AV Receiver good enough for high end audio?

Have any of you found a modern AV receiver whose sound quality is so good that you are satisfied using it as your high end audio system? Did you toss aside your tube amp and just equip the front of your HT with a finer pair of speakers, a high end DAC, and done?
No and no.
Of course not.
Not one made currently.
Some early ones were reportedly good but don't have the mandatory features you would need.
Let me add that. I have heard the big AV manufacturers claim outstanding audio but it seems they alone actually believe it. The modern hi fi cottage/boutique 2 channel guys that go into mulichannel imperil their fingernail grip on survival. At one recent Retailer/Manufacturer demo for my audio group. The rep for a successful firm was asked about multichannel and retorted with a "we just can't afford 50 or 60 programmers" developing price plummeting obsolescence every few months. And he added consumers simply will not buy dated technology in this area. He then recited a list of companies who had gone under or nearly were destroyed trying to enter the frey.
THE BEST A/V RECEIVER I EVER HEARD, AND I'VE HEARD A LOT OF THEM UNFORTUNATELY, WAS THE LEXICON RV-8. IT WAS ESSENTIALLY THEIR SEVEN CHANNEL POWER AMP AND THE MC-8 PRE/PRO IN ONE CASE. I ACTUALLY GOT TO HEAR IT DIRECTLY AGAINST THOSE VERY SEPARATES AND THERE WAS NO DIFFERENCE, SOUND WISE ,THAT I COULD HEAR. Having said that I still don't think that this receiver would hold it's own against high end two channel separates in the same price range, but neither would any separate pre/pro power amp combos I've heard either. One other thing, lexicon has taken a serious hit to their rep recently when it was discovered that they took a five hundred dollar blu=ray player, put it it one of their cases virtually un-changed, and then decided to charge eight times as much for it.

Sorry about the all caps in the first part of my response. My daughter always leaves the caps lock on and I didn't notice it until some way into my response, and I didn't feel like deleting it and starting again.
i thought you were trying to be heard ;)
I love my Rotel RSX-1057 AVR boosted by a Rotel RMB-1075 120watt/ch multi-channel amp. I don't use the tuner but play CDs, SACDs, DVDs, and Blu-ray DVDs. Sound is fabulous as far as I'm concerned. For music, Rotel is one of the best values for the money (mid-fi) IMO. I really don't need the receiver itself since I'm not using the tuner or the amp inside the AVR but it's what I started with. I used the AVR on its own first (75 watts/ch into 8 ohms all channels driven) and that was fine. I then upgraded to the B&W 683 loudspeakers and wanted to drive them with more power. NAD would be another great choice.
If you purchased a high end A/V receiver, I'm sure you would have to get into a much more pricey 2 channel system to hear an improvement. In fact, I'm willing to bet that other components in your system would provide the weaker link before the high end receiver (unless you have ultra high end speakers, transports, etc)
In fact, I'm willing to bet that other components in your system would provide the weaker link before the high end receiver (unless you have ultra high end speakers, transports, etc)
I don't think it would be high end if it didn't cost more.A lot of receivers don't give you true power ratings anymore either.And to compare to tube gear....
IIRC the reviewers at Stereophile Ultimate AV claimed the 5800 series Denons sounded as good as most good separates. Of course, the tube/vinyl guys will never agree, but I'm surprised they're not urging a return to a windup victrola with a cactus stylus just to be pure -- electricity gets between you and the waveform.

