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  1. #1
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    Buying a receiver? This may be helpful.

    I thought I'd start a thread on buying a receiver and give some helpful hints to fellow purchasers. Everytime I see a Denon v Yammy v Pioneer thread I go O no, not again.
    So here are a few things you need to know when you shop for a receiver.

    1) Make a firm budget and stick to it:
    Staying with a firm budget will help you in the long run as moving one step above in a receiver line will not always benefit you in the sound department. Save those $$ and buy yourself some DVDs.

    2) Processing:
    Don't worry about this as even the cheapest of receivers have this covered very well. Most decent receivers will have all the processing power you will need. Better receivers will often have dual processors to handle different responsibilities and this results in faster speeds, not quality of sound.

    3) Power:
    Most receivers on the market claim anywhere from 100W/channel upwards. Caveat being the lower priced receivers will say 100W/C at 1KHz and the better receivers will say 100W/C 20-20,000 Hz thus covering the full spectrum.

    4) How much power do you need?
    If you have very efficient speakers then you probably don't need much power. A receiver that outputs "true" 45-75W/C should suffice. If you have those power hungry speakers then make sure your receiver has preouts for external amplification.

    5) Receiver as a prepro: (Not intended for Smokey)
    There are many receivers on the market today that make excellent prepros. Prices of electronic components have become very cheap and you will find excellent DACs and solid Chips in mid priced receivers from Denon, Pioneer, Yammy and Onkyo. They are dead quiet and perform flawlessly when used as prepros. I was in the market for a prepro last year and for $449 brand new from the good guys my Pioneer 2012K is still an excellent prepro and I was comparing it to offerings from Outlaw and Rotel and I picked the Pioneer on my own testing abilitites.

    6) Automated speaker calibrations:
    Most decent receivers will offer this out of the box room EQ calibration features and if you have absolutely no idea what an SPL meter is then this feature is paramount for you. This feature will enable you to hook your speakers up to the receiver and connect the supplied mike, follow the OSD instructions and viola, you are all done. It will even check your wiring for polarity (+/-). I personally prefer a manual EQ in my receiver as this lets me tweak the sound to my liking for movies and music and the Pioneer lets me do this with ease.

    7) Sound:
    This is dicey because IMHO most receivers will sound tremendously close to each other unless you have trained ears that can distinguish and seperate the sound qualities of one from the other. What may be good to one might be warm or bright to another. However the gap between the receivers in terms of sound has narrowed tremendously but as I mentioned before if you have trained ears or are a true audiphile then you can probably tell them apart. (Experiment a lot with speaker placement before you give up on the receiver's sound)

    8) Brick and Mortars:
    I have always purchased equipment from B&M and used their 30day exchange policy to the fullest. This gives you the ability to test 2-3 receivers in your own home and keep the one you like the best.

    9) Buy it for looks:
    For those of you who play golf you will understand this part. If the equipment gives you confidence then it will show in your game said a sports therapist. Therefore if you like the way your receiver looks then you will enjoy it more so make a note that this is an important aspect of your purchase.

    10) And:
    Once you get into this hobby, many of you will turn into equipment hos and will find yourself buying and selling equipment like stocks. You know who you are. You will give yourself many reasons and convince yourself why taking a $200-300 hit is more to your advantage in the long run.

    11) Lastly:
    Learn to enjoy what you have instead of constant tweaking and worrying if you made the right decision.

    Fellow ARites. Please add more to this if you can and enjoy!
    Wooch, Sir TT, etal are a part of a Northern California Conspiracy!
    Smokey, admit you are using your receiver as a prepro!!

  2. #2
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    Great advice! As I continue to grow my DVD collection, I also am constantly second-guessing my HT equipment and considering upgrades. It's easy to get caught up in the vicious cycle of "do I have the right/enough equipment?" worries. There will always be hundreds of choices, and unless you're a zillionaire, you can't have 'em all. You've actually made me feel a little guilty about obsessing so much over my system.

  3. #3
    ride a jet ski Tarheel_'s Avatar
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    Great info Nick.... i have a few more.

    12) Remote:
    Cannot underestimate how important this is....will the remote control other HT pieces? Does it have backlighting (godsend)? Is it easy to use and comfortable in my hand?

    13) Multi-room capacity:
    Read and understand this feature. If you need it, you'll love the 2nd zone option. Pay attention because one model has it and the next model doesn't.

    13) Weight:
    Based on advise i've received and read, this seems a good indication of the amp section quality and/or power supply. Heavier the better.

    14) Large front display:
    For me anyway, I can read my HK receiver from 12' and my vision is far from 20/20.

    15) Download and read user's manual:
    If you cannot demo them in your house, at least take the time to do this step. It should help you decide and all manf. have them available.

