Any mid-priced Receivers Worthwhile???

I auditioned an Onkyo Integra DTR-5.1 receiver today, driving small Paradigm satellites with an M&K subwoofer. The system sounded quite good spacially and in terms of its frequency range, but it had a little too much lower-treble presence for my liking. I'd like to take the plunge into surround sound, but so far, all the low and mid-priced receivers I've heard have exhibited this flaw to varying degrees. Right now I have good 2-channel sound using the venerable NAD 3020 integrated amp. I don't want to regret going to 5-channel surround. Perhaps the treble zing was in the speakers and not the Integra, I can't say for sure. So, my question is: are there any mid-priced receivers that won't bore holes through my skull during the length of a 2-hour flick, or can I only achieve natural sounding HT with high-priced gear?? Thanks in advance for any and all insight!
NAD makes a surround sound receiver. You might want to take a listen, if you like the sound of your integrated amp. Not sure what your budget is. I have a Sony STR-DA777ES. Excellent piece if you can still find one. Sony basically took their separate amp and pre-amp and stuffed it into one box. Sony stopped making it this year in favor of the woefully dissappointing 555. Look at the Denon stuff--again, not sure about your price range, but in my experience most of the Denon stuff is good. I'm not a huge fan of Integra, but everyone seems to love their new top-o-the-line pre-amp/processor. Check out the B&K receiver as well. Some of this stuff is pricey, like the B&K, but you could probably walk away with a decent sounding Denon for under $2000. By the way, are the speakers you listed above yours, or do you have different speakers in your home?
Hi Argent,

Thanks for the tips. I am presently using some Yamaha 3-way tower speakers, with aluminum-cone drivers that sound pretty good, though I may get something mo-better. Speakers are not really the problem; finding a good-sounding amp/processor that won't break the budget is my concern. I may stay with my 2-channel rig or maybe go for a preamp/processor like the Adcom GTP-760 and do it right. I have a glut of good amplifiers lying around. Then again, I'd like to keep my HT "clutter" to a minimum because my bi-amped high-end audio system is complicated enough. With a good pre/processor like the GTP-760 is the volume of the respective front, rear, and center-channel speakers independently adjustable (It sure ought to be)? Thanks!
Some people use an audio amp to power the two front speakers and tbe HT receiver to power the rest. Cheaper solution than a five channel high end amp, or running three 2 channel amps.
That sounds intriguing -- how do you control volume to all the channels that way? Do you run the 2-channel preamp outputs (from the HT receiver) into the front high-quality amp and then program the receiver to power the center and surround channels only?
Regarding my last post, I think I would sell one of my 2-channel amps and get a 3-channel model, then use a powered sub. I could use a separate preamp/processor to control it all. I would want decent audio quality from the center speaker and surrounds also...
I would definitely keep ahold of the two channel stuff for the stereo listening and then get a midrange receiver for the HT. I recently did just that. For a while I anguished over getting good HT separates (had narrowed it down to either the Lexicon, the Proceed, or maybe the Bryston along with a Classe CAV-75 bridged to three channels at 150 to drive the rears and center) when I eventually came to the conclusion (and my senses?) and decided that I really only needed that quality of gear for two channel listening. So, I did some listening and a lot of reading and had things narrowed down the Yamaha, Denon, Onkyo, and Marantz in the around $800 range. In the end, I got the Marantz (SRS-7000, or something like that). I run the main channels from the preout on the Marantz to the processor loop an my preamp, so the main speakers are always being driven by my main amp. However, the center and surrounds are being driven directly by the Marantz (which puts out 100wpc, if I am not mistaken). The Marantz has a single master volume control for all channels, but allows for individual volume adjustment for each channel up to +/- 10db from the baseline of the master volume control (which I found to be more than enough to equalize all channels, despite the fact that the fronts are seeking 400wpc into an average 4ohm load and the rears are seeing 100wpc into an efficient 8ohms). I have found that this setup works great for me. Even among the brands I considered, each one certainly offers far more expensive models than the one I ended up with. However, I found the $800 range to be the reasonable cutoff point above which it started making more sense to begin considering separates again because, much more than that and I might as well just give it up and get the good stuff. I’ve found the Marantz to be pretty darn ok. Don’t get me wrong, when I am listening to music I it turn it off. But when it’s time for a DVD it sounds great and now I’ve got all of the whistles and bells of proper HT without breaking the bank. What more, if I decide that I want better amplification for any of the other channels, I can always thrown on a new amp, as the Marantz has preouts for all channels. Long post, I know, but, in sum, I’d suggest looking into receivers at around $800. You can spend a lot more with no problem (and you could spend less, too) but, considering the beast that I had chosen, I found this to be the window in which everything I wanted done was getting done right just below the point of diminishing returns.
I am also quite satisfied with my Marantz SR7000, which you should be able to find for around $675 - $700. SR8000 was very similar with better remote (RC2000) for about $200 more. I got a Pronto, so I didn't need the RC2000 (which is an excellent piece). If your budget allows, their new SR-19EX is quite nice. I think the SR7000 and SR-19 give the most bang for the buck in their line.

