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JoelC707
Premium
join:2002-07-09
Lanett, AL
kudos:5

In need of new AV receiver

So I'm in need of a new AV receiver. I've got a Sony STR-DE945 from almost 10 years ago or so. It's been great since then but it's lacking HDMI is catching up to it. I haven't had a need for HDMI lately though so it hasn't been an issue. Currently my only HDMI needs are from an HTPC. I'll likely be putting a cablecard tuner in it and it's got a BD drive in it so ideally I don't see a need for other HDMI devices but since I really don't know what the future holds I don't want to limit myself.

Right now I have HDMI going straight to the TV (Panasonic TC-P42X3) with optical out of the TV to the receiver. This works fine for coax tuning on the TV or DLNA playback but the TV isn't passing anything more than 2-ch PCM from my computer. My computer does have an optical out but it appears dead as I can't get it to light up.

Long story short I'm looking for a new receiver now. I know there's HDMI splitters and they would work but not for HD audio codecs. I can also get a new sound card with working optical out but again no HD audio codec support. So what makes a receiver entry level? I'm not going to be doing much with it, FM radio and TV/HTPC duties is all it will need to handle for right now. No Sirius/XM support needed and no iPod support as I can just play music over the HTPC.

As such I'd like to know what justifies more expensive receivers? Why spend several hundred dollars when, on the surface, this $180 Pioneer looks like it will do the job just fine: »www.newegg.com/Product/Product.a···82117398. Is it internal circuitry? I know some have higher amp outputs or support 7.1/9.1 or similar. All I have is 5.1 and have never (yet) had a need to go beyond that. Would I benefit in any way from a higher end receiver and if so how? Are there brands to stay away from?

Thanks for any and all help


cmslick3

join:2004-05-24
Joliet, IL

I have this receiver as part of their HTIB system and it's a nice receiver: »www.newegg.com/Product/Product.a···82120177

On screen setup is nice and the HDMI switching works flawlessly. Also has automatic EQ calibration system which makes it sound nice if you're not inclined to manually do it. Also uses very little power, when I have just the amplifier on it draws about .3 amps. This receiver is 3D capable, and supports up to 6.1 surround which can be disabled.

Personally I've gone through 2 entry level Yamaha receivers in the past 10 years and I noticed right away the difference in quality and sound from this receiver. Looking forward I think this receiver should last a typical home user at least 10 years.


JoelC707
Premium
join:2002-07-09
Lanett, AL
kudos:5

I see that the receiver you linked has 100-125W per channel capacity whereas the one I linked is only 80W and another Onkyo at the same price as the Pioneer is only 65W. I can definitely see how that will affect sound. Right now I'm driving bookshelf speakers that originally were attached to a Philips "game stereo" with a labeled overall wattage of 175W.

I don't turn either the old stereo or my Sony receiver up more than 1/4 depending on the source of course. Usually FM radio I can leave it down lower than the HTPC as volume seems to be lower coming from there but some files are really loud so I guess ultimately it depends on the source still.

That said I do have a pair of studio monitors (Jensen I think) with huge 15's in them. Those likely wouldn't be driven that well from a 65W receiver. Those are in storage for now and will likely stay there until I get my own place and can turn things up loud if I want without bothering others.

The TV I got is not going to be my main TV when we get our new place most likely so what do you think about stair stepping for now? Get a cheaper receiver that can stay with the TV and get put in the master bedroom for example and get a higher end receiver for the new main TV when that time comes?



Dogg
Premium
join:2003-06-11
Belleville, IL
Reviews:
·Charter
reply to JoelC707

Personally, I'd go Onkyo. Their base model should suit your needs > »www.newegg.com/Product/Product.a···82120175
--
Google is your Friend



norbert26
Premium
join:2010-08-10
Warwick, RI
reply to JoelC707

said by JoelC707:

I see that the receiver you linked has 100-125W per channel capacity whereas the one I linked is only 80W and another Onkyo at the same price as the Pioneer is only 65W. I can definitely see how that will affect sound. Right now I'm driving bookshelf speakers that originally were attached to a Philips "game stereo" with a labeled overall wattage of 175W.

I don't turn either the old stereo or my Sony receiver up more than 1/4 depending on the source of course. Usually FM radio I can leave it down lower than the HTPC as volume seems to be lower coming from there but some files are really loud so I guess ultimately it depends on the source still.

