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Dave Upton

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Whatever piece of equipment you are thinking of purchasing next for your home theater, we are putting together a number of Top 10 guides over the coming weeks that will hopefully make your choices easier. Although we have not had a chance to review every product that makes these lists, we have researched what’s hot, what’s been getting the good reviews and what should deliver on both price and performance. Here is a selection of ten receivers and processors in various price brackets that should accommodate most people’s tastes and that we think you should at least check out before handing over the plastic.
Budget
Sony STR-DN1080 Receiver $599
Already in its third year of production, the DN1080 enjoys both sturdy sales and sustained interest from the hi-fi and home theater community. This 7.2 receiver packs audio performance that some reviewers have branded “punchy”, “spellbinding” and “insightful” into a solid-looking and multi-talented black box. With Dolby Atmos and...

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Scott Jentsch

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Wow, not much love for Yamaha in that list, while Sound United has an entry in every price segment.

Perhaps it's just a personal preference, but after having three Yamaha receivers followed by three Denon receivers, I was very happy to get back to a Yamaha again. I find the menus much more usable, and the performance and calibration capabilities are equally matched, IMHO.

I will submit that more people are probably more aware of Denon, and there are some very ardent fans out there, but unless things have changed recently, Yamaha is definitely worth a look!
 

john a hunter

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About three years ago I had the Yammy CX 5100 and changed to the Anthem AVM60.
In a totally different ball park to the Yammy for sound quality.
Never looked back.
 

technohobby

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Wow, not much love for Yamaha in that list, while Sound United has an entry in every price segment.

Perhaps it's just a personal preference, but after having three Yamaha receivers followed by three Denon receivers, I was very happy to get back to a Yamaha again. I find the menus much more usable, and the performance and calibration capabilities are equally matched, IMHO.

I will submit that more people are probably more aware of Denon, and there are some very ardent fans out there, but unless things have changed recently, Yamaha is definitely worth a look!

I suppose we're always going to get accused of "loving what we own", but you nailed exactly why I have a Yamaha in my theater room and a Yamaha in my family room.

So easy to setup and use. Feature setup that makes sense to a causal media enthusiast. Such a nice, convenient App on my phone. The simple access to various sound fields (still not tempted by them). And, using it as a pre-amp for my Parasound Amp driving my Revel setup (family room) mitigates issues related to adequate power .... which would have also been an issue with the competition.

And, yes, I owned (slim-line) Marantz in one room. And, a Pioneer followed by a SONY premium units. Everyone has upped their game, I'm sure. But, I feel like I needed my instruction book on the others and that still wasn't adequate. Usability is my new purchase criteria. Keep in mind, we don't live in this A/V arena. We setup, once, and only revisit setup if we add a device or something goes wrong. My support team (me) demands intuitive and simple feature management. If I can't figure it out, it might as well not have those cool features.
 
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Hemiram

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My experience with non-Yamaha receivers over the last 20 years or so has not been a good one. My first "high end" surround receiver was a Marantz SR8000? that cost a ton of money and died once under warranty, and then again right after it expired. Off to the boneyard it went, as it cost too much to fix. Had crappy binding posts, too.

I've had a mid level Sony after that that had endless issues, then an Onkyo that had an intermittent left front channel that two trips to the shop didn't cure. I fixed it myself with 2 cans of freezit and a lot of time looking for a cracked/bad solder joint which turned out to be a resistor that had a crack when cold then would heat up and work fine. Only took about 20 minutes to start working. Took a long time to find. Cost was about 5 cents for the resistor, and about 17 bucks for the freeze stuff. It was gone for weeks at a time for service.

My latest and I would bet last dud is my Denon 4500X which has died for the second time. It's still under warranty, but what a hassle. Seems to be the same issue as last time, an IC failed in the DD processing unit, causing huge levels of distortion in the surround channels. Kind of sounds like broken glass sound mixed into the surround channels. I have to run it in 2 channel mode to have decent sound.

