I boughtan SR-8500 in 2005 and I love it. The sound quality is outstanding for a receiver. But it only has DVI inputs and doesn't do DD+, TrueHD or DTS-MA. I had no choice in 2005, because my old pre/pro died. So I couldn't wait for HDMi switching. Now I want to upgrade. However, I won't rush my purchase decision again.
I've been considering the DTC-9.8, but wanted to wait for CES to see what is coming out. The AV8003/MM8003 combination looks really attractive at first glance. I have an older Onkyo receiver in a second room. Their products are great value and have pretty impressive sound quality for the money. But I have no doubt I'd hear a not subtle difference in sound quality between the DTC-9.8 and the AV8003 with my Apogee ribbons.
Before I decide, I want to know what the complete feature set of the AV8003 is going to be.
Does it have HD Radio? What about Audessey XT Pro room correction? How about Audessey Dynamic EQ? Can it accept and internally decode a DSD stream from an Oppo 980?
I do have one immediate reservation about the AV8003. From the pics posted above, I don't expect it to have more than 5 A/V inputs. I have HD-DVD, Blu Ray, the Oppo 980 (for DVD-Audio and SACD), a DVD-Recorder, a FIOS HD-DVR an HTPC, and a DirecTV HD-DVR. That's 5 sources which output HDMI, and two that output analog video (one composite and one component).
That means I'll have to add an HDMI switch to accommodate all of my sources. I don't mind the small additional cost, but I don't like it. I consider the added cost of the switch as art of the overall cost of the pre/processor. And adding the HDMI switch means more macro programming steps to get the AV8003's remote control to switch the source device's video and audio together.
It is really aggravating to have a $3000 modern pre/processor that has composite and S-Video jacks out the ying-yang, with only four HDMI inputs. What are the CE manufacturers thinking? Who buys a pre-processor at this level and connects a VCR or a Laser Disc player, or a DVD player that doesn't have at least component video outputs? Having all of those legacy jacks takes up a huge amount of real estate on the rear panel, and adds significant cost. It's not just the jacks themselves that add to the cost. There is added internal wiring, more solder connections on PC boards, and the extra assembly and design costs as well.
Why not drop S-Video and composite video from all but one or two of the inputs? Instead of the legacy jacks, why not add a second HDMI controller chip with four more inputs? Even if dropping the legacy jacks didn't cover the cost of the additional HDMI jacks and controller, I'd be willing to pay an extra $200 to have the extra inputs I need built into the receiver.
Doing so would also address future device connectivity.
For example, I expect to be buying a stand-alone Blu Ray recorder in a few years. Hopefully it will implement managed copy through HDMI. I'd really have liked to see at least one input/output with a dedicated HDMI pair on it for the recorder. Or, if the pre/pro had two HDMI controllers, why not allow the second controller's HDMI output to act as a second zone or recording output? Running component video and analog audio cables through walls to send HD video is just not as practical as sending the same signals on one HDMI cable.
In the meantime, I will wait a while and see what the AV8003 looks like.