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  1. #1
    Musicaholic Forums Moderator ForeverAutumn's Avatar
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    What do I need in a new Receiver?

    I know that this should probably be posted in another forum, but I couldn't figure out which one. So here I am, in the forum in which I feel at home and know that I'll get good, reliable advice. Mods, feel free to move me to the right spot.

    Hubby and I are doing some upgrades to our system. We will, hopefully, have a brand new 42" LCD TV by the end of the week. I'm not replacing our speakers yet, but we do need a new reciever. The one that we have now is an old refurb that we got from Hubby's work, really cheap.

    I can't tell you much about our speakers offhand, other than the front and centre are StudioLabs. The rears are JVCs, but are surprisingly decent and get the job done. The sub sucks (another cheap refurb) and will be replaced. We have a VCR and a (Sony) DVD player hooked up. The DVD player doubles as our CD player and this may also get replaced in the next year, but the receiver is my top priority.

    We use our system mostly for listening to music or watching music DVDs. We watch actual movies on it about once a month. So it's more of a music system than a home theatre.

    Currently, we live in a townhouse with thin walls. So we can't crank our system too loudly. We need a receiver that will be responsive at low volumes. However, we are planning on moving in the next couple of years. So, I also need something that will have the ability to grow with me as I'm sure that once we have more space and no-one attached to us, we'll be upgrading the TV and the speakers.

    I would also like to be able to hook my iPod up to the reciever if possible.

    I want good quality sound but I'm not a gearhead or audiophile by any stretch of the imagination. I've never had to shop for a receiver before and I don't even know where to start. What should I be looking for? Are there certain features that I need to make sure that I have? Are there features to avoid? How much do I need to spend? Assume that money is not an issue.

    Thanks for any advice you can give.

  2. #2
    Forum Regular Ex Lion Tamer's Avatar
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    If I were in your shoes I would probably look to British brands like Rotel, NAD and Cambridge, especially Cambridge as my perception is their price/performance ratio is the best of the three. I'm not a surround sound guy so I don't know what the latest and greatest features are that one needs, but I do know the reputation of the above three companies and have owned equipment from two of them.

    Another company that bears looking at is Outlaw Audio, their equipment is getting very well reviewed lately.
    "I don't know. A proof is a proof. What kind of a proof? It's a proof. A proof is a proof, and when you have a good proof, it's because it's proven." The Right Honourable JC.

  3. #3
    Loving This kexodusc's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ForeverAutumn
    What should I be looking for? Are there certain features that I need to make sure that I have? Are there features to avoid? How much do I need to spend? Assume that money is not an issue.

    Thanks for any advice you can give.
    FA - a few things -
    1) definitely try and think of a budget - you can extra $50 yourself into bankruptcy buying a receiver. I think you can get a model that will satisfy you for anywhere from $300-$800 cdn. What I think is essential you may not. This will help everyone narrow down some good choices for you.

    2) Consider buying used or online. You can save quite a bit. Especially ordering from the US.

    3) Are you going to the USA (or do you have really good friends?) For some stupid reason these things are ridiculously overpriced in Canada (the whole currency rate parity lag and all). For example 1 model sold at Futureshop I just looked at goes for $719 here, vs $450 USD. That's about $250 of price gouging. Factor in $100 for shipping and customs and there's still substantial savings.

    If you travel to the USA and order the unit while there, you can bring it back duty free-ish - and save quite a bit. I think I saved in total around $550-$600 on my receiver doing this last winter. That's a lot cash for a 2 minute phone call and 4 minutes of customs paperwork. If you have friends/family in the USA that would buy it and send it to you, you can still save a bunch. The only down side is the off chance you'd need warranty service, you may have to mail it to the USA and back.

    It's hard to recommend a model without a particular budget in mind. I would think you'd want HDMI 1.2 at least to connect to your new TV. Some of the HDTV buffs here can better direct you on that issue, but that's one question to ask.

    I belive there's plenty of models with optional ipod docking ability (costs extra).

    In terms of brand names and sound quality - you won't find big differences in the sound at a common pricepoint - in the old analog days there were rather noticeable characteristics but now for the most part they're very similar. I would stick with anything from Harman Kardon, Denon, Onkyo, Marantz, or Yamaha. Avoid stuff from Sony, JVC, Panasonic, and Pioneer - they tend to be too hit and miss with their quality and aren't much cheaper.

    The most useful feature I've found when helping others buy receivers are:
    1) universal "learning" remote
    2) auto-setup feature.

    Don't worry too much about the various Concert Hall, Jazz Hall, Gas Chamber DSP modes.

