BUYING A New AV Receiver? Let me help and so can you!! [Archive] - Audio & Video Forums


View Full Version : BUYING A New AV Receiver? Let me help and so can you!!

12-10-2003, 05:37 PM
I have been reading a lot of posts lately on this board about which receiver is better and which receiver is more reliable and so on. I think buying a receiver today is very difficult because every receiver out there has all the 6.1 processing with their own DSPs and more bells and whistles. The bottom of the line Denons and Yammys offer all 6.1 processing. Even the Pioneer 812K offers DTS 96/24 and most all of these receivers scream at you with at least 100W/channel. So how is one supposed to make a decision on buying a receiver?

Well since most all of the receivers out there offer the latest in terms of processing, it becomes a non-factor when choosing a receiver. We are then left with the power a receiver has to offer and the tonal quality of different brands of receivers. Power is an absolute must for the receiver to meet the heavy demands of DD/DTS processing. I have heard many a receivers with a very weak power supply that fail to add any kind of authority to demanding movie tracks such as LOTR or AOTC. A receiver with a good power supply will more than likely provide adequate amount of power necessary for DD/DTS and do enough justice to the center channel, which reproduces all the dialogs. A receiver that can provide between 50-65W per channel (20-20,000) will be more than enough to add theatre like sound in a small to medium sized room with ease.

Next comes the tonal quality of these receivers. Tonal quality is often described by many of us as bright, warm, neutral, forward, etc. I am surprised to find out how many receivers across the board sound very similar given that one adjusts all parameters equally and not leave the Tone control settings in the hand of the sales person. There was a time when I definitely felt Yammys were brighter and a tad thinner than the Denons but not today. Most manufacturers seem to be heading towards similarity in how their receivers sound. Yet you should remember that sound is very "Subjective" and what may sound "harsh" or "bright" to my ears may sound "forward" and "punchy" to someone else's ears.

The best test for a receiver's sound capabilities is its ability to handle vocals. When people describe a receiver as being musical they are most likely describing the way vocals come across or how some instruments sound in the "mid" frequency. The highs should come across as airy and not too tinny. The lower end should produce bass notes faithfully without sounding too boomy or unnaturally loud masking other frequencies. When you listen to a recording that you like, you should really listen to every aspect of the note played and how it comes across to your ears.

Buying a receiver from a B&M pays rich dividends, as your authorized dealer should easily swap different receivers within the 30-day period so you end up with one that will truly make you happy. Internet stores might save you some money initially but not unless you know you will get the full warranty and that you are buying the right product.

Finally I will make some recommendations based truly upon my own listening tests that I have conducted with receivers in my own house.

HK AVR430: An excellent receiver with excellent amps. Very good overall for music and HT both. Provides excellent Bass Management (BM) for digital and Analog ins.

NAD T-752: A very good receiver and now discontinued which had a lot of problems early on. Provides only 5 channel amps and no BM on Analog ins. It has the preset system, which I love and cannot do without and is one of the most musical and dynamic HT performer. The new T-753 offers 6 channel amps and that will be a good buy too.

Yamaha RX-V2400: A terrific value for a receiver, which can be had for $899 authorized. The YPAO is everything and more. It can work wonders for mix and match speaker systems and unusually shaped listening rooms. Excellent HT performer and I found the mids to be somewhat weaker than the HK and NAD but a solid overall performer.

Denon 3803: This is the most popular receiver and there is a good reason why. It balances music and HT perfectly and once you get past the manual, it is actually easy to use. However it performs better for music than the Yammy and the Yammy performs better on HT than the 3803 but my nod goes to the Yammy for the YPAO feature.

In the lower rung of receivers, you won't go wrong with the Yammy 1400 (YPAO), Denon 2803 or HK 330, etc. If you are willing to live with the slightly thin reproduction of music on the Pioneer 912K then it would make a great HT receiver and offers DTS 96/24.
I wish I could try a Pioneer Elite sometime and review that but maybe in the near future. A final word on this so-called war on customer service, etc. I just have to add that between my German car and the Japanese import, my German car requires servicing more often than the Japanese car but the German car is fun to drive on any given day.
The same goes for receivers, if you bought it from a good authorized dealer, he will take care of you at his level without you even talking to a customer service department. I never had to but at the same time I can ask my dealer to "borrow" equipment for testing and he'd never say no (LOL)!

