AV2 still relevant in 2016?

Posted by: Duncan Hills on 11 April 2016

Hi All,

First time poster, long time reader so be gentle please.  I searched and found the last time this question was asked was 3 years ago, so hoping it's ok to post this as a new post as things have moved on a little since then.

I'm moving out of London and to a house where i'll have the space to finally accommodate a HT system which has long been a dream since departing my original shores where space was in abundance. Perhaps naively i thought i'd need a whole new stereo setup to build a HT system before reading about being able to use my modest nait XS in conjunction with the AV2 and additional amps for the additional channels.  Having come to this revelation I was excited to read of the AV2, only to realise i was about 14 years late to the party. But, as it's NAIM it seems high quality and fits in with my current system, and what I feel are my requirements (5.1 surround). Unfortunately Naim stopped producing surround processors from what i can see.

My local dealer has one which is essentially new for around 600. I figure at this price if it was still relevant it would be a reasonable purchase as i've got a bit of thing for sticking to products with the same naim . I don't envisage going beyond this number of speakers (famous last words), so just wondered if those that have the AV2, or have had them find them still suitable with current content being released? Equally those that have had them and moved on i'd be interested to hear why/to what.  

I have to say a lot of my current content is from the likes of netflix, but also with a mix of BluRay which would obviously increase as the system is developed.  

Any advice from the wise and experienced would be most welcomed!

Posted on: 11 April 2016 by Eloise

Never used a AV2; but I did find that a Arcam AV8 coupled with a Cambridge Audio 751BD (a close relation to the famous Oppo 95/105) gave good results and gave modern higher end AVR a run for its money.  

What at you miss out on is modern conveniences.  You don't have one cable (HDMI) connections so will likely either run multiple cables to your display or need a separate HDMI switch.  You don't get the modern high def formats. Absolutely no chance of height speakers for immersive sound.  What you will get is Naim quality for audio reproduction...

Modern alternatives are things like Classe Sigma SSP which costs you best part of 4500!

Posted on: 11 April 2016 by MDS

I haven't used a AV2 but I used to have an nVi. As Eloise says, the Naim AV stuff is rather out of date now e.g. no HMDI connections, no Blueray.  I think if I had 600 to spend on an AV processor and already had the amps I'd go for a brand new Oppo player.  You should be able to get the very latest 103D with the Darbee chipset for that money. Oppos are very high quality machines popular with quite a few members on here, and the firmware is capable of updating via a dongle in the back.     

Posted on: 11 April 2016 by Mr Underhill

Hi Duncan,

I think 600 is at least 200 above market price.

I would go with Mike on this. I did own an AV2 for a decade and think it was a great processor. I replaced it with an Oppo 105D, and a lift in performance.

If you are still tempted by the AV2 I would ring Naim HQ and find out what the spares position is.

M

Posted on: 11 April 2016 by Duncan Hills

Thank you all for the prompt feedback, some interesting food for thought and very helpful.  I think as I heard they were rare and found one near new I probably got a bit ahead of myself.  

Looking at it from a practical point of view it may be best to invest in something like the oppo 103D/105D as you've suggested given the general consensus and reviews.  I do have a CD5i which to me has served me fine for the last 6 years as a CD source, would the oppo compete with this in a "general" sense given all opinions are relatively subjective? Or is the naim pairing something hard to beat.

As far as HT, I'd be starting from scratch here, no AVR as yet. I think now I would prefer something that could do the HDMI switching what with apple tv, blu ray, sky etc. One of the challenges now is that i'll need to review the best order in which to procure things and the PS3 may have to continue to serve my blu ray content for the time being!

Slight off topic transgression which i may be best to repost under "what on earth should i do now my plans is evolving". My original plan was to try find a NAPv175, AV2 (which is proving less suitable unless you already have one in use), and perhaps a NAP 200/250 before setting out down the surround/sub speaker path.  I currently have b&w 683's but with the XS feel these are lacking detail (like some of the instrument players are playing in a different room to the lead vocalists if thats an understandable description) at lower "evening" listening volumes, but to me sound great when the volume is up a bit. I was offered some 804d's (ex demo) for around 3300 which would in turn even more so need the 200/250 (the DR option looks too expensive for me at the moment unless this upgrade is more staggered).  From what i see online, it's a reasonable price to get when not a private sale and still from a dealer...