I have an older Elite 7.1 A/V receiver. I now only listen to 2 channel. I considered going with a $1,000 or so integrated amp and some new speakers ($1200 or so for a bookshelf sized pair. I would have to probably shell out closer to $2000 for an integrated to start to hear a major QUALITY difference to justify the purchase(I'm not talking bias characteristics like warm, tubey etc). I decided to place the money all in the speakers first and worry about the amp later.
as a non-techie, i've never fully understood why a well-engineered, no-compromise avr couldn't sound as good as comparably priced separates. now, i know in the real world manufacturers do make compromises, esp. in the amp sections, and that single-box components present challenges with power supplies and internal signal interference. however, i've owned or heard some avrs--most recently arcam avr 600 which sounded awfully good for 2ch music.
I believe a $500 a/v receiver will sound just as good as a $500 2 channel receiver or amp.
The Arcam AVR600 is certainly the best sounding receiver I ever heard and is also better than many separates I have heard too. The audio section is simply unbelievably good. It is probably the only receiver that operates in Class A up to 20 watts, which is where most music is listened to. This piece of kit is an astounding example of great engineering and Arcam is to be applauded in making a receiver the equal of many of the best separates and superior to all other receivers.
Loch Ness Monster
AV Receiver good enough for high end audio
Tooth Fairy
Fire breathing dragons
Arcam may be ok for a receiver.It would be nice if they would give you the true power ratings at 20-20k all channels driven.A 80 watt amp is not going to drive a lot of speakers
that fall into the high end category.I don't believe it can give true class A at 30 wpc. Nobody listens to 1 khz only. A telephone does better than that.Arcam link.[http://www.arcam.co.uk/products,fmj,av-amplifiers,AVR600.htm#]Link to test specs.[http://www.hometheatermag.com/receivers/arcam_avr600_av_receiver/index3.html]
Correction for my last post.I should have said,true Class A at 20 watts per channel,all channels driven.Not some form of Class A whatever that is.

10-04-10: Aberyclark
I believe a $500 a/v receiver will sound just as good as a $500 2 channel receiver or amp.
How may can you find that will drive 4 ohm speakers.A lot of mid-fi,and high end speakers are 4 ohms.

My Theta Casablanca III was the best that I could find when I got into HT.
As good as it is, it's not even close to my 2 channel set up.
So my answer to you is no.

Take care,
I've had a fair number of higher end receivers (excuse the oxymoron), and in all cases found they performed better as preamps* than amps. Always found a not-subtle improvement when using an outboard dedicated amp (regardless of speaker character/efficiency, but certainly more pronounced with demanding loads), and varying degrees of more subtle improvement when using outboard preamp and HT passthru. The nice thing is that it provides a nice incremental upgrade path if you are so inclined.

*Excepting for the phono preamp if it happens to be built-in, which are universally pretty lousy.
I think Inscrutable put it in perspective best, above here. And IF you were going to use most any sort of AV receiver in the context of some semblance of a "hi-end system", using it as the pre/pro - not the amp sections - is your best bet for quality sound. (if you can get a good EQ into the mix - audyssey, etc - you're ahead of the game even futher)
What you'll find is that the smaller more essoteric receiver builders are going to offer you more refinement overall, with either direct analog or digital connection, for musicality and overall sonic refinement, likely.
I do find that, with typical mass manufactured receivers built over seas, I like the clarity and "relative" neutrality from the likes of Yamaha, Harman kardon receivers, Pioneers and Denon's bettter pieces, for their pre-amp sections.
Note that you're still are not going to get ultra high end refinement from most all of these as pre-amp's either, considering all connection modes. But, for the most parit, if you can get lots of detail, clarity, good dynamics, and a nice open sound, it's still pretty darn good with music, and excellent with movies, all-in-all.
With most typical, even higher end AV atand-alone pre/pro's, You will probably get closer to higher end refinement going the likes of Macitosh, to Krell, to Theta, to Meridian, Anthem, whatever . Yet, you're still not likely going to realize the level of refinement as what the best analog preamp's offer, using outboard sources for processing and such...all things equal. However, you're getting much much better refinement using these very same hi-end offerings in that role than typical AV receivers, used in any capacity, true!
So a good options here would be to use one of the mass market av recievers with which offer a good clear, detailed, dynamic sound for their preamp sections - that's opt #1. Next step up would be a better, more essoteric av receiver from some of the smaller companies, used as a pre/pro. Above that, you gotta escape to dedicated separates AV pre's. And beyond that, to maximize potential from high end 2 channel sources, you're probabaly going to have to loop an expensive 2 channel analog preamp into the system, or go stand-alone. - and consider higher end outboard EQ into the system to tweak the sound.
I personally go with a mid level HK AVR354 as a standalone pre/pro (has an EQ) out to a Parasound HCA1205a for my system currently. Actually, the amps are stronger and much better sounding than most at this price range, built into the HK. So I use the receiver by itself for small setups. Still, the receiver, on it's own, can't match the current delivery of the Parasound, with a load, for sure.
I always thought all the preamp features is what made a/v receivers less desirable
I personally always thought av receivers is what made preamp features less desireable. Just a different perspective.
Not sure what any of this means really...
10-18-10: Aberyclark
I always thought all the preamp features is what made a/v receivers less desirable
When you find out your 100 wpc receiver only puts out 30-70 wpc,and won't drive your speakers,at least you have the option of hooking up a real amp to it.That way everything is not lost.Research,and read reviews before buying.
Mithch4t, what are saying about the Jackalope?

