe you can run these pramps off DC batteries if you are adept at DIY and can be bothered enough about the power supply to go to the hassle). FWIW I have tubes in my preamp, phonostage and power amps but cannot detect differences across brands (and yes I'm sad enough to own several sets).

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Re: Need Advice re: New AV Receiver and Phono Preamp

Post by TheWarmth » Tue Oct 11, 2016 8:25 pm

I didn't consider the fact that you're using a totally different adapter than US users. So, doesn't surprise me that you haven't experienced that hum issue. The recommended replacement adapter is only $10, so I might just buy one just in case, then send it back if I don't need it. Amazon is cool that way.

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Re: Need Advice re: New AV Receiver and Phono Preamp

Post by olan » Tue Oct 11, 2016 11:07 pm

TheWarmth wrote:I didn't consider the fact that you're using a totally different adapter than US users. So, doesn't surprise me that you haven't experienced that hum issue. The recommended replacement adapter is only $10, so I might just buy one just in case, then send it back if I don't need it. Amazon is cool that way.
Fair enough. FWIW, I used the Bellari in Australia not the UK. Although the voltage is the same, the way a house is wired is completely different as far as I can tell. For instance, the plugs in Oz don't have fuses. Having said all this, if the Wall Wart power supply for the US is shite and can be swapped out for a $10 then it is a no-brainer. The cynic in me feels that this is likely to be audiophile rubbish though as that Bellari has been around for a very long time in one form or another.

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Re: Need Advice re: New AV Receiver and Phono Preamp

Post by TheWarmth » Wed Oct 12, 2016 2:18 pm

Ugh, this is a rabbit hole. Now I'm looking at the Budgie phono preamp:

http://parksaudiollc.com/budgiepreamp.html

I think I'm going to stick with the Denon AVR that I picked out, though. I just have to have those HDMI inputs.

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Re: Need Advice re: New AV Receiver and Phono Preamp

Post by mojo filters » Thu Oct 13, 2016 8:31 pm

TheWarmth wrote:Ugh, this is a rabbit hole. Now I'm looking at the Budgie phono preamp:

http://parksaudiollc.com/budgiepreamp.html

I think I'm going to stick with the Denon AVR that I picked out, though. I just have to have those HDMI inputs.
I'm pretty sure that HDMI inputs are only usually equipped to receive a digital audio signal in some format. To use that input with an analogue audio source will thus require an A>D conversion upstream, into LPCM, Dolby Digital, DTS etc.

If this is the case, do you have an decent conversion interface? I would not expect the cheap analogue to HDMI convertors designed for such applications as allowing a composite video and stereo audio source to be played back via an HDMI input on a TV, AV processor etc, to offer the kind of quality audio conversion suitable for use with a hifi source such as a turntable.

A cheap audio A>D converter may not be able to even provide linear reproduction of the full frequency spectrum, from 20Hz to 20kHz. The cheap brick wall filter to eliminate digital noise above Nyquist frequency (eg 22kHz for PCM digital signal for a Red Book standard CD player operating at 44kHz bit rate) will introduce issues such as phase shift around the corner frequency of the audio passing through below 22kHz, plus other artifacts that can impact sound quality.

Some problems associated with cheap digital audio conversion will potentially include additional noise introduced at the conversion stage, to missing portions of the audio signal, plus inadequate shielding from interference caused by power supplies - all of which can be audible, and the higher the quality of the amplification and loudspeakers used, the more noticeable such problems will be.
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Re: Need Advice re: New AV Receiver and Phono Preamp

Post by TheWarmth » Thu Oct 13, 2016 9:11 pm

Sorry if I wasn't clear: the HDMI inputs are only feeding signal from my cable box and my Blu-ray player. The turntable will be connected to the preamp and then the AV receiver via RCA cables.

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Re: Need Advice re: New AV Receiver and Phono Preamp

Post by mojo filters » Thu Oct 13, 2016 11:31 pm

TheWarmth wrote:Sorry if I wasn't clear: the HDMI inputs are only feeding signal from my cable box and my Blu-ray player. The turntable will be connected to the preamp and then the AV receiver via RCA cables.
Ah, that makes more sense. Good luck with it all!
No one ever says "Robert Mueller - that guy just shoots from the hip!"
No one ever says "Robert Mueller - what an erratic fellow!"
That is a contained man! He's the human equivalent of those Japanese watermelons.

Jon Lovett

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