What's new

Looking for inexpensive receiver recommendations (1 Viewer)

KrisWood

Auditioning
Joined
May 15, 2008
Messages
6
Real Name
Kris Wood
Hi everyone. Five years ago I bought my first HT receiver, a Sony STR-DE485 for $149 which served me faithfully though severely underpowered until last year when it died (it now goes into "protect" mode after a few seconds of audio from any source with a loud POP over the speakers, and must be power cycled to resume listening, so I've stopped using it for the sake of my speakers). I'm now looking to get something a little nicer and have budgeted around $300 for this project.

The problem I'm running into is that there seems to be a large gap between two different kinds of HT products. There are the sort that one can find in any department store and consumer electronics mega-stores which are generally in my price range but are utter crap (like my Sony), and there are the type at audio specialist stores that are tailored to wealthier audiophiles with four digit or higher price tags that will likely be out of my range for the entirety of my life. Also I'm having trouble finding stores that cater to a price range between these two.

I mainly listen to MP3 audio and various lossless formats, and watch DVDs but do not own or plan to purchase any sort of Blue-Ray player until DVD goes the way of VHS, so I don't need the ultimate high-definition receiver. Something inexpensive but well put together which will drive my speakers is the goal.

Almost all my media is currently played on my computer with an Auzentech X-Meridian 7.1 sound card over Sennheiser 580 headphones, but this obviously doesn't work if I want to watch a movie with the family. :)

For speakers I've got the following (yes I know they're on the lower end but they're what I can afford):

2 @ Jensen CS 315 (15" 80watt 3-way)
2 @ Polk Audio R30
1 @ Polk Audio CSi40
1 @ Polk Audio PSW202

(I initially had links to the Polk Audio speakers specs pages but the forum won't let me put URLs in my first 10 posts. They can be found on www dot polkaudio dot com)

Ideally I'll find something that is well suited to these speakers because I won't be able to afford nicer for several years to come, by which time I'll be able to afford a nicer receiver too.

Can anyone recommend a good 5.1 receiver that will power these speakers for around the $300 range?
 

ManW_TheUncool

His Own Fool
Premium
Senior HTF Member
Joined
Aug 18, 2001
Messages
11,848
Location
The BK
Real Name
ManW
Maybe last year's model Yamaha RX-V661 at ~$300 online priced would fit the bill? Seems like a great value, especially if you don't need it to handle the newer lossless surround audio formats (ie. Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD/MA). Even if/when you eventually upgrade to Blu-ray or similar, you might be better off buying a player that decodes those formats to multi-channel PCM to be passed to the receiver.

_Man_
 

Brent_S

Second Unit
Joined
Oct 5, 2000
Messages
472
The 661 is certainly a good option.

I'd also look at an Onkyo 605. For about the same money, you'll get TrueHD/DTS-HD decoding if you go that route. Easily available NIB for $350 from multile authorized dealers. A little price stalking and or phone calling might get you an even lower price.

When in stock Accessories4less has refurb units for $300...still factory authorized. ShopOnkyo.com also has refurb units from time to time...registering will sometimes get you a lower price than you'll see from just public window shopping...usually less than A4Less.

I do have to ask. If you're not doing HD-DVD or BluRay, what are these "various lossless formats" that you're listening to?

-Brent
 

KrisWood

Auditioning
Joined
May 15, 2008
Messages
6
Real Name
Kris Wood
I'll keep an eye out for those! :) The lossless formats I've fiddled with so far are FLAC and APE as well as others that I've forgotten now, it's been a while. :)

I see a lot of people on forums raving about Denon and Harmon Kardon, do these brands have similarly priced units and are they worth it?
 

gene c

Senior HTF Member
Joined
Aug 5, 2003
Messages
5,854
Location
Bay area, Ca
Real Name
Gene
H/K is noted for being a wonderful performer but has had quality control issues in the past. Haven't heard much complaining lately though. Last years models are a bit short on features compared to other brands but their new lineup looks strong. H/K has an active Ebay store for refurbs.



As for Denon, it's been quite popular for some time. Check out SecondAct.com for deals/refurbs.
 

Brent_S

Second Unit
Joined
Oct 5, 2000
Messages
472
Generally, all brands have competing models at a given price point. However, for most of the past year+, the Onkyo 605 has been the budget leader in providing TrueHD/DTS-HD decoding...not to mention Audyssey room processing. Yamaha has just released the 663 that streets regularly at $499, but has been reported at $399 from authorized sellers, making it price competitive with the 605. Of course, Onkyo's just released the 606, so the battle continues. The release of the Yammie 663 creates clearance pricing on the 661, but it gives up lossless audio to the 605/606/663.

H/K and Denon make fine units as well, but your original post sounded price conscious. I was watching the H/K 247 (their lowest prices lossless model, I think) last year, but it was in the $499 range along with the 661. As released, it wouldn't expand 5.1 lossless audio to 7.1, despite the manual indicating it would. A firmware was supposed to be coming to fix this, but I quit following the unit. Seems like it had another functional quirk or two that I didn't like, but I don't recall what they were.

Denon tends to price itself as a premium brand. What I considered Denon's closest feature equivalent to my Onkyo 805 for my needs is the 2808CI. I got the 805 for $699 when the 2808CI was running $1200ish. Closest to your price point, Denon has the 1508. It only does video swtiching via HDMI, no audio processing. For HDMI audio, you need to step all the way to the 1908...currently $599 @ Crutchfield.

-Brent
 

KrisWood

Auditioning
Joined
May 15, 2008
Messages
6
Real Name
Kris Wood
Thanks for all the informative replies! I'd be willing to go up to $399 but grudgingly, so it's good to know there are models to be had in that range. I don't have any audio / video sources that use HDMI at all so I couldn't care less about that particular feature.

