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Best Receiver Under $400?


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#1 of 42 OFFLINE   iBalisy

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Posted October 29 2010 - 08:14 PM

Hi, I'm looking to connect a home theater receiver to my Asus D2X sound card on my computer as an upgrade from the Logitech Z-5300 speaker system that I've had for over 8 years, for under $400.  I am getting the Polk Audio RM510 speaker system (unless someone thinks another product would be better for $400).  I'm looking at the Onkyo TX-SR608 and the Onkyo HT-RC260 for receivers and I'd like to know what the difference is, only in terms of sound quality and build quality?  I'm an audiophile and I'm only using the receiver to connect from the sound card into speakers; my LCD monitor in connected by HDMI from a very nice graphics card.  I was also looking at the Yamaha RX-V467.  If anyone has any suggestions, I'd like to know specifics about advantages and disadvantages of each of these receivers (mainly about sound quality).  General statements are good too, I'd just like to know specifics because I know a fair bit about audio equipment and have a very discerning ear.


Thanks everyone! Posted Image



#2 of 42 OFFLINE   iBalisy

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Posted October 29 2010 - 08:15 PM

I forgot to mention that I was also considering the Denon AVR-1611, but I was a little put off by the 75 watts to each channel. Input on this would be highly valued too. Posted Image



#3 of 42 OFFLINE   Robert_J

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Posted October 29 2010 - 10:33 PM

Ignore the wattage ratings.  They are the least important specs.


Does the receiver have enough and the correct types of inputs for your current and future needs?  Does it process the sound formats that you have?  Does it have an auto calibration system built in?



#4 of 42 OFFLINE   iBalisy

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Posted October 30 2010 - 02:48 AM

Both Onkyo receivers have 6 1.4 HDMI inputs (more than enough for me) and 2 digital coaxial and 2 digital optical, the Yamaha RX-V467 and Denon 1611 have 4 1.4 HDMI inputs (still more than I need), but the Yamaha has 2 digital coaxial inputs, whereas the Denon has only 1. I'm not all that concerned about that, however, because if and when I hook up a Blu Ray player and cable or satellite box to it, I'll send it through HDMI inputs and out the HDMI output to a TV.  All of them process the digital signals I will be using.  All except the Yamaha have auto-calibration.  So I'm thinking the Yamaha is not my best choice right now, seeing as it has gotten worse reviews and doesn't have auto-calibration.  I'm still put off a little bit by the 75 watts to each channel that you get with the Denon, but if it doesn't make a difference, then I don't care.  I do like Denon products and my father has had two Denon receivers in our old house (one bought just about 2 years ago), and they sounded great and were reliable.  Between the Denon and the two Onkyo receivers, which would produce the best and most reliable sound quality?  Oh, and just realized that the Denon only has 24-bit/96-kHz digital audio capabilities, whereas both Onkyo's have 24-bit/192-kHz capabilities.  I will be using the 24 bit/192 kHz digital audio, so I guess the Denon is out of the picture too.  Between the Onkyo's, would I get better sound quality out of the TX-SR608 than I would out of the HT-RC260?  (I would pay $50 more for the former than the latter)  Are there other receivers in this price range that I should look at?



#5 of 42 OFFLINE   CB750

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Posted October 30 2010 - 04:26 AM

Ian


Robert J raises some good questions.  These days a receiver is the hub of your system where all of your input and output connections are made using the best connection method your equipment supports. 

In your arrangement you are going to want to connect your PC video card HDMI out to a HDMI input on your receiver.   This should handle both the video and audio output from your PC to Receiver.  You would then connect your Receiver HDMI out to your LCD Monitor HDMI input.  Since you didn't list any other equipment or future needs you are going to want to make provisions for those connections in your receiver.  Your receiver selection should be based on connection needs, and desired features such as video up conversion, room correction software, types of sound processing, zone2, bi amp capability, ease of set up.  All of the brands you list build good receivers in their price points and differences in quality and features are more based on price than one brand vs another.


