Harman Kardon AVR325, Marantz SR6200, Onkyo TX-600


I am looking to put together my first HT system, but my amp/receiver just blew so I need to start there. I am more interested in music, though good HT sound is important. Also, I need a phono input if possible.

Any thoughts on the models listed?

Onkyo TX-600 - Closeout for $299 is a good deal
Marantz SR6200 - Closeout for $399. What additional features does it provide over the Onkyo?
HK AVR325 - B Stock for $440. Everyone likes this unit, but not sure I need all the features (and no phono input).



Each of these receivers are well built units and have good application, but not all are a good units for good music listening. It would help to know what speakers you have since not all amps and speakers make a good combination. For instance, never put Klipsch speakers with a Yamaha receiver--both are very bright and the combo is unlistenable to me. BTW, none of your receiver candidates has a phono section, so you should be considering an outboard phono pre-amp anyways.

I will comment on each of your candidates in general terms since I don't know your speakers:

1. Onkyo 600: Nice, solid HT receiver, but a poor choice for music. Onkyo has spent its money on the HT part of the receiver and it has a dubious power supply for all but the most efficient speakers.

2. Marantz 6200: I have recommended this receiver--it is very musical with a warm mellow sound, but with more detail than a Pioneer Elite, for instance. Weakness here is the power supply. Shouldn't be much of a problem with only two speakers driven, but can be strained by HT applications.

3. H/K 325: Warm. laid back sound is very pleasant, but not for everyone. Don't put this with Paradigm, PSB or any other Canadian speaker as the combo is so laid back, it can be boring. Quality unit with a good power supply, but the pre/pro section is not as detailed as some of the competition.

Of the three units, I would favor the Marantz.

However, given your price range, and your interest in music more than HT, I suggest you check out an NAD 742. It has a killer pre/pro section (same as teh top of the line 762) and a power supply that is better than rival brands receivers until you exceed the $1K price range. Warm, but very detailed, NAD is considered to have the most musical receivers in the business. They compromise by cutting all of the gimmicks (such as hearing your music played in "Concert Hall", "Jazz Club", or "Stadium" which I never use and no one I know ever uses either). The 742 has a MSRP of $649, but can be found at Saturday Audio (www.saturdayaudio.com) for $449. I guarantee it will sound better head to head than any other brand receiver under $1K. Check it out.

Good luck.
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