Separates or Receiver to modernize home theater?

My home theater is getting dated. I have what was in at the turn of the millennium a top-of-the-line Sony television, picture tubes and all, and while the image technology is still better than anything on the market today for standard definition, I want high definition and a much bigger flat screen set.

So the television will soon be replaced and so too will our DVD player with an OPPO BDP-95. Now comes the harder part — which electronics will I use to connect to my 5.1 system that features a Velodyne DD-15 and Paradigm Signature speakers?

I already have Anthem separates and the Amp is fine — a MCA 50. The problem is my AVM-20, which has, until now, fit my needs and worked flawlessly. Alas, it has no HDMI inputs, and while Anthem offers an upgrade, I hear it's costly, more than double the AVM-20's current value.

So I could either replace just the AVM-20 with an up-to-date processor or replace both Anthems with a receiver, using the extra cash from selling the Anthem amp. Whatever I bought as a replacement would need XLR-balanced inputs for two-channel play since I use the system for both music and movies; for music I listen to a lot of jazz and some classical, pop and classic rock.

As for budget, while I could afford to buy just about anything, I rather not go over-the-top, especially since video technology is so quickly evolving that what one buys now may be dated before too soon (as in the Anthem AVM-20) So the ceiling would be a lot closer to $3,000 or even $2,000 than to $5,000 and up. I'd be open to new or used.

What would you recommend and why? What features should I consider s must-haves or nice-haves?

Thanks all for the help.

- Jon
I'm not sure I'd change anything, assuming the Anthem pre has multi-channel analogue inputs. The oppo I assume has multi-channel outputs, which will handle any/all dolby/dts formats audio. Just use the Oppo as the decoder.

As far as HDMI goes, it's really just a convenience thing. Any new TV will have at least 3 or 4 HDMI inputs so you can run the oppo video direct to the TV.

So unless you think you can better the sound quality for a few grand (which I'm not sure you can) why mess with a good thing. Any modern receiver will be a major step down in sound quality.
Your system is pretty nice. Unless you need more power, Meiwan is correct. You can do both, run the oppo directly into your new tv and if you need on-screen display you can run component video into the tv also. Component(RGB) is quite good as well.
I think you would be really hard pressed to find a receiver that sounds as good as your anthem gear.
Yea keep it and go big and premium on your new monitor, hell get a projector if it would work for you!
Thanks Meiwan and Elevick. The OPPO does have multi-channel analog out and the Anthem multi-channel analog in, and if the OPPO will do all the processing, that may work fine.

And I can run HDMI directly from the OPPO to the TV; I assume, Elevick, from your reply, that HDMI won't carry on-screen display info. Would I run the compenent directly from the OPPO to the TV?

I also posted on the AVS forum, whose users are more inclined to receivers, and the feedback there has been to sell the Anthem and get a receiver, but perhaps that's to be expected.

I also have an email out to OPPO seking their view — if they second what you both say, and I think they might, I'd certainly try the Anthem with the system first. With the money I'd save I could always buy more music and movies.
Chanliz - you posted while I was composing so let me respond. I tempted to get a projector but may save that until I finish our basement and make a devoted home theatre. This will be in our family room so I'm leaning towards a flat screen of 55" to 65". A challenge to narrow the choices but that's another forum.
I think I would see what TV your buying first. If it has all the inputs needed, that will help you decide.
It seems unique to AV hardware that the big players manage to equip their mid to upper tier receivers with all the latest innovations. Innovations that the high end pre/pros provide many months later. Yet even after all this updating the actual media is still lagging such as 7.1 or 24/192 produced media.

I recently upgraded a 5.1 receiver and CRT display to my current 7.1, plasma HT only system. We were floored by the overall improvement as well as the individual aspects of the system. I'm all over 7.1, matrixed 5.1 to 7.1, room correction, HDMI, and the modern codecs that are currently widely available.

Since this was an HT only system I wasn't seeking ultimate audio but I did the best I could for a display. I've had this system for well over a year and I have no interest in improving its audio but that's me.

If you follow the reviews of high end pre/pro's they can offer a finer digital audio presentation that would be more noticeable played through finer speaker system and the merry go round spins. The Classe' is reported to offer very good analog.

