Changing home theater receiver only - how to choose?

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Changing home theater receiver only - how to choose?

Postposted on Mon Jul 30, 2012 11:55 am

Hi all,

Usually people would look for upgrading their speakers from their home theater sound system. However, in my case, what I want to change is the receiver. Some years ago, I bought a Sony set, similar to those "all-in-one" packages, except it wasn't exactly that. I chose that one because first, it was in my price range (I think, around $500); second for that price it did not include a DVD player which I didn't need, therefore expecting a bit more quality on the rest of the package; and third, I was told that later down the road I could upgrade the speakers if I wanted to, which told me that the speakers were independent from the receiver (where many other cheaper packages are built as-is with no upgrade possibility). However, I'm still quite satisfied with the sound I'm getting out of them. So why I would want to change the receiver then? You should see the cable clutter!!! :o I'm actually getting sick of it. The receiver does not take HDMI inputs, because... well they didn't exist back then. Yes it's THAT old hehe. This means that I have, for each device, one video cable and one audio cable running from it to the TV and receiver respectively. The devices are: Blu-Ray player, digital cable PVR, WD Live TV, and Wii.

What I want to do: reduce the clutter! and make my life simpler, having less cable to connect/disconnect/change when I change things around. What I would like, and here you can let me know if it's possible, is to connect each device with it's HDMI cable only (except Wii of course, where I would use component cables) to the receiver, passing audio through it as well when possible, then having one single cable sending the video to the TV. Do the modern receiver handle this? I have the impression that yes it is, being one of the main advantages of using HDMI.

Also, last thing, but probably the most important one. IIRC, and here again correct me if I'm wrong, not any receiver can be matched to any set of speakers. If not matched properly, the speakers could suck to much power and blow up the receiver (I don't think that would be the case here), or alternately, the receiver could also push to much power and blow up the speakers (that's the part I would be more worried about). Is there a quick and easy way to determine, when looking at a receiver, if it would be OK for my set of speakers?

Thanks for reading, and all help is appreciated.
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Re: Changing home theater receiver only - how to choose?

Postposted on Mon Jul 30, 2012 12:10 pm

Look for the impedance rating printed on the speakers. If they are 6-Ohm or 8-Ohm (or rarely, 16-Ohm), they will cooperate with most receivers on the market. If they are rated as 3-Ohm or 4-Ohm, some receivers may have problems.
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Re: Changing home theater receiver only - how to choose?

Postposted on Mon Jul 30, 2012 1:16 pm

OK thanks, will do this tonight. *crossing fingers* :wink:
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Re: Changing home theater receiver only - how to choose?

Postposted on Mon Jul 30, 2012 1:19 pm

I was looking at a home theater system a couple years ago, and I definitely identified receivers that would pass HDMI and work as a system selector (which would be a must for me). So it should exist, and you will just need to find the right one.

Now as Ludi mentioned, impedence could be an issue. First, however, you should decide the fate of your current receiver, because if you are selling it, a buyer might be willing to pay extra for the whole package. I know you might not want/need to sell the speakers, too, but that could solve problems if you also want a speaker upgrade or find that your speakers are incompatible with prospective receivers.
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Re: Changing home theater receiver only - how to choose?

Postposted on Mon Jul 30, 2012 4:03 pm

Looks like they are 6 ohms. Anything particular about the sub? It's self powered, and I don't see a impedance rating. It says it's 95W... The model is Sony STR-K870P.

Here's a PDF of the service manual if that's any use: http://sportsbil.com/sony/STR/STR-K/STR-K870P_v1.0.pdf
Last edited by vince on Mon Jul 30, 2012 4:14 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Changing home theater receiver only - how to choose?

Postposted on Mon Jul 30, 2012 4:06 pm

Actually, I found this in the manual about the sub woofer:

SUB WOOFER Voltage: 2 V, Impedance: 1 k ohm
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Re: Changing home theater receiver only - how to choose?

Postposted on Mon Jul 30, 2012 4:38 pm

What is your budget?
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Re: Changing home theater receiver only - how to choose?

Postposted on Mon Jul 30, 2012 4:49 pm

vince wrote:Actually, I found this in the manual about the sub woofer:

SUB WOOFER Voltage: 2 V, Impedance: 1 k ohm


A self powered sub just takes a line input, so you don't have to worry about it's impedance (or anything else, really).

