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I have read countless reviews and threads about the harman Kardon avr1600 and the onkyo ht-rc260. I also am considering the denon avr791. Which one to buy with consideration on sound quality for both movies and music. I already own a HK avr 146 and HK avr525 but I want to step into the world of hd audio. Please help as all the reading has me not knowing which is the best for me. I am using polk audio's(rti10's, csia4,pws125 sub,rm101's at rear).
 

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Which one to buy with consideration on sound quality for both movies and music.
Since "sound quality for both movies and music" will likely be fairly similar between entry-level receivers, in my opinion you should focus more on making sure that the receiver you buy is the one which is best equipped / has the most # of features you want for the money you can afford to spend.
 

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As a past H/K owner, I can state confidently you would like all three if you like your H/K.

The Denon is missing a little on the bottom end/low mid which makes the H/K a "warm" sounding receiver, but with full Audyssey on the 791, you can EQ to taste to fatten up this part of the sound.

Sound-wise, all three do sound different - the 1600 is typical H/K, the Denon tends towards sterile, and the Onkyo is somewhere in between. However, if going Onkyo, I'd go to a higer model than the one you listed (pretty bare bones).

Like Eljay says, pick the one you like the feature set on, then tailor the sound to taste. Me, I'd be happy with both the H/K (out of the box sound) and the Denon (very customizeable).
 

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In regards to both replies, is it even worth to get one of these receivers from what I already have. Will the upgrade to uncompressed audio be a big difference or not that significant of a difference from what I got now.
 

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gwalsh, that is a tough question.

I would say yes, but a qualified yes.

Personally I went from an H/K AVR230 (6 years of yeoman service) to the Denon. Although I had a Blu-Ray player with an onboard decoder, it was an earlier model, and I would say the sound quality was underwhelming through the 7.1 analog-ins on the H/K.

When I used my PS3 (fat) as the Blu-Ray player, it sent a core DTS or DD signal to the receiver via optical. The higher bitrate on the HD audio core was good, but still missing "something".

However, when I got the Denon and ran the audio via HDMI (decoded to DTS-MA or DTHD on board the PS3), I was surprised at how much better it sounded. A good test disc I use is the "regionals" performance in Season 1 of Glee (final episode), as it has lots of dynamics, tons of information through the centre, and good use of surrounds. I was pretty blown away by how good an "inferior" receiver sounded, and was very happy with the change. Chills down the spine sort of stuff.

Using the DTS core (via optical), I could hear compression through the centre at high volumes - this completely disappeared under the DTS-MA. Channels were also more distinct, and each had more "quality" information through it (I'll attribute this to better dynamics). Although this wasn't the jump from stereo VHS to DVD, it certainly was audible, especially if you like things loud (such as myself).

Where the qualification comes in is that although the Denon with lossless audio sounds notably better for Blu-Ray, it is not as good a 2.1-channel stereo receiver as the H/K was. Although I have worked with the Audyssey (and probably need to do more work with it), the sound lacks a certain "richness" that the H/K had. The Denon was much more forward in the mids out of the box compared to the H/K, and I just haven't quite hit its sweet spot for music.

As I'm fond of saying, YMMV. Seeing that you have Polks is interesting, as I've found Poks a bit forward, especially in the upper mid and top end. This makes them well suited (at least to my ears) to an H/K receiver. Possibly a 1600 would be a good move for you, though after comparing Audyssey and EZSet, Audyssey is something I think I will want on all future receivers.

As one last FYI, a buddy of mine who has room issues (and can't agree on treatments with the DW) went from an H/K AVR254 to an Onkyo TX-SR607, and was able to get it balanced to his room better than the H/K - he's pretty happy with it.
 
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