A month and a half after I bought my 1019, I think I'm close to done tweaking the settings. Let me share my experience for those who care to read it.
I went with this receiver for the following reasons:
- I was hoping the Faroudja would upscale the Wii's 480i and the cable box's 1080i better than my Philips 47pfl7403 TV.
- The CD audio quality was important for me and having heard many HT systems sound horrible for music made me look for an AVR with a big EQ (9 bands for 1019) and being able to adjust the EQ manually. Unless you have a reference to compare, you can't tell how bad music sounds on most HT systems where the calibration is done for a flat response. I have another stereo system that I enjoyed for years without an equalizer and I was stunned when I bought one and cranked it up.
- I wanted to route evething through the AVR so that I would not need to change the input of the TV, because it takes 12s to start accepting commands after power up and that's a hassle is you are using a Harmony remote.
- I wanted an AVR and a blu-ray player that could fit in my TV stand, which was definitely a problem for VSX-1018 and BDP-51FD.
- I wanted the PQLS function and a matching player.
I looked at Denons and Onkyos and found that their blu-ray players were much more expensive with smaller capabilities than Pioneer's so I decided to go with Pioneer.
So I bought VSX-1019 and BDP-320. Initially I kept the speakers of my previous Sony DAV-FC9 home-theater-in-a-box (5 small and a subwoofer), because they seemed well built and I had tried one of the fronts on my other good stereo system and it seemed to have the high range I needed.
I encountered the following problems with the 1019:
- The remote sensor was too sensitive and was being blacked out by the IR interference from the fluorescent backlight of the TV. This happens during maybe 5 minutes after the TV is started while the backlight is warming up. I was upset about that, but found a solution - putting a few layers of some semi transparent tape on the sensor. It doesn't look as ugly as it sounds.
- I gave up on the video scaler - it was not any better than the TV's, it did not upscale the 1080i from the cable box through the DVI interface, the Wii did not look OK - there was some digital noise. I ended up hooking up only the blu-ray to the AVR for video, the rest went to the TV as it was before. Botton line is, don't buy an AVR because of a video scaler.
- Sometimes it would fail to switch on the sound while switching from one source to another. I believe the reason was that if the source was not on when the AVR switched the input, it tried to find signal on other inputs (digital, optical, etc. The solution was to make the Harmony remote switch the source first and also to set the input select on the AVR to the appropriate type of input instead of auto.
- The Kuro link is more of a problem than a feature. The PQLS requires the Kuro link to be on for both the player and the AVR. I have disabled the power on/off feature associated with it, but when the TV comes across the AVR output, the blu-ray player turns on and if I move away from that input on the TV (just getting to the input I need if the remote is out of sync), the AVR complains about HDCP violation. So the solution for me is to stay away from that input. To be honest, I don't see any difference between PQLS on and off and I could not find any quantitative information on how big a distortion this jitter can cause, but now that I have paid for it, I'm keeping it on.
So I hooked it up and did the calibration and was impressed by how much better the 1019 sounded for movies compared with the Sony and the same speakers. I could not say the same thing for music in comparion with my stereo system. It had way too much bass on movies and way too little on misuc with the same subwoofer and I got tired of moving the volume up and down, setting the DRC to max, LFE to something below 0, etc.
Note that for music you really want the STEREO mode, because that's the only mode that supports tone control (+6db both on bass and treble in my case) and the PQLS.
Anyway, the music performance was not good enough for me so I bought new speakers - Polk's TSi400 for the front, TSi300 for the surround and CS10 for the center. These are "large" speakers, i.e. going down to 34Hz. I thought I would be able to retire also the Sony subwoofer with them.
Bottom line is, don't buy small speakers if you can afford big ones and the bigger the better.
So I installed the Polks and calibrated, but the sound was still not good enough and I resoured to the manual MCACC mode. Actually I had tried it with the previous speakers and concluded that it's the only way to get a decent music sound.
Basically I copied the cal data to a new memory and started tweaking the EQ settings. The problem is that it plays a white-noise test tone that doesn't give you a clue how music would sound. After a few trials and errors and comparisons between memories, I ended with the 63Hz and 100Hz bands at +9db and +5db respectively, and for the 8kHz and 16kHz bands I have +4db and +7.5db. This is on the fronts and the surrounds. I did not touch the center. Also I needed to lower the mid range (1kHz and 2kHz to 1dB and 2dB respectively). I tried to keep everything else as established by MCACC, including the TRIM.
The other thing I did was to set the subwoover to PLUS in the manual speakers setup menu, which results into the bass from the fronts being mixed also into the sub. Even though the fronts are rated down to 34Hz, the sub did make a difference. Without that setting the AVR would not turn the sub on for music.
Now it really sounds like a good stereo system and IMHO even the movies sound better, although I'm keeping the original MCACC cal data labeled as MOVIE. The manual setting I labeled MUSIC. I'm no longer wondering if there is anything coming out of the surrounds and the EXT.STEREO advanced surround mode (all channels stereo) sounds much better too.
The tone control is on as before, 6dB treble and bass, loudness is on, DRC is auto, LFE is 0db.
I'm also bi-amping the fronts. I'm new to this and I could not find a good enough explanation of the benefits, but as an engineer, my conclusion is that if the highs and the lows of an 8 Ohm speaker are separated, these should be two 16Ohm loads, which loads the two amps (the front output of each channel (L or R) is used for the highs and the surround back output is used for the lows) much less and the distortion of the amps might be twice as low. The output power should be the same.
Go ahead and get manual on the EQ, otherwise you are listening to a marginal sound unless you only do movies and classical music.