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"Bang for Buck" A/V Receiver Help

 

Jeremy from Boston
Unregistered guest
I've been searching CNET looking at A/V Receivers. I'd like to go for a $300 receiver that can get me the basics, maybe even 2 room hookup capabilities. Oh yeah, I want a silver box. I don't mind buying used or refurbashed, if you have suggestions. Some things I've looked at:

- Harman Kardon AVR 330
- Pioneer VSX-D811S
- Onkyo TX-SR601S
- Panasonic saXR70

Which one do you recommend? Any others on your shortlist?
-
 

Bronze Member
Username: Eramsey

South carolina United States

Post Number: 66
Registered: Feb-05
I would go for the HK, but then again I am partial to HK because I own one. I will say however that out of the list you provided the HK will most likely handle more difficult speaker loads out of the bunch. E.Ramsey
 

Bronze Member
Username: Edster922

Abubala, Ababala The Occupation

Post Number: 91
Registered: Mar-05
For an extra $50 you can get the Pioneer 1014 brand new and shipped from onecall.com or jandr.com which would be even better than the HK 330.

 

Bronze Member
Username: Eramsey

South carolina United States

Post Number: 71
Registered: Feb-05
But why Edster when the HK is a better made product for less money? E.Ramsey
 

Jeremy from Boston
Unregistered guest
Thanks for the advice Eric! Do you think there's another silver receiver that is worth looking at? (I'm sick of the black box receivers and refuse to buy one!)
 

Silver Member
Username: Paul_ohstbucks

Post Number: 505
Registered: Jan-05
ARCAM makes silver faced receivers. I think they're ugly as sin, but based on your comment, it might be the look you seek.
 

Silver Member
Username: Edster922

Abubala, Ababala The Occupation

Post Number: 116
Registered: Mar-05
Eric,

Where have you seen the HK330 for less than $350 shipped, new not refurb and with full warranty?

I've always seen the 330 go closer to $400-500.

As for being "better made"---not sure about that, I'm no electronics expert who's taken both receivers apart and compared the insides. I do know however that on forum like this I've occasionally read of people having mechanical problems (overheating, shutting down, etc.) with their HK receivers but never read that from Pioneer owners.

The HKs do have a gorgeous form factor, which I've always admired about them.

Overall though, given the fact that the Pioneer 1014 has more features and almost twice the rated RMS (and here again, I've never heard of Pioneer exaggerating their numbers like Onkyo or Yamaha), it would seem to offer far better value for the money.
 

Silver Member
Username: Edster922

Abubala, Ababala The Occupation

Post Number: 117
Registered: Mar-05
Jeremy,

You should be able to find the 1014 in silver too, Pioneer usually makes all their receivers in both colors.
 

Bronze Member
Username: Eramsey

South carolina United States

Post Number: 79
Registered: Feb-05
Well I'm no authority on consumer electronics either Edster although I do have a two year degree in Industrial electronics. From what I have seen HK makes some of the best receivers on the market with large power supplies and a very sturdy construction. Over the years I've owned several of them and currently own one. I'm pretty certain that even if the Pioneer has a higher wattage rating it will not really play any louder than the HK as HK is very conservative in their power ratings. The HK is a "high current" design amplifier wheas the pioneer is not. There is no way to really verify this but based upon my experience the HK is more capable of driving difficult speaker loads. It's transformer will be a bit heavier as well which gives it a higher current capability than the pioneer, it also will have a higher amperage fuse rating as well. If I were going to buy the Pioneer I would buy the Elite series. E.Ramsey
 

Bronze Member
Username: Gas_wyoming

Cody, WY

Post Number: 22
Registered: Mar-05
What manufacturers typically inflate their RMS numbers? I saw Yamaha and Onkyo...how about Denon? Very interested in your answer.

Does Maui post on this side of things...receivers? He's just about to run me off the speakers forum. It's turning into a GMA forum.
 

Silver Member
Username: Artk

Albany, Oregon USA

Post Number: 217
Registered: Feb-05
All of them that don't rate their power "all channels driven". That has historically been all of them except NAD, Rotel, and Arcam. I own a Marantz as a processor, and they are just as guilty as the rest. Fortunately, most of them sound pretty good in spite of the inflated numbers.
 

