Upgrading Receiver - Help!


I'm looking at upgrading my existing receiver which is an Onkyo TX-DS555. I've been very happy with this receiver but it's time to move to the next level. I'm looking at the Onkyo TX-SR601, the Yamaha RX-V1300, and the Denon 1803. I was told by a local dealer that the Onkyo was far superior to the Yamaha and Denon in terms of quality. I'm leaning towards the Onkyo because of my past experience but could anyone offer their opinion or suggest any other receivers and why? Any help would be appreciated.

Your choices are interesting because they are all over the map, price-wise. The MSRP for both the Onkyo and the Denon are about $500, but the price of the Yamaha is considerably higher. Despite this, I would not get the Yamaha because I find the sound far too bright and edgy (like fingernails on a chalkboard!). I personally would prefer the Denon of your choices because I find they have more accurate sound.

If you are willing to look a little farther, I would highly recommend a Harman/Kardon 525, which is a great receiver, and can be had for less than $600 from One Call (www.onecall.com), which is an authorized internet dealer. It has a warmer sound, but more importantly, it has a wonderful power supply which gives the 525 enough power to make the music sing. Most receivers, unfortunately, lie about their power ratings (why are they all rated at 100 wpc?) because they can only hit their power ratings when driving only two channels. The Yamaha and the Onkyo probably put out no more than 50% of their rated power when you drive 5 or 6 channels. The H/K, however, will meet or exceed it specified power and it sounds much more lifelike even when playing at lower levels. Furthermore, it has a much more capable and flexible pre-amp section, to boot.

Check it out. I think you will be impressed. Better yet, compare it directly to one of the receivers you are considering. I recently did a head to head with the H/K, a Denon 1803 and an Onkyo 700. To my ears, the H/K was easily the best.


Do you know if H/K or Denon have a 6.1 Home Theater in a Box? I don't see anything for H/K and only 5.1 for Denon. I am interested in the Yamaha YHT-740, but I have seen mixed reviews. I only have so much to spend, so I don't expect the best.

I am with Hawk. NAD everytime. If you like sound quality.
NAD Web site. NAD's quoted power ratings are honest. I have a "5 x 60W" NAD T760 and it blows away my former 2 x 100W Sony power amp even just in stereo, and just for volume. And NAD's clarity is something else.

No, neither NAD or Denon has a 6.1 HTIB setup, but I can get you something much better for what I think your budget is. I am guessing from your comments that you feel confortable around $750. Let me know if this is the right ball park. If not, I can adjust this and still get you great sound, so let me know what you want to spend.

Looking to help . . .

What package would you recommend for around $800? 5.1 or 6.1 set-up would be ok, but no floorstanding speakers. Usage would be about 50/50 music/movie.


For $800 you aren't going to get a very good receiver plus a 5.1 speaker system. Unless the room is tiny and you aren't going to play any music loud and you aren't that critical about how anything sounds.

A half decent receiver costs around $500. And speakers are the most important purchase sonically. Your speakers and your room acoustics and your room size have more to do with the sound than anything else by far.

But if you aren't that critical a listener I guess a half decent system (without tv and without DVD/Cd player) could be had at around a grand.IMHO, I would cut back on the receiver before I cut back on the speakers, as long as you get 5 speakers with high sensitivity (at least 88db or even better above 90db) and a self-powered subwoofer.

Of course, I was brought up listening and playing music (I played cello and guitar since I was 8, so my expectations and wants for musical appreciation and theatre appreciation may be considerably higher than yours. But then again, may be not. :-)

Try these two systems;

1) Sherwood 5.1 receiver - $90 +
JBL or AR 5.1 speakers with Sub - $300
Total < $400

2) Pioneer 5.1 receiver - $150 +
Energy 5.1, 5.2 or 5.1+ or Athena Point 5 - < $650
Total < $800

I have a $100 Sherwood receiver and it's OK. I purchased two complete Energy 5.1 systems (One on the Sherwood for my computer and one on a Denon 1801 for my bedroom) for under $200 each and a complete Athena Point 5 for $250 on a Denon 1803 all from Brandsmart's return table. My point - Don't be afraid to buy used.

These things don't have to be expensive.

Hope this helps.


I have several very good suggestions for your budget. I recommend a 5.1 system, not only to save money on a sixth speaker (which can then be used to purchase five better quality speakers), but also because you really don't need six speakers--it is just a marketing scam by the manufacturers. I have the following choices, depending upon the type of sound that you like.

My first recommendation is to get your speakers. Right now, One Call (www.onecall.com) has a home theater speaker system that I really like, especially for the money. It consists of five NHT matched SuperZero speakers together with a Phase Technology sub (very sweet for the price)for $589.00. Then go to the website for eCost (www.eCost.com) and you can get a refurbished Harman/Kardon 125 receiver for $209.00. That makes the whole system $800 and it will sound really good. Or, eCost also has a couple of refurbished Denon 1603 receivers left for $179 each. Either way, it will be much better than any comparably priced HTIB system you might find.

