Joe, the only AVR's that sound good for both music and movies that I know of would be NAD. The T765 or &775 would fit the bill.
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I have owned a couple of NAD's the I have many problems with, they were terrible.
I have seen and heard the Emotive stuff recently, and thought you were getting what you paid for.
I would suggest that with your setup and your excellent speakers you buy a used Parasound Halo C2 and try to find a Parasound 2205a amp. Since you don't need 7.1, I would just go analog from your disc player to the PrePro, and since you don't have long runs, just use HDMI cables from your gear to your TV. You will still get all of the newer surround modes from your disc player through the analog connetions, and you will get a great sounding piece of gear, and the power you need to make your speakers shine.
For $3G, do not buy a new AVR Receiver of any brand that will be worth about $300 in 3 years. You are just throwing away money. Value drop of AVR is 60% 1 year, 75% 2 years, 90% three years.
Get a Krell Pre/Pro and a 5-channel krell amp for $3G, used of course. Musicwise it will best any AVR that I have heard. If you are not crazy about Krell, then pick another brand that makes real audio equipment. Parasound (as mentioned above), Cary, and the list can go on.
Personally, I would avoid Arcam, NAD and Rotel as I have found they deliver about the same as a Dennon AVR but at a higher price. But that is just my experience, use your ears and visit some of the many HT shops around.
Nonsense. I would try the Harmon Kardon AVR 354. Supprisingly good sounding, and can be had for $250 if you look around. Has all latest, minus 3d (who cares) capable.
As for the Nad? ("I have owned a couple of NAD's the I have many problems with, they were terrible"???)
I'm sure I've heard this before?... Oh yeah, for last 15 years...
If you really want to maximize stereo performance, buy a used $250 AVR receiver but get a 2 channel stereo amp and a 2-channel preamp ($2500 combined) with HT pass through. I can tell you from experience, there isn't a 5+ channel amp that can compare with a two channel amp for the same price (or even less for the 2-channel amp).
This is by far and away the best way to go. There isn't an AVR Receiver that will even come close to sound performance for music taking this route.
I have a onkyo txnr 902. After spending thousands on seperates, trying this and that including the butler amp I am happier than ever with the 902. I couldn't believe it but the 902 sounded better than anything else I tried whether I'm listening to 2 channel music or 7.1 movie surround. My audiophile friends wouldn't believe me until they heard it and agreed it sounds great. I'm using sonus faber speaks for 7 channels and a jl f113 for a sub. I definately recomend you look into this receiver. You won't be disapointed.
I come fom high end 2 channel audio world and have to say that - based on personal experience - Arcam makes very good sounding receivers if you're into music as well as HT. I've had several Dennons and I'm just not a fan, especially for music. For a music lover who wants to combine it all into one no muss-no fuss system you can't go wrong with Arcam.
I had excellent performance from my Arcam AVR300 - if I had the bucks I'd do the 600 in a heartbeat. If you could find a demo or used that would be sweet.
NAD and Rotel would be next level down IMO. Onkyo has some very good sounding budget receivers and are worth a listen.
If you're not gonna upgrade any time soon buy one of the upper end Arcams and be done.
However, if you're thinking you want to be on an upgrade path, consider buying seperates - I personally have liked Cary gear and think it very underrated. A lot depends on your speakers.
I've bought lots of gear used.demo and would recommend that option.
When ever I read, "I don't really need 7.1," I feel compelled to respond. After having a 5.1 system with dipoles and evolving to 7.1 the difference was more than a simple subjective improvement.
Even most mid priced receivers have the ability to matrix 5.1 media into 7.1. The matrixing improves if your AVR has decent room correction. The rear information becomes more discrete. If your LCR's are on the same plane the screen dialog becomes more located and the new side speakers transition the L and R with the rears with good effect.
A small space and the currently limited 7.1 mastered media are poor excuses not to have 7.1 in your future. The fly in your ointment are your dipoles. They tend to botch up the room correction and smear the surround to varying degrees.
My first question would be how much I could get for the entire Von Schweikert set then budget for a used pre/pro and JBL 4300 series powered speakers. Yeah, I rolled my eyes too.
joe this may be slightly contrary but I would suggest you pick the cheapest Yamaha, denon, onkyo, whatever that has a reasonable featureset (be honest about what you must have vs nice to have, make sure the remote works for you, and let rip. they you have maybe 2600 left over. buy a nice multichannel amp (shoot for 2000 ish) and then spend the leftover on the best dac you can get. Use the receiver for video decodes, the dac for audio decodes, a good amp for both, and then in a few years you will not be bothered when the video standards or whatever change and you only have to swap receiver. Make sure your players have analog outs of course. $2000 gets you a good amp and pretty good dac. you can get a pretty good receiver for $3000 but like many above I'm of the thought that they are not worth it and having a all in one solution is scary. just my $0.02
A $3000 Audio Video Receiver will be worth about $300-$500 in a very few short years! I bought my one year old Pioneer Elite Series which sold for something in the $2000 range (I believe) for $175 on eBay. I have had it a few years now and it does everything except 3D. It has Dolby truHD, some other true HD, upscales video, has a second zone, iPod direct hook-up with controls for the iPod via the remote.
Is it good? Yeah, I guess its okay. Not quite as good as my old 507 Series 2, but pretty close. Not as good as my Krell HTS 7.1 with multiple amps (Theda Dreadnaught II, Krell TAS, CJ 5-channel amp) running into 3 Watt/Puppy 5.1s for fronts and Wilson Duettes for rears with Rel subs. But for my (obviously) lowered movie requirements its (Pioneer Elite) good enough. I can tell you that even my old Melos Sha Gold and 30 year old Dynaco tube amp blew away all the AV systems when it came to music by a very long and wide margin.