So you perhaps don't need the flagship Yamaha. I'd recommend Yamaha over Onkyo for reliability.
The Yamaha A7xx would probably be sufficient for your needs, unless you want the better subwoofer EQ the 3030 offers.
Also if you're considering a power amplifier I'd get the cheapest Yamaha with pre-outs (probably 700 range) or go for A830. Like I said because your speakers are very efficent you don't need whopping great gobs of power. And this is from someone with a ATI 1807.
You may not want to rule out the Onkyo TX-NR929 due to dogmatic comments you read. Based on what I've seen, Onkyo has addressed the problems they had with HDMI boards and excessive heat when they designed the 929. even when pushed it is barely warm to the touch let alone hot. The sound is excellent, plenty of power, and a user-friendly (and useful) remote. Unless you are going to install two subwoofers, the Sub EQ won't do anything for you. Since Gibson took over Onkyo USA, their customer service responsiveness is much better. Just my $.02
Additional thoughts below:
Check the Yamaha site, it has a comparison feature.
Since this is your first HT, you may want to settle for something a bit more affordable. You may decide that getting flagship AV amp isn't the best choice, if you're going down pre-power. 830 is probably half the price.
My first AV amplifier was a £300 Yamaha. That allowed me to upgrade without kicking myself about getting rid of it about 2 years later (Pro-Logic so become out of date quickly)
Lol well do I need it probably not. I like the idea of getting at least close to the desired rms watts for my speakers. But most of all probably would keep any receiver I buy for 5 plus years so I would like to have some thing I know I'm going to be happy with. And if I would like to add on can later. Separate amps. Speakers and so forth. And it is the 3020 that I was looking at. Model before the 3030. Almost same specs beside the processor I guess. But can get 3020 for 1299 where the 3030 is 1999.99.
You can get a 3030 for a lot less than that. 2k is just the lowest they're allowed to advertise, assuming you're not buying from amazon, Best Buy or some other big box store where the sales reps don't have the authority to haggle. That's a good price on the 3020 and is likely a lower than you're going to be able to get a 3030 for unless you know somebody, though it's not an uncommon price, considering the model is being cleared out. But, it's still a good time to buy. I personally would stick with the 2030/2020 or up, but that's a personal choice, partly based on the fact that the flagship or one to two levels down is what I've been used to buying for over ten years. It might be a peace of mind thing more than anything. When researching Yamaha recently, the 1030 is the lowest model I looked into, so that's the lowest model I'd be able to offer any comparisons.
When researching the 3020 and 3030 recently, the differences were fairly minor: MHL port (3030), superior HQV video processing (3020 - not included in the 3030 because the chip was discontinued), better heatsinks for cooler running - this thing runs very cool for an AVR (3030) though the 3020 isn't known to be particularly warm or hot as AVRs go either, virtual rear presence (3030), newer (debatably better) 32 bit ESS DACs (3030 - the 3020 uses 24 bit Burr Brown which are known for their quality too and are likely just as good in practical application), plus ambiguous tweaking of their design that "Yamaha is constantly" doing, for whatever that last part is worth. All of those comparisons came from Yamaha techs I spoke with either by phone or email.
As for comparing their flagship to the next levels down, if you have an atypical, non-symetrical speaker layout, the 3030/3020 features an angle correction measurement that helps compensate for rooms were the speakers can't be optimally positioned - though this appears to primarily be used for their dsp processing. The 3020/3030 also uses a better quality, more sensitive mic for auto-EQ room/speaker corrections by YPAO. You might also need to dig a little to make sure lesser models feature all the same dsps, if such is important to you. I know Yamaha offers a few more dsps with their flagship prepro, but I'm not sure if their procession of AVRs are more equal in that regard or not. You've also got to go with the 20xx series and up to get support for front presence speakers, if that's important to you.
I've heard nothing but praise for the Onkyo 929, but it's probably too early to know for sure if Onkyo has addressed some of their past blunders with it or not. If Audyssey XT32 is important to you, and HT is your primary application, the Denon 4000 sounds like a good bang for your buck model, worth checking into as well - though, when I demoed one the tonality appeared innately harsher, less refined from the Yamaha 2030 in the same room, same speakers, and the Marantz 7007 I also demoed at the same time. While I've had what I heard corroborated by two other dealers now, I can't confirm that what I heard was typical of all Denon 4000s in general though. Marantz seems a good alternative to Yamaha, if Audyssey is as important to you as it is some here. I like Audyssey myself. I think there's a lot more R&D involved with XT or XT32 than YPAO. But I've been very pleased with YPAO in our HT so far, and the Yamaha's offer greater flexibility of manual EQ for those who don't trust auto-correction to be as accurate.
Great input Chad.
I auditioned the Yamaha 3030 and Denon X4000 as well as the Onkyo TX-NR929. I found the Yamaha and Denon to sound too bright for my liking while the Onkyo 929 had a warmer more natural sound to it and the bass was exceptionally tight and punchy. Even after pushing the Onkyo hard it still felt almost cool to the touch. I like the sound of it in my HT even better.
Wattage demand has more to do with how hard your speakers are to drive and the size of your room. If your speakers are efficient and your room smaller than an auditorium (not being literal) any AVR you're looking at should do the job. If you're driving 4ohm loads or all full-range speakers and not using a dedicated sub for the low end, you'll probably need to budget for an external amp. The only current production AVR some people seem to be getting away with driving 4ohm speakers is the Denon 4520 and even that's not a guarantee.
What features in the Yamaha are you referring? From what I've been told and what I've heard myself, I believe anyone does dsps as well as Yamaha does. For manual EQ the playing field is limited as well. For auto EQ there are a number of other AVRs to choose from, some that likely do a better job than YPAO, like Audyssey XT or XT32. But YPAO is more tweakable/correctable manually, if you don't trust or don't like the auto results. As for video processing, HQV is one of the better solutions out there. I don't think anyone currently is going to top that, especially considering the chip has been discontinued and most manufacturers appear to be going with thier own proprietary solutions instead, that usually aren't as refined.