Hawk, G-man, others - Need help with receiver/amp selection


Paul Berry
Hawk, G-man and others,

Sorry for the re-post on this subject, but I need help on my planned receiver upgrade. I posted last week on the amp board but have not received the volume of advice I had hoped for.

By the end of this week I need to decide on a replacement for my Denon 3300 receiver. I have a large room (15X30), Monitor Audio silver speakers & Paradigm 2200 sub, and listen to 75/25 music/movies. The music is mostly classical and jazz, and I have enjoyed the effect created by Denon's 5-channel stereo mode, although I know current receivers/amps have improved upon this feature dramatically in the past 4 years. My budget is about $2,500.

I had narrowed my receiver choice to the Marantz 9300 and was ready to go ahead, then read discussion at this site regarding the Outlaw 950/770 combination and realized I could have 200wpcX7 power in Outlaw separates for roughly the same price. From what I can determine the trade-offs are the Outlaw's lack of headphone and phono jacks, and THX Ultra certification, plus a less robust remote. On the other hand, the quality of music reproduction is my highest priority. How good is the Outlaw's sound relative to the Marantz (or any comparably priced receiver or pre-pro/amp combo)? Are either of my options a good match for the Monitor Audios (precise but bright)?

Which of these systems or possibly others would you recommend? Thanks in advance for your thoughts.


G-Man and I have traded posts on the relative value of THX certification, and thanks to him I have a better understanding of the process, but I still think it is a crock, so not having THX certification is not a concern with me (In fact, I am more comfortable if it isn't THX certified!).

I love the Outlaws, but I don't think the Outlaw amp is a good combo with the Monitor Audio Silver series speakers. The Outlaw amp is pretty cool and I think those speakers need something with a little warmth to them to get the best sound. I think you clearly know your speakers well ("precise but bright"), so you understand my opinion here. However, given your large room, you really need some serious power to fill the room, as I am sure that you have surmised. I am not real big on receivers in that price range, preferring separates, but I have a better idea for you than either the Outlaw amp or the Marantz. BTW, I again have to take the power rating of the Marantz receiver with a grain of salt. Although I like Marantz receivers, they are still a japanese owned company that tests power into a simple 8 ohm resistor, which is not real world and I think rather misleading. I would take its power rating and cut it by a third, and recognize that it will have very little dynamic headroom above that.

Have you ever looked at B & K amps? I cannot think of a better amp for your speakers as the B & K amps have a MOSFET output stage that is as smooth as tubes, but with much greater dynamics. They have one amp, the AV 125.7, that I think is a superb little gem of an amp. Rated at 125 wpc into 8 ohms, it rates 185 wpc into 4 ohms (your MA are 6 ohm rated, so probably >150 wpc x 7), and it has some real dyanmic headroom above that (unlike the Marantz). MSRP is $1798.00, but you can get it for ~$1450 from Kiefs (www.kiefs.com). Talk to Ed. It is a great amp and you will not believe its beauty when playing music.

I would pair that amp with either the Outlaw 950 pre/pro or the Adcom GTP 860 II pre/pro (which I think can be had for ~$1K, but you will have to check to be sure from Kiefs as well). I love the Outlaw pre/pro and think it is the greatest audio bargain out there (it is identical to the Sherbourne pre/pro, but costs half as much). The Adcom is a superb pre/pro, which has an MSRP of about $1400, but I think you can make a deal with Kiefs to keep it in your budget. There is also a new NAD pre/pro, the T163. I have not heard it, but it was causing quite a buzz at the CEDIA show last September when announced, and I know it is on their website as available now, so you may want to check it out.

Your Denon is a fine receiver--it is the unit that Denon "made their bones" in HT so to speak, but it does lack many of the popular formats and getting one of these separates combinations will be a real step up in quality of sound, regardless of the formats. If you can't get the pre/pro you want, try hooking the Denon up as a pre/pro with the B & K amp for the short term. The sonic improvement will be stunning. It will improve again when you get a separate pre/pro.

Good luck!

I like Hawk's post of above and he has many fine recommendations. If you still want a receiver I would highly suggest with your wonderful Monitors to check various places on the net and see what kind of prices you can find on a Elitevsx49txi. I have seen it for around $2700 or so and that's the perfect receiver for Monitors in that price range. Very nice, warm receiver with great power reserves. It is very large and heavy[64pounds] so that might be a concern but as far as performance it's a killer. There might be some vsx47tx units still available and can be had for under $1800. Same great power as the 49. Good luck.
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