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Thread: A/V Receivers

  1. #1
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    A/V Receivers

    How would you rank the following popular receivers: Sony, Yamaha, Pioneer, Onkyo, Denon? When it comes to high-end brands, like Sony ES, Pioneer Elite, Integra, etc. How would you rank them in terms of sound and built quality? Is there any specific one that stands above them, excluding the ultra high-ends like Arcam? Thanks for all your comments.

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    I'm not sure if it's still current but I heard a Yamaha 2065 put an Elite and top line Onkyo to shame. This was at the end of 2010. It's been a few years since hearing ES but I thought they were pretty good, better than regular Sony. Integra is typically very well built with a higher current output which not only helps with sound but to drive more difficult speaker loads. Denon builds a quality unit but a bit over priced for what it is, in my opinion.
    Mark Levinson #512
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    Feel the Tempo eisforelectronic's Avatar
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    Personally i like Denon best from that list. I don't love the sound of Onkyo, but it's not terrible and you get a lot of features for your money. I've really only heard a few Yamaha receivers, I will say I was pretty disappointed with the Yamaha demo at CES a while back. I've never been a fan of Pioneer receivers, for some reason I've hated everyone I've heard, even the Elite ones.

    I've heard some decent Sony ES. As stated above I'm not a fan of any Pioneer receiver. I know I might get some flak for this but at last year's CES I was discussing Integra with a dealer/HT installer friend of mine and he mentioned that internally there's no difference between the standard Onkyo models and their Integra counterparts.

    At the point of jumping to higher end receivers I think I would recommend looking at separate components. A top end receiver will run $2k and up, you can find some nice separates for that price and just a little more.
    Audio Physic Avanti IV w/upgraded mids and crossover
    Emotiva UMC-1
    Emotiva XPA-3
    Peachtree Audio iNova
    Rega Brio-R
    Rega RP-1
    Sony PS3
    BAT VK-D5se
    Totem Acoustic Dreamcatchers

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    I am always baffled by how do you measure the quality of sound coming from each brand, especially between the regular and the high-end model of each brand, say between a regular Sony and a Sony Elite or a regular Onkyo and the Integra? Is there a way to differentiate the different sound for each brand or is it the quality of the speakers that makes all the difference? I always heard, one should spend at least 75% oif your budget for speakers and the balance on receivers for any stereo set-up if you want quality sound. Is that true? You may have an Arcam but if you have lousy speakers, you will end up with lousy sound. Thanks for all your comments.

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    The way you tell any difference is by listening. If you can't hear any difference between let's say a Pioneer and their Elite, or Onkyo and their Integra, then buy the cheaper with the features you need and call it a day. Or if you don't really tell any preference over one brand or the other, like Yamaha vs Denon. At that point it comes down to features or looks. Better speakers will help hear any differences.

    I do not agree with spending 75% on speakers, or any such formula actually. I am from the source first school of audio, if your CD player or turntable don't extract the information from the source then nothing you do downstream in the system will allow you to hear the information you already lost, or didn't retreive. This may not be as important for a home theater receiver as it has the DAC built in that you will use most. Unless adding a dedicated player down the road. A system should actually be pretty well matched in ability from beginning to end. In other words an Arcam may be wasted on cheap speakers as well as an expensive pair of speakers will never play to their ability with a $250.00 receiver. You want to match by ability more so than price. For instance, an Arcam may be better suited to perform with Dynaudio or similar range B&W etc. Where a $300.00 - $500.00 receiver will be at home with Infinity, Energy, entry B&W, Paradigm etc. The main thing is your receiver has to have the ability to drive whatever speakers you want adequately. For instance, you typically wouldn't want to pair a receiver with a speaker whose impedance has wide swings or tends to go low. Onkyo or Integra might do better with this type of load due to their higher current capability but they too could still be mismatched with the wrong speaker. However, that drive ability could be a factor if you have your eye on, or I should say ears on, a speaker that may be a bit tougher to drive than the norm.