I don't specifically have a set budget but was hoping to get away with the above plan for around 6k ish and still remain in my relationship ;-) I'd potentially covertly increase this if it made sense to do so with other components. I do realise my ambitions are probably beyond my budget, which is normally the case!

 

Posted on: 11 April 2016 by Mark R

Duncan,

I currently own both an AV2 and Oppo 103D. I use Netflix frequently and occasionally Blu-Ray. Not all content via Netflix is surround and none of it is HD and this is true of many streaming video services today e.g. HBO Now, etc., so for me the AV2 still provides good service.

I find the AV2 persuasive in its sound against the 103D. I have yet to try a 105D, but that is possibly where the balance is found. I personally find the 103D slightly inferior (less engaging, flatter) in its processing against an AV2 and, for me, I feel that is likely down to the combo of a digital volume, SMPS and the DAC in the 103D. The 105D has linear power supply, better DACs and Blu-ray (HD) sound processing capability (but is larger too). 

AV2s are not great candidates for servicing these days, so price that into your decision as well. The AV2 was, and still is in my opinion, a great machine for what it can deliver, but its time is slowly running out. That said, I'm keeping mine! When it finally conks out, I shall look for an alternative.

Happy hunting.

-Mark

Posted on: 11 April 2016 by Bert Schurink

While the sound may be convincing the connection options aren't .....so I would opt for another AV receiver f.i. NAD and get the amplification done through your normal naim kit or even go further and let an oppo 105 do all the lifting backed up by naim amplification.

Posted on: 12 April 2016 by tonym

I owned an AV2 for many years coupled with all-Naim amplification and was reluctant to move away from this, but the lack of HDMI connectivity became a bit of a nuisance so I took the plunge and bought an Anthem MRX-700. As well as the necessary HDMI connections and surprisingly good amplification this had built in room correction software, which was a real bonus and now I really wouldn't be without this feature, the resultant sound being quite a step up from the AV2. Having recently gone over to 4K TV, which the Anthem couldn't pass through, I went for a Denon processor. This has been a revelation, its amplification even better and with built in Audyssey room correction I'm delighted with the result.

The AV2 was good in its day but it really isn't worth buying now. Things have moved on in the AV world and you can do far better.

Posted on: 12 April 2016 by Duncan Hills

Thanks for the variety of ideas, it's actually led me to think that perhaps the first stage will be to find a quality AVR and blu ray source like the oppo, surround speakers, and look at the separate additional amplification if i feel it isn't doing a suitable task of the audio amplification for the surround aspects . I would still have the option to use the XS as a power amp on front channels from what i gather. What i don't get with the AVRs is where the 9x150w figures etc come from, is this just marketing nonsense, or are they measuring it differently?

Is there a well widely respected AVR within the group? I've had a quick review (on paper) of offerings from Denon (AVR x7200WA), Onkyo TX-NR3030, and a cheaper offering from Marantz with a SR7010. If anyone has any particular views on these i would be interested to hear them as my local dealer doesn't have these brands (has Arcam, Rotel, and Classe, so demo options would be limited to that range).

There is a whole world of options and it's starting to swamp me, I can see many many hours of reading ahead as I come to realise how out of the times i am with HT!

Posted on: 12 April 2016 by MDS

When my n-Vi died I got a Arcam AVR750 to replace it.  Although the Arcam isn't as quite as good as the n-Vi at low volumes it has a lot more oomph when watching at movie-volumes.  I've found it is pretty easy to use and glitch-free (unlike the n-Vi).  Although my expert dealer installed it for me, it also seemed to have a pretty neat set-up mode where it works out where the speakers and walls are.

On the power-ratings, I think there are various quotes in the specs because it depends on how many channels the receiver is being asked to drive. My Arcam will drive up to seven (plus an active sub) but I only use five.

So if your local dealer stocks Arcam, I'd recommend giving one of their receivers a demo.