    You probably want to make sure it has 5.1 analog inputs for some future-proofing against the new HD-DVD/BluRay audio formats, but I think almost every unit you'd look at will.

  4. #4
    Musicaholic Forums Moderator ForeverAutumn's Avatar
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    Regarding price point, obviously the less I need to spend the better. But I don't want to end up with something that I won't be happy with just to save a few bucks. Let's say that my cap is $1,000 taxes in. However, if I can get something good that suits my purpose for $500...that's great!

    As for getting something in the US, I'm less than 1.5 hours from Buffalo. I'd spend a tank of gas to save $250.

  5. #5
    Class of the clown GMichael's Avatar
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    Hi FA!

    I have two Yamaha receivers. One cost me $1k (3 years old now) and the other could be had for around $200 (4 or 5 year old model). Of coarse the more expensive one has more stuff. 7.1 instead of 6.1, pre-outs, more power, a little better sound, more connections etc etc etc. But if you aren't looking for the latest and greatest, then the cheaper model would keep you happy for a long time. I know that I like it. Onkyo, Denon, HK, Pioneer are all making good entry to mid level receivers. Any of them should do you just fine. Last year's models would probably be good for you and can be had at sellout prices. Most of them even have IPOD inputs. The newer models should be coming out this month or next. The older models will be on sale.

    Happy shopping.
    WARNING! - The Surgeon General has determined that, time spent listening to music is not deducted from one's lifespan.

  6. #6
    Loving This kexodusc's Avatar
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    Hey GM' which model is your little receiver? Come to think of it, I really need a 2nd receiver too. Should start shopping...

    Hmmm.

  7. #7
    Class of the clown GMichael's Avatar
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    I have an RX-V2500 driving Mini's in the main system and an HTR-5740 driving little JBL E20's in the bedroom. The main system does sound better, but not by as much as I would expect. That little system sounds very good for a fraction of the cost. But it is in a smaller room. 14x15 instead of 28x26.
    WARNING! - The Surgeon General has determined that, time spent listening to music is not deducted from one's lifespan.

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by ForeverAutumn
    I know that this should probably be posted in another forum, but I couldn't figure out which one. So here I am, in the forum in which I feel at home and know that I'll get good, reliable advice. Mods, feel free to move me to the right spot.
    G Swish can tell you what kind of surge supressor to buy...

  9. #9
    Stainmaster Finch Platte's Avatar
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    Another vote for Onkyo.

    A few years back, I decided to go all (well, sort of) out & buy a nice NAD rig from an expensive hifi store. That thing lasted less than a year. Pissed me off.

    So I went to GoodGuys and picked up a reasonably-priced Onkyo receiver and it's worked & sounded great ever since.

    Fock NAD. Bastards stole my money.

    fp

  10. #10
    all around good guy Jim Clark's Avatar
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    Well, you have the potential to cross the threshold into audiophildom (dumb)?

    Movies once a month? Thin walls? Not moving for the next couple of years?

    Personally I'd say forget the whole surround sound thing and get yourself a very good integrated amp. I really like MAF's suggestion of Cambridge Audio. Through a set of decent speakers, a whole 'nother post, stereo movies would probably sound a whole lot better than what you got anyway. Music was most important to me as well. I could have grabbed something with a whole lot more bells and whistles for the money I spent on a preamp/processor but music sound quality was a whole lot more important to me.

    An Ipod could be connected through an auxiliary input but I doubt there's too many integrated amps with built in connectivity. Generally the folks buying these are most interested in sound and usually that doesn't really fit with Ipod. I suppose there are always exceptions, I really don't mean to offend : )

    A good integrated amp will last a music lover for many years. Long past all of the changes in decoding schemes and trumped up soundfields that multichannel receivers support. Why pay for 7 amps when all you really need is 2 good ones?

    just another perspective.

    Good luck and have fun. There really is no right answer. When you find what you want, it will be a perfect fit regardless of what we think.

    jc
    "Ahh, cartoons! America's only native art form. I don't count jazz 'cuz it sucks"- Bartholomew J. Simpson

  11. #11
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    Three words:
    Ya Ma Ha

    I have three of them:
    1) RX-V2700 in my Home Theatre Room
    2) RX-V800 in my office
    3) CR-620 (vintage silver-faced 1970's model) in my garage

  12. #12
    Class of the clown GMichael's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Clark
    Well, you have the potential to cross the threshold into audiophildom (dumb)?

    Movies once a month? Thin walls? Not moving for the next couple of years?