If you call yourself an "audiophile" then your primary concern should be your speaker system.  I have gone thorough the process a couple of years ago and listened to many speaker systems in many price ranges.  How many systems have you listened to?   While I have not listened to the Polk system I have listened to many other systems from Energy, Def Tech, Kilpsch, Mirage in the Under $700 price range (depending on discounts and sales).  In my opinion while these 5.1 systems offer valve for the money and are a step up from those found in HTib they are primary meant for HT video use rather than listening to audiophile music.

I also have a Logitech Z5300 connected to my PC.   The primary draw back of that system is the fact that it does not have the ability to process much in the way of Dobly type sound formats that a reviver can do.   While the 5.1 speaker systems in your  $400 price budget when connected to a receiver will offer some improvement over your Z5300,  that improvement not be significant,  marginal at best.  If you are looking for  a 5.1 speaker system that will do a great job of both music and video sources,as I was,  you may want to increase your budget significantly into the $1,000+ range.



#6 of 42 OFFLINE   iBalisy

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Posted October 30 2010 - 07:18 AM

CB750: You do make very good points. I'll explain it a little better though, my video card is already connected to my LCD monitor by HDMI, so that isn't really much of a concern to me. Video upconversion, therefore is not an immediate concern. However, I plan on using this audio set up to connect a Blu Ray player and Cable/Satellite Box to an LCD TV later.  I am concerned with the receiver, only in the sense that I want to make sure the connections in the system are good and the quality is good.


In terms of sound systems, I have heard a lot of the good ones between $400 and $1000 and I have to say, from an audiophile's perspective, the sound quality does not differ very much at all because they all use similar drivers and diameter tweeters and speakers. In this sense, I have decided upon Polk Audio because they outdo most others under $800, they are very well built, have excellent drivers, and utilize good quality connections.  I am also not skimping on my cables, so the cables alone are going to cost me $100.  Keeping this in mind, I am willing to go up to around $550 for the speaker system, but so far I have not found any that compare to the Pol Audio RM510 system.  Any thoughts/suggestions on this topic?


I'm pretty positive I'm going to get the Onkyo HT-RC260 since it's nearly identicle to the TX-SR608, apart from the THX (which I won't be needing) and VGA connection (also won't need because I'll be using HDMI eventually).



#7 of 42 OFFLINE   iBalisy

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Posted October 30 2010 - 07:22 AM

I also know, certainly, that I will get a much better quality sound out of the Polk Audio system I've selected, because I've heard it through a $250 Yamaha receiver and they blew my Logitech Z-5300 speakers out of the water. This is likely because the Z-5300 confined the controlling receiver part of the system to the subwoofer backpanel and it is only analog connections. The Z-5300 speakers I have are also blown out and the receiver part of it is broken in some way too.



#8 of 42 OFFLINE   iBalisy

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Posted October 30 2010 - 07:30 AM

In addition, the Polk Audio RM510 system has the best frequency response range of anything under $750 (which I am not really willing to spend, as it would not be a significant difference).  It also has the triangle designed housing, which produces the best soundstage of any speaker design.



#9 of 42 OFFLINE   CB750

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Posted October 30 2010 - 12:10 PM

Ian


I suggested the HDMI connection from your PC video card to your receiver because my ATI 4850 video card has that feature and why not keep it simple and use one cable to handle all of your PC connections to your system.    If you don't use my suggested method how do you plan to get the audio from your PC sound card to your receiver?  Most 6 channel cards use three different 3.5 mm jacks as output.  None of the receivers I am familiar with have those type of audio connections and would need some sort on an adapter unless the sound card has an optical output.  But that would require another cable from your PC to receiver.


It's good that you listened to the polks and your ears are happy with their performance.  Things like frequency response in speakers is sort of like watts in a receiver they don't mean much.

The reason I brought up the music vs video sound is based on my own experience in putting together a HT system,  My first purchase was a 52" LCD and I connected it to my 1970's vintage Bose 901's and Sansui 9090db Stereo receiver.  I knew that I could not construct a 5.1 system from that equipment so I started looking.  I soon found out that none of the $800 and under 5.1 speaker systems I listened to could not come close to music listening quality of the old stuff I had at home.  I soon found my speaker budget grow to $1,400.


Don't over spend on cables and wires, and stay away from things made by Monster they are over priced and of no better quality that you can find on this website.



