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I have a friend who wants a stereo for his new home. He wants to listen to music inside his home and occasionally outside. He also has a favorite radio station that requires good a radio with excellent reception. So, I'm thinking of a receiver with zones and a coaxial fm input would satisfy his need. He is not opposed to 5.1, yet not interested in it either. He does not necessarily have a budget, yet a good buy is preferred. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.
 

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I have a friend who wants a stereo for his new home. He wants to listen to music inside his home and occasionally outside. He also has a favorite radio station that requires good a radio with excellent reception. So, I'm thinking of a receiver with zones and a coaxial fm input would satisfy his need. He is not opposed to 5.1, yet not interested in it either. He does not necessarily have a budget, yet a good buy is preferred. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

The Yamaha RN/RS-500/300 would fit the bill although no zone control (the RN series can receive streamed music Ethernet/usb wireless networked or usb (or by music on usb stick also) in FLAC/WAV/MP3 formats, with its built in DAC and has net radio. You'd have to check specs for the RS to see if it has coax though I'm sure it does). The Onkyo TX-8050 does have zone control, DAC, usb, Ethernet/wireless like the Yamaha but the Yamaha is just better overall (the ONK runs hot, very hot).
 

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I have a friend who wants a stereo for his new home. He wants to listen to music inside his home and occasionally outside. He also has a favorite radio station that requires good a radio with excellent reception..... Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.
We really do need a budget? Though we also understand that he might be seeking knowledge on how much budget is required. But, budget creates the framework for everything.

If we start by assuming that he has something of a mid-range consumer budget. We can make a few suggestions.

But before we do, we need to know the dimensions of the room, the dimensions of the listening area if they are different, and the layout of the room? For example, is this a closed room or part of an open floor plan. Or is it two room adjoined by a large open archway?

Next, how does he plan to use the system? You've covered this to some extent, but we need a sense of how important this system is. Is this just background music while you have your morning coffee? Or is there serious listening involved? To what extent are movies important? And are the movies on TV, from a Streaming Service like Netflix, or are they on disc?

Personally, and this is my bias, I prefer Stereo for both movies and music. It dilutes my budget much less than Surround Sound. It has less clutter, and I can concentrate my budget on better equipment.

Next, how big of speakers can he tolerate. I urge him to get Floorstanding speakers sized to the size of his room. However, under the right circumstances, good bookshelf speakers can do an excellent job.

Does he wish to connect the system to his computer to Stream music locally, and to stream music from the many Internet Radio Stations? For music listening absolutely nothing beats Internet Radio. However, for local news, weather, and so on, it is hard to beat broadcast radio. Also, many broadcast radio stations are now broadcasting into the Internet. Whether your local stations do or not, I can't say.

If TV/Movies carry significant weight, then he will need an amp that has a DAC or he will need a separate DAC (digital to analog converter). This will allow the connection of the TV Optical Audio Out to the DAC so you can hear movies through the Stereo system.

Modern TVs focus on being thinner and thinner and with smaller and smaller edges, the result is, that there is no place to put internal speakers. The extended result is that most TV sound like crap. So, if you have a Stereo in the room, you absolutely want the TV and Movie sound to come through the Stereo.

For amps, if nothing else, here are illustration of the possibilities -

Yamaha AS301 Integrated Amp (no radio), 60w/ch with DAC - $349 -


http://www.crutchfield.com/g_344650/Integrated-Amplifiers.html

Yamaha AS501 Integrated Amp (no radio), 85w/ch with DAC - $549 -

http://www.crutchfield.com/p_022AS501B/Yamaha-A-S501-Black.html?tp=34948

Yamaha RS300 Receiver, AM/FM, 50w/ch, (no dac) - $279 -


http://www.crutchfield.com/p_022RS300/Yamaha-R-S300.html?tp=47041

Yamaha RS500 Receiver, AM/FM, 75w/ch, (no dac) - $349 -


http://www.crutchfield.com/p_022RS500/Yamaha-R-S500.html?tp=47041

As a separate item here is a Yamaha AM/FM Tuner which could be added to the Yamaha Integrated Amp -

Yamaha TS500 AM/FM Tuner - $249 -

http://www.crutchfield.com/p_022TS500/Yamaha-T-S500.html

Now we move into a very different style and class of amps, amps more in tune with the modern digital age.

Yamaha RN301 Network Receiver, 100w/ch, AM/FM, Network Streaming, Internal DAC - $299 -

http://www.crutchfield.com/p_022RN301/Yamaha-R-N301.html?tp=47041

I'm a little wary of this as it seem too much amp for too little money, however, for someone on a budget with the need for streaming, it represents high value.

Better than the above would be the more substantial Yamaha RN500.