My only media source is my PC, which has digital audio output via optical and coax with the Auzentech X-Meridian sound card. All my video is displayed on my 22" widescreen monitor, I do not own a television at the moment, nor do I plan to buy one until large LCD TVs come down in price below the $500 mark. I also don't need 7.1 surround, as I only own 5.1 speakers.

I guess when it comes to features I'm really happy with a "less is more" approach. I want clear, beautiful sound, and couldn't care less how many features are shoved into a bit of hardware. :D

It looks like the Onkyo 605 is the current favourite of the majority, so I'll be keeping an eye out for deals on that one. Will it power my speakers without problems? I suspect adding the two 80watt three way towers is what finished off my poor sony...

Edit: Ok I looked it up, it's got far more than enough power for the speakers I'm using, I think:


I'm not sure what any of that means, but my speakers say "80 watts continuous power. 220 watts peak power." and nothing about ohms. I found the TX-SR605S (that's the silver version, I think) for $299.99 at Frys so I think I'll head down there tomorrow and see if I can get ahold of one. :)

Edit: Hmmmm on further research, some reviews compare the Denon AVR-688 to the Onkyo TX-605. Both are available in my area for $299.99 and seem roughly equivalent in features. Any opinions?

Edit: Found the 1508 for $349, how does this compare to the 688? Nevermind, I looked it up on the manufacturer's site. They are virtually identical except that the 688 has more features. Looks like I'll take a trip to Circuit City tomorrow since they're the only place I've found in town that has both the Onkyo TX-605 and the Denon AVR-688, and give them a listen before buying. :)
 

Rich Allen

Second Unit
Joined
Feb 8, 1999
Messages
382
Location
Salisbury MD
Real Name
Rich Allen
You masy not care about HDMI now, but with the newer HD sources all using it, you very well might in the near future.
 

KrisWood

Auditioning
Joined
May 15, 2008
Messages
6
Real Name
Kris Wood
Well, the thing is, I know the way I use media.

I don't watch TV, I download the shows I want to watch off the net (mostly foreign ones I can't get here anyway), often in high def formats that look great on my LCD monitor and don't need to be sent to a TV. I rarely rent DVDs, and when I do I watch them on my PC. I bought a whole two games for my PS2 the entire time I owned it (it stopped reading discs some time ago) and I have no interest in buying any of the new generation of console game systems. All the games I want to play come out on computer eventually. I spend most of my time listening to music while making computer game art, and watching an occasional DVD.

If I do add anything that would use HDMI to my system, it would likely be a large LCD tv with DVI input which I could hook up to the second DVI port on my video card. :) I might buy one of the current game consoles once they come below $200, but that'll be a while.

At most I'll need two HDMI ports on my receiver; one for the PC and one for an eventual game system. Both of the receivers I'm looking at have that. :)
 

ManW_TheUncool

His Own Fool
Premium
Senior HTF Member
Joined
Aug 18, 2001
Messages
11,848
Location
The BK
Real Name
ManW
Kris,

I think you misunderstood the point about HDMI for audio, not video since you only seem to consider the video side of it in your response.

Since you said you're concerned about lossless audio formats, that's exactly what the others are speaking to regarding HDMI. Of course, it's still possible that the point is moot for you considering the kind of content you care about since they might never use the few lossless multi-channel audio formats that require HDMI, eg. Dolby TrueHD, DTS-HD/MA, DSD, multi-channel PCM (though I suppose this could possibly eventually be supported via optical connection, but seems doubtful).

_Man_
 

KrisWood

Auditioning
Joined
May 15, 2008
Messages
6
Real Name
Kris Wood
Thanks for that clarification! It makes a lot more sense now. The only source I'd consider purchasing in the next five years which would even use HDMI for audio is a PS3 or Xbox360, neither of which apparently sends HD dolby or dts apparently. Yes multi channel PCM is supported on optical, I've been using it for years with my pitiful Sony receiver. :)
 

Rich Allen

Second Unit
Joined
Feb 8, 1999
Messages
382
Location
Salisbury MD
Real Name
Rich Allen
Yes, but they decode the hd audio formats and send the uncompressed PCM through the HDMI, and as far as I know, they only send it through HDMI. And no, it's not supported via optical, only two channel uncompressed. Most likely your sony is simply appying Dolby Pro Logic to it giving you multichannel.

What model Sony is it? That's the way to tell for sure.
 

KrisWood

Auditioning
Joined
May 15, 2008
Messages
6
Real Name
Kris Wood
I'd post a link to the owner's manual on the sony web site but still not up to ten posts yet. :frowning: The model is STR-DE485. It says PCM 96k in the manual, which I guess is a 2 channel format, which would mean you're absolutely correct. Ah well, all my music is recorded in 2 channels anyway. :) Still, the Denon AVR-688 has two HDMI inputs, and I'd only need one at most, so I think I'm safe. :)
 

Rich Allen

Second Unit
Joined
Feb 8, 1999
Messages
382
Location
Salisbury MD
Real Name
Rich Allen
Things change kid, including what you plan on. And I'm talking from experience. I bought a receiver a couple of years ago thinking I would only need the two HDMi's on it. Right now, I could use a couple more.

All I'm saying is to think long and hard about your needs and try to anticpate a couple of years down the road. It can save you a lot of regrets and money in the long run.
 

Users who are viewing this thread

Forum statistics

Threads
356,571
Messages
5,116,347
Members
144,113
Latest member
hickskeith007
Recent bookmarks
0
Top