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post #1 of 27 Old 11-26-2013, 11:09 PM - Thread Starter
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Hi folks, I am having trouble choosing a good stereo receiver - would like to hear some opinions. I am looking to buy a simple, no frills but high quality stereo receiver (no surround, 5.1 or hdmi stuff, just plain stereo) for music listening. I have a pair of Swans MKII bookshelf speakers set up in my living room. Main music source will be a CD player. I also love listening to my local FM jazz radio station. I'd also like to hear some songs from spotify from my computer occasionally. I have no plans to upgrade my speakers or buy a subwoofer or connect a TV or other audio equipment in the foreseeable future.

I'd like the receiver to have excellent audio, good quality controls, clean classic looks and a remote control. I am considering the Sony STR-DH130 and Onkyo TX-8255, those are the two that seem to have decent reviews. I'd like to keep this at below $300. I do not mind buying used or vintage. I want this purchase to serve me well for a long time. I keep reading conflicting stories about vintage vs new and there are way too many older brands and models and I am getting overwhelmed.

What is a good stereo receiver that you'd recommend for me?
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post #2 of 27 Old 11-26-2013, 11:27 PM
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Consider the HK 3490. Solid receiver with digital inputs for your cd player and your pc. If streaming is your thing consider the onkyo 8050.

you could also get a surround receiver and set it up in 2 channel configuration. the benefits of this route would be the availability of room correction and future expandability (subwoofer integration for example, is best on a surround receiver). And many are network capable for streaming and the like.

I don't need snobs to tell me how to think, thank you!
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post #3 of 27 Old 11-27-2013, 01:21 AM
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My sincere advice is to buy an AV receiver. A lower end AV receiver will cost less than a stereo receiver because of supply, demand and competition. You don't have to use all the functions of the AV receiver. It will work fine as a stereo receiver and provide some added benefits like room calibration and bass management. It will also have more connectivity options. Later on, if you decide to add surround sound you will be ready to go.
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post #4 of 27 Old 11-27-2013, 09:35 AM
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I've owned the Onkyo 8255 - it is rather plain and has few features but it works for stereo. I have an HK 3390 that is a better stereo receiver than the 8255 IMO. And I'll second the HK 3490 or a 5.1 receiver. All but the cheapest AVRs have room correction which IMO can really help a good setup sound even better. Hard to go wrong with an inexpensive AVR or the 3490.

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post #5 of 27 Old 11-27-2013, 09:49 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FMW View Post

My sincere advice is to buy an AV receiver. A lower end AV receiver will cost less than a stereo receiver because of supply, demand and competition. You don't have to use all the functions of the AV receiver. It will work fine as a stereo receiver and provide some added benefits like room calibration and bass management. It will also have more connectivity options. Later on, if you decide to add surround sound you will be ready to go.

+1

For a 2-channel guy the two big plusses are bass management and room calibration.

I know many people who have a sub for their 2 channel systems and they are very pleased. AFAIK there are no floor-standers that have bass that can be compared to having a good sub. IME a lot of the bad words about 2-channel and subs comes from people who are either trying to do roll-your-own bass management or have cheaped off on the sub.

The opportunity to properly support a center channel speaker is only a little less attractive.
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post #6 of 27 Old 11-27-2013, 03:29 PM
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I’ve been using a Denon DRA-685 stereo receiver, in various roles, for years. It’s been great and I really like it, but I too would advise getting an AV receiver for its superior future flexibility.

In addition to advantages that others have mentioned. – At some time in the future, you’ll no doubt wish that your stereo receiver had HDMI input(s) / output(s) and digital audio input(s) and output(s).
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post #7 of 27 Old 11-27-2013, 04:01 PM
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If you're really set on a 2-channel stereo receiver, consider the following:
Onkyo TX-8020 (no networking) (usually around $190)
Onkyo TX-8050 (has networking) (usually around $250)
Yamaha R-S300 (usually around $280)
Yamaha R-S500 (usually around $350)
Harman Kardon 3390
Harman Kardon 3490

Of those, I think the Onkyo TX-8050 has nice looks and features. The Yamaha R-S300 and HK 3390 are also worth considering.

