I praised the Forerunner in my previous entry, but since Sunday I’ve found a serious flaw: Every time you start a workout, a message telling that “jogging can cause intense muscle pains” should be displayed. Going downhill really messed up my thigh muscles and I’ve been walking around like an 80 year old since Monday. Today was the first day I’ve been able to get down the stairs without clinging to the railing. Sounds like I have to go for another jog soon, yes?

And now for something completely different.

A couple of years ago I bought a dead cheap surround amplifier from Argon. It was a demo model they’d used in the store and I got the amplifier and a region free DVD player for 900 NOK, about €114. A bargain. The DVD player gave me a mild electric shock if I touched it whenever it was plugged in a wall socket, but the amplifier worked like a charm until a few weeks ago, when a static noise began to sound from the right front speaker. Cleaning and dusting the insides of the amplifier didn’t help - I’ve successfully “fixed” a similar problem doing that in the past. The reason for the static noise is evidently a soon-to-fail thingy inside the amplifier and since I don’t have the wiring diagram, an oscilloscope, spare parts or the skills to fix it, I’m guessing it’s about time to get a new surround amplifier.

“What about getting someone with a wiring diagram, an oscilloscope, spare parts and the skills to fix it for you”, you might ask. Yes, that is a good idea in theory. The problem is my experience with trying to get people to fix my stuff. They either a) manage to misplace the gadget they try to fix or b) is unable to reproduce and fix the problem, but still charge me for the job. So by getting a brand new amplifier I avoid that someone a) manage to misplace the amplifier or b) is unable to reproduce and fix the problem, but still charge me for the job.

I’m no audiophile, so I don’t need all the bells and whistles, plus I really don’t want to sink a lot of money into this. My only real deal is actually the size of the amplifier. Most of the surround amplifiers I’ve seen are damn huge, at least if they are not part of a complete package with speakers. Since I have 5+1 excellent speakers, getting a package is not an option for me, but I really wanted an amplifier with a DVD player form factor. With that in mind I thought I’d check out what Argon had managed to put together since I bought the first amplifier.

It turns out that Argon doesn’t manufacture surround amplifiers anymore. In fact, it looks like they never did, because my failing amplifier is not even in their discontinued products backlog. Also, finding a slim surround amplifier turned out to be quite the challenge. I found the MARANTZ NR-1501, but it’s way too expensive. After a while I realized that my wish to go both budget and slim wasn’t possible and started looking at monster normal size amplifiers instead. Pioneer has some budget models, but it’s a brand I associate with cars and blue neon lights.

Eventually, I turned to Denon. Even though the guy who designed their website needs to be thought a lesson about the use of Flash intros, frames and pop-ups, they do make high quality audio equipment. They also offer budget lines, which suits me well. In the end, I will probably settle for the Denon AVR-1611. It has a lot of crap I don’t really need, like “3D pass-through technology” and “Audyssey MultEQwith Advanced Low Frequency Correction”, but it supports 5 speakers and a sub woofer, optical digital input and HDMI. Sounds like a blast!

Unless you have any better suggestions?


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