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After receiving a set of polk rm880s i needed something to power them, having just completed one of those "click here for a free PS3" offer sites(yes they actually work) i had a gift card to use at...
full 7.1 preouts; good amount of power
only 3 hdmi ports; no audio processing of hdmi, vertical hdmi ports
After receiving a set of polk rm880s i needed something to power them, having just completed one of those "click here for a free PS3" offer sites(yes they actually work) i had a gift card to use at amazon so i looked for the highest end receiver that i could afford by a familiar brand. i settled on the then top non elite model the vsx-1018.
The receiver is a 7.1 channel complete with a full set of preouts for expansion. there are some basic A/V processing features but i rarely used them as i have pretty basic satellite speakers. at the time that the receiver was released the fact that it decoded both HD audio formats was a pretty big deal. the feature set is pretty basic as it predated all the fancy goodies that hdmi 1.4 has; just good basic playback.
the setup is incredaibly easy but that may have just been due to the simplicity of my setup just plug in the HDMI cables, the component cable and optical cable, then the speaker plugs. the one thing i dont like is the vertical orientation of the hdmi connections that make the cables hard to get to and sometimes doesnt feel as secure as the standard horizontal orientation. the receiver features MCACC auto calibration(assuming first generation version) that made set up very easy as after plugging in the included microphone and starting the auto cal it took about 5 minutes to have a great sounding system.
the user interface is pretty simplistic as its just text on a black screen with a simple highlight and click menu, though its pretty hard to get to as every time you want to get to it you have to tell the included remote that you want to send a command to the unit; thankfully after the initial tinkering all remote duties fell to my harmony one universal remote. as far as performance i dont really have anything bad to say other than the few problems i have that may actually be the shortcomings of the speakers. i dont really have anything to compare it too other than demos in the big box stores using multi hundred dollar priced speakers, but to me it sounds pretty good. i havent really used any processing features other than the pure direct mode when listening to music, needless to say it didnt sound very good as my speaker can only produce sound down it 95HZ so there was no bass at all, full range towers probably would sound better. another feature i've used is the MONOFILM mode that takes a mono soundtrack and makes it into surround; granted i only have two movies with mono soundtracks(the terminator and conan the barbarian) it sounded pretty good for digitally altered sound. one issue that i have is that when listening to a DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack you cannot apply any sort of audio processing, i have no idea why this is and since im only running a 5.1 system i dont have any reason to apply any post processing magic to it for additional audio channels. This being the first "big boy" receiver that ive owned aside form an old sony es model that my father has when i was a kid and had been disconnected by the time i was old enough to appreciate good sound quality i'd have to say that this is a pretty good unit albeit a little long in the tooth as newer models have more power, more features, more channels, and more hdmi ports. If this was back in 2009 i wouldn't hesitate to recommend this receiver as ive read other reviews calling it "An Elite in disguise" .