I recently went through a similar exercise in putting together a system for my girlfriend. I only wanted to spend $1000 though I limited myself to the 2 front channels.
I settled on the Onkyo 600 receiver (good price at onecall.com) and went with the Diva 4.1s (on sale for $600). So I spent more than I wanted to (I also got her a Tosh DVD player for like $120) but she now has the basic building blocks and can expand from there. Next step of course will be the center channel.
This may sound heretical but after the crappy mono stuff she was listening to through a boombox (yikes, it broke my heart) this will be nirvana!
Not sure what kinda of listening you do. You just stated a need for a receiver and speakers. 2 channel? 5.1? And what is the music vs. HT ratio. Mine is around 40/60 music/ht or ht/music... depends on when you ask.
I have to second chrisreeves opinion if you are going with a HT set up. But a bit more on the receiver would be nice and that doesn't allow room for sub. A sub isn't necessary (It's the last piece people generally suggust you get), but a nice one will definately improve your enjoyment. I've listened to B&W's and those where going to be my pick (the CM4). After a few months, I discovered the Diva's (**********) and looked into them. This forum has a great Official Diva thread. I looked at http://www.audioenvy.com to find an audition, but someone local (and not on audioenvy) told me that I could listen at his place. What I discovered blew me away. The Diva 6.1's that I listened to were just great. In fact, just yesterday, I want back to observe/help out with another audition. What made me get the Diva's? They were a great price AND they sounded better then other speakers I listened to that cost 50%-100% more.
One last thing... try to listen to a lot of speakers. (You might be doing this, but I can't tell). A/Bing speakers would be great. This will give you more confidence in you purchase and is just a good idea.
I'd be interested in hearing what you have to say about the Diva 4.1's.
A number of good thoughts given here. I believe the Diva's must be fine speakers and excellent value as reflected by their owner's enthusiasm for the product.
But...what good is it to have speakers of the Diva's quality if you feed it an inferior source. No matter how good the speaker is (and the better the speaker the more revealing of the source it is) garbage in - garbage out. You would most likely be better off upping the ante on the source and balance that by cutting back on the speakers (and listen to the 4.1s vs. the B&W's).
You can get a Denon 1602 on Ebay for around $300.00 shipped to your house. That should be sufficient to power your Divas for the time being. Receivers come and go, but you will never want to get rid of the Divas.
I don't think there's as much difference between a low end receiver and a high end receiver as there is between a low end speaker and a high end speaker. In addition, a good speaker will last a long long time, while receiver performance seems to be continually increasing. Plus it's physically much easier to swap out a low end receiver for a high end one than it is to go changing a complete speaker set-up.
I am driving my Divas with a $199 Sony 5.1 receiver. I can see you cringing now. =) When I get the money I will definitely upgrade to a better receiver (maybe even separates). But for now the sound quality is still very impressive to my ears.
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