Originally Posted by dean-l
The only two brands I didn't check out were NAD and Rotel.
I'm confortable skipping Rotel, however. Too many basic problems for me --- like, class D amps, CODEC pops, people complaining about issues that never get resolved generation after generation, no headphone jack, class D amps (oh, did I mention that already LOL!) and chintzy stickers to cover a TOO BRIGHT and un-dimming power button light. Rotel seems stuck in neutral and just update HDMI versions with each generation. A great name and history, just sliding into irrelevancy. Sad.
Even though Cambridge Audio is behind the times in many ways, they do a VERY good job with what they do DO and are moving forward. They tend to disappoint (like Audyssey 2EQ) and yet turn around and implement something else better than anyone (like Audyssey Dynamic EQ and Volume / Video Processing). Like I said they are HOT and COLD. For me the HOT were the RIGHT things and the COLD, not so important. Others might disagree. In fact, I can EASILY understand why.
As far as NAD, well, THAT really IS the only "boutique" brand I wish I had tried that I didn't. Nad is an odd name for me. They make TONS of AVR's, update them all the time, yet RARELY ever get "five star" (for audio) type reviews on them, or make "Top Pick" lists. One exception, sort of, is the 787. Home Theater.com put the 787 on it's "top picks" list after bumping off the Arcam AVR600. Basically, calling it the best sounding AVR! But, OTOH, WhatHiFi, gave the 787 a pretty stinker review. SO, overall (from what I've seen) the "review" industry tends to be pretty regularly "luke-warm" to them, as a whole. BUT, that being said, you need to try one to really know for sure, and I just happened not to, unfortunately.