    Personally I'd say forget the whole surround sound thing and get yourself a very good integrated amp. I really like MAF's suggestion of Cambridge Audio. Through a set of decent speakers, a whole 'nother post, stereo movies would probably sound a whole lot better than what you got anyway. Music was most important to me as well. I could have grabbed something with a whole lot more bells and whistles for the money I spent on a preamp/processor but music sound quality was a whole lot more important to me.

    An Ipod could be connected through an auxiliary input but I doubt there's too many integrated amps with built in connectivity. Generally the folks buying these are most interested in sound and usually that doesn't really fit with Ipod. I suppose there are always exceptions, I really don't mean to offend : )

    A good integrated amp will last a music lover for many years. Long past all of the changes in decoding schemes and trumped up soundfields that multichannel receivers support. Why pay for 7 amps when all you really need is 2 good ones?

    just another perspective.

    Good luck and have fun. There really is no right answer. When you find what you want, it will be a perfect fit regardless of what we think.

    jc
    Jim makes a good point. The Cambridge integrated amps are very nice. (as are some others) And if you rarely watch a movie then why should you bother with 5.1 or 7.1? You may be happier with a nice 2 channel system.
    WARNING! - The Surgeon General has determined that, time spent listening to music is not deducted from one's lifespan.

  13. #13
    Musicaholic Forums Moderator ForeverAutumn's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Clark
    Well, you have the potential to cross the threshold into audiophildom (dumb)?
    Absolutely! And it scares me.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Clark
    Personally I'd say forget the whole surround sound thing and get yourself a very good integrated amp. I really like MAF's suggestion of Cambridge Audio. Through a set of decent speakers, a whole 'nother post, stereo movies would probably sound a whole lot better than what you got anyway. Music was most important to me as well. I could have grabbed something with a whole lot more bells and whistles for the money I spent on a preamp/processor but music sound quality was a whole lot more important to me.
    Thanks for adding another level of complexity to the situation Jim. Do you know how long it took us to agree on a TV? We started this process in FEBRUARY!!! I would have had the TV purchased, hooked up, and been watching Lost in HD a week after I got my bonus...if I didn't have a husband to slow everything down.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Clark
    An Ipod could be connected through an auxiliary input but I doubt there's too many integrated amps with built in connectivity. Generally the folks buying these are most interested in sound and usually that doesn't really fit with Ipod. I suppose there are always exceptions, I really don't mean to offend : )
    I completely agree. The reason for the iPod is that we currently have a 6-disk DVD player so I can shuffle to my heart's content. If we replace it, it may be with a single disk player and that will cramp my style. The iPod is for the times when I want quantity and diverse selection over quality.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Clark
    A good integrated amp will last a music lover for many years. Long past all of the changes in decoding schemes and trumped up soundfields that multichannel receivers support. Why pay for 7 amps when all you really need is 2 good ones?

    just another perspective.
    It's definately something to consider. But some of the music DVDs have some nice 5.1 mixes that I think I'd miss. I appreciate the alternate perspective though. It is something to think about.

    Quote Originally Posted by Jim Clark
    Good luck and have fun. There really is no right answer. When you find what you want, it will be a perfect fit regardless of what we think.

    jc
    I hope so. If it's not, then I'll sell it and start over.

  14. #14
    Suspended PeruvianSkies's Avatar
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    3 more words..

    PIE-OH-NEAR.

    The new Pioneer Elite Receivers are out and they are awesome! The VSX-80TXV and the VSX-90TXV. Both MSRP is $650USD. I love the Elite series as they offer great quality at reasonable pricing and the Pioneers are always easy to figure out and connect up. I have always found that Sony and Yamaha stuff is not as user friendly.
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails What do I need in a new Receiver?-310966022vsx-80txv_large.jpg   What do I need in a new Receiver?-463566612vsx-90txv_front_med.jpg  

  15. #15
    Indifferentist Slosh's Avatar
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    You've got tons of choices for well under your price range for an integrated stereo amp or A/V receiver, with lots of good suggestions already so I'll leave that alone. But instead of connecting your iPod I recommend a network music player such as the Slim Devices Squeezebox or the Roku SoundBridge. The advantage of which is it gives you instant access to all of the music on your computer, and is not limited by file format. Note that neither of these can play DRM music from the iTunes store (although the Roku can play Play-For-Sure downloads).

    The advantage of the Squeezebox is it runs on 802.11G vs. 802.11B for the Roku and has slightly better sound quality (with its analog outputs, anyway).

