Knucklehead: I was hoping to spend ~$200. My tastes in electronics far exceeds my current income =)
Thanks for the recommendations. I am looking at them now. I prefer Pioneer only because the rest of my stereo components are currently Pioneer. But price vs. function is more important to me, so I am not dead-set on Pioneer.
"Although many AVRs below $500 will pass audio/video over HDMI, what they may NOT do is to upconvert a composite or component video signal to HDMI, rather just passing through HDMI IN ---> HDMI OUT."
Currently, my video goes from my HD Dish box to my TV via HDMI cable (actually HDMI-DVI conversion cable). Do I need an AVR that does upconvert to get the same video quality I am getting now?
"Does your receiver have DD Pro Logic that simulates 5.1 surround with a stereo input?"
Yes, it has simulated 5.1 and it sounds....weird. Muffled, fluctuates, etc. I have never liked it.
"As it is right now the best you'll get with your HD cable box is DD 5.1"
So the audio output quality of my Dish box isn't worth getting an AVR that supports either HDMI or Optical input?
My Dish box has three audio output choices: HDMI, Optical, or L/R analog. My current AVR has several of the standard stereo L/R inputs and analog 5.1 Front L/R, Rear L/R, Center, and Subwoofer. It has no digital inputs at all. I am currently running L/R analog out from the Dish box to the 5.1 Front L/R input on the AVR. The Center, Sub, and Rear L/R are getting no inputs.
Thank you both for your answers. I really thought HDMI was supposed to make video/audio more simple. I forgot to mention that at least for now, I am only interested in 5.1 sound. But I would like for it to be true 5.1 sound.