I started in this hobby in 2004 with an NAD AV reciever, that I then used as a preamp. Went to seperate amps with a processor (first B & K, then Parasound, then Anthem) and was shocked by the improvement, it was still all multichannel.

Finally, I bought a 2 channel preamp with HT Passthrough (first a McIntosh C2200, then an ARC LS26, and finally a Cary SLP98p F-1) and there is just no comparison. I got rid of the multichannel stuff, bought a Denon AV reciever for the HT stuff, but even my wife does not listen to music through the reciever. Even though she must physically turn on the Cary preamp, and switch inputs. The fact that she went to the trouble to learn how to do that versus just hitting "Play Music Server" on the remote and running the sound through the reciever, tells you the difference.
Macdadtexas, I conceed you might have seen a few jackalopes in Texas, but I'm pretty certain that everything else on that list is a myth.
I have a Jackalope mounted on the wall of our ranch in Benchley, TX. Well, it may actually be a Chupacabra, I was really drunk on Lone Star beer and tequila when I shot it. We were just shooting anything that moved, then took what was on the ground to the taxidermist. Who knows what that thing is?

Glad hunting season is starting, anyone want to come down and go hunting with us in South Texas?
Some examples of the power ratings they use for receivers.
Marantz,$1250. Their rating 110watts.[http://us.marantz.com/Products/2980.asp]
Tested [http://hometheatermag.com/receivers/marantz_sr6004_av_receiver/index4.html]Pioneer Elite.$2200,140watts.Tested About 107 watts.[http://hometheatermag.com/receivers/pioneer_elite_sc-27_av_receiver/index4.html]Denon $3000,140 watts.[http://usa.denon.com/us/product/pages/Product-Detail.aspx?Catid=3d9614d1-8000-4106-ab91-8192242cab83&SubId=40b5820d-83c2-4e93-9909-60aae60e0bdd&ProductId=14c37b13-44c8-4d7b-9b5d-5316e646e7b7]Tested 31 watts![http://hometheatermag.com/receivers/denon_avr-4810ci_av_receiver/index4.html]Sherwood,only$450,Sounds like 110 watts,Tested,5 watts![http://hometheatermag.com/receivers/sherwood_rd-7503_av_receiver/index3.html]Replace high end? Its getting more common.
Factory links I missed above.[http://www.pioneerelectronics.com/ephox/StaticFiles/PUSA/Files/SC-27.pdf] [http://www.sherwoodusa.com/prod_rd7503.html][http://usa.denon.com/us/product/pages/Product-Detail.aspx?Catid=3d9614d1-8000-4106-ab91-8192242cab83&SubId=40b5820d-83c2-4e93-9909-60aae60e0bdd&ProductId=14c37b13-44c8-4d7b-9b5d-5316e646e7b7]
...er, um, ah....I think I'll pass on the hunting invitation. I seem to recall a hunting incident in the news a few years back on a Texas ranch involving a Mr. Cheyney. Since then, I've retired my rifle and hunting boots.
Hey Mitch4t, that's the trip I was talking about, funny you should bring that up.
Once went hunting for wild trout, while on a trip to Texas (DFW area -I think it dirrectly off Harry Heins blvd, er something like that), whilst on a biz trip to install a custom home theater for a client. Got taken by a couple of working girls, who proceeded to rip me off for $1000, got my car broken into, almost went to jail for solicitation, and the client ended up not being a "straight" shooter (if ya know what I mean). Things just couldn't have gotten much ugglier. (I'll coneed that there were a couple of nice audio shops down there, however)
Yeah, I pesonally would ALWAYS pass on any future Texas trip invitations! - take your "hunting", elsewhere!
But hey, that's just me..
Happy hunting....
Well Queefee, that's what you get for going to Dallas, which we in South Texas (Houston) consider a northern US city.
There are two receivers I've owned that I deem "good enuf" to operate as a stand alone audio system. While I only used them in my HT, had I the desire, or half a brain that didn't have to have more expensive gear, both of those receivers would serve a NORMAL person more than adequately.

