Anyone need a quick run down on 7.1 receivers? I’ve just done all the work, so, here it is:
I’ve canceled my order for the Onkyo TX-SR606 receiver. On paper, it is the best & most affordable, but in reality, there’s a defect that adds a humming to the sound. This, according to dozens of reports on AVSForum. A real shame. Sells for just under $400.
The next-best option is more expensive. The new Denon AVR-1909. Offers everything the Onkyo offers including the advanced form of dynamic range control called Audyssey Dynamic Volume*. New, so sells for $650. Too expensive, but, it should be tempting if you can afford it. And before you ask, the model that is one digit lower than the 1909, and much cheaper — the 1908 — does not have the Audyssey. And the 1709 does not accept the audio part of the HDMI’s audio/video signal, which is completely outrageous and renders it unacceptable. Nope, if you get a Denon, it has to be the Denon AVR-1909. UPDATE: THE LOWEST YOU WILL FIND THIS FOR IS $500. BUT, THAT PRICE HAS COME AND GONE, AND WILL LIKELY ONLY BE SEEN AGAIN DURING THE HOLIDAY SALES.
The next-best option is to get the Yamaha RX-V663BL. It has half as many HDMI inputs — only 2 — which undercuts an otherwise strong feature set. Sells for $500 but you can get it for $400 if you try. It does not have the Audyssey Dynamic Volume; it has an adaptive dynamic range control that elevates a bit at lower volumes and lowers a bit at louder volumes. But it doesn’t take the content into consideration the way Audyssey Dynamic Volume does, it is simply imposed based on what volume your knob is at. I believe that if controlling dynamic range is important to you (i.e. you hate it when explosions are too loud), then you need the Audyssey Dynamic Volume offered in the Onkyo and Denon. Beyond not having the latest form of dynamic range control, you probably won’t have enough HDMI inputs if you get this one. See reply for suggestions.
The fourth-best option is not good. The Sony STRDG820. It is $350. Like many Sony items, it has unseen design limitations which prevent it from actually doing all the things that it appears obvious that it would do. It is entirely unacceptable and not even worth going in to.
*Audyssey Dynamic Volume is an update of the “Midnight Mode” of old, indeed it has three settings that are named in that fashion – “Day” “Evening” and “Night”. However, it is different in that it responds in real time to the characteristics of the content flowing through it, and attacks the volume in the fraction of the second before the content would flow out, and, it changes the equalization too. In this way, it avoids flattening out the dynamic range during scenes that don’t need it. Result is more natural.