I've been running my entire AV rig (which is very large and complicated, and I think is wonderful but my wife disagrees) for about 10 years, with a Meridian 561 as the heart and soul of the system.
I like my Meridian 561 very much. It is very musical, it has lots of interesting preset audio processing algorithms available (some of which are admittedly obsolete now), it's easy to program and customize and hack it using my laptop PC, and it has a HUGE (and necessary) number of audio and video inputs, and the programmability makes it really easy to associate and redirect the huge number of audio and video inputs to make the system behave just like I want it to behave. Pretty much the only thing that I don't love about my 561, is that when I use a sound pressure meter and the built-in calibration white noise to calibrate the speaker outputs to the Meridian reference level 75, setting it to level 75 in real use blows my family away, so we need to keep it to 65 - 70 on the Meridian scale.
So, as you can see, I really love this little unit very much.
However, time marches on, and I suspect that 2009 surround processors have about 32x as much digital processing power as my mid-90's Meridian 561. So, I am wondering if the time has come to move ahead to a more powerful processor that will provide an enhanced listening experience, especially with higher bandwidth formats like Blu-Ray.
The question is, what is out there today, which has the musicality, versatility, programmability, and ability to support a large and complicated system, that the 561 provided? The ability to create, name, and configure your own source inputs down the the last detail? The ability to store the whole state of the processor on a PC, so that if the flash memory gets wiped by a power transient or an accident, it can be easily reloaded from the PC? Lots of interesting preset audio processing algorithms. Lots and lots of audio and video inputs, easy programmability with a laptop PC, easy to associate both audio and video inputs with named sources, ability to fine-tune both the processor algorithms and the more mundane audio characteristics on a per-input basis? All of the audio setting per-input, depending on the source?
(Did I mention that not having LOTS of audio and video inputs are a deal-breaker?)
Any suggestions or recommendations?