Those receivers were:

Sunfire Ultimate Receiver II

B&K Ref 507 S2

The Sunfire, having the better amplifier of the two, I could have lived with very easily. It's essentially has the same preamp used in their stand alone preamp. It has a DIRECT mode that bypasses unnecessary circuitry that is quite good. It's the first audiophile quality receiver I'd experienced that could be dubbed audiophile quality. It even had an excellent phono stage! It sold new for $5k back in '05. To think I snagged that one for sale at $675 was a very nice bargain.

The B&K I acquired off Craig's simply because it was a good buy. It too having 7 channels of amplification would serve any 'normal' person well. Those of us with THE disease of course can't get past the idea of having one box do it all. But if I was stranded on an island with Raquel Welch and a lowly Sunfire Ultimate I could be quite content.

These pop up on eBay at great buys, and one could do well to grab them when they do for they typically sell for the going price of a stand alone 5 channel Cinema Grand.
I'm gunna be the first here to state that neither the Sunfire Ultimate Receiver II, the B&K Ref 507 S2, nor the Arcam 350, and similar ARE NOT high end audio!
Let's not loose sight here that, as nice as these pieces may be overall for sonic dubties, these are AV receivers, and not hi-end essoteric, ultra-refined pieces of audio equipment! No, not "hi-end"...fer the record. Yor Sunfire is not going to replace a world class preamp or amplifier, not by any strech. Nice try, though.

"But if I was stranded on an island with Raquel Welch and a lowly Sunfire Ultimate I could be quite content." (Coltrane1)

As nice looking as Raquel may have stayed over the years, you surely will need that Sunfire Ultimate receiver around to drown out all the cackling and complaining she'll undoubtedly be pounding your ears with, because she's stuck on some desolate island without a Tiffany's or Sachs to shop at!!
Come on, you gotta know I'm at least right on this point. lol

Sorting through the double negative (neither are not) and the use of "neither" for more than two choices, I assume from the rest of your 10/24/10 post that you don't consider the receivers in question suitable for use in a high-end system because they are neither esoteric nor expensive. Is that assumption correct?

