Good, cheap stereo receiver?

Discussion in 'Archived Threads 2001-2004' started by Ryan Spaight, Feb 24, 2002.

  1. Ryan Spaight

    Ryan Spaight Supporting Actor

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    I'm building a "second system" for music only in good old-fashioned glorious stereo. (All of this new-fangled multichannel hoo-ha is happy in the home theater setup.)
    So far I've requisitioned a Sony CE775 CD/SACD changer and a pair of NHT SB3 speakers (and an old turntable [​IMG]) to very pleasing effect. Now I need a good, inexpensive stereo-only receiver (or integrated amp) to tie it together.
    I'm using a seven-year-old Sony ES ProLogic receiver (GX800ES) right now, which does all right, but the digital EQ sounds horrible and of course mangles the hi-res SACDs (and the NHTs need a bit of a bass boost in this room to sound their best). So what I need is something with basic analog tone controls, three or four inputs (including a phono stage), and good sound quality, preferably for under $400.
    The names I see that meet this and I'd consider are Marantz, HK and Denon. (Sony non-ES receivers don't do it for me with their sound.) Any recommendations or warnings? Any other brands out there?
    Thanks,
    Ryan
     
  2. Saurav

    Saurav Cinematographer

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    I would recommend a NAD C-340 integrated amp, with a $25 Radio Shack battery-powered phono stage. The first probably needs little to no introduction, the latter is surprisingly good for the money. If you want, go over to www.audioasylum.com and search the Vinyl archives for "little rat", as this unit is often referred to.
    Anyway, I have used this combination for many months as my main system, and it sounds extremely good for its price. You should be able to get a C-340 for $200 - $250 used.
    If you want a stereo receiver, Onkyo makes (or used to make) two - the 50WPC TX-8211, and the 100WPC TX-8511. Street prices were around $200 - $300. I owned the 8211 before the NAD, and IMO the NAD outclasses it in pretty much every way.
    Here's what my current system is running:
    * Bottlehead Foreplay tube preamp built from a kit - $150 for the basic kit, I have about $100 more worth of upgrades
    * ASL Wave-8 tube amps - 8W monoblocks that cost $99 each. Unbelievably good sound for the price
    Again, there is a lot of discussion on these at Audio Asylum, if you're interested. Bottlehead has their own forum with plenty of helpful people, and the kit is really easy, many people with zero prior soldering experience have successfully built it.
    You can email me if you want to discuss this offline.
    Oops... tone controls... that rules out the Foreplay. The Onkyo and the NAD both have them, though I used to run the NAD with "Tone Defeat" turned on... it sounds just a touch cleaner, IMO.
    Anyway... hope that helps.
     
  3. Bob Marker

    Bob Marker Stunt Coordinator

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    I bought a 100 watt/channel Pioneer SX-205 stereo receiver for $100 a few years ago from Circuit City and have been very pleased with its performance. Although the build quality is not the best, the sound of this receiver equals the much more expensive electronics I've owned as best I can tell. It has a mm phono input, tone controls, and bass boost switch (centered at about 50Hz).
     
  4. Ryan Spaight

    Ryan Spaight Supporting Actor

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    Thanks for the replies.

    Saurav, I'd forgotten about NAD. Thanks for reminding me. I'll definitely have to add them to my list.

    Ryan
     
  5. Dave Simpson

    Dave Simpson Second Unit

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    Ryan,

    Have you considered a vintage receiver or integrated amp? Ebay is a great source of older models by Pioneer, Marantz, Sansui, etc. Surely I can't be alone in my admiration of the older gear? Some of these receivers from the mid-70s had monstrous amps and heat-sinks, and may be ideal for two-channel applications. Cheers!

    DS.
     

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