Dear fellow 7/651R owners,
At last, saturday my 651R arrived !!! After collecting, unpackaging and connecting all the wires the configuration started. I never understood why you need to get a driver's licence for driving your car, but not some sort of exam for configuring an AVR !! Too many setup screens and too many mistakes to make, TMHO. But anyway, I started with the speaker setup which is not too difficult to do. After that it was necessary to decide how to connect all the different sources: I have several analog and digital sources.
First quirkyness found (compared to my previous Onkyo AVR): why only possible to perform the setup on TV and not on the display? Although it's only 2 lines it would be great not to switch to the TV-screen everytime. And also the screen needs to go from 1080p to 576p resolution, so the switch takes some time on my Sharp-TV. Ok, I'll survive this one.
Next, I use the bi-amp setup. No problem for digital sources. Yet a problem for my turntable in case I want to use Stereo Direct (and I want to). And possibly my CD-player (as I want to try to play it via analog also). The FW version is 1.44/1.45/1.09. The update to 1.51 will help here.
2nd quirkyness (compared to Onkyo AVR): My pre-amp for my turntable is less loud compared to the digital sources. I did not find a way to increase the amplification of the analog entry. May be a bit of a problem when I switch to another source after playing records and I forget to lower the volume. Perhaps I can buy a new pre-amp with a higher gain (my current one is quite low).
3rd quirkyness: the remote. Nice touch, heavy, but almost unreadable !! why such small buttons with such small letters on it? Well, after a while I think I'll learn which buttons to push (most of them are quite useless anyway). As long as the volume buttons are easy to find I'll survive.
4th quirkyness: the naming of the source buttons. This is an overall issue with many AVRs TMHO. After setting up all the sources I ended up with CD for CD, BD for BluRay, Video 1 for my HTPC, Video 2 for my Squeezebox Touch and Wii, Rec 1 for IPTV (only audio) and Rec 2 for my turntable. It was quite difficult to set it the way I wanted it due to the type of digital connections (Optical or Coaxial). After setting some explanatory names the entries are sensible, but I never understood why the generic names of the buttons are not just named S1, S2, etc. for instance.
After the setup I ended up with watching the first movies (I wanted to wait with audio after some warm-up of the AVR). First Bluray: Bladerunner. Good picture (as supposed with BD). Sound: not too bad !! Better sounding Center-audio with clearer voices, but not harsh. A bit of tweaking of the Sub necessary since it was a bit too heavy (regular problem with BD TMHO). Now some music DVDs. Also not too bad !! I need to figure out what's the best to use: Dolby or DTS. Picture quality: not sure. Not bad, but I think it could be better. I need to play with the scaler settings lateron.
Now using audyssey, first only the autosetup. After using this it seems that the measurement of the distances and gain is almost the same as I did manually, way to go !! Just some minor differences. Second setup, now with 2EQ. Now 3 times bleeping for the measurements. OK, again listening to some music DVDs. Is it better? Not sure. A bit more high and perhaps somewhat broader staging. Need to do some more listening to it in the future.
This was all on saturday. Time to sleep.
Sunday: the AVR is on the whole morning playing random music. The afternoon is for serious listening (I know the AVR needs to run in a long time, but I can't wait to hear how it sounds now!). First some HD-audio via Squeezebox. First tracks passed. What did I hear? Good sound ... a bit "stiff", but needs more time to run in. What else? Detail !! Depth !! Highs are a bit harsh. Base could be a bit more subtle. Now some CDs. Same thing. Details, depth and a bit harsh. No bad so far !! Need some patience in the next weeks of so.
Monday: I use the bi-amp to use 2 separate cables: one copper-silver cable for highs and one copper cable for base. This was the best setup with my Onkyo AVR. I change the cables around and listen again. WOW !!!!! Less harsh and a very nice center stage and more depth !!! This is good !! The top high notes are a bit less forward, but the sound is almost perfect. Now I remove the copper-silver cable and connect the copper cable to both entries. No bi-amping now. Listening again: yes this is the way I want it !! No more bi-amping necessary? I think so.
After listening for a while I realize that this is comparable with a setup I had some years ago when I used a Meridian Amplifier. Is this then what people call "British sound"? I think so.
Two days of listening: I am sold !! It only can get better over time. When I was reading all reviews and remarks I felt that this AVR had to be mine and it's all true. No overblown reviews of people who say that their AVR is the best. the 651R is a good AVR for Movies, but there are definitely better ones. the Onkyo was better for that, I think. But the audio quality is without any doubt. Can it become any better? Yes, but then I need to change my speakers and sources. The 651R is good "center" to start to change things in the future. Perhaps a better streaming device. Don't know yet what or when, but things will change :-)
OK. that's it for now. to be continued ...