Quad: The Middle Ground

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Sonik Wiz

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Recently I ran across a thread started by @Morepower inquiruing what is the ultimate piece if gear in the Sansui quad product line:

The holy grail of Sansui quad is...?

And soon there after I saw a post by @slshearer asking what is the best SQ decoder out there:

Opinion: Who has the Best SQ decoder currently available as a add on to a Quad Receiver

Then I surfed around the ATMOS thread, read about the elaborate high tech room mods with networking and surround, etc. The juxtaposition was significant. For the most part QQ members seem to really love the old vintage stuff or think high tech home theater stuff is the only way to go even for music. I’m sure some people might have two systems set up in those respective ways but I still think there are two formidable camps here & I have concerns with both.

I love the allure of vintage gear & I understand the appeal. I have spent way to much time some days just looking at audio pics on Pinterest. But my biggest concern is the obvious: old quad stuff is just that, old, and expensive. The Sansui QRX-9001 that so many would love to have hovers around $1200 and even if it says “restored” you don’t really know how well or if it’s even true. The Holy Grail tune up on an 8001 or 9001 is $1385 at QRXRestore. You now have a $2500 44 year old receiver. The European black panel version of the 9001 is the QRX-999 (that Jon has) sold for $3100 at QRXRestore.

The new home theater stuff irks me because it has such poor legacy connectivity. I’m sure that most people with this gear say, that’s right, time to move on. But you are trapped using only decoding modes inside & I’ve read (if I understand correctly) Dolby has changed ATMOS stereo upmixing with no permission from the owner for the worst. I read that thread about ATMOS music on Tidal & it just wants to make my head explode. I also notice the way power amps & wattage is done on modern home HT receivers. Often class AB amps are used for front & class D for others. They make a big deal out of, loose example, 1200 watts power total 11 chs. But then the only real spec given are for the front chs, who know what all the others are. An example is a high end Denon with 11 chs ATMOS & in the specs all it says is 140 watts stereo. Specs not given if that is each ch up front or combined which might be only 70WPC up front. Some how this just doesn’t seem best practice to me.

I’m do not mean to aggravate or troll anyone here for a response because what ever set up works for YOU is what really matters. The point I’m slow in making is what sort of middle ground is there? I see fairly often post’s that say “I’m new to quad what would you recommend?” & I can not with confidence endorse the old classic quad stuff like Sansui, Tate, etc. Although I certainly have in the past when the only alternative was early Dolby matrix surround receivers. And there’s posts occasionally about how someone sold/lost/parents threw out all their quad stuff & they want to start all over again. Really it’s the folks in these positions that got me thinking what worthwhile would I recommend, something that offers better performance than old quad hardware but still has a link to the quad days. What would be price competitive with vintage quad but still be reliable modern gear?

The answer I came to is one that probably you or I haven’t thought of in a long time: the stereo integrated amp. Two of ‘em. I used a set up like that mid 80’s with a couple of Kenwood integrated amps. It’s been so long I didn’t even know if this product category even existed anymore. But I looked at a lot of those today: Emotiva, Marantz, Onyko, Arcam. They all had good points & things you would never have on old quad gear like Bluetooth, or digital input, remote control. And because of the remote control there is almost no front panel controls such as L/R balance, bass/treble and indeed on one unit you can’t even easily adjust L/R balance; you set it up in the menu & leave it alone.

But I found a winner in the Yamaha A-S301 for only $350.00:

Yamaha A-S301 Stereo integrated amplifier with built-in DAC at Crutchfield

It has 6 RCA analog inputs & one is RIAA phono cart input, optical & coaxial digital input with (obviously internal DAC) and 60 WPC which was rather at the high end of for vintage quad, a lot of them being more commonly 40 watts. It does not do dts, DD, only accepts stereo LPCM ‘cuz yo know it’s stereo not home theater. The noise & distortion are much better than the old stuff. And two of them for $700 takes you a long way towards a new quad setup. There is no tuner but you can find a matching Yamaha for $249 but who listens to FM anymore. Also it doesn’t have CD-4 as most vintage receivers would but if you really want to go there Pioneer or JVC demodulators can be had for $150>$200. Although it has remote control, which will come in handy, it’s important to have front panel control also as as rear & front l/R balance can be adjusted independently and basically the F/B balance is determined by the relative setting on each units main volume controls. When all is tuned in the remote can be used to adjust over all volume, inputs, etc as each unit will respond in step with what is selected.