I thought I'd start this thread for some of you to make additions and add your own experience in this matter and make audio buying an a fairly easy choice for this forum members.

12-11-2003, 06:47 AM
Nick - great post, and very solid recommendations.

I'd like to add as suggestions to also consider the subtle and/or intangible aspects. A couple come to mind:

(1) Remote. If you aren't willing to spring for a fancy programable remote with macros that is easy to use, make sure you like the standard remote control. Try it out in a dark listening room (if the retail location has one). A bad remote (no backlit keys, tiny buttons, not well organized etc.) can take the fun out of an otherwise good piece of equipment (esp. for the wife). And will it power up/run all your components?

(2) Ease of use. How easy is it to switch from TV, to watch a DVD, or play a cd. If it is difficult to use, it takes something away from the experience.

(3) Ease of setup. If programming and calibrating are a real pain, the avg. joe isn't going to take the time to do it (a huge mistake), or may do it incorrectly. For ex. I think it is the Yamaha that have the speaker setting delays in milliseconds (I may be wrong, but I think it is Yammies). Other brands use speaker distance. To my untrained ears and simple mind, distance settings make a whole lot more sense than millisecond delays.

(4) Looks. Yeah, that might sound dumb. But if something is ugly, well, it's difficult to get beyond that sometimes. "The truck might run great, but dangit, its still an ugly truck." For ex., I'm not particularly fond of the looks of most Denon receivers. Would that stop me from buying one? Probably not. But if it is a toss up between two brands, then looks may be the deciding factor.

OK, enough rambling thoughts. Again, very good post.


12-11-2003, 08:55 AM
Hey JD, how are you doing? You have made some great additions to this thread. Each and every point you touched on is pretty valid. Most of all, ease of use and setting up the receiver.

12-15-2003, 07:22 AM
Terrific posts that offer exceptional recommendation to those who are looking to get a new receiver. Great job! I myself have done extensive research on high quality receivers and have narrowed my choice down as well to a few candidates from HK, Onkyo, Denon, and Pioneer Elite. And I agree that many of these receivers will offer similar benefits and ultimately it is up to your own ears to tell which will suit you best. However, one must realize that if you already have a few models that you're almost sold on, you will tend to bias when it comes to audition. At any rate, keep ease of use in mind and room size. Because if you have a very large room, the sound can escape a bit and your receiver may not be powerful enough.

Happy Hunting for everyone!


Norm Strong
12-15-2003, 11:53 AM
Just pick up a copy of the Nov issue of Consumer Reports. Turn to page 33 and read.

12-15-2003, 12:02 PM
"Just pick up a copy of the Nov issue of Consumer Reports. Turn to page 33 and read."

Great suggestion Norm, those CR reports are a great source for HT buying.

12-15-2003, 03:27 PM
Very nice post Nick. It was much simpler in the days of old when mono was bold and mono and stereo receivers in the late 50s and early 60s ran on tubes. It is not an easy chore today to choose a 5,6,or 7 channel receiver. Whatever one chooses, try to get a tryout period with a money back guarantee if you are not satisfied with your purchase whether it be the sonics or even possible defects. Try not to "overbuy" a unit, such as purchasing a Denon 5803 and hooking it up to five $25 el cheapo satellite speakers with features in the menu that you do not think you will ever understand and for that matter will never be used. And think, today you do not have to make a salary of an actor to have a hometheater in your home with such amazing discrete surround technology when an actor in the 60s had a home theater with a 16mm film projector and mono sound half the time that came from a built in speaker in the projector. It is the digital age that has brought us these goodies in conjunction with the various integrated circuits. If there was a Denon 5803 made on the basis of technology of the 60s, it would probably weigh hundreds of pounds and costs tens of thousands of dollars.

12-15-2003, 05:24 PM
Ah! Now THIS is the Nickster that I remember (y'know, the one that frequented the boards before some space aliens abducted him, and some imposter Nick started posting all this bizarre stuff about two-channel separates :p ). Good info to ponder for those of us who aren't as well connected in the industry as you. All in all, a lot of good advice and useful assessment of the various models you've tried out.

06-12-2004, 12:28 PM
Great thread. I am looking to hook into my hard-wired home computer network. Is a receiver with an RJ-45 port the best and easiest way to accomplish this? Looking to spend in the $1000-$1500 range. Could go higher with the perfect solution.