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  1. #1
    Suspended Smokey's Avatar
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    Talking Recent evaluations of A/V Receivers by ConsumerReport.

    From Nov '03 issue:

    1. Onkyo TX-SR701, $800 Very good, with reasonable price for a THX-certified model. Has onscreen display (OSD) and multisource for simultaneous two-room speaker use. Bass boost. Phono input. Center-channel preamp output.

    2. Panasonic SA-HE100, $250 Best value among tested models. FM tuner adjusts in full-channel increments. Radio stations can be tuned directly using remote. Troubleshooting "help" function can advise user of necessary fix. Can be used with 4-ohm speakers. Has tape monitor and phono input. Has DTS-ES (6.1) but cannot decode Dolby Digital EX surround audio.


    3. Harmon/Kardon AVR-325, $760 Very good. Has onscreen display (OSD) and multisource for simultaneous two-room speaker use. Can automatically calibrate sound level. Radio stations can be tuned directly using remote. Has center-channel preamp output. Similar models AVR-125 ($350) and AVR-225 ($500) permit fewer connections and have only 5.1 audio decoding.

    4. Sony STR-DE995, $480 Very good. Has onscreen display (OSD) and multisource for simultaneous two-room speaker use. Can program to show station call letters. Radio stations can be tuned directly using remote. Has phono input. Similar model STR-DE895 ($400) lacks multizone capability.

    5. Yamaha RX-V740, $600 Very good. Has onscreen display (OSD) and multisource for simultaneous two-room speaker use. FM tuner adjusts in full-channel increments. Has phono input. Center-channel preamp output. Can be used with 4-ohm speakers. Similar model RX-V640 ($500) permits fewer connections.

    6. Denon AVR-2803, $800 Very good. Has onscreen display (OSD) and multisource for simultaneous two-room speaker use. FM tuner adjusts in full-channel increments. Has phono input. Center-channel preamp output.

    7 Yamaha RX-V440, $300 Very good. FM tuner adjusts in full-channel increments. Can be used with 4-ohm speakers. Lacks S-video input/output. Similar model RX-V540 ($400) permits more connections.

    8. Kenwood VR-7070, $500 Very good, with very low price for a THX-certified model. Has multisource for simultaneous two-room speaker use. Has bass boost. Phono input. Center-channel preamp output. Lacks sleep timer.

    9. Onkyo TX-SR501, $300 Very good. 6x17.25x14.75 in. (HWD). Similar model TX-SR601 ($500) has multizone capability.

    10. Pioneer VSX-D912K, $400 Very good. Can automatically calibrate sound level. Can program to show station call letters. Radio-stations can be tuned directly using remote. Center-channel preamp out. Only 1-yr. warranty. Similar model VSX-D812K ($350) permits fewer connections; VSX-D712K ($250) has only 5.1 audio decoding.

    11. Panasonic SA-HE75, $200 Very good. Troubleshooting "help" function can advise user of necessary fix. FM tuner adjusts in full-channel increments. Radio stations can be tuned directly using remote. Tape monitor. Cannot decode Dolby Digital EX or DTS-ES 6.1 surround audio. Only 1-yr. warranty. Lacks sleep timer.

    12. JVC RX-8030VBK, $400 Good. Has bass boost. Phono input. Center-channel preamp output. Lacks AC outlets. Similar model RX-7030VBK ($300) permits fewer connections.

    13. Pioneer VSX-D412-K, $200 Good. Can program to show station call letters. Has tape monitor. Cannot decode Dolby Digital EX or DTS-ES 6.1 surround audio. Lacks S-video input/output. Only 1-yr. warranty. Lacks front-panel A/V inputs and sleep timer.

    14. JVC RX-6030VBK, $200 Good. Has bass boost. Cannot decode Dolby Digital EX or DTS-ES 6.1 surround audio. Lacks front-panel A/V inputs and AC outlets.

    15. Sony STR-DE595, $190 Good. Radio stations can be tuned directly using remote. Can program to show station call letters. Cannot decode Dolby Digital EX or DTS-ES 6.1 surround audio. Lacks S-video input/output, requiring you to connect certain video devices, such as a digital-cable box or satellite receiver, directly to the TV.

    16 Panasonic SA-XR45, $330 Good. Has onscreen display (OSD) and multisource for simultaneous two-room speaker use. FM tuner adjusts in full-channel increments. Radio stations can be tuned directly using remote. Bass and treble adjustable only via remote. Only 1-yr. warranty. Surround lacks Dolby 3 Stereo mode.

    17. Kenwood VR-705, $200 Good. Has onscreen display (OSD) and bass boost. Lacks 5.1 inputs for external digital-audio decoders. Cannot decode Dolby Digital EX or DTS-ES 6.1 surround audio. Lacks S-video input/output, requiring you to connect certain video devices, such as a digital-cable box or satellite receiver, directly to the TV. Bass and treble adjustable only via remote. Lacks front-panel A/V inputs, sleep timer, and universal remote control.

  2. #2
    JSE
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    Did they plug them in?

