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Laid Back 2.1 Receiver for $500 or less ?

 

New member
Username: Ornlu

Post Number: 8
Registered: Apr-04
Ok, here's the Q. I recently bought a pair of "display model"... Athena AS-F2 floor standing speakers. I say "display model" because they literally took them out of the box that morning and were in perfect condition, still capped in the back etc, never used. I got them at a STEAL of $120 each... I didn't ask any questions... I was planning on paying $200 each as advertized. But anyway, here's my question. I currently have an Onkyo - TX-8511 receiver. It's a nice receiver with tons of power. (I can't put the knob past 50%.. seriously at 50% my sub is causing the plaster wall behind it to generate striations and my brain to become completely confused...) But that's neither here nor there.

The Onkyo Stereo Non digital amp is a very edgy piece of equipment. It's a little bright. And when coupled with these extremely detailed speakers it's a little too much to take. (no big deal but I'd like it to be a little softer)


The question: I could always roll the treble off a bit, but is there a nice laid back receiver below $500 that I could pair with these? I'm not looking for a 7.1 nonsense receiver or anything special. Just a 2.0-2.1 stereo amp or receiver that won't be as harsh on the highs as this one.

Thanks.
 

Silver Member
Username: Bleustar

Pensacola, Florida

Post Number: 138
Registered: Jul-04
Try the Marantz SR4320 stereo receiver or the HK 3480. Both are warmer sounding than the Onkyo.

The Harman Kardon has a sub-out, not sure about the Marantz, it doesn't say anything about a sub-out on my brochure.
 

J. Vigne
Unregistered guest


I'll make my regular pitch for the used market. Read what some of us are using and found to be far superior to anything new at the same cost:

https://www.ecoustics.com/electronics/forum/home-audio/103001.html



 

Silver Member
Username: Hawk

Highlands Ranch, CO USA

Post Number: 625
Registered: Dec-03
Robert:

There is no good quality receiver out there for under $500. I tried them all and they are a pretty sorry lot. The single exception would be the NAD C740, but I am not sure what the price would be, although it should be in somewhere in the $500 range. However, let me suggest something very different that will be a superb match for your Athena's--a Cambridge Audio Azur 640A integrated amp. Check it out here:

http://audioadvisor.com/store/productdetail.asp?sku=CAMB640A&product_name=Azur%2 0640A%20Integrated%20Amplifier

With a little shopping, you can find this little gem for about $450-460. Best of all, it is marvelous combo with your new speakers as the smooth output section fo the Cambridge will tame the edginess you have heard through the Onkyo, yet you will hear even more detail. In fact, I would suggest the improvement in sound will be stunning to you (so be prepared to rediscover your CD collection!). The combo of the Cambridge with the Athenas will make the music come alive. Check it out (you can always use the Onkyo as your tuner). BTW, it can be ordered in silver if you want to match the look of the speakers (fine price on those speakers, too!)

Good luck!



 

Silver Member
Username: Bleustar

Pensacola, Florida

Post Number: 142
Registered: Jul-04
Sorry Hawk,

There is no good quality receiver out there for under $500. I tried them all and they are a pretty sorry lot.

That is a ignorant statement.

I'm sure there are many thousands of people who feel that their sub $500 2 channel receivers are of good quality. I'm sure many are discriminating listeners and feel like they received excellent value for their purchase. It is probably not real helpful to catagorize everything under a certain random dollar amount as being "less than good".

I understand what your getting at, but that was a little over the top.

BTW, I happen to agree that the Cambridge Audio Azur line is a great bang for the buck.
 

New member
Username: Ornlu

Post Number: 10
Registered: Apr-04
Hmm, thanks hawk. As far as no sub $500 receiver being good. I believe it.. I've heard a few. This one that I own now was suggested to me as the best sub $500 receiver, and it's still too edgy. The metallic sound seems to be present in anything below that price range. Which is rather unfortunate.

I was hoping to pick up a cal audio labs tube DAC, which would smooth it out a little bit. I'm not sure if that's all I need, because I really want a non fatiguing natural sound... I will eventually have to get an amp like you suggested. I'd actually rather just get an amp than the entire receiver. If so, is that still the one that you'd suggest.
 

Bronze Member
Username: Ornlu

Post Number: 11
Registered: Apr-04
I have one more question that seems to be unanswered by the pictures of the unit. (no rear shots) Is there a LFE out for subwoofers? And if not... what would be the best way to line to mine?

I was originally using the two additional speaker outs on the back of my Onkyo, driving both A+B chanels simultaneously. But, this didn't give a very good sound to the sub (not enough power, and probably too much draw on the subs end) I'd like to use a LFE in or atleast a volume controlled RCA output. Now I'm using the headphone out on my receiver to RCA, it works ok... but the sub doesn't increase in volume at the same rate as the speakers.. I'd like the next receiver I buy to have a LFE out if at all possible. Although To be honest I was considering the Azur before I bought my onkyo... but couldn't turn down the $125 refurb tag...
 

