Help! About to pull the trigger on a new receiver... - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 25 Old 08-22-2013, 09:30 PM - Thread Starter
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Hi, first post and looking for some help in purchasing my first AVR. I'm a relative newbie so I appreciate your patience in helping me with this! I've spent the last few weeks reading a lot of threads on here so I realize what I'm asking may have been covered before but I'd like specific answers to some questions I have. Many thanks in advance! The knowledge on here is incredible...!

Ok, so I'm currently in a smallish apartment and have just bought a pair of B&W CM1 speakers as the first part of a new system. Next up is the receiver. I intend to just use the 2 speakers for now in a 2 channel set up, but perhaps in a year or so when I may be in a slightly bigger space I'll expand and get a center speaker and go from there. I have about $1500 to spend on a receiver. I definitely lean more to the music side of things than movies. In fact I estimate 70% of time will be spent listening to music through the speakers, with the remaining 30% blu ray movies etc.

Music sound quality is the main driver for my purchase and I flirted with the idea of getting an integrated amp and using my HDTV as an HDMI switcher - I have the following HDMI inputs, blu ray player, cable box and xbox. I'm also about to get a SONOS connector to stream music wirelessly. I spoke with my local hifi store experts and they kinda suggested a decent music focused receiver would be the better way to go giving me more flexibility and save any messing around with the tv and the various inputs etc. So, with that said I switched attention to these 3 options which I believe will give me the sound quality I'm after for music without worrying about features so much:

1. NAD T757 - around $1100

2. Cambridge Audio 551R - $1200

3. Rotel RSX 1550 - around $1700

I actually ruled out the Rotel because it's pricey and seems a little dated already in terms of functionality. Instead I added:

4. Marantz SR5008 - around $900

My questions are:

1. Am I correct in thinking AVR is the better way to go for my situation than the integrated amp / tv as HDMI switcher route?

2. Which option out of the ones listed above is likely to give me the best musical experience with cds and digital music streamed from the sonos with my new CM1s? I know sound quality is somewhat subjective but if I can describe my preferences it would be in line with the B&W sound, rich/warm/balanced/good bass/ not bright (at least that was my impression!). I know Rotel is the obvious match but I'm ruling it out definitely.

3. Are there any others I should consider?

Many thanks again for any responses!
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post #2 of 25 Old 08-22-2013, 10:25 PM
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I haven't heard the NAD so I can't comment on the T757 but last year I compared Yamaha, Marantz, Denon and Anthem and the Anthem was easiest the best. This last bit I've had a Cambridge 551R and the Anthem MRX 300 in my setup and loved both units... A LOT. Cambridge has such a solid built and love the fact they shield the components inside and use a Toroidal, it sound is great very powerful and clean, very detailed and revealing its forward and kinda sharp and bright with warm edges to it keeping it from being sharp and bright, puts out a great sound stage, very transparent and 2 channel sounds amazing! Like a 2 channel amp. The things I didn't like was slow hdmi switching, no osd or EQing but SQ is great.


The Anthem is also solid built and does things different its not as bright or forward its warmer but being transparent and detailed both are musical and I find the Anthem very quick with its sound between speakers, Anthem Room Correction I found improved the sound stage and made things clearer.

The big difference I found was that the Cambridge really showed off the detail in a movie like in Avitar the girl I forget her name has beads in her hair on the Cambridge it makes sure you hear it when she turns her head and the beads clash on the Anthem it sounds more real as it doesn't make it pop as much but it sounds like it would if she turned and the beads hit naturally. The other is voices the Cambridge voices are very clear even at really low levels but it can feel like it shouting at you, there's a review on the 650R and they said it sounds like its shouting at you and I do somewhat agree with that, but its not bad it makes low volume listening great. On the Anthem voices just sound natural like how they should, its pretty cool with the Anthem as if the actor is talking near a wall or window it sounds like he's talking near a wall or a window, or in a car or tunnel or cave or whatever the vocie sounds like how it should in that environment, never heard a AVR reproduce it like this before. I prefer the Anthem for voices but I could see why many might prefer the Cambridge as its clearer and easier to hear but doesn't bring the real feeling the Anthem brings to it. Overall I found the Anthem a better movie/TV performer.

