Is There Greener Grass For Me?

I have owned an Onkyo TXSV515PRO for about 15 years. I have upgraded most other components in a modest AV system, but not the Onkyo. We use the AV system for audio only as it relates to TV programming and DVD play – there is no CDP involved – all music being played in a separate, dedicated 2-channel room.

Currently, the system consists of:
TV - Mitsubishi WS-65413 – 65” projection
Front Speakers – PSB Stratus Goldi’s
Rear Speakers – PSB Alpha Mini
Center Channel (own but not currently used) – PSB 9C
DVD - Zenith DVB318

Now. I am not trying to assemble a SOTA system in any way, shape, or form. However, I do not care much for the separation provided by the Onkyo, especially front to rear balance (regardless of how the speakers are positioned). Too, if something like a great performance on Soundstage or an audio DVD is used, the sound is a bit thin when cranking the volume. I’ve had these speakers in two-channel systems and they are not exactly what I’d call thin. As such, I am wondering if I could improve things much by using a different power/processor – or maybe given the level of all else I should just leave things alone.. I’d STRONGLY prefer a one-piece unit, as opposed to separates, due in part to space limitations. Don’t need a tuner which is provided in the Onkyo receiver. Appreciate suggestions in the $2K new, $1K used range. Obliged to all for their consideration – whether or not you choose to respond.

I don't know anything about the TXSV515Pro, but I would guess that it is an older pro-logic unit based on age. That said, a good modern HT receiver, integrated or separates is going to be a considerable step forward. Your front-rear seperation issue will likely be solved by Dolby Digital 5.1 for DVD and digital high-def programming and by Dolby PL-II for other TV/VHS. These surround formats are much better than the old pro-logic. If you do buy a new receiver/processor, I would highly recommend adding the center channel speaker back into the system if you can accomodate it in your space.

As far as recommendations, well, I'm typically on the fringe of mainstream.

I would personally really like to try a Linar Model 10 5.1 channel integrated amp. However, it does not have processing, so it would work great with a DVD player that had 6-channel analog outputs, but would require a processor for DVD players that don't have internal processors and for TV. And it's $2000 used.

For a one box solution, I would probably recommend a B&K receiver. I've owned the AVR-202 on 3 different occassions. However, the user ergonomics are odd (IMHO) and it does not have DPL-II. Maybe the next newer B&K receiver would be the answer.

Considering the age of your current receiver, you may get a performance increase from about any current quality HT receiver. You might want to jump on a good used bargain HT receiver and see if it is an improvement. If it is, decide if investing additional money is necessary to get you to the next step. If you go with a low-mid priced unit, I would suggest looking at units that have auto-calibration. It will greatly ease setup. Some examples of good inexpensive HT receivers with auto-calibration are Pioneer VSX-1016TXVK ($369 at J&R)(which I have owned) or Onkyo TX-SR703 (which I currently own). Both are decent sounding units and are relatively easy to use. Heck, I just bought my Onkyo used for way less than 50% of MSRP and could re-sell it tomorrow here or on eBay, maybe even at a profit.

One other suggestion: If you go with a modestly priced unit, I would take your savings and invest in a sub-woofer. Dolby Digital 5.1, THX, and other discrete surround modes have a discrete LFE (low frequency effect) channel. Adding a sub will maximize your experinece (IMHO).



Thanks for the very thoughful and well reasoned answer. Because I will never get into HT in a big way (with respect to sound production, anyway), I have firmly decided to go with a single unit. Some sort of integrated processor/amp would be ideal in my case. Specific suggestion regarding well rated units fully appreciated.

