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I have a hand-me-down Onkyo TX-NR515 driving some equally old speakers (Cambridge Soundworks Center+Surrounds, New Large Advent Loudspeakers L and R, no sub). It’s adequate but annoying to deal with the fact that I can’t pass 4K through, so I found a used TX-SR444 for $80 that has all the modern features like 4K and Atmos. However, I guess the SR series is “entry level” and appears to have less power (65W vs 80W) than the NR series I have now.

What would the real world impact be switching to this new receiver? Would I actually notice a decline in audio quality/clarity or does that only matter if I blast volume (which I don’t)? I’m hoping to draw on others’ experiences as I have no point of comparison.
 

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Did you buy the 444?
 

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In general I would go for higher quality and use a good HDMI switch with two outputs, one for TV and one for receiver.
 

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If you don't crank your music 65 wpc (generous rating) will be fine. You won't notice a difference with those speakers. It's cheap enough to try and resell if you don't like it.
 
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No brainer for $80. Buy it. Down the road, add a couple of small speakers high up on the side walls for Atmos. Will turn your 2-dimensional ring of sound into a 3-dimensional bubble of sound.
 

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I have a hand-me-down Onkyo TX-NR515 driving some equally old speakers (Cambridge Soundworks Center+Surrounds, New Large Advent Loudspeakers L and R, no sub). It’s adequate but annoying to deal with the fact that I can’t pass 4K through, so I found a used TX-SR444 for $80 that has all the modern features like 4K and Atmos. However, I guess the SR series is “entry level” and appears to have less power (65W vs 80W) than the NR series I have now.

What would the real world impact be switching to this new receiver? Would I actually notice a decline in audio quality/clarity or does that only matter if I blast volume (which I don’t)? I’m hoping to draw on others’ experiences as I have no point of comparison.
For 80 dollars you can probably just try both, but you don't really need a receiver for video pass through at all. Whether or nto it will actually sound better for music as an obvious example is unclear. Your current model is higher in the line so possibly has more money into relevant components for stereo. They could have made improvements and the newer one is better too.

I recently tried to gauge the value of my reciever vs possible upgrades.....Was not clear that I would be getting an increase in stereo quality music at all with a decade newer model at the same price point with a new AV receiver.

From a video perspective if you have an old PC or even laptop with a decent GPU you will get much better video results playing through that directly to the TV relative to putting a DVD in a DVD player then letting the player, receiver, or TV upscale and process the image.

The closer you get to uncompressed 4k content the less value you'll get from any upscaling and processing.

Video improvements there will be basically none

Audio your only garuntee is you will be able to at least hear the atmos mastering, whether it's worth the hassle or not is another question i'm sure that is covered all over this forum.
 
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