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JohnRice

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@Jeff1125, what speakers are you planning to drive?

Considering this would be your first(?) foray into separates and unless you plan to drive particularly difficult speakers, I wouldn't think you need to spend the extra $$$ on D-Sonic amps. You'd probably be perfectly happy w/ Emotiva's offerings. And they do provide 30-day free trial... though you'll have to pay return shipping, which can probably run $60-100 (depending on how close you are to Tennessee)...

FWIW, I'm about to try an Emotiva XPA-DR2 to drive some very difficult (though w/ fairly well behaved impedance curve) Thiel CS5i speakers -- they are rated at 3 ohms and go down near 1 ohm in the bass region. I bought the XPA-DR2 w/ their last holiday promo offer and expect to be able to resell it w/out significant, if any, loss if it isn't up to the task -- I may try a D-Sonic M3a-3000S for ~$1K more in that case, instead of the M3a-1500S since the $ diff isn't quite that much. The only fairly extensive, reputable review I could find of the XPA-DR2 suggests it should be able to handle loads down to 2 ohms even though Emotiva doesn't make the claim themselves.

I also went w/ an XPA-5 Gen 3 (replacing a possibly dying, nearly 30-yo B&K amp) for the other floor level channels (for eventual 7.2.4), and so far so good though it's currently only driving 6-to-8-ohm speakers. Haven't committed to an amp for the eventual Atmos channels yet, but those should be even easier to drive me thinks...

_Man_
I’m curious to hear your observations. I just know it is surprisingly good with my CS 3.6s.
 

ManW_TheUncool

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This is definitely the first time looking into separate components. I haven't settled on speakers yet, I'm still researching. Regarding the Emotiva option, I certainly like the price compared to the others. If I do decide to go with separates, do I necessarily need a 5 channel amp to drive the side surrounds, or will a 3 channel amp suffice? Do the surrounds need as much power as the front three? Or is it a simple matter of personal taste and preference?

I think you should probably have a clearer idea about your speaker choices and how your planned setup and intended usage, eg. general HT use, dedicated high fidelity music playback whether in stereo or multichannel, etc, before trying to decide what amps.

Those of us choosing a higher quality, possibly more powerful, separate 2-channel amp to drive our front LR are mainly doing so for high fidelity stereo music playback w/ more demanding speakers -- and may be giving that higher priority than general HT usage.

Depending on the speakers and usage, you may be perfectly happy w/ something like the Emotiva XPA-7 Gen 3 (plus something less perhaps for the Atmos height channels), if going 7.x.4 -- a resident HT reviewer, @Type A, went that route a few months ago and has been happy w/ it driving his Paradigms (and he uses an Anthem MRX-720 as prepro, foregoing its built-in amp section). You could also go XPA-3 Gen 3 (or XPA-DR3) for the front LCR and then something less for the rest...

_Man_
 

Dave Upton

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This is definitely the first time looking into separate components. I haven't settled on speakers yet, I'm still researching. Regarding the Emotiva option, I certainly like the price compared to the others. If I do decide to go with separates, do I necessarily need a 5 channel amp to drive the side surrounds, or will a 3 channel amp suffice? Do the surrounds need as much power as the front three? Or is it a simple matter of personal taste and preference?
The best advice I can give to you is to let your own ears decide what works in your room, in the context of the speakers you choose and the way you listen.

I've only heard the XPA-DR2's that John is so happy with at AXPONA, and wasn't blown away by that particular system, though they were markedly better than the regular Emotiva amps. I also don't think it was the best environment in which to judge an amplifier, as shows are noisy and have poor acoustics.

While most amp manufacturers do equal power per channel, the front 3 need the lions share of the power, so as indicated above, you can either buy a 3 channel amp to start, and add more channels later, or make the investment up front in an amp that is designed for home theater and throws more power into the LCR channels, like most of D-Sonic's multichannel series. I'm not sure why more companies don't do this, as it's really a game changer and elevates your whole system's performance.