    The Roku is half the price and works with iTunes out of the box - no software to install, plus plays Apple Lossless natively (the Squeezebox has to transcode Apple Lossless to .wav). Also the Roku can work with virtually any server software (I use Firefly Media Server myself, which is free and can play more file types than iTunes, plus Windows Media Connect 2 and iTunes on occasion) while the Squeezebox only works with SlimServer.

    If you can run an ethernet cable the wi-fi B vs. G isn't an issue. If not and you need G speed you can pick up a 802.11G bridge for less than $50 if you shop around (the internet) and plug that into the Roku's ethernet port.
    Originally Posted by Troy: She has that same kind of cleft-pallet, slightly retarded way of singing that so many other people find endearing.


  16. #16
    Class of the clown GMichael's Avatar
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    Let me also add, or at least say again, that you don't need an "IPOD compatible" receiver to connect to an IPOD. I have our IPOD hooked up to an old Pioneer 2 channel receiver that was made before IPOD's were ever thought of. All you need is a docking station for around $20.
    WARNING! - The Surgeon General has determined that, time spent listening to music is not deducted from one's lifespan.

  17. #17
    Forum Regular ldgibson76's Avatar
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    Hello "ForeverAutumn"!

    I really do not believe that some of the individuals that submitted a post to your inquiry really understood your concerns therefore leading to possible confusion. Considering your current dwelling and all the other factors mentioned in you post....You are in need of a one box does all solution. What I mean by "One-box-does-all" is, an AV receiver that's able to give you separates-like/2 channel playback quality.
    -performs well at low levels giving you clarity at any volume level.
    -Has 5.1 audio playback capability (SACD or DVD-Audio)
    -Future proof technology i.e....HDMI v1.3 connectivity for 1080P, TrueDolbyHD, DTS-HD, etc.
    -iPod connectivity along with satelitte radio compatibility.
    -The ability/power to accomodate a larger room so when you do move in two years, the receiver will not be lacking power or be obsolete....Remember, technology is infinite...always changing so beware of purchasing clearance items or old technology. Music can be palyed at higher bandwidths(HDCD) so why not be prepared for it?!
    -Multi-zone audio capability....Always having the ability to expand.
    -AV receivers w/learning remotes are ok, but most of the time limited.....Logitech Harmony Universal Remotes will be the best solution. AV receiver remotes have come a long way, but still fall short of the Harmony remote's versatility and user friendliness. And they're easy to program.
    -And all of this for under $800.00 american.....MARANTZ SR5002. This product will be introduced in September and will do everything mentioned above for less than $800.00.
    No one can ever deny that the out of all the mid priced receivers out there, when it comes to audio.....Marantz is the best choice. It's video switching isn't bad either.
    Check out www.marantz.com. The current model, SR5001 is HDMI v1.1. The 5002 will be
    v1.3. And the materials used is of high quality....higher than most in this price range.

    By the way, for you Denon Yamaha, Pioneer, Onkyo, Cambridge, NAD, Rotel and Sony lovers....Everyone now makes great products. It comes down to preference. But recognize what ForeverAutumn's wants and needs out of her receiver.
    Good Luck!
    Last edited by ldgibson76; 08-09-2007 at 02:37 PM.

  18. #18
    all around good guy Jim Clark's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ldgibson76
    Hello "ForeverAutumn"!

    I really do not believe that some of the individuals that submitted a post to your inquiry really understood your concerns therefore leading to possible confusion.
    You ain't kidding...most of those other folks are pretty stupid. You'll get used to it. Not me of course : )

    Quote Originally Posted by ldgibson76
    an AV receiver that's able to give you separates-like/2 channel playback quality.
    Brother, if you found one, you'd be the first. Hey, I'm not being snotty, 2 of my systems are receiver based. Dawgone lottery odds suck.

    Quote Originally Posted by ldgibson76
    -Future proof technology i.e....HDMI v1.3 connectivity for 1080P, TrueDolbyHD, DTS-HD, etc.
    You know what? I bought my first future proof reciever about 12 years ago. Couldn't tell you where it is now.

    Quote Originally Posted by ldgibson76
    No one can ever deny that the out of all the mid priced receivers out there, when it comes to audio.....Marantz is the best choice.
    Good Luck!
    See, I did not know that. Guess I"m as stupid as everyone else. You'll get used to that too. Seriously though, Marantz is worth looking at in the receiver market. I've never been impressed enough to buy one but I've only had 2 in my house over the years. The SR8000 was pretty sweet at the time but I preferred a Denon product even though the Marantz had a way cooler remote. Go figure.

    jc
    "Ahh, cartoons! America's only native art form. I don't count jazz 'cuz it sucks"- Bartholomew J. Simpson

  19. #19
    Musicaholic Forums Moderator ForeverAutumn's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Slosh
    You've got tons of choices for well under your price range for an integrated stereo amp or A/V receiver, with lots of good suggestions already so I'll leave that alone. But instead of connecting your iPod I recommend a network music player such as the Slim Devices Squeezebox or the Roku SoundBridge. The advantage of which is it gives you instant access to all of the music on your computer, and is not limited by file format. Note that neither of these can play DRM music from the iTunes store (although the Roku can play Play-For-Sure downloads).