Yamaha RN500 Network Receiver, 80w/ch, AM/FM, Network Streaming, Internal DAC - $549 -

http://www.crutchfield.com/p_022RN500/Yamaha-R-N500.html?tp=47041

The RN500 to me is one of the best values in a full featured amp. But it is also $550.

Also worth noting that some of these amps have a Subwoofer output. There is no bass management, but using the controls on the SUb, a bookshelf and Sub would be blended together reasonably well.

There are other brands, for example, Onlyo TX-8050 is very similar to the Yamaha RN500. The Harman Kardon HK3770 is more power, more features, and for about $100 less that the RN500. So, I'm illustrating the different types of amp. Once we have a budget and a sense of the necessary features, we can focus more on specific brands and models.

For speakers, again, how much space does he have to place them, and how big is the room they will be in?

Tiny speakers do not make for big sound. Good large bookshelf speaker can be a very good compromise for both music and movies, if you are not too fussy about recreating the movie theater experience.

Right now the very highly regarded Wharfedale Diamond 10.2 are on sale. Both the Diamond 10.1, a smaller bookshelf, and the Diamond 10.7, the largest floorstanding, were given very good reviews in Stereophile Magazine. You can find those reviews on-line.

Here are those speakers -

Wharfedale Diamond 10.1, 5" bass driver, bookshelf - $299/pr -


http://www.musicdirect.com/p-15476-wharfedale-diamond-101-bookshelf-speakers-pr.aspx

Wharfedale Diamond 10.2, 6.5" bass driver, bookshelf - $379/pr -


http://www.musicdirect.com/p-15479-wharfedale-diamond-102-bookshelf-speakers-pr.aspx

While the Diamond 10.1 are good speakers, the Diamond 10.2 are more substantial speakers with very good bass response down to 40hz.

Wharfedale Diamond 10.7, 2x6.5", floorstanding - $999/pr -

http://www.musicdirect.com/p-15494-wharfedale-diamond-107-tower-speakers-pr.aspx

In a smaller floorstanding, which would work well in a smaller room -

Wharfedale Diamond 10.4, 2x5", floorstanding - $499/pr -

http://www.musicdirect.com/p-15485-wharfedale-diamond-104-tower-speakers-pr.aspx

Available in Black, Cherry, Rosewood, and perhaps Walnut.

I assure you that the Cherry is NOT as orange and bright as the photos make it appear. I have the Diamond 9.6 in Cherry, and it is a very sedate medium brown with just a hint of red tint to it. Very attractive.

The Rosewood, is darker with wider grain and a bit more red, but is a very attractive speaker.

Generally, for a living room or similar, I do not recommend Black speakers. Get some fine woodgrain to blend with your room.

At those Wharfedale links is a drop down box with the price in it, select that box and you will get a list of available finishes. Select the finish you are interested in and the photo will change to show that finish. I absolutely guarantee you that the Cherry is NOT as bright and orange as the photos make it out to be. I can post photos of my speakers if you want to see something closer to the true Cherry finish.

As with everything else, there are many other common and less common brands to choose from. Again, I'm more illustrating possibilities.

As an alternate example, in a lower cost but still highly regarded speakers, the Infinity Primus are worth considering.

Infinity Primus P363 floorstanding - $199/EACH -

http://www.crutchfield.com/p_108P363BK/Infinity-Primus-P363.html?tp=185

Polk Audio TSx-440 floorstanding - $349/EACH -

http://www.crutchfield.com/p_107TX440TC/Polk-Audio-TSx440T-Cherry.html?tp=185

If your friend chooses a Receiver with OUT a DAC, an external DAC that is versatile, and of good quality and reputation is going to run about $300. However, it is possible to get very basic DAC for as low as $25. Which path your friend chooses depends on his budget, his circumstances, and his requirements.

As to the outdoor speakers, all the amps listed have Speaker-A and Speaker-B switches and terminals. Connect the indoor speakers to Speaker-A, and the outdoor speakers to Speaker-B. Both indoor and outdoor speakers can not be active UNLESS, they are all 8 ohm rated speakers. If they are 6 ohm or 4 ohms, only one set can be used at a time.

But, your friend needs to consider how to run the wires from the amp, where ever it is located, to the outdoor speakers. Those wires don't just magically appear.

So, I've given you a range of options. Show them to your friend so he can get some sense of the possibilities and the prices. We can accommodate just about any budget, and skew our suggestions to fit just about any circumstance, but before we can, those details have to be known, first by your friend, then conveyed to us.

That should give you a starting perspective.

Steve/bluewizard
 

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Here are the two most common and versatile DACs -

Cambridge Audio DACMagic 100 - $299 -

http://www.audioadvisor.com/prodinfo.asp?number=CADM100

Musical Fidelity V90-DAC - $299 -

http://www.audioadvisor.com/prodinfo.asp?number=MFV90DAC

You can get a Yamaha Amp with a DAC and add a $249 Tuner.

