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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
I have a Harman-Kardon AVR 146 that I bought new in the fall on sale for $268 Canadian (about $215 U.S.). At the time I was not sure how deep I wanted to get into home theatre and wanted to spend more of my budget on speakers. Running six KEF speakers now, including a subwoofer- things sound pretty good to me. I don’t need to crank it up too much to get the sound level I desire. I listen to HD T.V. and DVDs (often music DVDs). I don’t have Blu-ray yet but probably will by Christmas. I don’t listen to the stereo (AM/FM) much and only listen to CDs sporadically. No game playing on the Panasonic 42” plasma television. Room is 17 by 10 feet.
The AVR 146 has:
40 Watts per channel or 30 with surround mode
Sampling upconversion to 96 kHz
<.07% THD
Dolby Digital
Prologic 2
DTS
DTS 96/24
DTS Neo 6
5-Channel Stereo
2 HDMI inputs, one output
HDMI connections for video only, only can switch HDMI data

But am I missing something? I hear people raving about their $1000+ receivers. What will that buy me that I don’t already have? And whatever that “something” is that I am missing, is it worth spending another $700 more than what I paid for my receiver?
 

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Its not a black and white answer but the difference between a $300 receiver and a $800+ receiver is the build quality and features like a larger power supply, better D/A's, a better amplification section, THX certification and options like Audyssey or YAPO auto room correction.
There are plenty of receivers in the $800-1200 range that will sound far better than the low priced units.
 

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I personally own an inexpensive Yamaha AVR and find that it suits my needs very well. In your case, you will need to make sure you get a bluray player with 5.1 analog outputs and internal decoding of whatever codecs you want to use. Otherwise, unless you are wanting new features like video upconverting, onboard HD codec decoding, and multi-zone or you are over stressing/clipping your amps, I say march on with what you've got.
 

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That is a good point but I would like to add to that since more was brought up I did not address in my previous post.

If one is running the reciever or components at their full potential they are already stressing the amps. To clip the component must be given a signal required to clip it and most of the time the content is not there but they are still stressing the amps. The two do not always directly relate to one another. If the receiver is hot it's being stressed but one of the best ways to tell is to measure. Those of us with very large screens wanting the new Dolby decoding with the added left and right height channels or that could make of useful features that will allow us to listen at a lower volume should consider an upgrade for those reasons as they are really quite good to the average (no offense meant) home theater enthusiast. Those with smaller rooms or that want to integrate specific speakers and add flexabilty to the setup can also greatly benifit from the THX modes and processing.

I myself use an Outlaw pre/pro with external decoding and seperates and the advantages of external decoding is clearly obvious as the codecs or hardware advance more fast than we need to upgrade the receivers or pre/pro's.
 

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If you like watching movies at a decent volume a low end receiver will not have the power to drive the speakers properly and will distort long before it clips. Many Many people have reported after upgrading their receiver to a better one that the entire sound field opens up and the clarity is much better and dynamic.
I was amazed at the difference I heard when I upgraded from my older Yamaha RX V995 (top of the line back in 1999) to my current Onkyo 805. it was immediately noticeable I would even say a night and day difference.
 

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If you like watching movies at a decent volume a low end receiver will not have the power to drive the speakers properly and will distort long before it clips. Many Many people have reported after upgrading their receiver to a better one that the entire sound field opens up and the clarity is much better and dynamic.
I was amazed at the difference I heard when I upgraded from my older Yamaha RX V995 (top of the line back in 1999) to my current Onkyo 805. it was immediately noticeable I would even say a night and day difference.
I was looking at $600+ receivers that were 100w/ch rms versus my 10 yr old 100w/ch 1khz (not rms) and I ended up with an Onkyo 806 that was a customer return. My experience reflects Tony's: I have better clarity, and sounds in movie tracks 'jump' out at me compared to the former receiver. The power supply is much more substantial (heavy!) and there is clearly a difference in sound during dynamic scenes. If I'm not mistaken, many manufacturers are on their second (or third) model using hdmi- I think you can find a good price on one if you look around and are not in a hurry and don't need the hdmi yet. I'm hoping ps3 drops in price before I get blue ray...it supposedly has an excellent blue ray player.
 

