What it came down to for me is listening to the music. I had an old Adcom system back in the day but with DVD's and AC3 I switched to receivers. Had a JVC, then a Kenwood and a couple Yamahas. With my last receiver I was happy when I got it and I liked it. Easy to use, all the latest features - HDMI, DD, 7.1 etc. and was great for movies. But I was listening less and less to just music. Then I replaced my speakers, then I got an amp and connected to my receiver. I ended up trying several amps, buying and selling them used. 2 channel amps and multi channel. I thought it definitely made a difference. But then I took out my old Adcom preamp and hooked it up one day and listened to a couple cd's and I realized what I was missing. So I wanted the sound from separates, but now also wanted the features of a receiver. So I went back to separates again and sold my receiver. I have excellent 2 channel sound that I'm happy with and I have a great movie surround sound system too. Of course, it came with a cost but the high end receivers from Denon and Yamaha are expensive too. So its all relative.