2011 $600 A/V Receiver Comparison Guide

Discussion in 'Amps, Pre-Pros & Receivers' started by admin, Jul 13, 2011.

  1. admin Audioholics Robot Staff Member

    admin
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    It's that time of year again and we're taking a look at the new receivers. At the $600 price point we have offerings from Onkyo, Yamaha, Pioneer, Marantz, Denon, and Harman Kardon (the TX-NR609, RX-V671, VSX-50, NR1602, AVR-2112CI, and AVR 2650 respectively). Most of these are within $50 of the target price though we gave a slight edge to the Harman offering by choosing an $800 offering. Will they crush the comparison with their extra MSRP? Things to expect at this price point - 3D, Audio Return Channel, HDMI upconversion, networking, tons of power, and two zones of audio.
    [​IMG]

    Discuss "2011 $600 A/V Receiver Comparison Guide " here. Read the article.
  2. smurphy522 Full Audioholic

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    Thanks Tom for the informative and easy to follow feature-set table!

    Well - It's quite sad to see that H/K has in many ways downgraded the line-up once again. Now the pwr rating is based on 2 speakers driven (likely to get in-line w/competitions ratings) and is 1.5 lbs less in weight. It seems that not only did they downgrade the amp section but they also lost the I/R in/outs as well as the 7.1 input. No video up scaling high at this $ point is still quite useful. Wonder what processor is used and what the I think with this new "50 series" line-up H/K is going to lose a lot of die hard H/K fans looking to upgrade this year - I know they lost me. I was hoping for an upgraded 3600 to replace my 247, now I will certainly be looking elsewhere. Network features is not enough to sway me.

    H/K says: "Introducing the harman kardon A/V receiver that does it all." they should add: except what we did last year.

    The added features of HDMI 1.4a and DPL IIz are of little interest.
    The only feature I consider even mildly interesting is the network capability but as I did into that it seems it's only for Internet Radio - again of little interest and offered on last years international series.

    It seems that even Infinity is dropping the better product line. Harman is of real disappointment of late (for the products that mere mortals can afford).

    Sorry to rant about Harman I was really hoping for an offering like the International Series 460 or 660.

    Now off to study the DM Holdings offerings against Onkyo/Integra................
    Last edited: Jul 13, 2011
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  3. its phillip Audioholic Ninja

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    None of them have preouts :(

    Out of the bunch I would probably choose the denon because of audyssey multieqxt.
  4. BoredSysAdmin Audioholic Warlord

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    +1

    and Flac HD support
  5. kevon27 Annoying Poster

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    Onkyo 4k up-scaling?

    Does Hdmi 1.4a support 4k resolutions?
  6. scott911 Full Audioholic

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    gimme pre outs.

    at this price point - hard to believe it's entry levelish this days - I would like to see everyone include at least 2.1 pre-outs.

    Giving people the ability to add, say an emotiva amp, is a nice--almost no cost feature--these guys could all provide.
  7. Sugarbear Audioholic Intern

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    The next one up the line from Onkyo, the 709, has preouts and MultEQ XT... and currently has an Amazon price that's pretty close to the MSRP for the 609.

    In fact, Onkyo's HT-RC370 (the 709 minus a few minor features) is exactly at the 609 MSRP according to Amazon... still with preouts and MultEQ XT.

    These ones sit in the sweet spot!
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  8. BoredSysAdmin Audioholic Warlord

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    +1
    from: http://www.highdefjunkies.com/showthread.php?9558-ONKYO-TX-NR709-amp-HT-RC370-7.2-3D-Receiver

  9. internetmin Audioholic

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    Logic of the review is flawed

    I had to throw in my two cents here because I'm not sure I agree with the conclusion of the article. First off, I've owned NAD and Marantz receivers and have owned NAD and Anthem separates. I've also listened to Arcam receivers. I've never owned an Onkyo, Pioneer, or HK receiver.

    My argument against the conclusion of the article is that bags the Harmon Kardon receiver because of features. Ok, from a feature comparison POV, you can see inputs, processing modes, etc. However, a receiver or separates are much more than just their feature set. In fact, the more expensive the equipment, the more likely it will have have LESS features. Why? Because the emphasis is on the quality of the sound and not bells and whistles.

    Years ago, I once went in to a higher end audio store to listen to speakers and told them I had a Marantz receiver. They played the speakers on the Marantz, an NAD and then an Arcam. The audible difference between each was remarkable. I mean, absolutely remarkable. When the Arcam was switched on, it was like the speakers were totally different--they had more life and the sense of space was simply extraordinary.

    The Arcam had LESS features than either the NAD or Marantz yet I could certainly have lived with it and been much happier.