Silver Member
Username: Edster922

Abubala, Ababala The Occupation

Post Number: 130
Registered: Mar-05
Actually what the power ratings chart that I saw listed Marantz, HK and I think Pioneer Elite as being among the few with HONEST numbers. I can't remember if the Denon was in that group too, I think it was. I just definitely remember Onkyo, Yamaha, and of course the likes of Sony, JVC and Kenwood, as the main fibbers.

This was from a link that someone posted on either this forum or the hometheaterforum.com site, I wish I could find it...

Now that I think of it, RealEliteFan may have been the person who first called my attention to this when he successfully talked me into giving the Marantz 5400 a listen over the Onkyo 601 I had just bought at the time.
 

Silver Member
Username: Artk

Albany, Oregon USA

Post Number: 219
Registered: Feb-05
Actually Edster Marantz tells the truth when it says 90 watts per channel, 2 channels driven into 8 ohms. Problem is that folks buying say a Marantz SR5400 think they are getting 90 watts x 6 channels, they are but not with all channels driven simultaneously. Only the brands I mentioned above among the affordable (meaning under the price of Lexicon and Sunfire) gear rate their power all channels driven. So you are right that Marantz ain't lyin' they just ani't tellin' the whole truth.
 

Silver Member
Username: Petergalbraith

Rimouski, Quebec Canada

Post Number: 368
Registered: Feb-04
While I agree that h/k web site isn't super clear saying:

Seven-Channel Surround Modes, Power per Individual Channel :
Front L & R Channels : 55 Watts per channel @ <0.07% THD, 20Hz -- 20kHz into 8 ohms
Center Channel : 55 Watts @ <0.07% THD, 20Hz -- 20kHz into 8 ohms
Surround Channels (L & R Side, L & R Back) : 55 Watts per channel @ <0.07% THD, 20Hz -- 20kHz into 8 ohms

When I purchased my avr-235 over a year ago, it was abundantly clear that it was "all-channels driven" by reading the various litterature. The review h/k linked from their web site goes on for half a page about that very fact.
 

Silver Member
Username: Edster922

Abubala, Ababala The Occupation

Post Number: 135
Registered: Mar-05
Arthur,

where are you getting that info, and what do you think the 5400's real multichannel RMS is? I would've thought it wouldn't be much under 90, probably more like 80...not sure if that makes any noticeable difference though.

 

Bronze Member
Username: Eramsey

South carolina United States

Post Number: 88
Registered: Feb-05
Mr. Galbraith is correct. HK always gives full disclosure specs and does not "fudge" their numbers. E.Ramsey
 

Silver Member
Username: Artk

Albany, Oregon USA

Post Number: 223
Registered: Feb-05
Edster, it ain't about watts it's about current. When they rate these receivers they are driving a resistor not a speaker. Nothing interactive happens. So once again they are telling the truth about meeting the watts per channel but that doesn't tell you anything about how the receiver will drive speakers. Speakers behave altogether differently than resistors.
 

Silver Member
Username: Edster922

Abubala, Ababala The Occupation

Post Number: 144
Registered: Mar-05
Arthur, I don't dispute what you're saying at all in fact I totally agree. Just wondering where you got that info though about the 5400 since I don't remember reading anything like that in the manual.
 

Silver Member
Username: Artk

Albany, Oregon USA

Post Number: 224
Registered: Feb-05
Page 29 of the owner's maunal under the audio section lists power ratings 1 or 2 channels at a time rather than stating all channels driven. Companies have been doing this forever. I called my friend at Northwest Audio Labs, he sells Marantz and NAD and asked him he has put the SR5400 on the bench and he told me that he had. Unlike it's predecessors it actually will give up 90 per channel into 8 ohms (on the bench). But in real world applications he stated that the NAD T753 rated at 70 watts per channel has far greater current and can drive speakers louder and cleaner than can the Marantz. Having listened to them both I can testify to that. You know that like Marantz as I own an SR5400. But it does not have the current to give me what I need for 2 channel applications, hence the NAD C162 and Hafler 9505 (250 watts per channel into 8 ohms and 375 into 4).
 

