First - nice pick on the ST60. I bought one for my office - it's a great value and looks stunning.Receivers
- I've had Sony, Denon, Yamaha receivers over the years and just bought a NAD pre-amp and amp for my living room system. I currently use a Denon 2808 (from 2008) in my office and had a Yamaha from 2010-2012. Both Denon and Yamaha have been great choices for me - high build-quality (my denon a shade better than the yamaha), capable, and nice sound output. Of the two...I might have liked the Yamaha better because of the intuitive set-up and menu system. Maybe you'd be ok with the Denon though even if they are still difficult to set up given your professional background. So...my rec. would be Denon for you. Of the two you list, the X3000 seems like all you need (is the main diff. HD radio, higher output, and another zone? - I say "meh" to that). Can you test the Denon next to one of your top 3 choices and see if it's a better choice for you?Speakers
- I agree with ShadyJ on it being a personal choice. When I bought the Denon, I bought Klipsch Icon wc-24 left, right and center and XL-12 right rear and left rear (these are all "bookshelf-sized"). They also worked nice with the Yamaha, too. I have a Klipsch XW300D sub-woofer mated to the system. I think they sound great, definitely fill the room, and can power a party (i agree with Coytee!). I don't hear too much bass - but you'll definitely want to listen to things before you buy them and trust your own ears - that's my advice and it sounds like you already listened to a few. If at all possible, I'd see if i could test the speakers in your apartment before buying them.Where to purchase
- I like Magnolia for this price range - but maybe you have some local choices, too. I would try to buy a floor-model receiver. that's how I got my 2808 for half price. It was in mint condition and came with all the accessories plus a return policy PLUS I got points on that BestBuy frequent buyer card. I think I even redeemed a gift card that I bought at the local supermarket that was allowing me to accrue supermarket fuel perks for gift certificate purchases. I wouldn't count on the employees to coach you through which choice is the best for you - the magnolia guys aren't all great (but some are). It sounds like you are doing a lot of your research on your own though - good on ya.
Some other things you may want to consider (maybe you are already on top of this):
- Power Conditioner: I don't have anything connected to my office system, but I have a Furman Elite15PFI that does a nice job (about 500)
- Speaker Cabling: I have some pretty cheap stuff connected to my Denon, but think I can notice a difference with some Audioquest type 2 cabling i have in my living room. (http://www.audioquest.com/star-quad-speaker-cables/type-2
). I think I may like to upgrade this, too, eventually but you may want to consider it for now.
- HDMI/ AV Cabling: I have a mix of Audioquest Evergreen and Pearl cables to connect my equipment and they have solid connections and support 3D, ARC, etc.
- Turn table: I just bought a Pro-ject Debut Carbon turntable (about 500). I haven't had a record player since i was about 6 listening to Elvira by the Oak Ridge Boys. It's been a fun hobby so far and maybe you'd like it too.
finally - I'm new to AVS. I hope this was helpful...looking over what I wrote probably not so much.
But, anyway, good luck and have fun.