But I do have to agree with the other suggestions as well. Consider an AVR in the same price range. Sure, it will have features you won't use, but it will also have more flexibility and some features you just might find worthwhile (bass management, room eq, etc).

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post #8 of 27 Old 11-27-2013, 04:38 PM
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The good sound quality and features of the H-K 3490 make it a hands-down first choice in my book.

The sound quality of units from Yamaha, Sony and Onkyo I find harsh and excessively bright by comparison, and the 3490 has a better power supply and can deliver a lot more real power IMO.

I think it is an exceptional value for the $320 I see it selling for.

It also has a long list of useful features (phono stage, subwoofer outputs, DAC, etc. etc.)
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post #9 of 27 Old 11-28-2013, 08:52 AM
 
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Originally Posted by commsysman View Post

The sound quality of units from Yamaha, Sony and Onkyo I find harsh and excessively bright by comparison,
I'd like to see some evidence of that please.
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post #10 of 27 Old 11-28-2013, 09:42 AM
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I'd like to see some evidence of that please.
+1

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post #11 of 27 Old 11-28-2013, 10:33 AM
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Oh please - it is just an opinion. How can one measure "harsh" on an oscilloscope?
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post #12 of 27 Old 11-28-2013, 12:05 PM
 
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Originally Posted by someoledude View Post

Oh please - it is just an opinion. How can one measure "harsh" on an oscilloscope?
People typically call exaggerated high frequency "harsh" or "bright" but that has more to do with speakers or room than any modern receivers. RTA measurement will easily reveal the frequency response.
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post #13 of 27 Old 11-28-2013, 12:09 PM
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Originally Posted by spkr View Post

People typically call exaggerated high frequency "harsh" or "bright" but that has more to do with speakers or room than any modern receivers. RTA measurement will easily reveal the frequency response.
+1

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post #14 of 27 Old 11-29-2013, 06:22 AM
 
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Oh please - it is just an opinion. How can one measure "harsh" on an oscilloscope?

Harsh sound is generally due to poor (rough, unbalanced) frequency response. A scope is a poor choice of tools for that purpose. A RTA or RTA software is better choice of tools.

Poor frequency response is usually due to speakers and/or rooms and is almost never due to AVR choice.
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post #15 of 27 Old 11-29-2013, 09:29 AM
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It's a good idea to think things through when it comes to what sound you prefer before buying speakers and the electronics.
I didn't..
I ended up with very analytical stuff and speakers with ribbon tweeters!
It gave me a headache just to look at the stuff.
With new speakers and cables with the right caracter it sounds lovely.. But thay's not the best and least expensive way to go I can assure you!
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post #16 of 27 Old 11-29-2013, 10:27 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 67jason View Post

Consider the HK 3490. Solid receiver with digital inputs for your cd player and your pc. If streaming is your thing consider the onkyo 8050.

you could also get a surround receiver and set it up in 2 channel configuration. the benefits of this route would be the availability of room correction and future expandability (subwoofer integration for example, is best on a surround receiver). And many are network capable for streaming and the like.

+1 on the 3490. Not much choice out there any more. I have about a 10 YO Rotel 1050 that I really like.
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post #17 of 27 Old 12-01-2013, 10:21 PM - Thread Starter
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Thanks a lot gentlemen. I will go look at the H-K 3490. There is a audio store in my city that has this model, hopefully I can listen and see it in person. I do not have a TV at home (story for a different thread) for a few years and have no interest in a home theater type setup whatsoever. It's nuts that finding a good stereo receiver is so hard in this age of technology. I don't usually read cnet, but this article hit the spot pretty well:
http://news.cnet.com/8301-13645_3-20082026-47/how-can-30-year-old-receivers-sound-better-than-new-ones/
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post #18 of 27 Old 12-02-2013, 03:14 PM
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From your link,
"Ex-movie theater projectionist Steve Guttenberg has also worked as a high-end audio salesman, and as a record producer."

