I'm experiencing some problems with my Onkyo 797 that lead me to believe I might be driving it too hard. I'm hearing crackling noises from my front center channel during loud sequences that go away when I turn the volume down. I never heard the noise before (purchased the receiver in November), but I just moved into a newer building that lets me really crank it up without disturbing the neighbors. Sounds like clipping to me and not the crackling problems common to certain DVD soundtracks. This, combined with the annoying DD-EX flags issue, has me thinking that it might be a good time to sell the receiver while it still has some value and jump into separates. I've never owned separates before, but I figure it can't be that difficult. I guess I'd need the following: - preamp - DD-EX/DTS-ES processor (or maybe a preamp/processor combo) - power amplifier(s) or monoblocks That's pretty much it right? What I'm wondering is whether or not I can get the same performance/features from entry-level separates that I can from a mid-fi receiver in my price range (~$2000). I don't use any of the "bells and whistles" of my 797 (no video switching, no radio listening, no wacky DSP modes), just straight DD-EX/DTS-ES/DPL2 decoding and amplification and occasional CD/vinyl listening (stereo only). Using J&R prices as a quick example, they have AudioSource monoblocks (150W) for $180 each, so figure six/seven of those for $1080/$1260, leaving about $900 for a preamp/processor. I would consider going a bit higher if necessary. Other brands are an option also of course. I haven't seriously followed hi-end audio for years, so I no longer remember who the big players are. Suggestions are very welcome. I considered keeping the 797 as a preamp/processor, but since the decoding problems are one of the reasons I'm thinking about jumping ship, that doesn't really make much sense. So are separates worth it at this price point, or should I just get a better receiver and be done with it?