If you are interested in movies only then the Yamaha is fine, but I own a 995 and don't see it as the center of a 2 channel system. FWIW, the DSP modes do nothing for me; they DO NOT sound realistic.
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The Outlaw Audio 1050 provides a lot of receiver for the money, mainly because you buy direct from the factory with no middle man. I have heard the Outlaw only briefly, but thought it sounded very good for the money. You can order the Outlaw for a 30-day home trial and return it if you are not satisfied.
I have found that all receivers are quite lacking in terms of good amplification. Also, I have found that there is not a lot of difference among DSPs in receivers.
I used to own Yamaha RXV2095 receiver (list price around $1,600) and had wanted to upgrade to Yamaha RXV1 receiver (their top of the line at $3,200 list price) to improve sound quality. I A/B tested them at my dealer and found the RXV1 to be slightly better in sound. I then hooked up the RXV2095 to a 5-channel JBL Synthesis 650a amp, and I could not believe the huge improvement in sound. The combination sounded so significantly better than the RXV1. At that point, my dealer admitted that the DSPs differ very little in sound quality, but the higher priced receiver does give you more DSP modes, if that is what you are looking for. He said that the slightly better sound of the RXV1 over the RXV2095 was probably due more to the fact that RXV1 has a better amplifier.
My advice is that if your goal is to maximize sound quality, and are willing to spend up to $1,000 or a little more, you might want to consider adding a five channel amp to your receiver. Given your tight budget, you might want to consider buying a used receiver on Audiogon. Also, receivers don't maintain their value well. Audiogon has a lot of terrific deals on them. I have seen a used RXV2095 on Audiogon recently sold for $500 (mint with box and manual). This model has DD, DTS, and all the gismos and was one the most highly rated receivers in the past couple of years (see audioreview.com). Then with about $800 to $1000, you can find a terrific 5-channel amp on Audiogon, to build yourself a system that is far superior to any receiver you can buy.
I had in my own house side by side Denon 5700 (140W x5), Yamaha DSP-A1 (120Wx5), and Sony STR-DA333ES (80Wx5), the Sony was helped by Sony TA-N9000ES (115Wx5).
I know that a lot of people here don't "like" Sony, so I just want to remind that this is my own personal experience.
I also have very limited experience on pure stereo, unlike most others here deeply into it.
The 333ES even without 9000ES is way better than others in controling speakers, setup, sound quality (in the meaning of transparency which is biggest factor in HT), after adding in the 9000ES, I sold the others.
I tested all of them in combination with multiple different sets of 5.1 speakers, Norh wood (8ohm load), Paradigm Mini Monitor, B&W 601S2, NHTs (8ohm load) and Dyns (4ohm load). Sony always is clearly winner.
If you can overcome the "feeling" of owning a Sony, you may have chance to know.
I'd go seperates, even for your $1,000 budget, if you don't mind shopping around here, eBay or Harmon audio outlet, you can find yourself a decent preamp/processor and power amp.
Suggestions (just by doing a quick search)..
1) Harmon audio outlet has their Signature 2.0 preamp and 2.1 poweramp refurbed with warrenty for under $1,000.
2) Audiogon classfieds, a Sherwood Newcastle AVP-9080R preamp for $500.00 and pair it with a Rotel RB-985THX 5 channel poweramp that can be found in Audiogon classifieds for $450.00. The Rotel 985 is about the biggest bang for the buck poweramp you can find for the money.
Just my thoughts anyway...
Those are some good choices that you have listed above. Check out all of those choices, but for about $550.00 to $1,000.00, I would also check out the Harman/Kardon AVR-510 (I believe now, they are going to discontinue the AVR-510, because they are coming out with an AVR-520). This receiver may be conservative in the power department (in fact, all Harmans are that way), but you will more than make up for that shortcoming with a high current amplifier design, excellent sound quality and a decent feature set. Personally, I have the AVR-210, and had it for about the last six months, and I couldn't be any happier. It has more than enough power for my needs, has a nice set of inputs and outputs (sans component inputs and outputs), and it is well built and it is reasonably priced to boot. It even has outputs for all channels which allows me to add an amplifier if I should get into upgrading later on. Now, whether or not I would use it in a "music only" system is another matter entirely. At this point, I don't need to. I already have an excellent preamplifier (the Adcom GFP-750), so the Harman's outputs is a moot issue at this point. But now, if I want something for home theater or something like that, I couldn't be any happier.
Let us know what you eventually end up with.
Thanks to all so far for the quick responses.
Just to help out, I have already delved into the world of HiFi Seperates and crazy outrageoug money on audio and HT equipment. I have become somewhat disenchanted by the limited differences in audio gear - especially for the price. Also being financially a little more savvy here is my plan.