My personal journey with separates began with some second hand Parasound amps, followed by Adcom GFA555s, and eventually I purchased a Wyred4Sound MMC-7. That amp was perfect for my use case for several years, until I heard the D-Sonic amps at one of our HTF meets and fell in love.

D-Sonic stuff is expensive, just like a higher quality car or appliance is, so please don't feel like I'm pushing you in that direction too hard. If I sound like a shill, it's because I consider them outstanding products that truly deserve to be heard.

I've owned and heard a ton of different amps, and these have been my daily drivers for 5+ years , despite having the ability to swap at any time. That's a very long time in my theater room.

To date, my D-Sonics have ended up being compared in my room against amps from CODA, Wyred4Sound, Ghent Audio (Hypex), Anthem, Marantz, AudioControl (Class H stuff like the XPA-DR2), Schiit, Emotiva, ATI, Parasound and Bryston. Despite all those amps passing through, none of them ended up staying.

Just remember that you are probably buying for life with these products - most of these amps will comfortably serve you for 10+ years, so you may end up losing a little more money if you stairstep vs going straight to your endgame. If I'd been aware of how much more I'd enjoy my system with that kind of power, I would have skipped the MMC-7 entirely and gone to my current amp immediately, so I am simply passing on my own lessons learned.
 
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ManW_TheUncool

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While most amp manufacturers do equal power per channel, the front 3 need the lions share of the power, so as indicated above, you can either buy a 3 channel amp to start, and add more channels later, or make the investment up front in an amp that is designed for home theater and throws more power into the LCR channels, like most of D-Sonic's multichannel series. I'm not sure why more companies don't do this, as it's really a game changer and elevates your whole system's performance.

Maybe that has more to do w/ the benefits of Class D vs the limitations of other (largely older) tech.

IF the tech limits you to say 1400W total w/ modules only capable of 300W/channel max (before clipping), there's probably not a whole lot of effective ways to divvy that up. Not sure what exactly Emotiva is doing underneath w/ their regular XPA series, but they may indeed allow the LCR (or whichever other channels) go cleanly upto 300W each if the rest don't need much at the same time as suggested by this review/article...


If that's the case, there's probably not any real benefit to trying to hardwiring different power allocations. Afterall, 3x300W for the LCR would already eat up the lion's share of the power in a 7-channel amp w/ total capacity for 1400W.

Note the D-Sonic amps that divvy up power to give substantially more to LCR all provide upwards of 3000W total -- they don't seem to bother until each channel reaches 400W (at least w/out going a custom config route). That's not the kind of power offered in older designs, including Emotiva's hybrid of Class A/B plus H (for the power supply)...

_Man_
 

JohnRice

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Hey, I'd love to try out a D-Sonic M3a-3000S with my speakers. I'm sure it would be great. Last year, when the time came to get a new amp, I sweated over it for months. I was really going to go with a Parasound Halo, for the conventional design, but I'm glad I didn't. At one point I had it in the cart, but just couldn't click "Buy". The 30% rebate on the XPA-DR2 at the very beginning of the pandemic was too tempting, and got the price to less than half of the D-Sonic. It don't know how the D-Sonic would compete, but I do know that the DR2 has my Thiels sounding the best they ever have. They are known to be difficult to control, and it controls them better than anything else I've tried in the 28 years I've had them.
 

John Dirk

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I think you should probably have a clearer idea about your speaker choices and how your planned setup and intended usage, eg. general HT use, dedicated high fidelity music playback whether in stereo or multichannel, etc, before trying to decide what amps.

I agree with this. The amp is meant to drive a set of speakers. Until you know the characteristics [impedance, sensitivity, etc.] of said speakers and how they will be positioned in your room, choosing an amp would be a somewhat blind purchase.
Just remember that you are probably buying for life with these products - most of these amps will comfortably serve you for 10+ years, so you may end up losing a little more money if you stairstep vs going straight to your endgame.

Exactly. That's why my advice is to buy the best amp you can afford. I would have saved considerable money had I followed this advice years ago myself. When I was recently in the market for a new stereo amp, I looked long and hard at both Emotiva and D Sonic. Both are quality products but I ended up going with D Sonic for two reasons.