Anonymous
 
refurb HK 430 for < $500 smooth sounding receiver
 

Silver Member
Username: Hawk

Highlands Ranch, CO USA

Post Number: 631
Registered: Dec-03
Bluestar:

Well, I stand by my statement and I reject your comment that it was "over the top." While there may be a number of people satisfied with the sound from these products, I would suggest they have very low expectations (most sound no better than, if as good as, a boombox). People who tend to show up on this forum are here looking for help in finding the better products, so I am not going to recommend the indistinct, homgenized sound offered by the mass market audio companies. I have a 20+ year old Yamaha bottom of the line receiver (the CR-240) in my garage which I use when I work outside and it sounds better, with greater detail and realism, than a $700 Denon DRA-695, with which I compared it. Today's mass market receivers (2 channel) typically sound very two dimensional, with no depth to the soundstage and absolutely no sense of realism--I suggest they are good for little more than playback of MP3 files. Furthermore, it is obviously not an "ignorant statement" when I stated I had actually tried them all (Marantz, Denon, Sony, H/K, to name but a few) except the NAD (which I couldn't find). It was made with full knowledge as I have done my research and found them all wanting. To me, it is obvious that the large audio companies have moved their product focus to A/V receivers and the two channel gear is a mere afterthought. Those companies who really care about two channel gear have all gravitated to making integrated amps. There are two exceptions, NAD and Rotel, but the Rotel stereo receiver costs $800, which is out of Robert's price range (but it is what I have in my study for music playback and I am quite happy with it). That is also why I recommended the NAD even though I haven't heard it--it has gotten some excellent write-ups in the audio press and NAD has an established track record of doing two channel very well.

Robert:

For your speakers, yes, I would highly recommend the Cambridge Azur 640A. Do not get the 540A as it will leave you disappointed (not nearly dynamic enough), but the 640 is a real bargain, IMO. I know Audio Advisors offers it for $499 and they do allow you a 30 day money back guarantee home trial period, so you may want to go that way if you don't have a Cambridge dealer nearby. I think it is also a little cheaper at Spearit Sound in the Boston area ($469, I believe), but I don't know their return policy.

There are many great little integrateds I like, even at that price and a bit lower (i.e., NAD C320bee), but I think the Cambridge is the better match for your speakers. However, I would also recommend the Rotel RA-02, which is the same price (retail $499) and is another excellent amp that would also be a fine match for your speakers. Got an excellent write-up in Stereophile about a year back and it is quite stunning to look at. I am also aware there is a nice one offered on Audiogon.com right now for $325, only slightly used (saw it last night, as a matter of fact). It is definitely worth a look.

Enjoy!

 

Silver Member
Username: Bleustar

Pensacola, Florida

Post Number: 143
Registered: Jul-04
Hawk,


While there may be a number of people satisfied with the sound from these products, I would suggest they have very low expectations (most sound no better than, if as good as, a boombox). People who tend to show up on this forum are here looking for help in finding the better products


That was my point exactly. People are here at this forum to find the best for what their budget is and also what they want in a receiver. Of course most receivers will be "wanting" in some way. That is partly a byproduct of the way everything is mass marketed with more emphasis on features than sound. AV receivers are a big part of the problem. There are not as many good (for $500) two channel receivers as there used to be, but I would still argue that some are good. Not great, not excellent, just good. However, to equate some of the better $500 receivers with boomboxes is a joke, unless you get your boomboxes from another planet.

I also have the Rotel rx1050 stereo receiver and although the soundstage and detail is better than my HK3480 stereo receiver in another part of the house, the Rotel does not put the HK to shame in anyway. It was after all more than double the price.


 

Silver Member
Username: Hawk

Highlands Ranch, CO USA

Post Number: 636
Registered: Dec-03
Bluestar:

I can see you feel insulted, so lets agree that we disagree on this one. I actually brought home a several of the receivers and compared them to my daughter's Sony boombox and the boombox beat a couple of them (not the H/K), so I stand by what I said.

I am very glad you are happy with your H/K stereo receiver. It was not satisfactory to me.
 

Silver Member
Username: Bleustar

Pensacola, Florida

Post Number: 144
Registered: Jul-04
Hawk,

I'm not insulted at all. I do think it was a subject worth debate though.

I think several mass market multi channel receivers under $500 sound abysmal (Denon 1604, Yamaha HTR5760, Onkyo 501/601, Marantz SR4400) and I'm sure some of the better boomboxes would fair well against these models. However, I have yet to find a boombox that would rival the decent sounding receivers around $500.

Sadly though, the days of quality audio have been eclipsed by the video age.
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