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Big Aura's picture
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Today's demo experience

  I've been hankering after a new amp for quite some time.  I bought a Denon 1909 a few years back to partner a B&W 685 set up.  It was to replace a Pioneer AVR that was marginally older than the hills.  As soon as I set it up, I was blown away by the hi-def sound, but left extremely let down when I switched to music.  The sound was extremely flat and muddled.  I bought a Clearer Audio copperline alpha power cable (and think it helped).  I also went for the Pure Direct function, that definitely helped.  Bit still, it didn't excite.   Recently I decided to upgrade the amp - and was eagerly watching the prices of the Pioneer SCLX-73 - it was originally £1500ish, but as the new model (the 75) came to market, it dropped to £1099, then £1049 and now £999.  I even found it for £770 at Hi-Spek, but they didn't answer several emails trying to arrange a demo and verify that it was A grade stock, so I went to Sevenoaks on the King's Road in London today - they had it for £999.  For a second set of ears, I took my 9 month old son.    I wanted to demo against something else to serve as a benchmark, but I went in with my mind made up - I was coming home with the Pioneer!   I asked if they had a Yamaha RX-V3067 in stock, but they said not on demo, and they instead suggested I try the Denon 3312 as a back-up.  (Newly released, and retailing for £999 - the same as the discounted Pioneer).  This was ideal, I could see how the (much more powerful) Pioneer 73 compared against a Denon that was more up-market than my current amp.   For the test, I went for two ends of the spectrum - Gladiator on blu-ray and The West Wing on DVD (to check what it made of poor sound and poor picture).     The Pioneer was absolutely masterful.  The sound was tight, well-directed and engaging.  Simply perfect.  Then I switched to music (using the USB iPod interface and my ancient iPod).   And it was, well, okay.  Just okay.  I tried different types of music and each time - just okay.  It sounded like it was holding back, no matter how much I turned the volume up.     With this in my mind, I switched to the Denon 3312 make-weight.  With music first, while the Pioneer's performance was still fresh in my mind.     It was a revelation - it sounded engaged, where the Pioneer was reserved or even lazy.  It made me listen, but not in a way that would exhaust me.  It was lively, fun, rich and powerful sounding (odd, because Pioneer is a much more powerful machine).   I then tried the same discs (Gladiator and West Wing) and it was very good; perhaps not quite as good as the Pioneer, but quite close - extremely worthy.  Considering the Pioneer originally retailed for almost 50% more, it was very impressive.     This really threw a spanner in the works, the Denon was only really to show how good the Pioneer was - I was torn, on paper the Pioneer was better in every way.  The reality wasn't quite there.  I had another go on the Pioneer - my 40 minute 'in-and-out' demo was approaching the end of the second hour!   Eventually, I had to trust my ears.  The Denon is now on order, due in end of August (but hopefully sooner!).

I've been hankering after a new amp for quite some time.  

I bought a Denon 1909 a few years back to partner a B&W 685 set up.  It was to replace a Pioneer AVR that was marginally older than the hills.  

As soon as I set it up, I was blown away by the hi-def sound, but left extremely let down when I switched to music.  The sound was extremely flat and muddled.  I bought a Clearer Audio copperline alpha power cable (and think it helped).  I also went for the Pure Direct function, that definitely helped.  But still, it didn't excite. 

Recently I decided to upgrade the amp - and was eagerly watching the prices of the Pioneer SCLX-73 - it was originally £1500ish, but as the new model (the 75) came to market, it dropped to £1099, then £1049 and now £999.  I even found it for £770 at Hi-Spek, but they didn't answer several emails trying to arrange a demo and verify that it was A grade stock, so I went to Sevenoaks on the King's Road in London today - they had it for £999.  

For a second set of ears, I took my 9 month old son.  

I wanted to demo against something else to serve as a benchmark, but I went in with my mind made up - I was coming home with the Pioneer!

