When thinking about 5.1 / 7.1 / 9.1 receiver + outboard amps outboard amps for frt mains first consider this :2 x power = +3dB perceived loudness barley perceptible
2 x loudness +10dB = 10 x power req. on same speakers
4 x loudness +20dB = 100 x power req on same speakers
If using 87 dB 1w1m efficiency speakers and 100wpc receiver
+ powered sub/subs you can reach THX reference levels @ about ~ 60-65 watts
on your mains and surrounds OTOH with 90dB 1w 1m speakers you will need only ~30wpc and so on.
maybe less if room gain is factored in . ofc room size and distance to speakers are a consideration also
lots to gain with efficient speakers though any decent powered sub/subs will take care of itself .
usually pointless to add outboard amps in most cases with decent 100 + wpc AVR unless you are making a large dedicated theater.
THX consumer reference spec is 100wpc receiver like the gang says no need for discrete sound card just use S/PDIF or HDMI out to AVR .
Skip the power amp and sound card save the money for diapers no joke ! you can also get a better receiver although that one or a similar spec one looks OK .
Some of the ONK's and HK's have been having reliability issues lately though FWIH from technicians .
The Denons and Marantz seem to be OK they say . NR 616 at that price might be worth a shot though THX Select2 Plus at that price is good.
Hopefully you wont be listening to music in excess of 100dB for long periods
if so so you might not be doing it for long anyway .
What frt end/media browser for HTPC WMC, XBMC ? WMC is included in win 7 HP +XMBC
is excellent free open source alternativefoobar 2000
is excellent free open source music player
lots better than J river for music has a lot of features not found in J river or anything else short of a DAW (digital audio workstation ) just doesn't have the eye candy.
JR is OK but just that . I tried JR19 trial just to see I've had JR 14 forever don't use though. 19 didn't impress either just newer eye candy '(nice though)
and otherwise useless so called 'sound processing' that isn't beyond the capabilities of anything else out there for free or just about any included PC chip or sound card EQ and definitely not even close to Foobar 2000 I wouldn't pay for it with what else is out there for free. Otoh decent AVR has plenty of options there. Foobar 2000 has S/PDIF output option also
WMC /XMBC + FB 2000 are free though and just as good IMO better. You may also want VLC ( free also )
for the occasional video file nothing else will play . WMC does not support .flac without this plug in
.Edited by tubetwister - 10/25/13 at 2:59am