  4. #4
    M.P.S.E /AES/SMPTE member Sir Terrence the Terrible's Avatar
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    Good post Nickmeister. I use my reciever as a pre-pro(as I stick my tongue out at Smokey)
    Sir Terrence

    Titan Reference 3D 1080p projector
    200" SI Black Diamond II screen
    Oppo BDP-103D
    Datastat RS20I audio/video processor 12.4 audio setup
    9 Onkyo M-5099 power amp
    9 Onkyo M-510 power amp
    9 Onkyo M-508 power amp
    6 custom CAL amps for subs
    3 custom 3 way horn DSP hybrid monitors
    18 custom 3 way horn DSP hybrid surround/ceiling speakers
    2 custom 15" sealed FFEC servo subs
    4 custom 15" H-PAS FFEC servo subs
    THX Style Baffle wall

  5. #5
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    Don't Fully Agree With Your Advice

    I may be misinterpreting something you said here, but in my opinion the receiver does affect the sound quality of CD's & DVD's, very very much (as well as your speakers & DVD player & Yes- Cable selection!) so do spend a fortune on it- or at least buy a very good used receiver that you want. In my case, my Denon 3801, has made a night and day difference in CD sound, from my previous receiver set up.

  6. #6
    M.P.S.E /AES/SMPTE member Sir Terrence the Terrible's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by EdwardGein
    I may be misinterpreting something you said here, but in my opinion the receiver does affect the sound quality of CD's & DVD's, very very much (as well as your speakers & DVD player & Yes- Cable selection!) so do spend a fortune on it- or at least buy a very good used receiver that you want. In my case, my Denon 3801, has made a night and day difference in CD sound, from my previous receiver set up.
    Edward, Nick is spot on. In double blind listening, nobody has been able to tell one amp from the next, so as long as the receiver is not being overdriven, sound quality is largely not an issue.

    You can purchase a $800 receiver, or a $500 receiver and in most cases DD and Dts will sound the same in each receiver. DD and Dts chipsets are standardized, so they cannot be upgraded for sound quality like you can do with PCM audio.
    Sir Terrence

    Titan Reference 3D 1080p projector
    200" SI Black Diamond II screen
    Oppo BDP-103D
    Datastat RS20I audio/video processor 12.4 audio setup
    9 Onkyo M-5099 power amp
    9 Onkyo M-510 power amp
    9 Onkyo M-508 power amp
    6 custom CAL amps for subs
    3 custom 3 way horn DSP hybrid monitors
    18 custom 3 way horn DSP hybrid surround/ceiling speakers
    2 custom 15" sealed FFEC servo subs
    4 custom 15" H-PAS FFEC servo subs
    THX Style Baffle wall

  7. #7
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    edward- always can count on you to focus on some negatives, haha! remember, you also went from a very inferior receiver/dvd player/toaster and took a few big steps up so that's why you noticed such a big difference.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by Eric Z
    you also went from a very inferior receiver/dvd player/toaster and took a few big steps up so that's why you noticed such a big difference.
    a very inferior receiver/dvd player/toaster?? (LOLOLOLOLOL)
    Wooch, Sir TT, etal are a part of a Northern California Conspiracy!
    Smokey, admit you are using your receiver as a prepro!!

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by Tarheel_
    Great info Nick.... i have a few more.

    12) Remote:
    Cannot underestimate how important this is....will the remote control other HT pieces? Does it have backlighting (godsend)? Is it easy to use and comfortable in my hand?

    13) Multi-room capacity:
    Read and understand this feature. If you need it, you'll love the 2nd zone option. Pay attention because one model has it and the next model doesn't.

    13) Weight:
    Based on advise i've received and read, this seems a good indication of the amp section quality and/or power supply. Heavier the better.

    14) Large front display:
    For me anyway, I can read my HK receiver from 12' and my vision is far from 20/20.

    15) Download and read user's manual:
    If you cannot demo them in your house, at least take the time to do this step. It should help you decide and all manf. have them available.
    Great points Tar.
    Wooch, Sir TT, etal are a part of a Northern California Conspiracy!
    Smokey, admit you are using your receiver as a prepro!!

  10. #10
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    Yeah, So

    Quote Originally Posted by Eric Z
    edward- always can count on you to focus on some negatives, haha! remember, you also went from a very inferior receiver/dvd player/toaster and took a few big steps up so that's why you noticed such a big difference.
    Right, so what is your point?

  11. #11
    Forum Regular Woochifer's Avatar
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    Nickster -

    You got me in a quandry here. I thought that the evil two-channel replicant Nick was still posting, but this thread "almost" seems like the original Nick 1.0 is back. Start telling us that your knees have got callouses from baying at the Denon throne, and we'll feel secure enough to throw you a welcome back party.

    Anyway, good list you got going there. In addition to the remote, which Tarheel addressed, I would add the user interface and the build quality to the list as well. The user interface is an often overlooked aspect of receiver design, and plenty of the ones I've tried can be pretty confusing. Any glitches in how the menus are setup and options laid out can get more and more frustrating as time goes on because you encounter them frequently.