I asked if they had a Yamaha RX-V3067 in stock, but they said not on demo, and they instead suggested I try the Denon 3312 as a back-up.  (Newly released, and retailing for £999 - the same as the discounted Pioneer).  This was ideal, I could see how the (much more powerful) Pioneer 73 compared against a Denon that was more up-market than my current amp. 

For the test, I went for two ends of the spectrum - Gladiator on blu-ray and The West Wing on DVD (to check what it made of poor sound and poor picture).  

The Pioneer was absolutely masterful.  The sound was tight, well-directed and engaging.  Simply perfect.  

Then I switched to music (using the USB iPod interface and my ancient iPod). And it was, well, okay.  Just okay.  I tried different types of music and each time - just okay.  It sounded like it was holding back, no matter how much I turned the volume up.   

With this in my mind, I switched to the Denon 3312 make-weight.  I tested with music first, while the Pioneer's performance was still fresh in my mind.   

It was a revelation - it sounded engaged, where the Pioneer was reserved or even lazy.  It made me listen, but not in a way that would exhaust me.  It was lively, fun, rich and powerful sounding (odd, because Pioneer is a much more powerful machine). 

I then tried the same discs (Gladiator and West Wing) and it was very good; perhaps not quite as good as the Pioneer, but quite close - extremely worthy.  Considering the Pioneer originally retailed for almost 50% more, it was very impressive.   

This really threw a spanner in the works, the Denon was only really to show how good the Pioneer was - I was torn, on paper the Pioneer was better in every way.  The reality was quite different.  I had another go on the Pioneer - my 40 minute 'in-and-out' demo was approaching the end of the second hour!  I decided I had to trust my ears.  

The Denon is now on order, due in end of August (but hopefully sooner!).

 

Clare Newsome's picture
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RE: Today's demo experience

Really interesting - thanks for sharing that. I know we bang on and on about the need to a) demo demo demo and b) take your specific needs into consideration, but you've shown exactly why!

Enjoy your Denon Smile

Group Marketing & PR Manager, Computers Unlimited.

Brands represented include Astell&Kern, Audioengine, B&O Play, Canton, Flexson for SONOS and SONOS

TWITTER: @ClareNewsome

Tom Moreno's picture
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Joined: 30/11/2008 - 23:12
Posts: 528
RE: Today's demo experience

Big Aura wrote:

I decided I had to trust my ears.  

The Denon is now on order, due in end of August (but hopefully sooner!).

 

Good work!  It's so easy (even when you do go for a demo) to convince yourself of which product your are going to buy before you walk in the door.  I think this is mainly because most people don't have the spare cash lying around to go into the shop the day they start fancying an upgrade, we have to save up for it and while saving we read, read, chat on forums, and read some more pining for that future upgrade and convince ourselves that we know exactly what we want, probably not booking that demo until the cash is finally in hand.  I'm sure you'll enjoy your new AVR, I'm still enjoying my (starting to go grey) AVR-3808 and am very interested in the 33xx line as a possible replacement path in the next year or so- so please post your in depth impressions once you've started living with it.  You've got an audience.

kinda's picture
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Last seen: 6 months 2 weeks ago
Joined: 21/05/2008 - 06:50
Posts: 677
RE: Today's demo experience

I had a similar experience when looking at a replacement for my broken Marantz.

Pioneer VSX 2020 had a very detailed sound, but lacked bass solidity and rhythm. Even in films the music just didn't excite as it should.

The place I was buying from, (original dealer of my Marantz and so where my good will money from Marantz for failed amp was lodged), didn't have a 2311 or 3311 on demo, so I just went with the 1911 as it sounded very good, better than the Pioneer for music and really good bass weight and control.

It was just as the new receivers came out. I thought I might upgrade to a 2311 or 3311 as prices dropped but I've moved and haven't and to be honest the 1911 is great, and a match for the £700 Marantz it replaced, if not better.

I hope the Denons keep getting the 4 rather than 5 stars as it keeps the price down and to me they're great!

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