I think your "expert" needs to brush up on some facts as does the person you talked to at Onkyo. In all the years I've owned Blu-ray's (since the beginning of the HD_DVD/BD format war) I have never seen one that selects or uses THX processing!!
There is no such thing. In fact, with hi-rez audio formats, Dolby TruHD and DTS-Master Audio -
1) the audio track is selected by you in the disc menu, usually as the default, unless they are the sole audio track on the disc
2) post processing, such as THX & Dolby Prologic IIx, are always
added by the user in the receiver, they do not exist on the disc.
Calibration & EQ using Pioneer's MCACC, Audyssey in Denon/Onkyo/Integra, and YPAO in Yamaha, is always internally done in the receiver with THX off. I've owned Pioneers for years and at no time was THX included in the calibration. Why? Because THX has a slight roll-off in the high freq's, so any calibration with it on would be off by several db in the hi range and defeat the purpose of using THX.
Setup is definitely NOT a "pain" with Pioneer, it's as easy as selecting the items in the menu and making it happen. While OSD GUI is not one of Pioneer's strongest points, in the end, who cares how "pretty" it is as long as it works, which it does. Besides, you're only going to use it once & forget about it, unless you change your setup, re-arrange room furniture, etc.
Where Pioneer gets dinged is OSD of things like volume, surround mode. Setup is no harder than any other modern receiver. Each companies' menu's have some advantages & some disadvantages.
Adding ProLogic IIx to a 5.1 disc to get 7.1 is a nice but not mandatory enhancement, but it is up to you to decide whether to use it or not, depending on the source, music vs movie, 2 channel purist or occasionally like music in surround.
As to Onkyo vs Pioneer, I won't comment. I do not have experience with Onkyo/Integra.
But the main difference between the brands is Audyssey EQ vs MCACC EQ. Some like the ability to tweak things in MCACC which you can't do in Audyssey unless your receiver is Audyssey Pro capable and you buy the Pro kit. The big advantage Audyssey has over MCACC is it will EQ the subs. Enthusiasts are increasingly vocalizing their interest in PIoneer to include that.
You did the right thing by asking....your expert friend may have good intentions on what he told you and maybe there is a misinterpretation going on of what he was describing. But, as far as staying in the "correct" audio format or automatically turning on THX in the Integra, I have downloaded the Integra 80.3 manual for my own personal knowledge, and checked it again - at least the 80.3 doesn't add anything automatically.
However, what it does do is this (quoting the manual) -
"You can assign a default listening mode to each input source that will be selected automatically when you select each input source. For example, you can set the default
listening mode to be used with Dolby Digital input signals. You can select other listening modes during playback, but the mode specified here will be resumed once the AV controller has been set to standby."
So, you could
have THX or PLIIx, or DTS Neo X added to a source as a default, or leave it set as Direct mode, or downmix to stereo. The choice is yours...there's nothing automatically doing it for you. Similarly, the Pioneer also has the ability to have a track set to Stereo on 1 input, Dolby PLIIx on another, THX on a 3rd, etc. All controlled manually by you on your remote. Both will remember the setting and if you want to change it, reach for the remote, press the surround mode button and it's changed. No big deal...why your "expert" thinks it so is a mystery...I think he may be confused on how the receivers work.Do yourself a favor
: download the manuals for each model you are interested in, and learn what each has, how it works and don't take someone else's "opinions" as gospel. Including mine
. I come from a strong Pioneer knowledge but I do make it a point to learn as much as I can about other makes.
Further, to me, if you want a TRUE one-to-one comparison with the SC-57, you probably should be looking at Integra DTR-80.3 not the 50. That is a much closer comparison in amp power & performance, quality, features, etc than the 50. The SC-57 is THX Ultra-2 certified amps, while the 50.3 is only Select2 . A different league in amp performance to meet the Ultra2 spec.
And if you wanted another comparison to the Pioneer, you may also want to consider the Denon 4311.