Originally Posted by gstarr
That isn't to say that if someone wanted to trade me a Classe SSP-800 for the Integra DHC-9.9 I wouldn't be very tempted to get that gorgeous piece of audio jewelry,
but I would be somewhat shocked if it sounded any betterand I wouldn't be at all suprised if I couldn't perform numerous functions that the Integra can.
Every speaker and room has far more distortion related problems then any well-built and designed receiver, audio surround processor, or amplifier.
No doubt the Integra has a huge list of features and sounds great for the class it is in. As a hobbiest for 18 years and now a dealer for the last six years I have had a lot of opportunities to listen to a bunch of different equipment. I realize that there are many on this site that also have a lot of experience so I am by no means claiming to be an expert. For me personally, audio quality is #1, features not as important.
Side Note: When I first started in this game 20 some years ago, I used to spend hours reading and comparing all the spec sheets from brand to brand and would base my decissions soley on what the specs said. Then I visited a store called Salon One Audio and the never mentioned specs. They said don't worry about all of that just listen and let your ears decide. That has kind of been my MO ever since. Obviously some specs are still important, but comparing one reciever vs another based on their marketing pieces or online reviews really dosen't tell you anything about how they sound. Features yes, sound quality no.
What I have found in comparing several receivers and pre/pros is that they all sound different. There are improvements in sound quality in moving up the ladder of models in a particular brand as well as differences from brand to brand. For example, there are differences in sound between Denon and Marantz and they share a many of the same parts.
I have also found that when you get to a level of Classe Pre/Pros and a few other brands, (I have owned two different Classe models, but I am not a dealer) you experience a whole new level of dynamics, clarity, openess as well as improvement in 2 channel audio quality. Obviously the amps you have them hooked up to make a difference as well, but even when using the same amps, source, cables, speakers etc, you still hear differences from processor to processor. Why that is I can't really say, I just know that I hear a difference.
Having good enough speakers to resolve the differences helps as well. I'm not sure if you could hear large enough differences to justify the increased cost on a below average speakers.
Whether or not the improvement is worth the extra cash is up to the individual and probably their budget. If you ever get a chance to compare higher end separates to your receiver you should difinetly do it.