With music I would give the edge to Cambridge it sounds great here, very great, the Anthem sounds great as well but the Cambridge seemed to show flaws in the recording like you can hear echoing in the records and this is on a AppleTV so not the best source, the Anthem didn't bring that I tried to hear it but it was pretty hard to her the echoing its was very lightly there but I found with the Anthem the soundstage seemed more accurate but Cambridge would show flaws in the record which was pretty cool to hear.

I would suggest you buy both as I don't think there's a better sounding AVR then these two for this price and compare them and go with the one you like best. With the current Anthem MRX about to be replaced you could get it at a better price so you could move up a model or save more money. In the end I felt the Anthem was better for me and I'm a fan of ARC but since your 70% music I think the Cambridge will be the better unit but I would HIGHLY recommend you try both units and pick the one you like the best, also the Cambridge needs about 40 hours of break in time and yes this AVR needs it! So give it time to break in before you judge it, Athem didn't really need a break in. None of these two AVR are better than each other they have different sounds that one will prefer over the other but in all honestly I could live with either of them and be 100% happy there both really good.
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post #3 of 25 Old 08-23-2013, 07:43 AM
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If pure music&movies is the objective; I am yet to find any AVR that can best my current avr (CA Azur 751R). 551R will extend same performance to you albeit with half the wattage.

If you want more features on top of music&movies; I think NAD offers a ton of value.

FWIW you simply cannot compare Yamaha/Denon/Onkyo with CA if pure music/movies is the requirement. Oh and 2-Channel pure analog from CA is the best you can ever hear from any avr

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post #4 of 25 Old 08-23-2013, 08:43 AM
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If you have separates adding a 2 channel preamp like the Parasound 2100 or Emotiva USP-1 or XSP-1 works well since they have the home theater by-pass function. I use a USP-1 in this manner. It gives me the best of both worlds and the amp (XPA-5) is utilized for both 2 channel and multi-channel. When I want to watch a movie I just switch the USP-1 to HT by-pass and turn on the processor which doesn't know or care that its routing the signal for the L/R channels through a preamp. Having a 2 channel preamp benefits your processor since its likely more expensive to buy or replace than a 2 channel preamp that might last 2-10 times longer than most processors.

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post #5 of 25 Old 08-23-2013, 11:06 AM - Thread Starter
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I haven't heard the NAD so I can't comment on the T757 but last year I compared Yamaha, Marantz, Denon and Anthem and the Anthem was easiest the best. This last bit I've had a Cambridge 551R and the Anthem MRX 300 in my setup and loved both units... A LOT. Cambridge has such a solid built and love the fact they shield the components inside and use a Toroidal, it sound is great very powerful and clean, very detailed and revealing its forward and kinda sharp and bright with warm edges to it keeping it from being sharp and bright, puts out a great sound stage, very transparent and 2 channel sounds amazing! Like a 2 channel amp. The things I didn't like was slow hdmi switching, no osd or EQing but SQ is great..[/quote]

Thanks Ryder - have not heard of the Anthem so will explore. Demoing the CA 551R tomorrow. Looking forward to checking it out.
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Originally Posted by braveheart123 View Post

If pure music&movies is the objective; I am yet to find any AVR that can best my current avr (CA Azur 751R). 551R will extend same performance to you albeit with half the wattage.

If you want more features on top of music&movies; I think NAD offers a ton of value.

Thanks Braveheart - do you think the 551R will have enough power to drive the CM1s? B&W recommends 30-100W into 8 ohms unclipped.
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If you have separates adding a 2 channel preamp like the Parasound 2100 or Emotiva USP-1 or XSP-1 works well since they have the home theater by-pass function. I use a USP-1 in this manner. It gives me the best of both worlds and the amp (XPA-5) is utilized for both 2 channel and multi-channel. When I want to watch a movie I just switch the USP-1 to HT by-pass and turn on the processor which doesn't know or care that its routing the signal for the L/R channels through a preamp. Having a 2 channel preamp benefits your processor since its likely more expensive to buy or replace than a 2 channel preamp that might last 2-10 times longer than most processors.
]

