Thanks for the clarifications.
I picked up my own NR1501 yesterday and installed it last night. The sound is great!
I haven't tried all of its features yet, but here's an initial summary. I tend to be a "glass is half-empty" type of person.
When power was first applied (after recabling), the receiver turned on fully. This could be an issue after power outages. I'll be upgrading the power strip this evening (the current one doesn't have enough outlets) so I'll find out then if it happens again. After losing power, it came up in standby mode. [/edit]
Although there are no individual lights to show the active channels, some information is shown when you press the "display" button several times on the remote. It steps from the current "input device" information display to the volume level, surround sound decoding and then digital input signal type. Among the signal types is "dolby digital" which sometimes includes the number of channels.
The volume display is an arbitrary scale from MIN then 1, to 79 and then MAX. Different levels do not seem to be associated with different digital inputs. (I haven't tested analog inputs yet.) The TosLink output from my TV seems to be significantly louder than the HDMI output from my BD player. I set it to about 25 when watching TV, but had to turn it up to about 35 while listening to a CD and briefly watching a disc. I.E., TV PCM is louder than TV DD, which is louder than BD and DVD PCM and DD, including DVD TosLink.[/edit]
There may be a problem with Dolby Digital decoding on my unit, but I'm not entirely sure yet. There are several digital channels included in my cable TV subscription which include DD audio. Using the TosLink connection from the TV (its only output), my ancient Pioneer receiver showed several of them as having full 5.1 surround sound. The 1501 claims that they are only "dolby digital 2ch". However, at the moment I have speakers connected only to the three front L/C/R channels. (I've also disabled the others in the receiver's setup.) The 1501 might be downconverting and displaying the results. I'll check BD and DVD DD signals tonight. I'll have to get some more speakers for the bedroom before I can verify if there's a TV DD problem. I'm reluctant to try it with the not-so-efficient 4 ohm speakers that are in my main system. BD HDMI and DVD rf DD show just "dolby digital" when a 5.1 audio track is being played; "dolby digital 2ch" when only 2 channels.[/edit]
When I played an HDCD CD in my BD player (Pioneer BDP-120) its HDMI bitstream output was identified by the receiver as PCM. I dunno if the HDCD bits are getting through or not. (It still sounded great, though.
HDMI audio was decoded even when the TV was turned off. I seem to recall reports that the AV8003 disables audio in that situation. The sound goes off briefly when the TV is turned off.[/edit]
My one DTS CD was decoded fine, although the 1501 doesn't seem to provide the option of selecting DTS music or DTS theater modes (there's an equalization difference between them). DTS ES was detected and decoded on the one BD I have with that.
I haven't tried the Marantz proprietary speaker configuration setup yet. I don't think there's much point until I get additional speakers. Maybe next week.
p.s. The blue HDMI indicator LED is annoyingly bright compared to the rest of the indicators. The over-all front panel brightness can be turned down in 2 or 3 steps, though, which helps somewhat. The LED doesn't dim, but does go out when the display is off.[/edit]