Originally Posted by jeremyds
Thank you for the reply! It's so hard to figure this stuff out
You actually don't have to figure out very much.
Buy the AVR and see if it runs out of power in actual use.
I'd be willing to bet that 90% of the external amps out there are not doing anything but absorbing power and money. Especially people who add 150 watt amps to AVRs that put out 100 watts. That's only a few dB of power and barely audible at best.
The smartest things I see in your existing system are some nice speakers and a good sub. The sub does more to extend the clean loud sound that you can get from your AVR than any other electronics.
Most people's next frontier is room acoustics, not a fancier AVR.
I don't understand why people buy megabuck AVRs. The final feature I'd pay more than a nickel for in an AVR would be Audyssey Multieq XT32, and that can be obtained in good AVrs running like maybe $500 or so.
I've looked at the service manuals for some megabuck AVRs (I'm an EE with decades of audio experience) and they really don't differ significantly in terms of electronics that would improve SQ, from stuff in the $500 range. No such differences show up in spec sheets or published lab tests.
People say lots of things about build quality and the like, but I've been there and done that and I don't see a difference. Parts quality differences are far less than they were 40 years ago. So much is just plain standardized. From a reliability standpoint most of the big reliability mistakes that are being made are things that small no-cost differences in assembly that you can't see without destroying the equipment. In volume, it costs no more to do it right or wrong.
People love their cute little toroidal power transformers, but toroids are not all win-win from a performance standpoint, and lots of high quality equipment doesn't use them.