Mike 

  

Posted on: 13 April 2016 by NickSeattle
I bought my AV2 last year to run in a 2.0 system with a NAP-V175 I already had. I like the small size of the combo, and the sound is amazing through my Totem Mod1 Sigs. I am using my Sony LCD as the HDMI hub for TiVo, BRD, Apple TV, etc., and run a single optical from TV to AV2. I realize the TV may not output the original HDMI audio in tact, but the results are still excellent. Depends on your ambitions as much as anything. Brst, Nick
Posted on: 16 April 2016 by NickSeattle

Prompted by this dialog, I have borrowed a third speaker wire and added my KEF center speaker as a test.  Whole family likes 3.0 better than 2.0.  I guess I will buy the wire.

Nick

 

Posted on: 18 April 2016 by rackkit
NickSeattle posted:
I bought my AV2 last year to run in a 2.0 system with a NAP-V175 I already had. I like the small size of the combo, and the sound is amazing through my Totem Mod1 Sigs. I am using my Sony LCD as the HDMI hub for TiVo, BRD, Apple TV, etc., and run a single optical from TV to AV2. I realize the TV may not output the original HDMI audio in tact, but the results are still excellent. Depends on your ambitions as much as anything. Brst, Nick

Another very happy AV2 owner here. Mine was a used purchase - paid around 600 for it about 7 years ago.  I'm using Virgin's Tivo box via optical and Blu-ray/DVD with analogue/digital coaxial. Picture sent straight to the DVD using HDMI in both cases but since it's just a monitor (Pioneer Kuro minus speakers) all the sound is routed through the AV2 & into a full Naim set up with great results. I get perfect lip sync even with the Tivo box.

No idea what i'd replace the Av2 if it starts to develop any problems as i guess there's little chance of getting repairs done now.

Keeping my fingers crossed it'll last at least another 5 years! 

Posted on: 09 May 2016 by GreenAlex

I have owned an AV2 for many years now and have always loved the sound. Nothing ever got close to it.

When my AV2's digital inputs started failing I thought about replacing it with an Oppo 103/105 or a Marantz or Onkyo AVR. But even the cheapest replacement is still 3 times the price of a second hand AV2...if you can find one... and whether you get a better sound quality or just better connectivity is a whole different question.

I just yesterday bought a new s/h AV2 to replace my dying one because honestly, right now all my sources still have optical outputs. So for now I am set. And I never got a BluRay-Player nor will I. So the only reason to move away from optical outputs to HDMI would be for streaming. But not that much content is streamed with HD audio.

Anyway, I think the AV2 was a great preamp and in my view, IF you already own the Naim poweramps, it is worth keeping it/getting another one. If I had to start from scratch then I would go a different route. Maybe even an AVR with all the bells and whistles.

edit: I should add that spare parts are either limited or not available for the AV2 anymore. There are no more digital boards so mine is basically a pure analogue preamp now.

Posted on: 10 May 2016 by rackkit
GreenAlex posted:

I have owned an AV2 for many years now and have always loved the sound. Nothing ever got close to it.

When my AV2's digital inputs started failing I thought about replacing it with an Oppo 103/105 or a Marantz or Onkyo AVR. But even the cheapest replacement is still 3 times the price of a second hand AV2...if you can find one... and whether you get a better sound quality or just better connectivity is a whole different question.

I just yesterday bought a new s/h AV2 to replace my dying one because honestly, right now all my sources still have optical outputs. So for now I am set. And I never got a BluRay-Player nor will I. So the only reason to move away from optical outputs to HDMI would be for streaming. But not that much content is streamed with HD audio.

Anyway, I think the AV2 was a great preamp and in my view, IF you already own the Naim poweramps, it is worth keeping it/getting another one. If I had to start from scratch then I would go a different route. Maybe even an AVR with all the bells and whistles.

edit: I should add that spare parts are either limited or not available for the AV2 anymore. There are no more digital boards so mine is basically a pure analogue preamp now.

I've often thought of getting hold of another one just in case mine starts playing up. They do pop now & again - you just have to keep your eye on the classifieds. 

Posted on: 12 May 2016 by blythe

One has indeed just popped up..... Should I.......???????