Get a decent HT receiver, keep my nice speakers, and someday upgrade my Sony DVD-S500 DVD Player to utilize DTS. I own Soliloquy 5.0s mains, KEF Reference Center, B&W 600i Surrounds and a HSU VTF-2 Subwoofer. I do care about two channel CD sound, but spend more of my time watching movies on my 35" Toshiba CF35-F70. Currently my Sony DVD does all of the processing, and I have a Yamaha DSP-E492 3 channel DD ready processor and an old NAD Receiver used as a 2 channel amp stacked on it. Looking to neaten up the mess.
I am leaning toward the Yamaha because of my past experience - real power, nice processing features, nice build. But, I am open to options. The NAD seemed relatively a better deal but looking for real life receiver experience.
My Dad (who was also trying to simplify his system) bought a discontinued NAD (the T771, I think) which had everything but DTS (which was why it was discontinued) and has really loved it. You can often find incredible deals on these units and in my experience the audio quality is much higher than mass market Yamaha. I have owned lots of NAD and have had no problems in over 20 years so at least for me the reliability has been astounding.
I'll just throw in my 2 cents here and say that after owning two HT receivers (an Adcom set of power amps and Pro Logic processor, replaced by a high end Pioneer Elite receiver), I bought the Acurus 125x5 (available now for $800 or less, on Audigon) and the Acurus Act 3 processor (available for under $1000 on this site) and could not believe the improvement in sound quality, dynamics, bass, life, etc. etc. I only use these units for HT and TV watching, but recently I've also started listening to one of my tuners through the system too because the sound is that good--good enough for 2 channel audio! I paid more for my Acurus pieces several months ago, and have watched as the prices have come down, and just want to alert you that for only a little over your budget (well, maybe $500 over) you may be able to find them and never look back. They are so far superior to the receivers I had and have listened to at a local dealer's (Yamaha and Sony and Marantz), it isn't funny.
If this setup is for HT only, I'd buy the Outlaw receiver and the separate 5 channel amp. My brother's friend has this setup. He liked the external amp because it is very muscular. It reminds me of the Hafler or Ati 5 channel amps. You could probably get both items on the used market very reasonably priced. That's what I would buy, for inexpensive, powerful. (I don't think SQ matters as much in HT as it does for music, YMMV)
power, SQ, inexpensive... pick any two.
I have to agree with others who recommend going with seperates. Receivers are throwing money away - if you want to be savvy pick up good deals on seperates - you can upgrade when and if you want to. I had a Yamaha DSP 3090 that couldn't be sold for virtually any price on Audiogon - even at the final $425 price I had, and this was a highly recommended unit with a list of $3k, and I bought (new) for $1.5k. Also none of the receivers can touch the seperates in sound quality. With the rest of the systm you have, you'll immediately hear the difference.
Going to an Acurus Act3 with an Anthem MCA-5, I immediately heard things the Yamaha could even concieve of resolving. Good recommendations above about the used Rotel pieces for under $1k (amp+power amp), and I saw an Act3 without bass management go for under $600 last week on an auction.
If you insist on a receiver buy a used one on this site and make someone else take the $ dump - Good Luck!
I disagree with several of the above posts. I currently use an integrated Marantz SR-18EX A/V receiver as the heart of my home theater set-up. While this is out of the $1000 price range, I found it to exceed many of the A/V seperates in the same range. It is important to realize that many of the people that the companies are targeting with these A/V products are not audiophiles, but high-income individuals who want a good, but simple setup, thus no seperates. As the companies have focused their efforts this way, vast improvements have been made. I initially was going to go with the seperates, but for the money and performance, the Marantz came out on top. The older seperate systems that people are advising simply cannot hold a candle to a newer A/V receiver. Let me see, no THX ultra, DTS, no 6.1, etc. Not really my idea of a bargain. If you need to stay within a budget, you can easily find a one boxer that has everything you need. Also, the Marantz, and I am sure, others as well, can easily handle 2 channel stereo when needed in a pinch. It still sounds great. My point is not to make you buy the Marantz, but to not be too quick to discount the A/V Receivers.
not quantity but quality-this is what is important.having said that it is true that seperates are usually better value.basically research the brand and product.for cheap thrills the new yamaha models-520 and 620 i beleive have gotten rave reviews-you might be able to get one of these new online for only $200-$250(check the merchant at audiosurvey.com etc).the outlaw is probably a very good choice too.i beleive yamaha has also just released model 1200 i beleive which is probably better than 800 model and i beleive is just as cheap.nad may be the best of all soundwise but there is a question of the build quality esp. compared to the outlaw.the outlaw therfore may be the best buy because you can add their current or upcoming power amp in the future-or you can wait for outlaws upcoming home theater pre amp.