After the first time it went out, I added one of the ACInfinity fan units and the thing wasn't even close to hot anymore. Without it, it ran hotter than my TRS-7810 does/did, and I thought that's what killed it the first time. I guess not.

Meanwhile, the Yamaha TRS-7810 has come out of retirement a second time and does a fine job, and it cost about 1/3 what the Denon did. And if it dies, there is the Yamaha RX-V675 from 2006 that still works perfectly, and to be honest, sounds better than any of the above. The remote is a little tired at this point, and the only reason it's not back on duty. It's Yamaha for me from now on. Next time I'm moving up to an Adventage (?) model, which I should have done instead of throwing $1000+ in on the 4500X.

I'm not hard on my stuff, I have two Technics cassette decks from 1972 and from 1979 that work perfectly, and until about 2010, I had my bought in 1972 Panasonic (Technics) receiver that I bought just before my 16th birthday. The slider volume control finally wore out, and it was sold to a friend who still uses it to run his rear surround channels as a power amp. Not bad for a $212 close out.
 

John Dirk

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I'm not hard on my stuff, I have two Technics cassette decks from 1972 and from 1979 that work perfectly,

You read my mind. I was about to ask about your usage and environment. I've never had any AV receiver outright fail on me and I've owned plenty over the years. My Onkyo TX SR805 did suffer the front panel demise that was typical of that particular model but it still works and is actually filling in for my Outlaw 7140 right now. Onkyo's are also known for running extremely hot.
 

Dave Upton

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One point I would add in favor of the anthem being on this list over the Marantz, is that once you've heard the alternatives to Audyssey, either ARC Genesis or Dirac, it becomes apparent immediately that they're vastly superior. I don't include YPAO, MCACC in this list because they're frankly terrible and don't even compete.

I have had top-of-the-line units with all three room correction technologies in my room and there's a reason I'm not using a Marantz anymore.
 

Kevin Alexander

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Wow, not much love for Yamaha in that list, while Sound United has an entry in every price segment.

Perhaps it's just a personal preference, but after having three Yamaha receivers followed by three Denon receivers, I was very happy to get back to a Yamaha again. I find the menus much more usable, and the performance and calibration capabilities are equally matched, IMHO.

I will submit that more people are probably more aware of Denon, and there are some very ardent fans out there, but unless things have changed recently, Yamaha is definitely worth a look!
There is an industry wide bias in favor of Denon/Marantz imo. I've found Yamaha to be more balanced in sound whereas D/M tends to roll off the upper end.
 

Kevin Alexander

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You read my mind. I was about to ask about your usage and environment. I've never had any AV receiver outright fail on me and I've owned plenty over the years. My Onkyo TX SR805 did suffer the front panel demise that was typical of that particular model but it still works and is actually filling in for my Outlaw 7140 right now. Onkyo's are also known for running extremely hot.
The days of the hot running Onkyos are gone. The crown of the blow torch receivers go to Denon and Marantz.
 

John Dirk

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One point I would add in favor of the anthem being on this list over the Marantz, is that once you've heard the alternatives to Audyssey, either ARC Genesis or Dirac, it becomes apparent immediately that they're vastly superior. I don't include YPAO, MCACC in this list because they're frankly terrible and don't even compete.

I have had top-of-the-line units with all three room correction technologies in my room and there's a reason I'm not using a Marantz anymore.

Fair enough. I've never owned an Anthem product and wasn't advocating an either or scenario. I think there's room for both on the list as they seem to target different audiences. Anthem appears to be the better choice for those who primarily value audiophile level performance while Marantz is [IMO] a great choice for those who value fit & finish and myriad feature sets. Since the latter camp is clearly the larger consumer market [most of us are not audiophiles, even at the high end] it seems somewhat remiss to not include the 8805.
 