I added the italics. I didn't trust his writings before I knew that, and I trust them even less now. Having said that, nothing wrong with getting the H-K, or any of the others I listed.

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post #19 of 27 Old 12-02-2013, 04:12 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by beaveav View Post

I didn't trust his writings before I knew that, and I trust them even less now.

Read this one...

http://news.cnet.com/8301-13645_3-57582757-47/can-expensive-audio-cables-improve-the-sound-of-a-hi-fi/
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post #20 of 27 Old 12-02-2013, 04:14 PM
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Yikes, he's even worse than I thought! A shame that writing for CNET gives him some level of credibility, because it's entirely undeserved.

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post #21 of 27 Old 12-02-2013, 04:21 PM
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Originally Posted by Badouri View Post

Quote:
Originally Posted by beaveav View Post

I didn't trust his writings before I knew that, and I trust them even less now.

Read this one...

http://news.cnet.com/8301-13645_3-57582757-47/can-expensive-audio-cables-improve-the-sound-of-a-hi-fi/

Well written - as an ad for The Cable Company. I wonder how much Steve got for that one.
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post #22 of 27 Old 12-03-2013, 03:53 PM
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Advertising disguised as journalism. It's bad enough that he would write such a piece; it's even worse that his editors/employers would publish it.

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post #23 of 27 Old 12-03-2013, 07:24 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by commsysman View Post

The sound quality of units from Yamaha, Sony and Onkyo I find harsh and excessively bright by comparison ...

How can you pass on nonsense like this to total strangers? In the 21st Century (and for much of the 20th), no reputable company on earth is going offer a receiver, preamp or power amp that is "bright." They solved flat response a long time ago. You're entitled to your opinion, but, jeez, man, enough of the mythology already.
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post #24 of 27 Old 12-04-2013, 02:42 PM
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Originally Posted by Brownstone322 View Post

Quote:
Originally Posted by commsysman View Post

The sound quality of units from Yamaha, Sony and Onkyo I find harsh and excessively bright by comparison ...

How can you pass on nonsense like this to total strangers? In the 21st Century (and for much of the 20th), no reputable company on earth is going offer a receiver, preamp or power amp that is "bright." They solved flat response a long time ago. You're entitled to your opinion, but, jeez, man, enough of the mythology already.

Maybe a 'thumbs down' button is a good idea...
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post #25 of 27 Old 12-04-2013, 07:24 PM
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Wonder what the OP bought?

I just set up an HK 3490 that I bought new from Amazon for $320 and am pleased with it. According to this test http://www.audioholics.com/av-receiver-reviews/hk-3490/hk-3490-measurements it puts an honest 120 watts into an 8 ohm load and has no trouble driving 4 ohm speakers.

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post #26 of 27 Old 12-05-2013, 12:28 AM
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Wonder what the OP bought?

I just set up an HK 3490 that I bought new from Amazon for $320 and am pleased with it. According to this test http://www.audioholics.com/av-receiver-reviews/hk-3490/hk-3490-measurements it puts an honest 120 watts into an 8 ohm load and has no trouble driving 4 ohm speakers.

The OP mentioned the 3490 was what he'd decided on. Not a bad choice IMO since he won't be using a sub. I've had several HK stereo receivers and AVRs over the years. I would hesitate to own another of their AVRs - the stereo stuff seems to be OK. The 3480 was nearly the same as the 3490 but with no DACs. I've been using a 3390 in my bedroom setup for several years. Its a great stereo receiver IMO. It gets replaced by a Denon AVR 1713 on Friday. Audyssey XT should tame the 12" sealed sub better than I can do with a couple of dials on the sub. Tomorrow my HK990 returns from an RMA exchange with HK. The DSP was bad in it. I hope thats all of the 2 year warranty I'll ever need to use.

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post #27 of 27 Old 12-05-2013, 12:58 PM
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Maybe a 'thumbs down' button is a good idea...

+1
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