I'm currently building up a new HT system. My current receiver is a Harman Kardon AVR20II, which has pro logic but that's it.
I am considerig the following:
Denon AVR 1804 (will they release this in silver in the U.S.?)
Marantz 4400/ 5400
maybe something copmparable from either Yamaha or H/K.
Please offer your opinions on these gears.
I will be running B&W 602 series 2 for the main speakers. Other speakers I'll pick up later. Probably a Velodyne CHT 10 sub.
My main priority is music, but 20% of the time I'll be watching movies.
I also listen to a lot of vinyl, so I will need a phono input. If I get a receiver without one, will I need to get an expensive external phono pre-amp to get decent sound from vinyl?
My personal preference is the Marantz 5400. Many people would prefer a slightly livlier receiver, though; Marantz is very flat and neutral, not at all dynamic. Another suggestion would be something from the Integra line. I think the sound quality is on par or better than everything you listed and the dynamics are better than the Marantz. Again, I love the neutrality of the Marantz, especially for music.
Best bet is to listen to all of them with your speakers. Denon was a bad match for my speakers because of its lean towards brightness, Marantz would have been a great match (I ended up with NAD).