Thanks Knucklehead. I had not considered the preamp / amp route as I thought it would be too expensive. Although pairing the XPA-5 ($1k) with the UMC-200 prepro ($600) might be an interesting option? I would think the prepro would better given my range of HDMI inputs than a 2 channel stereo preamp, which takes me back to my original question...best to go down the AVR route than the integrated amp / use the tv as HDMI switcher route?
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post #6 of 25 Old 08-23-2013, 11:20 AM
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Are you demoing the 551R at home or at the store? Cause it'll be hard to judge a avr outside of you room with your equipment, remember Cambridge needs a 40ish hour break in and it makes a difference. I really liked the Cambridge and it should have more then enough to power your speakers. I would highly recommend taking the Cambridge and Anthem home let the Cambridge break in and run ARC on the Anthem, these are both great AVRs and I doubt anything else tops these at this price range.
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post #7 of 25 Old 08-23-2013, 11:36 AM
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Cause it'll be hard to judge a avr outside of you room with your equipment, remember Cambridge needs a 40ish hour break in and it makes a difference.

+1 ..... very true

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post #8 of 25 Old 08-23-2013, 11:42 AM
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I don't buy any this stuff so I would recommend that you choose an AVR based on its feature set for handling videos. Any AVR will handle playing music on your speakers without an issue.
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post #9 of 25 Old 08-23-2013, 11:45 AM
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post #10 of 25 Old 08-23-2013, 12:38 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FMW View Post

I don't buy any this stuff so I would recommend that you choose an AVR based on its feature set for handling videos. Any AVR will handle playing music on your speakers without an issue.

FMW - you don't think certain AVRs sound better with music than others? Ultimately, that's what's driving my decision. I put more emphasis into the audio side of the equation. As long as the feature set is somewhat current, it's not a big deal to me. Is it wrong to base a decision on that logic?
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post #11 of 25 Old 08-23-2013, 12:42 PM
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Quote:
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I don't buy any this stuff so I would recommend that you choose an AVR based on its feature set for handling videos. Any AVR will handle playing music on your speakers without an issue.

what AVR do you have?
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post #12 of 25 Old 08-23-2013, 12:52 PM
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Quote:
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FMW - you don't think certain AVRs sound better with music than others? Ultimately, that's what's driving my decision. I put more emphasis into the audio side of the equation. As long as the feature set is somewhat current, it's not a big deal to me. Is it wrong to base a decision on that logic?

In my experience AVRs do sound different, my HK254 doesn't sound as good as the Cambridge or Anthem did, my HK sound stage wasn't as good or effects as realistic like on the Anthem how real the voices sound for the environment their in on the movie it produces that beautifully. Best to listen to a Cambridge, Listen to a Anthem then listen to a Denon and see if one sounds better or not to you then go with that, I'm pretty confident you'll notice a difference in the way to does it, they all get you to the finish line some just do it better.
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post #13 of 25 Old 08-23-2013, 01:21 PM - Thread Starter
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In my experience AVRs do sound different, my HK254 doesn't sound as good as the Cambridge or Anthem did, my HK sound stage wasn't as good or effects as realistic like on the Anthem how real the voices sound for the environment their in on the movie it produces that beautifully. Best to listen to a Cambridge, Listen to a Anthem then listen to a Denon and see if one sounds better or not to you then go with that, I'm pretty confident you'll notice a difference in the way to does it, they all get you to the finish line some just do it better.

I'm certainly going to try to listen to at least 3 or 4 brands tomorrow. Your point about taking them home to demo is well made, considering not every dealer I have lined-up tomorrow carries the B&W CM1s with which to pair with the AVR I'm demoing. Hence, bit concerned that what I think sounds good AVR-wise is going to be a product of the speakers as much as the AVR?
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post #14 of 25 Old 08-23-2013, 01:49 PM
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I landed on CA Azur 751R after owning and using Yamaha RX-V373, Yamaha RX-V3900, Onkyo TX-NR809, and Denon 3313 during the course of 4 years. Bought 751R a couple of months ago. In terms of audio, none of the mentioned AVRs wanders within miles of 751R. The closest that any avr can get to 751R is Yamaha RX-V3900; but that's only in terms of channel separation. Apart from that; 751R chews alive each and every listed avr in terms of pure sound (movies/music). Simply put; there is no comparison. 551R would be similar in performance; but demands audition with your speakers in your listening room.