From your description it sounds like just about any HDMI-equipped receiver will satisfy your requirements; I'm using a b-stock Yamaha I got for sale on Newegg which is working perfectly for the kind of setup you describe.

Primary issues of concern include HDMI version and 3D/4K support, ensuring DTS-MA and DD-TrueHD for 7.1 decoding, and the amount of processing lag it induces when used as a video pass-through.
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Re: Changing home theater receiver only - how to choose?

Postposted on Mon Jul 30, 2012 5:39 pm

Yes, your speaker's impedance should be ok for most receivers... Personally, for my bedroom "movie theater" room, I've been using one of the Pioneer's models, VSX-521-K (it's now replaced by VSX-522-K model, with almost same features) - it's a basic 5.1 receiver with support for all current surround sound formats, 3D video support, 4 HDMI inputs and a self-calibration for speakers with included calibration microphone (which, surprisingly, works quite good). It is a pretty inexpensive, basic model, but very easy to setup (connect speakers --->run speaker calibration feature using included microphone ---->connect other equipment to HDMI inputs/outputs), has a good sound quality and so far has worked for a longer time than ALL of the junk made by Onkyo (which I've wasted a lot of $$$ and time on) :wink: About HDMI inputs/outputs: it has 4 HDMI inputs, and it can either decode the audio it receives through each input and send the audio to speakers OR it can simply pass the audio to HDMI output to your TV, the choice is yours. Also, according to its manual, you can use speakers with impedance between 6 and 16 ohm. It doesn't have component video input, though (only the more expensive VSX-1022-K has them), so that's something you should be aware of...
If you need more than 5.1 channels or more powerful built-in amplifier - Pioneer also makes more expensive receivers with more channels, more power and more built-in features.
http://www.pioneerelectronics.com/PUSA/ ... +Receivers

Also, Yamaha makes similar inexpensive receivers with similar features, for example like their new RX-V373 5.1 channel receiver, which also has 4 HDMI inputs, support for most surround sound formats, support for 3D video and a speaker calibration with included microphone. Unlike the similarly-priced Pioneer models, it does include component video input, something that you probably need.
http://usa.yamaha.com/products/audio-vi ... uct_lineup
Last edited by JohnC on Mon Jul 30, 2012 6:07 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: Changing home theater receiver only - how to choose?

Postposted on Mon Jul 30, 2012 6:04 pm

Impedance really isn't an issue with modern solid-state amplification. As long as you're not daisy-chaining a bunch of 4 ohm speakers off a receiver you'll be fine. It's not until you get into the mondo bizarro (and suitably expensive) speakers, like the Apogee Scintilla, that you need to look at you amp as an arc-welder.

Don't laugh. Back in the 1980's Audio Magazine used a pair of Mark Levinson ML-2s as an arc welder, driving them with a 1kHz signal. The ML2s were only rated for 25wpc at 8 ohms but had sufficient power-supply reserves to double the wpc with halving of the impedance down into the dead-short of a arc welder. The guys that did the test said that the arc plasma radiated a 1kHz tone that almost deafened them. When they were done with this little torture test, the amps checked out just fine.
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Re: Changing home theater receiver only - how to choose?

Postposted on Mon Jul 30, 2012 9:47 pm

Thanks for all your super info and advice. I think I will be fine with a "modern standard" from Yamaha/Pioneer/Sony/etc. It seems like anyone of these brands has some that will suit my needs. Also, it seems like it'll be easily to stay below $500, which is good too :wink:
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Re: Changing home theater receiver only - how to choose?

Postposted on Mon Jul 30, 2012 9:52 pm

vince wrote:Thanks for all your super info and advice. I think I will be fine with a "modern standard" from Yamaha/Pioneer/Sony/etc. It seems like anyone of these brands has some that will suit my needs. Also, it seems like it'll be easily to stay below $500, which is good too :wink:


My b-stock Yamaha was $200 shipped :).
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Re: Changing home theater receiver only - how to choose?

Postposted on Mon Jul 30, 2012 10:17 pm

vince wrote: Also, it seems like it'll be easily to stay below $500, which is good too :wink:

Yeap. I don't know about your local prices, but Yamaha RX-V373 and similar Pioneer model are about $250 new. Even the more expensive 7.1 models from both companies can be found for less than $500 (also new).
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Re: Changing home theater receiver only - how to choose?

