Hello all, this is a great forum and I really appreciate people sharing all of their experience with these receivers. I hadn't bought a new receiver for about 15 years and after intense research including reading all of the posts on this forum, I decided to buy the 3900. I also got some fairly high end speakers (Aperion 6 line) and a Sony HDTV. My goal was to come out of the stone age and be able to have a nice entertainment center where I (or my wife or kids) could easily search and play any of our MP3 music, FM broadcast, internet radio, and perhaps Rhapsody or another of the subscription services. On the video front I wanted to have HDTV and also be able to upscale from any of my non HD format media such as DVDs, VHS cassetes, SD broadcast and digital camcorder movies. I also want blu ray at some point. I've had the 3900 for about a week and have the following general observations:
The 3900 pretty much lives fully up to my expectations of decoding just about any audio format and amplifying it cleanly. Then again, I knew it probably wouldn't be the weak link in the audi chain as usually the speakers are where you really want to put you money. I also like the multi-zone capability; now I can pipe music to my back porch for parties and barbeques etc.
Rhapsody and net music is very nice except the GUI interface is super clunky. It's usable, but I can't wait to unpgrade it, which I will do soon. The other thing I don't like about the Rhapsody and net music interface is that it drops out for a few seconds fairly frequently, especially right after the song starts. I have a very fast internet connection so it seems like the memory buffer in the 3900 is small or slow or something, then again it could be my local are network but i doubt it since audio doesn't take much bandwidth at all. I hope to improve that situation too.
As far as the video upscaling and processing goes, I really don't see any improvement over what my Sony tv can already do so I'd have to say it's no big deal and probably unnecessary. I haven't tried video from my digital camcorder yet.
Here's what I've decided to do from here forward:
1. Build myself a home theatre personal computer (HTPC). Load all of my MP3s on it and use the Apple itunes music browser interface to play music. Project this in 1080P format thru the 3900 to my Sony tv. Same thing with Rhapsody. Use the Rhapsody web interface on the HTPC which is way way better than the 3900 interface. This will allow quick searching and give a much more informative display of details about the music and musician. It looks a lot better too. Same thing for internet radio; I'll use vTuner or something with a nicer GUI. This will all be controlled with a wireless keyboard and mouse from my coffee table.
So basically, I'll let the 3900 do what it does best, and let an HTPC do what it does best. The 3900 will be used for decoding and switching input sources (cable TV box, HTPC, DVD player) to my speakers and TV. It'll also be used for its FM tuner and multizone speaker driving, and of course as a great amp for my speakers. The HTPC will handle all stored media such as MP3s, JPEGs, MPEG movies from my camcorder. It'll also provide the best GUI experience.
I'm quite happy with the 3900, but if i had it to do over again I'd probably get a lesser AVR and put the bucks saved toward building an HTPC. A nice one can be built now for ~$700 or so. I found a nifty website showing how to build the HTPC but AVSforum won't let me post the URL here because this is my first post.
Anybody see anything wrong with this approach? Are some of you already doing this?