Can I Use a Receiver as a Separate Power Amp?

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Q I own a Pioneer Elite VSX-49TXi receiver that I’m using in a bedroom system because it lacks HDMI connections. My plan is to upgrade the Onkyo receiver in my theater room with a Marantz pre-pro plus a power amp. Here’s my question: Could I use the Pioneer receiver purely as a power amp connected to the Marantz pre-pro? —Rick Jennings, Hollister, CA

A It’s not the most elegant solution, but yes, you can. (An elegant solution would to buy a separate multichannel power amp to pair with the pre-pro.)

Like many other high-end receivers of its era, the VSX-49TXi has a multichannel analog input designated for hooking up a DVD-Audio or SACD player. To use it as a power amp, connect cables from the Marantz pre-pro’s amplifier outputs to the Pioneer receiver’s multichannel analog inputs. Next, use either the receiver’s remote control or its front panel control buttons to select the Direct Multi Channel In Playback mode. According to Pioneer’s manual for the VSX-49TXi, this will provide “a true playback of the signal from the MULTI CH INPUT terminals, output without digital processing.” In other words, it will let the receiver to do a direct bypass of incoming signals to its amplifier channels, without intermediary processing or filtering.

Your next step will be to use the Pioneer’s Listening Channel Select control to designate the number of incoming channels that you plan to amplify (any number from 2 to 8). The next next step is to visit the Expert Setup menu, choose the Multi Channel In option and select the Through output mode. Provided you’re able to follow this intricate set of instructions, the payoff should be that your Pioneer receiver acts as a basic power amp for your Marantz pre-pro. Hope it works out!

instybob's picture

I was thinking about something similar to power my sub that has a blown amp. Might be easy to get a receiver and hook it up to the LFE on my current receiver and go from there.

hifiguy's picture

Be careful here. You will have 2 volume controls, one on Marantz and one on Pioneer. Setting these levels incorrectly could lead to distortion and damaged amps.

gregorygray's picture

I was wondering if I could keep my current 9.2 channel set up. Onkyo TX-NR 818 which I have an Emotiva 2 channel amp bringing the unit from the original 7.2 to the 9.2, which I added width channels for a better sound stage. So the receiver is non Atmos compliant. So what if I bought a lower end Onkyo TX-NR737 which is Dolby Atmo's and my Blu-ray player has two HDMI outputs. So the question is: Could I keep my current 9.2 the same, buy a cheap Atmo's receiver and use only the Atmo's channels from the extra HDMI output on my Blu-Ray. I am just trying to avoid having to spend over 2K to keep my current 9.2 and just invest in $500 Atmo's receiver? Creative or not??