That said I do have a pair of studio monitors (Jensen I think) with huge 15's in them. Those likely wouldn't be driven that well from a 65W receiver. Those are in storage for now and will likely stay there until I get my own place and can turn things up loud if I want without bothering others.

The TV I got is not going to be my main TV when we get our new place most likely so what do you think about stair stepping for now? Get a cheaper receiver that can stay with the TV and get put in the master bedroom for example and get a higher end receiver for the new main TV when that time comes?

the "stair stepping plan" sounds good and nothing is being wasted. You can put off the big home theater stuff until you get the new place and then go from there.

cmslick3

join:2004-05-24
Joliet, IL

Yea I support the upgrade as you need approach. One thing I also do tell my friends and family is stay away from the all in one home theater crap. The units where the bluray player is the receiver and amp, they SUCK! Stick with separate components.

The HTIB kit I bought from Onkyo came with bookshelf sized speakers and let me tell you they get plenty loud.

If you really want good bass DON'T rely on the mains to provide it. Get a good sub!


JoelC707
Premium
join:2002-07-09
Lanett, AL
kudos:5

Cool, thanks guys. Looks like the Onkyo it is. I do have a sub in storage too. Digging around my grandparent's basement (ironically where I am now) many years ago I came across two 15" speakers. Asked my grandfather about them and he said they used to be in a guitar amp my uncle had. He let me have them and gave me dimensions to build a custom enclosure for them. They're old paper cone models, Radio Shack brand but they still work good for my needs and you can't beat free



Camelot One
Premium,MVM
join:2001-11-21
Greenwood, IN
kudos:2

You would likely get better sound out of a sub-$100 pair of bookshelf speakers than you will from 15" guitar speakers. (assuming they were actually designed as such) Guitar speakers are not designed for full range. Though if your goal is sheer volume, they will certainly get the job done.

I agree on the Onkyo being a great brand. I haven't used the 300 series, but I have used and worked with the 500 and 600 for years, and I have always been happy with them.

As to your optical out, most motherboards with onboard HDMI have a bios option to switch the digital audio output between HDMI and optical. Some won't even light up the optical out until it is enabled in the bios.

When you do get the Onkyo, I suggest looking into the control link options. You'll need to enable it on both the Onkyo and the TV, but it will allow your TV to turn on and off the Onkyo as needed, AND to send audio from the TV back to the Onkyo over the same HDMI cable. Useful if your TV has any of the net enabled apps. There is also a remote control over wifi Onkyo app available for most phones/tablets, which among other things, allows you to stream music from your phone to the Onkyo.


JoelC707
Premium
join:2002-07-09
Lanett, AL
kudos:5

The guitar speakers (honestly I don't know if they are or how to tell) are in a sub so they don't really need to be full range. Unless you're saying they will be higher than normal sub speakers and not get as low. That's entirely possible but they seem to be getting the job done. I can tell a noticeable difference in LFE with them off (even with those huge studio monitors).

BTW those studio monitors do have a mid and two tweeters on them each so they are full range speakers. I forget which brand but they have the typical studio monitor look to them (carpeted exterior with rubber corners) so I'm calling them that. I'm not even sure they are Jensen, they were discontinued when I got them and I snagged them off ebay for about $150 for a set of 4.

I did not know you could send audio back up the same HDMI cable. So I could eliminate the optical cable entirely then. That's the only gripe I had about that Onkyo is it only has two optical ports and if I end up using one from my computer (instead of HDMI for some odd reason) I'd have to stick it on Game1 or some off the wall input. I figure I can rename the display of the input like I can with my current Sony but still. The TV does have various net enabled apps and DLNA capabilities but with an HTPC I doubt I'll use the DLNA portion.

The issue with the optical on the motherboard was tried. Checked the BIOS, there's no switch that I can find. I even tried powering off, removing the HDMI cable and using a DVI to HDMI cable so it didn't even see anything on the HDMI. Still no luck getting the optical to light up. It's rare to see them not even light up, which is what is making me think there's something keeping it disabled. I've tried stock windows drivers, the AMD drivers on the Gigabyte site, newer AMD drivers and generic Realtek drivers. Nothing seems to work for this thing.



