NAD, Marantz, or HK? Need some advice.


Greetings from Mid-Missouri -

I've got the urge to rebuild my home audio system and after taking a look at all that's available I have to admit I'm a bit overwelmed. Good grief there's a lot of stuff out there and the marketing geniuses for each company can sure candy coat their descriptions to make everything sound like their components are musical gold.

I've read a ton of material on this discussion board as well as reading more reviews than I can remember. I'm trying to keep my cost down around $600 and preferably lower than that (the wife just rolled her eyes and sighed deeply when I mentioned upgrading so I'd rather not go too far overboard). I've researched all my options and have narrowed my choices down to the NAD T752, the Marantz SR5300 or SR6300, and the HK AVR525. There are a few other models that intrigue me like the NAD T761, the HK AVR520 and the Marantz SR8000 and SR880 MkII. However, from what I've read there are issues with the NAD T7X1 lineup, is this as big a deal as some make it out to be? The others I would have to purchase used. Buying used stereo equipment off eBay or Audiogon is tempting because of the low cost, but don't know if it's worth the risk. I'm stuck. Simply don't know what route to go.

Here's some background info. My interests for this system are primarily 60% music listening and 40% movie capability. My listening environment is about 23 ft. by 18 ft. with 8 ft. ceilings. The music that I will be listening to will be a mixture of bluegrass, folk, instrumental (acoustic guitar mainly), and country. My speakers are a pair of Bose (Don't groan yet, I'm not finished with the description) Studiocraft monitors from 1979. Great sounding, accurate speakers. And a dbx Soundfield satellite system with powered sub.

I enjoy playing the acoustic guitar, particularly bluegrass, and I've noticed that my musical ear has developed quite a bit over the past few years so I've gotten fairly serious about having good sounding audio equipment. I also would like to have as much capability on the video side of things as I can get in my price range. Ultimately I'd like to get the most for my money but not at the expense of great sound.

Initially I'm looking to replace my old Kenwood KR-V6030 receiver and eventually I will be replacing my CD player and DVD player also. But first things first, what direction do I take for a new A/V receiver?

Thanks for any help you all can provide!

Replies from Florida!!

I'm in a similar situation and wanting to upgrade from a Yamaha STR 5550 receiver which is really not able to drive my front speakers. I have B&W CDM-9NT's with a Monitor Gold center speaker and despite the difference in brands they sound fine together. I am looking for a receiver with pre-outs to eventually add separate power amp for the fronts or fronts and center channels.

Trying to listen to NAD/ Marantz/H-K/Denon/Rotel (my budget is up to $1200 but I don't want to spend it if I don't have too!!!) I listen to about 90% music and 10% TV but more and more moving away from 2-channel to DVD-A 5-channel. Would like a universal DVD with SACD someday!!

Anyway, I have been leaning to the NAD or Rotel receivers for "quality" and hear a lot of good things but I can't find a local dealer for a listening test!! I have played around with the H-K 525 and like it a lot..nice tuner section and good pre-amp features. Also heard the 325 and can get a great deal at Circuit City on open box with full warranty for $450 (plus $75 gift card!!). I am thinking that this may be enough for my needs esp. since I plan to add a front power amp eventually. My bedroom is right next to my family room and the H-K seems to have nice 2nd room feature. Also has their A-bus connector for easy speaker set up in second room and has internal MP3 decoding. More and more I am playing MP3's from my computer on my stereo and they sound damn good!!

Now the complicating decision!! I have been reading about the "upcoming" digital amps which bypass all these silly analog to digital and digital to analog conversion. H-K has one small unit out but Sony has a few and they are getting rave reviews!! Supposedly as good as $20K tube amps.!! Company named Carver (not related to Bob Carver) is making a similar amp using Tripath technologies digital Class D amps which put out enormous power with little heat. I would like to listen to the Sony units before I decide. Some have integrated DVD with SACD (but no DVD-A)


For your situation, I cannot think of a better receiver than a refurbished NAD T 761 from DMC Electronics ( for $499.00. While it is true that there were problems with the 751, the 761 did not seem to be so afflicted. Nevertheless, the stain from complaints about the 751 washed over and obscured the qualities of the 761 in this country. However, the 761 was very warmly received by the English audio press and several mags there named it a product of the year. Furthermore, the 752 is not an upgrade of the 751, but the newer version of the 761. Seems the 752 and the 761 were built in the same factory and use many of the same parts (and both are rated at 80 wpc). Anyways, that is what an NAD factory rep told me a couple of months back.

I like all of the receivers you have listed and I have auditioned each of them extensively. The Marantz and the H/K are very fine products and represent good value, better than almost all of the competition, but the NADs are special--they sound like quality separates, not a receiver. The sound to me is cleaner and more focused. An NAD would be a big step up from your Kenwood.

Factory refurb's, like the 761 from DMC, have a far lower incidence of return and the 761 comes with a 1 year warranty from NAD, something you won't get from something off eBay. I have dealt a little with the DMC people and have had a good experience, so check it out.

Anonymous from Florida:

Those are really nice speakers! I would look to getting some really good amplification to go with them, so I would not get a H/K 325--not enough power and not clean enough for your speakers.

A Rotel would be a great choice for a receiver, but it may be a bit above your budget (I think they start at $1399 MSRP and I have never found one discounted). The Rotels are incredibly clean sounding and very detailed. However, you may wish to look for separates. I would love to suggest that you use your receiver as a pre/pro and simply add a good amp, but I believe your Yamaha does not have pre amp outs. If it does, I would recommend you check out an Adcom GFA-7605 for $795 from Elegant Audio Video ( If not, and you can stretch your budget a bit, get the Outlaw Audio package (950 pre/pro with a 7100 amp) for $1495. You won't be sorry.

Finally, if you can't stretch and you don't have pre-outs on your current Yamaha, I would highly recommend three receivers for those speakers: NAD 752/762 and Marantz 7300. You can get the NAD 752 (80 wpc x 5) from Saturday Audio for $699, and you can get a refurb'ed Marantz 7300 from for $679.99--either of which would make your B+Ws sound like heaven as they are both very special sounding receivers. If you are willing to spend a bit more, an NAD 762 would be the best bet within your budget as it is really separates built into the same box (Product of the Year as recently named by The Perfect Vision), and I think you can get it for around $999. Check with Ed at or Saturday Audio ( You have to call these people as NAD's contract prohibits point and click ordering at a discount (as do most high end manufacturers).

Now about digital amplification. I have not heard the new Sony's, but Sony does not have a good reputation in the audio field, so I approach their claims with a dose of salt. I, too, have heard the claims about digital amps, but I also remember the introduction of IC outputs about 20 years ago which promised the same thing. Where before the recievers were offering 20, 40, and 50 wpc, now the new IC based receivers were offering 100 wpc! Huge increase in claimed power and supposedly cleaner than transistors, too. However, within a year, IC were exposed for what they were--a cheaper manufacturing alternative that sounded like crap. You can still find IC outputs in the really low end receivers, today, but no one takes them seriously.

Now, as for Class "D" amps (all-digital), Velodyne makes a wonderful subwoofer using a class "D" amp and the sound is quite good (it should for a sub that costs $1800!). But the quality of that amp is far greater than anything Sony has ever dreamed of building. From what I have seen (but not yet heard), the Sony receivers have more in common with the IC outputs of 20 years ago as it represents a cheaper manufacturing process to build, not that it actually improves the sound. In other words, Class "D" can be great, but you still have to use quality parts--something Sony has never done with their component audio products.
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