I would suggest a 7.1 receiver with pre outs or a pre/pro. Keep the amp and speakers and look for another used MCA-50 and enough used Paradigms to round out the seven channels, no dipoles. Room size is not an issue. The biggest plasma you can find which will definitely seem over the top right up until you turn it on-and don't mount it high on a wall. BlueJeans HDMI offers cable by the foot for very tidy cabling.
I am on AVS aswell so if I can help let me know, I added my thoughts there aswell. cheers

FWIW. I wholeheartedly agree with the above responses. It would be a step backwards, or downwards, to substitute a receiver for your current very good system- like trading in your sweet sportscar for a minivan. Your audio system is fine and the OPPO solves your HDMI and surround issues nicely, so put the money into the new video setup. You may want to check out the new Panasonic plasma HD models, I read on a video forum, I think it was Videogon, that they supposedly bought and use the same technology used on the excellent Kuros plasmas from Pioneer, which recently withdrew from the HDTV market. When I was looking for an HDTV a few years ago, I really liked the Pioneer picture the best but the price was too steep at $10K. I think the Panasonics go for less than half this. Good luck.
one more vote to keep your present system and run your hdmi straight to the tv unless you absolutely have to have an on-screen function from your preamp (in which case, you could still just switch between inputs on the tv for the pre and the source, but i realize that gets annoying fast).

i tried hdmi switching and i could notice a degredation in picture quality and stability. i am anal about picture, though, so factor that in.
Just to clarify the on screen info issue - HDMI from the Oppo to the TV will carry video only, including onscreen info from the Oppo.
Where you loose is onscreen info from the Anthem. To get it, you need to run a separate video cable (of any quality) from the Anthem to the TV. Then you just have to switch inputs to see the Anthem info. (which is only really relevant when setting up).

Just means switching inputs on the TV to watch TV and movies, rather than routing everything through the Anthem and having only one input on the TV. Many argue multi-channel carries a better audio signal than HDMI anyway. Again, just a convenience issue.
Here's a little additional information that might give some insight into why an AVS forum might recommend going with a receiver over seperates.

I have an Integra 50.1 reciever that includes Audyssey as a feature. Having my blu-ray player connected via HDMI give the receiver maximum control over the signal processing. I have multi-channel inputs available, but if I were to use the blu-ray player to decode the signal and output an analog signal to the receiver I'm fairly certain that I'd hear a loss in sound quality. One reason would be that the analog signal might go through an A/D to D/A conversion to allow the receiver process the sound and also I'm not sure how much control Audyssey has on the way the digital signal is decoded in the receiver.

It's possible that your components could sound better than any receiver can no matter how it's hooked up. I'm not sure that using analog connections is really an apples to apples comparison when talking about a receiver vs. seperates.

One would expect an AVS forum to recommend a receiver almost as much as one should expect the opposite recommendation on this forum where receivers are deemed Mid Fi at best.

I think that if you use a receiver with Audyssey built in you'll get the best possible home theater sound, but might not have quite the same sound quality for stereo listening.

Personally, I like the idea of having a receiver to process the home theater stuff that is connected to a seperate amplifier for the main channels in a home theater bypass. If that same amplifier had a 2nd set of inputs you could connect your stereo equipment direct to the amplifier and bypass the receiver. The system would only share the amplifier and main speakers.
I would suggest considering selling the AVM 20 and replacing it with a receiver that is capable of decoding all the latest formats and include Audyssey or something similar and also a dedicated 2 channel amplifier for stereo listening. I think your amplifier would allow for both components to be connected.

Maybe someone will laugh at me and provide a reason as to why this is way off the mark. I could be way off, but something to think about and discuss.
I would vote to keep your system as is and use the Oppo analoge 5.1 outputs. You can always upgrade the analoge 5.1 outputs from someone like Modwright now or later on if you want too.

The value of receivers and surround sound processors always drop like a rock. You can always wait a couple of years and pick up one at a good price.

This way you do not have to change your setup.

I'll chime in.
I have the excact same Anthem set-up. MANY times I have thought about going the modern receiver route (HDMI, decoding all the new Blu-ray formats, etc.). After listening to numerous receivers at dealers and friends' houses, you really can't beat the Anthem sound quality.
So,I use the already decoded analog outputs from my Blu-ray player to AVM20 and HDMI from player to TV. I also run an S video cable from AVM20 to TV when I need to do any set-up changes to the AVM20.
Bottom line: Anthem is great and keep it.
I was in your position with two former 7 year old equipment components used for HT. I finally decided to blow them out in order to upgrade to HDMI integration in addition to Dolby True HD and DTS Master Audio.

I chose to invest a modest amount into a current Pioneer Elite VSX-32 receiver because my HT volume demands are now very minimal. The Mrs. crashes early and I'm usually doing late night viewing at modest volume levels. Anyway, having not owned a Pioneer product or receiver for over 30 years I wasn't prepared for what this current line of products does.

The performance in HT is at least as good if not superior to my former separates. Perhaps because my former processor didn't perform Dolby True HD or DTS Master Audio. I'm mighty impressed with the capacity of the Elite VSX-32 to bring movie tracks to life. Its got Anchor Bay Video processing, and its bag of tricks doesn't end there. Some of the features I'm now experiencing as a result of the newer technology in this unit are internet radio, full iPod and iPhone integration, and other bonus features I'd never experienced before. It's a seamless plug and play operation now to watch downloaded movies from my iPhone processed through the receiver and reproduced over the plasma. I've had tons of you tube videos on my phone that are now easily brought to life on a big screen...all for $525 delivered ($800 retail).

