By Don Lindich
Week 38, 2023
Q. I read your column about matching speakers to a receiver and have some questions. I currently have a Rotel RSX1067 receiver powering a surround system of 5 speakers and a subwoofer. The speakers are small home theater speakers made by Bowers & Wilkins. The receiver is quite capable in terms of power and sound quality, but limited in terms of streaming and Bluetooth as it dates to 2007.
I picked up a Denon AVR-S760H to update my system from the Rotel. I plan on using the Rotel to run my music-only stereo system with turntable, cassette deck and CD player. I would not run the Rotel in this system as a surround system, only stereo as I have a large number of vinyl records, CDs and cassettes and I still enjoy listening to them.
Would the Denon AVR-S760H be compatible with the B&Ws? Is the Rotel a good choice to use with my older stereo music system?
-J.H., Minneapolis, MN
A. You are on the right path with both systems. You have made good decisions, but it looks like you would like some validation and explanation about your choices. I can help with that, and I also have a website to tell everyone about that may be helpful to anyone looking for a good deal on high quality audio equipment.
I think Denon is really the way to go these days if you are shopping for a home theater receiver. Regular readers know I am skeptical of high-priced, high-end audio gear from esoteric brands, and home theater receivers are a prime illustration of this. I upgraded my own home theater recently and put in a lot of exhaustive research as I was replacing an audio/video processor that I had owned for about 16 years. It cost $5,000 in 2007 and I used it with separate amplifiers to drive the speakers. I had two options to update to a 4K-compatible system with streaming and HDMI Enhanced Audio Return Channel (HDMI-eARC.) The first was to get a processor like the one I was using. The second was to get a receiver and use it as a processor, connecting the preamp outputs to my external amplifiers.
What I found throughout my research was that in terms of signal processing, Denon receivers often outperformed esoteric brands selling for many times the price. The more expensive receivers might have had a more powerful amplifier (and often they did not) but when it came to high-quality signal processing, Denon was the king. The Denon 1800 and 2800 models I considered sold for several thousand dollars less than the competing high-end processors on my shopping list. The feature set, ease of setup, and outstanding sound quality made Denon not only a bargain, but the most satisfying choice as well.
The advantage your Rotel has over the Denon is amplifier power. Modern receivers do much more than receivers of years before, but amplifier power is one area where they have gone downhill. This is the reason I use external amplifiers with the power-hungry speakers in my home theater. The AVR-S760H will have enough power for your speakers, and the Rotel should shine in its new application. Use the Rotel’s digital connections with your CD player and other digital components to get the best sound.
A great way to save tons of money on good audio gear is by buying a factory refurb with warranty at accessories4less.com. For example, the $1,199 Denon AVR-X2800H is available refurbished for $649 with free shipping. They have many excellent brands like Denon, Focal, Polk Audio, Onkyo, Marantz, Yamaha, Definitive Technology, KEF, Bowers and Wilkins, and Pro-ject.