Diiferences between a $200 receiver and a $2000 receiver?

Discussion in 'AV Receivers' started by Andrew O'Brien, Dec 18, 2003.

  1. Andrew O'Brien

    Andrew O'Brien Stunt Coordinator

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    I'm no audiophile, that's for sure. I notice that some receivers in the $200-300 range have fairly good reviews and even get "best buy" rating by consumer magazines. I know that the receivers in the next grouping $300-500 probably have better features and reliability plus specs that suggest better performance. I am therfore shocked to find that some people consider $1000-2000 receivers to be "low end". Just what audible differences would a $2000 receiver have over the Sony/Yamaha/Panasonic/JVC $200 receivers?
     
  2. Dennis Gardner

    Dennis Gardner Stunt Coordinator

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    Andrew,

    Funny you should mention those 4 brands as all of them make receivers from $200 to over $2000. There is little in common between the 2 receivers at the ends of this spectrum though.

    "Best Buys" are normally based on the value that you receive for the given amount of money spent.

    What makes them higher in price are higher quality parts with closer tolerances to the specifications that are quoted.

    You pay more for newer processing features, more constant power output,larger varieties of inputs and outputs for your audio & video sources. Many of us refer to this as "bells and whistles." Audible differences won't be recognizable in a small room at low volume levels but can easily be heard in huge rooms trying to recreate the theater experience.

    Many of us here on the forum like to engage in comparisons of how much value we can get out of our home theater purchases and relish in getting great sound on reasonable budgets, but you will also find those that spare no amount of money in getting custom installations that cost more than some of our homes.

    Listening to and viewing a number of home theaters is a great way to find out what your needs are for your situation, but you can be assured that whatever you decide upon, you will never be at a loss in these forums for a difference of opinion when it comes to audio and video preferences.

    Enjoy your journey,

    DG
     
  3. JamesGL

    JamesGL Stunt Coordinator

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    I just upgraded from an old $200 JVC receiver to an ~$800 Harman Kardon AVR 630 and the difference is night and day.

    It sounds a lot better, the sound separation is a lot cleaner, less noise plus features like NEO 6, PL2, Logic 7 are very very nice.

    Other than sound and features, the other most obvious is build quality. I almost had a hernia carrying the ~50 lb receiver around while the JVC 6000VBK probably weighs less than half of that. That says a lot about the chassis, the transformers, etc.
     
  4. Shane Martin

    Shane Martin Producer

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    Audible differences could go from better dacs, better internals, better features like Logic 7, DPL II, etc. What you usually get for the $$, Includes: More digital inputs, wider bandwidth for comoponent video switching, better connections for your wiring as often on the cheaper receivers you get clips and no binding posts. Also when you top the $2,000 mark nowadays you get a unit that is software upgradable. Some support it, some don't.

    The more difficult to drive that your speakers are, the better amp you want to purchase. At the 2k level some would suggest you consider seperates and I can't disagree with that especialy given the flexibility you get when you go that route.

    Just compare a $200 to the back of a Yamaha Z9 which will run $3,000 approx at a discounted rate. I think it lists for $4,000.
     
  5. John Garcia

    John Garcia Executive Producer

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    I would never spend $2000 on any receiver from Sony, Panasonic or JVC. Yamaha, yes. Though I am not a big fan of Yamaha, their top tier is very good.

    The difference is power, good DACs and more power. Regardless of processing, having enough (or rather enough reserve) power for the receiver to reproduce everyting effortlessly is one key to great sound. IMO, get as much power as you can reasonably afford. $200-300 range has never met my needs, period. $500-750 is has a TON of good selections, and when people ask for recommendation, I usually point them to this category. I wouldn't call the $1K-2K range "low end", especially since I am in this category. I think at the under $2K point you are getting some darn good gear, from most of the major manufacturers. I don't think you could go too wrong with too many of them. At or above the $2.5K range, a receiver is a mistake, IMO, since one could and should be looking at separates.
     
  6. John S

    John S Producer

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    I installed a room a few weekends ago, that I paid about $500 for everything. I am shocked at how good it is compared to my $3000 system.

    If components are chosen properly and just happen to match well with each other, I don't think you give up near as much as most people would think.

    The system, I installed:
    Onkyo 6.1 SR-501 receiver
    12" AR S112PS powered sub
    Qty 6 Yamaha NS-6490 speakers for the full 6.1 setup.

    Before I installed this particular setup, I would have said quite the opposite though about it all.
     
  7. Ernest Yee

    Ernest Yee Supporting Actor

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    John S - well don't discount room characteristics because that can make A LOT of difference!
     
  8. John Garcia

    John Garcia Executive Producer

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    With demanding speakers, you WILL hear a difference between a $500 receiver and a $1500 receiver.

    Those Yamaha speakers are not exactly difficult to drive, nor are they of very high quality. In this case, you won't need much of a receiver to drive them and decent SPLs should be reached without much issue. With demanding speakers however, most $500 receivers will show where they lack when cranked up.

    A well matched system with enough power should strain only under the most demanding situations, if that. An underpowered system might be running at 70% of it's capabilities, and within an inch of it's life most of the time, at the risk of damaging something. That doesn't mean everyone needs a $1500 receiver, just that a system should be ballanced for what it is being asked to do. $1000 (pair) speakers with a $300 receiver is obviously not a good idea, and conversely, a $1500 receiver with $300 speakers is a waste of time.
     
  9. John S

    John S Producer

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    I do think the lowly yamaha speakers, for a myriad of reasons, does match extremely well with the "entry level" Onkyo. 6 Ohms, respectable efficiency..ect...
     
  10. Bob McElfresh

    Bob McElfresh Producer

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    There CAN be an audible difference between a $300 and $800 receiver. I noticed this when switching from a 120 WPC stereo receiver to a 'weaker' 80 WPC Yamaha AV Receiver.

    The more 'powerfull' $300 receiver drove my old Advent speakers, but there was something lacking so I tended to use just the television speakers for VHS tapes.

    I hooked up the new Yamaha (a Christmass present from my wife) planning to take it back for something 'better'. That thought lasted about 30 seconds into the first tape. The difference in sound quality for movies was amazing with the more expensive, but weaker Yamaha.

    Several years later, I grabbed a Yamaha A1 (Flagship A/V amp) on clearance. With my DefTech speakers - it did not sound very different from the older Yamaha. The A1 was selling for $2400.

    So I suspect it's a law of diminishing returns as you go up the price scale.

    Build Quality Note:

    That original Yamaha has now survived for years, including a stint at college with a daughter. It is now powering my new remote system with M&K speakers and a HDT Level 3 sub. If you can pick up a RX-V793 on eBay/CraigsList - you wont be disappointed.
     

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