    The thing to do if possible is to go out and listen to some gear and maybe come back with brands that excited you and we can help with whether they'd go well together. There are so many speakers out there and they should be a personal choice because you have to be the one that listens to them. Just like I'm not a big Denon fan, some one else was, or same with Yamaha, we could tell you B&W is the greatest speaker in the world but if you don't enjoy it then what we thought didn't amount to much. I also understand before going out you need information and some basis of what's going on. So please feel free to ask away, but on the other hand don't be afraid to trust your own ears.
    Mark Levinson #512
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    Thank you so much Mr Peabody, that was very informative. Currently, I have a Sony STR DE 897 that can output 110wx7 per channel to drive my front Totem Sttaf and centre Mite T and two small Polk surround speakers. The receiver handles the job adequately and the sound is very clean when I turn up the receiver's volume knob to, say, 48. At 48 the music is pretty loud for me. The sound quality is just amazing and the music just comes alive; the imaging and soundstage are superb. If one day I feel the need to upgrade my receiver, which one would you recommend if my budget is up, say to $800. I listen to music quite a lot and I am not too much into HT. The recommended power for the Totem Sttaf is 20-100W and the frequency response from <39Hz-22kHz, does that mean the receiver's output for each channel should not exceed 100 W per channel? If the output per channel from the receiver is higher than what the speaker can handle, in this case, 100 w per channel, does that mean you risk the chance of damaging the speaker's drivers and tweeters? Or a receiver that can output, say, 130w per channel is better to drive the speakers to get the maximum sound benefit? Thanks for all your valuable advice.

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    It's actually easier to blow a speaker by under powering it than over powering it. When you don't have enough power the amp will "clip", distort, when it's turned up past what it's capable of outputting cleanly. This clipped signal is the #1 cause of blown speakers. The rating on a speaker is a general guideline of how much power you will need to drive it but speakers typically do alright as long as they are receiving clean power. I mean, speakers have limits so caution is always a good idea. If you over power a speaker you will typically heara pop and if you do, you had better back off the volume.

    As far as receivers some of the Yamaha have a nice midrange where the Onkyo or Integra having higher current might give the Totem a bit more of what they need. The Totem are nice speakers. If your receiver has preamp outputs you can consider adding a power amp or going with an integrated 2-channel amp for music.
    Mark Levinson #512
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  8. #8
    Forum Regular hifitommy's Avatar
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    i dont see any of those ht receivers as high end. B&K, rotel, sunfire maybe? those yamahas, pios, and onkyos are at best mid fi.

    its not that they wouldnt be good sounding but high end i dont think so.
    ...regards...tr

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    Cool

    Quote Originally Posted by ken88
    I am always baffled by how do you measure the quality of sound coming from each brand, especially between the regular and the high-end model of each brand, say between a regular Sony and a Sony Elite or a regular Onkyo and the Integra? Is there a way to differentiate the different sound for each brand or is it the quality of the speakers that makes all the difference? I always heard, one should spend at least 75% oif your budget for speakers and the balance on receivers for any stereo set-up if you want quality sound. Is that true? You may have an Arcam but if you have lousy speakers, you will end up with lousy sound. Thanks for all your comments.
    As for the Integra and Onkyo, I have bought INTEGRA twice, and not regretted either
    purchase.
    They have a three year warranty, better overall QC, SOLID aluminum faceplate, things
    like 12 volt triggers, things that make it installer friendly, etc .
    Also a phono pre-amp, increasingly rare these days. They used to be well worth the
    couple of hundred buck premium , but right after I bought my last one, they were moved upscale. A 1200 7.4 IS NOW A 1500 dollar 7.9. As for sound, the Integra is way more refined than their mainstream stuff, as is the ergonomics, with a slightly better remote, etc.
    I have heard good things about the Sony ELITE line, seen a few, but not enough to judge.
    Do have experience with their standard line, and as far as their receivers go, they are a darn fine video company. Currently I AM USING my Integra as a pre-pro, running the front two channels through an Emotiva amp, for better quality music, and as an
    inexpensive prepro it does a good job.
    Attached Images Attached Images
    LG 42", integra 6.9, B&W 602s2, CC6 center, dm305rears, b&w
    sub asw2500
    Panny DVDA player
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    pronto remote, technics antique direct drive TT
    Samsung SACD/DVDA player
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  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by hifitommy
    i dont see any of those ht receivers as high end. B&K, rotel, sunfire maybe? those yamahas, pios, and onkyos are at best mid fi.