There is no longer any need to buy vintage decoders anymore, except for fun, as I think there is large agreement that the Involve Surround Master is the best QS/SQ decoder you can buy today & superior to the old stuff we love anyway. Our price with QQ discount is $499 plus shipping. But looking at total cost for two Yamaha A-S301 & one SMV2 it’s $1200 which is quite price competitive with the higher end vintage quad gear and much cheaper if you consider restoring. I think I found something to recommend.
 

Circular Vibes

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It is true that I love my vintage legacy quad gear. It is costly. It is still my preference. I wish I could afford a Surround Master. They represent great value if not more. Legacy gear can be found cheaply and then pay shipping later and further on pay for repairs or restoration. Modern gear leaves me cold eapecially with the lack of legacy support. I get why most people want new. Warranties are great. I have no room for more than 4.0 and won't go further for some time. These are my opinons and I do not expect anyone to agree with me. I just do what works for me at this time. BTW even with the QQ discount before shipping, Canuck bux are precious right now and poor against the Yankee bux, the 499US equals 676CAD which is most of my monthly income after rent not incouding necessities. I still want one though, it is my ideal solution.
 

jsrstereo

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Mr. Wiz: Your rec is well taken by me. I'm a quad vet, having at some time owned just about all the good legacy decoders (except the Audionics), now have SMv1 & v2, but still have and occasionally use EVX-4 and Sansui QS-D1000. I've never met an AVR that I liked, and am now totally done with them.

My present analog-only set-up:

disc players > Zektor HDS-4.1 switch > SMv2 > Yamaha MVS-1 (a 6-channel passive volume controller with master vol control) > a pair of Carver 6cb power amps (65 watts/channel @ 8 oms; with left/right level controls).

I've been thinking lately of having the Carvers recapped/restored, but now am tempted to instead replace them with a pair of Yamaha S-301's that you referenced, or maybe even, for more power, a pair of the S-501's (85 watts/channel). I like the features and the digital input options.

Thanks for the heads-up. John R
 

EricKalet

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Understand 100% @Sonik Wiz what you are saying here. I'm of the shiny new high tech variety. I do see the desire for legacy equipment as well, even though I, personally, will always pass on the vintage stuff.

However, that said, I think, truly the only way to have the best of both worlds, will be to have separate amps - which in the Atmos world would mean at least 15 (11 for Atmos and an additional 4 for quad vintage). That would be the only way to get equal power across all channels. This plus a pre-amp/processor for current technologies and a quad device for the vintage products would solve all issues and future compatibility.

Now the Flagship Denon - x8500 does have 13 class AB amps, which although I can't find specs beyond 2 channel driven, it appears the AVR can drive all 13 speakers at equal power, albeit perhaps at a wattage significantly less than the published specs. But even if all channels driven = 125 wpc, that is still a mighty powerful unit. Again this is the flagship, and certainly not all AVR are created equal.

Lots of $ though any way you shake or slice it. :SB
 

Sonik Wiz

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It is true that I love my vintage legacy quad gear. It is costly. It is still my preference. I wish I could afford a Surround Master. They represent great value if not more. Legacy gear can be found cheaply and then pay shipping later and further on pay for repairs or restoration. Modern gear leaves me cold eapecially with the lack of legacy support. I get why most people want new. Warranties are great. I have no room for more than 4.0 and won't go further for some time. These are my opinons and I do not expect anyone to agree with me. I just do what works for me at this time. BTW even with the QQ discount before shipping, Canuck bux are precious right now and poor against the Yankee bux, the 499US equals 676CAD which is most of my monthly income after rent not incouding necessities. I still want one though, it is my ideal solution.
I never thought of the currency exchange rate but yikes! I understand your message. And certainly getting by every month is just not about income but controling expenses. If I win even win a small lottery I will put you at the top of my list for a Surround Master. Maybe I'll buy some scratchers tomorrow..
 