#10 of 42 OFFLINE   iBalisy

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Posted October 30 2010 - 01:07 PM

Sorry, I should have said that my sound card has a digital coaxial output, and I'll be connecting it to the receiver that way. I have the ATI Radeon 5870 so it has an incredibly good quality hdmi output, so I won't be connecting the video card through the receiver, as it would likely degrade the video quality. So the audio card will be connected by a digital coaxial cable, and the video card hdmi will go directly to the monitor. Does anyone have any suggestions for digital coaxial cables? Because I was actually going to use the monster m1000 since I can get it for $35. Same question for a subwoofer cable?

#11 of 42 OFFLINE   JoeCool6972

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Posted October 30 2010 - 04:12 PM

Here is my advice. if you are on a budget like I am, look for  "open box"  and/or clearance deals. I got my Yamaha 7.1x120w receiver "open box" (display. last year model) in 08 for $189. It was normally $599. All that was missing was the remote. Got a replacement from Yamaha for $40. And it had sticker glue on the front which was easily cleaned up. Just make sure if it is a display, you check it out FIRST, I made that mistake once at Worst Buy (one of MANY bad experiences) and got a Sony receiver (sometime in 99) and discovered 2 of the jacks in back didn't work. And of course the butt holes said "all clearance sales are final, no refunds, no returns.



#12 of 42 OFFLINE   iBalisy

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Posted October 30 2010 - 04:45 PM

I'll be sure to take a look. I do like Denon receivers, but you don't get very much for your money unless you're spending over $750, so maybe that'll be a good way to get the upper level quality for a lower level price. Thanks!


Question stands: what kind of cables are going to be the best for a digital coaxial and subwoofer cable? I AM looking for a good quality cable, and I have a lot of experience with cables so I know they are not just wires. I cut two HDMI cables open a little while ago (one not very expensive at all, and one for about $30) and found that the lower priced HDMI cable was a mess of frays and kinks in the wiring, with many problems and corrosion on the plug ends, whereas the more expensive one was perfect and well shielded.  Now, I'm not saying that you have to spend over $50 on a cable to get good quality, but I won't be sold on a $5 cable because I know that I'll have problems with it.



#13 of 42 OFFLINE   JoeCool6972

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Posted October 30 2010 - 05:11 PM

Once again...  CLEARANCE. I got some normally $50 component cables for $5 for my PS3 when Circuit City went under!

HH Gregg has been closing out Acoustic Research cables recently because they are going with another brand the sales lady told me. I got another component cable set and an optical audio cable for my TV dirt cheap, they were expensive. HDMI is also on closeout, but I need to use component and optical with my older model receiver.



#14 of 42 OFFLINE   iBalisy

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Posted October 30 2010 - 05:17 PM

Yeah, I just found the Denon 2311ci receiver which is normally around $850 for $550 BRAND NEW. Same price when I looked up clearance, but the must be a clearance price anyways. Any thoughts on this specific receiver?



#15 of 42 OFFLINE   JoeCool6972

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Posted October 30 2010 - 05:48 PM

I was talking about cables in that last post... but yeah, Denon has a great reputation for sound reproduction, quality, and durability.



#16 of 42 OFFLINE   iBalisy

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Posted October 30 2010 - 07:15 PM

Very true, and I'm pretty sure that I'm going to get that one since I can't really expect any better quality from the speakers unless I'm spending a lot more than I would be on the Denon 2311ci.  But yeah, I realize you were talking about cables before, and I'm looking for some right now. If you have any specific suggestions of digital coax or subwoofer cables I can get that are good and not too expensive, I'm all ears!



#17 of 42 OFFLINE   iBalisy

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Posted October 30 2010 - 07:45 PM

So I'm looking at the Belkin PureAV AV50500 (15 foot subwoofer cable) and AV50100 (8 foot digital coaxial cable). I'm gonna get them for $15 total, so this seems too cheap to be good quality, but I don't have much experience with Belkin. Anyone want to give me some imput? They both have very good ratings.



