$300 for older Rotel/Outlaw or do something else?

I'm interested in easing into the Home Theater world and I'm thinking about using an older sound processor couple with three identical dual channel (120w/ch.) amplifiers to get something 5.1 up and running.

I'm leaning toward something enry level but well rated, like a Rotel RSP-1066 or Outlaw 950, both are in the $300 or less delivered range.

Is this a reasonable move or is there a better way to spend $300 these days for the same result.

I realize I won't get HDMI audio or switching, but I can output Blu-Ray video directly to the HDTV and optical out for excellent, but not lossless, audio.

Is this a reasonable plan? Thank you!
Sure. Quite reasonable on a tight budget. In fact, you could utilize the hirez codecs via analog to the prepro and let the br player decode/process for you. That's what I do w/ my oppo83. Just be sure the player does onboard decoding/processing. I know the panny80 does everything onboard if need be and a handful of other br players as well. You also may want to consider a prev-owned Onkyo 600 hundred or 700 series recvr that will do all the latest greatest things...and use the preouts to your amps!
Gave it some thought...Look for an Onkyo 606...hint-hint. See how you like it alone and then jack in the amps if you want/feel you need more.
"In fact, you could utilize the hirez codecs via analog to the prepro and let the br player decode/process for you."

True. I keep thinking that HDMI is needed for 1080p, but apparently later models of the RSP-1066 have the bandwidth for HD passthrough.

"See how you like it alone and then jack in the amps if you want/feel you need more."

I took a look at the Onkyo TX-SR606/607, but they only seem to have line outs for a sub or zone 2. I don't see how I can use my amps for the front, center or surround speakers. In the 2 channel world, the last time I counted on a receiver to provide adequate gusto, I was let down. Maybe I'm missing something there?

Does anyone make a low cost, modern (hdmi-equipped) surround preamplifier/processor? Would something new and low cost compete well with a 7 year old, $1500 surround pre/proc?
For my above post, I now realize that I can switch Blu-Ray up to 1080i with the Rotel, but HDMI is required for Blu-Ray output at 1080p. Component cables and the Rotel may be able to handle 1080p, as some 1080p PS3 games apparently can be sent over component cables, but the Blu-Ray spec does not permit it. Or so I've read. Since my panel is 1080p via HDMI or DVI-D, I can output directly to the panel for 1080p Blu-Ray.
The 606/607 should have 'pre-outs' not to be confused with the multi-ch in's. What are you using now? What is your goal. You have ideas but pardon me...no certain goal.direction. What do you want? A modern recv'r or prepro that cost less today than yesteryears 1500 dollar unit will most likely outperform the older. Technology was new and came at a premium. The technology as well as demand has brought prices down all the while getting better at function/versatility. You are quite limited with your budget and you will benefit by purchasing a newer recv'r rather than an older prepro.
I can't find the pre-outs on the Onkyo (other than those mentioned above), maybe I'm missing something, here's the link --> http://www.us.onkyo.com/model.cfm?m=TX-SR607&class=Receiver&p=i

I'm just trying to go from the 2 channel world to the 5 channel world using exiting equipment that sounds great and that I love.

I picked up a Harmon Kardon HK-3480 receiver to fill in for vintage Nikko separates. It is a very well rated receiver with the same wattage as my amp (120wpc). However, it doesn't come close to moving my Snell Type D speakers like the Nikko amp. Not even close.

That is why I'm hesitant to consider an all in one entry level unit. I have three of these amps and in addition to the Snell Type D's for fronts, I have Snell Type M's for the surrounds and a Snell CC-1 for the center. (As an aside, Snell marketed that exact speaker setup in 1996 as "The Dragon Slayer Music & Cinema System".)

At this point, I'm planning on going with the Rotel RSP-1066. I'll add a sub, if I like what I'm hearing.

I just wanted to find out if I was missing something, but it seems that this setup will at least sound O.K. It is the Dragon Slayer after all.
Alpha...I stand corrected concerning the 606...no pre-outs. Bummer. Perhaps the 700 series has them. Nonetheless, I think you will be fine for getting into 5.1 with your choice as you seem really attatched to your spkrs. I am a 75% music guy myself and that's my primary concern with rig. Not familiar with the Rotel but if it has multi-ch in's you can use an oppo br or any player with onboard processing of the hirez codecs. You will love yourself for doing so. Let me/us know how it goes. Multi-ch music is awesome btw...a real treat when done right. I bought an Oppo 83 which will do everything music and video wise and it will be a mainstay far after the other gear is changed out.
I have an Outlaw 950 and am very familiar with its I/Os and capabilities. It's a very good analog line stage.

I recommend (as Mmnc also did) that you get a Blu-ray player with on-board processing and at least 5.1 channel analog outputs. Then connect the HDMI cable from the Blu-ray player directly to the TV to get 1080p video only, and use 6 RCA interconnects to connect the Blu-ray player's analog outputs to the Outlaw's analog inputs. The Outlaw works very well in this mode and you'll get lossless surround when the disc is encoded with TrueHD or DTS-HD Master Audio.