Postposted on Mon Jul 30, 2012 11:26 pm

My old receiver gave up the ghost of few weeks ago, it was a 5.1 and pretty similar to yours it was from 2003 so HDMI whats that? The old receiver was driving a 5.1 set of Harman Kardon speakers. I just replaced it was Denon AVR-1713, I really like the new receiver so far.
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Re: Changing home theater receiver only - how to choose?

Postposted on Tue Jul 31, 2012 5:43 am

One of the big PC-parts retailer here in Canada, who also sell some electronics, is NCIX. I noticed they sell many different models of a receiver from a brand I never heard about before seeing them on their site. The brand is Onkyo. Anyone heard about them? I wonder if I should check them out... They go from $300 up to $2500! :o Of course the expensive ones is way overkill (not to say way over budget) without having the proper high-end speakers to match. One day maybe... one day... But those less-than-$500 ones from that brand may be good choices as well.
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Re: Changing home theater receiver only - how to choose?

Postposted on Tue Jul 31, 2012 6:05 am

Onkyo is a great choice for a receiver. As long as you stay with decent brands you pretty much can't go wrong these days. I'm still SUPER happy with my Harmon Kardon receiver I got around 8 years ago. I have an old-ass Marantz receiver collecting dust as well (analog inputs only, no video switching) that still works as well as the day it was new.
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Re: Changing home theater receiver only - how to choose?

Postposted on Tue Jul 31, 2012 8:30 am

My 20year old Kenwood KR-V8040 i grabbed way back in 1992 for around 450$ is still working great. It does have rca video jacks but i never used them. I stopped using the rear speakers years ago and just use 3 front speakers. That helped clean up a couple wires running around back in the day when wireless rear speakers were not around.

I want a new receiver also and you guys gave a lot of insight since the last time i bought a receiver was 20 years ago :) thanks OP and advisers.
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Re: Changing home theater receiver only - how to choose?

Postposted on Tue Jul 31, 2012 11:18 am

If you can, I would suggest getting a receiver with pre-outs. Then if you ever want to upgrade your speakers and need extra power you can add an external amp to drive them.
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Re: Changing home theater receiver only - how to choose?

Postposted on Tue Jul 31, 2012 12:05 pm

That's a considerate suggestion Metalhead. For my case though, I don't foresee that I will ever live in my own, single-family house. So that additional power, although it would be fun, would never be used...
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Re: Changing home theater receiver only - how to choose?

Postposted on Tue Jul 31, 2012 12:17 pm

Realistically, once you start investing the kind of money for discrete amplifiers in multi-channel audio, you're not going to be using a $500 off-the-shelf receiver anymore. Their preouts are often quite noisy compared to dedicated preamp-only tuner/selectors. Most higher-dollar receievers will at least offer pre-outs for the front L/R speakers, which are usually sufficient for future upgrades.
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Re: Changing home theater receiver only - how to choose?

Postposted on Tue Jul 31, 2012 12:36 pm

vince wrote:One of the big PC-parts retailer here in Canada, who also sell some electronics, is NCIX. I noticed they sell many different models of a receiver from a brand I never heard about before seeing them on their site. The brand is Onkyo. Anyone heard about them? I wonder if I should check them out... They go from $300 up to $2500! :o Of course the expensive ones is way overkill (not to say way over budget) without having the proper high-end speakers to match. One day maybe... one day... But those less-than-$500 ones from that brand may be good choices as well.

You were not reading JohnC's post above closely enough, were you? He mentioned his 1-sample experience with Onkyo already. ;) Onkyo is a brand with fairly decent reviews, but there is a significant enough portion of people having issues with them. In the past their receivers tend to be hot and people who reported issues may not have sufficient ventilation around them. That was the main complaint I read about a few years back and the latest models (have an acquaintance) seem to be better. They are your value-for-money choice and bring a lot of previously high-end features to mass market price levels, also forcing the likes of Pioneer/Yamaha/Denon to be honest.

I like Pioneer/Yamaha/Denon since I can buy the mainstream models from Best Buy/Future Shop so returns are easy, not to mention I bought mine at Boxing Week so it was at very good price. It was end of 2008 and I was already into almost-all HDMI setup. So nothing earth shattering here.
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Re: Changing home theater receiver only - how to choose?

