I'm looking at a new AV receiver and am confused about price vs capability. The Kenwood VR-8070, Onkyo TX-SR702, and Denon AVR-2805 all have very similar features that I'm looking for, but the prices vary a good bit. The Onkyo is about $200 more than the Kenwood, and the Denon is about $200 more than the Onkyo even though it has no THX cert. I've had very good personal experiences with both both Kenwood and Onkyo but am unfamiliar with Denon. My question is what is the extra $200-$400 buying me for the higher priced receivers? Help me see what I'm missing here. Thanks for the help!
I don't have any experience with the lower end Kenwoods. I have owned both the Onkyo 701, Denon 2805 and currently have the Denon 3805. THX select certification isn't that big of a deal. The 2805 and 701 have similar power, but the $200 difference gives you auto setup and auto equalization on the Denon. Plus, the 2805 has a better power supply which means cleaner sound and better bass in particular. The 2805 was also an editors choice by The Perfect Vision magazine. But that's just my opinion. Listen to them both and see which you like best.
What are you buying? Well, it's a combination of marketing, exchange rate fluctuation, production and shipping costs. There is no guarantee which of those items you're paying more for. The Denons have excellent marketing and coverage, the Kenwoods and Onkyos less so. The Denons are hot products of the moment, the Kenwoods and Onkyos less so. The only way of knowing which is truly better is by hearing them and many people can't hear these receivers in direct A/B comparisons under constant conditions.
So what to do? Well, find a dealer who can show you what he thinks is a good sounding combination and if you like it, buy that - and poreferably buy it from him rather than the 'net since he has gone to the trouble of sourcing the products, providing you with his service and will give you after-sales service that you won't get online.
If you're not prepared to do this, pick one from a hat!