Re: Looking to upgrade my Receiver
If you have a 5.1 system set-up, the one item that is never likely to be suffering from planned (or even unplanned )obsolescence is a good amp. The Emotiva XPA-5 is 200 watts per channel into 8 ohms. Emotiva sells it direct at $799 and it is also very good-looking besides being powerful.
This amp will be better than any receiver amp section from all the usual suspects and is at least the equal of anything south of $5K and quite a few north of that mark.
This amp allows you to buy a less expensive receiver to use as a pre-amp, or even buy a surround pre-amp. The Integra DHC-9.9 is a great surround pre-amp at MSRP $2,000. Nothing south of $4K is anywhere near its equal. The only major problem that you may have regardless of which suround pre-amp or A/V receiver you get is that it will not come with HDMI 1.4. !!!!
The HDMI licensing group just announced in the last couple of weeks the release of HDMI 1.4
This obviously takes over where HDMI 1.3c (the existing specification) left off, and that will further confuse all the users that have already been confused over HDMI 1.3, not forgetting to mention those that have been waiting to switch over from conventional connections. If it weren't for the fact that the programming and paid per view providers didn't demand watermarking and copyright protection, the consumer could have had a fire-wire type connection without continually forcing the buyer into purchasing new consumer electronics to obtain the latest HDMI features. That said, this new spec promises networking capabilities without using an Ethernet jack, an Audio Return Channel (ARC) that enable upstream audio connections via the HDMI cables, and it will support 3D over HDMI with 4K x 2K resolution, as opposed to the roughly 1k x 2k that is the current soup du jour. Finally, it'll support an array of expanded colors and even a microHDMI connector that is approximately 50% smaller than the size of the existing HDMI Mini Connector. There is even an HDMI 1.4 cable that is tailored for cars. But then you even have to buy a different type HDMI cable for that too.
There is even an HDMI 1.4 that is tailored to automobiles...that is if you buy the right cable. Since the finalized spec for HDMI 1.4 will only published by the end of June, that means that it will be sometime into 2010 before we see any HDMI 1.4 devices come around the bend. Maybe a couple will squeeze into late 2009. What is that dark presence I sense looming--Oh No--Could it be HDMI 1.5 and HDMI 1.6--eeek.
This leads us back to the question--what receiver or surround pre-amp should you get and at what budget?
If you want very high quality audio then the Emotiva XPA-5 at $799 is a great start. If you want great video processing in a receiver the mid to upper range Onkyo's are the best, particularly if you use the Emotiva amp for the amplification. Actually, Emotiva is going to be releasing their surround pre-amp called the UMC-1 at $699. The combination of the Emotiva amp with their surround pre-amp promisses to be the best "receiver" at under 3K, with the only potential superior product being the combination of the Emotiva amp with the Integra DHC-9.9 at MSRP $2K.
Hopefully Emo releases the surround pre-amp very soon, even though it will have the HDMI 1.3a. But then again other pre-amps and receivers released this year will be no better than HDMI 1.3 too.