Camelot One
Premium,MVM
join:2001-11-21
Greenwood, IN
kudos:2

What is the model number on the motherboard? I'll see if I can find the setting for you. (almost certain it is in there)

Guitar speakers are mid-range friendly, and while most of them will make sound at the low end, they don't do it well. With a 15" you will definitely get some bass, but it will be rather muddy. If it works it works, just keep it on your "future upgrades" list. A cheap made-to-be-a-subwoofer speaker will give you better sound. (and being radio shack brand, you are already working with the low end of speakers)

As I said before, I haven't used the 300 series. In the previous lines, you had to step up to the 500 series to get audio over HDMI. The lower models would pick up and switch video, but required a separate audio input. I know they made some changes to the x09 lines, and based on this one listing audio return over HDMI, I would assume it accepts audio input over HDMI as well. But I suggest you double check that.

But yes, provided it does, you would just need one HDMI cable from each source (xbox, cable box, htpc, etc) to the Onkyo, then 1 HDMI cable from the Onkyo to the TV. You can then set the TV and Onkyo to communicate over that 1 cable, allowing for 2 way control and audio.


JoelC707
Premium
join:2002-07-09
Lanett, AL
kudos:5

Awesome, cool. And yeah, I want to upgrade the speakers, some point along the way (possibly on one of two moves) one of the paper cones got damaged. It still works but I'm sure it's no where near adequate anymore.

Oh yeah I finally found the model of the big speakers I have. They are a Jensen brand. They're the PowerStation model JP1500. »www.amazon.com/Jensen-JP1500-Sta···duct_top

The motherboard is a Gigabyte 880GMA-UD2H. Happy to have a fresh set of eyes look for it. Maybe I completely overlooked it but all I found was the output source control. You can't use both the HDMI and DVI at the same time so you can set it to DVI/VGA or HDMI/VGA or Auto. That and the overall control for the video card (clock speed, memory allocations, etc) are all I found.



Camelot One
Premium,MVM
join:2001-11-21
Greenwood, IN
kudos:2

I couldn't find anything in the bios, I guess the AMD boards are different. But I did come across a few forum posts about it, with people saying you had to have the bios video option set to "auto", and then manually set the optical out as the default sound device.


JoelC707
Premium
join:2002-07-09
Lanett, AL
kudos:5

Yeah I came across all kinds of different info, some even conflicting sadly. I'll have to look at what the BIOS is actually set for, I think I have it set for auto but I honestly don't remember. Here's the other thread I had going about the motherboard issue if you're curious: »Surround sound over HDMI



Dogg
Premium
join:2003-06-11
Belleville, IL
Reviews:
·Charter
reply to JoelC707

There aren't any setup options in the BIOS. After the SPD/F back plate is connected to the motherboard, you simply enter the audio setup and enable the ports.

Setup is covered in the User Manual, p93
--
Google is your Friend


JoelC707
Premium
join:2002-07-09
Lanett, AL
kudos:5

That's for the coax port which would be fine with me honestly but I didn't get the coax bracket in the box and all the ones I have stuffed away won't connect. Only one had the right number of pins for the header but the keyway pin was in the wrong spot.



Dogg
Premium
join:2003-06-11
Belleville, IL
Reviews:
·Charter
reply to JoelC707

Actually the back plate has optical and coaxial inputs and outputs.

In any case, the only reference that I see in the manual is for the back panel port. Regardless, setup should be the same...via the audio setup panel.
--
Google is your Friend


JoelC707
Premium
join:2002-07-09
Lanett, AL
kudos:5

Never got the bracket so I couldn't say for sure. The motherboard backplate with USB and such only has optical out and six 1/8" analog ports. The Realtek software didn't have any method for enabling ports that I saw, even if I used the Gigabyte supplied drivers/software



royphil345
Premium
join:2004-12-10
Lakewood, OH
kudos:3

1 edit
reply to JoelC707

You need two sound drivers installed... The AMD for the HDMI and the Realtek for the analog or optical outs.

You can't use the optical out and the HDMI at the same time. You can choose one or the other under audio / playback settings in the Windows Control Panel, provided both drivers are installed. Surround can be passed through. You may have to mess with the settings of whatever codec / player you're using.

I recently purchased an Onkyo TX-NR709 and I've been very happy with it! Better sound and none of the glitches my Harman Kardon had.