Martin Dew

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All fair points and thanks for the feedback. The reality is that there are good value products at most price points from most manufacturers and, in hindsight, I could easily have included a mid-price Yamaha and/or the Marantz 8805. For the eight of the total ten models in the list we haven't reviewed at HTF, my print and online media research showed that these remaining products were the most consistently highly-rated (usually 5 stars) and therefore talked about. That did result in a bit of a Sound United bias but I suppose I weighed this up as a necessary evil.

I've owned and used Yamaha, Anthem, Technics, Marantz, Tag McLaren, Onkyo and Integra mid- and high-end home theater preamps and receivers and my experience is that they've all had their relative strengths and value propositions. It was the final composite scores, if you like, that informed my list.
 

Hemiram

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I forgot to mention that going back to 1977, I've never had a Yamaha made component have any problem more severe than a loose knob on my old R-700 receiver. Over thirty years after I bought it, some guy in Australia bought it from me and paid $100 to ship it over there. It took literally over 2 months to get there. He loved it.

I've had Yamaha power amps, pre-amps, turntables, speakers (small ones) and cassette decks, and they all did great and lived to the point where I upgraded or they died when a lightning hit killed a bunch of my stuff in the mid 80's, and again in 2000. Surge protectors only can do so much. Some stuff died, some lived. I lost a ton of stuff that second time, including two really nice VCR's.
 

DaveF

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With all due respect to Anthem I still feel the Marantz 8805 deserves a spot on any realistic list.
One point I would add in favor of the anthem being on this list over the Marantz, is that once you've heard the alternatives to Audyssey, either ARC Genesis or Dirac, it becomes apparent immediately that they're vastly superior. I don't include YPAO, MCACC in this list because they're frankly terrible and don't even compete.

I have had top-of-the-line units with all three room correction technologies in my room and there's a reason I'm not using a Marantz anymore.
My plan is to buy a new Marantz 7706 (presumed 2020 model) pre-pro to replace my 7702mkII when I go 4K. Having read the Anthem review, I’ve got to give that some consideration. But, it’s at least 50% more expensive, requires an additional pricey calibrated microphone purchase, and figuring out the computer support for ARC (might be easy, tbd), and a major programming update to my remote. But, it promises much better room correction. So...hmmmm...
 

daddyora

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Good discussion on receivers, thanks for the inputs. With old ears and damaged hearing, I doubt that I can detect subtle differences in sound from various brands, I can barely detect differences in speaker brands. For me ease of setup and use are important. I bought a Yam RX-A660 Aventage avr about 3-4 yrs ago and was immediately awed by the 130+ page owners manual. I have since installed a distributed audio system to supplement my 5.1.2 HT and use Yamaha WXA-50 amps for 4 extra zones via MusicCast. The Yamaha apps are excellent and functionality is good. I did make a couple of mistakes with the avr; 1) not getting a unit with pre-outs and 2) not getting a higher level of YPAO. So once the HDMI situation settles down I will be in the market for another avr, Yamaha of course, certainly don't want to go thru another learning curve with a different brand.
 

Dave Upton

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I think Yamaha builds a fantastic receiver, and I would recommend them every time if YPAO was a bit better. I revisit it every 18 months or so, and remain dissatisfied. It's the one thing separating them from greatness imo.
 

Clinton McClure

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I think Yamaha builds a fantastic receiver, and I would recommend them every time if YPAO was a bit better. I revisit it every 18 months or so, and remain dissatisfied. It's the one thing separating them from greatness imo.
I can attest to that. I’m still using a 20+ year old Yamaha RX-V995. The headphone jack died last year but the rest of the receiver seems to be bulletproof. It only does lossy 5.1 DD and dts via digital audio or TOSlink (this receiver predates hdmi) but still sounds good paired with my Anthem amp. I want to upgrade to a Marantz SR6014 but with my wife not working, I can’t afford to upgrade.
 

Carlo Medina

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As an owner of both the Denon 4400 and 4500, I can unreservedly recommend them. I'd owned Pioneer Elites before them, and prior to that, NAD and Sony ES, but am a Denon convert now.
 

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