    The advantage of the Squeezebox is it runs on 802.11G vs. 802.11B for the Roku and has slightly better sound quality (with its analog outputs, anyway).

    The Roku is half the price and works with iTunes out of the box - no software to install, plus plays Apple Lossless natively (the Squeezebox has to transcode Apple Lossless to .wav). Also the Roku can work with virtually any server software (I use Firefly Media Server myself, which is free and can play more file types than iTunes, plus Windows Media Connect 2 and iTunes on occasion) while the Squeezebox only works with SlimServer.

    If you can run an ethernet cable the wi-fi B vs. G isn't an issue. If not and you need G speed you can pick up a 802.11G bridge for less than $50 if you shop around (the internet) and plug that into the Roku's ethernet port.
    Thanks for the suggestion. I have an 80gig iPod, so all of the music on my computer is also on my iPod. Since we only have one desktop computer in the house, we're not currently wireless. Although we have been wireless in the past when I also had a laptop, so I have the equipment to set up wireless if I needed to.

    It seems that there are lots of options for connecting my iPod to the receiver. It's no longer a "must have" option. I saw a cool bluetooth connection in Future Shop. You connect the bluetooth dock to the receiver and then a bluetooth trasmitter to your iPod and you can play your iPod through your system wirelessly and treat the iPod like a remote control. I'm not sure how well it works, but it's a neat idea.

  20. #20
    Musicaholic Forums Moderator ForeverAutumn's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ldgibson76
    Hello "ForeverAutumn"!

    ...
    That's a very good summary of my needs. Thanks for your advice.

  21. #21
    Forum Regular DEVO's Avatar
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    Isn't this fun...all these different theories from your origional concept.

    I like the RXV861. It offers HDMI transcoding w/ IPOD capabilities and a zone 2 option. It is a 7.1 receiver, but offers alot of other features that I feel you will like.

    Take a look!

    http://www.yamaha.com/yec/products/p...8&CTID=5000300

    Good Luck!

  22. #22
    Indifferentist Slosh's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ForeverAutumn
    I have an 80gig iPod, so all of the music on my computer is also on my iPod.
    Nice toy but be very careful with it! The hard drive on my 30GB iPod broke again If that's not bad enough the screen on my daughter's identical iPod decided to die for no apparent reason but since mine is dead anyway I pirated out my screen to her iPod. Luckily for me I have another mp3 player that overall I like better anyway, but it doesn't support gapless playback. Oddly enough it uses the same hard drive as the iPod but has never given me any trouble, and has gotten more use than both iPods combined at that. Must be better build quality. Seems that the current iPods' cases are just too flimsy (and scratch way too easily).

    Hope you have better luck than me
    Originally Posted by Troy: She has that same kind of cleft-pallet, slightly retarded way of singing that so many other people find endearing.


  23. #23
    Musicaholic Forums Moderator ForeverAutumn's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Slosh
    Nice toy but be very careful with it! The hard drive on my 30GB iPod broke again If that's not bad enough the screen on my daughter's identical iPod decided to die for no apparent reason but since mine is dead anyway I pirated out my screen to her iPod. Luckily for me I have another mp3 player that overall I like better anyway, but it doesn't support gapless playback. Oddly enough it uses the same hard drive as the iPod but has never given me any trouble, and has gotten more use than both iPods combined at that. Must be better build quality. Seems that the current iPods' cases are just too flimsy (and scratch way too easily).

    Hope you have better luck than me
    Thanks. I've been debating whether to pay the $59 for the Apple extended warranty. Based on your experiences, it sounds like that might be a good idea.

  24. #24
    Suspended PeruvianSkies's Avatar
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    I'd go with that new Marantz that's coming out in Sept. or the Pioneer Elite's that just came out....depending on which you can get the better deal on. Both are going to offer you about the same in terms of the latest technology and an all-in-one solution.

  25. #25
    Class of the clown GMichael's Avatar
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    WARNING! - The Surgeon General has determined that, time spent listening to music is not deducted from one's lifespan.

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