Best multi-zone receiver??


Mr. Bubble
Since my wife loves music and I love movies, we are considering a multi-zone receiver so we can both enjoy ourselves at the same time. Can anyone make a recommendation for me. Denon is the front runner for now but any suggestions are welcome.

Integra make a nice multizone receiver

Denon 1803 and above are multi-zone. So are many HKs. I own an 1803 and a freind of mine own an HK. I don't use my dual-zone but he does and is satisfied.

Hey Derek,

You mentioned your buddy has an HK. Im curious, have you ever had the opportunity to directly compare the two receivers in the same environment (same room, same speakers, etc?) If you have I would be interested in hearing your comments.

I ask because I own an 1803 and my friend also has an HK(225)and we DID do a direct comparison (my house with energy speakers). Both of us agreed that when it came to movie soundtracks the 1803 sounded way clearer, with a much wider soundstage and more overall presence. The HK did however sound more powerful, especially in the low end. Sometimes it was even too "boomy" sounding. We turned the sub level down and it helped a bit, but still it just didnt match the clarity of the Denon. When it came to music however, we found that the HK deserved first place. It just sounded much smoother and controlled with the HK.

Oh well, it just goes to show that when it comes to choosing the "best" or "perfect" receiver, everyone has different needs or factors that affect your choices. In other words, the best judge in the decision making process is YOU.

By the way.... My friend decided with a average usage ratio of 90% movies and 10% music that the Denon would be a better choice for him. The result? He sold his HK a week later and bought a Denon the next day! ;)


No we never have but we both are in the 90/10 ratio. We both have big screens but we differ after that: He has an Onkyo DVD changer and I use a computer. He has cable and I have DirecTV. He has AR Towers speaker and I have Athena. Unexpectantly his system sounds like a home theature setup (in your face, slightly grungy, hard focus but very inteligable dialogue) and my system sounds like a Stereo (smooth, extended high-end, broad focus but VERY laid back).

I think it's my taste in speakers. I have gone through Celestian, Infinity and Engergy with my two Denons - an 1801 and 1803.

I hadn't paid HK any attention mostly because they seemed a little expensive for thier feature set. Other than the multi-zone stuff HK does a lot of and the fact that Denon remotes suck (I use a universal), they seemed to sound the same to me when I tried them in stores.

Don't forget about Yamaha. One of the best recievers I've owned has been the rx-v2300. It is so quite and clear and does have multi room capabilities at a very low price. Plenty of head room and as quite as can be with dead air. I think it is a great reciever with goodies and power to spare.

Daniel Benatar
Go with the NAD T762! Best AVR in the market!


Im sure we all appreciate your opinion on the NAD receivers, but please, dont just blindly say "get this, its the best" tell us WHY its the best so we have something substantial to discuss and use in our decision making process.

Example: "My experience tells me that NAD receivers are indeed pleasent sounding with crisp highs especially when listening to multichannel audio, but I found the cost of them to be a little to high considering you could get a receiver with similar features that in my opinion sounds just as crisp for about half the cost (ie: Denon AVR-1803)"

By the way....thats my personal opinion of NAD stuff.


If you want to get the best of both world (music/HT), go with HK. I own the 525 with NHT speakers and I'm very satisfied. When buying a receiver for dual purpose, think of this: "A good music receiver would sound better for movies than a good movie receiver would sound for music"

Hope this helps!

Is the Yamaha RX-V540 any good for music? I do not have a good ear (they function ok but I do not have a clue - really - I might tell the dif between a kitchen radio and B&W 801s if I'm lucky)
I just bought B&W CM2 (and sub and center) for wife who likes music. Must do surround too, but music most important. Heard very bad reviews on NADT742 quality otherwise I would have one. $400-$500 is my limit. Thank you

It all depends on your budget for the receiver and what speakers you have. Price no object there are a few excellent ones--B & K, top of the lines from Pioneer Elite, Denon, Marantz, Rotel,H & K, etc.

Of course, if you want to spend under $1K or under $500 or under $300 everything changes.

Also, if you have $300-$500 speakers it certainly makes no sense to buy a receiver more than $300.

The type and quality of Speakers and their placement and your room acoustics are much more important than anything else.


