I just got a new job so I'm back in the market to pursue planned upgrades for my home theater. My first priority is my AVR.
I currently own a Harman Kardon AVR 247. This is my second HK receiver and I've always been fond of them. The looks, the sound quality. However, their model options are always a bit limited and... odd.
My issues with this receiver is that it doesn't have enough HDMI inputs and it doesn't matrix out 5.1 from my blu-rays to fill 7.1 speakers like it can for DVDs. I guess it just doesn't have the horsepower. So those 2 things are my main priority. I don't need more power, or other fancy features... anything beyond my 2 needs is just gravy.
So, my priorities are:
- Qty of HDMI inputs
- Sound quality (DVD/BD)
- Matrix HD LPCM 5.1 to 7.1
- Remembering/persistence of surround settings on a per-input basis
Things I do not
- Analog inputs (beyond 1 component and a single RCA stereo)
- Optical or other digital inputs other than HDMI
- Network play of files
- Wireless (although if there's an RJ45 that can be used for firmware updates, remote control, and such that's a plus)
- Anything from Sony
Unit would rest on open-air shelves (not inside of a cabinet) so cooling is not an issue. I currently run to a 40" 1080p LCD screen but my intention is to resurrect having a projector (1080p) setup. I mention this as any video-processing flaws will be magnified and made apparent. My speakers are a 7.1 set, Onkyo SKS-HT540. I know, nothing special but they're decent and since I rent I can't crank them very loud. However, I would like an AVR that allows for growth and isn't size limited for my speakers... later down the line I might move and be in a position to get better speakers without buying a new AVR.
My current inputs are an Oppo BDP-83 (HDMI), Dish Network ViP722 DVR (HDMI), Roku 2 (HDMI), Wii (component), and an aux cable for my cell phone (RCA analog stereo). I intend to get a Wii U soon.
I have an SPL meter, calibration discs and tend to do setup/calibration manually than using any "automatic" method. I've not had good experiences with those.
I decode audio in my Blu-ray player (Oppo BDP-83) and send LPCM to the AVR. But mainly because I have to right now as my HK 247 can't decode the HD formats.
I am in the boonies so "auditioning" units at the store, buying and returning, and so on are major PITAs to the point of not being options. I want to do my research first before
I buy then order the right/final unit.
My budget isn't "hard" as I'm willing to pay for what I want, but let's try to keep it under $700, give or take?
I've had good experiences with Harman Kardon and Onkyo. I tend to lean towards HK for sound quality and long-term reliability reasons but I'm open to recommendations for other brands. Onkyo sometimes has quality issues... Denon has support issues. HK's main issue seems to be the limited number of models and weird quirks that persist and never get fixed. And their quality seems to be not what it used to be, from what I read. I do like the Logic7 processing on the HKs though.
Missed a great deal on the Onkyo 818 the other day for under $700 but I'm just not ready to purchase right this minute.
I've also been eying the HK 2650 but it doesn't seem to have much love... however every time it goes on-sale on this one particular site it's for less and less... lower $300s last time. This puts it in an entirely different category price-wise than the Onkyo 818 I realize, but I'm not sure how specific HK and Onkyo receivers compare against each other. Guess that's why I'm here.