    its not that they wouldnt be good sounding but high end i dont think so.
    I believe B&K is kaput, don't know for sure.
    YAMAHA makes audiophile grade high end stuff, competes with the best, but their mainstream stuff has slipped lately.
    THERE is some good stuff under the Onkyo name, but like all things in life, you have to pay for it. AND I have seen 3,000 Denon stuff the size of a small condo.
    Of course anybody spending more than 3,000 for a receiver is making a mistake, because
    that is getting near separates real estate, with none of the attendant compromises
    you always get with receivers, the biggest one being a weak power supply

    http://usa.yamaha.com/products/audio...fi-components/

    http://www.onkyousa.com/prod_class.cfm?class=Receiver
    LG 42", integra 6.9, B&W 602s2, CC6 center, dm305rears, b&w
    sub asw2500
    Panny DVDA player
    sharp Aquos BLU player
    pronto remote, technics antique direct drive TT
    Samsung SACD/DVDA player
    emotiva upa-2 two channel amp

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    I just like to get a kind of consensus regarding the treble and bass preference levels on the receiver; does increasing the treble and bass levels produce better sound or just leave both levels at 0?? I understand it is an individual taste but I am just trying to get a feel of what you listeners out there prefer. At what levels would be consider the optimal without the music becoming too bright and boomy?? Thanks for all your comments.

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    I'm surprised that Nad was not mentioned. The general consensus seems to be that Nad kinda bridges the gap between Mid-Fi and Hi-Fi. My own experiences have demonstrated that this is true...Nad is a cut above the Yamahas, Denons and Onkyos but not quite to the level of Arcam, B&K and Rotel. I've owned a Yamaha and an Onkyo receiver and neither one could hold a candle to my Nad T763. Plus, the price for the Nad was much closer to the first group than the second.

    If you're looking for a Hi-Fi sound at a Mid-Fi price, I'd suggest that you give Nad a listen.

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    Ken88, where the tone controls are set depends on the receiver, your speakers and most of all personal preference. I'm typically a -0- kind of guy but with receivers I find I do have to use the tone controls to attempt to achieve a sound I like. I will advise that sometimes going down from -0- can be as good as going up or even better. For instance, turning the bass down will sometimes give more of a leaner hard hitting response rather than a big blurry boom, or even add some clarity to the midrange. Or, if thinking need more bass, first try to turn the treble down a notch or two. When controls are below -0- it helps the amp not to be over driven. And, sometimes there's going above is required. You just have to play with it. On a small Onkyo receiver one time I turned the "loudness" button on, turned the bass down a couple notches and the treble up a notch. This gave a clean hitting bass at low to moderate listening. This setting on the same receiver might have to be different in a different room or speakers, or to some one else's desired taste.

    I agree NAD or Cambridge Audio would both typically give better sound than mass market brands, and, both have models in a reasonable price range.
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    Thank you so much Mr Peabody for your expert opinion on tone controls. I am a newbee just trying to learn the ropes, as they say. There is one interesting question which comes to my mind: is it better to get a high-end receiver, like Arcam, Bryston, MacIntosh, Nad,, etc at the low end budget price or go for the Pioneer Elite, Sony ES or Integra at the high-end price?? What I mean is if I were going to spend, say $1,000+, is it better to get an affordable Arcam or a top-end Sony ES series? Is there truly a sound difference between them? Which products would be more reliable and trouble free comparing the Japanese v/s British?? Thanks for all your input.