Don't know who told you the 742 has gotten bad reviews but it hasn't. What is true is that the earlier generation of NAD receivers were plagued with many problems and the word got out to avoid NAD. Well, as always happens, somebody lit a fire under NAD and it got its act together for the next generation, bringing out the 7x2 line (742, 752, and 762) which is the best line of receivers on the market. I have a Denon 3803 (MSRP $1199) and it does not sound as good as a 742 (with a list price of about half that of the Denon). One reason is that NAD has the same pre-pro section in all three of their receivers, so the 742 is not cheapened by using inferior parts when compared to the 762 (everyone else make a lower quality preamp section in their lower end models). And Mike, if you think NAD is too expensive for the features, this is why. Although the 1803 may have all of the same "features", it does not have the quality of sound of the 742 because it does not have the same quality parts put into it that the 742 has.

Since Edward admits that this all pretty much sounds the same to him (but he wants to please his wife--a worthy endeavor), let me illustrate the difference. I heard a 742 in a demonstration--double blind testing where I didn't know the receivers being compared. Everything was played using the same source material (DVD or CD) and through the same high quality speakers. The other receivers turned out to be a Harman/Kardon 325 (MSRP $799-rated at 50 wpc x 7), an Onkyo 700 (MSRP $799- rated at 100 wpc x 6), and a Denon 2803 (MSRP $799-rated at 90 wpc x 6). The NAD was by far the best of the bunch. Things like voices in the background of a DVD could be heard clearly through the NAD, but when played through the other receivers, the backgound voices were either muffled or non-existant! In music playback on CDs, you could clearly locate where the instruments were on the stage (piano to the right, guitar on the left, etc.), and the pianist I was with could tell the difference between a Baldwin and a Steinway through the NAD, but not when he heard the recordings played back through the other receivers first. Now, I can't tell the difference between brands of piano, but I do know I was aware of more detail with the NAD than with the others. I found it far more enjoyable and it had a presence that sounded like the performers were in the room, not being replayed through a box.

Frankly, if you have B+W CM2s (incredible speakers--I'm jealous), the Yamaha simply will not do. It has a puny power supply and cannot provide sufficient power to make those speaker "sing" the way they can (the earlier model Yamaha 730, rated at 75 wpc x 6, was only able to muster 37 wpc when all six channels were driven at the same time according to Sound & Vision magazine), which is what you would be doing when playing DVDs or SuperAudio CDs. The CM2s are beautiful sounding speakers and should be powered by electronics that are worthy of their quality. That would not be any of the Yamaha x40 series of receivers. Yamahas are too bright sounding and are not good for music reproduction.

Besides NAD, the only other receiver I would recommend for the CM2s (plus sub and center) would be a Marantz, particularly the newer x300 line of receivers, such as a 6300 or 7300. Both NAD and Marantz are considered the creme de la creme for music, so I would stick to those two brands for your situation. I have not heard the Marantz directly against the NAD, but I compared it to Sony ES and Yamaha at another dealer and the Marantz was also head and shoulders above those two lines. Everyone else wants to emphasize Home Theater and they do not do as well for music. I happen to agree with Anonymous that if you get a system right for music, it will be right for Home theater. So look at either an NAD or a Marantz to give your wife the good music reproduction with those speakers.

Deke Ramstiff
Hawk - you seem to really know your stuff without sounding like an audio elitist! :-)

I was just curious on your opinion on my getting a Rotel RSX-1055 AV receiver with my CM2s. I use the system for both music and movies/TV so the Rotel seemed the best bet and I just love it - am I wrong in loving it?

Some day want to get a dedicated 2 channel music system - perhaps using the CM2s for that, or maybe Vandersteens( - something "musical"). With the Rotel and CM2s I also have a CMC center channel, ASW-675 sub, B&W 601s for surrounds and a Rotel RCD-1077 cd player. I went completely nuts on all this stuff and purchased it all within a 3 month period while killing myself on a side consulting job (with all funds going to audio equipment). I think I did pretty well and I am most happy with the CM2s and the ASW-675, but the Rotel has been fantastic as well. I tried to talk myself out of the Rotel CD player, but it was amazing and though I liked my old Maramtz CD63-SE, it was a whole new experience with the Rotel. I know there are other nice CD players and AV receivers, but I trusted my dealer and think I have a pretty good ear, though I'd hate for you to tell me I missed some amazing piece of gear, but I'd still like your opinion. As I said, you seem quite knowledgeable, sensible and practical!


Thanks for the compliment.

