I had a friend just like this. "I'm NOT an audiophile!"
So what I told him, go to a few stores, listen to a few things. Listen to some stuff that you know you can easily afford. Listen to some more expensive stuff. Then keep going until you find something you really like but know for damn sure your wife would never let you get no matter how much you want it.
Much to my surprise he actually did this.
So okay. Next step is, you go back and listen to the three best, one from each category- cheap, affordable, dream on- only this time with your wife, and you bring along a CD of her favorite music. And you never play anything but HER favorite music.
Well of course, as predicted, the wife was pushing him to buy the best, most expensive, and she even told him, "We are not going to spend our time listening to that other crap!"
So what did we learn? "Audiophile" is a dirty word. Duh. I mean, look around. Music, however, people will pay a lot for.
You and your friends are well-advised to consider the speakers they have now as a albatross around their necks. They should go and listen.
Thanks MC - very reasonable advice, but not going to happen. We live in a remote town, no nearby options. That's why I want recommendations for something that is going to be a good bet from the start. I would like to get something with 60-100 wpc, and I'm not convinced that Class D will be good for the Spicas - although it might be good enough for them and they would like the "green, low energy use" aspect. I agree that the Spicas limit their choices, but the energy just isn't there to pursue other options. They like the Spicas well enough..
So - still looking for recommendations!
I'd recommend Yamaha for its combination of sound quality and reliability. Many people here have had good success and gotten great prices from Accessories4less.com. They deal in new units that have been factory refurbished by the manufacturer, so basically they're like new with full warranty. If they don't need all the latest bells n whistles, they can save a bundle by buying a model that's a generation or two old. Here's a model from Yamaha's upscale Aventage line that's not the newest model but still offers Airplay, Bluetooth, and streaming from various services including Spotify. At 90Wpc it should drive the Spicas just fine, within reason. Retailed for $750 new but you can get it now for $300.https://www.accessories4less.com/make-a-store/item/yamrxa760bl/yamaha-rx-a760-7.2-ch-x-90-watts-a/v-...
If they want more power and can spend a little more, this $480 Marantz (retailed for $1000) has a similar feature set but puts out 100Wpc with a beefier power supply that probably does better with sub 4-Ohm loads if they're really gonna crank it. https://www.accessories4less.com/make-a-store/item/marsr5012/marantz-sr5012-7.2-ch-x-100-watts-a/v-r...
As they're not audiophiles I'm sure they'll be thrilled with either, so their decision may come down to price and looks. One other thing that might factor into the final decision -- Yamaha has been one of the most reliable AVRs on the market to the point where you rarely, if ever, hear of any problems. Marantz isn't bad on that score but not as good as Yamaha, and they have had some issues in the past. I'd definitely avoid NAD, Onkyo, and Harmon Kardon due to very spotty reliability in the past. Hopefully somewhere in there they can find a balance. Anyway, hope this helps and best of luck in your search.
Thanks @soix I would definitely have gone for the Yamaha (the 2-channel version), but it turns out the depth is to big - their shelf is not big enough. The 2-ch Marantz has a smaller form factor, but it is only 50 wpc, which I think is on the low side. Accessories4less has the integra DTM-7. Any feedback on that?
I recently recommended the Bluesound Powernode to my friend for his Spica TC-60 speakers. He’s very happy with it. Radio stations can be streamed along with the usual streaming services. A nice and compact one-box solution.
I have the Integra DTM-7 (2 ch, class A/B receiver) in my BR system and Marantz SR5012 (7 ch. class A/B receiver) as HT hub in my main system.
Both are 100WPC into 8 ohms. Both have streaming and I have used both extensively to stream Tidal before I got a better streamer for my main system. Both were about $600 when I got them but Marantz was on clearance because the 5013 had been released, original msrp $1k.
Of the two, I prefer the Marantz house sound (amplifier/ dac characteristics) and also the Marantz streamer interface (Heos control application better than Play Fi). The Marantz has AK4458 dac chip and Integra has AK 4438, if memory serves. The 4458 has slightly better specs, FWIW. To my ears the Marantz sound is a bit warmer while the Integra is a bit brighter. YMMV.
But I really like that Integra produces a full-size 2ch receiver, whereas Marantz doesn't (all multi-channel I think).
All that said, I'm pretty happy with both of them.
I see you have stand mounted speakers. I also use bookshelf speakers in my BR (Integra) system.
Had you instead had full-range floorstanders, I might have been able to give Integra a better recommendation because it has a mode (Direct, or Pure Direct or something like that, forget exactly what they call it) where the sound is better (to my ears anyway, less processing), but the problem is that the subwoofer output goes away in that mode (no info sent out on sub out line) and I have a lower cost sub in my BR system that requires an RCA sub out to use (unlike a REL with the full range inputs where you just tap off the amp speaker outputs terminals).
What I’m trying to say is if you use a sub that has that feature, or if you don’t use a sub at all, and can run the Integra in that direct mode, it will sound better than how I have to use it given that I want to have my sub both for music and HT (TV, movies) in my BR system.....
Speakers that I used most with those receivers in making the assessments were B&W CDM1NT's (old but still love them) with the Marantz and both NHT C1 and Spendor SA1 with Integra. All bookshelf/mini-monitor/stand-mount. The Integra with the Spendors sounds much better than it did with the NHT's (Spendors tamed the Integra down).
What is your price range?
Get the Yamaha, or a NAD, Marantz, Arcam, or Cambridge (all sold at Crutchfield). Integras are unreliable and don’t sound any good (ear-piercing highs, weak bass).
Integra is part of Onkyo, so if you go for the DTM-7 I'd spend the extra $50 for the 6-year extended warranty as reliability is an issue. Personally, I'd go for the Yamaha R-N803 and get a nice piece of butcher-block wood or marble that accommodates the depth of the unit and put that on the shelf underneath the Yamaha -- problem solved. Don't discount that the Yamaha offers YPAO room correction that could significantly improve Here's a review of the R-N803 that compares it to a similar Onkyo piece that likely shares some House sound characteristics with the DTM-7...https://www.soundstagesimplifi.com/index.php/equipment-reviews/28-yamaha-rn803-network-stereo-receiv...
If they really want to kick it up a notch they could eventualy add an SVS SB1000 sub for $500 and really rock the house. Again, best of luck in whatever you decide.
Thanks everyone for your input! @soix - I would have gone for the Yamaha, but it turned out that the shelf space they had for the receiver was limited in depth (13"), and there were few 2-channel networked units that would fit that space. A 50wpc Marantz with built in CDP (thought that might be too low power, didn't want mechanical parts) and the 80wpc Integra DTM-6 (and its Onkyo cousin). We decided on the Integra, just because it fit the constraints and parameters, not because it was expected to be best. Hopefully it goes well with the Spicas. I did advise my friend to call back online distributor and purchase the 6-year warranty - good advise. Hopefully, if it lasts 6 years, it will be stable longer than that!
I would try a good "Basic" Receiver (Yamaha / Marantz / NAD) with a good built-in Amp section.
Then, ADD a BlueSound Node 2i to one of the Inputs.
BlueSound's APP is a "No-Brainer" - It can handle the Streaming, has GREAT sound quality (for what it is), and can also link HQ Bluetooth
Simple Buttons and Dials for the other functions on the Receiver make that stuff easy as well.
We set up the Integra yesterday and my friend is stoked! I cannot believe how much functionality one can you get for not very much money, $350 refurbished. Truly amazing the doors this networked receiver can open! I cannot comment really on sound quality, because the speakers are not well set up. That was clearly not the most important parameter for my friends, and they are happy.