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Using Blu-ray as an example, BR has to high def audio tracks available TrueHD & DTS-HD. You would need a player that is able to decode/handle these audio tracks in order to get the most out of it otherwise it will downgrade it to a lesser version. However I would love to see a large blind test to see if people could actually tell the difference or if its more of a placebo effect or not...
 

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Using Blu-ray as an example, BR has to high def audio tracks available TrueHD & DTS-HD. You would need a player that is able to decode/handle these audio tracks in order to get the most out of it otherwise it will downgrade it to a lesser version.
All BluRay players will pass the uncompressed audio directly to the receiver via HDMI There is not a new receiver made in the $300 and up range that does not accept either of these two new formats.
 

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All BluRay players will pass the uncompressed audio directly to the receiver via HDMI There is not a new receiver made in the $300 and up range that does not accept either of these two new formats.
I think you may be mixed up Tony, uncompressed audio is a completly different type of audio track available. True-Hd & DTS-HD must be decoded either by the player or the receiver and only very expensive receivers will do so for for DTS-HD.
 

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True-Hd & DTS-HD must be decoded either by the player or the receiver and only very expensive receivers will do so for for DTS-HD.
The Onkyo 507 does both Tru HD and DTS MA for just over $300 and so does the Yamaha RX V465 and neither of them are high end receivers.
 

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Something to think about: I realize the blu ray stuff will be encoded with the new formats, but I'm using netflix to watch a ton of older movies-and they use old formats. So, I really didn't need the newer format capable receiver. What you watch may influence your $ spent as well (a brand new vs a slightly older/used receiver that actually has good capability, expandability, etc)
 

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Or buy a seperate amp or two and run the most important channels on that with the receiver as the preamp and that will free up some of the receiver's power for the other channels.
 

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Or buy a seperate amp or two and run the most important channels on that with the receiver as the preamp and that will free up some of the receiver's power for the other channels.
Yes thats a great idea however only the mid to higher end receivers have pre outs to accomplish this.
 

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For me it is all about making sure I have enough power with good dynamic peak power to sufficiently supply my speakers. This is not usually a biggie unless you have some difficult speakers to drive... like electrostats... or some really inefficient speakers. There are not many out there, but there are some. It will never hurt to have a little bit of reserve power for those transient peaks.

Second... for me... I want to make sure I have the right features. A few of those are Audyssey MultEQ and Audyssey Dynamic EQ and OSD via HDMI.

Other than those, most of the standard stuff will suffice.
 

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Well to veer off in a slightly different direction, I recently paid $1000 for an older prepro (Proceed AVP2 $6k when new) that really gives me sound clarity I had not heard before. I was simply floored at the difference, but then I do listen to a lot of music in 2-channel PCM as well.

The DD and DCS concert DVDs are really quite stunning as well. The true key for me was getting the superior quality of the DACS and analog section in the Proceed and then using separate amplification (I'm currently using Parasound).

For me this was a whole lot more important than all the latest gagetry on the latest prepros and receivers including the latest codecs and parametric Eqing.

Just another opinion on how this hobby has lots of paths to nirvana.
 

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Hi Punman,
I was in the same boat as you a couple of years ago. If it were me and I had a $1000 budget, I would go with a $300-$400 receiver so you can get alot of the bells & whistles ("The Onkyo 507 does both Tru HD and DTS MA for just over $300 and so does the Yamaha RX V465" -tonyvdb) and invest the rest of your $600-$700 into an external amp. The Emotiva XPA-5 is a monster an in this price range. All the receiver power specs are rubbish. Everyone puts their own spin on them to make their receivers sound better. Dedicated amp specs are almost always "all channels driven". Not only that, they are built like tanks. You can upgrade your receiver every 2-3 years to get all the new codecs and EQ's and keep your amp constant. Even better, run your fronts with a good 3 channel amp and let your receiver take care of the surrounds...

Just my 2 cents...
 

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Neither the Onkyo 507 or the Yamaha 465 have pre outs for the main channels only the sub and rear surround channels so adding an external amp to them would not work.
 

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Neither the Onkyo 507 or the Yamaha 465 have pre outs for the main channels only the sub and rear surround channels so adding an external amp to them would not work.
With a little research, you can get a great sub $500 receiver with Pre-outs. Another $300-$500 will get you a good 3 channel amp for your fronts.
 
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