So I have decided as part of a large basement remodel and man cave upgrade to make the jump to separates. Given the cost and my newbie-ness, I have decided for now to go with a good high-quality used amp and use one of my current AVRs as a pre-pro (I have a Denon 2807 - likely candidate, and an Onkyo 805). Later I would plan to upgrade to a nice processor like a Marantz AV7005.
So I have narrowed down my choices (at present) to:
1. Lexicon CX-5. Pros: It's a Lexicon, THX Ultra certification, looks great, reviewed well back in the day, has XLR balanced inputs (for future use). Cons: No warranty, older than the Emotiva (8-years old - used for 7), selling price is $100 more than the UPA-7.
2. Emotiva UPA-7: Pros: Its only 3 years old, still has some warranty left (if it transfers), 7-channel (don't need now - but may be handy for future), reviewed very well (especially by Audioholics - almost effusive praise), very efficient. Cons: Not a "prestige" audio brand (does that matter?), some say sound quality not on par with prestige brands, no balanced inputs (does it really matter?), he is asking close to the original retail on this unit -- but I can't find any others for sale (maybe they rarely come available) ... so does not seem to be as much of a "deal" (but Emotiva does not have an equivalent amp right now).
There are few other options out there: an Anthem PVA 5 (local), an Acurus A200x5 (local), a B&K Reference 7270 (more $$$) and a B&K Components AV-5125 (less $$$) ... but I like these two options above.
Here is what the rest of the system will be:
Pre/Pro: Denon 2807 or Onkyo 805 (probably the Denon)
L/C/R: Focal 716/800V or PSB Image T6 & C5 (still deciding)
Rears: Energy CR-10 or DefTech BP1.2X (have both -- probably use the CR-10s as the DefTechs are already mounted else where.
Sub: Elemental Designs A5-350 (sigh ... pours beer on ground ... respect -- RIP eDesigns)
30% HDTV (DirecTV, sports, shows, etc.)
30% Movies (Blu-Ray and HD-DVD mostly)
15% Music (mostly classic rock, alternative, chill electronic) <-- if it sounds awesome, this may increase.
Please let me know your thoughts.