i agree with much of the foregoing--as hifihvn's data evidences, most mass-market avrs have wussy amp sections with woefully overhyped power ratings which won't effectively drive audiophile-grade speakers. (in fairness, i do think hk and nad are considerably better than their peers in this regard). when you get to the more rarified air of b&k, arcam, krell etc. (can't speak to sunfire), the ground rules are different--their amps are really good and, i believe, they use substantially the same components as their well-regarded separates. it's not clear whether the skeptics have actually compared them to similarly spec'ed separates--not expensive tubes or $15k worth of elite megawatt gear, but $5k worth of reasonably powered ss gear. i keep returning to the arcam avr500/600 which, at least in 2ch mode, puts out a legitimate 120w/ch and purports to be stable down to 2 ohms. from what i heard, it sounded very "high-end" paired with the type of speakers that most people would pair with $5k worth of electronics. granted, it wouldn't be the choice of someone looking to pair his $50k wilsons, but i sense that a discriminating listener playing in a more attainable realm would be very satisfied.
It always amazes me how Queefee's type spouts on and on about the merits of a component without having heard it or set eyes upon a component in question. Whatever! You've missed the point, which was can a receiver's output be good enough to justify replacing hi end separates. In the case of the Sunfire Ultimate, I've owned one before, while at the same time owning separates i.e., BAT's flagship VK1000 mono's and a VK51SE costing thousands more than the Sunfire, and the Ultimate's performance was good enuf to make me question why the heck do I have thousands more invested in this hobby if this receiver can perform this good?

I rest my case...which is supported far more than merely having read some reviewers dribbled remarks from some stereo magazine and now thinking I'm somehow now qualified to pass judgement on a given component of which I've no hands on experience.
I wonder if its a good time to invest in a B&W. [http://forum.audiogon.com/cgi-bin/fr.pl?aamps&1287610844&read&keyw&zzb&k]
Sounds like Sunfire chokes on power also.[http://www.ultimateavmag.com/content/sunfire-ultimate-ii-av-receiver-measurements]
It hardly chokes, for your ears would give out long before the amplifiers. The Ultimate drove 7 electrostats, which was no easy task, with ease. Even your reviewer measurement emphasized how superior it was into 2 channels. These amps really do produce the goods. I only used it in my HT system, but it was the only product that ever gave me pause to question why do I invest in megabuck inventory for 2 channel only listening when I can obtain this kind of performance at this price. That's all I'm suggesting. It's a fine product, and worthy of consideration, especially if you're on a budget like most people
Seven times most parts (except overworked power supply),versus two times for a stereo amp.Would one think they are going to be of the same quality?When high volume products are sold,a fraction of a penny savings ads up to the company doing the building.The budget that these are in,will reap you more benefits building a two channel only system,IMO.The OP of the thread also included a tube amp.A receiver isn't going to come close to satisfying that customer.You might be able to get by with one yourself,but it isn't going to happen with me.I doubt this thread will convince any audiophile reading it to do so.That Sunfire can't handle 4 ohm speakers very well.That test was at 1khz,not 20-20khz.It failed on dummy loads,at 1khz,besides a lot of audiophile speakers.With a real audiophile,I can't even think of it happening.A second system,that can happen for some.Then there's the sound of it,if you can match speakers to it,that will satisfy an audiophile.Just my opinion.
The Ultimate drove 7 electrostats, which was no easy task, with ease.
I'm guessing it wasn't Martin Logans.[http://www.martinlogan.com/products/source]
As for my syntax, grammar, and or spelling prowess, let me just state for the record here that "it's not that I'm lazy, it's that I just don't care." (Damn it feels good to be a gangsta!!)
For the record, make no mistake. I have an audiophile's ear, to be certain, not an English Professors resume! Yes, pertaing to my syntax, ya know I guess if I aspired to some desk job behind a cubicle, pumping out TPS reports all day, having to anskwer to 8 different bosses, I would actually care about my grammar and spelling prowess!
You know It just never ceases to amaze me, how grown adults on an audio chat forum - when they disagree with you - are quick to go out of there way to point out how poor your grammar and puntuation cabilities are -As if any one cared, or if it actually mattered in the context of anything pertaining to pertinent knowledge or a valid opinion regarding, yes, "hi-end audio!"
For that matter, I'm going out a limb here and state that likely 95% of all former Spelling Bee champions and English teachers alike out there, actually know very little in terms of growing any real wealth! So thank you, but I'll take the CASH instead - and the pay upgrade!!! So let's just forget my future carer involving secretarial skills, and let's get back to pertinent audio chat, uuum'K?!. No offense.
Ok more importantly here, let me just state that I've had basic $5 passive volume control pots in my system, that sound FAR FAR more engaging and transparent than ANY preamp section ever produced for any Sunfire or B&K receiver- or any other AV receiver, for that matter - ever, period! And that is no joke, and I think is typical.
As good as the digital processing in todays AV technology has gotten, my position here -from almost 20 years of professional experience- is that, ANY AV receiver's basically nothing more than a bunch of "sonic compromises in a box!" -which is inevitable to make it all happen! In fact I, for one, would like to start the petition to force Wikepedia to include the word COMPROMISE, as part of the official description of "AV receiver", cause it needs to be done! Can I get an AMEN here?
I think my professional career in hi-end AV and as an audiophile hobbiest, selling, installing, and having owned some of the worlds most expensive equipment, makes my opinions and view point worthy of consideration and merit here. But then again were all just faceless audiogon posters here - so this is all just a bunch of relative perspectives here, to be true.
Back on track, my experience thus far in my audio journey is that anyone who feels that an AV receiver is a good candiate, replacement, or whatever, for a hi-end system, falls into the same catagory as those who feel that all wires and cables sound the same... all amplifiers of similar technical ratings and specifications sound the same...."a good speaker, is a good speaker" dogma practiioners, and so on! - and all these have mediocre to poor sounding systems, that are nothing special, EVERY TIME! That is fact. And their systems will never impress, are easily replaced by a good Bose system - hehe, er at least not to far from something along those lines.
So, anyone who want's to try to convice me, after all these years of experience, that their Sunfire AV receiver will replace some Levinson preamp or Boulder amp, well, you just "get on down with your bad self's!" No thanks, though. Cause I know better.
Ehem...I do enjoy a good Wilson Maxx system now and then, powered by a nice AV reciver though. I must admit...
Actually it was ML's.

