How do I find the AV receiver I want?
September 4, 2005 6:24 PM   Subscribe

Home Theater Component search - I'm trying to find components with features that I want, which apparently bear little or no relation to what the major resellers and search engines provide.

I've been through the home theater questions here and have been web searching for the past 3 hours. I'm pulling my hair out, because what I think I want is simple.

It comes down to this: I want an A/V receiver and speakers that suck less than the Technics speakers I've used for the past two decades. What I want is a system that allows input from my DVD player (s-video), TiVo (component or s-video), VCR/DVDR in/out, CD in and component or s-video out. It'd be nice to have one front panel or spare back panel input for video game or video camera. I don't need a buttload of power--more than 80W per channel is too much. S-Video and component are a make-or-break. Since I have stock-piled equipment that supports these connections, I'd like to use them.

Yamaha, in a stroke of genius, actually made it easy to see what connections are on the back of the box, so an HTR 5840 has pretty much everything I need/want, except for the speakers.

Home Theater in a Box is OK, except that I'm paying for an additional DVD player, and I have one-thanks-ok-fine. Yamaha's DTX-3100 has the connections I need, but I don't give a crap about XM and the only reason I'd use their DVD player is that I might be able to drop my remote control count by one. As a result, I'm pretty sure those two features are pushing this $150 out of the price range I'd like.
I challenge you: find me 3 or 4 equivalent units (and some less-sucky speakers) and keep it under $700 --or-- find me a search service that lets me search based on i/o ports.
posted by plinth to Shopping (12 answers total)
Best answer: Talk to a person at crutchfield?
posted by misterbrandt at 7:28 PM on September 4, 2005

Best answer: Dude, you're kidding, right?

One, Two, Three, Four. More.

posted by Civil_Disobedient at 7:40 PM on September 4, 2005

Oh, and so you know: you don't actually have to buy it from Crutchfield. Just use their awesome search facilities to determine what you want. The way their search works, you start out with a large pool (say, "Speakers") then chip away at the models by whatever category you like (price, features, power, etc.) until you've only got 4-5 to choose from.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 7:43 PM on September 4, 2005

Nice speakers such as Rega, B&W, JMLab, Triangle, Magnepan, ... they all have the spiffy "Why yes, my speakers were made by craftsman earning a living wage working for a family oriented employer" factor as compared to "Yes, my speakers are the equivalent of a taco bell combo dinner. Yum Yum, aren't they a tasteful and unique item that compliments me, who I am; and how I want to project myself to others. They were made by people making pennies a day. Did I mention how much I hate corporate America and the GOP?"
A mass of silver finish on components/tv screen borders/or speakers is going to reflect a lot of light and detract from the viewing of the video image.
With a quality two channel system and a powered subwoofer to begin with; you will have better sound than with an inexpensive multichannel system. (recommended components) and; good starter sites for research.
posted by buzzman at 7:45 PM on September 4, 2005

I second the buzzman. Spend your money on 2 good speakers and a good receiver. If you want the "real cinema" experience get a projector, or at least a very big monitor.
posted by doctor_negative at 8:21 PM on September 4, 2005

I've been looking for a receiver, lately, too. Crutchfield has good pictures of the back of stuff, but has high prices. OneCall has pictures, too, and some better prices. J&R seems recommended by many of the audio enthusiasts. A previous askme recommended a forum that seems to like the digital amplifier-based JVC RX-D201 or 301 (the 201 is $180!) or the Panasonic XR55 or 70.

But, really, there's a ton of stuff out there with those specs. Speakers is a whole 'nuther post, but has some good pointers.

Now, I just need to find a good, relatively inexpensive, multiroom-capable receiver...
posted by RikiTikiTavi at 9:27 PM on September 4, 2005

With a quality two channel system and a powered subwoofer to begin with; you will have better sound than with an inexpensive multichannel system.

Bullshit. Watching TV or movies through a 2-channel system without a center speaker to associate dialog with the people on screen will drive you mental in about five minutes.
posted by cillit bang at 3:32 AM on September 5, 2005

Response by poster: Civil_Disobedient - I choose to take your answer to mean, "Dude, you've got to check out Crutchfield." (enthusiastic) instead of "Dude, you really should've known about Crutchfield." (condescending).

I appreciate the help. 1/2 hour at Crutchfield was better than three hours of plodding through google chaff and useless "compare now" sites that say little or nothing.

So far, this unit looks good in terms of features and budget.
posted by plinth at 5:55 AM on September 5, 2005

I'm sure that you are aware that most receivers will only switch ONE type of video, e.g. if you connect to the TV from the receiver via S-video all your input video has to be S-video unless you go up in price. If you can go component input/output on all your devices do so even if it means running an S-video cable to the TV from the VCR.
posted by Ferrari328 at 6:28 AM on September 5, 2005

No, lots of new receivers will convert composite and s-video to component. I haven't looked at their web page, but the print Crutchfield catalog's comparison charts have columns for video conversion.

You'll get better bang for the buck buying a receiver and speakers separately than you will buying it in one box. You'll spend more bucks, sure, but get way more bang.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 8:43 AM on September 5, 2005

Let me make myself clearer, for the record:

"Dude, you don't know about Crutchfield?! (astonishment) You've got to check out Crutchfield! (enthusiasm at introducing you to such a valuable search tool)"

I wasn't intending any condescention.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 4:43 AM on September 6, 2005

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