Receiver vs Processor

It seems that the new receivers, regardless of price, are coming with all the latest capabilities, i.e., Ultra THX, EX, 6.1, 7.1, composite video inputs, etc... I already have a 2-channel power amp and multi-channel amp, so I was thinking about using a cheap to mid-level receiver as my processor. Since I will be using quality amps, will the sound be comparable to that of a higher-end dedicated processor. If so, what are some good recommendations for a receiver. I know this will be a slight waste since I won't be using the receivers internal amps, but there is quite a price and capability difference between a mid-level receiver and a quality processor like the DC-1. Also, I don't plan to use this for music, just HT.


Check out the latest Home Theater magazine. Great comparisons of high end receivers with mid level preamp/amp combos. The same differences would be found at all levels.
DC-1 with a strong 5 channel amp is the best value and combo on the market today. I am a HUGE advocate of the DC-1 in surround, and for less than $1,000 it SMOKES any processor, including the Cal Audio, CBI, CBII, McIntosh, and the other likes. I have had them all, the DC-1 is it!
You can find inexpensive 5 channel amps that are very good from the likes of Rotel, Chiro (out of business, but makes the best 5 channel amp for the $ in the used market) and even Parasound and some Acurus.

With a DC-1 and 5 channel amp for less than $2,000 that combo would not only blow the receivers out of the water, provide upgrade path to amps that will only be better!

I dissagree with the Porscchecab. ESPECIALLY if your just doing home theater, really your going to find better value in a receiver as your pre/pro, simply because they're clean enough, and they have so so many inputs/features for the money! Prices are so competetive in that arena, that you can get a jam packed feature loaded receiver for not to much money! And the preamp sections and processors in them are clean enough to give you very clean sound! least as clean or refined as what's comming of the not so special sounding Lexicon DC1 pre/pro! That unit just sounds like another plain vanilla digital pre/pro to me!...and all the reviewers will agree on that if you read the reviews on the DC1!
Even the Acurus ACT 3 or Classe SSP25 were sonically MUCH MUCH CLEANER AND MORE REFINED SOUNDING than any of the marginally decent sounding Lexicons!
I would submit to you that for your purposes and or budget(although, yes, you could get even more refined sound with lower noise floor, etc, with a more expensive outboard prepro) a receiver would work very well for your purposes! If you can, you might want to go around and listen to some of the pieces out there for things like overall sound, background noise level, features, etc, all at different price points. You may find you can find a killer receiever for your purposes that's fairly inexpensive comparatively!
Good luck
But Chilidog, I am going to side with Porschecab as far as getting a dedicated "pre/pro" is concerned. I am saying that because he already has a two channel power amp and a multichannel one as well, so he does not need to put any money toward the internal amplifiers that a receiver is going to provide if he's not going to be using them. Instead, why can't use the same money that he would've otherwise use for paying for the internal amplifiers for a receiver and use it to pay for some refinement in a "pre/pro" instead?? Outlaw supposedly makes a killer "pre/pro" that retails for less than $1,000.00. I don't think it can do THX or Ultra THX. But I am quite sure it can do 5.1, 6.1, and 7.1. And I know for certain is has component and composite video inputs. If I am putting together a setup like what "Tbone" is putting together, I don't think I would waste all of that performance and refinement by using a receiver. Not when there's the Outlaw Pre/Pro out there.

I would suggest that you check out the Sherwood Newcastle Home Theater Processor(AV9080). Audiogon has some listed for under $500.00.Check the Sherwood website for their new updated processor also.
I'll throw my $.02 worth in for the DC-1 - for straight HT, they're really great. You won't get all the latest 6-channel modes, but you get the Logic7 mode and fabulous HT performance. I've had the DC-1, MC-1 and now the MC-12 - they're absolutely top-notch for HT, and a great centerpiece for a dual-purpose system. -Kirk
I offer another vote for a DC1 as a budget pre-pro only. They are outstanding once set up properly and have plenty of inputs for most people's theaters.

I would not use one as a music only piece, but definitely as a theater only piece. Just be sure to find one that has all current updates. Also there are a few minor tweaks that can be performed to increase the sound quality of the Lexicons.

The greatest feature of the Lexicon is the "SMR Lexicon Forum." It is similar in quality and member experience to the Audiogon Forum.
It seems that everyone really like the stand-alone processor, but I'm not convince yet. I understand about the waste of power amps in a receiver, but they are cheap. For example, the pioneer VSX-811S has a ton of features, to include Crystal DSP, 7.1 inputs/outputs, DTS-ES, Neo 6, DD EX 6.1, and PL II. All, this for $295! The amps I intend to use are Carver Lightstar and HK 7.1. I'm think this will sound pretty good for HT. Otherwise, spend up to a grand for a DC-1, Act III or Chiro. So, what do you thinK?