Sure, this wouldn't work for someone with huge power demands, but if you're like me and are only pushing a Martin Logan Logos center with Infinity Quadropoles for surrounds, this is an awful lot of bang for the buck. I couldn't be happier with this unit, and I'd heartily recommend it for someone with modest power demands who is seeking to finally upgrade to the latest processors. My only reservation was weather or not it would sufficiently drive my electrostatic center channel without distorting because of it's lower impedance load. That hasn't been an issue, and frankly I've yet to even push it and my ears generally have me reducing the volume during times when I'm viewing movies alone during the day...retirement has its benefits what can I say :)

Audio prudes might scoff at the idea of using a receiver for HT reproduction, but I'll go on record by saying the 110 watt amps of the Elite VSX-32 delivers HT performance with all the accuracy and sonic integrity of the $5k unit it replaced, and then some. I'm very impressed, and I'm not easily impressed.

11-01-10: Coltrane

If we're going to paraphrase in a forum as common courtesy the least we can do is to quote another correctly.

I've emphasized that
A) I used the Ultimate in the context of a home theater setting
B) that I found its performance good enough to stand alone on its own merits and therefore good enough to be used in the context of a 2 channel system and
C) I don't give orders or recommendations what decisions others should make regarding their purchases.

02-23-11: Coltrane1
I was in your position with two former 7 year old equipment components used for HT. I finally decided to blow them out in order to upgrade to HDMI integration in addition to Dolby True HD and DTS Master Audio.
I chose to invest a modest amount into a current Pioneer Elite VSX-32 receiver because my HT volume demands are now very minimal. The Mrs. crashes early and I'm usually doing late night viewing at modest volume levels. Anyway, having not owned a Pioneer product or receiver for over 30 years I wasn't prepared for what this current line of products does.
I've only commented on what my personal experience was with this receiver, which by the way cannot be compared or categorized with a run of the mill Pioneer or other traditional type receiver. The Ultimate is anything but a standard receiver.
You put down Pioneer as bad before(prior thread), acting like you heard them and other people *did not*. Now you state you haven't heard one in thirty years. We don't understand what your trying to do
You didn't mention if you wish to stream music. The newest generation of AVRs are starting to add this capability; the processors are a little behind here. In your budget range you can get a very capable receiver. See if a Denon dealer will let you audition one in your system and then instead of the oppo consider using a Denon universal player and using their "D Link"
Hifihvn, you've a habit of derailing threads w/ your diatribe. But since you've dug up a dead reference I made to Pioneer, I was specifically commenting on Pioneer I'd previously heard. I didn't bash Pioneer or anyone's gear. I'm too polite to degrade anyone's gear at any time. You've obviously an axe to grind for whatever reason...move on, let it be, or grow up...take your pick.
Coltrane, In that prior thread, you accused me of not having heard the Sunfire you said will replace a high end two channel system. I saw the thing shut down trying to drive the Martin Logan speakers. The dealer had to give the customer a power amp paid out of his pocket, because it wasn't capable. You also said that Pioneer won't compare to the Sunfire. Now your recommending a Pioneer to a person that has nice equipment, and is used to high quality sound. He also has a good size budget. So why recommend something you say is bad,and cost $500. Give the OP a recommendation to something high quality as he is used to. I would like to see him get something he will enjoy. That is my purpose. Thank You. Sorry to catch to catch you with your drawers down again.
Anyone ever A/B the Anthem AVRs vs their pre/pros or the Integra AVRs vs their pre/pros? The AVRs are usually quite a bit cheaper than the comparably feature laden pre/pros. It seems that you give up the third or fourth HDMI and balanced outs (plus some premium internal parts, I assume) in exchange for 7 channels of amplification and a big (50+% at Anthem) discount.

It's hard to reconcile the pricing vs feature set relationship in these offerings. We're talking about the same manufacturer, so this isn't quite like comparing a 2 channel ARC preamp to a Pioneer stereo receiver, either. A Mac receiver might be less than the combo their equivalent preamp plus amp, but it's likely to cost more than the preamp alone. Not so with Anthem.

Not sure that I get it - do you?

Heaven, you're in good company. To assume is simple human nature. I'm like most folks on these forums sharing their own experience with chosen gear. Personally I don't make recommendations. I only share what my experience has been. Period. I'm not taking your bait for it's obvious you're once again seeking an argument based on your idiotic assumptions. Take your suspended profile and go grind your axe someplace else.

SEPERATES. Even if you just grab a Emotiva XPA 5 and a Onkyo,Integra type prepro it will be better then a receiver IMO.

If you do go the receiver route, buy a amp like the XPA 5 anyway. Its not worth dealing with possible limited power issues, or possible ohm related issues receivers can cause.

Given you have the amps, I'd look for a used processor with HDMI. I think HDMI is required for DSD and lossless Bly-ray audio. I moved my Proceed PAV/PDSD to a second system and installed a used Cary Cinema 11a in my main system to get HDMI.