Originally Posted by Dave in Houston
I’m shopping for a new receiver to replace my trusty Onkyo TX-DS696, which has served me well for 10 years or so.
My first instinct was another Onkyo (perhaps the 818), but in reading the reviews, I’m seeing too many reports of HDMI board problems.
Pre-amp outs, at least for the front L&R, are a must, since I’m listening to a pair of very fine, but power-hungry, electrostatic speakers from the 1980’s. I was a real audiophile back then, before strollers, tooth fairies, driving lessons, and college bills. I still care more about the sound than I do the video.
I don’t need lots of bells and whistles, but it needs to sound good and be easy to operate. I’m leaning toward a Yamaha RX-V775WA.
Is that a good choice, or would you experts suggest something else?
I will not recommend any of the current Yamaha or Onkyo receivers. because the class D amplifiers they are using hurt my ears; bright and tinny.
They have gone cheap as possible on their amplifiers and power supplies, and the sound quality has gone down the tube IMO. They are also the worst choice for speakers like yours. They can become unstable and break into oscillation with electrostatic speakers.
I recommend the NAD T758, which has better designed circuits which will drive real speakers with much lower distortion levels. The sound is much much better, and it has plenty of power to run almost any speakers. It does have full preouts, but I think it has the current reserves to run your speakers without an additional amp.
Whatever you do, don't even LOOK at the manufacturer's claimed power levels, which are basically nonsense. That is a game they play to screw with us; don't play their game.
The key thing is distortion when driving a real speaker, which can be 100 times what is present when driving a simple resistor load on a test bench. Your speakers will drive a cheap receiver into high distortion levels, because electrostatics typically are quite capacitive at some frequencies, and need a well-designed amplifier with good current reserves like the NAD.
No one gives any specs on that, and that is what counts.
Short of connecting a pair of speakers and a $40,000 distortion analyzer, the best test for sound quality are those two sensitive things on either side of your head.
Everyone has an excellent pair of them, and they will tell you what you need to know if you listen carefully.
Cambridge Audio and Arcam also make good receivers, but they tend to be very expensive.