    From my POV, that's what I always find missing and potentially misleading about "feature comparison" reviews. Sure, you can review products and from features alone have a chart that provides a guide. However, features in no way determine the quality of sound of the product. So from that perspective, I think it's unfair to bash the Harmon Kardon or tout the Onkyo. It may very well be that from this group, the Marantz or the Pioneer are actually the 'best' receivers. Having lived with a Marantz with a ton of features, I found myself using very few of them at the end of the day. All I know is that my current Anthem preamp and power amp setup are among the best bang for the buck setups for sound and quality. Sure, I don't have SRS surround any longer or Dolby IIz or whatever, but I have a simply killer audio system. It just sounds right and it sounds great every time.

    So, I would caution that "feature reviews" are good at just listing features but in no way determine the quality of the sound or the quality of the implementation of those features.

    Thus, maybe it's the one Harmon Kardon guy who is really getting the last laugh on the other nine
  10. BoredSysAdmin Audioholic Warlord

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    1) In Audio Direct mode all amps/receivers sounds same
    2) Louder amp will sound better to humans
    3) No one canceled placebo effect from affecting humans
    4) Maybe HK watts are understated and in "pioneer" watts is actually 1.5 times more powerful, it still doesn't excuse serious lack of mandatory features compared to equivalents.
    5) Tom's Andry logic is 100%, I think it's your logic is somewhat affected by Hi-End virus...
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  11. detroit1 Audioholic Intern

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    I see nothing wrong with this article
    This was NOT a performance review; just a general feature comparison

    mostly likely, the Denon may have an edge for sound in a full system because of the Audyssey XT, which the others don't have

    sure, Arcam is better but they don't have anything anywhere near this price point for their current line. I think their line is like 2,500 to 5,000

    of course the Anthem Receivers undercut all of these because you get the ARC which really does work for 5.1 and 7.1 systems ; probably not the most features
  12. internetmin Audioholic

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    Again to my point...

    As I said, and this is my point, a feature article is fine--that's what it is--but more features don't equate to better audio or video quality. Sure many receivers pass hdmi specs but fail several real world tests--at the same price point.

    My anthem does not have ARC, however it's a night and day difference between my maranta, which has many more features.

    Now to bored system admin, when you have to start with ad hominem attacks those aren't arguments. :confused: My system has been calibrated so no differences in SPL between components or receivers etc and the other points don't hold water. Go listen to all these systems and you still think they will all sound the same?? No way. That's not placebo effect, that's measurable response reality.

    So again, this is a good feature review but features will never tell you how they sound. So my only objection is the conclusion of the article that someone is wrong for choosing the HK. You are only wrong if it doesn't have all the inputs, etc you need. Its not wrong with a listening evaluation

    You use a feature list to narrow down what you need then you audition at your price point and below. You can go by the reputation of a vendor--all here have good reputations--but that won't tell you how good or bad it is.

    My old 40 watt per channel old NAD stereo receiver still sounds better than my $450 Marantz surround receiver at the same volume with the same source. Just fact. So specs don't equate to audio quality. That's the point. ;)
  13. internetmin Audioholic

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    The Arcam....

    I listened to NAD, Marantz, and ARCAM around the same price point and they were fed from the same source with a switcher. The difference in tonality and especially sound stage was stunning.

    Also Audyssey isn't a cure all for a bad room and poor setup. You will get much better audio performance by setting up your system right a good room vs poor setup with audyssey in a bad room. I know that's not what you arresting but some people mistakingly think so. And there is lots of personal opinion on ARC systems. Some might like pioneer's or HK's vs audyssey and one might be better in one room condition than another

    So again, agreed it's a feature review but a person reading the feature review needs to understand that it doesn't necessarily mean that more features means better audio or video quality. :)
  14. alphaiii Audioholic General

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    About the only thing I really see in the article I agree with is the criticism of HK's new offering...

    Sure, the Onkyo has (for the most part) the most features... but the fact the 609 still uses 2EQ instead of upping to MultiEQ is pretty lame... I suppose, if features and connections are what you're after, then the Onkyo can be called a "9 fingers down winner"...

    But I tend to like reliability in the AVR's I buy... and Onkyo is looking pretty pathetic in that department lately... Not to mention, some of the "pluses" for the Onkyo are really not important features in my book...

    1. All the legacy inputs dont impress me - who still needs 5 composite video inputs?
    2. The dual sub out only saves from buying a Y-splitter, since you cannot configure the subs independently. And you can't EQ them indepe.... Oh yeah, the Onkyo uses 2EQ... so you can't EQ them at all...
    3. Yes Onkyo uses likely the best video scaling in the QDEO... but I'd argue that it's really not that impressive of a feature because it isn't needed in the case of content that is already 1080p... and for content that isn't... you can argue the TV's scaler will likely do a comparatively acceptable job... But, since they decided to keep video scaling, it is an improvement over the outdated Faroudja, so I give them credit for that.

    On the other hand, Onkyo seems to be doing well with their amp sections as of late... but a solid amp section doesn't make up for reliability problems...


