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Can you recommend a reliable stereo receiver?
October 22, 2010 8:22 PM   Subscribe

Can you recommend a reliable & affordable stereo receiver? I had a Sony receiver which worked for a couple of years and then broke.

I need the receiver for the following: playing back music from my mac, playing music as I compose it on my mac, and maybe to amplify my dvd player. I've wanted to get a replacement for a long time, but I was afraid of buying another receiver that will just up and die. Doesn't have to be fancy, does have to be reliable. Any recommendations appreciated.
posted by pantufla to Shopping (21 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
 
Stay away from Sony, especially on the lower end (maybe you had already decided that). For not fancy, reliable and cheap you would probably be happy for a long time with an entry level Yamaha, the price/reliability score is pretty good on their low end stuff.

In your position I would buy this one, which you can easily find for $200 or less.

It really depends on your price range.
posted by Cosine at 8:44 PM on October 22, 2010


I've never gone wrong with JVC or Onkyo. The exact model depends on what kind and how many inputs you want. I haven't looked into receivers for a while, and I currently have an old JVC, but if I were getting a new one, I'd go Onkyo.
posted by sanka at 8:44 PM on October 22, 2010


not sure what affordable means, but i got an onkyo receiver 10 years ago as a gift and it has not broken or perceptibly changed one iota in that time. it's unbreakable as far as i can tell.
posted by facetious at 8:45 PM on October 22, 2010


More info would help but from what you said it sounds like you don't need home theatre and such features, if it is just going to power two speakers and you don't have a record player you might be surprised at how much you can get for how little with Sherwood, it's no-frills audio hardware with a solid reliability rep.

The one I linked is seriously $99 brand new and could very well fit the bill if you needs are meager.
posted by Cosine at 8:52 PM on October 22, 2010


Hi Guys,

Thanks for all the recommendations. I don't need home theater capabilities, though I might like to hear the sound from the dvd player through my two old speakers. I don't need to play vinyl either.
Sony is dead to me.
posted by pantufla at 9:23 PM on October 22, 2010


Oh, and by affordable I mean around $250.
posted by pantufla at 9:25 PM on October 22, 2010


For $250 that little Yamaha would make you a happy pantufla.
posted by Cosine at 9:26 PM on October 22, 2010


It's been a few years since I was into this, but of the large consumer electronic manufactures Yamaha, Denon and Onkyo got the nod for their receivers. I've had both a Denon (6 years of daily use and counting) and a Yamaha that never failed on me. That Yamaha or something like this stereo only Denon should do you great (although I have no direct knowledge of these specific models just relying on my experience of their other similar products).

If you only care about stereo audio then in theory you would get more useful bang for your buck with the stereo models BUT then you would have to upgrade to start playing with surround sound.
posted by cftarnas at 9:52 PM on October 22, 2010


Check out your local pawn shop. There's probably a nice Onkyo less than 6 years old there that can do everything you need for much less than $250.
posted by Burhanistan at 10:26 PM on October 22, 2010


I have a 30-year-old Yamaha receiver that still sounds great. Most of the lights burned out about ten years ago, but so what. This one would probably last you as long.
posted by bricoleur at 4:29 AM on October 23, 2010


Seconding Burhanistan - check a pawn shop, they will likely have a wall of receivers that will suit your needs - I bet you could get in and out for around $50.
posted by davey_darling at 7:39 AM on October 23, 2010


17 years AV retail management experience here. Receivers tend to be really reliable by nature; among the top Japanese brands, reported repair history variations are less than the margin of error in surveys. Given that surround-sound receivers have supplanted stereo receivers in the consumer market-place over the last decade, limiting your selection to stereo only limits your choices, and likely means that you might have to pay more, not less, to reach the same performance level a surround-sound receiver would provide. This might be a false economy.

Hamon-Kardon, Onkyo, Denon, and Yamaha are likely your best bets for over-all sound-quality, in that order. Note that HK specifies their power output into 8 and 4 ohm loads, something other manufactures don't do. That said, speakers play more of a role in final fidelity than any audible differences between those amplifier brands., unless you have 4 ohm speakers. You have provided no information on your speakers, so any advice here is really general, at best. Given that your sources are all mid-fi anyway, receiver choice really isn't going to make that much difference, therefore a basic Yamaha stereo receiver will likely be your best bet. I see from your profile that you are a musician however, so I am wondering why you are prepared to except mid-fidelity sound in your environment for the next 10 years to save $50 or so?