#18 of 42 OFFLINE   Robert_J

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Posted October 31 2010 - 01:14 AM



Originally Posted by iBalisy 

So I'm looking at the Belkin PureAV AV50500 (15 foot subwoofer cable) and AV50100 (8 foot digital coaxial cable). I'm gonna get them for $15 total, so this seems too cheap to be good quality, but I don't have much experience with Belkin. Anyone want to give me some imput? They both have very good ratings.

Take price out of the equation when looking at cables.  That's why we recommend cables from Monoprice all of the time.  I have a 35 ft. HDMI cable that would sell at Best Buy for upwards of $200 if they carried that length.  I paid about $15 for it.  It has worked perfectly for 2 years.  Belkin is a quality manufacturer as well and $15 seems like a good price.



#19 of 42 OFFLINE   Robert_J

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Posted October 31 2010 - 01:23 AM



Originally Posted by iBalisy 
In terms of sound systems, I have heard a lot of the good ones between $400 and $1000 and I have to say, from an audiophile's perspective, the sound quality does not differ very much at all because they all use similar drivers and diameter tweeters and speakers. In this sense, I have decided upon Polk Audio because they outdo most others under $800, they are very well built, have excellent drivers, and utilize good quality connections.  I am also not skimping on my cables, so the cables alone are going to cost me $100.  Keeping this in mind, I am willing to go up to around $550 for the speaker system, but so far I have not found any that compare to the Pol Audio RM510 system.  Any thoughts/suggestions on this topic?

First let me say that you have done the correct thing in auditioning speakers and finding the ones that you like.


Just because the drivers used happen to be of a similar size doesn't make two different speakers sound similar.  A 1" Goldwood tweeter will not sound like a 1" Dynaudio tweeter.  A 6" Dayton woofer does not sound like a 6" Morel woofer.  Another factor is the crossover system inside each speaker.  The lower end models use very simple crossovers.  Finally the construction of the cabinet has a huge impact on the sound quality.  That's why Polk can build and sell a speaker with a 1" tweeter and a 6" woofer for $100 and Egglestonworks sells a speaker with a 1" tweeter and a 6" woofer for $1,000 - http://egglestonworks.com/?page_id=212 .



#20 of 42 OFFLINE   iBalisy

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Posted October 31 2010 - 05:27 AM

Robet J:


You make a very good point. I didn't mean that the tweeters, woofers, and drivers are similar in terms of size, but rather they are similar in construction and quality.  The Polk Audio housing does make an incredible difference on the soundstage, richness of sound, warmth, area of sound (what direction they sound best from; this is one of the main reasons I like the Polk Audio RM510's because it includes two RM7 front speakers which are incredibly good for front directioning and two RM8's for surround speakers which fill the back and side areas which a very nice full-bodied sound even from a more frontal desk positioning), and range of frequency. I have to say, though Egglestonworks sound amazing, they are way overpriced and should be priced around $500 (which is still a hell of a lot if you're going to get a full 5.1 or 7.1 set haha) and the shape of their housing is not their most impressive quality.  The triangle, rounded-edge shape of RM series from Polk Audio allows them to make smaller bookshelf speakers while still creating a very strong resonance direction behind and around the tweeters and woofers.


If you have any suggestions about the speakers, I'm all ears! I figure that when I move into a new, larger appartment, those will be the first things I replace (apart from getting an LCD or LED-LCD TV) since I'll essentially be getting a $900 receiver (for $579, brand new), and a $400 dollar speaker set.  The price difference alone indicates that there'll be a little imbalance in the quality, but from Polk Audio speakers it would be hard to tell the difference between them and speakers which sell for around $1500. I tested them based from the same receiver against the Bose Acoustamess 16 series ($1200; Bose is just a name now, they don't do very much for Home Theater quality anymore; still make very good car systems though), and a $1500 Klipcsh and a $400 Energy speaker set and the Polk Audio sounded the best to my ears.  They seemed to have much better housing than the rest, provided much clearer highs, richer mids, and deeper low ends without buzzing or fluctuating. Obviously I spent around 4 hours in the store, testing these different speakers and the salesman was trying to sell me on the Klipsch system, which I'll admit did sound as good as the Polk Audio, but it didn't sound $1100 better. This is really my basing for getting the Polk Audio system.


If anyone has any objections or suggestions, I'm all ears! Posted Image