Last week, my five year old Sony ES Receiver just died. Out of nowhere. I found myself catapulted into the nebulous world of shopping for a new receiver - something I hadn't done in about 5 years. My budget is about $1,000. These are my experiences (all NYC stores). First, a bit of quick background. I'm not an audiophile and a lot of the technical-speak on this board is over my head. But, to be blunt, I like stuff to sound good. Five years ago, I was looking to put a system together right before I started grad school. As fate would have it, I walked into a local hi-fi store and the sales guy had me listen to B&W 602's with Rotel electronics. I bought the B&W's and took the Sony ES over the Marantz and Dennon's I listed to; it wasn't even close. I live in a small NYC apartment. Along with the 602's, I have the cc6 as a center but no surrounds yet. I'm going to get an Adire Rava one of these days. The HT setup is actually used mostly for television, then 50/50 between music and DVD. The Sony did everything I wanted for music, but I found it lacking power for 3 channels. I felt I was outgrowing it a bit anyway and was thinking about adding an external amp at some point. Now, of course, finding a replacement receiver is somewhat urgent. I don't have the luxary of prowling the demo/used market. Store 1 - The sales guy kept asking me the same questions over and over again. He wasn't listening at all. He was pushing Arcam. I listened to the $1,000 model, the 250 and the 300. He was pushing the 300, hard, which, of course, is twice my budget. I've got to confess that the Arcams sounded great - at the same time, I didn't hear a whole lot of different between the 3 models for 5 channel surround. The 250 and 300 looked a lot more solid, though. I didn't bring my own music, so I decided to return to test 2 channel stereo. I also listened to a Cambridge Audio receiver there. I'm not sure of the model # but it was $699. Of course, I didn't sound as full or realistic as the Arcams, but the Arcams didn't sound $1,300 better. In any case, I'm not going back there because the sales person also tried to sell me a $1,000+ power conditioner and a DA converter. Also, as I listened to the gear, he pointed out what was wrong with each receiver - except the Arcam 300. Clearly, he was just interested in the commission. Store 2 - Great place. People were open, honest (my impression at least) and not at all condescending. I auditioned the Marantz 7500 ($1,000) and the Integra 6.5 ($1,000). He predicted I'd find the Marantz better for music and the Integra better for HT. He was correct. It seemed to me that the Marantz was holding something back in the HT mode, it just wasn't as forward or envoloping as I wanted it to be. For music, though, it was warm and detailed. The Integra was more detailed and aggresive in HT mode but in two channel it just lacked that something special that Maranrz had. The sales guy said he's got the 6.5 and that, unless I'd be doing much more music listening than HT, the Integra should be my choice. I don't know. I'm going to go back but I just wasn't wowed by it and for $1,000, I feel like I should be. When I originally bought my Sony, I always wondered whether I should've gone with a higher end Marantz model or a Rotel. I've had something of a crush on Rotels and Marantz's ever since. The Integra, frankly, didn't look all that attractive to me and, sad to say, that IS a consideration (I am going to be looking at this thing all the time, after all). By the way, I auditioned this gear on KEF speakers ($450 for the front bookshelves). They sounded fantastic - better than my 602's for HT, but perhaps not quite as good for music. Store 3 - I autioned the Rotel 1056, the Arcam AVR 200 and a Marantz (5300, I belive). Worst sales person ever. He conceeded he just started working at the store and knew nothing about the products but was a self-described audiophile. Everything, in his mind, was crap (NAD, Marantz, Yamaha, etc.). He conceeded that the Arcam AVR 200 wasn't bad and that was it. It was a hard sell for the Rotel 1056. As I was leaving, someone walked in asking if they sold BOSE. The sales guy laughed out loud, said the person should go to Circuit City and finished by saying that Bose is crap that stands for "Better Off with Something Else". Needless to say, I don't want to give this guy a commission. BUT - the Rotel DID sound great. I mean, really good - it was clearly more full to my ears than the Arcam for music. To anyone who has made it all the way here, here's a recap of my needs: * good sound for both music/HT, ease of use and durability/warranty. I need 5.1, nothing more, though I would love to get a receiver with Zone 2 capability so I could hook up more speakers in the bedroom. Also, easy hookup is necessary (both Marantz and Integra have microphones that allow the receiver to calbrate themselves, I believe). My questions: 1. Is spending around $1k for a receiver overkill for 602's? Remember, I don't yet have surround speakers or a sub (but I'll probably get a sub soon). 3. Should I be auditioning anything else? I may check out NAD tomorrow (763, perhaps - though 2 of the stores I went to already told me they stopped carrying NAD due to defective products). Most of the stores I've spoken to don't carry speakers less than $700 and frankly, I don't think I want to take a step down from my current receiver (rememeber, I was contemplating adding an amp for more ooomph on HT). 4. I did love the Rotel - and it's 5 year warranty. Does Rotel have a good rep for customer service? If I'm going to spend $1k on a receiver (Marantz, Integra), I can justify spending an extra $200 to get the Rotel. I just need to make sure I can't get what I need from a $500 receiver. $1200 would really be my ceiling, though. Finally, I'd like to buy the receiver from a store that does not reek of attitude. Of the 3 stores I've visited so far, only 1 fits the bill (and they don't sell Rotel). Thanks for listening to me vent, and I'd appreciate any suggestions.