I'm stating the facts as I know them from personal experience, rather than making assumptions based upon a closed mind, or in the very least someone else's experience. Those are the facts as I know them.
Queefee, you write like a pompous, careless windbag. If you're not writing to communicate so others can understand you, why bother? If you took a little time to cleanup your writing, you'd be showing respect for your readers.

In my case, I was director of a high-tech research center that employed mostly doctoral level EEs and CSs, not a professor of English. My post-doctoral training was in binaural processing, but my real interest was in building research groups. And I did build a bit of wealth along the way. At 74, and having been in Who's Who for years, I don't feel I need your approval.

now we're having fun....
Hey, I've been moderated for less!

Did someone really just call someone else a windbag, then go on to say they are wealthy and in Who's Who?

Someone needs to look up pompus themselves.
What model ML speakers? Not going against the designer recommendations of a piece of audio gear,isn't being closed minded,in my book.
Hifihvn, would you consider a receiver clipping out at 276 wpc "choking out?" I don't. The Pioneer's, Denon's, and whatever else you cited earlier all "choke out" far before that, nor would I think they'd be anywhere as musical a receiver as the Sunfire was.

My personal hands on experience stands behind the Ultimate based upon personal performance experiences, not based upon some web review measurements. Where else can one invest $675 into a $5k receiver that was capable of driving 7 Martin Logan speakers to ear shattering levels, and as if that wasn't enuf, it ran cool.

Hifihvn, what was your experience with it? Oh, you've had none? Need I say more...
Who listens only to 1khz.It appears that is where the power is.Not at the normal 20-20khz range that people try to get as close to,for reproducing music.ML speakers have a habit of dipping down to a lower impedance than that.It sounds like a total mismatch,not recommended by Bob Carver.That is the phony power loophole they are using these days.That is another reason as to why A/V receivers aren't going to replace
someones hi end two channel.No Sunfire in this HT system. Maybe you could persuade him to change over.But then,you havn't,have you?[http://www.hometheaterdesignmag.com/208great/]