Originally Posted by ravennevar
I am looking to purchase an AVR to replace a 10-year-old Sony which was not the best to start with. I need it to have networking (ethernet at least, wi-fi a plus) it does not have networking or HDMI.
So far so good.
I have to admit that I have an AVR with a network receiver that I haven't even hooked up to my LAN because I have a similar feature in my BD player, so this may not be such a high priority.
Having an AVR with HDMI is a good thing if you want the AVR to be the centerpiece of your system, but you may have options in that area if only want to do 2.x multichannel and your TV has audio outputs.
...be able to power a pair of Polk RTiA7 speakers which I've had for almost 2 years and have really not used since my receiver cannot power them appropriately
How do you know that you can't properly power those RTiA7's?
Comparing numbers on spec sheets doesn't answer that question accurately because spec sheets don't include some important influences like room acoustics, listening differences, speaker efficiency, and your actual preferences.
In reality amplifiers are more like water heaters. How do you know that your water heater is too small? Well, if you run out of hot water with any frequency, then your water heater is too small. The same applies to amplifiers. If you run out of power with any frequency, your amplifier is too small.
How do you know that your amplifier is running out of power? The answer is that an amplifier that is running out of power clips and makes some fairly distinct nasty sounds.
If your system sounds thin or harsh, the problem can easily not be about amplifier power. It could be about your system's apparent lack of a good subwoofer which oh, by the way offloads the system power needs from the AVR. It could be about room acoustics. It could be about system optimization by which I mean automated system tuning using features like Audyssey, MCACC, or YPAO.
These speakers handle up to 300W, so I was thinking about bi-amping them with the new AVR to get a good 200W in them.
Biamp how? If you do active biamping that means re-engineering speakers which is a ton of skilled work that you probably don't want to invest your life in. If you do passive biamping you step into a big controversy which has fueled such aggravated controversy that some long term members appeared to be (hopefully) temporarily sidelined. Pardon me if I say that I don't want to go there without more reliable evidence than I have right now, but am gathering. But rule of thumb: if there is a heated controversy you probably don't want to stake your life on the issue.
I want to be able to watch my movies and play my music using my current 2.1 setup with bi-amped front speakers. I do not foresee adding more speakers in the near future but would like to at least have a receiver capable of handling a 5.1 setup, including bi-amped front speakers. The capability of playing FLAC lossless format is also a requirement. I do have an HTPC running OpenELEC (XBMC) from which I play my movies. I still have not used it to play music since it requires my TV to be on to serve as a pass-through device due to the lack of appropriate receiver connections. I do not know how having this HTPC might change the selection of an AVR, especially when playing music directly from my NAS or from the NAS through the HTPC.
I'm a PC guy and I have no problems with putting an AVR into the system, but I don't know why you want to bypass the flexibility of the PC as a music player.
Most PCs either have coax or optical digital outputs that can be routed to an AVR to get multichannel audio without relying on HDMI. There are pluses on both sides of the issue, but I can't tell how they apply to your situation with more details.