Sometimes I think its just in my mind. If I'm looking at a $1000 receiver and there is a $1200 receiver next to it, I always tend to want the more expensive one. There are some big differences in cheap and expensive receivers. Mostly build quality and weight, which neither may not matter at the end of the day, but I like the look and feel of well built stuff, aluminum fnt panels, big transformers etc. I agree with the receiver being a better all around package if your budget is around $4000 or less, but separates start making sense after the price range is inflated. The way I think is you figure your budget first, then list your needs, list your wants, then shop for what you can afford. If my budget is $1000, I probably won't buy a $500 receiver, I will tend to go a few dollars over rather then under. But if my budget was say $6000, I would be shopping separates and not even considering a receiver. But when the lines start to cross, say around $2800 -$3500, then the choice is a little more difficult. Its hard to say which would be better between a great receiver and a decent pre&. I guess it would come down to space.