You may want something bigger for speakers than the NHT mini-monitors, so another way to go is with another whole system from One Call. They offer an Onkyo 501 receiver together with the Wharfdale Sapphire HT speaker system. This consists of a couple of tower speakers for the fronts, bookshelfs for the rears and a dedicated center channel. It also comes with the same Phase tech sub. This system is only $737 from One Call. Or, if you want the larger speakers, you may want to just get the Wharfdale system from One Call and go back to eCost for the H/K or Denon receiver. The Wharfdale and NHT system are priced within $10 of each other.

Finally, One Call offers an Onkyo 601 with the Athena Point 5 speaker system mentioned by Derek above for $888. That is a bit more than your budget, but is a very nice system and well matched (the Athenas are a bit on the bright side, but the Onkyo will tame that brightness to give a nice rounded sound). The Athena system has received quite a few very favorable reviews, but they can be picky about the receiver that drives them. The Onkyo or the H/K would be right. MSRP on this system is around $1300, so the savings are substantial.

I would not buy the either a $90 Sherwood or $150 Pioneer receiver. You are better off with the HTIB electronics. The Sherwood has an all IC output stage (rather than transistors which is the only way they can get the price down to less than $100) which lacks real punch for your DVDs. Pioneers, especially at the $150 price level, have notoriously poor power supplies. Spend an additional $50 on the receivers I list and you will get much better sound.

Finally, I wanted to suggest a package from Accessories 4 Less (accessories4less.com) which is the authorized manufacturers outlet for Marantz products. There you can find a factory refurbished Marantz 5300 for $399. This receiver has won a lot of praise in the UK as the best sounding receiver in its price class (MSRP is $559). I know they also have some nice Mordant Short and Canton HT speakers systems for a good price, but I can't get their site to load right now to make a recommendation. Maybe you can have better luck getting into their website and check them out yourself.

Don't be afraid of a refurb receiver--believe it or not, most are either open box returns from a customer or the box got damaged in shipping and they had to rebox it. I have had some very good experiences with refurbs and the savings are substantial.

I hope these suggestions are helpful. Good luck.

Dave Ryan
I am looking at the Athena point 5 mk II with a Harman 325. What do you think. the room is relatively small. I want high quality sound mostly for music, but also movies. Is this going to be a good system or would I get better sound with say the energy take 5.2, or the definative procinema 60, or perhaps some other company's products. My goal is to keep the system around $1000. I also have a good NHT Subone I use with my other HT system, but I am thinking about using it with the new system to save money because my other HT system has power towers.

You guys all seem helpfull in recomending home theatre packages. Here is my situation, any help would be great.

Price range: $650-850
Use: 60/40 music/movies
room size: medium/large (about 18ft by 10ft)
yes, its an odly shaped rectangle room.

I was thinking about getting the yamaha yht 740, I can not find any reviews on it but know the yht 940 or 900 gets good reviews and its a similair set up.
I like the fact that it comes whith a 5 disc dvd/cd/mp3, its DTS, 6.1 and sounds like a pretty good deal. Plus it leave me with a little money for better speaker wire/cables. It may not get really loud but I am in a marble room connected to my parents room so maybe thats a good thing.
Although clarity and loudness are still a big concern. I know HTIB is not alawys the best choice but this seems like a good component system with a good speaker package and powerd sub. I don't have the $$ or knowledge to mix and match speakers and componenets and still get features like 5 disc dvd/mp3 and DTS.

so should I go for it and get the yht 740, or spend the extra $250 for the 940 or start thinking about a whole new set up.

and what ever I get I will hook up computer audio to it, a tv and record player.

thanks everybody



Athenas with a H/K receiver is, to my ears, a very good combo. the Athenas are bright, but the H/K is very laid back. Thus you have a very good balance to the system. Should be able to fit your budget, to boot.


Try going to One Call (www.onecall.com). Look for the Product Specials and you will find a HT system they have put together using good components. They have one right now with the Onkyo 601 with the Athena point 5 HT system (five satellites and a sub). Definitely better than a HTIB and the cost is $888, which is really close to your budget. You can also call them because they often have specials that are unadvertised. I know last month they had one system that was less than $800, so if you call, and tell them your budget, they may offer it up to you.

Good luck


I have another one for you: Go to accessories4less.com and they have a few AR HC6 HT speaker systems left for $399.99, then look at their receivers page for a Marantz 5200 for $329.99. That is a real nice system, better than HTIB, for ~$730.

Tom Hazle
Hey Michael, I just bought the yht-740. Heck I heard the 340 in the store and it sounded kick-a$$ to me, and I'm a musician and all that sh!t, and I'm not rich. My room is similar in size to yours, i'll let you know how it sounds once i hook it up. I wanted a 5-disc changer and 100 watts per channel-the yht-740 is close. I bet it's gonna rock my house, which compared to what i have now(which is stereo speakers turned up loud for poor man's surround) i just bet about $650 on e-bay that it's gonna sound good.
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