Circular Vibes

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Sonic Wiz, I didn't intend to sound so harsh, I apologise. I eagerly await the ability to afford the SM ultimate decoder and be able to declutter my legacy gear. I buy stuff with greatest utility to me. Modern gear is amazing but I cringe at the simple cost of so many speakers that I would actually listen to and enjoy. To be fair to Chucky, Dave et al, they did offer me a two payment option but that is more than I can handle at this time. I refuse to try for a payday loan as well. I profess to not fully understand modern gear, and the wiring standards. HDMI is definitely not my bag. My main TV is a Sony Trinitron 37" and my only modern dirgital addition to my system is my Oppo BDP83 with analogue video output. With that TV I hope I never move again! The box that buries me will be 37" glass with lead lining! Now, I hope I don't sound too crabby or out of date. Legacy quad was kinda my challenge to defy every quad hater I knew and tried to talk me out of more than stereo. Now I can say Ha!😆 If I had a bigger place and extra rooms ( it is okay to dream big) I would have a legacy system and a modern system in separate and appropriate rooms. For the big fix I go to the cinema as a treat. I love looking to see where the sfx come from😉.
 

Sonik Wiz

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Mr. Wiz: Your rec is well taken by me. I'm a quad vet, having at some time owned just about all the good legacy decoders (except the Audionics), now have SMv1 & v2, but still have and occasionally use EVX-4 and Sansui QS-D1000. I've never met an AVR that I liked, and am now totally done with them.

My present analog-only set-up:

disc players > Zektor HDS-4.1 switch > SMv2 > Yamaha MVS-1 (a 6-channel passive volume controller with master vol control) > a pair of Carver 6cb power amps (65 watts/channel @ 8 oms; with left/right level controls).

I've been thinking lately of having the Carvers recapped/restored, but now am tempted to instead replace them with a pair of Yamaha S-301's that you referenced, or maybe even, for more power, a pair of the S-501's (85 watts/channel). I like the features and the digital input options.

Thanks for the heads-up. John R
Your described system is probably the closest to mine I've seen posted here. I do have HDMI but my Oppo video HDMI goes straight to my projector & my PC HDMI goes straight into the 2nd HDMI input on the projector. Pretty simple & straight forward. My Zektor HDS 4.1 is used to select multiple analog MCH sources such as from the SM or analog out on the Oppo. The output from the Zektor goes to the single set of analog inputs on my Anthem processor. Then the Anthem line level out goes directly to 3, Adcom 555 power amps. Hey! I even used to have a Yamaha MVS-1. A unique product I bought it to rehab into a 4 ch input selector but never finished it. I did use the very high quality volume control on another project.

I don't know how long you've had the Carver unit but you've probably got great satisfaction & money's worth out of it. To have it refurbed & upgraded might be viable but you never know if something else might konk out soon. The Yamaha gives good input switching capability, tone control & the convenience of the remote. Yes I saw the S-501's while I was browsing & it does give a bit more headroom at a little higher cost. I didn't mention it as I was trying to find a cost competitive alternate to buying well respected vintage quad, & that would have pushed it a bit over.

I've had only 1 quad receiver in my life, a Kenwood 9940. It really was a solution to my problem of mis-matched everything with a Sansui QS-1 at the center. Improvements in audio came along pretty fast while I had it & I wanted to move beyond the internal decoders & using multiple switch boxes on the single 4ch input made me feel like I was going back to the old clunky way of doing things. So I got some good Kenwood integrated amps & happily had my QSD-1, Tate II, Integrex Ambisonc and 4 ch Sony R2R all playing nice with each other.
 

Sonik Wiz

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Sonic Wiz, I didn't intend to sound so harsh, I apologise. I eagerly await the ability to afford the SM ultimate decoder and be able to declutter my legacy gear. I buy stuff with greatest utility to me. Modern gear is amazing but I cringe at the simple cost of so many speakers that I would actually listen to and enjoy. To be fair to Chucky, Dave et al, they did offer me a two payment option but that is more than I can handle at this time. I refuse to try for a payday loan as well. I profess to not fully understand modern gear, and the wiring standards. HDMI is definitely not my bag. My main TV is a Sony Trinitron 37" and my only modern dirgital addition to my system is my Oppo BDP83 with analogue video output. With that TV I hope I never move again! The box that buries me will be 37" glass with lead lining! Now, I hope I don't sound too crabby or out of date. Legacy quad was kinda my challenge to defy every quad hater I knew and tried to talk me out of more than stereo. Now I can say Ha!😆 If I had a bigger place and extra rooms ( it is okay to dream big) I would have a legacy system and a modern system in separate and appropriate rooms. For the big fix I go to the cinema as a treat. I love looking to see where the sfx come from😉.
Zero harshness detected! And I didn't mean to offend anyone either just to show either end of the tech spectrum & why there might be a need for something in between.