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    It really depends on what your emphasis will be. If sound quality, I'd buy from a higher end company who makes receivers like NAD, Rotel or Cambridge Audio, not so sure Arcam is in that price range any more. If you need features, like internet connections or multiroom capability etc. generally the mass market brands, Denon, ES, Elite, Onkyo etc. will offer more of the bells & whistles.

    Reliability, I'd say is a toss up, no brand is prone to the occasional issue . Some of the higher end brands offer longer warranty, you'll have to check as you shop. It's been a while since I've heard of any significant issues with a brand.
    Mark Levinson #512
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    Clarus Crimson loom - AC outlet to speaker terminal
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    SVS PC13 Ultra (sub)
    Marantz BD-7003 > AV-8003 > LINN 5125
    Transparent cables / Tributaries HDMI
    PS Audio Quintet

  16. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by eisforelectronic
    Personally i like Denon best from that list. I don't love the sound of Onkyo, but it's not terrible and you get a lot of features for your money. I've really only heard a few Yamaha receivers, I will say I was pretty disappointed with the Yamaha demo at CES a while back. I've never been a fan of Pioneer receivers, for some reason I've hated everyone I've heard, even the Elite ones.

    what models were they?

    I was not such a big fan of yamaha for the past years, we have a RX-V1300, about 6-8 years old now, I think, which, does have alot of features, especially for the time, and enough power, but not as dynamic and slightly muffled. This continued until the previous series. Now its the RX-Vxx7 and RX-Vxxx7, are different. Features, are, as always very present, nice graphic layout in the monitor menu too. Power is better, discrete amps, unlike the previous series, and more than enough inputs, much more than the Denon's in their price class. my respect for them has drastically increased They don't have Audessey, but they do have their proprietary equalizing/setup system, which measured just as good as the audessey system in tests.
    I am thinking about buying a RX-V767 for my attic system, too.

    supposedly the last Pioneer series are good too, but I just can't get around the fact that they consume a very small amount of power for their output, also, they weigh substantially less than all the other competing brands. I am of the weight school, so this is a serious turnoff for me

    Denon's are nice too, excellent sound (although the Yamaha is really close now), but I find that in their last series, they have a lack of inputs (on the midrange products), one less HDMI than most, one coax, one toslink and one component, and that's it, really, and some stereo analog inputs. Also no pre out, except for the sub. also the menu on a monitor is just a text matrix, I know you only need the menu only a few times, but setup is noticeably more pleasant when the menu looks good and is easy to navigate. anyway, call them a minimalist receiver in the midrange class, even though the remotes look like you're able to control the space shuttle with them...

    Keep them spinning,
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  17. #17
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    I was the same way about Yamaha. In the past they struck me as dull sounding, good mids and bass with no definition but toward the end of last year I wandered into a Magnolia and played with some receivers. Onkyo being my favorite I started there, not sure how it was set up but it was disappointing, then an Elite which was better, then a Yamaha 2065 which truly amazed me because it was noticeably better than the prior two. I'm not sure if their entire line is that good but I'd sure count them in for a listen if I was in the market for a receiver.

    Before discounting Pioneer for light weight check to see if the model is using digital amps. They did for a while. My Linn amp is only 11 lbs and delivers easily it's rated power of
    125x5, and that's into 5 Dynaudio speakers.
    Mark Levinson #512
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    SVS PC13 Ultra (sub)
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  18. #18
    RGA
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    I am a little out of date on home theater but I am wondering if anyone has opinions on what they feel are some of the better Surround Sound preamp/processors (without amplifier built in) that have all of the most important Video and sound processing and as future proof as it can get. What is out there these days for relatively sane money (under $2k).

