Searching for an AVR
I'm upgrading my home-theater system with a Panasonic TC-P65VT30 plasma TV and Oppo BDP-93 Blu-ray player. I also want to replace my Yamaha RX-V793 A/V receiver, but I'm not sure what make and model would be best. I plan to keep my Paradigm Cinema Phantom tower speakers (front left and right), CC-170 center speaker, Atoms (left and right surrounds), and PDR-12 subwoofer.
I'm willing to pay for an AVR that will provide video performance to take full advantage of the TV and Blu-ray player. Likewise with sound performance; I see no point in paying for a higher performing AVR than my existing speakers can handle.
BTW, my room is 18x12 feet, and the TV will be located on one long wall with the sofa along the opposite wall. Also, I have carte blanche from my wife to get what I want in designing the media room.
First of all, I recommend putting the sofa out in the room a bit, not against a wall, which compromises the sound you hear. The ideal viewing distance from a 65-inch screen is about nine feet, so that's where I'd put the sofa. Hey, you have carte blanche, right?
As for an AVR, the most important thing video-wise is to make sure it does no harm to the signal, such as clipping above-white and below-black and/or reducing resolution. Any video processing it offers might be as good as that found in the TV or Blu-ray player, or it could be worse, but it's probably not going to be significantly better, so this is not as important in my book. The best way to determine if an AVR does no harm to video is to look at the Video Test Bench section of HT's AVR reviews.
In terms of audio, your speakers have a nominal impedance of 8 ohms and relatively low power requirements. The Cinema Phantoms are spec'd for 15 to 110 watts with a maximum sustained power of 85W, while the Atoms can handle 15-80W with a maximum of 50W sustained. (I couldn't find the CC-170 on Paradigm's website, but I assume it's similar.)
You don't say what your budget is for an AVR, but seeing as how you're getting a 65-inch VT30 plasma and Oppo BDP-93, I'll assume you're in the midrange price category. Of our Top Picks in that category, I recommend the Onkyo TX-NR1009 ($1399) and Pioneer Elite SC-57 ($2100), both of which deliver about the right amount of poweractually, a bit more than you need, but that's okay as long as you don't crank it all the timeand they don't do anything untoward to the video signal. (The others in our midrange Top Picks didn't score quite as well on the chroma-resolution test.)
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