Re: Amps for dummies
A really tough question Moose. High end receivers have come a long way, but that said if you run power hungry speakers, you'll generally be better off with separates as you can get much more powerful amps. Separates also allow for more ease of upgrades.
There are downsides as well, more cabling adds further cost, multiple components that can cause more potential headaches, high end pre/pros are notoriously behind receivers in features and often times ease of use as well. Added rack space need to be factored in as well.
I personally run both in two different systems for good reason.
My bedroom system is receiver based as it is a relatively simple system, and it is not my all out assault on HT. That said, I use separates in the main rig, and am really happy with it, except for when I have to tear it down and redo it (last time it took an entire day to break it all down and rebuild from scratch with new racks).
I think most all of us started out with receivers, I know I initially added amps to a receiver then finally got a pre/pro, this allows you to work up the path to nirvana without having to buy all new amps and processors.
I guess what I am saying is it depends on you, your room, rest of system, want/needs and cash flow to name a few. Is the Denon 5308 worth three times the price of the 4308? again that depends on you, the 5308 offers a lot more capabilities (more HDMI/digital ins/outs) far better power supplies and the like. If you don't need all those, then sonically I would suspect the additional power supplies to help a lot but haven't had one to try yet.....
I think the grey zone is ~ $4,000-$5,000 where you can start to get pretty decent separates vs a receiver, but that figure is only a guess, and certainly there are companies like Outlaw and Emotiva making quality separates for much less than that.
Sorry Moose, I don't think I answered the question very well!
Ken Taraszka, MD