  1. I wanted this to be the last amp I ever had to buy for my L & R speakers.
  2. Customer Service - D Sonic is a small operation that manufacturers amplifiers and nothing else. Emotiva sells speakers, headphones and AV processors in addition to amps. I'm not saying they are not a great company, only that their focus was a bit too divided for my comfort.
 

Dave Upton

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I agree with this. The amp is meant to drive a set of speakers. Until you know the characteristics [impedance, sensitivity, etc.] of said speakers and how they will be positioned in your room, choosing an amp would be a somewhat blind purchase.


Exactly. That's why my advice is to buy the best amp you can afford. I would have saved considerable money had I followed this advice years ago myself. When I was recently in the market for a new stereo amp, I looked long and hard at both Emotiva and D Sonic. Both are quality products but I ended up going with D Sonic for two reasons.

  1. I wanted this to be the last amp I ever had to buy for my L & R speakers.
  2. Customer Service - D Sonic is a small operation that manufacturers amplifiers and nothing else. Emotiva sells speakers, headphones and AV processors in addition to amps. I'm not saying they are not a great company, only that their focus was a bit too divided for my comfort.
@JohnRice - the reason I probably seem like a shill for D-Sonic is very much tied to @John Dirk 's 2nd point.

I can't name any other amp manufacturers that design and build their products in the USA, to the same degree of quality, and that have the same level of service that D-Sonic does. My 7 channel amp weighs about 40 lbs. That's heavy for class D, right?

To quote my original review:
All D-Sonic Custom Audio products are built of aluminum and powder-coated steel to eliminate corrosion anywhere inside or outside the amp’s chassis. All fastening hardware is stainless steel and the Torx screws that hold the chassis together are all countersunk for a flat and easily cleaned surface.

The RCA connectors on all D-Sonic amps are gold plated, and all XLR connections are Neutrik. Speaker terminals are all gold plated and feature a plastic shroud to prevent shock (a requirement in the European market). Internal wiring is 100% silver/Teflon to ensure maximum performance and insulation. All D-Sonic amps come with a top of the line Interpower hospital grade power cord, feature medical grade EMI/RFI filters on the mains and input/output signals, and utilize mil-spec components for the electronics.

I actually had the power switch fail in my M3a-6100-7 this weekend on Friday night, after several years of trusty service. The switch wouldn't "lock" once depressed, but the amp powered on fine when the switch was held down. I left Dennis a voicemail asking him what he suggested we do to fix it. His response within an hour, was to have me come over first thing Saturday morning, so he could fix my amp. I dropped my amp off at 10:30AM, and it was ready for me by 1PM the same day.

Now, you might be thinking this is special treatment because we know one another. It's not. Dennis just doesn't want anyone to have their system down longer than it needs to be. I've seen him turn stuff around on weekends numerous times, because he just cares that much about his customers. Houston area customers are often invited to drive over to Dennis' home/office and get immediate service. When he gets an amp in for service it rarely takes more than 24 hours to turn it around.

Now, I have nothing against Emotiva - they are one of the brands in our hobby I respect for continuing to deliver value and quality despite growth. That said, there is no way they will ever match the level of customer service, ownership and accountability that Dennis shows to all his customers. He's a shining example of a small business that just does it right, so I'll continue to shamelessly plug and promote his products and his business, because they deserve it.
 

JohnRice

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@JohnRice - the reason I probably seem like a shill for D-Sonic is very much tied to @John Dirk 's 2nd point.

I can't name any other amp manufacturers that design and build their products in the USA, to the same degree of quality, and that have the same level of service that D-Sonic does. My 7 channel amp weighs about 40 lbs. That's heavy for class D, right?

To quote my original review:


I actually had the power switch fail in my M3a-6100-7 this weekend on Friday night, after several years of trusty service. The switch wouldn't "lock" once depressed, but the amp powered on fine when the switch was held down. I left Dennis a voicemail asking him what he suggested we do to fix it. His response within an hour, was to have me come over first thing Saturday morning, so he could fix my amp. I dropped my amp off at 10:30AM, and it was ready for me by 1PM the same day.

