Stereo vs. AV receiver

I am a longtime audiophile (from a listening perspective), but am just now financially able to start piecing together my audio system. I am trying to decide whether to set my home system up with a Onkyo TX-8020 or a Onkyo TX-NR747. I listen to more music than movies, but am still somewhat of a movie buff and can't rule out a desire for surround sound in the future. I don't want to waste money now just to upgrade (if needed for surround) to an AV in the future. However, I value quality sound above all else. Assuming I never set up surround sound, any advice on which to go with? I have read that AV receivers, specifically in the Onkyo TX-NR747 line, don't play music as well OR run a stereo set up as well as a dedicated component. However, the 747 seems to have higher rated W/Ch than the 8020, so I thought it MAY pack enough punch. Would the 747 be just as powerful for a stereo set up?

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Clarification Request

Just to confirm what I think would work in setting up the stereo receiver, since the 8020 only has analog inputs, is run all my devices without analog outputs (FireTV, game system, BD player) to my TV via HDMI, then run the digital audio out of my TV to a DAC to the TV input on the 8020. Then all my components would run audio through my speakers, correct?

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Dayton Audio APA100

If I am running everything into the TV and out to the amp, then I really only need 1 or 2 inputs. The Dayton Audio APA100 seems to be a more powerful amp than the Onkyo TX-8020 based on specs. But does anyone have thoughts on this?

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So what do you have now?

Why do you want to change?

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AV receivers play back music just fine

Keep in mind that you are in the entry level equipment category, and haven't gotten into the speakers, which is where the rubber hits the road. The analog only stereo receiver is a non starter with since it lacks necessary inputs. You should go with a AV receiver if you plan on connecting multiple digital inputs for ease of use. Running the sound back out from the TV is the less ideal way to go, and is often restricted if you involve HDMI. Best method is to connect everything to an AV receiver with all the appropriate connections/input, spare the single digital optical back out from an HDTV if there's streaming involved from a respective built in HDTV app, etc.

Feel free to follow up with questions if something isn't clear regarding the system you need.

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I know to spend the money on speakers

I understand, like you said, that the speakers are where the investment matters most. I've been looking at ELAC B6s, F6s, and SVS Prime Towers to start (I understand the differences with those).

Could you elaborate on it isn't ideal to run everything to the TV, then run audio out of the TV to the receiver? I thought I could work around that issue if needed by using a DAC (like this: Of course, I only need to do this for the 8020 if it would deliver better sound quality on the L/R than the 747.

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Let me be blunt

I have been doing this forever, and have patched together both high end and low end systems for myself and clients (less and less of that lately though). There are so many great permutations of equipment we could go on and on listing them but find very little (obvious) audible difference between many of them in reality(!)

That said, you are looking at a very bare bones entry level stereo receiver (8020). Nothing special about that, or most in that price range. Skip that and grab the AV receiver which gives you the most utility and bang for the buck. Your front L/R stereo sound will be just fine.

It would be another thing entirely if you were running a DAC into something special (e.g. a separate high end amp) vs a low end stereo receiver. Just stick with a toslink connection into an AV receiver. You can thank me later.

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Great--Thank you!

I appreciate the knowledge and recommendation. Now for a really obvious question, but I assume that all the components I run into the AV receiver convert everything to stereo if those are the only speakers I have hooked up, right? I won't be missing anything (literally, not audibly) if I don't have center and rear speakers...

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AV receiver will be set to playback in stereo

You will be good to go.

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Here's something you have to think about,

we don't know what TV you have, so what output/s does it have? remember the 8020 DON'T have optical input.

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Looking into a new TV--I can make any output work with DAC?

I have an older TV, and the only audio output is digital, like this:

I am looking into getting a new one, and have looked at ones with analog (stereo) outputs and digital outputs. Obviously, with stereo, I could easily connect them straight together. With the digital out, I would run it to a DAC and then to the amp, from my understanding.

I guess my most pertinent question is, if I want good L/R speaker sound, would the 8020 be better than the 747? Is the 747 actually more powerful, despite what I've read? And/or would there not be much discernible difference in L/R sound between the 8020 and the 747. I've been looking at ELAC B6s, F6s, and SVS Prime Towers.

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They look like 2 different animals to me,

so I think you have to decide what you really want. As for power, the 747 do seem to be a little more power when use as 2 channel but not 7.2.

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Looking for good stereo sound

They are two different animals, which is why I'm not sure which route to go to start out. Bottom line, I don't know if I will ever go the surround sound route, so I want to make sure I get something that will optimize my L/R speaker sound. I wasn't sure about the power of the 8020 and had read that AVs don't always produce as good of sound quality on the L/R fronts. However, I didn't know if that would be true in this scenario with these specific amps.

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Here's a thing. 2 dollars?


So there it is, for most things, a 2 dollar sound chip can't be beat. It's all in the speakers from what I can tell.

Now the naysayers will write that some amps are just bad and there are those bad things but let's stick to the easy stuff.

I'm no fan of the optical to analog solutions because ... no central volume control ... which I can fix with a Logitech Harmony.

What would I do? Crack open the TV and wire the speaker connections to a new set of RCA JACKS and label them as speaker out. This is TRIVIAL WORK for any tech. Now I can run that to a pad or on some gear directly into the amp. And volume control works again.

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If only...

I'm not sure I'm qualified to "crack open the TV" and re-wire things. More power to ya, though...

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I have seen high schoolers do this.

And they only took the one semester in Electronics. It's a very entry level type of job but I'm running into more and more folk that never drilled a hole or soldered.

I fear that the do it yourself crowd is declining in population.

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Not saying I'm not smart enough...

Just saying that most schools (like mine) cut these kind of programs in favor of standardized testing because, you know, filling in a bubble about how to do something means more than actually doing it.

I'm sure I am capable, I've just never been shown how "simple" it is.

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Here's a thing. Youtube
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I've heard of this "YouTube" contraption before...

But just in case my soldering skills aren't perfect when I'm done watching the video, maybe I could practice on your TV before I do mine?

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This is why in my class

We practice on wires and other boards first. I get the feeling you are not wanting to know the workarounds for such issues. Or the cheap exits.

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