hard decisions

Discussion in 'AV Receivers' started by Brian Zamen, Apr 6, 2004.

  1. Brian Zamen

    Brian Zamen Agent

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    Ok, now that I have HD, DVD, etc etc...my old receiver just doesn't cut it anymore (no component inputs).

    I have one of the old Kenwood HTB-530(or 503 I don't remember) I think it is (many many years old). It has served me well though.

    Anyway, upon looking at what to do I find the decision to be quite a task.

    Initially, I was thinking HK 7200 on sale, however, after reading and reading and reading there are just so many decisions.

    I am wondering if a better option would be to upgrade to a newer HTIB. My room is setup for 5.1 (2 ceiling mounted rear speakers) and I see 7.1 is the thing now, not sure how well that would work in my room.

    Mainly, I want to be able to get all my devices input into the receiver and then output to my projector (which has all your standard inputs). Obviously, one cable going to the projector would be nice, which would mean upconversion to component for other inputs.

    However, I do have a limited budget. I would like to stay around $500 with a variance of +250 if absolutely needed.

    There are quite a few receiver options it seems. In addition, I am not sure if my current speakers will work OK after the upgrade or not.

    Any input from some of the well experienced here would be appreciated. Getting real tired of swapping digital audio cables and component cables every time I want to switch from watching DVD to HD/Cable. [​IMG]
     
  2. Angelo.M

    Angelo.M Producer

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    Brian:

    What type of speakers do you currently have? I assume the $500 +- $250 is your budget for the receiver, right?
     
  3. Brian Zamen

    Brian Zamen Agent

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    I have the set that came with the Kenwood.

    The receiver is a Kenwood VR-309.

    The speakers don't say much. R/L Front and Center have KS-401HT.

    The powered Sub has SW-32HT. Not sure about the Back R/L as they are up on the ceiling and I would have to get up there and unmount them to see.

    I would like that number to be my total budget. When I initially saw that the HK7200 was around $700 that is what I was thinking about getting. However, not so sure that is the best route at this point. The speakers may need to be replaced too. As long as I can ceiling mount R/L Rear (meaning not too big). Otherwise, I would have to run wire along the floor (which I suppose I could do if I had to, waste of my pre-run wire to the ceiling mounts heh).
     
  4. Brian Zamen

    Brian Zamen Agent

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    Wondering if I should maybe look at some of the current HTIB right now.

    The main concern there would be that it is better than my current setup and it had enough bw for HD.
     
  5. MuneebM

    MuneebM Supporting Actor

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    Brian, like you, I used to own a Kenwood HTiB, the HTB-506. It was a good system for a beginner's purposes but my budget increased and I quickly realized I needed more sound and would have to spend more money for it.

    I started replacing components of my HT piece by piece until I had all the new goodies in place. The first thing I replaced was the subwoofer, I got myself the HSU STF-2 and it made a huge difference. In comparison to the HSU, the sub included in the HTB-506 was a big boom box. The HSU didn't blend too well with the Kenwood speakers so I realized I had to replace those too. So, I replaced my front speakers with JBL Studio 310II floorstanding beasts, and that made an incredible difference. Then came the surrounds (JBL Studio S36II) and center (JBL Studio CenterII) and finally the receiver, which when all were set up correctly and calibrated made a world of difference overall. At that point, I managed to sell the HTB-506 after 6 months of use at a pretty good price.

    All this to say that I've been down the "upgrading HTiB" road and I must say the biggest difference you will notice is if/when you change your speakers. I had the Kenwood receiver running those JBL fronts and center for a while and it sounded pretty darn good for a HTiB receiver. Do yourself a favor and keep the receiver until you have a bigger budget to replace it. Get yourself a new set of fronts and center speaker first, then replace your surround speakers and subwoofer, and finally replace the receiver. The speakers will make a bigger difference than replacing the receiver and using it on those HTiB speakers.

    Furthermore, do not upgrade to another HTiB, because you'll find yourself once again down this road in the near future. The best thing I ever did for my HT was "think outside the box".
     
  6. Brian Zamen

    Brian Zamen Agent

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    Ok, I may have to go piece by piece if the current HTIB won't cut it, however, I need to upgrade the receiver now. That is the main reason for the upgrade (no component inputs).

    I have to manually switch all my digital audio and component cables from my HD box to my DVD player when I want to watch a DVD. It sucks. [​IMG]

    So what receiver has the most bang for the buck? I am sure any of the new line of receivers will be an upgrade to my current one.
     
  7. MuneebM

    MuneebM Supporting Actor

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    Brian, if you want a receiver that will do good quality component video switching, you may have to spend more than what you've allocated for your budget. Some of the cheaper receivers don't have enough video bandwidth for component video signals. Look for a receiver with a minimum of 55 MHz video bandwidth for component video.

