I believe there is massive price gouging going on right now, and it is a really really bad time to buy an AVR. Give it a year or two and prices will almost certainly be substantially lower.I was looking at the Emotiva BasX 7 channel class A/B Amplifier which comes with a toroidal and puts out 90 watts. Reading online it seems that it has 6 x 10,000 capacitors so it beats every AVR made in the past 15 years. It also weighs 30lbs which is more than many AVRs weigh that cost $2,000-$3,000.
Then there's the Outlaw Model 7000 which ups the wattage to 130 watts and weighs 60 lbs; nearly as much as the heaviest current AVR the Denon which costs $6,500.
A couple of questions spring to mind immediately after seeing these products:
1. Why aren't we seeing AVPs in the same price range as these amplifiers?
2. How can today's AVRs justify their prices?
These amps come with toroidals and I'm pretty sure the only thing that compares to the Outlaw powerwise is the Rotel RAP-1580 MkII which costs $5,500 and weighs as much with all the video processing.
How can AVRs like the Marantz SR8015 (the last toroidal with the Rotel) justify its price when the power delivery is at best comparable to $1,000 amplifiers? That means the video processing has to be worth $3,000 which is laughable when it comes with just 1 HDMI 2.1 connection 4 years after HDMI 2.1 was released.
But at least the aforementioned Marantz and Rotel had toroidal transformers which are a staple of high-end audio equipment (Luxman and SMPS being the exception). How can all the new models justify their prices when they are not even toroidal and deliver much less power? Their amp section is worth a maximum of $700 to $1,000 for all those AVRs and we're not even comparing apples to apples.
After all, most AVRs today just need a few HDMI connections along a circuit board with a DAC. It's not like the old days with Composite, S-Video, Component, HDMI where half the rear of the AVR was dedicated to video connections. Plus, you need very little power for the processing part as opposed to the speaker amplification part.
If we look at 3700h, an AVR that was very popular and used with external amps, it cost $1,000 when it was launched not long ago. Let's be generous and make it $1,200 to account for inflation and to keep Denon smiling. Let's now convert it to an AVP stripping it of its amplification (nearly half of the unit) dropping the weight from 27lbs to, say, 15lbs by adding a little bit of extra strength to the smaller chassis to make it a bit more audiophile. Let's assume the removal of the amplification and replacement with a basic power supply to run the unit as an AVP shaved $400 off the price ($100 in cost). Now we're looking at a $800 small sized near audiophile AVP without the mumbo jumbo. Let's add a little bit of niceties that cost $50 in parts and labor and bring the price to $1,000 or just sell it for $1,000.
Here's a $1,000 AVP. Okay, Denon is greedy and it would cost $1,500 in today's Denon world. Let's go along with that - Denon can charge $1,500 and Marantz can go bonkers and charge $1,600 since they're Ferraris!
Onkyo, Pioneer, and Integra can offer it for a lower price.
So now we have a decent AVP that's going to be home friendly and a decent value. Let's add a toroidal amp and turn it into an AVR like the BASX A7. We'll charge more than $700 since there are complexities to a single box - you need more than a napkin to design that. Instead of $1,700 ($1,000 for the AVP + $700 for the amplification), let's make it $2,500 and bump up the quality a bit adding $100 in better parts.
Now we have a world class AVR. This unit costs $2,500 and is better than the Cinema 40 and is still profitable as a single-box. We have $150 in parts improvement (massive in terms of quality, who knows a 5th leg maybe???) over the Cinema 40, and we also have a toroidal transformer like the SR8015 and we're saving $1,000. We slap the Denon and Marantz badge on it.
Bottomline mid-range AVPs should cost $1,500 and high-end AVRs should cost $2,500-$3,000 and should be better than current models.