I have listened to audio gear for 50 years (and designed and built some of my own amplifiers and speakers).
People who say that a cheap AVR is just as good as amplifiers and preamps built with superior components and lower distortion are either simply too inexperienced to know the difference or are
trying to justify the cheap crap they own to themselves.
I learned the hard way.
For example, in 1981 i bought the first set of Polk RTA 12 speakers (the demo units from the Las Vegas CES that year) for around $800. They sounded fabulous in the store, but sounded like crap in my home.
After some experimentation, it became clear that my 120 watt Yamaha integrated amplifier was making everything sound like crap.
I replaced it with a much less expensive NAD 3020 integrated amplifier (which only put out 30 watts per channel), and they sounded wonderful.
So much for the clowns who say "all amplifiers sound pretty much the same". They are completely out of touch with reality They need to have someone do a good A/B demo for them between their cheap AVR and a good amplifier.
A good integrated amplifier or preamp and power amplifier will sound better because it can do a better job of driving speakers, because it has a larger power supply that can minimize the effect of speaker impedance variations.
Speaker impedance and current drive phase angles very from frequency to frequency in the audio band, and these cheap AVRs do not have the muscle to drive speakers without significant distortion.
A large capable power supply costs a lot of money to build, and the cheap ones in most AVRs are feeble; they don't cut it. Anyone who thinks a $600 receiver has five capable amplifiers and an adequate power supply to run them is living in la-la land. Any engineer who designs this kind of gear for a living knows that. Hell, a good 2-channel amplifier costs over $1000 to build.
I have listened to and owned lots of gear over the last 40 years, and I only trade up when I CAN CLEARLY HEAR AN IMPROVEMENT IN THE SOUND QUALITY!!!!!
I do not waste money; I don't have THAT much to waste...lol.
My current system consists of an Audio Research LS-26 preamp, a Bryston 3BSST2 power amplifier, and Vandersteen Treo speakers, all of which cost around $20,000 (including the turntable and OPPO BDP-95).
If I could have found cheaper gear that could deliver the same sound quality, I would own it. I tried, believe me. I have owned a lot of other good amplifiers and speakers over the years, but this system sounds better.
If something cheaper floats your boat, that is great.
But don't try to tell me that it sounds as good as my system, because i've been there and heard it, and it doesn't sound as good.
Edited by commsysman - 6/2/13 at 9:26am