Silver Member
Username: Edster922

Abubala, Ababala The Occupation

Post Number: 146
Registered: Mar-05
Yowsers... Well I suppose the good news behind that piece of bad news is now I have one more weapon in my arsenal to sway my wife into allowing me to buy a NAD 2-channel amp for the mains! : )

Been seeing a lot of the NAD 2200s go for just over $200 on eBay lately. It's not so much the money but the presence of yet another bulky black box that has her digging in her feet, LOL.
 

Silver Member
Username: Artk

Albany, Oregon USA

Post Number: 229
Registered: Feb-05
I understand Edster. I got around that by buying a pretty audio rack. Just as key to my 2 channel bliss is the NAD pre that I have in the chain. It does require more hassle though. Everytime I watch movies I have to adjust the volume on the pre amp to a pre determined mark so that the fronts are balanced with the rest of the system, then remember to turn it back down before listening in 2 channel again or it's oops there go the speakers. It's worth it though for the improved 2 channel performance. Edster if you just get a Parasound pre (can be had new for $250 or $300 and a used NAD or Hafler 9500 or 9505 power amp(the Hafler sound blends well with Marantz, but beware of the "P" series as they are gutless) you will be amazed at what your Ascends will do for you.
 

Silver Member
Username: Artk

Albany, Oregon USA

Post Number: 230
Registered: Feb-05
Edster, I forgot to mention that whatever pre you chose were to embark on that kind of system would need 2 sets of pre outs. My NAD C162 does, it even has one variable.
 

Silver Member
Username: Kano

Post Number: 454
Registered: Oct-04
Power measurements from a Finnish AV-magazine 'HIFI':
( http://www.hifilehti.fi/ )

CA Azur 540R:
-Continuous power to 5ch - 8/4ohm: 75/84W
-20ms burst power to 5ch - 8/4/2ohm: 82/92/92W
-Continuous power to 2ch - 8/4ohm: 105/130W

Denon AVR2803:
-Continuous power to 5ch - 8/4ohm: 30/15W
-20ms burst power to 5ch - 8/4/2ohm: 87/110/130W
-Continuous power to 2ch - 8/4ohm: 115/89W

Denon AVR3805:
-Continuous power to 5ch - 8/4ohm: 39W/20W
-20ms burst power to 5ch - 8/4/2ohm: 110W/145W/155W
-Continuous power to 2ch - 8/4ohm: 135/120W

H/K AVR4550 (=AVR325):
-Continuous power to 5ch - 8/4ohm: 76/99W
-20ms burst power to 5ch - 8/4/2ohm: 87/110/120W
-Continuous power to 2ch - 8/4ohm: 94/145W

H/K AVR630:
-Continuous power to 5ch - 8/4ohm: 84/115W (fronts and rears)
-Continuous power to 5ch - 8/4ohm: 105/155W (center)
-20ms burst power to 5ch - 8/4/2ohm: 92/140/155W (fronts and rears)
-20ms burst power to 5ch - 8/4/2ohm: 122/185/155W (center)
-Continuous power to 2ch - 8/4ohm: 100/155W
(The center-ch amp is more powerfull)

Marantz SR6300:
-Continuous power to 5ch - 8/4ohm: 73/115W
-20ms burst power to 5ch - 8/4/2ohm: 98/120/35W
-Continuous power to 2ch - 8/4ohm: 110/165W

Marantz SR7400:
-Continuous power to 5ch - 8/4ohm: 93/97W
-20ms burst power to 5ch - 8/4/2ohm: 115/125/67W
-Continuous power to 2ch - 8/4ohm: 125/135W

Onkyo TX-NR801:
-Continuous power to 5ch - 8/4ohm: 33/47W
-20ms burst power to 5ch - 8/4/2ohm: 34/49/58W
-Continuous power to 2ch - 8/4ohm: 38/63W