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post #15 of 25 Old 08-23-2013, 02:00 PM
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Well it's not just the speakers it's the room as well, if your listening to this avr in a well behaved room and its playing on better speakers its going to sound a lot different if your room isn't well behaved. Ask them about their return cause you need to hear it when it's broken in and in your room with your gear cause all of that makes a huge difference, try and lineup an Anthem take both home and take them for a spin that way cause that's the only way you'll know for sure what one is best for you.
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post #16 of 25 Old 08-23-2013, 02:34 PM - Thread Starter
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Well it's not just the speakers it's the room as well, if your listening to this avr in a well behaved room and its playing on better speakers its going to sound a lot different if your room isn't well behaved. Ask them about their return cause you need to hear it when it's broken in and in your room with your gear cause all of that makes a huge difference, try and lineup an Anthem take both home and take them for a spin that way cause that's the only way you'll know for sure what one is best for you.

I'll definitely try and do that. Yeah, I haven't given much thought to the room at all. A lot of variables to consider!

How would you guys describe the sound profile Cambridge Audio are known for against the likes of Anthem, NAD and Marantz? Also, how much of an influence will the blu ray player be? I also intend to upgrade in this area too. Any recs on that are also appreciated. The CA 651BD caught my eye.
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post #17 of 25 Old 08-23-2013, 02:49 PM
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post #18 of 25 Old 08-23-2013, 02:52 PM
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I haven't heard NAD so I can't compare them, Marantz wasn't as good when I compared it to the Anthem a year ago. The difference between Cambridge and Anthem is the Anthem is warmer and sounds more natural it also seem like it transfers sound faster to speakers, Cambridge is revealing/clean, forward, has more of a bright or sharp sound without being bright or sharp. They both are awesome AVRs I found for that ARC made a difference with making the soundstage tighter and made everything sound more natural. Their both very transparent and great channel separation, both are very detailed Cambridge hilighted detail where as the Anthem it sounds more natural but I think that's because one being more on the sharp bright side and the other more on the warmer side.
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post #19 of 25 Old 08-23-2013, 04:02 PM
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Quote:
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The difference between Cambridge and Anthem is the Anthem is warmer and sounds more natural it also seem like it transfers sound faster to speakers, Cambridge is revealing/clean, forward, has more of a bright or sharp sound without being bright or sharp. They both are awesome AVRs I found for that ARC made a difference with making the soundstage tighter and made everything sound more natural.

Sounds like nothing more than differences between each receiver's own automated room correction/EQ.

Indeed I have never liked what my Yamaha's YPAO comes up with. Usually kills too much top end detail and make things sound too flat and boring. I can get things sounding very good with manual adjustments though.

I might consider Anthem as my next receiver if they can get their reliability issues sorted out. Or the Nuforce AVP-18 is another option I'm considering.
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post #20 of 25 Old 08-23-2013, 04:08 PM
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Quote:
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I'll definitely try and do that. Yeah, I haven't given much thought to the room at all. A lot of variables to consider!

How would you guys describe the sound profile Cambridge Audio are known for against the likes of Anthem, NAD and Marantz? Also, how much of an influence will the blu ray player be? I also intend to upgrade in this area too. Any recs on that are also appreciated. The CA 651BD caught my eye.

Do you want/need 3D? If not then Sherbourn SR-120 is one to look into. Also for 3D is the Sherbourn PT-7030. For a BD player easily the best choice there is the OPPO 103. Plays all formats very well.

http://www.sherbourn.com/collections/theater/products/sr8100

http://www.sherbourn.com/collections/theater/products/sr-120-home-theater-receiver

http://www.oppodigital.com/?partner=111
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post #21 of 25 Old 08-26-2013, 12:50 PM - Thread Starter
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So unfortunately my demo plans at the weekend did not play out as expected...NAD dealer did not have the model in stock I wanted to listen to, ditto the Anthem dealer. I live in San Francisco and found a dealer who carried the Cambridge but he came off as a bit of a dick when I tried to get a demo of it in his store. Basically wasn't interested and let me walk out the door without making an effort to hook it up and let me listen to it. Maybe my 1200 bucks limit was too low for him to be interested to make a sale...bizarre. As an aside, he wouldn't even set up a demo of the Marantz AVRs he carried either...going off on a 10 minute rant about how crap Marantz are in AVRs these days and not worth the bother considering them (despite his website advertising how great the models he carries sound etc etc...). Dude could seriously do with some customer service training! Anyway, not to go off on a **** dealer tangent, but I'm basically no further forward.