Postposted on Tue Jul 31, 2012 3:05 pm

LOLz, Onkyo... Let's see, first 5.1 receiver I got from them - the rear channels stopped working just when its warranty has expired. I tried to look for different brand, but found a good "deals" on Onkyo receivers (which were at that time cheaper than comparable Denon/Pioneer/Yamaha models) and decided to try it again... With new receiver, I then discovered it had some kind of HDMI issue where it couldn't receive latest surround sound formats from certain devices, Onkyo fixed it by doing some kind of "firmware upgrade"... then after a while same receiver started to produce random audio "pop" at random times (through the connected speakers), which was somewhat loud and annoying, again I went to service center and they fixed something (replaced something, don't remember what), and it worked fine for a few months... only to develop same annoying "popping" sound at random times. This is all in addition to ALL of them ALWAYS being extremely hot when turned on, even with proper ventilation (I tried to not stack anything on top of them, they were never located in any enclosures and my "home theater" rooms always had working A/C). After that, I said "**** it" and decided to never use this brand again.
Also, there are plenty of documented issues with Onkyo crap by various people all over the internet:
http://www.onkyousa.com/605firmware_replace.cfm
http://www.us.onkyo.com/press_releases.cfm?id=185
http://www.us.onkyo.com/press_releases.cfm?id=253
http://www.avsforum.com/t/1026622/the-o ... hread/8370
https://www.google.com/#hl=en&gs_nf=1&g ... 80&bih=906
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Re: Changing home theater receiver only - how to choose?

Postposted on Tue Jul 31, 2012 4:20 pm

I don't have any direct experience with Onkyo, but Yamaha/Pioneer/Denon are what I largely see recommended for an inexpensive surround-sound receiver. As I said above, my Yamaha HTR-5063 is excellent, but I only went with it because of the price.
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Re: Changing home theater receiver only - how to choose?

Postposted on Tue Jul 31, 2012 4:58 pm

Yup, I would match ohm'age. It isn't necessary, but it's a good step as long as you aren't going too far out of your way. It's not just about stress on the speakers or the amp, rather about the sound quality as speakers are tuned for a certain ohmage, the same as receivers.

I personally had a set of 7.1 SB750s which I wrote a few posts on here on the forums. Mine died randomly the same as a lot of peoples, so I used the old speakers from it with a receiver. I have to say personally one of the first things you notice is the improved sound quality over a all in one package. My subwoofer I modded to accept a in wall amp and reused it, the speakers I simply plugged into the new receiver. I thought I had purchased a relatively high end all in one computer speaker package too (back when they used to make premium computer speakers).

What I did to pick out a receiver is simply looked for a brand name I liked and went with it. Pioneer, Denon, Yamaha, Harmon-Kardon I've all heard good things about. Really if it's a big name, they usually have a pretty decent receiver. It all comes down to personal listening preferences after that, but since you can't do that shopping online and you have very little in terms of ability to do that in real life, you really just have to go with it.

I personally looked for a recently past generation HK receiver and bought it off eBay for $150. The newest generation always costs the most, but if you simply drop back one you can get almost all the latest features for a fraction of the cost. In my case it was a $800 receiver. I'll have to look for the exact model when I get home.

I know this is rather ambiguous advice, but it really does come down to what you enjoy listening to as there is no one best device.
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Re: Changing home theater receiver only - how to choose?

Postposted on Tue Jul 31, 2012 5:30 pm

Bensam123 wrote:Yup, I would match ohm'age.

Hrm. Any decent receiver will give specs for output power and THD at both 8 ohms and 4 ohms. While only you know the impedance of your speakers, you can safely stay away from anything that doesn't give specs for 4 ohm speaker connections as that's a dead giveaway that the amp's output circuits can't swing the amps needed to make up for the drop in impedance (cutting the impedance in half requires the output transistors to swing twice the amperage to maintain the same wattage).

As for total impedance affecting the output curve of the amp (and thus changing the perceived frequency response) that only happens with amps that have a very high output impedance (a calculated number that you'll never find anywhere other than high-end magazine reviews). Suffice it to say that this condition applies mostly to tube amps (especially those odd-balls who try to make tube amps without output transformers) and won't apply to any solid-state amps in your price range. It can be achieved with bizarre solid-state amp topologies, but only in units that rival BMW/MB/Porsche cars in price.

Short take. If an amp has 8 ohm and 4 ohm specs, run it without fear on any 8 or 4 ohm speaker system. Anything else is hyper-priced audiophilia nervosa.
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Re: Changing home theater receiver only - how to choose?

