Best Receiver ($200-$250) for Stereo Use

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by ChrisPan, Mar 13, 2003.

  1. ChrisPan

    ChrisPan Auditioning

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    Hi guys. I'm new here, but already have learned a wealth of information with past posts on budget Receivers. I will be buying a new receiver for my parents soon and need your advice. Currently they have a pair of Bose bookself speakers. They have no need, and don't want a subwoofer or surround speakers. They use it probably %40 DVD and %60 digital cable music channels. I would buy a simple stereo receiver, but they do have a need for video switching and I like the quality of 5.1 receivers. I'm currently looking at these receivers in my price range. My top choice is now the Pioneer VSX-D711. Is seems to fit my needs and has a center speaker preout, allowing their TV speakers to act as a center speaker. (Is this a good idea?, I know TV speakers aren't the greatest of speakers) It also has nice power and alot of good reviews for it and its upper model, the 811. Also on the short list is the Panasonic SA-HE100, Onkyo TX-SR500, and the Harman Kardon AVR 125. Any experiece here with H/K's VMAx? "H/K's VMAx virtual surround processing lets you enjoy surround-like effects using just 2 speakers." Sounds too good to be true. Any other receivers I should consider? In your guy's opinion, what would offer the best sound, considering there will be only stereo sound.

    Thanks so much,

    Chris
     
  2. Thomas Nichols

    Thomas Nichols Stunt Coordinator

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    I recently purchased an AVR125. I love my HK. It sounds great. It is really easy to use. It was easy to hook up. I think it sounds fantastic in stereo and surround. I listened to the VMAx for a minute or two. I don't think it is that great. I am using it with some pretty 'low-end' speakers (Polk R20's and a Polk Center). It has some really good sound. I am really happy with the system. I am finding the HK really easy to use. I even like the remote.
     
  3. ChrisPan

    ChrisPan Auditioning

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    I was just reading a post that the 711/811 stereo sound was sub-par, although that may be a result of comparing it to high-end receivers. Can anyone verify this? What is the 711's (and I presume the 811's) performance with just stereo speakers for music and movies?

    Thanks
    -Chris
     
  4. Phil*K

    Phil*K Stunt Coordinator

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    Hey Chris,

    Good to see you on here. Have you thought about just buying a stereo receiver.

    Phil
     
  5. Carl Johnson

    Carl Johnson Cinematographer

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    Stereo receivers (much less economical stereo receivers with video switching) are hard to find so I see why you're looking at surround units but I wouldn't bother trying to use the television as a center channel. I've yet to hear TV speakers that can compare with a modest bookshelf speaker. You'd be better off either sticking with stereo or buying a cheapo speaker and hooking it to the receiver.
     
  6. Phil*K

    Phil*K Stunt Coordinator

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    Carl,

    Sure ones with video switching are going to be hard to find but you can find a straight stero receiver just about anywhere and for two channels only they are probably going to be superior to an inexpensive surround receiver and cost about the same. My question would be what video switching are you going to be doing and do you really need it? Also, have you looked at the top of the page for the thread on inexpensive video switching solutions.

    Phil
     
  7. Carl Johnson

    Carl Johnson Cinematographer

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    I'd agree that a high powered stereo receiver would be best for some speakers but thats not the case here. A $150 surround sound receiver will have more than enough power to drive a pair of bookshelf speakers.
     
  8. Phil*K

    Phil*K Stunt Coordinator

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    LOL,

    Well, I'm not going to argue, its a waste of time. But for half the price for his Pioneer you could probably get a stereo reciever that is still better for stereo than what he's looking at and the Pioneer probably still wont solve his video switching needs.
     
  9. ChrisPan

    ChrisPan Auditioning

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    Well, If you guys think a similarly priced or cheaper stereo receiver would offer better sound, than I will consider it. But, here are my reasons for looking at surround receivers. 1) VERY SLIGHT possibility of getting a subwoofer 2) Better build quality (binding posts etc...) 3) Digital audio in, I would like this feature for DVD, Digital cable, and game console audio. I haven't seen digital ins on stereo receivers. 4) I would like component switching. They plan on getting HDTV in a few years and will have various components that will utilize component video. 5)They are willing to spend up to $250, so might as well spend it and get the most features. So, I am still leaning toward a surround receiver. Again I ask, can anyone offer opinions on the stereo quality of any of the receivers I mentioned, especially the 711?

    Thanks again-
    Chris
     
  10. GregoryM

    GregoryM Agent

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    I have the 711, which I use primarily for 5.1 surround for movies. My speakers are Polk 7300's which is a matched set of satellite/center/powered subwoofer speakers.