Just be sure you get a Blu-ray player with onboard decoding and full analog surround outputs. The Oppo certainly has it, but so do some of the Panasonics. It's mostly the entry level players that don't.

The Outlaw 950 is only so-so as a digital decoder, but it is an *excellent* line stage and controller preamp, whether in stereo or multi-channel.
I picked up a used, but mint, Rotel RSP-1066 (for under $300 delivered) from a forum member here. I swapped out my old preamp for the Rotel and so far, so good.

Since I didn't have a Blu-Ray player, I started a little research, but it seems the only real choice in the entry level price range is the Oppo BDP-80 for $289.

The BDP-80 has the on-board decoding and multi-channel outputs, and thankfully, the Rotel has the multi-channel inputs! I'll be able to make the same connetion as Johnnyb53 suggests.

I don't have a subwoofer at this point, but I suppose I can add one later. To someone used to listening to two speakers, five speakers seems like a good start.

Thanks to the forum members for the tips.
Outlaw over Rotel by a margin. Not even close in my opinion.
"Outlaw over Rotel by a margin." That won't help me much at this point, but it may help others. Why so? The features of the two are certainly similar. Is the sound or video quality much better with the Outlaw? Two channel mode better, too?
02-22-10: Alpha220
"Outlaw over Rotel by a margin." That won't help me much at this point, but it may help others.
Don't even give it a second thought. You made a good purchase decision, maybe the better one. I have an Outlaw 950 and had their "Retro Receiver" for almost a month before I sent it back. I don't think Outlaw is all that. As I said the 950 has a good line stage and so-so digital surround processing. I've also heard the Rotels from that era and they stood out at their price points, especially for a very natural, un-electronic sound quality. Your Rotel has a more usable set of I/Os and all the ones you need to connect a Blu-ray player's analog outputs. If you plug other SP/DIF digital cables into the Rotel for Dolby Digital, DTS, and the like, you'll get excellent surround sound. The Rotel's even nicer looking.
Yes, no HD codec processing via 1.3 - true.
Another strong point is you're very likely (depending on room, setup, and acoustical factors) going to have to live with peaky lower fidelity sound, that will likely have you diving for the volume control durring loud/peaks in passages, and then going up on the volume during quiet dialog and average sounds, if you lack better EQ technology in the chain. The benefit of the technologies that do room EQ is that they can help flatten your sound, to greatly avoid these issues! My 20 years experience suggests this point is a huge benefit toward building audiophile grade accurate sound reproduction.
In fact, I once did a system for a guy with higher end monitors and amplification, who had a Rotel 5.1 pre in his system, untill I showed him his measurements at key frequencies with his setup. When I substituted a modest processor with a Parametric EQ built in, he unanmously was in favor of the overall sound with the otherwise cheaper pre for his remaining budget allocation. He sold the THX Rotel.
When you take into consideration that the average, even larger sized rooms will leave you with 20db+ peaks and holes in critical frequency response ranges often, having a well EQ'd system (Audyssey?!) is priceless. In fact, I wouldn't go without a better EQ anymore, almost without exception (exception: highly acoustically engineered, meticulously setup systems/rooms). And I say this having used the likes of Krell HTS 5.1, upgraded Acurus ACT 3 (stage one status), Mac MX130, Aragon Soundstage 5.1, and similar in my processor collection over the years. So, I like great fidelity myself.
Considering all that, I'd much rather see you with something like a mid level more current AV receiver, using them as a pre-pro, via the pre-out's - before considering the otherwise good sounding Outlaws, Parasounds, Rotels, even older Krells (much better fundamental fidelity).
You should consider all factors before chosing. Fundamentallly, good pre-pro's offer some better core sonics than a receiver's preamp section. Still, technology keeps upping the ante, with better DAC's, construction, video processing, DSP room correction (invaluable), and more! And some of these receivers are pretty clean as pre's, to boot. Not to shabby.
If I had to say some area's that separates pre-pro's have typically outperformed their receiver counterparts in the pre section, it would be dynamics, noise floor(and thus potential perceived detail with quite room), channel separation, and overall refinement of sound, often. Still, some receivers, I've found, do very well as pre's also - all things considered.
I guess I'm saying I recommend against the cheaper, older 5.1 pre's for you. Rather see you in something like used Harmon Kardon AVR-354 or 254 as pre's, Denon Entry's, or similar, with all the latest - with the price range you're looking. But, nice thing is you can simply buy something and either return it or sell it if you're not happy. Makes comparing products easy in todays market. Then you'll know
The 1066 smokes any of the Outlaw preamps.

02-25-10: Oddiofyl
The 1066 smokes any of the Outlaw preamps.
Ditto. I'm convinced that Outlaw is simply not all that. Their last two pre-pros are rebadges of Sherwood-Newcastle, the subs are co-designed by Hsu Research, and the retro receiver is nowhere near as good as similarly priced integrateds from Onkyo (A-9555), Creek, NAD, and Cambridge. The price of their amps is now as high as similar items from Parasound and Adcom.