    Check out the Yamaha RX-V1400 which has plenty of video bandwidth for component video, not to mention it will "upconvert" all your S-video and composite video inputs to component video. The "upconversion" won't improve the picture quality, but it will allow you to feed a single set of component video cables from the RX-V1400 to your TV and run all your video inputs to the receiver (composite, s-video, and component).
     
  8. Shane Martin

    Shane Martin Producer

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    Brian
    You could probably get a Pelican switcher that many use for video games in order to switch between your inputs for now but you are in a bind here. You need both a new receiver and new speakers(and a new sub) IMHO.

    $750 would get you another HTIB but you are back at square one because while you upgraded your receiver the speaker upgrade would be a wash at best and the receiver may not even be a quality one compared to what you might get elsewhere. The biggest upgrade you can make is new Speakers up front and center and also a new receiver.

    I'd buy a switcher for now(for $80 roughly) or buy one from Radio shack if they are cheaper to make due(I normally don't like make due situations), then take your $650ish in savings from not buying a receiver and save up your money. In the meanwhile I'd go listen to a variety of speakers and find out what you like. Depending on where you are located at, you can get some decent values out there like if you live in Canada you will benefit from Canadian type manufacturers.

    This process will cost you more than the $750 you want to spend now but in the long term you will be happier and have more money. Chances are if you settle for another HTIB you will want to piece it out too like you are doing now and the reciever will not be all that great. On top of that if you just spend the money for a new receiver, you run into the case that it will actually speed up your upgrade process on your speakers which after hearing the Kenwood HTIB setups(including my fathers), you'll want to upgrade those fast.

    Personally I'd buy a switcher for now then start saving your dough. Once you save up enough to get your new speakers and receiver together, then you should be all set for a long time. Then again some folks aren't so patient and it ends up costing them more in the long term.
     
  9. MuneebM

    MuneebM Supporting Actor

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    I agree entirely with what Shane says in that statement. This is exactly what happened to me: I bought the HSU STF-2 and only planned that upgrade for the year, but then when I realized how it was sooo much better than everything else in my system, I had to get new speakers all around, and then a new receiver. The result: I went from a $700 CDN HTiB to a $3200 CDN system but I am extremely happy with the results and movie-watching has never been this much fun!
     
  10. Brian Zamen

    Brian Zamen Agent

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    Ok so you guys have convinced me no on another HTIB. Doesn't take much to convince me to go with higher end components. [​IMG]

    So what would recommend for easing into a better system. As far as most bang for the buck. What receiver? What speakers? Obviously, I cannot afford top of the line. However, I think I can go a little over my $750 budget and maybe push it around $1000 to ease into it.
     
  11. Shane Martin

    Shane Martin Producer

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    Well even at a $1000 you'll probably upgrade it anyway but you might consider something like this:

    http://www.fluance.com/fluan5speaks.html

    Then pick out a $650 receiver and you are good to go for a while. The afformentioned Yamaha RXV1400 could be found for that easily enough from a local authorized dealer.

    The Rocket ELT system from AV123 includes a Denon reciever and its around $1k as well.


    I haven't used the Fluance setup and normally wouldn't recommend it to anyone based on that but if you are willing to take the risk, why not. There are other speaker setups out there but they don't look as good as the Fluance as far as I can tell.

    A Yamaha, Denon or H/K receiver would do fine for HT duties and have all the capabilities you need.
     
  12. Brian Zamen

    Brian Zamen Agent

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    I was kind of looking at the HK AVR630.

    Are the Yamaha line in this price range better?

    Also, I prefer ceiling mount rear speakers if at all possible.
     
  13. MuneebM

    MuneebM Supporting Actor

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    Brian, I had shortlisted my top AVR contenders before making my decision as such: 1) Yamaha 2) H/K and 3) Denon. I went out and auditioned the following receivers: Yamaha RX-V1400, Yamaha RX-V2400, H/K AVR230, H/K AVR330, and H/K AVR525.

    To my ears, and in my opinion, the Yamaha RX-V1400/RX-V2400 sounded so much better than any of the H/K AVRs that it wasn't even a competition. I like my sound detailed and crisp, and the Yamaha sounded perfect to my ears when I was auditioning receivers: it was neutral sounding, with slightly more emphasis on the highs, very detailed and crisp. In comparison, the H/K AVRs were muddy to the point that they sounded very muffled. The surround field also had a lot more depth with the Yamaha, and the YPAO 7-band parametric EQ was an added bonus for me. Needless to say, I bought the RX-V2400 at a good price and didn't even listen to any of the Denon AVRs.

