AVR’s are more functional and convenient then ever before making the line between buying seperate AV equipment vs. just buying a AVR a blur. If you have a small room that you are using for your best home theater room then a AVR is going to be just fine for most of us. If you have a large home theater room and you are very picky about sound quality then buying seperate components will be the best choice for you especially if you are not on a budget.
The Pros and Cons
The three most popular arguments in favor of separates are more power, better build quality and upgradeability. A dedicated amplifier is capable of delivering higher quality power and, usually, more of it. Since separates are aimed chiefly at high-end users, high quality parts are used in almost every aspect of the build. Pre-amps get better circuits, capacitors, potentiometers and processing chips, to name a few. Amps usually get bigger power supplies, more heat sinks and a better chassis. Also, since high-voltage (amplifiers) and low-voltage (pre-amps) applications don’t like to live in close quarters, putting them in their own rooms makes everyone happier. As for upgradeability, the idea is that you can keep the same amp or amps in perpetuity, so long as they are treated well and maintained, of course. Just trade-up your pre-amp to the next greatest thing and relax knowing your amp will handle whatever you throw at it.
If you do buy a receiver then I would look for one that has plenty of isolation between the amp section and pre-amp section for improved sound quality.
Please comment if you have a receiver or any other AV equipment that you would like to recommend.