Pioneer VSX-AX3 (=53TX):
-Continuous power to 5ch - 8/4ohm: 105/145W
-20ms burst power to 5ch - 8/4/2ohm: 115/175/72W
-Continuous power to 2ch - 8/4ohm: 125/200W

Sony STR-DB2000 (=DA2000ES):
-Continuous power to 5ch - 8/4ohm: 90/84W
-20ms burst power to 5ch - 8/4/2ohm: 115/125/98W
-Continuous power to 2ch - 8/4ohm: 160/210W

Yamaha RX-V1400RDS:
-Continuous power to 5ch - 8/4ohm: 100/110W
-20ms burst power to 5ch - 8/4/2ohm: 130/125/54W
-Continuous power to 2ch - 8/4ohm: 145/200W
 

Silver Member
Username: Kano

Post Number: 455
Registered: Oct-04
The original thread :

https://www.ecoustics.com/electronics/forum/home-audio/110401.html
 

Silver Member
Username: Artk

Albany, Oregon USA

Post Number: 231
Registered: Feb-05
Those specs speak for themselves. There ain't no substitute for current, and watts ain't current. Thanks for additional info Kano.
 

Silver Member
Username: Edster922

Abubala, Ababala The Occupation

Post Number: 152
Registered: Mar-05
So according to those numbers the Onkyo stands out as the worst paper tiger, and half of the others don't handle power bursts at 2 ohms to 5 channels very well.

But since very few people have 2 ohm speakers let alone 4 ohm speakers, I'm not real clear on the relevance of this number in terms of real world performance. How would this work with typical 8 ohm speakers that don't demand such high current performance?
 

Silver Member
Username: Edster922

Abubala, Ababala The Occupation

Post Number: 153
Registered: Mar-05
Arthur,

Please clarify, I may have misunderstood your post---are you saying that if I couldn't hook up a 2-channel amp directly to the 5400, but would still need a pre-amp? I thought the whole point of a receiver having pre-outs was so that it could be used as a pre-amplifier?
 

Silver Member
Username: Artk

Albany, Oregon USA

Post Number: 237
Registered: Feb-05
Depends on how good you want it to sound. You can hook up a 2 channel power amp to the Marantz but then you just have amplified Marantz, good enough for home theater but not good enough to make those Ascends sing for 2 channel audio. The pre gives you the added flexibility of having high end 2 channel audio for relatively cheap. As I write my SR5400 sits cold as death in the AV cabinet while my Hafler 9505 power amp and NAD C162 delivers the goods and make those Paradigm Monitor 5's sound like much more expensive speakers than they are. Your Ascends can do the same with the right front end. Later when the wife gets home I'll fire up the SR5400 and set the system up for home theater. It's just great Edster I know you'd enjoy. The pre outs on the receiver go to the video in on my pre amp so that my 2 channel system is the front 2 on my home theater.
 

Silver Member
Username: Edster922

Abubala, Ababala The Occupation

Post Number: 155
Registered: Mar-05
Yikes, having to buy a pre-amp too basically doubles my outlay. More WAF I'm afraid... (rolls eyes)

So do you mean you run the Marantz pre-outs to the pre-amp first, and THEN you run the 2-channel amp to the pre-amp?

Or is the amp and pre-amp just totally unconnected to the Marantz? If so, does that mean that you have to go and manually unplug and replug your mains' speaker cables back and forth between the Marantz and the amp whenever you want to switch to HT multichannel?
 

Silver Member
Username: Artk

Albany, Oregon USA

Post Number: 250
Registered: Feb-05
The SR5400 L/R main pre outs go to the pre amp video in. There are 2 sets of pre outs on the NAD C162 1 set to the power amp the other set to the sub. The only manual adjustment there is for the home theater is to the pre amp. When I calibrated the volume for each channel with the home theater I determined a max volume on the pre which is set to about 2 o'clock hor movies. I then ran test tones and adjusted accordingly. With my system the 2 channel setup is both an independent 2 channel stereo and the front L/R on my home theater. I can have the Marantz turned off completely when I listen to 2 channel music. There are many derivations of this setup. I could use the pre amp and a 5 channel power amp running 2 channels to the pre and the other 3 to the receiver. But by using the 2 channel power amp for the fron L/R I free up power with the Marantz to use on the center and rears. It really works well.
 