    Of course, this is all my opinion and you should do as I did and audition the receivers you're considering before making a decision. If I were to do it all again, my shortlist would be the following, in order:
    1. Yamaha RX-V2400
    2. Denon 3805
    3. H/K AVR630
     
  14. Brian Zamen

    Brian Zamen Agent

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    I've decided on Yamaha either the RX 1400/2400 or the new HTR-5790.

    I still need to come up with new speakers though.
     
  15. MuneebM

    MuneebM Supporting Actor

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    Awesome receiver choice! I still think you should audition before you buy and try out the competition if possible. I also think you should find out if the RX-V series is better and/or has better components than the HTR-5790, if not I'd just go for the 5790 if it has the same remote as the RX-V2400. I think the 5790 probably has the same remote as the RX-V1400, which does not have macros which I find is a super handy feature on my RX-V2400's remote.

    As for speakers, the good thing about the Yamaha receivers you've chosen is that they all offer parametric EQ, so the receiver will match well with pretty much any speakers as it can adjust accordingly. I'd highly recommend the discontinued JBL Studio Series as they can be had these days for half of what they are worth. They're just almost impossible to find. Other than that, I'd go for the Paradigm Monitor or Studio line.

    Good luck!
     
  16. Wayne Ernst

    Wayne Ernst Cinematographer

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    Like MuneebM, I also prefer a "more crisp" or detailed sound when it comes to my music. For example, I have a few Dave Matthews' Band DVDs. With my H/K AVR-7200, it just wasn't detailed enough - and seemed a bit muddy - with my neodymium tweeters. I thought the speakers were bright enough to produce some detailed sounds. Replacing the H/K with the new Yamaha 5560 (at less than half the cost, I might add) really opened up my sound a lot.

    It's really tough doing it one component at a time, but I have to watch my funds. I would have loved no more than to have $2K, go into an audio shop and pick out a receiver and three front speakers that all work well together. I would have then "tagged" a pair of surrounds that also worked well with the combination and picked those up in two months - knowing how they would sound with the rest of the gear. But, with doing it a piece-at-a-time as I am now, mistakes can still be made.

    Ultimately, if space wasn't such a premium for me (and funds too), I would have loved to have kept the H/K, put it into a nice, cooled audio rack and paired it with some even brighter (gasp) speakers to provide the detailed sounds that I was looking for.

    Brian, for $900, you might consider the following:

    - Yamaha HTR-5760 Receiver ($349)
    - Paradigm Titan speakers (fronts) ($229, but only about $150 on eBay)
    - Paradigm 170 Center channel ($199)
    - Paradigm Atoms for the rears ($199)

    Then, save the $100 for a different subwoofer - when funds permit. But, you've got to hear some of this gear in order to finalize your decisions. Too many of our "own" opinions on sound get interjected here into these forums and can kind of muddy the thought processes. [​IMG]



    - Paradigm
     
  17. Wayne Ernst

    Wayne Ernst Cinematographer

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    Brian,

    Also, I forgot to mention, that you might want to keep all of your gear "relative" to each other. Buying an H/K receiver that originally cost $2K and pairing it with a $300 set of speakers isn't going to sound so nice. Such a receiver could really actually make things sound worse. However, by lowering the receiver budget and putting a few more funds towards better speakers might give you a much, much better sound that you'll appreciate for many years to come.

    Finally, I'm glad to hear that you are staying away from another HTIB system. They are fine for starters - but, you've even had thoughts of the H/K AVR-7200 which tells me you want better sounds than such an HTIB system can provide. [​IMG]
     
  18. Brian Zamen

    Brian Zamen Agent

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    my cheap fix until I can save up enough money for new speakers to go with a new receiver

    audioauthority.com/aacconsumers/1154c.html
     
  19. Wayne Ernst

    Wayne Ernst Cinematographer

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    Brian,

    But for the components that I listed above, you could still get a new receiver and possibly a pair of speakers vs. buying the "flagship" H/K receiver.
     
  20. Brian Zamen

    Brian Zamen Agent

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    Yes, I am going to look at the components you listed.

    My initial budget was around $700 or so. That would bring me to around $900 or so.

    The whole setup for $1000 is awesome and I will probably end up doing just that.

    However, until I pull the trigger I am going to pick up that switch for only $150 so I don't have to hear the complaints around the house about having to manually move the cables from the HD STB to the DVD player.

    I really do appreciate the recommendations as it has pretty much helped me decide on a Yamaha receiver and now I just have to go through the process of looking at speakers starting with the ones you suggested.

    The switcher is just a band aid. [​IMG]
     

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