  19. #19
    Feel the Tempo eisforelectronic's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by basite
    what models were they?
    Come to think of it, it was actually a while back, like 7-8 years. I don't remember the model, but it was their flagship receiver at the time. I tend not to give brands much of a chance if they don't "bring it" at CES. I know I can't get to know any product or brand very well at such a crazy show, but I do expect companies to be doing things to at least peak my interest. Quite frankly there are too many audio companies to give everyone a fair listen, so I use CES as kind of a frontline filter for what brands I really look into.
    Audio Physic Avanti IV w/upgraded mids and crossover
    Emotiva UMC-1
    Emotiva XPA-3
    Peachtree Audio iNova
    Rega Brio-R
    Rega RP-1
    Sony PS3
    BAT VK-D5se
    Totem Acoustic Dreamcatchers

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    RGA, Rotel's 15nn is supposed to be a good value. You can probably find a good deal on the Marantz processor I have, AV8003, it has more features than I've ever used, including DSD decoding by the DAC. I have had no problems with it. I feel it more than met expectations at it's price. It's still very current unless wanting 3D. Onkyo & Integra both have processors in your range. Kex had one or the other but went with the Emotiva processor. He reported the two were very close and the Emo had a lot of issues that needed updates for. I'm not sure how Emo is doing on that front now. I can't remember what was his deciding factor. I hear a lot of good things about Rotel's digital multichannel amps as well.
    Mark Levinson #512
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    SVS PC13 Ultra (sub)
    Marantz BD-7003 > AV-8003 > LINN 5125
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  21. #21
    RGA
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    Mr. P

    Unfortunately Matantz has some issues matching prices to Canadian currency. Even though the dollar is almost at par they want $3150 for the AV8003 or some such thing.

    I generally don't like to buy these things completely current because the drop off in value is massive once the new model comes out.

    The new Rotel 1570 for instance is considerably more expensive than the 1069 it replaced.

    I have done a bit of research on the Rotel simply because my intent is to use 3 RB-1050 power amps - they're really very inexpensive for what you get so long as you don't use stupidly hard to drive loudspeakers.

    I am not completely sure but the biggest drawback of the 1069 versus the 1570 seems to be that the 1069 does not possess TrueHD or DTS-HD MA but if you have a blu-ray player that has this feature on board then it doesn't matter. The PS3 slim does have this ability - so I suppose there is no need to pay for it twice if the blu ray players have it anyway.

    The other drawback is that there is no Audyssey MultEQ processing but I don't see this on the 1570 feature list either. But this appears to be more about helping with set-up and can be worked through with set-up by owner.

    The other issue is only one HDMI out which is not a problem for me and the other is no balanced inputs which again doesn't matter to me.

    The thing now is to see what the used market is like. I have to wait until the summer. I am still trying to finish my second stereo rig which is basically going to be a Stereo/home theater set-up.

    I may look into George Lucas' favorite home theater speaker company and the one he uses in his own studios. Not B&W by the way, but M&K.

    An alternative I suppose could be to look at a receiver with all the bells and whistles and that ALSO has preamp outputs. Generally just going to separate power amps cleans up the sound - it certainly did when I added a Bryston to my old Pioneer Elite receiver back in the mid 90s. I see that some mid level Yamaha receivers have preamp out puts. This would be cheaper and would allow to do it in stages. Power amp for the mains and use the receiver to power the center and rears. Such receivers are in the $700 range rather than $2400 for the likes of the Rotel. Since I have a Rotel preamp (RC1082) maybe there is a way to pass through the receiver and switch back to the Rotel for two channel listening while only relying on the receiver's preamp/processor for movies.
    Last edited by RGA; 01-16-2011 at 01:10 PM.

  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by RGA
    An alternative I suppose could be to look at a receiver with all the bells and whistles and that ALSO has preamp outputs. Generally just going to separate power amps cleans up the sound - it certainly did when I added a Bryston to my old Pioneer Elite receiver back in the mid 90s. I see that some mid level Yamaha receivers have preamp out puts. This would be cheaper and would allow to do it in stages. Power amp for the mains and use the receiver to power the center and rears. Such receivers are in the $700 range rather than $2400 for the likes of the Rotel. Since I have a Rotel preamp (RC1082) maybe there is a way to pass through the receiver and switch back to the Rotel for two channel listening while only relying on the receiver's preamp/processor for movies.
    I'm afraid that for surround processors, this is probably the best way for your budget...
    surround processors are scarce anyhow, so left for the high end market, and thus expensive...