Now, you might be thinking this is special treatment because we know one another. It's not. Dennis just doesn't want anyone to have their system down longer than it needs to be. I've seen him turn stuff around on weekends numerous times, because he just cares that much about his customers. Houston area customers are often invited to drive over to Dennis' home/office and get immediate service. When he gets an amp in for service it rarely takes more than 24 hours to turn it around.

Now, I have nothing against Emotiva - they are one of the brands in our hobby I respect for continuing to deliver value and quality despite growth. That said, there is no way they will ever match the level of customer service, ownership and accountability that Dennis shows to all his customers. He's a shining example of a small business that just does it right, so I'll continue to shamelessly plug and promote his products and his business, because they deserve it.
Dave, that is all true. I have no argument with any of it. My argument is with the statement there is only a "slight" difference in price. You posted two "similarly" priced and spec'd amps from the two brands as examples. The problem is, the price of those "similarly priced" amps are $1,200 and $2,275. That's just not a "slight" price difference. It's nearly double. Everyone expects better service from Lexus than Chevy. Nobody claims they have similar prices.

Emotiva is kind of a screwy company. I understand that. Their customer service, in my experience is not very good. Do a search and you'll find the same. They are, by definition, a high value brand. That value has to come at some sacrifice compared to a premium brand like D-Sonic, and their prices clearly reflect that.

I think we can move on from this...
 
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Dave Upton

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Dave, that is all true. I have no argument with any of it. My argument is with the statement there is only a "slight" difference in price. You posted two "similarly" priced and spec'd amps from the two brands as examples. The problem is, the price of those "similarly priced" amps are $1,200 and $2,275. That's just not a "slight" price difference. It's nearly double. Everyone expects better service from Lexus than Chevy. Nobody claims they have similar prices.

Emotiva is kind of a screwy company. I understand that. Their customer service, in my experience is not very good. Do a search and you'll find the same. They are, by definition, a high value brand. That value has to come at some sacrifice compared to a premium brand like D-Sonic, and their prices clearly reflect that.

I think we can move on from this...
Agreed, and my wording choice was poor. Slight isn't nearly double. I edited my post to reflect that.
 

JohnRice

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On the topic of Class D, there is a new player I just learned about. Quite reasonable pricing, though again half the battle with Class D is the input boards and power filtering. These may just be an "off the shelf" implementation in commodity casework:

The 4/8x125/250 models could at least be a decent way to fill out a full surround system, maybe with something more proven for the front.
 

ManW_TheUncool

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@JohnRice - the reason I probably seem like a shill for D-Sonic is very much tied to @John Dirk 's 2nd point.

I can't name any other amp manufacturers that design and build their products in the USA, to the same degree of quality, and that have the same level of service that D-Sonic does. My 7 channel amp weighs about 40 lbs. That's heavy for class D, right?

To quote my original review:


I actually had the power switch fail in my M3a-6100-7 this weekend on Friday night, after several years of trusty service. The switch wouldn't "lock" once depressed, but the amp powered on fine when the switch was held down. I left Dennis a voicemail asking him what he suggested we do to fix it. His response within an hour, was to have me come over first thing Saturday morning, so he could fix my amp. I dropped my amp off at 10:30AM, and it was ready for me by 1PM the same day.

Now, you might be thinking this is special treatment because we know one another. It's not. Dennis just doesn't want anyone to have their system down longer than it needs to be. I've seen him turn stuff around on weekends numerous times, because he just cares that much about his customers. Houston area customers are often invited to drive over to Dennis' home/office and get immediate service. When he gets an amp in for service it rarely takes more than 24 hours to turn it around.

Now, I have nothing against Emotiva - they are one of the brands in our hobby I respect for continuing to deliver value and quality despite growth. That said, there is no way they will ever match the level of customer service, ownership and accountability that Dennis shows to all his customers. He's a shining example of a small business that just does it right, so I'll continue to shamelessly plug and promote his products and his business, because they deserve it.

