Do I really need a surround receiver?

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Aaron H, Jul 3, 2002.

  1. Aaron H

    Aaron H Supporting Actor

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    Hello all,

    I am planning to purchase a receiver for use in the "family room", which won't contain any surround speakers. The complete home theater will be in the bonus room of the new house. But for the system I am putting together now, the basic requirements are just to drive two stereo speakers (maybe a center?) and a powered sub for general music listening, and to watch movies and TV's with some better sound than the TV speakers. This receiver will also need to be able to drive a "B" set of speakers on the back porch.

    I have been looking at some of the lower-end receivers such as the Denon 1802 and Onkyo SR500. I guess I'm just looking for statements/confirmation that I really don't need anymore out of a receiver than these. I have been doing some research on them, and then of course I start looking at the Denon 2802 and Onkyo SR600 and others, and I'd love to have a bigger, better receiver, but money-wise, I just don't know if that makes sense. I don't have any component devices now, so I guess I really don't need the inputs on the receiver, but of course, I'd like to be as future proof as possible, while at the time time, saving money for the "real" theater upstairs.

    Any opeions/comments/suggestions? Do any current receivers have any processing that enhances 2 channel so that it sounds like surround? I guess that might be asking a little too much, without having the actual surround speakers.

    Thanks, Aaron
     
  2. Paul Clarke

    Paul Clarke Supporting Actor

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    Hello Aaron,

    I'm sure you may get some differing opinions here but I feel you should go for something more entry level now. This is a great hobby and it bites some people hard...so hard they spend all of their time thinking about how their system could be better.

    From your post it seems clear that you are anticipating a more surround oriented environment in the distant(?) future but do not need it now. Receivers such as the Denon 1802, H/K 225 (or 320 on a good sale) would make excellent choices for both time periods. They will allow you to enjoy at your own pace now but would not disappoint in the future. Also resale would be fairly good when upgrading.

    I do suggest the addition of the center speaker. Most decent receivers have multi channel stereo options as well as surround processing which can be used with whatever number of speakers you may have. I think it would make for a more sound involving experience for you. Also, source components like DVD players have sound processing options as well for basic 2 channel systems. Many of these are quite effective substitutes for the real thing.
    Good Luck.
     
  3. ColinM

    ColinM Cinematographer

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  4. Aaron H

    Aaron H Supporting Actor

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    Thanks for all of the replies so far. Just a question on the processing formats. If I had a right/left/center channel speaker, what sort of sound-fields would be available to me in this configuration? I seem to remember something about a "phantom" mode, or something like this, that was popular before the 5.1 stuff now.

    Aaron
     
  5. Jerome Grate

    Jerome Grate Cinematographer

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    I agree with Paul, an entry level receiver will do the trick, and it will give you the flexibility of adding the sub and center channel. You can still use a DVD player with it just select the stereo or 3 stereo on the receiver. It will also save you money from going to the mid end models. Save that money for your new room.
     
  6. Paul Clarke

    Paul Clarke Supporting Actor

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    Aaron,

    With a receiver such as those already mentioned (except for the H/K Stereo units in Colin's post) AND a center channel you will be able to process DD, DTS, Pro-Logic, Pro Logic II, 3 channel Stereo, etc. from the receiver itself. These will not be full implementations without surround speakers but will give a more involving experience. With only Front L-R you will be able to utilize useful modes such as VMax in the H/K's for instance, along with other 2 channel processing modes like various Hall, Stadium, Theater settings depending on manufacturer. Also many DVD players have 2 channel enhancement modes themselves which give a 'virtual surround' experience. As I said before, some of these can be quite effective for the short term.

    Bottom line IMO: don't cheap out on anything now just because some day you are going to do things 'right'. Do yourself a favor and begin to build a useful system. The advantage of doing it your way (which was also my way) is that as you add and enlarge your system you see and hear the net results of the additions/improvements and can appreciate them more.
     
  7. Ryan Schnacke

    Ryan Schnacke Supporting Actor

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    I think you may be a little confused about how the Denon and Onkyo lines pair up. Everything I've seen indicates that the following are direct competitors at a specific price point:
    Denon 1602 vs Onkyo 500
    Denon 1802 vs Onkyo 600
    Denon 2802 vs Onkyo 700
    For good prices on Onkyo receivers check with www.jandr.com and don't be afraid to haggle a bit with them. You can usually get $20-$30 off their advertised price on a receiver in this range. A good price for the Onkyo 600 should be around $400 plus shipping.
    Now for your original question, if you're planning to use a subwoofer then it is absolutely worth the money to get a surround sound receiver since they will have built-in bass management. And that can make running a subwoofer soooo much easier and more flexible.
     
  8. RichardMA

    RichardMA Second Unit

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    Well, one good thing; Used 2 channel receivers
    are a dime a dozen if you intend to go that way.
    Check Ebay. You can get a Yamaha 100wpc that cost
    $700 10 years ago for about $80.
    But if you'd like to pretend it's later than 1987,
    then the Denon 2802 will amaze you if you have little
    experiece with multichannel sound.
     

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