Posted on: 14 May 2016 by Bowers
blythe posted:

One has indeed just popped up..... Should I.......???????

My av 2 broke down and has  to be shipped to naim and sure hope it can be repaired. The AV2 is used in combination with a Dune mediaplayer and hundreds of dvd and bluy-ray ISO's on hdd.

Have not found a better solution yet, just think the AV2 sounds fantastic.

if you can use it,  go for it ...........

Posted on: 18 May 2016 by Duncan Hills

Well it's a bit further down the line, and I didn't get any further with an AV receiver (also don't think i was getting email updates about new entries in this thread so will check my junk settings). I did however just pick up a like new (as new as can be for it's age) v175 for what I think was a great price (original box and all packaging, perhaps from a forum member). I also got some b&w 685s for side (rear) speakers.  

So, I'm still a bit on the fence.  At a very low price an AV2 could have appeal for sound quality alone (based on forum members, never heard it myself), but for simplicity of video switching, the other halfs sanity etc, I'm leaning towards a preamp that can deal with the hdmi video switching and 4k content.  How are people with the AV2 doing video switching? Manual, remotes, automatic somehow?

Posted on: 18 May 2016 by GerryMcg

I use a Harmony programmable remote. One touch turns on TV and sets input, switches AV2, 552 and nSub to correct inputs and, finally, turns on source.

Gerry 

Posted on: 18 May 2016 by Bowers

+1                        Harmony remote + hub

Posted on: 18 May 2016 by Dungassin

When I had an AV2, I used my Harmony remote (like Gerry), but also had separate HDMI switches (to accomodate multiple HDMI sources to TV) and SPDIF switches for the audio inputs, as the AV2 didn't have enough.  Much simpler since I got my Arcam, for which I STILL use my Harmony, even though the Arcam remote does accomodate control of some devices other than the AV receiver itself.

Posted on: 19 May 2016 by tonym

Another Harmony user here. I've still got my old Philips Pronto, but the Harmony Ultimate is a wonderful device, and does a sterling job of switching everything in the right sequence, and controlling everything including Bluetooth kit.

Posted on: 19 May 2016 by Dungassin

Alas, my Harmony doesn't do bluetooth, so I have to use the handset to control my XBox360 & PS4.   

Posted on: 20 May 2016 by Duncan Hills

Ok so there are options then. The same person I got the 175 from has an av2 for 350 (may be able to get for 300) which is quite tempting if not to just have another naim box (sad I know). It is also quite cheap compared to what I might need to spend (also moving into a new house so trying to keep this cheap initially).

To be honest I'm not so fussed about the surround sound from  Netflix, I'm not using sky anymore, and I have limited Apple TV use ). My primary concern would be blu Ray movies, but potentially a PlayStation also. The oppo looks appealing given I now have the amplification. I have read there is a native 4K player coming out later this year which means the av2 could tie me over (and stay if I like it that much).

I get you can use your tv as a hub to take in the hdmi only sources, but someone mentioned the ability to deliver the sound via optic, but with disruption to the original source due to restrictions on formats supported by optics.

Given I've not heard any mainstream sound encoding formats other than what I get at the cinema, is there a substantial difference in not getting Dolby formats that are not supported due to the optic bit rate limitation (and potentially the av2 limitation)? Particularly if I only have 5.1 for starters (or am I missing a trick getting speakers installed in the roof of my living room)?.

If it's not noticeably different then this might lead me towards the av2 and Using optical connections from the tv.

if it is worth holding out due to significant difference then this might lead me towards an oppo or equivalent processor.

Posted on: 20 May 2016 by Duncan Hills

Slight fly in the ointment, just checked my tv specs and no support of 5.1 via optical out from hdmi sources. Would need  a hdmi switcher with optical out to save on cables (if such a thing exists) Or an optical switcher hmm.

Posted on: 21 May 2016 by Duncan Hills

After some thought, I picked up a relatively recently serviced and unused AV2 for 238 off eBay, so a bit of a gamble but will see how it plays out. Thanks for the interesting ideas and personal experiences. Not sure how I ask an administrator/moderator to end the thread but I've reached a conclusion! 

Thanks all.