IF I'm living w/in an hour's drive or so, I'd probably be much more swayed to skip trying the Emotiva XPA-DR2 and go straight to the D-Sonic M3a-3000S. Alas...

Dave, that is all true. I have no argument with any of it. My argument is with the statement there is only a "slight" difference in price. You posted two "similarly" priced and spec'd amps from the two brands as examples. The problem is, the price of those "similarly priced" amps are $1,200 and $2,275. That's just not a "slight" price difference. It's nearly double. Everyone expects better service from Lexus than Chevy. Nobody claims they have similar prices.

Emotiva is kind of a screwy company. I understand that. Their customer service, in my experience is not very good. Do a search and you'll find the same. They are, by definition, a high value brand. That value has to come at some sacrifice compared to a premium brand like D-Sonic, and their prices clearly reflect that.

I think we can move on from this...

Agreed to a great extent... although I wouldn't call D-Sonic a premium (luxury) brand. They're not there yet, and might never actually get there if they stay so small and seem to garner so little press and rep in the industry. They still seem very much an upstart little company and might prefer it that way... and of course, there's nothing wrong w/ that. It may even be the best way to go in this particular industry combining what seems like great amps w/ great service at an attractive enough price (especially for the amount of power offered)... a combo that just might upend the existing premium brands, perhaps especially alongside Emotiva (from different approach/direction) and potential others like them...

_Man_
 

JohnRice

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I just want to mention that with things I control, I try to provide the best customer service possible. I think Dave Upton knows this personally...I hope. We all know that reality plays in the factor with our own finances. I'd love to get the type of service companies like Thiel provided me with my speakers all the time, but that's not always in the budget. Reality sucks sometimes.
 

Jeff1125

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I think you should probably have a clearer idea about your speaker choices and how your planned setup and intended usage, eg. general HT use, dedicated high fidelity music playback whether in stereo or multichannel, etc, before trying to decide what amps.

Those of us choosing a higher quality, possibly more powerful, separate 2-channel amp to drive our front LR are mainly doing so for high fidelity stereo music playback w/ more demanding speakers -- and may be giving that higher priority than general HT usage.

Depending on the speakers and usage, you may be perfectly happy w/ something like the Emotiva XPA-7 Gen 3 (plus something less perhaps for the Atmos height channels), if going 7.x.4 -- a resident HT reviewer, @Type A, went that route a few months ago and has been happy w/ it driving his Paradigms (and he uses an Anthem MRX-720 as prepro, foregoing its built-in amp section). You could also go XPA-3 Gen 3 (or XPA-DR3) for the front LCR and then something less for the rest...

_Man_
I've been looking at the Klipsch R-820F speakers lately, as they seem to be right on the middle of my budget. I've never owned Klipsch myself, but those I know who have them seem to be very please. I know they tend to have the reputation to sound a bit bright, but the ones I've listened to sounded pretty good too me. The 5.0 package they have advertised on their site looks to be a good start, with the sub and speakers for Atmos to follow (https://www.klipsch.com/products/r-820f-5-home-theater-system#post-product-summary).
 

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I've been looking at the Klipsch R-820F speakers lately, as they seem to be right on the middle of my budget. I've never owned Klipsch myself, but those I know who have them seem to be very please. I know they tend to have the reputation to sound a bit bright, but the ones I've listened to sounded pretty good too me. The 5.0 package they have advertised on their site looks to be a good start, with the sub and speakers for Atmos to follow (https://www.klipsch.com/products/r-820f-5-home-theater-system#post-product-summary).
I don't fully know the differences in the klipsch lineup sound wise, but they consider their RP to be the best line. You get titanium tweeter and metal woofers vs aluminum and injection woofers in the plain R line. The RP-280 is marked way down right now, probably due to being replaced by the RP-8000. Crutchfield has the RP280 for $300 each. The 450 center channel and some surrounds and bookshelfs are also marked down.

I mention this because you could get the RP line cheaper this way. Audioholics measured and reviewed the RP-8000 and found them much more neutral and less bright than typically believed for Klipsch. The RP-280s may have that same benefit.

