Hate this, I need an AV receiver. Help me choose

Since the manufacturers won't simply put analog audio out jacks on their new TV's, it looks like I will have to buy a crappy AV receiver to get sound to the outboard speakers. TV only has optical digital out which you all know we would never choose between our cherished CD transports and DAC's. It irks me because I have unused amp and preamp that would work just fine for this. I am an old school Tube and 2 channel audiophile. Even though this is only for the TV set up I don't want anything that sounds too crappy. What can you guys recommend for me here that I can find maybe at Best Buy without wasting too many dollars. Any hope in a 5.1 Yamaha for under 300 bucks for example?
For TV, what is wrong with using optical out with your "cherished CD transports and DAC's (sic)?" it won't break them.

Denon or Onkyo. I bought the Denon and couldn't be happier.
Kal, nothing wrong with that for TV. I have always heard though that coax digital out was preferred by most. I don't use a DAC myself, and there are no other digital components in the TV set up. Simply TV, analog preamp, and power amp because I already had them around from an old system. My Sony TV had variable RCA outs, so I'm used to using these to feed the pre and amp. Using the speakers in the TV as a quasi center channel so to speak. You set the preamp volume for the proper blend and leave it alone. Then control Volume with the TV's remote and it worked quite well.
When i was doing research on this, Yamaha was the cheapest receiver that had multi-channel analog outputs, also they use burr brown DACs, if i'm not mistaken. The multi-channel outputs make it more versitile for future applications, you can feed a power amp with it. My #2 choice in getting a lot of value/features for not much money is Onkyo.
Also consider buying an affordable DAC with an optical input, might be cheaper than a receiver. You should be able to set your TV to output two-channel-only thru the optical.
Another great brand was Harmon-Kardon, don't know if they are still making them, though. I used one for many years.
Just get a modest DAC with optical input. It will almost certainly equal and probably better the DAC in any low-cost AV receiver you'd get, then you can just use your existing preamp and amp. Toslink's shortcomings are greatly exaggerated. Use a glass cable if you can -- e.g., Wireworld.

BTW, where does your TV content come from -- is it all OTA?
"Using the speakers in the TV as a quasi center channel so to speak." Ugh. If the front L/R speakers are half way decent I'd think using a phantom or no center would be much preferable with proper setup unless you're sitting well off center (and if you are I'd invest in a decent center speaker and a cheap HT receiver from Denon, Pioneer, Onkyo, etc.). Other than that I agree with Drubin, but get a used DAC with optical input since there's no reason to pay full retail for this application or you might as well get a HT receiver. Worrying about optical vs. SPDIF is relatively insignificant in this application I'd think. Best of luck.
Ok, I looked at two tv's on the web and both had audio out's. Maybe I'm not reading the post correctly.
Go to audio repair shops ask them if they have any old receivers for sale I got a onkyo tx6500 mk2 for 150.00 it's the best in the world it's 35 years old and is in great condition I can't believe I got it email me at stevenmeinster@yahoo.com I will help check out my videos on YouTube about home audio eq YouTube stevenmeinster there's about 30 videos of me talking about audio eq and gut airs and sound eq
Slikric, I think what he is saying is that his new TV doesn't have variable outputs. I assume his TV does have outputs. With no variable he would have to adjust the volume on his preamp. If that doesn't have a remote, he has to get up to change the volume when he wants to.
Thanks all for your ideas so far. Sounds like a cheap DAC with toslink might be the best way to go. Don't know why I didn't think of that. Anyone want to recommend something in particular? I am not bothered by the toslink vs coax debate for this application. If I do choose an AV receiver I will consider Onkyo or Denon probably.
Soix, I know it is a yucky way to get center channel, but TV is (maybe was) low priority to us and it's a good way to get rid of the "hole in the middle" effect when using less than optimum amplification and speakers in a bookshelf.
Slikric, the issue here is that although the TV's do have audio outs, they are digital only, so won't work with old school analog components.
Stevenmeinster, A 35 year old receiver won't have digital inputs so that is no better than the seperates I already have.
I would like to have some input on what low cost DAC might be appropriate here if anyone is still listening. Also, I thought about active speakers like the Quads. I believe they have optical inputs. What do you think about that idea?
This has been a common complaint, even more so since Panasonic Plasma TVs became popular, probably due to their lower price when Pioneer was still around.