NTHING the pawn-shop recommendations above for what you are trying to do, except that you specified reliability as your over-riding concern. As others have stated, you likely could pick up a used Denon, Onkyo, or Yamaha stereo receiver ( or maybe even an Harmon Kardon ) for around $50, following this route, and would probably get years of trouble free service, but you are taking a slight chance on the reliability of such a unknown device.

Never buy any Sony audio gear. Sherwood amplifiers aren't worth the gunpowder to blow hem up.
posted by PareidoliaticBoy at 10:12 AM on October 23, 2010 [1 favorite]


Thanks again, everyone for all the info! I am wary of pawn shops - I want something new in a box that I have the option to return, at least for a time. Also, maybe I've been going to the wrong pawn shops, but the few times I've browsed I've been surprised at how expensive everything was (no $50 receivers) Even the busted receivers I've seen at the goodwill (SF, CA) cost more than $50! You guys seem to be recommending the same few names, which is a relief :) . PareidoliaticBoy: I have two CS-C300 speakers from 1988. Not at all fancy, but they've served me well. I'm not trying to save $50-I'd gladly pay more to have a better set up. The issue isn't cheapness, it's that I don't know what's reliable and worth the money. Home audio seems to be one of those fields where too many choices is a bad thing. I am baffled by the tons of receiver and speaker models for sale, and could use your guidance. Can you recommend a good receiver-speaker-speaker wires-whatever else combo for my setup? Let me know if you need any more specifics. Thanks!
posted by pantufla at 7:59 PM on October 23, 2010


If those are the Pioneer CS-C300, 2 way, bass-reflex speakers, they are center channels. Please provide pics, with the grills off, if possible.

Regardless they are likely lo-fi, as one of the basic rules of audio is to never buy speakers from the hardware manufacturers, especially the Japanese. With that in mind. your amplifier choice will likely be meaningless now in terms of sound quality. So what we would like to do is prepare to send you down the path to eventual Hi-fidelity. Since market conditions dictate home theater comparability its a good idea to go the surround sound capable route now, so you want be kicking yourself in 3 years when you want to add digital inputs and movie functionality.

Recommend therefore that you look for one of these. Watch for grey-market though, for the warranty.
posted by PareidoliaticBoy at 5:58 PM on October 24, 2010


$199 at Newegg, authorized dealer.
posted by PareidoliaticBoy at 6:36 PM on October 24, 2010


Or, incredibly, you can save yet another $30 on an open-box one. These are customer returns, usually sent back because the customer was too stupid to figure out how to work it. Worth looking into their policies about this.

Basically, you are now at 1/2 retail price. Shipping might make a difference though.
posted by PareidoliaticBoy at 6:42 PM on October 24, 2010


OK I had another look, free shipping with the new-box version vs $21 for the open box, and they state that they don't guarantee all accessories with the open box. You will want the antenna and remote, so get the new one.

As to speaker wire, this is one of the biggest scams in AV. Running an 8 ohm load, what you want is 99% oxygen-free copper period. You need 16 gauge for runs of less than 20 ft., and 14 gauge for runs up to 35 ft. Anything else is BS. Make sure you don't pass the speaker wire over any power cables or av connectors. Home Depot is a good place for this kind of thing.

Speaker Impedance 8 Ohm Load 4 Ohm Load
Wire Gauge Distance (ft) Distance (ft)
18 AWG 10 5
16 AWG 20 10
14 AWG 35 18
12 AWG 60 30
10 AWG 100 50
posted by PareidoliaticBoy at 7:09 PM on October 24, 2010


PareidoliaticBoy is clearly bit by the audiophile bug, and therefore insane; he is, however, correct that that Onkyo receiver is what you want. The general AskMe consensus over the years has been that the answer to "what receiver" is "as much Onkyo as you can afford." The consensus is correct.
posted by Protocols of the Elders of Sockpuppetry at 11:49 PM on October 24, 2010 [1 favorite]


Yes it's a sickness. I actually am not an audiophile. I am just interested in maximizing sound accuracy as efficiently and inexpensively as possible. Now, my buddy Ben is an audiophile. His vinyl room has an airlock door, and you have to wear painter's disposable paper overalls to enter. Yes, he is single, how did you guess?
posted by PareidoliaticBoy at 6:23 PM on October 25, 2010


These and these are pretty good deals if you want to start out with a new pair of bookshelves, but it's better to go with floor-standing if you have the space/budget though.

Newegg seems like a good place to shop online, all their speaker brands seem like good value.
posted by PareidoliaticBoy at 6:43 PM on October 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


Er ... these.
posted by PareidoliaticBoy at 6:44 PM on October 25, 2010 [1 favorite]


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