    Call me a fan boy if you like... but Denon has a better track record with reliability and fewer bugs lately.... and the MultiEQ XT, to me at least, is a much more impressive feature than anything Onkyo brings to the table.
  15. alphaiii Audioholic General

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    Yes, feature wise, Onkyo really steps it up at the RC370 & 709 level...

    Newegg just had the RC370 for $539... I was SOOO close to buying it since it has all of the key features I want - Audyssey MultiEQ XT, Dolby Volume, pre-outs, ect...

    But, all of the reliability issues with Onkyo, and the RC370 and 709 being included in their recent press release regarding issues that plague the xx08 Onkyo's... and I stayed away.

    Shame, because I really wanted XT and Dolby Volume... and pre-outs would've been nice... but I went with a Denon 891 for now instead since the price was too good to pass up...

    Hopefully Onkyo gets their QC together... and maybe I'll buy something from them next year...

    Or, better yet, maybe Denon will add Dolby Volume to their product line, and include pre-outs in something below the 33xx.... Wishful thinking, I know :rolleyes:
  16. BoredSysAdmin Audioholic Warlord

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    I think you still missed my first and most important point:
    "1) In Audio Direct mode all amps/receivers sounds same"
    Can you guarantee a 100% than your so called "measurement" of your $450 Marantz surround receiver was done with all sound processing circles off?
    Was this "measurement" was done blindly?
    Was it done by 3rd party?

    If at-least one of the answers is no - your "measurements" are worthy only as far as personal and subjective opinions.

    You might want to read these articles before you march in here and start claiming that based your hearing "test" different receivers measures differently..

    http://www.audioholics.com/education/amplifier-technology/basic-amplifier-measurement-techniques
    http://www.audioholics.com/educatio...uct-managing-receiver-platforms-power-ratings

    http://www.audioholics.com/education/amplifier-technology/allContents
  17. lestat0521 Audioholic Intern

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    First off +1 to what internetmin said, you really need to go and have a listen.

    Second, i really dont care if one has 1 more hdmi vs the other, some may count that as being better others who dont have 5+ hdmi things to connect could care less.

    Third, from the get go you sound a bit biased towards one receiver (ill let readers guess which ;) )

    Fourth, last year when we were shopping for a nice $600-$800 receiver we went to a place were we could have the exact same speakers connected with the exact same music playing and switched between the various receivers with our eyes closed until we found the one that sound the best to us (which is all that really matters when it comes down to brass tacks).

    So i really hope anyone reading your article is not swayed by the simplicity of features and goes with the ones that counts, "the one that sounds the best to them"
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  18. BoredSysAdmin Audioholic Warlord

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    Correct, as long as you're referring to speakers, not amplifiers.

    See my previous posts - you being blinded is only one of many possible conditions, not sufficient by-itself to guarantee correct and fair comparison.
  19. 1hagop Audioholic Intern

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    I feel one of the things that is not being said is a $600/$700 receiver is entry level. All of us on here have our top-o-the-line stuff and specific features mean something to us. These receivers are being marketed to Best Buy shoppers. Imagine you know nothing about hi-fi (not to hard for some of you HAHA!) <---JOKE! You walked into Best Buy with $700, which one would you be sold. Well this one has 10 more watts, this one has 2 more connections, this one is pink, this one had roast beef. I know people who buy these, they do not even run Audessey let alone know what it is and that there are different levels. Remember to a fool more is better. Just my two cents.
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  20. internetmin Audioholic

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    I certainly didn't miss the point. On the contrary, I'm point blank telling you it's not true.

    Both scientifically and blind testing.

    Clearly, all signals need to go through a preamp and gain stage and and amplifier. There are measurable differences in the specs--including all these receivers--whether its THD+N or S/N ratio, etc. So, scientifically, all receivers do not sound the same in pure direct mode. All that does is by pass tone controls. Run five different receivers from $300-$2000 through the same tests and you'll be able to tell the difference.

    In fact, perhaps that would be a great Audioholics test! Get a Sony, Marantz, Onkyo, Anthem, Arcam, and a Mark Levinson put them all in 2 channel with the same amp driving them and tone bypass and do a double-blind test with some great speakers.

    See, one of the reasons why I have Revel speakers is because of the rigorous testing in the Harman anechoic chamber, their measurements, and also their double-blind listening station. So, I'm very, very much a big proponent of testing, measuring, listening, and then making a decision.

    And I forgot to mention, yes, all processing off, and measurement done with an SPL and also verified with a spectral analyzer. So not only do I state the claim, but anyone going in and listening to receivers up the food chain and price range will notice a difference in the sound, tonality, and soundstage, and imaging. That's not just a function of the speakers.

    We can certainly agree to disagree on this; but I'm pretty adamant in my stance that all electronics don't sound the same--even in tone bypass mode.

    I appreciate all the articles, but I'm already very familiar with everything mentioned in them. :)

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