Hello all, new to the site! Looks great by the way!
Currently I have the Panasonic SA-RX25. I can't complain about this unit. It sounds pretty good and I bought it for an excellent price!
However, I recently upgraded my speakers to the Athena Audition Series. I'm sure these speakers and the Panasonic will sound fine together, but I was possibly thinking about upgrading my receiver as well. Might as well get it over with in one shot, eh?
So the receiver that looks the best and has the best reviews within my price range (About $500) is the Harmon Kardon AVR 525 or AVR 430. The newer digital panasonics also look good (SA-RX70).
In your guys' opinion (cause you are the experts) how does the HK compare to the Panasonic, or vice versa? Will there be this astonishing difference. I would attempt to audition, but how often do you get to audition the receiver you want with speakers you already own?
Department of Heuristics and Research on Material Applications
I'd avoid the digital Panny's like the plague if I were you. I haven't been impressed with their sound or their dynamic ability, and they seem dreadfully underpowered to me.
Those H/K units are far superior to most Panasonic receivers I've seen. Far larger power supplies, more dynamic headroom, better sound, etc. I wouldn't hesitate trust H/K more than Panasonic when it comes to A/V receivers.
For what it's worth though, I couldn't find any info on the SA-RX25, so I'm just basing my opinion on other Panasonics I've seen $500 and below. Is that the correct model #? Maybe I've just been drinkin' too much?
If I were you I'd give some serious consideration to Onkyo, Yamaha and Denon as well. My current fav is the Yamaha RX-V650 (best value in A/V receivers IMO at $350 or so).
But then again, if you're happy with your current receiver, why throw money away? What makes you feel like you need to upgrade?
I personally feel that there are better sounding receivers out there than Panasonic, but I can't promise you they'd be $300 - $500 better.
As for in-home auditions...go to an A/V specialty retailer, not a huge chain like BestBuy or whatever. Chances are they'll either let you do an in-home audition, or have used gear or demo equipment that would help you get a feel for differences between your Panasonic and other makes.
When I bought my receiver, I had 3 different units in my home at once, and would have had 4 except I eliminated one right away and returned it. Good dealers understand this.
I know some dealers that just don't or can't justify giving out equipment for auditions, but they have some great in-store listening rooms, and were happy to let me bring in my old receiver or other makes to test against their products. You can learn alot about 2 different products when comparing in the same room at the same time with the same equipment, even if it's not yours.
Whatever you decide to do, I recommend you do some comparison against your current receiver to help you decide if there's any real improvement in "upgrading". There's probably a few newer digital processing features (Dolby Pro-Logic IIx) and connectivity possibilities, but if you're not interested in these, what are you paying for?
BTW, good pick with the Athena's...IMO their right up at the top in terms of value!!!
You seem to be happy with the Panny and your speakers. What is it that you are exactly lacking that makes you "upgrade" to the HK 430? The HK is a good receiver but won't offer you more in terms of decoding other than Logic 7 and maybe something else.