HELP me choose an AV reciever or processor please

I would really appreciate some input from some experts. I currently have a Sony 555ES reciever and it is time to upgrade my system. I also have a Phoenix Gold MX1260 amplifier.

My problem is I cant decide if I should buy an AV processor and pair it to the MX1260 or just purchase a new AV reciever. Currently I have been looking at the Sony 5400es I don't know which AV processor to get.

I really want something that can handle all of the HDMI 1.3 switching. I only want to run 1 cable to my TV. I also like the systems that are able to auto calibrate the speakers.

So should I be searching for an AV processor and pair it with the MX1260 or sell the MX1260 and just by an all in one reciever? Please help I've been racking my brain for a while now.
You don't mention what your budget is. That would really help toward a recommendation. I have not read any good reviews on the latest AV receiver offerings from Sony. The most favored pieces on AVS are from Denon, Pioneer and Marantz. Onkyo's are popular because of their value pricing. I worry about build quality with Onkyo though. I have the Denon 5308CI. It's their flagship receiver and has a pretty hefty price tag. The 3808CI is their value receiver and is very popular. There you have it, my 02.
I wouldn't pay a lot, resale on receivers is very poor. I picked up a nice Onkyo 805 a couple months back ($550)...I like it a lot.

I've always had good luck with Onkyo components (knock on wood), and I own several older Onkyo components that I bought years ago, still with never a break down.... yet.

I wish I could say that about my Sunfire prepro, Krell amp, Monarchy DAC, or my Rogue tube amps (all have had at least one break down).

Add Integra to jonnjbarlows list - they are the upscale brand for Onkyo.

Am not familiar with your amp - I did a quick google and its unclear to me what you would do with 12 channels of audio.

So two ways to look at:

1) Buy a preamp processor - let's use the Integra 9.8 as an example since I own one. They have been showing up for under a grand here. This has the feature set you are looking for so you can compare anything else that strikes your fancy to it - newer gear will have a few more Audyssey features but supports the same standard. Plug it in to your amp. When you want better sound, get a new amp (or any number of spectacular used ones here).

The long term view here is that in some number of years (at least five IMHO) new gotta have standards and formats will emerge - at that point you jettison the pre/pro but you keep the amp and the speakers - technology which basically stays the same and will continue to sound as good or bad as it does now


Buy a receiver with all the features of the Integra - again Denon, Marantz, Integra, Onkyo, NAD and a few others. One easy way to research this is to go to the Audyssey website - they list all the gear licensed with their MultiEQ technology.

(In case you have not read my other posts, Audyssey is a profound change - as significant as HDMI 1.3, with a much greater impact on your enjoyment.)

Anyhow now you buy the receiver. A/B the preamp outputs from the receiver to your current amp, and compare it to the sound of the receiver. Use the winner.

Later if you want to upgrade the sound get a better amp and just use the receiver as a pre/pro.

Since I am of the belief that you get what you pay for, I chose to buy a dedicated pre/pro. I couldn't believe that I could pay less for a receiver and get better sound. And there are lots of good arguments to be made for separating the amp and the pre/pro anyway.

All that said the Japanese have a unique tradition of building these wildly complex receivers and making them sound good.

If the money or the space matters it probably makes the most sense to buy the highest powered, feature laden unit you can find.

One last tip. Go to the various sites and download the owners manuals. Compare what is actually involved in setting up a few functions. See if you like the interface better on one brand then the others. Buy that one - ease of use is huge with devices that are as complex and capable as these.
My budget is around $1k-2k for a reciever or processor.

The Phoenix gold amp is 60wx12 or 120wx6. This amp I believe is underrated my sony reciever is 110x5 and the phoenix gold amp blows it away. I don't need all the channels at most I would use 7, it has more then enough power for my needs.

I have been reading fairly good reviews on the Sony 5400es. I have never really been a fan of Onkyo. Marantz and Denon are basically the same thing aren't they? Sadly most of the shops in my area have gone bankrupt so I wouldn't really have the option to purchase and A/B the setup, I wish!!

So can some of you suggest some processors in the $1k-2k price range that I can look at. Also what do you not like about the Sony 5400es.
Once again - look at the Integra. It is my opinion that there are very few companies who are capable of building this type of unit. I would not summarily dismiss the industry leaders because you will find that you have no alternatives left.

As far as the Sony - do your homework. First and foremost it does not have Audyssey. Any investment in a new HT receiver or pre/pro without Audyssey is a clean miss. This probably reflects Sony's long established fondness for closed standards and formats.