IMO, there is a lot to love about the Rotel 1055 and its incredibly smooth sound--everything but the price. Since you have already crossed that Rubicon, the only thing to say is that it is one beautiful piece of gear, but of course you know that already. I think you have hit on what I have preached--get a system that works well with both music and HT. It is surprising how few are capable of both. The Rotel with the CMs are a very seductive combo. Alas, I can only dream of such a nice system for myself.

I am also wrestling with the idea of a dedicated two channel set-up for my study. I have one now, of sorts, cobbled together with old components from earlier systems that I bought or inherited including an old receiver that I really want to upgrade. I have looked into a Cambridge Audio 500 integrated amp and I want to audition a Rotel integrated amp (which is what Rotel really made their name with). Also on my list are Rega and Myryad. I would really love a Musical Fidelity 3.2, but with daughters about to go to college, it ain't gonna happen. I have not heard the Rotel CD player, but I can guess that it is top drawer, all the way. Now, if Rotel would just do something about lowering the price!


You have talked about the double blind test a lot of times. I was always curious how you rated the other receivers (apart from the NAD). Any particular order?

Well, I suppose I talk about the double blind test so much because it made a real impression on me. It certainly did not come out the way I expected. It also gave me my first confirmation that there were differences in sound between receivers.

Yes, there is an order, but this generally speaking as a particular brands unit may be better than another at a particular price point. After NAD, in order I like Rotel (2d only because of price), Marantz, H/K, Pioneer Elite, Onkyo/Integra (different brands--same units), and Denon. I am hard pressed to think of another brand that I like enough to listen to it. Yamaha and JVC are so bright sounding that I do not enjoy listening to them. Pioneer, Sony, Kenwood, and Panasonic are simply engineered to make price points--no real quality there at all. Anyways, those are my preferences based upon a lot of listening and testing.

What do you like?

Well I bought the HK AVR325Z from Onecall. I listened to the NADT752 but prefered the AVR325 for its price/features/sound combination. The dealer who had NAD had the Rotels and I was truly blown by its crispness even in FM. My Buddy has a Denon and I have listened to Onkyo's. Among the other brands, I have heard only the Yamaha, Sony and Kenwood. Sony I have no opinion - they are OK for their price, Yamaha sounds ok in Circuit City but Kenwoods are rank horrible.
Overall I am very happy with HK - I only wish they didnt have a remote which tapered

I think the H/Ks are a really good unit and you can't beat the prices from One Call on the refurbs. You will never see me quibble with anyone who has listened to the different receivers and said, hey, I like that one best. We don't all hear the same things, so it is important that each of us determine what we like individually. I congratulate you on getting what you like! As for the remote, you could always get an aftermarket programmable remote (Christmas is coming!).

Yea, I love the Rotels, too, but I have a hard time when their entry price point is $1399. My local Rotel dealer does not discount either. I just don't have the resources to get one. Also, if I was going to spend that much, I would lean more toward the Outlaw separates, which also sound pretty incredible. Nonetheless, they do sound very good!

Let me ask you a question that's off the beaten path of this thread.
The guy I bought my house from had banana plugs in the bedroom, patio, and office wired to a cabinet in the office, so I need a receiver I can put in that cabinet that won't run too hot and that can be run with infra-red through the cabinet door.
Does the receiver need to have built in infra-red capabilities, or can I purchase a "smart remote" that will run a standard receiver through the closed door?
If not/so, can you recommend a receiver/smart remote? I will be running either four or six middle of the road Bose speakers, no video,and I'm not looking for the ultimate in sound. Say roughly $200 budget.


Wow. I don't think I can answer this as I have no idea what your cabinet door is made of. For instance, I have seen some Salamander brand stereo cainets that had a wire mesh front meant specifically to allow the infrared signal to be transmitted through the door. On my cabinet, which my wife insisted on for its style, it is solid wood and no infrared signal is going to penetrate that door, so realistically, you need to determine if the door will permit an infrared signal to pass. (As an aside, even though I warned her, she now complains that the door has to be open when we watch a DVD as I need to control the receiver and DVD player! Go figure.). However, a new pregrammable remote can be used to control the receiver if the door permits.

If I could recommend a remote for you, I would suggest the Phillips Prontos. Superb programmable remotes, with LCD touchscreens, they do a great job and are very flexible. Check out the following link about a nice Pronto remote:

Call Kiefs for a good price on this unit. (

Another one that looks pretty good for not a lot of money is the one from Cambridge Audio. Check it out here:

Hope this helps.
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