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I also had a PE AVR powering a two-channel mostly music system. Altho rated at 5 x 100w, it had trouble powering my efficient (90db) Naim Arriva floorstanders. I replaced it with a 70w/ch HK integrated, which did a much better job--more oomph, especially at the low end. For what it's worth, my usual retail dealer, who carries PE as well as Yamaha and Arcam, always touts Yamaha, which he thinks has more juice and presents more naturally.
I also currently own a PE DV-47a, which I like a lot, and I've found it sounds significantly better and more detailed when I use its analogue, rather than its digital outs.
In general, you're probvably better served by following the conventional wisdom and using an integrated for music--less circuitry and electronic junk to sap power and muck up the signal path.
I have the Pioneer Elite A-35R stereo integrated amp I use for movies, TV and background music. It is a really nice 2 channel MOSFET amp with a msrp of $200 (recently discontinued but still available) It has 45wpc/8ohms and 65wpc/4ohms.
I've not compared it to PE's HT receivers so I can't comment on that., but I would like to know. I love its gloss black look and sound quality enough that I'm contemplating a full Elite HT system.
I'm driving 88db JBL speakers in a large 16x22 room that opens into a 10x12 kitchen. It will play moderately loud. In a normal room or w/ more efficient speakers it will play very loud.
The sound is warm and smooth with nice detail. The dynamics are layed back and not in your face. The bass is articulate but not boomy. Dialogue is clear and understandable. Cymbals have a nice musical shimmer without harshness. My main music system a tube based system and this has a warm smooth sound I like. Though it is not as airy, clear or dynamic as the Cary tube amp it has the right tyoe of sound for me. Interconnects and speaker cable does make a difference.
An AV receivers preamp section is lesser quality than the amp section. To many op amps and signal path length for the low the level signal before it is amplified.
A tube preamp (or SS) would provide better sound if the receiver has multichannel amp inputs. If it does, and you have a preamp w/ 2 outputs, you can use 4 of the AV receivers amps and bi-amp your speakers, if they offer connections.
Well from what I've gathered on this site and others, unless I'm going to spend a bit more, I might as well stick with the Elite receiver. I was tmpted by the Cambridge 840A, but it may not be a major sonic improvement over the Elite that I now have. I can't fork over big bucks at the moment so I should keep saving and then do a MAJOR upgrade down the road (possibly a McIntosh or similar.
I did some research on Pioneer Elite as well and you have made a good choice to keep what you have. I think their gear is neutral sounding and a very good value for the money. You will have to spend more to step up. I like my Pioneer Elite integrated amp enough to stay with the brand for any upcoming HT system in the far future.
I tried Kimber Kabling I use with my tube system on the 2 channel Pioneer Elite system and it made a very noticeable improvement in a clearer sound, tighter more articulate bass with cleaner highs. I likewise tried some Monster Cable I had laying around and it did not compliment Pioneer Elite so well, but I will bet that is what most stores offering the Pioneer Elite brand carry. This may be a good option for an upgrade that you can keep with you for the future.
If you need a blueray player that can deliver excellent 2 channel analog, you need to grab the PE bdp51fd. Run, not walk to a BB nearby if they have any left. Retail $499.00, it can be had NIB for $149.00. I 've two DBP51fd units which I use as a CDP player thru 2 channel analog. The built-in Wolfson Dacs and the sound quality make me wonder why I spent a whole lot more for some of my stand alone CDP.