With Klipsch I think you'll be plenty loud with a receiver.

Edit. Just reviewed your original post. The avr-x3700 would likely play Klipsch plenty loud. The x4700 looks to upgrade the amp and power supply sections a bit and given the speaker prices may be worth the extra $.

Edit 2: the paradigm monitor se line also looks pretty nice if you aren't ready the pull the trigger today and save on the Klipsch. The paradigm defiance x series subs are also really nice, and they make a lot of in ceiling options. If you have a local dealer you may be able to get a deal on a package. Anthem is their sister company, but the AVR would set you back $2700 and need additional 2 channels of amps so I'd stick with the dennon for you desired price.
 
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John Dirk

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I've been looking at the Klipsch R-820F speakers lately, as they seem to be right on the middle of my budget. I've never owned Klipsch myself, but those I know who have them seem to be very please. I know they tend to have the reputation to sound a bit bright, but the ones I've listened to sounded pretty good too me. The 5.0 package they have advertised on their site looks to be a good start, with the sub and speakers for Atmos to follow (https://www.klipsch.com/products/r-820f-5-home-theater-system#post-product-summary).
Klipsch tends to be a controversial brand around here. I'll chime in only because I [very recently] owned the RP 280F's and 450C and, as @SmCaudata suggests, these are considered an upgrade from the standard R series. For me, they did get harsh at louder volumes but they also lacked the imaging and clarity in the upper range that I enjoy with my current speakers.

For what you pay, I still feel Klipsch offers a great value but you can get much better performance for similar money from Elac's Debut series. I would encourage you to at least listen to these before making a final decision.
 
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JohnRice

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Klipsch tends to be a controversial brand around here. I'll chime in only because I [very recently] owned the RP 280F's and 450C and, as @SmCaudata suggests, these are considered an upgrade from the standard R series. For me, they did get harsh at louder volumes but they also lacked the imaging and clarity in the upper range that I enjoy with my current speakers.

For what you pay, I still feel Klipsch offers a great value but you can get much better performance for similar money from Elac's Debut series. I would encourage you to at least listen to these before making a final decision.
I SO agree. Look into ELAC, both the Debut 2 and UniFi 2 lines, as well as Paradigm. Focal also has offerings as do B&W and KEF. FWIW, those two ELAC lines are specifically designed to outperform their prices, and they do.
 

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The only concern w/ not going Klipsch (or similarly efficient speakers) is you'd likely need more (and better) power to generate the same volume (and better sound), which will more likely push you toward separate amp(s) at least for the front LCR instead of just relying on a good AVR alone.

IF you actually love the Klipsch (or horn) sound, are on a tight budget and aren't prone to upgrade-itis (like many of us in this hobby :lol: ), maybe it's better to just stick w/ that and enjoy.

Think about it this way. Do you take the blue pill and just be happy w/ those Klipsch+AVR or the red pill and...? ;);):cool:

_Man_
 

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@Jeff1125 , first, sorry for sidetracking your thread. Looking back at your initial post, while looking for someone else, I found this great deal on the Marantz SR7013 that is in your budget. As long as you don't want 8K compatibility, you'd be making a mistake not to at least give it serious consideration.
 

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@Jeff1125 , first, sorry for sidetracking your thread. Looking back at your initial post, while looking for someone else, I found this great deal on the Marantz SR7013 that is in your budget. As long as you don't want 8K compatibility, you'd be making a mistake not to at least give it serious consideration.

I wonder if the price won't drop some more. Apparently, the very similar, slightly older SR7012 dropped all the way down to $1K (less than 50% of MSRP) almost exactly 2 years ago (judging from a quick google).

Here's an interesting review for the SR7012 -- didn't see one for SR7013 from quick google:


Note particularly the power info, which probably won't be much diff for the SR7013, ie. expect 80-90Wpc (of clean power) w/ 7 or 5 channels driven. So probably plan on using this w/ a decent external amp if you want to go Atmos/DTS:X and loud (probably even w/ Klipsch)...

_Man_
 

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