I have thought of a sub in the past. However, my past experience with subs has been that buying a cheap sub is worse than no sub at all and I have not been able to justify the dough to add a good one on the HT side of things. I have Vandersteen 5's in my 2-channel system, so not sub needed, there. :-)
Your Gold's have no need for a sub. Nice speakers all around. However, keep in mind that with 5.1 sound, by routing all of the bass to the front speakers, you may be overtaxing your amp. Bass is very power hungry. Even though the Golds can handle it, you may get better sound with 50-100 quality watts and spending the difference on a sub?
I agree with TIC that a 202 will crush your Onkyo! However, I hate the remote... Also, DPLII is very nice to have compared to original pro-logic.
Other nice receivers out there are Denon, Rotel, Arcam, NAD & Marantz. You could get some decent seperates for $1k to 2k also. Check out spearit-sound. NAD gear is a steal there and will make you wonder why you didn't scrap the Onkyo years ago.
Would you do better spending $1900 on an NAD amp/pre-pro combo or on a B&K 505 receiver and a $700 velodyne sub? Good question??? My opinion would be to get the best you can at that time and leave room to upgrade, ie buy the seperates now and add a sub in the future if you need it!
David, you don't want the greener grass, it's too wet and won't burn well. Dry it out until it becomes darker in color, more like a brownish green. It will then be optimal and make your whole rig sound much better.
Point taken but I’m a waitin’ for you to forward some of THAT green stuff. I got nuttin'! My guys bit the dust so many years ago I forget their names and I fear establishing new acquaintances, lest I run afoul and land in the ole hoosegow.

Seriously, though, I could use a solid and specifc suggetion of a single unit that will have the appropriate decoders (if which I know virtually nothing) and that will drive front, rears, and center........
You might give this receiver some consideration:

Interesting review, if not incredibly L o n g . Thanks. I'll consider it, but don't think I will ultimately go with a 7.1 unit.
The Goldi's are just superb, hard to beat.
But you need to feed them power as Elevick said.
There's no way around a strong multichannel power amp with discreet power supplies for each channel.
The amp needs not only to produce a speaker excursion, it needs to suck the driver back into position in time for the next excursion. Failure to do so results in thin sounding bass and muddied midrange.
I use a Sherbourn 5/1500A (as good as it gets in my opinion.) You can get a real clean one used for $1200.
Montana, but then you have the whole processor issue, IC's etc... No?

Nearly all current HT receivers support 7.1 channels of output. You simply set the unused channels to off. Some receivers will even let you reassign them to use to bi-amp you main L&R speaker.

BTW, there is a B&K AVR-307 that showed up on AgoN tonight. No relationship with the seller, but it looked like a decent deal. If it has DPL-II, it may be a winner....


No, it hasn't DPL-II if it makes a difference to anyone else.
DPL-II is very nice as it does a much better job or "steering" sound to the rear speakers when listening to a source that is not a discreet surround format. When I got my first DPL-II receiver, I noticed a much more enjoyable experience with analog TV and VHS playback.

However, if you don't think you'll care about analog TV or VHS, it might not matter. DVD will use discreet Dolby Digital or DTS and digital high-def programming typically is transmitted with the dolby digital stream intact.

Thanks, TIC. Looks as if I need to explore some individual models. Actually, I need to further educate myself. In the tw-channel world I'm fun but..... And, it figures. I branch into something else and wind up committing myslef to countless hours of research before buying... ;-)
I take it that no one else has specific recommendations other than those made above. (?)
The research is part of the fun...

Don't shy away from 7.1. Even if you don't intend to use it, most units have it available. To avoid 7.1 would stick you with a unit 5+ years old in most cases. The newer DAC's plus DPLII make it worth getting newer gear.
So if I were to consider components, instead, what would be a preproc of choice - keeping in mind that it is almost exclusively to be used for TV and DVD movies and I do not need a tuner. In doing research, I am beginning to lean more to an amp/pre combo.

If it's only for TV and DVD and you want to keep it at $2K new or $1K used, I personally wouldn't suggest separates. How about the Arcam AVR-300? It's a little over $1K used, but it has gotten excellent reviews for both music and HT. It should sound great with those music videos and TV concerts. It is capable of powering 7 channels, but so are almost all of the new receivers. Simply don't use the extra channels.

I'll revert back to one of my earlier choices. The B&K AVR-202 might be a good unit for you. It is a 5.1 receiver and only lacks DPL-II. This may not even be an issue unless you watch a lot of analog TV. The HD and Digital channels typically have discrete Dolby Digital tracks, so DPL-II isn't really too important. But for under $600, the B&K might really do it for you. If it doesn't, re-sell it. You couldn't really loss more than a few bucks as the previous owner(s) have already eaten the depreciation from the $2800 original price ($1800 on closeout after the 307 was introduced).


