First, I would like to post an interesting but informative report: http://news.cnet.com.../?tag=mncol;txt
Now then, at some point in time, I would have labeled a couple of those (Marantz, Denon, HK) as 'high-end'. What happened? Who do we turn to now for quality audio?
I have personally listened to Integra receivers, and the Marantz 1601, and several Denon models. They honestly left me wondering what these manufacturers are smoking! The Marantz in particular actually made me ask the question: HOW can they honestly expect people to pay this? That amp is rated at 50 watts per channel across 7 channels. I don't care how many channels it claims it can handle, if it cannot really handle the rated power on a $700 amp, then it doesn't need more channels. It needs to be redesigned. That amp, connected up to two B&W 683's sounded like crap. I have heard better Systems in a Box.
Now then, at the end of the year, I fully intend to replace the entire sound system. Amp through speakers. I am having an impossible time testing receivers as when I find the ones I want to listen to, I cannot find them at places with the same speakers, or similar listening areas. It is hard to tell if the coloration is coming from the amp or the speakers. In the case of the Marantz though, I can tell you that it was a lack of SUSTAINABLE POWER. Listening to Shine on Part 2 from Pink Floyd was enough to prove that. It cannot sustain any amount of power, and immediately muddies out. I feel sorry for the B&W's it was played on.
So, any suggestions out there folks? I don't need TOTL. I don't care about that. I want QUALITY sound across 2 channels, and the ability to watch a movie (5.1) as needed.
I do want to stay under $700 new, or if I can find it as a refurb (with warranty) will go that route. Speakers will be determined at a later date, though leaning B&W 600 series right now. I don't need a lot of power - those 683's will do fine with a SOLID 55WPC amp - I have tested this with my Nakamichi, and can prove that yes, 55 is plenty. That is also my benchmark for sound quality.
Any hints, tips, places to look? Even just comments about current generation of kiddies and sound quality?