Silver Member
Username: Petergalbraith

Rimouski, Quebec Canada

Post Number: 387
Registered: Feb-04
Thanks for that list kano!

Edster wrote:

So according to those numbers the Onkyo stands out as the worst paper tiger, and half of the others don't handle power bursts at 2 ohms to 5 channels very well.

Flagship Denon models fall flat on their face in continous output to all channels.

Edster asked:

How would this work with typical 8 ohm speakers that don't demand such high current performance?

Since 8 ohms is a nominal rating and is known to vary greatly with frequency, it's not uncommon for 8-ohms speakers to dip much lower at certain frequencies.
 

Silver Member
Username: Edster922

Abubala, Ababala The Occupation

Post Number: 163
Registered: Mar-05
Arthur,

OK so that means your pre-amp and amp are always on whether you're doing music or HT, and the Marantz is on only for HT? That makes sense.

Now you said earlier that if I were hooking an amp directly to the Marantz then all I'd be getting is "amplified Marantz"---but with a pre-amp does that mean that the Marantz signal is getting processed TWICE? Or do you have your CD player directly connected to the pre-amp?
 

Silver Member
Username: Edster922

Abubala, Ababala The Occupation

Post Number: 164
Registered: Mar-05
> Since 8 ohms is a nominal rating and is known to vary greatly with frequency, it's not uncommon for 8-ohms speakers to dip much lower at certain frequencies.

Do you think this is a noticeable factor with 8 ohm speakers mainly at near-reference levels, or even at normal listening (say -34db) levels?
 

Silver Member
Username: Artk

Albany, Oregon USA

Post Number: 255
Registered: Feb-05
Edster,

The CD player is hooked directly to the pre amp. Remember that the SR5400 is off completely when I listen to 2 channel music. I use the SR5400 for surround processing, an FM tuner, and amplifier for the rears and center speakers. Yes you are right,

"OK so that means your pre-amp and amp are always on whether you're doing music or HT, and the Marantz is on only for HT?"

Makes for blissful 2 channel and gives you the mutichannel option for movies.
 

Silver Member
Username: Petergalbraith

Rimouski, Quebec Canada

Post Number: 395
Registered: Feb-04
Do you think this is a noticeable factor with 8 ohm speakers mainly at near-reference levels, or even at normal listening (say -34db) levels?

If the speaker dips very low, I'd say you could likely tell the difference at less than reference levels. But I have experience limited to the 4-ohm case. A friend has 4-ohms speakers and they sounded anemic and thin with his Onkyo receiver. I brought over my h/k avr-325 and my old Nikko Alpha 220 power amp and either sounded loud and lush with his speakers. We were surprised when we measured SPL that the Onkyo was cranking out as loud as my amps, but since the dynamics were gone it's didn't feel as loud to us.

But we could tell the difference in sound quality at any level, not just maxed out.
 

Silver Member
Username: Edster922

Abubala, Ababala The Occupation

Post Number: 165
Registered: Mar-05
Arthur,

That all seems to make sense now, thanks.

Personally though I'm thinking that for blissful 2-channel sound, I may try something like one of those all-digital receivers first, just for sheer economy. When I first auditioned the Ascends the guy was running them off a JVC RX-F10 that just sounded phenomenal...especially for a mere $230!

The pain will be switching speakers...I'm thinking since the Ascends each have 4 binding posts maybe what I'll do is just run one pair of them to the JVC and one to the Marantz, keeping the metal jumper on. Just have to be sure that both aren't on at the same time of course!
 

Silver Member
Username: Artk

Albany, Oregon USA

Post Number: 263
Registered: Feb-05
Edster

I would advise that you don't buy a digital amp. I only know of one that has managed the compromises effectively and it is $5000 Yamaha unit. You can get a John Curl designed Parasound pre amp, or perhaps an Adcom or NAD. There are a lot of good inexpensive pre amps and power amps that will way outperform any current inexpensive digital amp.
 