Postposted on Tue Jul 31, 2012 6:12 pm

You're going to want to make sure whatever you get has "HDMI switching". Otherwise it'll just be pass-through and won't accomplish the clutter reduction you desire.
Take a look at the factory refurbished Denon and Marantz offerings if you plan on keeping it for a long time.

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Re: Changing home theater receiver only - how to choose?

Postposted on Tue Jul 31, 2012 11:25 pm

TDIdriver wrote:You're going to want to make sure whatever you get has "HDMI switching". Otherwise it'll just be pass-through and won't accomplish the clutter reduction you desire.
Take a look at the factory refurbished Denon and Marantz offerings if you plan on keeping it for a long time.

:edit:
I'm currently saving up for a Marantz SR5005

Even the inexpensive models ($250) nowadays can handle HDMI switching in a proper way. B.t.w, why are you looking at this particular Marantz model? As far as I know there's no data that shows that it has a better reliability than other brand's receivers; in fact, it has its own well-known issue:
https://www.google.com/search?q=Marantz ... =firefox-a
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Re: Changing home theater receiver only - how to choose?

Postposted on Thu Aug 02, 2012 3:27 pm

JohnC wrote:the rear channels stopped working just when its warranty has expired.

then after a while same receiver started to produce random audio "pop" at random times (through the connected speakers), which was somewhat loud and annoying

This is all in addition to ALL of them ALWAYS being extremely hot when turned on, even with proper ventilation


:o Are all Onkyos the same? This sounds exactly like what I had to deal with a couple of years ago.

My Onkyo ran hot, and I think it had some sort of amplifier problem which eventually killed it. I remember watching a movie one day and being jolted out of my seat by a LOUD pop followed by static. After power cycling it, I watched the rest of the movie with the volume really low. About a month later, it popped once more, although this time no ear-bleeding static followed. At that point, I was a little paranoid and listened to all of my stuff at much lower volume levels. I'm sure that a few more of those pops would've blown one of my speakers or both of my eardrums.

About a year ago, the amp supplying the center channel quit working. I replaced that receiver with a Pioneer VSX-1121. Although the lack of subwoofer EQ was a minor pain in the ass during setup, I've been extremely happy with it. The Pioneer runs much cooler, sounds better playing 2ch PCM via HDMI, and even looks nicer. :D More importantly, it hasn't sent me flying out of my seat for the remote.
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Re: Changing home theater receiver only - how to choose?

Postposted on Thu Aug 02, 2012 6:36 pm

jackbomb wrote:
JohnC wrote:the rear channels stopped working just when its warranty has expired.

then after a while same receiver started to produce random audio "pop" at random times (through the connected speakers), which was somewhat loud and annoying

This is all in addition to ALL of them ALWAYS being extremely hot when turned on, even with proper ventilation


:o Are all Onkyos the same? This sounds exactly like what I had to deal with a couple of years ago.

My Onkyo ran hot, and I think it had some sort of amplifier problem which eventually killed it. I remember watching a movie one day and being jolted out of my seat by a LOUD pop followed by static. After power cycling it, I watched the rest of the movie with the volume really low. About a month later, it popped once more, although this time no ear-bleeding static followed. At that point, I was a little paranoid and listened to all of my stuff at much lower volume levels. I'm sure that a few more of those pops would've blown one of my speakers or both of my eardrums.

About a year ago, the amp supplying the center channel quit working. I replaced that receiver with a Pioneer VSX-1121. Although the lack of subwoofer EQ was a minor pain in the ass during setup, I've been extremely happy with it. The Pioneer runs much cooler, sounds better playing 2ch PCM via HDMI, and even looks nicer. :D More importantly, it hasn't sent me flying out of my seat for the remote.

Yea... the unofficial theory was that the Onkyo's certain amplifier design that they were using was producing too much heat (not very "efficient"?), which, due to completely "passive" internal cooling, was causing the various electrolytic capacitors to fail prematurely, creating all kinds of issues... or something of that kind. Maybe they have finally fixed these issues with latest revision of their receivers, but I (as well as many other people) would rather not try to "experiment" with this brand again.
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Re: Changing home theater receiver only - how to choose?

Postposted on Fri Aug 03, 2012 10:48 am

All Class AB amplifier designs produce a lot of waste heat, but some can produce more than others, and what you do with it once you've created it, matters. On the other hand, many users make matters much worse by cramming their gear into tight AV stacks, particularly alcove or cabinet configurations with poor ventilation.
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