    Did they actually hook them up and use them? Or, did they just go off a spec. sheet to compare? I have always been a little sceptical of CR's review methods. Hell, they always rate Bose highly?

  3. #3
    ride a jet ski Tarheel_'s Avatar
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    i can agree with some of the ranking

    I too would choose the HK over the Denon. I replaced a Denon AVR 2801 with the HK 525 (same as 325, but more power). Sure, the Denon was a few years old, but i tested the 2803 at a dealer and while not side-by-side, the Hk was the superior receiver and came much closer to fitting my needs.
    Glad to see a company compares so many instead of the usual "shootout" in the mags where EVERYONE'S A WINNER.

  4. #4
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    CR issues...

    Did they even say what their testing criteria was?

  5. #5
    Forum Regular Woochifer's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Keith from Canada
    Did they even say what their testing criteria was?
    If I remember right, they just do a bench test of the wattage output, with no real advantage given to more powerful receivers or those with low impedance drive capability. Their underlying assumption (as it has been with CD players) is that they all sound the same, or sound quality's so similar as to be inconsequential. The rest of the ratings are about convenience and features, and that type of criteria is always subjective.

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by Keith from Canada
    Did they even say what their testing criteria was?
    Guide to the Ratings
    Overall score is bases mainly on amp and AM/FM tuner performance; ease of use and features also factor in. Performance evaluates lack of noise and distortion in the amplifier, plus AM reception (which was good on all tested models) and FM reception (very good on all). Ease of use reflects the design of the front panel and remote control. Features score reflects the presence or absence of convenience features, including the number of inputs. Watts per channel is our measure of power when the receiver is used with 8-ohm and 6-ohm speakers; only three models (2, 5, and 70 were rated for use with 4-ohm speakers.

    Consumer Reports November 2003

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by TomStanoch
    Guide to the Ratings
    Overall score is bases mainly on amp and AM/FM tuner performance; ease of use and features also factor in. Performance evaluates lack of noise and distortion in the amplifier, plus AM reception (which was good on all tested models) and FM reception (very good on all). Ease of use reflects the design of the front panel and remote control. Features score reflects the presence or absence of convenience features, including the number of inputs. Watts per channel is our measure of power when the receiver is used with 8-ohm and 6-ohm speakers; only three models (2, 5, and 70 were rated for use with 4-ohm speakers.

    Consumer Reports November 2003

    Thanks, Tom People just don't read it
    mtrycrafts

  8. #8
    Sgt. At Arms Worf101's Avatar
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    Talking Well that backs one of my claims....

    One of my big reasons for owning nothing but Onkyo so many years is their ease of use. They are by far the most logical machine I've ever set up and I've done Sony, JVC (the worst for set up if you ask me), Denons and some old school stuff. I've 2 HT's and Onkyo's all I run. I am really starting to itch for one of those self leveling Yamaha's though. But I love my 898 too much.

    Thanks for the information.

    Da Worfster....

  9. #9
    Suspended Smokey's Avatar
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    Smile FM performance....

    Quote Originally Posted by TomStanoch
    Performance evaluates lack of noise and distortion in the amplifier, plus AM reception (which was good on all tested models) and FM reception (very good on all).
    I don't know why CR gave so much weight to FM/AM reception as part of receiver's "Performance" rating given that FM sound quality of most receivers is so lackluster. If anybody wants to have a decent FM sound should opt for a stand alone FM tuner.

    For example, have an analog Hitachi FM tuner which is 25 years old and it blow away my current receiver's FM sound.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Worf101
    I am really starting to itch for one of those self leveling Yamaha's though. But I love my 898 too much.

    Thanks for the information.

    Da Worfster....
    Do you mean self level matching of channels? If so, don't get too tied up witht hat feature Any spurious noise in the house will screw it up. Best if you do it with meter and each channel. Hands on
    mtrycrafts

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by Smokey
    I don't know why CR gave so much weight to FM/AM reception as part of receiver's "Performance" rating given that FM sound quality of most receivers is so lackluster. If anybody wants to have a decent FM sound should opt for a stand alone FM tuner.

    For example, have an analog Hitachi FM tuner which is 25 years old and it blow away my current receiver's FM sound.
    People still use their receiver to listen to FM or AM. I doubt CR rated the sound quality of the FM sections but rather their perfomance in pulling in stations, adjacent station rejection, sensitivity to low signals,etc
    mtrycrafts

  12. #12
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    Their rankings obviously have nothing to do with build quality. There's no way the Sony should've been ranked higher than the Denon. That ranking must have been based soley on features. I just replaced a Sony STR-DE545 with a Denon AVR-2603 and there's no comparison between the two units. The Denon's SQ is superior, and it makes more power even though it's rated for less. The Sony was only 4 years old when it crapped out which indicates its build quality isn't what it should be. Looks like CR's rankings need to be taken with a grain of salt.