Queefee's meandering pontification notwithstanding, your Rotel plus separate amps will give you much better clarity and dynamics than the receivers he recommended (at least, I think that's what he was trying to say). All you need is a good Blu-ray with internal processing and 5.1 or 7.1 ch. analog outputs, like the Oppo BD-83 to use that signal chain to give you lossless surround from Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD Master Audio.
"Queefee's meandering pontification notwithstanding, your Rotel plus separate amps will give you much better clarity and dynamics than the receivers he recommended (at least, I think that's what he was trying to say)" (queefee)

Um, OK. Whatever. I don't think I was being dogmatic so much. Just and opinionated from experience, really.
If you read my post, I did state/hint that separates pre/pro's - yes, like the Rotel- usually offer better dynamics and overall refinement than what you're typical reciever offer, being used as a pre. So, I don't know what you're stance is here towards my comments. I have sold all this stuff, including Rotel products, in at least 2 different AV stores over the years. But I've also personally owned several of their pieces, and installed plenty more of the product. So I'm familiar with it's capabilities, and have liked the line, as a whole. Rotel products typically offer very good dyamics, with a good overall detailed musical sound. Rotel also tends to be a bit stale sounding, and perhaps a bit dry, with pretty good midrange, but not as airy, sweat, and pristinly detailed and uncolored as better higher end, like even Macintosh, Krell, Theta's best, Meridian's smooth sound, bla bla. And yet, for mid-fi, I described it about as accurately as it is. Don't get me wrong, it's better than average mid-fi (although not as good as competing Parasound, ATI, etc), and good product, yes.
But, at the end of the day, in most all install application, considering acoustics is HUGE in terms of sonic perfomance, and all other factors considered, I simply think you'll likely end up short in terms of overall fidelity from those older tech Rotel processors. I really do. The EQ's alone are way way worth the price, compared to other sonic potential from non-eq'd systmes. My opionoin.
With my recommendations, you're processing is simply going to better, giving more detail (oh and the HK here is pretty darn detailed, musical and clear, and still pretty good dynamics)
AT least - as I said - be prepared for sonic nasties to spoil your party, if you go with that THX pre! Oh and do remember to keep that remote in hand, as you'll likely be doing roller-coasters up and down on the volume level when the sound swings - cause you probably won't have balanced sound. So prepare yourself. All I'm saying...
I also said that he can easily simply compare the Rotel to one of my recommendations by simply buying and returning, and or buying and selling. That way he can, yes, COMPARE! Cause there ARE trade-offs to consider, sure. Then you don't have to take anyone's word, and you can really learn something, by DIY!!! Hey, there's a concept.
And you don't have to take the sarcasm of the biased mid-fi junkies, either.
You can bad mouth all you want. But my 20 years of constant ontop of most of this stuff knows what's what here.
But just try compare for yourself, and you'll find out things.
You guys have been great and have provided a little humor, as well. My original post asked if buying the Rotel or Outlaw would be a "reasonable" approach to sampling the home theater world and judging by the responses and my recent experience, I'd say it is reasonable. (I will say that Queefee's suggestion of now buying a new all-in-one for comparison, is a good idea and I might just do that.)

Since I haven't kept up on the audiophile world in a long time, I forgot how passionate everyone is about equipment. All ear/brain/wallet combinations are different which explains how there can be so many right ways to go!

Regarding the Rotel, it's an attractive, easy to use unit that sounds pretty good so far. I think it's fine for my purposes. I will also note that Rotel's support seems very good. I determined that the firmware on the unit was v.2.2.2 I emailed to the support department the unit's serial number/model number and they responded right back with the year and month the unit was made, the year and month it was sold (and where) and a link for downloading the most recent firmware version, v.2.3.0. I didn't have the appropriate serial cable to perform the upgrade (DB9 to RJ45). One call to support and they shipped one right out, $7 delivered. The upgrade took one minute. Nice support.
Well if you're going to end up with some 5.1 pre/pro with older tech, and you don't care about the new codec's, EQ's, video scaling, etc, then consider the following better, more refined 5.1 AV processors on the used market, from past years:

Krell HTS 5.1 (can be found for $500 on used market)
Aragon Soundstage ($500-600 used range)
Rotel S-170 ($450 used range)
EAD Encore ($400-700 range)
Classe SSP-30 (used $400-650)
NAD S-170 ($same$)
Acurus Act 3 ($300 used)
Acurus Act 3 upgraded to Stage One ($600-750 range used)
B&K Ref 30 ($300-400)
Thule 5.1 ($300-400 used)
Cal Audio 2500 ($400 range)

All of the above are sonically much more refined than what your considering! Better overall audiphile grade performance for what they are.

Hope this helps

Hope it helps...