Originally Posted by MTVhike
I currently have a home theater setup in my basement, but I want a new 2-channel system for my living room, upstairs. I'm OK with the quality of my AVR (Yamaha Aventage RX-A1010), but it's a little long in the tooth and I would like some more features, not required for a surround sound system. I have some speakers I want to re-purpose, but I will eventually replace them. I don't have any FM reception in my area, so I don't need a receiver. I THINK I want an integrated amp with either Bluesound or HEOS built in, but maybe I am limiting myself with this requirement. So, my options are: 1. an integrated amp with the streaming built in (e.g. NAD C 368 or 388 or HEOS equivalent); 2. An integrated amp without the streaming but add a stand-alone streaming component, e.g. Node2i; 3. a preamp (i.e. a control amp with phono input) and a separate stereo power amp (or two monos). I want the amp to be able to handle a low impedance load, because I haven't selected my speakers yet and am thinking about Maggies, with or without a sub. The control amp should have a line-level sub output.
Of your listed options, I would say "option 4"
, which is to use an external device for all streaming and start with using your current AVR in pure direct, then adjust as (or if) needed after you get your speakers.
Streaming hardware will always become obsolete. Even if the hardware could support newer formats, manufacturers stop issuing firmware updates shortly after a new model comes out. Standalone streaming devices will stay current much longer with firmware updates because that's all the device does and stopping firmware updates on that will be like the manufacturer killing the device. Even if the standalone streaming device does go obsolete, you can just buy a new streaming device.
For streaming built into AVR's, most manufacturers stop firmware updates not long after the new AVR models come out, then you need a new AVR/amp when it goes obsolete (and the market value of your old AVR/amp also plummets because it is obsolete). Of course, then you could add standalone streaming to your AVR/amp, but better to start with standalone and never worry about the amp/AVR becoming obsolete.
When you say you are looking for "more features", what features are you looking for. I guess the big question is: do you plan to use room EQ?
Originally Posted by m. zillch
\P.S. The common belief that modern day AVRs used in "Pure Direct" mode (for 2ch analog sources) have "audibly inferior sound" to 2ch integrated amps with the same power is a myth and has no basis in evidence based science (controlled listening tests).
I don't think that is the common belief. The reality is that, because there are no standards, "direct" modes are often not direct, depending on how the manufacturer designed the component and depending on what features you enable. I have probably (unintentionally) personally helped that myth along
by posting several times that my AVR's have never sounded good for music -- which is true, but I haven't really played with direct modes enough because mine are used 99% for theater applications. It's not always easy to know or prevent an AVR from digitizing, which is why I always recommend dedicated 2-channel when starting from scratch for a stereo system, but I'm also a big believer in reusing what can be reused and that new is not always better than old.
If an AVR is truly operating in pure direct mode, where there is no internal digitization of the content, then AVR's don't necessarily have a significant deficit to integrated stereo amps. If the AVR has true pure direct, I agree with the rest of the post that the OP should start with the current AVR and then adjust later after speakers are in place to determine if any changes are needed (and there's a good chance there is no need unless the speakers selected are outside the operational range of the AVR).