I've had Trintrons before the biggest being only 27" but I loved the quality. It seemed with RPTV, LCD, & so many other steps in video evolution the goal was to get the quality to at least equal CRT, right where we started. My sound is 4 or 5.1 & my projector is only 1080p but I'm very happy with it. I think it's an overlooked goal to reach a point where you, or anyone, says "this is great. I'm really happy" and leave it alone for the most part. I am 68 & if I was 20 years younger I might be more inclined to experiment with ATMOS & 4K knowing I have plenty of time to pay off those charge cards and my eyes & ears would be able to appreciate it. But my eyes & ears have nowhere to go but downhill over the next 20 years so sometimes common sense prevails & I say I'll just leave well enough alone.
 

J. PUPSTER

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Bottom line IMO, it's an expensive hobby! Some folks take years to build a fairly complete system (I'm still dealing with TT/cart. issues) that suits their needs and by then you're years behind the latest and greatest (aka SMv2b x3 etc.) In my case I ended up building a dedicated Quad (on going) system in a spare bedroom/home office, as there's no other adequate room/space available.
What bugs me especially with speakers, but with all gear, is there are few places left to go and physically touch, hear and sample. Sure I've got a few places near me, but very limited as to the breadth of brands they carry, and forget about straight Quad; which I guess is what this thread is mainly addressing.
 

boondocks

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I have not had the best luck with modern Receivers, save an analog input 5.1 Sherwood I've owned for, geez I don't really know how long! I only paid $125 at a consumer electronics store now out of busines. It does duty as my pc amp.
But now in a relatively short period of time we have DTS:X, Dolby Atmos & other methods of enhancing music, which, although a broke retiree I still try to keep up best I can. I'm also proud of the fact I own 3 Oppos, even though none are remotely new.
I was a quaddie back when, and gave it up more for financial considerations but I have no desire to go back And yet....the stuff I had back then just seemed more substantial somehow....or maybe that's just reminiscing.
Bless you all that can afford to indulge in good equipment, be it quad or surround. I don't feel envy just glad to know there are people that love music as much as me. I just think people that love, really love music are just ahead of the curve, just a little, huh?
 

Sonik Wiz

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I only just learned that Trinitron was actually somewhat radically different technology from what came before it:

That was very interesting! I was well aware of conventional shadow mask CRT's and I knew how Trinitrons worked. But I had no idea there was something called a chromatron color CRT! In a closet I still have a Sony 19" Trintron professional monitor (no tuner, BNC connectors, etc) & now this makes me want get it out & spin some Laserdiscs!
 

Sonik Wiz

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I have not had the best luck with modern Receivers, save an analog input 5.1 Sherwood I've owned for, geez I don't really know how long! I only paid $125 at a consumer electronics store now out of busines. It does duty as my pc amp.

I see in your profile you have a Onkyo TX-NR656 listed. Is that what your currently using? And having bad luck with it or doing ok? It's pretty high end high tech.

I just think people that love, really love music are just ahead of the curve, just a little, huh?
And I see you do your matrix decoding via software which is pretty dedicated. When you do it that way you don't need to worry analog connectivity or HDMI because it will probably be played back NAS or USB ext HDD.
 

HomerJAU

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Now the Flagship Denon - x8500 does have 13 class AB amps, which although I can't find specs beyond 2 channel driven, it appears the AVR can drive all 13 speakers at equal power, albeit perhaps at a wattage significantly less than the published specs. But even if all channels driven = 125 wpc, that is still a mighty powerful unit. Again this is the flagship, and certainly not all AVR are created equal.

I just saw the specs for a new 2020 Marantz receiver yesterday (same company that owns Denon) with very similar amp spec as the X8500. Marantz ‘guarantee’ a 70% performance with all channels driven, I assume that’s 0.05% THD at 70% of 140W, so close to 100W x 13 channels at 0.05 THD. That’s pretty impressive.
 

boondocks

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I see in your profile you have a Onkyo TX-NR656 listed. Is that what your currently using? And having bad luck with it or doing ok? It's pretty high end high tech.


