Originally Posted by turnne1
otherwise we would all be buying the least expensive A/V piece out there and saving our money
That is an excluded middle argument. Making reasonable choices does not necessarily mean buying the least expensive thing.
For example it is a technical fact that spending $500-1,000 on an Oppo BD player makes no sense if you are going to attach it to the rest of your system with a piece of HDMI cable because HDMI bypasses the majority of the high quality circuitry in the Oppo.
There might not be any discernible difference in the audio quality with an OPPO & a low cost Bluray Player via HDMI, but there is a noticeable difference in the video quality when I'm using my projector - BenQ W1080 ST - 100" 16 X 9 screen. I also have an older Sony Bluray player that I keep in the chain for Amazon Prime streaming. To me, it's a better picture with the projector via the OPPO 103 as opposed to Sony - - direct comparison via a Bluray disc. On my smaller 65" Sammy LCD/LED - - you can't tell as much difference. (Turns out that I don't stream that much anymore because I like the quality of Bluray & I have multiple Redbox locations near my house and at $1.62 for a Bluray movie - - that's not a bad price.)
I also use my OPPO 103's Analog outputs for two channel stereo via the Parasound 2100 Stereo Preamplifier. One of the best additions to my home theater setup as it seamlessly integrates HT with 2 channel sound. (Sub off - - strictly two channel with the PS2100)
Everyone (well, most everyone) likes to save money and if you can match price with performance - - then you've got the best of both worlds. If you can get a killer deal on a quality product (even used - in good shape) then that is another avenue to upgrade your equipment without paying top dollar.
I do not buy the most expensive equipment out there. And I always shop for the best deal. I think there is a step above the very least expensive product and if you do your homework and match/compare features & functionality, you can get the best sound/video quality for your budget.
I chose separates after wanting a little more punch out of my 7.1 HT setup. And I did not buy the most expensive amplifier out there. (I couldn't, anyway!) I researched the web and read as much as I could about "Class D" amplifiers since I was used to the sound with my Pioneer SC65 (now in "Preamp" mode). I ended up with the Wyred 4 Sound MMC 7.1 at 221 wpc.
I also have physical limitations with respect to Class A/B amplifiers due to the size of my equipment rack and I had a concern about electrical consumption - - having to change any breakers in my basement "man cave." While a Class A/B amp might sound better (lots of discussion about this topic) - - it didn't fit my buying criteria.
To protect my equipment, I went with a Furman Elite PFi Linear Filtering AC Power Source. It's not the most expensive out there but it it's worked well for me.
If sound quality and getting the best out of your system is your objective - - whether it be music or movies, separates or not, there is a middle ground where you can drive the price/performance equation. And if you can compare separates versus an integrated AVR - - then make they decision based on what you like and what your budget can afford. If you can test out any equipment in your listening/viewing environment - - then all the better. Above all - - enjoy. This is a hobby and should be a fun experience.