Here's one from the mailbag:
I’m thinking about upgrading my receiver. Currently I have a Denon AVR-987. It’s 3- 4 years old and does not have the current technology for blu ray. I’m thinking of going with a Sony STR-DA2400ES receiver. I have a 52” Sony XBR and a Sony BDP S-300 blu ray player. My speakers are Soundworks MC300 front/Soundworks original surrounds and JBL Northridge for the center. Any advice would be appreciated.
It really depends on why you think you need the upgrade, but I wouldn’t do it.
You’d be surprised, but your current receiver can handle Blu-ray just fine – rather than upgrade your receiver to a model that can decode Dolby TrueHD, you just have the Blu-ray player do the decoding and send the bitstream (PCM) on over to your receiver – it will sound the same whether the player does the decoding or the receiver. In fact, depending on which Blu-ray player you have, it may work that way by default. For example, Sony’s Playstation 3 can’t send unencoded TrueHD to a receiver, you have to go the PCM route (the newer Playstation 3 Slim can pass an unencoded signal, but, again, there should be no difference in the sound). In your specific case, the BDP-S300 can decode Dolby TrueHD, but only if you download a firmware update. You should be regularly updating your firmware anyway to ensure that newer discs play on it without incident.
So, is it worth upgrading your receiver? Your Denon has more power than the newer Sony, it has basic room correction by Audyssey, and it has plenty of inputs/outputs as long as you don’t need a lot of HDMI switching or video upscaling. While the Sony has all the latest audio decoders, it doesn’t have the most HDMI inputs, the best video upscaling, or the best room correction, so I’m not sure it’s enough of an upgrade even if those were your priorities.
Your biggest bang-for-buck audio upgrade would be to keep the Denon and upgrade your speakers. At the very least I’d get matching front speakers (either get another MC300 for the center or get another pair of JBL’s for front left/right) and a sub.