I always liked the Denon units, and the older ones sell for an incredible discount used. That's what I would buy if I was looking in your price range.
9 responses Add your response
I wouldn't necessarily recommend a used HT receiver unless you really need to stay within a budget or you can find a very recent vintage receiver on the used market. The new receivers have HDMI input/output, auto-calibration (including room equalization), Dolby Pro-logic II, etc. These features greatly enhance the sonics of the newer units and make them much easier to use.
I can highly recommend the newer Onkyos from the TX-SR60X/TX-SR70X or TX-SR80X ranges. I saw a nearly new 705 for $570 here on AudiogoN this week. There's also a recent forum post from someone stating the 605 is extremely competent for under $500 new/street price.
I've owned Sony ES, Pioneer, Denon, B&K and Onkyo in recent years and I prefer my Onkyo to all of the others for HT duties. It sounds great and it is very easy to use.
Last week I just bought a brand new Pioneer VSX-74TXVi from Hi-Fi Heaven. Ask for Bill and he will be able to sell you one new in the box for $500. Found him on Videogon. Using mine as a home theater preamp which replaced an Outlaw Model 990. Sounds much better probably due to the much more sophisticated EQ mike software.
I agree with "Reubent", unless the $500. budget is absolute, I'd look for a new receiver with HDMI v.1.3, room calibration, ability to handle new audio codecs, etc. If not, you're starting off with one hand tied beyond your back as far as future upgrades of other components (Blu Ray player, advanced audio codecs, etc.) There's lots to choose from for a couple hundred bucks more.
Sure. The products with newer tech offer sonic advantages (as well as video upscaling capabilities, often) that you just wont' get with older receivers. And, because we're talking about "receivers", it's not like you're going to be getting super separates like performance in terms of dynamics, and refinement in the preamp and amp sections of the piece you likely get. So, yes, I'd be looking at, the very least, something with the Audyssey room correction, possibly video upscaling and component switching (if not HDMI), and maybe some newer HD-Dolby and DTS master decoding possibilities. But, only piece right now that does that for your price range, new is the Onkyo 605.
Denon is a no loose solid sounding product, but you'll pay a bit more to enter the arena of HD digital movie processing. Good luck