Don't forget to check your cable, or satellite box, if one is being used. A lot of them have fixed and variable analog outputs.

Before, even a lot of 20" CRT TVs had them. Some had fixed and variable for a choice. Now you could spend thousands for a new set, and not receive them.

Not everyone wants a home theater surround system on all of their sets.

Call Music Direct in Chicago. www.musicdirect.com

They will likely have a perfect solution for you on which DAC would work within your budget. All the staff there are top notch and won't steer you wrong.

Whether its Peachtree or musical fidelity or another vendor they will point you in the right direction.
"Sounds like a cheap DAC with toslink might be the best way to go."

When I see "cheap" but someone still wants something somewhat decent I automatically think Monoprice. Given your situation for $25 or so this might just do the trick...

Consider Accessories4Less.com as a Marantz resaler of refurbished gear including AV receivers. Great stuff at great prices and never a problem. Marantz has a solid house sound.mk
Does your TV have a Headphone-Out mini jack?

If so, Audioquest makes a $10 or so Mini-to-Analog that would allow you to connect standard RCA ICs to your television.
Affordable DAC with optical input:
I've heard this DAC along with their A5 speakers at RMAF and really liked the sound. Source was a computer, not a TV, but I was impressed. Uses the AK4396 DAC chip:
Audioengine has a 30 day in-home trial. If you don't like it or it does not work, send it back.
Getting a DAC for this is not necessarily a solution unless you are certain that the digital output from the TV is PCM and not DolbyDigital. The vast majority of audio DACs will not decode DD and, therefore, will be of no help to you.

Any inexpensive, used AVR with digital input will do DD as will a few stand-alone devices, such as the Technics SH-AC500D decoder/DAC that I have in my closet (and would love to sell). http://service.us.panasonic.com/OPERMANPDF/SHAC500D.PDF

Otherwise, use the headphone output as Courant suggests. It is a cheap but effective solution.

To Courant and Kal, Thanks for that idea. Is the output for headphone jack really the right level to drive a preamp? i would think it would be too high. This is a great idea though if workable. One TV we considered, a Sony 55" does have mini headphone jack. Not sure about the other one, a Samsung 55".
Also, Kal, thanks for informing me about the DAC compatibility issue, you may have just saved me alot of trouble going down the wrong path because of my "digital dumbness". Thanks again.
Mofimadness, what model Denon is that you like so much?
> Is the output for headphone jack really the right level to drive a preamp?

It works. I used the AQ adapter to connect a portable Toshiba TV/VCR combo set to a Denon 2807 AV Receiver.

I connected the adapter to the headphone out; attached the source end of a pair of AQ Quartz ICs to the adapter and the destination end of the IC cables to a pair of analog-in RCA ports on the receiver; and it worked fine.

Hope that helps.
Hifiharv, I was under the impression you already bought one. There are models out there that still have the feature. This Sony for example has one.
Just look the owners manual up first. This Sony has what looks like a 1/8" headphone jack on the back for it. It has the fixed and variable option.
Hifiharv, on that Sony manual (above) I used for an example, page 11 shows connections, page 53 for on screen menu settings.
Thanks Hifitime, I think that model # is the one we are looking at but don't have it here with me at work. According to the store's info, It didn't have analog outs. I'll have to check into this further.
For that new Sony TV quick guide , it doesn't say if it's a standard 1/8" to RCA
or something else. I'm guessing it is. I looked behind my ~ 3 year old Sony XBR9, and it still has the standard RCA output jacks. Same idea I guess.
I just put a Sony 333ES reciever with pre outs up on here @ $25