Or you can get a Yamaha Receiver without a DAC, and add a $300 DAC.

Note both these DACs have USB inputs for direct connect to a PC, if that has any interest for you or your friend.

The Network Receivers have both AM/FM, Network Streaming of Audio from local network storage and from the Internet. They also have DAC with digital inputs making connecting to a TV much easier. I think some of the Yamaha (and other) Network Receivers also have a USB connection, but it is USB-Media (thumb drives and similar) NOT USB-PC.

Overall, for a very high quality versatile system, you friend needs to spend about $1000 or a bit more. Though that very much depends on his requirements. There are bargain amps like the Yamaha RN301, and bookshelf speakers are much less than Floorstanding. Further, even floorstanding, like the Infinity Primus can be had for much less than the $1000/pr Wharfedale Diamond 10.7.

As I said, we can accommodate just about any budget or set of requirements, as long as they are realistic.

Steve/bluewizard
 

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I have a friend who wants a stereo for his new home. He wants to listen to music inside his home and occasionally outside. He also has a favorite radio station that requires good a radio with excellent reception. So, I'm thinking of a receiver with zones and a coaxial fm input would satisfy his need. He is not opposed to 5.1, yet not interested in it either. He does not necessarily have a budget, yet a good buy is preferred. Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.
Have your friend buy an A/V receiver (AVR):
- It will satisfy his requirements.
- It will give him room to expand (from stereo to multi-channel, video integration for HT, etc.) should he wish to do so.
- It will have additional features he can take advantage of should he wish to do so.
- A decent AVR will sound just as good as a decent stereo receiver.
- A decent AVR will not cost him (much) more than a decent receiver...and it may even cost him less.


$300-$500 should get him a good-quality AVR from Denon, Yamaha or Pioneer (among others).
 

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I won't not say that an equally priced Stereo and AV Receiver are equal amps in terms of quality.

However, in the range of $500, you can get a pretty nice AV Receiver with tremendous feature advantages. But you are diluting your budget on the amps. In a $500 Stereo, each amp channel is worth about $250. In a typical AV Receiver each amp channel is worth less than $70 each.

This is a decision your friend while have to make for himself. Most AVR has HDMI inputs, internal DACs, Streaming capability, occasionally Bluetooth, Subwoofer Bass Management, and the ability to expand beyond Stereo. However, all that extra stuff comes at a price. The more you have to put into other stuff, the less you have to put into the actually amp channels within a fixed budget.

Generally, I think at around $500 you are at the minimum quality standard for an AVR, and this $500 range covers a huge number of AVRs sold. But, the more you can afford to spend on an AVR, the better off you are. Generally around $1000 to $1500 you are getting very close to the quality of a Stereo system.

Also, occassionally, AV Receivers go on sale, and you can get a $500 amp for about $300, or you have get a $700 amp for about $500.

Here is $500 off a Denon AVR-X4000, though the price is still a considerable $799 -

http://www.crutchfield.com/p_033AVX4000/Denon-AVR-X4000-IN-Command.html?tp=179

Here is $300 off a Denon AVR-X3000 with a final price of a more modest $599 -

http://www.crutchfield.com/p_033AVX3000/Denon-AVR-X3000-IN-Command.html?tp=179

These are two models behind the more recently introduced model, but these are still very high feature amps, very up to date with very decent power.

Here is one model behind the current model - Denon AVR-X2100 - $399 (retail $699) -

http://www.crutchfield.com/p_033AVX2100/Denon-AVR-X2100W-IN-Command.html?tp=179


However, depending on your long range goals, you can do better in a Stereo amp ... depending on how you define better.

Steve/bluewizard
 

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The Yamaha RN/RS-500/300 would fit the bill although no zone control (the RN series can receive streamed music Ethernet/usb wireless networked or usb (or by music on usb stick also) in FLAC/WAV/MP3 formats, with its built in DAC and has net radio. You'd have to check specs for the RS to see if it has coax though I'm sure it does). The Onkyo TX-8050 does have zone control, DAC, usb, Ethernet/wireless like the Yamaha but the Yamaha is just better overall (the ONK runs hot, very hot).
And you know this ---- how? I own one and it is quite cool even driving 4ohm speakers for hours at a time.
 

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And you know this ---- how? I own one and it is quite cool even driving 4ohm speakers for hours at a time.
I owned one and took it back because it was like a toaster oven. The store even ran it for an hour and they agreed. Maybe I just had a bad one but I hear a lot even on this site of Onkyo's running very hot. .
 

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I owned one and took it back because it was like a toaster oven. The store even ran it for an hour and they agreed. Maybe I just had a bad one but I hear a lot even on this site of Onkyo's running very hot. .
Interesting. Sounds like a bad one but that isn't a good reason for condemning the entire lineup.