Silver Member
Username: Edster922

Abubala, Ababala The Occupation

Post Number: 182
Registered: Mar-05
Arthur,

I'm curious, have you ever had any direct listening experience with the cheapie all-digitals yourself (JVCs and Panasonics $200-400), or known anyone who did? Though I can't deny that the cheesy-looking build quality worries me; apparently the new models JVC and Panasonic are releasing later this spring/summer are supposed to be beefier with more features and (snort!) actual binding posts.

Guess my interest is piqued from reading all these massive threads of people raving about them at audioholics and hometheaterforum.com

BTW what do you think of integrated amps as opposed to a separate pre-amp and amp? Someone on another thread mentioned the Cambridge Audio 340A and 540A, they're surprisingly reasonable in cost at audioadvisor.com
 

Guest
Unregistered guest
The Panasonic XR70 will sound better than any of these if your speakers are 6-8 ohms and present a easy load.

Digital is a far better amp in this price range.
 

Guest
Unregistered guest
The Panasonic XR70 is solid build, HDMI, Bi-amp able, and the best quality remote I have ever used.
 

Silver Member
Username: Artk

Albany, Oregon USA

Post Number: 265
Registered: Feb-05
Edster,

The inexpensive digitals pack considerable power in small packages but to my ears aren't very musical yet. A good integrated amp is a good step up from an AVR for your 2 channel and can accomplish a great deal of improvement in your 2 channel. I would look into an NAD rather than a Cambridge. What is your source Edster, I don't recall having read what CD or DVD player you use?
 

Silver Member
Username: Edster922

Abubala, Ababala The Occupation

Post Number: 183
Registered: Mar-05
Arthur,

A vintage Sony ES 5-CD changer that I got cheap off eBay.

I know NAD is one of the top makes, but what don't you like about Cambridge? I know very little about the separates market.
 

Silver Member
Username: Artk

Albany, Oregon USA

Post Number: 266
Registered: Feb-05
Edster,

The sound of CD players has improved immensely in even in the last 5 yrs. I don't know how that Sony unit sounds but that may be an area of future improvement for you. I've heard Cambridge vs NAD at Stereotypes in Portland, another great store here in Oregon. Cambridge makes fine gear but for my ear it's a half a notch below the quality of NAD and Rotel at comparable prices. The sound for me just lacks the substantial feel that you get from NAD and Rotel especially the amps. It gets a little closer when we talk about all of their top of the line CD players. For me NAD still wins out in that stiff competition. It's all so subjective though that you have hear and decide for yourelf. Let me tell you though, once you hear the C542 NAD CD player with good gear their ain't no turnin' back. NAD integrated's also have a great reputation. Go forth and listen Edster. Take some good music and the Ascends with you and jam.
 

Silver Member
Username: Edster922

Abubala, Ababala The Occupation

Post Number: 185
Registered: Mar-05
Arthur,

can you give me some ballpark prices for an NAD integrated amp? The Cambridge 340 and 540 go for surprisingly reasonable prices at audioadvisor.com

As for CD players, well I think that would be my 3rd upgrade. (1st being an SVS sub, 2nd a 2-channel amp or all digital receiver)

When I was auditioning the Ascends, the guy had both an entry level Sony 200 CD changer and a $1000 Audio Refinement CD player. Switching between the two, I did hear a difference with the audiophile player but far from a 500% improvement...more like 30% tops. So I guess I'm having a hard time justifying forking out upwards of $500 for this right now.

But you're right, I do need to go out and listen more, it's been a while...
 

Silver Member
Username: Artk

Albany, Oregon USA

Post Number: 271
Registered: Feb-05
Edster,

As you know we audio folk usually know that we will not hear a difference that directly coorrelates with increased expenditure. We pay lots of dollars to double our power output and get a 3db increase in spl. But by audio standards if you heard 30% improvement between one CD player and another that indeed is significant. The NAD C352 retails for 599.00. I am sorry but I don't know of any online source for a better deal. I always deal with a brick and mortar store. The difference between NAD and Cambridge should make it worth your while to go out and listen.

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