Originally Posted by bobby2478
So I agree with you that you can't just trust a manufacturer's specs on wattage and base your decision on that. A $2,000 receiver that outputs 120w x 7 will easily outperform a $300 receiver that also outputs 120w x 7, considering the lower end one will likely produce lots of distortion, unlike the more expensive model with the same wattage specs which will produce clean crisp power.
I think that is a gross exaggeration. The reality is that over the past 40 years amplifier technology has improved so dramatically that today any $500 AVR will produce 100 watts of really clean power, cleaner than a 1970s vintage McIntosh did. Power is dramatically up, and distortion is extremely low in even economy models today. Which is why in the 70s it was routine to fry tweeters, and today it's nearly unheard of. Heck, stereo amps were 35 and 50 watts, and that was at 1% THD. Now every receiver you buy at Best Buy or Costco has 100w at .1%.
Plus, putting aside the subwoofer, you don't use 100w at home. And the difference between 100w and 130w isn't even discernable. In order to double the perceived loudness you need a 10db increase, which, as a general rule of thumb requires a tenfold increase in power.
And frankly, since 1974, the FTC rules on advertising consumer amplifier output have largely eliminated the total snake oil claims of "total power" "peak power", and all the other nonsense and basically require that power per channel with both channels driven from 20-20k hz at 8ohms at a stated THD level be specified, and the rules also specify certain test conditions, like using the actual production power supplies, without extra cooling, and the like.
The one thing to watch with today's multi channel amps is how many channels are driven at the rated power. Some amps won't produce the same power on the surround channels, so you need to see if it says X watts w/7 channels driven.
Yeah, I don't buy econo equipment either and have had lots of Denon, Yamaha, Luxman, Marantz, Kyocera and SonyES stuff over the years. (although Crutchfield doesn't sell, and Denon and Yamaha certainly don't make, high end gear - they're "mid-fi."mass market companeis.). And it's comforting to feel those heavier units, and they come with lots of nice features like networking and plenty of HDMI inputs, and so forth. But getting plenty of clean amplifier power today does NOT require spending a lot of money.
Now, if you want to start talking about buying Krell or Bryston or Mark Levinson or Threshold or Jeff Rowland or Classe or Conrad-Johnson or the like, that's an entirely different matter.