I also went back to the dealer who sold me my B&W CM1s. He is pushing an Integra AVR as the solution to my needs. I did not demo but may consider in the future. But I am concerned they are not much of an upgrade from their equivalent Onkyo models and would not be worth the extra cash outlay. I'm also slightly perturbed this dealer is pushing the DTR 50.5 model at 1700 bucks rather than the DTR30.5 (at 1000 bucks), as the one to get the best out of my CM1s.The only big difference I can see is in power - 30.5 @95 watts and the 50.5 at 135 Watts. Not sure I need that in my small apt...worth buying a Ferrari to drive it at 30 mph and all that...? Yes, the CM1s are somewhat inefficient at 84db (?...wandering into territory here that I'm not familiar with...) but should not be a problem using the 30.5 to drive them...right? Maybe there is improved sound quality with the 50.5 and its bigger power output but I thought they were basically the same amp design. A little confused! Any thoughts/advice/other options would be appreciated!!
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post #22 of 25 Old 08-26-2013, 05:03 PM
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Both the 30.5 and 50.5 feature the same basic version of Audyssey MultEQ whereas the Denon X2000/X3000 and and Marantz 5008/6008 all feature the more advanced MultEQ XT with 8x more speaker resolution filters. For roughly what you would pay for the 30.5, you could upgrade to the Denon X4000 which includes the highest version of Audyssey MultEQ XT32 also featured on the Integra 60.5.

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post #23 of 25 Old 08-26-2013, 05:24 PM
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I think the Cambridge and the Anthem wouldn't have a problem driving your speakers my speakers are 87 or 86 and both had no problem driving them, tbh I think most avrs in your price range will drive them and since you only have a 2 channel setup all of these avrs should have more then enough power to drive them nicely. You live in a big city I'm sure there are more dealers for you to checkout than the ones you have.
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post #24 of 25 Old 08-26-2013, 07:41 PM
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Quote:
Both the 30.5 and 50.5 feature the same basic version of Audyssey MultEQ whereas the Denon X2000/X3000 and and Marantz 5008/6008 all feature the more advanced MultEQ XT with 8x more speaker resolution filters. For roughly what you would pay for the 30.5, you could upgrade to the Denon X4000 which includes the highest version of Audyssey MultEQ XT32 also featured on the Integra 60.5.

The best systems I have heard so far were uneqd. I reckon spending a tiny amount on room treatment will yield far better results than buying mass market avrs with highest level of auto eq systems. I don't think the decision should be based on audyssey version. If one has dual subs with continuously variable phase knobs; audyssey multieq xt32 is not required. The rest of the sub job can be done easily by using a $100 BFD.

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Alpine SWR-1223D Slot Ported HT Sub

Dual Dayton RSS390HO-4 Reference 15 Build For HT

Main System: Klipsch RF-82 II, Klipsch RC-62 II, RS-52 II, Onkyo 5010, Rythmik FV15HP, PSB S300
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post #25 of 25 Old 08-27-2013, 09:28 AM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ryder125 View Post

I think the Cambridge and the Anthem wouldn't have a problem driving your speakers my speakers are 87 or 86 and both had no problem driving them, tbh I think most avrs in your price range will drive them and since you only have a 2 channel setup all of these avrs should have more then enough power to drive them nicely. You live in a big city I'm sure there are more dealers for you to checkout than the ones you have.

I was surprised to find only one dealer in SF carries Cambridge Audio and only one other in the broader Bay Area that I have never been able to contact (very small HT installer I think). I refuse to give the SF dealer any business so I either wait till I'm down in LA and find someone there, buy online or nix it as an option. They don't seem to be easy to get hold of. There's one more Anthem dealer in SF that I haven't tried that may be able to help with an MRX300 demo.
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