Sound Advice: Too-hot receiver should be replaced

  • Article by: DON LINDICH
  • Special to the Star Tribune
  • May 4, 2012 - 9:08 PM

Q After reading your recent column about upgrading to an HDMI receiver, I decided to take the plunge.

I initially considered the Marantz NR1402, as you suggested, but ended up going with the Sony STR-DN1020, which is a 7.2 system with more features. One of the reasons was that it was sold by Costco, so I could easily return it if things didn't go according to plan.

So far, things have not gone according to plan, and I'm thinking of making a change.

All of the equipment is housed in a wood entertainment cabinet with glass doors and ventilation holes in the back. Unfortunately, when the receiver is in standby mode, it gets so hot that I can smell the wood of the cabinet. I'm worried about the heat, as well as wasting energy needlessly.

Is this to be expected of any receiver that is housed this way?

If it makes sense, I'm ready to swap the Sony for the Marantz, which I recently found for $333. Although it has fewer features, I'm hoping that since the Marantz is only 4 inches high vs. 6 inches high for the Sony, it will allow more breathing room and alleviate the heat issue.

A For any receiver to run that hot in standby mode is unusual. There could be a problem with it.

If it's so hot in standby mode that you can smell the wood of the cabinet, it will run even hotter when driving your speakers and could even create a fire hazard. All of that heat isn't good for the other components in the cabinet, either. Stop using the receiver right away.

You're on the right track in making a change. The Marantz is a great choice, and, as you mentioned, the slim design will allow for more ventilation room in the cabinet to help keep things cool.

I suspect you will see a big difference in the heat output just by changing receivers, but if you want to keep things as cool as possible, consider keeping the door open when using the system or install a ventilation fan in the back of the cabinet to keep the air flowing around the components. A Cabcool 802 Lite cooling fan, about $40, is easy to install, runs silently and includes a power supply.

Although they're not in the same price range as the Sony and Marantz models you are comparing, you can find receivers and standalone amplifiers that use cool-running digital amplification. Some digital amplifiers and receivers I have used don't even have ventilation slots on top because they generate so little heat that they simply don't need the extra ventilation.

You can find digital amplification in many models such as the Pioneer Elite series, the Rotel RSX-1560 and the Onkyo A-5VL. There are a few models on the used market that work wonderfully in music systems and are extremely affordable, such as the Panasonic SA-XR series.

I recommended them when they were new and will be discussing them again in a future column.

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