I used mine for a couple of weeks driving my mains - checking a few times for excess heat with a laser temp gun - temps on the top were in the 95-100F area. The Onkyo AVRs in recent years have been real space heaters. I've had 2 of their stereo receivers and not had a problem. The other was an 8020. I wouldn't hesitate to buy or recommend a receiver or integrated Onkyo but not an AVR. I got 'bitten' 3 times in 4 tries. The last Onkyo AVR I bought was the NR818 which ran a bit hot but not real bad - I decided to sell it rather than chance it. They do have a lot of bells and whistles for the price they ask - trouble is corners have to be cut somewhere for the prices they ask.
 

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Interesting. Sounds like a bad one but that isn't a good reason for condemning the entire lineup.

I used mine for a couple of weeks driving my mains - checking a few times for excess heat with a laser temp gun - temps on the top were in the 95-100F area. The Onkyo AVRs in recent years have been real space heaters. I've had 2 of their stereo receivers and not had a problem. The other was an 8020. I wouldn't hesitate to buy or recommend a receiver or integrated Onkyo but not an AVR. I got 'bitten' 3 times in 4 tries. The last Onkyo AVR I bought was the NR818 which ran a bit hot but not real bad - I decided to sell it rather than chance it. They do have a lot of bells and whistles for the price they ask - trouble is corners have to be cut somewhere for the prices they ask.
I must of had a duff one then. Shame, I liked it, had pre's to hook up to an amp as a preamp which the Yammie doesn't, played more lossless formats, and it had a bit more warmth to the sound at least I think so.
 

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However, in the range of $500, you can get a pretty nice AV Receiver with tremendous feature advantages. But you are diluting your budget on the amps. In a $500 Stereo, each amp channel is worth about $250. In a typical AV Receiver each amp channel is worth less than $70 each.
It's not as simple as that, stereo receivers and integrated amplifiers are niche products, and you have to look at volume of sales. There is probably much more markup in those products to account for the lower number of units sold, as compared to a home theater receiver.

If there is a possibility of using this system for movies/TV, then I think it would be wise to get an AV receiver. For someone new to the hobby, it just offers so many more useful features. You get everything built in, will have plenty of analog and digital inputs, HDMI passthrough, network connectivity, room correction, bass management, ability to expand to 5/7 channels, and you will pay less. It will still play in 2-channel mode if you need it to, and most have a pure direct feature that removes any processing from the sound.

Spend less on a receiver, you can get something for $300 that will work very well, and put the extra money into better speakers. Speakers and room treatments are the best way to influence sound quality.
 

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It's not as simple as that, stereo receivers and integrated amplifiers are niche products, and you have to look at volume of sales. There is probably much more markup in those products to account for the lower number of units sold, as compared to a home theater receiver.
Sort of. Margins tend to be consistent until you get to statement or collectible product.

Manufacturing minimums must be committed to which leaves less choice not greater cost.
 

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It's not as simple as that,....
I'm afraid it is as simple as that. When you consider all the additional processors and computers inside an AVR, the true price per channel is probably $60. That simply does not compare to $500 stereo.

In an AVR, the design is different to fit so many amps into such a limited space, the cooling is different, and the power supplies are weaker. A Seven Channel 100w/ch AVR probably has a 500w power supply. However, a 100w/ch Stereo would likely have a 300w power supply. Many AVRs claiming 100w/ch, drop down to 40w/ch when all channels are driven equally. That is simply a sign of the limits of the power supply. One is under-built, the other is over-built.

Now, I might concede that the difference is not in direct proportion. Meaning you don't necessarily need a $1750 AVR to equal a $500 Stereo. But you do need a lot more AVR to equal a Stereo. I would say you need to be up in the $1000 to $1500 range. I have heard $2000 AVRs that offered me everything I could want in Stereo sound quality, but the cost $2000 not $300.

From my experience, $500 on a AVR is the threshold or minimum standard. Below that, you are getting into cheap amps. At $500 or more, you are getting into quality amps.

I can see why some people would choose a AVR over a Stereo even for 2-channel music. The tremendous feature set on an AVR is a real advantage, but the advantage is in the features, not in the sound quality.

That said, AVRs are amps, they do reproduce music. So, it is down to preferences and priorities. My priorities say, stick with Stereo unless you've won the lottery. And if you want a music system, buy a music system, meaning a Stereo. My Stereo is not lacking in any way for movies. Though of course, no Surround Sound. If your top priority is movies, then that pushes very heavily toward a Surround Sound system.

We are simply presenting opposite side of the coin. It is good for the OP to hear both sides, and I also made a fair case for AVR. But my preference for a primarily music system is Stereo. Much less dilution of the budget. As I said, my stereo system is not lacking in any way for movie impact and clarity.

It is down to personal preferences and priorities.

Steve/bluewizard
 
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