Also considered Denon and Yamaha in the same price range. Got some very positive references on Outlaw after I had already bought the Marantz. If you like NAD, you should definitely try their new receivers.

You can get excellent HT performance with the simplicity of a receiver in the $1,000 price range.

Good luck!
Mezmo and Bbroussard,

Thank you for the excellent suggestions. It seems like a lot of people are saying good things about the Marantz HT receivers, so I am going to check them outand probably go that route. Thanks for your help! Happy Easter!
Plato, since you're a fan of NAD, check out the NAD T760, can be had for around $500 here on Audiogon. Works well with my Gallo's for HT. Jeff

First off, you have an NAD 3020 Integrated Amplifier?? Oh man, I am jealous of you. I always loved that little thing. What I always liked about it that this "low priced" gem has sounded more powerful than it really was, and it always sounded great on top of that. At the risk of going off subject here, what components did you surround your NAD 3020 with??

Now, on to home theater receivers. When you say "mid priced", what price did you have in mind in particular ($1,000.00 to $2,000.00..... lower?? a little higher?? etc.....)? Because I got some candidates to list in just about any price range.

If you are shopping at a price point below $1,000.00, then I have several in mind that I think you should look at. Personally, I am shopping in this price range and have my eyes on a Harman/Kardon AVR-210. But, that's just me. There are others you should look at besides Harman/Kardon. Onkyo has two models you should look at, the TX-DS575X (70 Watts Per Channel x 5) for $530.00. The next model up, the TX-DS676 (85 Watts Per Channel x 5) retails for $830.00, and then there is the TX-DS777 (105 Watts Per Channel x 5, and with DTS and THX) for $1,050.00, but if you shop around, you probably get it for below that. Then, there are models from Marantz, the SR-5000 ($650.00) and the SR-7000 ($900.00). NAD also has a model you should look at (and being that you have a 3020 Integrated Amplifier, you should be VERY familiar with this brand), the T-751 for about $750.00. That's about it for models that retail for under $1,000.00.

Now, if you are shopping in the $1,000.00 to $2,000.00 range, then maybe you should look at Arcam AVR100 ($1,200.00), the Denon AVR-3801 ($1,100.00), the Sony STR-V555ES ($1,300.00) and two models from Yamaha, the RX-V1000 ($1,000.00) and the RX-V2000 ($2,000.00).

Good luck, and let us know of your decision. Thanks.

The Perfect Vision magazine gave a very positive review in its current issue (#35) to the Outlaw Audio 1050 6.1 channel A/V receiver. Outlaw sells via Internet, thereby avoiding middle-man markups. The receiver provides 65 x 5 wpc, and sells for $600. Outlaw's Web address is:

The current issue of TPV also includes their "Editor's Choice Awards" (aka, "recommended components" list). Their choice of moderate and budget A/V receivers are:
1. Harmon-Kardon AVR 7000 ($1800)
2. NAD T751 ($750)
Both of these receivers were reviewed in Issue #34.
Plato: In response to Argent's post, you asked if the Adcom GTP-760 has the capability to separately adjust the gain settings for each channel. The answer is yes. The 760 has a built-in balance test generator, and with the use of the Radio Shack analog volume meter you can set the volume levels very precisely. I recently set up my ex-wife HT system which has an Adcom GTP-760, and we were able to get all 5 channels balanced within 0.5 db of each other using only the 760's internal balancing signal. For more info about the GTP-760, see the current issue (#35) of The Perfect Vision magazine (a very positive review).
Charles, I like your suggestions, but you must be quoting retail prices. I got my SR-7000 for $675 in November.

Plato, as a current NAD owner, I think you should definitely research NAD options.


Many thanks for the interest and for all the great suggestions. I'm going to put the NAD T751 on my short list as well. Charles, I've had the opportunity to hear the NAD 3020 with a lot of different equipment and it has never failed to exceed my expectations. It's really a great little piece. In my HT system I have a Pioneer DV333 DVD player, a Hitachi 43" HDTV-ready rear projection TV, and a pair of Yamaha NS-A100XT 3-way tower speakers with two 6.5" woofers, 4" midrange and aluminum-dome tweeter (all aluminum-cone drivers with butyl surrounds). They seem to do a nice enough job considering their cheap $299/pr price -- tight punchy bass & a crisp, smooth, detailed mid-top. My main stereo speakers are the InnerSound Eros ESL hybrids, so I do have a decent point of reference. Happy Easter to All!!!
I am an ultra high end guy that is just starting to dabble in home theater. For starters I bought an Outlaw reciever, and am quite impressed with its sound at the under $1000 price point. I'm not sure that there are ANY japanese offering that are less harsh sounding at this price point. I strongly suggest ordering one, and doing an a/b test against some other recievers. You can always return it within the 30 day trial period. (Mid-fi home theater chains offer the same sort of return policies. This would allow you to not make any mistakes trying to get the level of sound quality that you are looking for, without making an unfortunate purchace)

I noticed that you have listed the Arcam AVR100 as one of your recommendation. Have you had a chance to listen and compare the unit with other receives in Arcam's price range?

