Denon has Audyssey; Rotel does not. Denon would be my pick of these two. But, I'd also take a look at the Integra DTR-8.9.
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Rotel will be better in all aspects. And even though output wise the Denon is rated higher, the Rotel should match or beat the actual output level. Denon's numbers are always iffy.
I upgraded from Denon to Rotel 5 years ago and have NEVER looked back. There was such a huge difference in performance for me.
I have not used Audyssey yet, but am skeptical of the science behind it. Get yourself a SPL meter and the Rotel and you should be golden!
Yes, I totally agree with and support the feedback from Bnieman. Rotel first of all is not a mass market receiver sold in stores like Best Buy/Magnolia and Expo. Rotel is sold by private higher end professional audio dealers who know this business well. Rotel uses superior internal components such as torroidal transformers and hand selected electronics. I have the RSX-1057 and it rocks. It's so musical. Yes it's only rated at 75 watts/channel x 5 all channels driven 20hz - 20khz but that's highly conservative. I'm driving power hungry B&W loudspeakers and they sing !!
The other question you must ask is what really is the power rating of the Denon? The specs state 140 watts/channel but is that ALL CHANNELS DRIVEN into 8 ohms, 20HZ - 20KHZ with .05% harmonic distortion? Many mass market AVR manufacturers are not totally honest to the consumer with their power specs. As a general rule of thumb, I wouldn't purchase any AVRs that do not fully disclose their power specifications with ALL CHANNELS DRIVEN into 8 ohms 20hz to 20khz. Rotel and NAD do. Even Marantz, who I highly respect and I have a Marantz DVD and CD Player, does not do this. They rate their power on multi-channel AVRs with two channels driven and then this drops off by 70% when 5 or more channels are driven. They've told me this directly over the telephone. Marantz AVRs are still great products but you're not getting what you think you are.
If you get yourself a $40.00 Radio Shack SPL meter, you can set up your speaker output levels in dB yourself which is accomplished with your own ears than those of an electronic circuit. You'll be better off for it. Rotel is serious stuff. I have the Rotel RCD-1072 CD player and that thing is built like a tank and performs flawlessly. You can feel and hear the difference. This feedback is just all my own educated opinion.
"Rotel will be better in all aspects" (Beiman)
Not necessarily true. However I've liked the Rotel/B&W comination over the years. The big downside to that, however, is that, yep, NO AUDYSSEY EQ! (which is simply supperb, btw).
"Skeptical about the science behind Audyssey"? Um, there's a very very good reason that many products are incorporating this technology (including, Sim audio)...IT WORKS!
I personally have way too much experience with otherwise typical small domestic spaces to know that a system "without" Audyssey, or some sort of quality DSP or EQ device, is going to offer lower fidelity when you consider the room ecoustics in the equation! It simply makes a huge difference having something like Audyssey, espcially given the acoustical problems small rooms incure, and a lack of any real acoustic treatments they usually contain.
Oh, and simly getting a sound level meter won't get you to where the Audyssey does. Yes, it's a necessary tool, can help you dial things in (find good locations and settings), etc. But it's not as complete as thourough room dsp, when all is said and done.
I'm sure old 2 channel guys will say "bah hum bug". But I've heard otherwise, and have had some very very expensive 2 channel sysystems over the years, as well.
I just added RMB1075 as used my Onkyo 805 as a Preamp,and believe me when I say it I could hear the difference. At -11 DB , my B&W's(603 S3) were thundering as hard as I never knew they could.
I feel like a chump for not going seperates earlier.
As for Audessy EQ , for some it works , for others it dosent. I woudnt make it overriding criteria.
I would go Rotel, room EQ can be nice but a good room doesnt need to rely on that and we have gotten by without it all this time. I dunno how good the EQ actually is inside the Denon and some are more substantial than others and often just get you close and further adjustment is needed. I also think a better quality unit is a better option vs a mass market possibly inferior unit that can simply mask its flaws better.