And I see you do your matrix decoding via software which is pretty dedicated. When you do it that way you don't need to worry analog connectivity or HDMI because it will probably be played back NAS or USB ext HDD.
Yes, the onkyo. But I have it because the TX-NR609 I was using had problems eating HDMI boards. It had one warranty repair & then Onkyo offered the 656 for $200 shipped if I would strip the serial off the 609 and send it to them. So I did. Since then I've beefed up the caps on the HDMI board, but since I don't really use it much I don't know how it will hold up. It has no DTS:X or Atmos either so it's just on display I guess.
It's been awhile so I don't remember exactly, but the decoding software was probably being done in Plogue and was just SQ I think. Zeeround produced the actual work to do the decoding. Not a need now but it was handy for a while.
 

boondocks

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I just saw the specs for a new 2020 Marantz receiver yesterday (same company that owns Denon) with very similar amp spec as the X8500. Marantz ‘guarantee’ a 70% performance with all channels driven, I assume that’s 0.05% THD at 70% of 140W, so close to 100W x 13 channels at 0.05 THD. That’s pretty impressive.
Price? EDIT: never mind i think I can find it. lol
 

Sonik Wiz

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Bottom line IMO, it's an expensive hobby! Some folks take years to build a fairly complete system (I'm still dealing with TT/cart. issues) that suits their needs and by then you're years behind the latest and greatest (aka SMv2b x3 etc.) In my case I ended up building a dedicated Quad (on going) system in a spare bedroom/home office, as there's no other adequate room/space available.
What bugs me especially with speakers, but with all gear, is there are few places left to go and physically touch, hear and sample. Sure I've got a few places near me, but very limited as to the breadth of brands they carry, and forget about straight Quad; which I guess is what this thread is mainly addressing.
When hobbies turn into passions it's always expensive. Think of season tickets to attend pro sports. That is if you could actually attend. Even something "simple" like hiking or enjoying the great outdoors can cost quite a bit for shoes, clothes, camping gear.

Many years ago I visited Disclord/Ty at his apartment for the 1st time. It was an amazing bunch of stuff that he had including both HD & 3D Laserdisc set up. He collected all, & I mean all, of the dts LD's. He found great value in knowing that the dts/LD connection sort of just happened. It was never officially approved just adopted. He saw it as a rogue format that greatly appealed to him. Anyway I knew he made pretty good money but drove a Hyundai Rio, one of the most craptastic & un-safe car made at that time. And cheap. I asked , not exactly these words, why did he drive such a POS? I should have expected his reply:" beacause I'd rather spend money on something I really care about". Yup, we all have our priorities.
 

Sonik Wiz

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I just saw the specs for a new 2020 Marantz receiver yesterday (same company that owns Denon) with very similar amp spec as the X8500. Marantz ‘guarantee’ a 70% performance with all channels driven, I assume that’s 0.05% THD at 70% of 140W, so close to 100W x 13 channels at 0.05 THD. That’s pretty impressive.

I have spent most of today & yesterday submerged in the world of AV receivers & ATMOS stuff. It seem theres a real breaking point in products between something as 7.1 & ATMOS. That is if someone wants to look for 7.1 receivers or seperates you can compare apples to apples pretty easy when researching. But ATMOS seems another world in products & cost & how they rate things & streaming services and o_O.

So Marantz & Denon are owned by Sound United LLC who also owns respected brands like Polk & Def Tech. I see why you would extrapolate a spec from Marantz to Denon but really that's no guaranty that the guaranty would apply to Denon. That's a bit like saying Polk speakers sound like Def Tech because they are owned by the same company.

The brands I tend to gravitate to is Emotiva & Anthem. As I said ATMOS seems a bit of a wild card when I look at Emotiva that makes a pre-pro the XMC-2 16 ch, 9.1.6 ATMOS. But then they only offer a max power amp of 7 chs, which BTW is rated at 200 WPC all chs driven. They have a wide range of configurations so you could mix & match & they have even a design your own configurations starting at $999.

Really with all the complexity & high numbers of ATMOS chs it seems a natural for separate processor with power amps to compliment.
 

atrocity

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But I have it because the TX-NR609 I was using had problems eating HDMI boards.

Onkyo can't seem to make HDMI work reliably to save their lives. I've got two Onkyo receivers, BOTH of which required new HDMI boards fairly quickly and the second of which is now having HDMI issues again. Either that, or it's just some random incompatibility between it and my newish 4k TV.
 
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