So you did an ABX test to confirm this? I can tell you there is no audible difference between these receivers in a level matched abx comparison. They are both Solid State amps for crying out loud.I have actually owned both a Yamaha and Harman Kardon and would recommend the 254. Admittedly, this line of receivers did experience certain issues at the initial release of the line but has largely been resolved. The 254 is a killer receiver with a ton of features. The overall sound put out by the H/K was noticeably different (better) from the Yamaha. It's a much warmer and more natural sound. Plus it's a stylish looking devil. Good luck. You ultimately won't be disappointed by either.
For electrostatics I suggest Quad amps. They are very stable. I'll say I went with the 247 because I'm using it mostly for pre-processing long term. No need to shell it out if you plan the same.Hello,
The debate about audible differences between different Manufacturers amplifier sections is a long and contentious one. Regardless of Brand, it is the power supply, amount of capacitance and proper amount of heat sinks that separate the decent from the great.
It the arms race for the most possible features, many Companies have been using less powerful amplifier sections while upping the gadget quotient. It drives me crazy how many AVR's rated at 100 watts x 7 output around 30 watts when bench tested. That is not to say that people need 100 watts per channel to achieve desired levels. Some might depending on room size and difficult to drive speakers, but the vast majority do not need anywhere near 100 WPC.
With all of the Room EQ's, listening modes, etc, it is difficult to compare 2 AVR's at the same level. I will say that 100 times out of 100 people will prefer the louder selection when blind or ABX tested. This is why the question of the models being level matched is so important as most of the terms ascribed to the louder device (warmer, better soundstage, etc) have been repeatedly tested to show that louder equals better when A/B choices are made.
I will just say that I highly value large power supplies and high levels of capacitance. This is almost mandatory due to the Speakers that I use. Electrostatic Speakers are quite demanding of amplifiers and most AVR's have difficulty driving them to reference levels. However, Onkyo's TX-SR 805,875,876,905,906,3007 and 5007 all have impressive amplifier sections for AVR's Many of the flagship models of other manufacturers also can do well. However, in the sub 2k arena, Onkyo really does come the closest to meeting the rated performance. I still just use my Onkyo as a SSP because I own several high powered outboard amplifiers. However, I would not be hesitant to use the Onkyo to drive the Center Channel or Surrounds if the need arose.
Here is the bench test for the TX-SR875:http://www.soundandvisionmag.com/receivers/2463/test-bench-onkyo-tx-sr875-av-receiver.html
Here is the bench test for the Pioneer VSX-1019: http://www.hometheatermag.com/receivers/pioneer_vsx-1019ah_av_receiver/index4.html
Granted the MSRP of these products is vast, the rated power for both is not. Most entry level AVR's have output mirroring the Pioneer. Onkyo's TX-SR805 was a diamond as it shared the same amplifier section as the TX-SR875 referenced to above. The TX-SR806 no longer shared the amplifier section as the 876 nor the same DAC's and Audyssey MultEQ XT like the 805 had. This is again why I believe the TX-SR805 to be the best value AVR of modern times.