    When playing cd's in stereo or listening to cable digital music they sound fine to me, and much better than the boom box in my computer room. It doesn't allow for controlling individual frequencies on the equalizer, but it does have a bunch of pre-set equalizer settings, and it is very user-friendly. It was easy to set up with digital sound from the cable box, dvd player, and X-Box. It isn't for advanced users or audiophiles, but it is easy to use and sounds perfectly adequate.
     
  11. Phil*K

    Phil*K Stunt Coordinator

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    Hey Chris,

    If you're truely only interested in stereo and that's all you're going to do then: 1) the binding post would probably be better in the stereo unit (4 binding post vs 10 or more for the same price) 2. You can add a sub to any thing with binding posts. 3. A digital connector is not needed and in theory would be worse do to the "jitter" factor.

    But having said all that it really sounds like you're hoping to convince your parents to expand later on and in that case I'd get the best surround system they would be willing to buy. I don't know much about the 711, but most people who have it seem to be happy.
     
  12. ChrisPan

    ChrisPan Auditioning

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    Phil*K, please explain why digital audio would work WORSE than composite audio. I have been told it offers a cleaner signal. I'm very interested in why you think otherwise.

    Thanks
    -Chris
     
  13. ColinM

    ColinM Cinematographer

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    Look at Harmanaudio.com for the stereo rec's. Very nice for $150.
     
  14. Phil*K

    Phil*K Stunt Coordinator

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    Chris,

    First, you should search the term, jitter, on this site. But, my understanding is that digital outs have limited bandwiths and produce timing issues with the DACS on your reciever. This is called jitter. If you use the DACs on your cd/dvd player the signal is sent out analog and bypass the receivers DACS. This eliminates the jitter and theorectically will produce better sound.

    Cheers,

    Phil
     
  15. LanceJ

    LanceJ Producer

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    I don't want to sound confrontational, but to me, jitter is another golden ear "problem" that in the real world is a non-issue. Especially when were talking about inexpensive bookshelf speakers and $250 amplifiers. So ChrisPan, IMO don't worry about this.

    1) I have seen VERY few TV's--even big projection sets--that give the user access to the built-in speakers. And as another poster mentioned, these speakers usually suck as far as their quality goes. So don't waste your time with these. Personally I would just go to Radio Shack & buy one of their die-cast aluminum speakers (available singly) for use as a decent center. I think they still make the one with the 4" woofer and 1" dome tweeter (don't underestimate that little woofer--it's a very long-throw design. And I think it handles 50watts RMS--that's big for such a small driver).

    2) Sound quality: Panasonics to me have a clean & slightly bright sound; though some will call it overly analytical. Pioneers--to me--have a nice, warmish sound. Take your pick!

    3) 90% of all subwoofers are equipped with speaker-level inputs. This means you don't need a receiver with a dedicated subwoofer output to use a subwoofer.

    LJ
     
  16. Phil*K

    Phil*K Stunt Coordinator

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    Lance,

    I agree, it was all talk in theory, but the bottom line is that there would be no real diffence in going with analog inputs if you were thinking straight stereo reciever and if anything are actually better.


    Phil
     
  17. Steve Schaffer

    Steve Schaffer Producer

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    I'm looking for the same sort of receiver for my ex--low-priced with decent stereo performance with the potential for later upgrade to surround and able to accept digital audio signals. She also wants to be able to connect a turntable to it as she has a large collection of old vinyl lps. We looked at the Pioneer 711 at Costco which included a dvd player and rudimentary surround speakers and sub for $399. I told her we could get some bigger speakers for the B fronts as she didn't think the tiny sats and sub would work well for plain stereo, but the back had not phono input.

    My Pioneer 45tx also has no back input specifically labelled phono but one of the analog inputs can be set for phono use in the setup menu.

    Does anyone know if the 711 can do this also, or know of any other entry level receivers with phono inputs?
     
  18. Scott Kriefall

    Scott Kriefall Second Unit

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    Very few receivers are still available with phono inputs. But you don't need a phono input... you can buy a standalone phono preamp box that will allow you to connect the turntable to an aux input (or other unused input) on any receiver.

    Radio Shack sells such a preamp for $25 (item #970-1018). Other companies sell phono preamps for a wide range of prices, and some of those may be better than the Radio Shack model.
     
  19. Steve Schaffer

    Steve Schaffer Producer

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    Thanks Scott, that really opens up more possibilities as the only low end receivers I could find with phono input were the Panasonics and according to Crutchfield they don't allow you to set the mains as small.
     

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