Auditioning / General Receiver Advice

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Chris_James, Jan 28, 2003.

  1. Chris_James

    Chris_James Auditioning

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    Ok, here goes my first post

    I currently have a home sorta-theater setup going on with a Sharp 27" TV, Apex DVD, VCR, a JVC stereo receiver, and two older Fisher floor speakers (15" woofer, 5" midrange, 3" tweeter). This setup "sounds good" to my newbie ears. I am planning on building a modest system in the $2500 range over the next year or so, and am going to start out with the receiver instead of the TV, due to budget. In the $300-500ish range (street) my list began with the following units (+/- a few I cant think of) Component video ins/outs are a pre-requisite:

    Panasonic SA-HE100
    JVC RX-8020-VBK
    Pioneer VSX-D811S
    Yamaha HTR5550
    Denon 1603 and 1803
    Kenwood 6060 and 6070
    Harmon Kardon AVR-325

    As I go down the list the receivers (roughly) get farther out of my price range. I have likes and dislikes for all of these units. The main concern on my mind is can I, personally, distinguish the difference in sound quality between a cheaper unit and a more expensive unit? Especially with my current setup? I went out to the B&Ms this weekend (BestBuy, Circuit City, Goodguys, Magnolia) but wasnt really able to audition any. Too that end, my next plan is to purchase a cheaper unit and a "high end" unit, and try them both out. Most likely the Pioneer and the Denon 1803, as they are both available locally. Any tips on this? I guess just pop in some dvds and listen carefully with both units. Will I be sorry if I cant tell the difference now, but when I upgrade speakers find that I went too cheap on the receiver? Any and all advice appreciated. Sorry for the longer post, thanks in advance.

    Chris
     
  2. Brian Johnston

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    Chris,

    I would try to find a local A/V shop where you could do some in store comparisons. Big box stores are not good places to go if you want to do some listening and comparisons. Take out the Yellow Pages and look under Stereo or Home Theatre and you should be able to find some local A/V specialty stores. Phone around until you find one that has a set up that would allow you to compare different receivers on a single set of speakers in the same room.
    If you are lucky you will find a few stores that are all set up to do these kinds of comparisons. Even if you plan to make your purchase elsewhere (they don't have to know), this is a better approach than buying 2 receivers, hooking them up and trying to tell the difference between them, just think of all the wires you would need. It is exceedingly difficult to tell the difference between receivers without being able to switch back and forth between them easily and quickly.

    All that being said, you should be able to hear some differences between receivers at different price points, from different manufactures and of different power. I recall when I started auditioning receivers in store, the salesman was set up to switch between a Denon 1602, 1802 and 2802 on the fly using one set of speakers. I don't know how much of the quality difference I heard was due to increases in volume (which can be very deceiving), but my newbie ears definitely heard an improvement in the more expensive/powerful receivers. When you start comparing receivers around the same price point, things get much more difficult.

    Hope this helps,
    Brian.
     
  3. Angelo.M

    Angelo.M Producer

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    Chris:

    I think you're in a tough spot, because you're starting with the receiver. In terms of the actual sound reproduction you're going to get, the receiver is way down the list in terms of importance, as far as I'm concerned.

    I really don't want to reopen this debate...

    I would start with speakers, and concentrate as much of your financial resources as you can in the speakers. They are the final common pathway of your system in terms of its interaction with your central nervous system, so they ought to be considered carefully.

    I'd start auditioning speakers, and settle on a pair you like. Then, you can bring receivers home in pairs and compare them. H/K might be 'better' than Panasonic, but it will matter very little if you're connected to inferior speakers.

    My two cents...
     
  4. Chris_James

    Chris_James Auditioning

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    I guess thats my biggest problem, finding a store that has a low priced and a high-priced receiver on my list in a listening evironment. You'd think that living in a large city like Seattle that would be easy. But most stores I have found are either the national chains (no real listening evironment), or actual full-blown install-a-home-theater-in-your-house-for-50,000$ stores. And they dont seem to carry any brands that I have ever heard of (so I know its HIGH-END!)

    I had wondered if I was starting off on the wrong component. Like I said, to my untrained ears my speakers "sound good." I chose the reciever because my 400-500$ price range was much cheaper than the price range of the TV that I wanted (32" Flat Screen HDTV). I kinda thought that a reciever in that range would be good for my ears for years to come. Maybe I will step back and start looking at speakers - and saving my pennies.

    Magnolia Hi-Fi has about the best listening room in my area, maybe I will go back and spend some time there just auditioning speaker and reciever combos, to see where I can tell the difference, and where I should put my money first.

    Thanks for the replys guys.
     
  5. JeremyFr

    JeremyFr Supporting Actor

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    I to would recommend Mag Hi-Fi, I'm in the Seattle/Tacoma area myself you cant beat there service, its going to be hard to find a speciallty retalier that carrys everything from the cheapest shirwood receiver to the best Carver Cinema Grand.
     

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