    The build quality is a bit dicier to evaluate. (Friends of mine have worked at several audio video stores, so I get their perspective from the number of DOA units they see coming back to the store, but short of that, there's not a whole lot of actual data out there.) One way to get some idea of how a particular model is doing is to check the reviews on this site and get some idea if a specific problem pops up repeatedly. I remember several Sony models with major reliability problems in the power supply, and models from Marantz, Onkyo, and h/k getting similarly flagged on the user reviews.

  12. #12
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    Nick,

    I must say this is an EXCELLENT thread and has been very informative; I have been stuck for years in the mental mindset of "is my receiver good enough? Do I need an amp? What about using the receiver as a prepro?" etc etc etc.....sleeping pills were advised by my doctor here....

    At any rate, can I ask a couple of questions that may seem relevant to this topic and perhaps you will have some insight on them? For those of us who DO use receivers and not pre/pros and power amps, are receivers, for the most part, "good enough" for home theater use? And there is a dilemma that has been bothering me for awhile now, regading the SOUND QUALITY issues that Terrence was discussing with regard to DTS and Dolby Digital, etc; I had always dreamed of somehow adding a graphic EQ to my surround system, in order to give a "brightening up" effect to the sound which I think is sometimes lacking in this regard, but I was advised on another site that in order to equalize Dolby Digital and DTS sources on a receiver, this would ONLY be able to be done with separates, by assigning an EQ to each channel in the system before its power amplified; is this so, and is it NECESSARY, for those of us WITHOUT equalization features on our receivers (my Onkyo does not have any EQ features), to run Dolby Digital and DTS soundtracks with some kind of equalization curve to them? Basically, what Im asking, after I recently watched a DVD which said on its menu screen "OPTIMIZED FOR DVD PLAYBACK --- NO EQUALIZATION REQUIRED", is SHOULD we be playing back our Dolby Digital and DTS soundtracks on DVDs without any kind of after-processing applied to them, like EQ? I leave my bass and treble on FLAT on my receiver and play back DVDs this way, the mind set being that Im getting the INTENDED soundtrack from the DVD the way its supposed to sound, whether that be DD or DTS......is EQUALIZATION required OR recommended on a surround receiver, or is it simply okay to run the soundtracks "as is" through our receivers, using only tone controls if we like?

    In general, though, are receives "good enough," in the real world sense, to run a home theater system or MUST we look to pre pros and amps, in your opinion? Im one of those folks who DONT have a 100 watt per channel and up system, as my Onkyo claims to put out 80 watts x 6.....and I dont have any preouts in the rear to add an amp.....

    Thanks again for your thread as it was very informative!

  13. #13
    Suspended markw's Avatar
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    Excellent thread, but I would add one more item to be concerned about.

    I/O. Can you play all your needed sources into it and, conversely, can you supply the needed outputs (n the formats you want, particularly in the video and preamp outputs area.

  14. #14
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    I'd also add 'Never buy a new receiver...'

    or the latest and greatest unless there is some killer feature you can't live without. There aren't any significant differences between receivers now and 5 years ago if 5.1 is your focus.

  15. #15
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    Nice thread,Nick.

    As for point number 5... "Reciever as a prepro"; what is your opinion of HK in that regard? Also, I think point number 9 is very valid, although on the surface it may seem the least significant, but it relates to overall satisfaction with the product and in the end, may have a larger bearing on whether one gets bit by the upgrade bug than most folks are willing to admit.

    Q

  16. #16
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    Q, I believe HK receivers would have made good prepros but when I was testing them they would get very hot even when the amps were not being driven. I would definitely give it a shot but for some reason I have come to prefer the overall sound quality of the Pioneer Elites and somehow feel they have a better preamp section than some other receivers I have tested.
    Wooch, Sir TT, etal are a part of a Northern California Conspiracy!
    Smokey, admit you are using your receiver as a prepro!!

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by nick4433
    Q, I believe HK receivers would have made good prepros but when I was testing them they would get very hot even when the amps were not being driven. I would definitely give it a shot but for some reason I have come to prefer the overall sound quality of the Pioneer Elites and somehow feel they have a better preamp section than some other receivers I have tested.
    I agree with that. Pioneer Elites(and the newer Pioneers in general) are IDEAL for use as a Pre/Pro. The Motorola DSP chipset is integrated perfectly and the signal processing is as accurate and clean as can get. I highly recommend Pioneer for this use. Their Elite A/V receivers are no slouch either. I LOVE mine.
    Hitachi 57S500
    Pioneer Elite VSX-43TX
    Pioneer DV-563A(DVD)
    Onkyo DX-C390(CD)
    Samsung VR8260(VCR)
    Cerwin Vega LS-12(Main)
    Cerwin Vega LS-6C(Cen)
    Bose 201 Series IV(surr)
    Cerwin Vega E-76C(Rear)
    2 Cerwin Vega LW15(subs)
    Sony PS2

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