  13. #13
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    Quote Originally Posted by grampi
    Their rankings obviously have nothing to do with build quality. There's no way the Sony should've been ranked higher than the Denon. That ranking must have been based soley on features. I just replaced a Sony STR-DE545 with a Denon AVR-2603 and there's no comparison between the two units. The Denon's SQ is superior, and it makes more power even though it's rated for less. The Sony was only 4 years old when it crapped out which indicates its build quality isn't what it should be. Looks like CR's rankings need to be taken with a grain of salt.

    Ah, but you are rating build quality by your one unit. CR bases it on surveys based in the 10s of thousands. I am sure even Toyota has a lemon, now and then, you think?
    mtrycrafts

  14. #14
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    Actually, that info comes from straight from a person who sees how these units are built on a daily basis. He repairs these units. He said Sony, Pioneer, JVC, Kenwood, Panasonic, etc., are all outsourcing the building of their units to get the price down and it shows. These units are failing at increasingly higher rates due to the lower quality components they're being built with. He said some of the units he sees the least for repairs are Onkyo, Harmon Kardon, and Denon. He said these units are built better than the previously mentioned units.

  15. #15
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    CR's parameters are completely bogus

    Outside of the tuner, they do a power test utilizing 4, 6, and 8 ohm resistors (the 4 gets very little play time as they state) and list their measured rating. Otherwise they count inputs. If you take the tuner ratings out of the mix, they are essentially telling you to buy the cheapest unit with the most watts and inputs. They are at least now giving the nod to some better receivers. A few years ago they scoffed at the likes of Yamaha, Denon, Onkyo, Marantz, and HK as being overpriced.

    Mtry, you are wrong on their reliability coverage. Sony especially has had some real issues over the past few years. Pioneer had some the past couple of years. Build quality issues? If you can pick a 100 watt x5 receiver up by the faceplate with one hand, I have issues. I know you are okay with the assumption that they all sound the same so I won't address that here.

    Smokey, there are some winners in there, and the losers are pretty easy to spot, even with the big winner sign superimposed over the top of them. So you have to ask yourself, how are you going to be using this thing, and do the parameters CR is using have any relavence in what your use will be. Watts per dollar is pretty bogus. Inputs per dollar? How many do you need?, FM performance? How much time will you spend listening to the radio? Surround performance?...oops forget that one, they didn't cover it. Video switching performance?...oops, scratch that too. How did it work on a real world speaker load?...oops, no biggie there, right? Useful features?...well, they sorta generalize about that.

    I'm sorry to sort of dog you on this, but CR is bad news on the audio front. I made an awful lot of money for a while because of it. When I got cocky, I would put a 10 or 20 dollar bill down as a bet on my choices over CRs, and never lost it...not once. When they wouldn't listen, I would mistakenly turn on the "wrong" speakers first, apologize, then turn on the ones they wanted. I never sold a CR customer what they came in for, never had one leave without buying. They were always my best referral generators and my happiest and most likely to return to "just visit" customers...often with friends. I loved them because they were ready to buy when they came in, and after being shown what they should be looking at, most of them trusted me over CR for the rest of the purchase decisions. I just had to show them how my ratings were more in their interests than CRs. And I never had a return from a single one in a 4 year time span. Gotta love that.

    Today, if you want my suggestion, get a Yamaha. Next would probably be a Denon or Onkyo, then a Marantz or h/k. But, go check out what I told you about speakers before you listen to me on this one.

    Space

  16. #16
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    I checked out all these units before I bought and there isn't any of them that clearly stands out as being superior, including the Yamaha. They're all so good it basically comes down to personal preference, and what kind of price you can get them for.

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by spacedeckman
    Mtry, you are wrong on their reliability coverage. Sony especially has had some real issues over the past few years. Pioneer had some the past couple of years. Build quality issues? If you can pick a 100 watt x5 receiver up by the faceplate with one hand, I have issues. I know you are okay with the assumption that they all sound the same so I won't address that here.
    Space

    Maybe you need to pump some more iron

    Don't forget, some of the newer amps are designed on a different class than A, B or AB, so they don't need to be so heavy and still perform equally.
    mtrycrafts

  18. #18
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    Ah yes, digital

    The only current piece I'm aware of is the Panasonic available for component sale. There are a few in HTIB packages, most all that I'm aware of besides the Panasonic are single unit rec/DVD types.

    Sorry guy, these are examples of "gut the amplifier to buy more features" and/or hold an unrealistic price point.

  19. #19
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    grampi, we are a bit set in our ways

    I spent a lot of years in the electronics industry. When I tell you what I tell you it comes from years of experience playing, comparing, dealing with service people. I've been a retail salesman, factory trainer, rep, product/project/marketing manager, and an audiophile type for over 20 years.

    If you used CR for your decision, and you are happy...great. Enjoy, "live long, and prosper". I'm certainly not going to argue with you. (PS. Woodman is right, not only in my opinion, but my experience). CR can be a "wonderful resource" for information, but you have to understand what that information means, and it usually isn't what CR intends it to, nor what you are expecting, especially with audio.

    I'm not sure what your parameters were, but you made a selection based on them. I'm just hoping for your sake that you didn't buy the Pioneer, Panasonic, Sony, or Kenwood off of the CR list.

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