Do you know what the beauty of the "All, this for $295!" statement is? You can try it very inexpensively, try it out, if you like it, you didn't spend the 'grand' for a DC-1, and if it doesn't work out, 1) You will know the answer, and 2) you will not have lost any/much money considering the purchase price and resale that you would get for it.

My thoughs:
Try it and find out. That is what I do ALL the time, which is why I sell so many different items. I love to try and find out. You will be amazed at what you find. In fact, this could very well be one of them!

Hey Dan,

You are right; this is pretty much a disposable piece. I'll do a little more research on this model and give it a try.



You have got me interested in the Pioneer for HT only. I am in the same amp situation as you and have been waiting for the Outlaw preamp for 9 months now. Lately I have been considering an alternative until Outlaw and any other yet-to-be-released mid-fi preamps get things together.

Let us know what you find out about it.
why are some receivers so inexpensive compared to pre/pro's with the same features? with receivers so cheap, and the separate pre/pro's so expensive, why don't the receiver manufacturers such as pioneer make a separate component leaving out the amps and charge much more for it?

the most inexpensive pre/pro with all of the current features is the outlaw for the "extraordinary low price of $950"

receivers with the substantially the same features sell for around $300. why so much more for a separate component that does even less (no amps) than the receiver?

i'm currently running a denon avr-3300 receiver into separate amps and using it as a processor only. can't figure out what to do in the pre-pro market. part of the reason for upgrade is to put the receiver in the bedroom, but there are so many cheap receivers out there.....why separates so expensive?


Presumably, the answer is sound (and video switching) quality. Why are some 2 channel audio receivers $129 while audiophiles spend thousands of dollars - often for products with FEWER features? The same reason.

If the higher priced units don't offer better quality - shame on them - and they won't be around long.
Receivers are priced as low as they are most largely due to demand and marketing! The market is HEAVILY schewed towards "all in one" receivers over separates, and thus all the heavy competition and pricing is going to favor the receiver! Receivers offer the highest overall value(subjective albeit) and features for the money. In a lot of systems, and for most people, I do feel receivers make the most sense, as they have the most too offer at lower to reasonable price points. In short, I think a good clean souding receiver with good inputs and features is all the vast majority of audio enthusiest will ever need!
To be true however, separate pre/pro and amp combinations offer strong advantages sonically over using a receiver. One, the amplifier sections in receivers inherently weaker than what you get from even lesser wattage dedicated multi channel amps! Receivers amp sections tend to be somewhat compromised in comparison. A receivers power supply has to drive many things, including the amp sections, the processor, the displays, the preamp section, the processors, etc. You couple that with all the limited space, compromised electronic issolation and interference, etc, and you'll ALWAYS FIND that a receiver simply can't pump out the clean high current juice like what you get from a descent power amp! Also, the preamp sections in receivers tend to be softer dynamically, not quite as tight and refined sounding, with less channel separation, higher signal to noise ration, etc. You couple those factors all together and the sonic differnces add up!
Still, the biggest factor in difference is in the amplifier section. If I had to use a receiver as a pre/pro, I'd be much happier with a clean receiver as the pre/pro section, and use a dedicated outboard amp to close the gap!
Also, to be fair, using "powered speakers" or configuring your speakers as "small". and/or using a dedicated powered sub for all your bass dubties helps the receivers amplifier sections TREMENDOUSLY! Taking the heavy demands off a receiver's amp sections(already challenged using "Passive" speaker crossover networks and designs instead of "active's") gives the receiver's amp's MUCH NEEDED HELP INDEED!
Another thing I've also noticed, still, is that the receivers processors keep getting better and better, and the techonology as a whole keeps moving up and up! Receivers sonics on the whole have gotten much more competetive with good separates "front-ends", and this makes the choices that much harder..but better for us consumers!
I would think, considering what the average HT/music enthusiest would likely want/need for his money, that a modest price receiver still will be all most will likely need! With proper set up, possibly some "powered-tower's" and "active subwoofers" in-toe, I doubt most will go wrong with a receiver as their "hub"!
I think foreverhifi is right given your preference for ht. With a music bias, my experience is quite different, but a strong receiver in ht can be more than good. Good luck.
someone explain to me the cons to spending $400 on a receiver and using it as a pre/pro with m separate amps and spending $1000+ on a pre/pro? is it the preamp section? even on higher end receivers that have direct bypass modes? i guess the only way to really find out is to buy a pre/pro and see how it compares to my receiver which is currently being used only as a pre/pro. now to start a thread about best used pre/pro for the money....