Choosing a BUDGET reciever or amp?


My girlfriend informed me she wants a surround sound system for Christmas, my budget is small only about 1000.00. I know nothing about this stuff but after doing some research, I found speakers that seemed to have good reviews for the money. Energy Take 5.2 system for 595.00 which includes the sub woofer. I'm going to use this system almost exclusively for TV and DVDs as I have a regular stereo system. To save money can I just get a decent amplifier or do I need a receiver? Any suggestions anyone can give me regarding what my best options to put together a package with my small budget would be appreciated. Reading your posts it sounds like most of you are into high end stuff I can only dream about!!!! Thanks in advance for any help you can give. I've also seen alot of refurbished equipment going cheaply, especially Onkyo, any opinions on this?

NAD T742 $449 at

Onkyo 601 or Denon 1804 also for around $500.
The Onkyo 501 and Denon 1604 for around $300.

While my budget for stereo equipment is not wet-dream status, I have been able to amass a respectively system. I got my first separate component audio system when I was in middle school and have built it up from there. If you all ready have a 2-channel stereo, maybe you could do the same. I don't know what your stereo consists of, but if it is separate components, you could possibly use the existing left and right speakers and just buy the center and rear speakers. If your current speakers are big enough, you may not need a subwoofer right away, to save money. I don't know what you mean by wondering whether you should buy a receiver or amplifier. A receiver is an amplifier with the volume, switches, and processing equipment built in. You will need one of those. It sounds as though you have a DVD player, and any one will work. Just make sure you have the proper digital output. Some DVDs have only either optical or coax output, but not both, and the same for receivers. So just keep compatibility in mind when you purchase. Most receivers do offer both.

As far as buying refurbished units, just use a grain of salt. Some people bring stuff back to the store because they thought something was wrong with it when it was okay, or they just said something was wrong because they didn't want it, and it gets sold as refurbished anyway. If something was wrong with the unit, it may not get detected, and sold unfixed. Or they may have fixed the symptom, like a burned out resistor on a circuit board, but not the problem tht caused the resistor to burn out. Then it may take a while for the problem to reoccur, but it is inevitable. I do buy alot of refurbished equipment, so I've seen many scenarios. My sister received a gift certificate to a local audio store and wanted to buy a surround sound receiver with it, and summoned me to get the best deal for her. I found that they had an open box returned Yamaha, and she got it. A few days after getting it home it started to hum really loud, and was totally sporratic, it didn't even happen in my presence for a few times of going over there. But I advised she take it back and see what they could do. Luckily, they exchanged it for a new one. So my point is, make sure if you do buy a refurbished unit, that it is from a reputable dealer who has a good return policy. I would not buy refurbed from a catalog or on line, unless you like giving your money to UPS.


I have never heard the Energy speakers, but I have heard from others on this forum that they are wonderful for the price. If you can afford it, I second Alan's suggestion of a NAD T742. I have a higher model NAD and it is simply awesome. The detail and sound quality that it produces is wonderful. However, if you cannot stretch your budget to anything over $1000 at all, I would suggest one of the lower end HK models (AVR-125 or 130--the 130 retails for $399...but you could probably find the 125 on closeout cheaper than that). I would take them over Denon or Onkyo. Don't be put off by the power ratings of the NAD or the HK's. They are very conservative in their ratings and will provide much more "real power" than anything else in the price range.
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