I find it disturbing that Sony does not specify the type of HDMI they support. Because of their support for deep color I believe it is 1.3 but I would want to be certain.

I do not have an opinion about the quality of the Faroudja processors - Faroudja is a long time standard but lately the buzz has been about Reon and Anchor Bay. If the processor is important to you, some homework is in order.

Finally being curious I went to the Sony site and downloaded the Owners Manual. It is filled with descriptions of how to use the unit with their proprietary Bravia-ware. I hope there is more to the manual because it is woefully inadequate. Per my previous post I would not buy anything without understanding the GUI firtst.

But hey, horses for courses. If your heart is set on a Sony have at it...
My Heart's not set on Sony that's why I am hear asking questions. I'd like to get to know what new technology is out there by people like you. Thanks for your comments. I'd also like to hear why people don't like Sony. After I look at all then information then I will make a decision.

I've always had a love hate relationship with Sony myself. They are notorious for comming out with there own standards that are even incompatible with there own equipment. But they are also usually the first to come out with the new technology.

If I can find a AV processor that fits my needs and is better then the 5400es then I have no problem buying something else. I would actually prefer it because then I could put my amp to good use. Can anyone else offer some other processor suggestions?

Thanks again.
For many years Sony was "the one and only". Their quality was the best and they led the industry in innovation. But they have gotten to be a very big company, that is very troubled and financially stressed. No one hates them (at least not me) but I don't think that the audio department is what it used to be. (OK I do hate the closed system aspect).

It occurred to me that there is one alternative that no one has mentioned you might be interested in which is a new company called emotiva audio. A lot of people are very keen on their gear which is truly inexpensive. At the moment they do not appear to have a processor but I believe that one is in the works - might be worth a call if you like what you see on their site
I went and looked at a Marantx 8003 but was disappointed that it only had 4 HDMI inputs.

I'm still looking. I know where to get a Denon AVPA1HDC1 for $4500 but that's a little more then I want to spend.
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Arcam 380
Nsxxtreme ;
How many HDMI inputs do you need ?
How about another direction as I'm in the same boat! The question is do I go with a pro/proc like those mentioned above with HDMI 1.3 built in, or go with a used higher end unit (thinking of MAC MX135, 120 or 136) with a separate HDMI 1.3 external switcher (get ‘true HD’, etc.)? Waiting for Oppo BDP 83 to be released, would that serve the same function as the switcher? I still want the best I can get for 2 ch sound as well. That is just as iportant. Thinking of MAC monoblock 501's for front and MC205 for the surr. Can spend 4-5k for the pre/pro. Thanks
I love my Onkyo TX-NR905. Has Audyssey, great GUI, nice remote, really good sound, plenty of HDMI's, and decodes the new Blu-Ray HD audio formats. Nice to look at too.
02-10-09: Nsxxtreme
My budget is around $1k-2k for a reciever or processor.

...I have never really been a fan of Onkyo. Marantz and Denon are basically the same thing aren't they?
Onkyo has been leading the entire industry in HDMI switching, extraction, and processing. Their Integra DHC9.9 pre/pro is right in your budget. Japanese companies have a different business model than US ones. In pianos, Yamaha makes everything from a pressed wood mass-produced piece-o-crap to totally handbuilt concert grand pianos that equal and in some ways surpass Steinways.

It's the same with electronics. On one hand Onkyo makes home-theater-in-a-box products for under $1K, but on the other hand, they make some seriously good gear. Their A-9555 integrated amp is shockingly good for its going price; they offer a similar amp topology under the Integra name as a 7-channel power amp for $3K.

Finally, Denon and Marantz have been bought up (rescued) by the same holding company, but they are still distinct companies with their own R&D dep'ts and designs. Other audio companies in this group include Boston Acoustics and McIntosh.
Thanks all. The question becomes am I sacrificing the quality of 2 channel sound by going with a medium (with latest HD switching) processor vs. a higher end processor with an external HD converter. Or at the end of the day will it come down to the quality of amps, interconnects, etc. and the processor is not a factor?
Thanks all. The question becomes am I sacrificing the quality of 2 channel sound by going with a medium (with latest HD switching) processor vs. a higher end processor with an external HD converter. Or at the end of the day will it come down to the quality of amps, interconnects, etc. and the processor is not a factor?
Yes you will be sacrificing the quality of 2 channel sound by going with a medium (with latest HD switching) processor vs. a higher end processor with an external HD converter. The processor is definately important if 2 channel is imporant to you.