If I were shopping, I would include Denon. Both Denon and Onkyo plus Yamaha are probably the best supported by a dealer network. I find the Denons are probably the quietest of the receivers I have owned/heard. I presently have a Denon 2800 and think highly of it. It's replacement, the 2801, is even lower priced. Good luck in your selection
I love Denon, I have owned the 4800, but have since gone to seperates. the new 3801 has to be the best receiver on the market considering price and performance. I have heard Outlaw ant think their low performance equals their low price. Outlaw is ok for the thrifty non audiophile types, but anyone with a taste for performance should avoid them. As for onkyo integra, the integras are cool looking and perform well, but have nothing Denon Receiversas far as price and performance. Integra is a tad overpriced for what you get.
Have auditioned many in the $1000 to $1300 range and think the new Arcam avr 100 is far above anything in this price range, with the possible exception of the new Rotel RSX 972, but even then musically it sounds slighty better. Don't think you can go wrong with either. Listen to the Arcam next to the denon and you will be floored by the difference.
I have owned a Yamaha 2095,a NAD T770, and a Denon 3300. The NAD was by far my favorite. It has more power even though it is rated much lower. I dont like the Denon. Set-up is unnecesssarily complicted. You can only use the tuner from the remote which has lots of absurdly small buttons.
I guess I am one to talk now, since I seem to be in the same boat as you are. I am also shopping for an A/V Receiver. But I am shopping for a Harman/Kardon. Why?? I like the features/performance/price ratio that the current models in their line have. And also, I like the power that their amplifiers sections deliver (the "RMS" or "Continuous" power isn't rated that high..... but instead, they have a much lower power output, but they back it up high current capability...... and I think that high current is better than high voltage). What I am having a problem with now is that in some circles, it has been said that the reliability of their receivers are in question. And if that pans out, then I am going to take that into (A WHOLE LOT OF) consideration and consider a either a Denon AVR-2801, an Onkyo TX-DS676, or an NAD T751. But that's just me, though. I was also looking into getting an Outlaw (A/V Receiver.... not their amp........ their amp is rated higher than their receiver, so I heard) until I have read some reviews about it in "Audio Review". After doing that, I have backed off considerably.
But now, to speak in general terms, the major players in the A/V Receiver market seem to be Denon, Marantz, NAD, Onkyo and Yamaha. Any of these seems to give very good performance for the money spent. And just like "Jowillia" has said, they also seem to have a very wide dealer network. And that's going to be VERY important just in case something goes wrong and so forth.
Good luck. I hope your dilemma isn't no where as difficult as mine is going to be.
In your latest post you refer to the HK as having mor reserve power (current) than is stated. Be advised that the Denon 3300 and above, as well as the Marantz line, are all rated the same way. The reserve currents are excellent.
On that note. beware of the denon 3300. That model had a noisy fan problem. That was 1 month ago, I know they had a fix but don't know where they are on that now. Barring that, performance wise I would lean to the 3801 then 4800 then 5800. The step to the 4800 is NOT (IMO) a very radical jump in performance, the jump to the 5800 is. Good luck on the hunt.
In reference to the mentioning of H/K, I think that me who have mentioned them and not Warlock. With exception of the Outlaw (in my opinion) that Warlock has mention, he has listed some excellent choices. Though, I would keep my guard up about Onkyo's Integra line too. While they may not have any reliability issues to worry about, I would be careful when it comes to the speakers I would mate with this receiver (don't use it with any speakers that have a low impedance and then try to play "bass heavy" movie soundtracks at THX reference output levels..... this was said in two publications (The Perfect Vision and Widescreen Review). I am not saying for "Warlock" to eliminate Onkyo/Integras from any consideration. I'm just saying that he should be careful if he decides to go with this receiver. The Denon has a very nice line overall. Had I had a bigger room to deal with and a bigger budget as well, and if I would've REALLY wanted a Denon, I would go with the AVR-3801 as well. Of the models that is listed in their current line, the AVR-3801 looks like it's going to be the sleeper of the line (meaning, it's going to be the value model...... it offers a VERY NICE package at a VERY NICE price -- performance, features and price). From there on, I wouldn't look at the AVR-4800 either. If I really want to improve on the AVR-3801, then the next logical upgrade would be the top-of-the-line AVR-5800. The AVR-5800 is a beast.
But anyway, it was me and not "Warlock" that has made any mention of H/K at all. Just thought I bring that up anyway.
I have used the Outlaw 1050 and for the price it is very hard to beat. If you are on a budget, I would highly reccommend the Outlaw.
Sorry for the confusion, got the names mixed up. I was originally looking at the Denon 4800 (over the 3300 as the 3801 was not out yet) and thought it was a great performance jump. Then I decided to bite the bullet and go for the big guy. After the 3801 was released, I auditioned and thought it was very much like the 4800 in performance. With a price point such as this, I would expect the 4800 to either go away or become a 4801 (3801 with more power.)
PS I compared the Lexicon DC-1 / Rotel RMB-1095 combination against the Denon 5800. I could not detect any significant (to me anyway) differance. So I elected to go new 5800 ($2700 at an authorised dealer) over the DC-1 (1500 to 1800 used on the internet, couldnt check out before purchase, and was afraid of problems) and the RMB-1075 (cheaper than RMB-1095 at #1100). Many people might say I made a bad choice, but I am glad I did.
I'm laughing and typing as I own an Outlaw 1050 and just visited Audioreview to check out the "noisy remote" complaint. I never heard any noise, but then I never held it right to my ear while the backlighting was on until just now. It hums while the light is on and stops when the light goes out. Can't hear it from more than 6 inches away. Which leads me to question whether these guys who knock the Outlaw ever heard one or just read the reviews. Especially Charles who sounds quite the expert, have you heard the Outlaw against the Denons and others yourself? I had the Denon 3800, Marantz 18 and older 8800 at home in my own system. The older Marantz is more musical than the Denon, which is mid-fi. The Outlaw is more musical still and sounds more powerful. The Denon's fan is noisy from across the room, not just when you hold it to your ear. I heard the Denon 5800 when auditioning Vandesteen 2CE Sig's and it was aweful; bloated bass and harsh treble. A store owner I trust says he carries Denon because he has to. Forget what others are saying and gamble $35 on a trial of the Outlaw. Trust your own ears and not unfounded opinion.
Make certain the receiver has a 5.1 input with no digital conversion (e.g. stays analog). This will be essential if you add a SACD or DVD-Audio player.
Not as important, if you plan to have a progressive video DVD player and TV, it would be nice if it has component video switching.
I hate the remote on my Denon 3300 so much I'm thinking of selling it. The fan does not seem to be loud on mine, can't hear it from my listning chair.
What about the Pioneer Elite A/V processors, excellent features, solid MOSFET amps and great, programable remotes?
I'n sure many will attack me, but many shops I know don't sell Denon anymore because they seemed to break alot, I'm not sure if they've fixed this, but I still worry about it!
I own the Outlaw and have nothing but praise for it. I know of nothing that will hold its own against this unit (for the price). As for the negative reviews, I found out about this reciever from a home theater reviewer buddy of mine, who works for one of the high end home theater mags. He, and his fellow reviewers have nothing but praise for this unit. Unless you plan on spending over a thousand on your reciever, the Outlaw is a no brainer choice.