Thanks. I may also consider an Adcom GFR-700.
The tuner doesn't really get in the way in most units. So, internally a pre/pro/amp won't be much different than a receiver. TIC's suggestion of the Arcam is great. It and the B&K 507 are way beyond most of the average receivers.

If you are using this for tv (cable or dish) DPL II should be a priority! Your system will end up defaulting to DPL II any time a signal isn't 5.1. DPL II is way beyond DPL. For that reason, some of the components that you may consider to be of lesser audio quality may do a nice job with TV than some older high end units (ie B&K 202 vs a new NAD/Denon/Marantz/Rotel/Adcom/sony ES). Also, newer units seem to have a lot more power these days.

One thing to be careful of is size. Check your cabinet or shelf first. Many units are so wide and deep that once you hook up all of the connections, they don't fit. Sqeezing everything into 1 box makes it huge. Seperates are usually a little more compact and can be split up.

My last comment is that almost any newer receiver for $1000 will crush your older onkyo. Borrow a demo and see what you are missing.
Elevick. I hear thee. I am borrowing a piece from a friend beginning tomorrow. I don't have the heart to audition from a brick-and-mortar when I know I will be buying elsewhere - not that this is what I thought you were suggesting - just saying in general.

Trouble is, I KNOW that once I do the research and buy one of these receivers, I will be pining for upgrades - just like in my 2-channel system which, thankfully, I am now satisfied. So, it is either not upgrade at all or do it on the used so I can get my dough back when the upgrade bug inevitably comes to call. :-)
Thnaks to all who responded. I wound up buying a used Arcam AVR350. Anxious for it to be delivered and give it a go!
Please give us your impressions of this Arcam receiver.
I will do so, certainly, but it will be in about a month - after my move and a good long, multi-variable audition.

I just went through this. For the longest time, I planned to integrate my 2-channel with HT, but could never get rid of the noise the HT introduced. I decided on a separate HT system.

I am going with the Yamaha RX-V2700. You can buy it local for about $1500 or by internet by an authorized source for under $1200.

I have an Arcam AVR100 in a small TV system and I agree that, for those who want music AND HT, it is hard to beat the sound of Arcams. For HT only, the Yamaha is very satisfying to me. The Yamaha is generally considered more advanced in processing and switching compared to the Arcams and has auto-eq.

Some basics on the receiver:

7x140 - you can use the back 2 chaneels to bi-amp your fronts
3 HDMI in
Upsamples to 1080i
Large power supply (50% bigger than the 1700 rated at 7x130)
Too late, Jerry, as mention above, I bought the Arcam. Thanks anyway
You will enjoy the sound. Used Arcam AVR300 was the other choice I considered. Part of the reason I went with the Yamaha was to get set-up help from the dealer since the whole HT thing can be pretty overwhelming and not necessarily something that I want to crowd my head with.

You will probably want to bypass the AVR300 video section and switch using a universal remote, especially if/when you get a display with HDMI in.

Good luck.
I was planning on using an DVI to HDMI cable between my DirecTV H20 receiver and the Mits 65413. Good? No good? My setup will be installed in the new home on 6/11.
Don't know the TV. One often overlooked thing about HDMI is that you can up-convert material that you cannot with other formats due to copy protection. My DVD palyer will not upconvert over component, for example.

Keeping video separate is just fine, even better, as long as the remote is wife-proof :)
Well 4yanx, I think your in for a great surprise-

I have the avr350 and it is absolutely amazing- very detailed and clear. I put a power conditioner in (shunyata) and it became even more clear, ultra black background, ect. Very happy with- it is far above all previous avr's from arcam.

I am not sure what your current receiver has in terms of power, but I found (a once owner of the gold-i's) that they needed a lot of power. Also, I found that even once I gave them a lot of power, they still sounded a bit thin in the mid-bass (but plenty of bass). I never liked these speakers and found them very hard to integrate with the room, like a monitor speaker with too little mid-range warmth and a dis-connected subwoofer with plenty of bass. It sounds like you want to keep them, so at a minimum I would make sure they have at least 100 if not 200 w/ch of good power. If you want to maintain the system per se but could make a small change, I would recommend the stratus silver i's for much better coherence and a decent subwoofer to fill in the bottom end.