I write this review as a first time A/V receiver user, so some of my critique may be more newbies unknowns than actual inadequacies of device. I purchased to connect to an LG Wi-Fi TV across a room...
clear crisp sound, great dolby encoding, easy to use front panel preference toggles
poor on-screen GUI menu tree and display, quirky connection capability as related to TV interface
I write this review as a first time A/V receiver user, so some of my critique may be more newbies unknowns than actual inadequacies of device. I purchased to connect to an LG Wi-Fi TV across a room from Recvr. I have two black bull HDMI lines (40 feet) buried in walls between recvr and TV. I am driving Klipsch large 2-way bookshelf as the front speakers (sent by an Amphony 1600 wireless system), wired in-ceiling 6.5 two-way as Surrounds, two small Boston Acoustics A23's as surround rears. I have a Pioneer 8-inch down firing subwoofer. I have a Boston Acoustics soundbar connected to TV (my renovation omitted a speaker wire run to drive the soundbar from the speaker level center channel on the receiver). I do not yet have a "B" set hooked up (those inputs are line level RCAs, requiring a second amp, so my in-house line runs' limitations are currently precluding this usage.
The speaker connections were easy to accomplish, I used the Manual white noise speaker setup that 'walks' the white noise around each speaker to dial in the gains to each via indicating the speaker setup in the menu and the distance each speaker is to the listener location. This worked great; this recvr has a microphone and capability to 'auto' balance system but since my center channel is independent of the recvr, I prefered to go straight to performing a manual calibration.
The remote that is very busy does have strong IR signal making pointing it toward my IR repeater not critical in targeting.
I found the on-screen menu that is displayed on the TV for the device a bit 'old school' in its scrolling info and crude text, adequate, but not with much 'sonystyle.'
The menus' navigation definitiely take a lot of 'learning interpretation' via the 100+ page manual study to understand what each setting means as the on-screen display provides no such explanation to the setting toggles.
The wireless connectivity to the Wi-Fi network requires keying in the password 1995 motorola cell phone style: multiple keystrokes to get to characters then numbers, but it holds in memory if one has to re-connect the network as my wi-fi requires periodically due to Clear's quirky service.
I found when i connected my new Mac's iTunes via the Airplay, the iTunes volume slide pegged the volume at the 56 MAX volume and I had to scramble to power down the receiver in the instant before the speakers exploded, fortunately no damage and wow it showed this amp has speaker driving capabilty to shake the house. This is probably a newbie setting i need to lean more of, however the Airplay is seamless otherwise.
I have not yet used the bluetooth connectivity but with a dedicated pairing button on the front panel, i am certain it will be seamless also, and probably quirky in the on-screen display.
The front panel USB played my iPhone3S's iPod seamlessly, i have yet to figure out how to display the song being played when in USB mode; USB does charge device while connected.
I find the display of songs playing on-screen when using the Airplay is again archaic, but adequate.
The input select knob on the front panel and the remote buttons are responsive rapidly and easy.
The sound mode (2 channel or the various Dolby decoding's or emulations) is easy to select via hard buttons on front panel or again selectable via the quirky GUI menu navigation.
The inputs for the multiple HDMI inputs is good, i cannot revview the game interface as i do not have any of that.
The two optical inputs left me desiring at least one more; one defaults to the Sat TV input but is programmable via the clunky on-screen GUI menu tree or easily via an input audio mode hard button below the input selection dial. I am finding due to my primary 'issue' with this receiver (as described below) is requiring me to buy a Component video/Optical interleaver to output my 'ancient' DVD player to input it as HDMI, but that is fixable via a BlueRay player upgrade.
The second optical audio is believed dedicated to the TV that I have to use as a work-around that either due to my own newbie ignorance or a limitation of this receiver is my only 'compliant' as described below:
-> I am using the optical for the sat TV (a Dish Hopper with Sling), I have the HDMI out on the recvr connected to the TV via the in-wall HDMI line thru the recvr's single HDMI/ARC out line. I am finding that although the ARC does appear to work, because my LG 39LN5700 WiFi TV has that HDMI going into its HDMI-1 input line (for ARC: Audio Return Channel) the only audio i can get back from the TV is the sat TV signal, when I am in Smart TV mode (over the air 'rabbit ears' TV tuner, its web browser, or its apps such as Youtube or Dolby encoded Netflix, etc.) i cannot get the TV audio to playback thru the receiver. The workaround i am doing is to split the TV's optical audio out to send it to the soundbar and then upconvert Optical to HDMI, send it via my second in-wall HDMI cable then split that back out to Optical and input it into the the dedicated TV IN Optical connection. I am hoping this resolves the current lack of ability to play the TV audio, but requires a second HDMI line, and upconverter and a spliter and multiple Optical lines.
-> I assume this HDMI/ARC 'quirk' is my newbie lack of knowledge, but I extensively reviewed my TV, Receiver, HDMI cable lines' data sheets and manuals, AVS forums, Crutchfield tech support, (everywhere I could) and cannot find a simpler solution to what i hoped was a setup toggle i missed in the AV menu, to no avail.
Otherwise I find the signal clean, ample to speakers and the Dolby decoding fantastic, in a movie scene in the re-make of The Thing, a helicopter buzzes a polar base camp and it sounds like it was in the room righ above me!