Actually, I have. There is an Arcam dealer in my area. I have actually listened to the AVR100 and compared it to the Yamahas listed. And while all three sounded very impressive, I cannot help but to think that the Arcam exhibits a slightly cleaner, detailed and more vivid sound. And that is both in music and movies. That's why I went ahead and made it a new recommendation.

I've owned the Outlaw for almost a year and recommend it over the Denon 3800 and NAD 760 (?). It's much better on 2 channel audio than either in terms of image and timbre. It has all the goodies for setting levels and has the middle surround channel, 6.1. You can also by-pass the DSP's for 2 channel. Like all the others, the speaker terminals are painfully close together and the tuner is weak. I also went through 3 of them before i got one that worked properly but in each case, after a fone call, I had the replacement and a return shipping label the next day. Can't beat it for $600.

Thanks for the additional info. May I ask what was the 2-channel/HT setup that you heared the Arcam in, i.e., source, speakers, cables..etc.? I don't live too far from an Arcam dealer myself, but I have yet to listen to the unit...

Since B&K changed models, you can get a 202 reasonable here on AG. I have B&K Reference Seperates also, and the receiver does a very repectable job. Prior I had a Nakamichi AV-8, which was great compared to the same priced Denon I had before that. So, I recommend a used or closeout B&K 202 or the Nakamichi for real budget conscious. Haven't heard the Outlaw, but everything I read is good.
I'm one of those that power the front L/R speakers thru a seperate amp, e.g. I use my Harman Kardon AV500 preamp out to a Carver M-400t for front L/R (JBL L100 Centurys) and the HK's own internal 70w/chan power amp to drive the (JBL)center & rears (12" Dahlquist Sub is active).

To balance everything I use a (radio shack) digital sound level meter.

IMHO, this enables me to reach a nice compromise between (2 channel) music and my (5.1 channels) HT needs without having to resort to having/buying two seperate systems.

Right now I am considering the Nakamichi AV-10 over the Arcam as my speakers are only rated at 86db and they need the extra power. Have you tried the AV-10? If yes, how does it sound compare to the AV-8? Thanks and happy listening!
Mgs, I would look hard at the B&K AVR-202 over the Nakamichi AV-10. It is sonically a significantly better unit. Look for it used on AG or AR.
Funny that you mentioned the B&K, since someone else just made a similiar suggestion, except that he recommended the newer models (305/307). Do you use the 202 in your own system? How do they compare to the newer models?
Thanks for any comments.
I am leaning a little more toward the 305 because 1)more power than the 202 for my NHTs and 2)seemingly-better built quality than the Nakamichi...
The 305/307 are better than the 202 because they have more power amplifiers, are 7.1, and have 5.1 analog bypass. They are also more expensive, with a new one costing about $2800, and used ones still over $2000. I currently use a 202 that I bought used with by B&W Nautilus speakers, and it is sonically excellent, a bit bass shy with my 804s but these require very strong amps to bring out the bass, and is an absolute bargain at the $1100-$1300 range. The 202 is a 5 channel amp, and does not have component switching, or analog bypass, but that is the case with many midfi receivers. If you are looking to spend in the $1000 range, there is no question that a used 202 receiver is the way to go. B&K also has an excellent 5 year warranty, and their service department is nothing short of phenomenol, and they do not have any problems with second owners etc.
Sounds like you are quite satisfied with the 202 driving your B&Ws, which I understand are not the easiest speakers to drive in the world. As for 7.1 and 5.1 analog bypass, the lack of analog bypass would be a problem since I would like to use my current two-channel amp to drive the front speakers...

I think I will give the 202 a try also, in addition to the 305...however, they are relatively hard to find in the used market, and I do want to audition you know if dealers are having close-out deals on the 202s?
Thanks for the advice, btw.
The analog bypass is for DVD Audio or SACD. You still have pre-outs to use a separate amp for your front speakers with the 202. Check AG, Audioreview, and Audioweb. I noticed two 202s for sale recently. The B&K has done a very good job of driving the B&Ws except for the ultimate low end bass from the 804s which I mentioned needs something like a Bryston or Krell amp. I have a small listening room, so I do not need to fill an enormous amount of space, but that said, the most I run the B&K is at -15 db on the volume scale, so there is reserve left. My friend uses the same receiver to power his system of Joseph Audio 25s and B&W Nautilus 805 rears and loves it. I cannot emphasize what a bargain this receiver is used in the $1000- $1300 range. The excellent warranty is just icing on the cake. As for dealers, some do have demo versions for good prices. I saw one at Tweeters last month, but they probably will be rare because the switch to the 305/307 occurred several months ago.