Help Please: £1,000 budget, Integrated or Processor + Power Amp combo?


Prominent Member
Hi Guys,

Need a little bit of guidance / advice on this. Putting together a PMC 5.1 system with FB1+'s as fronts and rears with a matching TB2C+ centre. I've got a budget of about £1,000 for the amp and don't mind buying second hand. The majority of my listening will be Sky TV, games and movies (60/20/20 split) in an average size living room. I'm very weary of spending extra on performance i won't be able to appreciate due to my listening habits and speakers.

For context, I had an NR609 (with a MA BR5 AV speaker set up) and found it just about sufficient. I'm not sure it (the 609) will be bring out the best of the PMC's though as i've heard they like quality amplification

Within my budget, would i be better off with an integrated or processor+power combination. My research so far has turned up the following questions:


Onkyo 818.
I like the 818 because it's got a good range of inputs and outputs and also has XT32.

It's also quite powerful at 180W per channel (though I suspect that's with two channels driven). Does anyone know what it's capable of with 5 channels driven (higher or lower than the 70W per channel of the MRX 300)?

The ability to bi-amp the fronts (and the centre?) is also handy but i worry again about the power trade off with 7 channels driven.

I don't however need a lot of the bells and whistles advertised with the amp and don't want to pay for them.

Anthem MRX 300

These seem to be very highly regarded as well especially for their SQ and Room EQ. The inputs and outputs are sparse but will be fine for what i require (Sky, Xbox, PS3 and HTPC). ARC i've heard is only slightly better than XT32 but more complicated to set up. I don't mind the set up as i'm sure i'll find plenty of help on here :thumbsup:

My greatest concern with the MRX is the reported power rating. 70W per channel sounds low for 5 channels driven and 60W per channel even worse with 7 (front two bi-amped if this is possible with the Anthem?). Will 60W be enough to drive the PMC's comfortably?

Another concern is that ARC only eq's down to 20Hz. I'm looking at a JL112 sub which should be comfortable down to at least 16hz in-room. Is this something that should concern me?

Anthem MRX 500

I can just about stretch to this. Basically as above but with 15W per channel more power. Will the additional power make a difference with the PMC's or will I be better served spending the additional cost over the 300 (about £300) on a power amp if such amps do exist at that price point?

Processor + Power Amp

To be honest i'm quite clueless on these. I've read about the Emotivas but they're only available in the US. After shipping etc a processor + Power amp combo would be significantly above my budget.

I don't know of any budget processors + power amps produced in the UK. Any recommendations?

Should I be thinking about increasing my budget to accommodate separates (pro + power) or will the additional benefits be marginal and limited by my speakers and listening level (compared to an integrated)

Any others options I should be looking at?

Apologies for the long post...just wanted to get all my thoughts out there. Many thanks in advance for the help!


Distinguished Member
Your budget sort of dictates that you go with an integrated receiver as opposed to a pre/pro combo. As you've already noted, the latter option is more expensive and beyond your budget.


as dante01 has already said your budget wouldn't allow for pre/pro combo even 2nd hand. Keep in mind that with the Anthem series that its recommended that your dealer set it up as the ARC room correction can be difficult to set up unless your knowledgeable with those sort of things.
The Onkyo 818 would be a good choice and as you've problem seen many times in threads the Audyssey XT32 is fantastic. Onkyo should start rolling out their 2013 mid range soon so prices are likely to come down on the 818 if you can hang on or hyperfi have stock of refurbished 818s for about £750 I think. I've just picked up an Onkyo 5010 £1699 advertised as ex display but was brand new. So its worth spending time and shopping around to get a good deal


Distinguished Member
There's no real doubt that the pre / pro route will yield the better results, but the initially cost of doing so is restrictive if you want it all in one go. You could potentially spend your £1K on a higher end AV integrated receiver and then add power amps as funds allow. This would allow you to ultimately do away with the integrated AV receiver at a future date and replace it with a standalone processor. This will obviously take time to achives the end desired result, but at least you can spread the cost of moving on over to a pre / pro setup.
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Established Member
I was considering the Onyko 818 but went for the Anthem alternative.

I had an Onkyo previously and found it a little shrill with music. The Anthem, to my ears anyway, presents a slightly warmer sound which pleases me.

My MRX500 has plenty enough power to drive my inefficient speakers to a high volume - yours seem to be similar at 87dB efficiency. My Onkyo struggled a bit - but maybe because mine are just above 4 ohms whereas yours claim to be 8. :)

Many an owner of the 300 has said they work fine on their own, driving all sorts of speakers - and no you won't get a new power amp for £300 unless second-hand or an odd DJ type. :)

I think the Anthems pass through all the signal below 20Hz to the sub - just don't equalise it.

p.s. this article (see last para) claims that sub integration with the ARC system is the best the guy has come across -


Prominent Member
Thanks for the response guys, very helpful. I'll focus my efforts on an integrated amp.

It's a toss up between the MRX's the 818 and the Denon 4311 right now.

Andrew K

Anthem MRX300 or 500 would be the way to go.

Don't be worried by the power ratings being low as there is plenty of power available. Anthem don't use the same method of reporting power as Onkyo do so you can't directly compare


Prominent Member
I demoed an Anthem mrx300 and an Onkyo 818, as i didnt require bells and whistles my decision was based purely on sounded quality. I bought the Anthem. Dealer and distributer support has also been excellent.

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