I'd like some advice from the more experienced than I on the subject of sound quality of receivers. My only two sources for live auditioning is Best Buy and a high end specialty shop which obviously limits my experience.
At the high end shop, the owner was recommending an Anthem MRX receiver which I thought sounded great. He commented that most main-stream receivers sound like crap for which I take that statement with a grain of salt. He did say he could sell me the top of the line Marantz receiver (SR7005) as well if I didn't want to buy the Anthem . That didn't make sense to me when he first said main-stream receivers sound like crap. I believe it's easier for a high end dealer to sell the Marantz as they don't have to carry the whole line but can order as needed.
At Best Buy, several different salesman at different stores seemed to prefer the Marantz top of the line receiver as well. By the way, I'm looking for a receiver that would excel in listening to music and to a lesser extent, watching movies. So I auditioned several receivers in pure or direct mode and I agreed the Marantz sounded better than most of the other receivers. When listening to the B&W CM9 speakers, I could tell an audible difference between the Marantz and say the Denon 3311 (it was a toss up with the Denon 4311). At a higher end Best Buy, they carried an Arcam reciever for 5K and it didn't sound any better than the Marantz.
So, my question is this. Many on this forum have commented that it's speakers that create the sound and downplay the affect of a receiver. However, with my own ears, I have heard differences in the quality of sound between different receiver models. So, which is it? Should one "audition" a receiver for sound quality or merely rely on specs and features when choosing a receiver?