    I don't know what other brands have 5.1, or 7.1 analog outs, but the current (and all previous) Yamaha A/V receivers have this function, an RX-V667 even has this function, and surround analog ins too, all bells & whistles, options, features,.. included

    Keep them spinning,
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    *Denon DL-304
    *Graham slee elevator EXP & revelation
    *Lehmann audio black cube SE
    Marantz CD5001 OSE
    MIT AVt 2 IC's
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    I'm a happy 20 year old...

  23. #23
    RGA
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    You beat me to it Basite

    The Yamaha RX-V667 is not available in Canada - fortunately they sell a Canadian version of it which is supposed to be the same thing called the HTR 6063 in the link below.

    http://www.bestbuy.ca/en-CA/product/...568a789ffaen02

    I find it surprising that they're the only company that seems to offer preouts. Back in the day Yamaha was often said to be the best of the receiver lot with Denon. But things do change over time. It seems to offer all of the surround sound features and does have more featured in fact than the Rotel processor??? And if you use the preouts so long as the Yamaha processor isn't a total hatchet job is far better value than an outboard processor. I must be missing something but it seems to have all of the surround sound modes, has Yamaha's version of the Audessy called the "YPAO auto-calibration"

    CNET even likes it LOL
    http://reviews.cnet.com/av-receivers...-34137032.html

    Interestingly the next model up called the 7063 is $250 more and from what I can tell offers nothing except 5 watts per channel more. Features wise it adds nothing. Seems like a waste of time to me.

    $600 and it will probably go on sale. I don't know - but paying another $1500 for the Rotel has me wondering.
    Last edited by RGA; 01-16-2011 at 02:53 PM.

  24. #24
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    If using a receiver for HT I'd still use a stereo preamp for music. The Rotel would be worth it if you wanted it for music and movies. If you find an older processor with HDMI that will accept PCM you can still decode in the player. The draw back to decoding in the player is most don't have as many set up features as a receiver, some actually very sparse.

    I haven't done it but I've heard the input of a tape monitor loop can be used in place of a bypass loop. Extreme caution not to push the wrong button would be required

    $3150.00 is expensive for the AV8003, I didn't think the exchange was that drastic. Maybe $30.00 to the $1k. You might check Audiogon or Audiophile Liquidator for possible lower prices. I wonder if the $3150.00 is a new version? Retail for mine was $2499.00 U.S. when it first came out.
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  25. #25
    RGA
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    Mr. P

    The issue for me right now is I already have a two channel system - two of them. So I don't really need superior sounding 2 channel audio from a processor. The Rotel RC 1082 will be in the same room as whatever home theater set-up I use.

    I would frankly be surprised if the 2 channel preamp section of the Yamaha mentioned above would be in any worse than their upscale units.

    I wonder if anyone has taken the RX-V667/HTR 6063 and then added an outboard 5 channel power amp or 3 RB-1050 amps and then compared that $1800ish set-up to stand alone $3,000ish receivers.

    That little Yamaha at under $600 also has TrueHD or DTS-HD encoding in player and 3D Video support both of which are not on the Rotel pre/pro

    I mean the first priority of any of these feature boxes is to have the features - and it would be nice if it sounded good. But from what I can tell the Yamaha sounds pretty good and offers more features than some of the expensive processors. Consider that the $2200 two year old Rotel is now out of date compared to a $599 receiver which can also let you use it as a preamp/processor.

    Unfortunately there are many items that don't follow the current currency of the times. The Rotel seems to be about the same price in the States or in Canada but not the Marantz. Though I can check with Soundhounds as they carry both lines as well as Denon and Anthem.

    Looking at the feature set of the Yamaha it seems to do an awful lot. The ipod function is an optional $100 extra apparently which is a downside. http://www.bestbuy.ca/en-CA/product/...568a789ffaen02

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