It's hard to believe that 10 years have gone by so fast. My Denon AVR-3801 is still going strong and sounds great on my 5.1 setup - Boston Micro90/90t fronts, center, and powered sub, and rear VRS Micros. I bought this receiver 10 years ago with the dreams of a man cave/movie room that was later turned into a playroom for kids. So the Denon and the speakers were moved to the family room to watch regular TV, movies, and occasionally crank up some Christmas music. It's a shame that until recently I had forgotten that the Denon could drive 2 more speakers and do multizone. Some dreams never get realized. But I digress...
Fast forward, 10 years and I have a new Panasonic P65ST50, with a bluray player (still undecided on brand, looking for best at streaming MKV files), Xbox 360, digital cable box, replayTV (SD recording I know), screencast (for laptop display), and Canon HD camcorder. All these new pieces of equipment work best via HDMI (except Replay but that's my analog legacy) with optical audio. The problem is my Denon has only 3 optical audio inputs. So I either need to by a swtich or get a new receiver. Since the switches I have seen are manual, this is not desirable. I suppose I could give up digital audio on one or two inputs if the AVR3801 is not worthy of replacement by the alternatives below.
I recently went out trolling for cheap replacements <$250. My reasons of looking at spending less than $250 is that I regret spending so much on the Denon years ago for features I never used, I just dropped over $2k on the TV, and I am hoping sound quality in receivers has improved in the last 10 years that I can continue to enjoy the same sound experience on cheaper equipment. I realize the last assumption may be foolish - I only ask that you be gentle in your reprisals.
So after searching the web and local stores, I have two options so far that I would appreciate your thoughts on.
1. Denon AVR-1612 - purchased for $189 plus tax (store demo). Not a hot deal as you can buy new ones online for $225 and up, but not bad.
2. Yamaha RX-V571 - purchased for $199 plus tax (store demo). Seems to be a better deal as those are still going for $340 or more new.
Both appear to have enough inputs considering the 2 extra HDMI inputs on the TV. The Yahama has more inputs, both HDMI, optical audio and analog, which gives me hope for flexibility/future components. One of the HDMI inputs is on the front which is convenient for the camcorder and borrowed devices. The Yahama is also 7.1 where the 1612 is only 5.1, and the Yahama can output all signals via HDMI. These extra features made me feel a little better that my $200 was well spent and this may be worthy of replacing my AVR3801. But I know from experience that a good price and fancy features may not mean quality sound.
From searching the forums, it seems folks generally think the Denon 1612 is a good value, but lacking in features of the step-up models. The negatives on the Yahama focus on inferior bass output and that it may not have discrete channel amp (not sure though as I can't find that in the specs in the manual).
If I decide to keep one of the new receivers I would likely store the Denon AVR3801 for possible future use to drive house speakers (prewired, not installed) or some other use. Doubt I could get much selling it.
Of course I am open to other suggestions as I can always return these and wait for other prior year models to go on closeout. I don't want to be disappointed by what I use as a replacement - I just want to continue a nice listening experience for what is mostly TV, bluray movies, and music on occasion. Thanks in advance for any advice and input.