Originally Posted by pwagner
Next up is programming the Harmony (ugh).
A word on programming the Harmony comes at the end, see #5.
So, although I've been going off-topic on things like speakers (sorry), I meanwhile have been playing with the new BX500 I brought home from Fry's Thursday night!! I didn't have time to set it up until yesterday. After extended use and listening, I'll add more, but these are some of my immediate thoughts, mainly responding to issues I've seen in this thread. By the way, I did get the disco'd, close-out $249 price at Fry's. It is amazing that a receiver that was just reviewed as new in January by S&V has already lived its lifespan.
I'll list the whole system later, for now the critical info is that it replaced an Onkyo TX-SR602, and is being used in a 5.1 set-up: Mirage Nanosats for the front L-R and surrounds, an Omnisat CC V2 for the center (I just could never get used to dialogue from a Nanosat used as a center), and an OM-8 sub. When I have time to get in the crawl space to run another speaker cable, I'll take the Nano that used to be my center and have a 6.1 set-up.
1. There have been comments about potential for fan noise. Out of the box, the fan is extremely quiet. I can barely hear it when I have the audio off. With any audio, even at the lowest volume, I do not hear the fan. In addition, I kind of like the idea of having a fan, I was always concerned that the Onkyo (they run hot) wasn't getting enough ventilation.
2. Lack of on-screen for set up. I was concerned but this being an issue. However, the display on the receiver is so large and so bright, it is like having OSD. So this ends up not being an issue at all. And once you're done with set-up, you can then change the dimmer setting so the display doesn't drive you nuts in a dark room.
3. Some have been unhappy with the difficulty in using dual banana plugs. So I used singles, and (compared to my Onkyo, which I though was cramped) the rear-panel spacing made cabling a breeze. I also appreciated traditional red-black coding on the binding posts, vs. the color-coding scheme Onkyo uses (different colors for each channel).
4. How does it sound? So far, I think it sounds great. I'm interested in trying some movies with which I have had difficulty understanding dialogue to see if I notice an improvement in clarity as some have mentioned. On that note, and the issue of "does it sound bright" compared to the Onkyo, etc., I have to say that I think listening comparisons that are not blind A-B are virtually meaningless. I won't start a big debate now on psycho-acoustics, but if you are pre-disposed one way or the other on the idea of how this receiver should sound, I imagine your expectations will be met. I am happy, and I think the feature set you get with this receiver at its price is unbeatable.
5. As to the Harmony remote - well, programming hasn't been too bad so far, although I'm still tweaking. The immediate major annoyance was that simply downloading the commands, and going through Harmony's set-up routine for your various activities (I have 3 HDMI sources) ends up in a situation where, to change sources, the Harmony toggles through every input option, am/fm/phon0/tape deck/etc. etc. Not good. Happily, there are some direct source selection buttons on the Panasonic remote, so this was overcome with a little work on the Harmony. I'll engage in private correspondence if anyone needs help on that--not sure if I have my account here set up to allow that (I'm new and not good at this forum stuff) but I'l look into it.
6. --edit--forget my speaker impedance question that was here. I had some bad info on my center channel impedance from a page on CNET. I dug out the manual and the Omnisat CC v2 is 8-ohm nominal, 4-ohm minimum, so I'm not going to worry about it.
To sum up, although I miss the Onkyo's "Smart Volume" feature, that's all I miss. Right now I am extremely happy I grabbed one of the last BX500 receivers left.