Great and honest post w3aponx!
I agree, it seems Sony has a tendency to generate extreme reactions from people.
For many years, I was craving to own just about anything that beared the Sony name and if I ever was to change my mind about BluRay, I`d probably go with Sony (seems like they have the most expertise). I still own a few vintage stereo receivers that I still cherish.
Slightly over a year ago, I was in the same position as rileyparrish is at this time: `find the best deal for my
buck (meaning budget). I took a few months searching, asking not "fanboys" but ratter connaisseurs, musicians and passionate people (DHC is part of them!). Part of my search led me to this site. Originally, I was looking at a Sony HTIB and thank God for the advices! Not because it was Sony but ratter an HTIB that wouldn't have fullfilled my sound taste and previous experience. Yamaha was chosen for their many years of expertise in sound (dealing with musicians both amateur and professionals) which not too many manufacturers can claim the same.
By the way, my previous receiver was just one of those Yamaha that you find bundled with various speaker brands, and with the same speakers, I find that the Sony sounds a lot better. YMMV.
You have many good and valid points when talking about this specific Sony receiver and I respect that. When I pointed out the idea of a package, I didn,t mean to be Yamaha it self (it was simply an example) as such packages are available with most brands thus including Sony. Overall, I think most of us agree that better could be done speaker wise. What I met to point out is taking the time to price lower cost seperates and compare with a potential package of slightly better quality. For budget concerned people, buying a half decent package may achieve the BBB$$$ since buying more equipment within a package often means savings and thus getting more for the same budget.
So to recap the good advice so far, 1. do your (own) research, audition what you plan to buy (in a decent environment if possible), and 2. it's better to buy solid components piecemeal than to buy a complete but poor set-up all at once. 3. The (only) important thing in the end is that you enjoy the result, and I hope you will.
Those are strong points we both agree on:
I always stress that auditionning is the key as the seeker is the one that will be using the system and therefore must be happy with it.
Agreed to buy quality components. Buying a thrue HTIB package is far from my recommendation however, store built packages with known good seperates is often the way to go for the BBB. The fact that a GOOD seperate receiver is package with a GOOD seperate speaker package doesn,t suddenly make them poor quality. Usually, they are previous year models which the manufacturing company has made a deal with typical Big Box store to liquidate at a better price. IE: when speaking yamaha receiver, in 2006-2007-2008 (early) you would see packages with series 59xx while 2008-2009 (early) you are seeing series 6030 or 6040 since they now are providing better prices to liquidate as the new 61xx series is taking over. The same applies for speakers, IE: The Polk RM10, RM20 and RM30 packages were offered at a good deal and often "HTIBd" with receivers in order to liquidate as newer models were taking over. Now, the same routine applies: Do the research, read reviews on the HTIB as separate, audition and make decision. If the previous year model suit the seekers requirement, he is making a good deal NOT buying poor quality! Similar deal can be achieved dealing with other brands... such as SONY
We also both agree that the seeker is afterall the long term user and must be happy with his purchase. Set aside our personal bias, we afterall seek to make sure the OP is happy while getting the BBB!
rileyparrish, if you take the time to google: "receiver+best+bang+for+the+buck", you will notice that in your price range, the Yamaha RX-663 and the Onkyo TX-SR606 comes back on many occasions. While I am sold to Yamaha and wouldn't probably never buy any Onkyo receiver, I am totally un-biaised and repeat that the Onkyo seems to be the BBB these days. However, you MUST audition, don't take our word for it, make your own mind according to own needs and taste.