HT Receivers?Separates

drty070x

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Larry
I was in the local stereo store. The one that sells what I would consider reputable products. Either way they carry Denon, Integra, Sony, & Classe'. I am wondering how these products rank in quality and bang for buck. Are separates better than a receiver? I am looking at building a 5.1 system at the current time with the possibility of expanding to a 7.1 down the road. Thanks for the advice.
 

Doug_

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This depends largely on your budget. Sony has never wowed me when it comes to audio (I would just stick to their TV's as they are great). Integra and Denon are decent products and Classe' stuff is nice but overpriced in my opinion.

You will generally get more bang for your buck with a receiver, and it will generally have more bells and whistles as well. You will get better overall sound with a receiver or a processor by adding an external amp (absolutely necessary for power to speakers with the processor option). You will generally get better sound from a processor/amp than a receiver, so it depends on what is important to you.

If your budget is less than $1000 dollars for a receiver or processor/amp, I would probably look at the mid tier receivers from Denon, Onkyo/Integra, Yamaha, and Pioneer as they all make good models.

If your budget is in the $2500 range, definitely go with separates and try to find some used pieces on Audiogon. 2.5 grand there would get you a great 5/7 channel amp and a great processor a step up from what you are looking at now (think Anthem, Lexicon, Krell).

There are also other routes such as buy a cheap receiver (not a bad idea with HDMI still getting straightened out) and an mid-range amp such as the Emotiva LPA-1. You could do this for around a grand and end up with a pretty good setup.

Good luck!!
 

Nick:G

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Nick Gallegos

I beg to differ. A lot of good engineering goes into Classe' components. This is audiophile-class gear in the same league with Krell, Mark Levinson, Linn, and McIntosh, just to name a few. It's all expensive, but quality components do cost quite a bit to manufacture. Can the average Joe consumer tell the difference between the "snob" brands and the more maintstream ones? Perhaps.

Larry,

It seems rather odd that your dealer carries an assortment of mainstream brands and then makes a dramatic jump to Classe'. Most Classe' dealers also carry Rotel (part of the same US distribution), which is an outstanding "mid-fi" line.

Getting back to the point...

Separates will generally yield better sound quality than receiver counterparts (separate power transfomers, beter upgrade path, etc.), but like stated in the last post, it can be more costly and offer less bells and whistles. Your budget and listening tastes will help determine this. Also, your speakers and other components will play an important role in determining what will fit your needs.

For example, you can get a top-notch AVR in the $1,000-3,000 range. Generally, you can expect to spend more with separates. Getting a full compliment of Classe' Delta series components (pre/pro, amplifier, universal disc player) will set you back at least $16,000 retail (these types of customers will almost always have world-class speakers to compliment the electronics). In the mid-fi camp, a comparable rack of Rotel is about $4,200.

So long story short, start with your source components and speakers FIRST. This will help you determine just how crazy you'll want to go with the electronics.
 

Doug_

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I have nothing against the way the Classe' gear sounds and have not done any extensive listening with their pieces, but I guess it comes down to my overall budget for HT gear. I own an Anthem AVM30 and feel it is as good as I need and is one of the few processsors that will give a receiver a run for its money when it comes to "bells and whistles." I honestly don't know if I would even be able to tell the Classe' and the Anthem apart in a double-blind test.

To me, I guess it is just a case of diminishing returns. The Anthem provided enough of a difference in sound for me to justify the extra $700 going from an Outlaw 990 (I bought the AVM30 used). I don't think I would see enough of a difference with the Classe' to compensate for a large price difference and I will never find out as I am happy with my current set up for the first time in about 5 years. I'm stopping for a while; if I have never heard anything that sounds better to me, ignorance is bliss.

Overall, do what sounds good to you, be it a home-theater-in-a-box setup, or a Classe' or Meridian setup. I would say start low and work you way up and see if you notice a difference and whether it justifies the extra expense in your mind. There are no wrong answers here, just opinions and different people with different experiences. Any person who purchases their system solely on other peoples opinions will more than likely be disappointed with the end result.
 

Jeff_HR

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One thing nobody has mentioned is how many other components will you be hooking up to the processor/amp &/or receiver. Make sure that you are a little future proofed so you don't run out of back panel connections & connections of the type you need.
 

drty070x

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Larry
Well, first off thanks for the input. Yes, my bad. The store also handles Rotel & B&K. Heard of Rotel but nothing of B&K. Either way my listening will be 60% movies/tv & 40% music. I want good sound for both experiences with the possibility of upgrading. I don't want to make the leap and have it outdated the next year. I've heard something about HDMI 1.3. Is it worth waiting till that technology is introduced? Thanks again.
 

Nick:G

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"Higher-end" companies tend to be a bit slower to adopt the latest digital miracle drug that Japan introduced, so we'll likely see HDMI 1.3 products making their way into lower-priced products first. Rotel has been working on a dedicated video scaler that will accept multiple component video sources and upconvert them to 1080p over HDMI to sell as an accessory with their current surround processors that don't have HDMI at all. The only problem is that they've been talking about it for over a year and it's still vaporware (perhaps they're doing the smart thing and waiting till Silicon Image's HDMI 1.3 chip actually ships).

B&K has a good line, if a little old school and minimalist (a McIntosh of sorts, only not as spendy). Take a listen and see how you like it. And see if you can get a demo on a some Rotel surround separates (perhaps the RSP-1068 processor mated with the RMB-1095 power amp). A lot of bang for the buck there if integrated receivers don't do it for you. Outlaw also makes excellent separates around the same price range, only you can't demo one before it shows up to your door (unless of course, your friend or neighbor has some).
 

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