Well after 4 days of owning the Integra I can offer some preliminary results. Id like to thank bslep for suggesting a local dealer who was able to get a unit in my hands in a week. To preface this mini review I have never owned a "good" reciever before. Actually, this is the first time I have owned a preamp before. So take everything I say with a grain of salt. To start I recently built a speaker system consiting of Danley products, 2dts-10 subs, sh-100 center, 2 sm-60, and 2 sh-micros. All of the subs and speakers are running off of a stack of Behringer ep4000s using Monoprice XLR connections. My current BD player is a trusty 80 gig PS3.
Pioneer vs Integra
My previous reciever was a Pioneer 1018 I bought a few years back. I bought this reciever mostly due to the ability to act as a preamp to build a future system with. In terms of sound quality for $400ish bucks its a great bargain. The Integra is better in terms of SQ in every way but suprisingly the pioneer does an admirable job for the price. In terms of Video pq the syncing to direct tv is noticeably slower on the Integra (which I do not mind I'm not a tv person). The transcoding via component seems a lot better on the Integra. I used to run my wii directly into my Pioneer 5010fd due to a substantial drop in PQ if I used the Pioneer. Now I am happy to say I can run everything into the Integra with an improvement in PQ! Via PS3 and Direct tv I do not notice any difference running everything via Through in the video options. I admit since viewing cable/satellite is not a major hobby of mine I only played around for a few moments comparing 1980p vs Through.
To start even on my old reciever the SQ that the Danleys bring to the table is crushing to say the least. The speakers are wonderfully transparent fast and dynamic. The sound stage is not vastly superior on the Integra though there is a noticeable improvement. The clarity is a bit better, fine details come through cleaner and are more noticeable. The biggest suprise was the Dynamics. Overall everything punches much harder. The base is much much improved. With the Pioneer the DTS-10s shook the foundation, vibrated windows and physically slapped you around. With the Integra I can feel much more. For example; on Avatar, at the start of the movie the drop ship scene is much more visceral. I can literally feel the DTS-10s spewing pressurized air around, it literally feels likes there is a turbine in front of me. The floor joists twist and turn and vibrate much more intensly now. Its not just me in the honeymoon phase, my roomate and another friend stated the exact same thing. Another scene that added a huge improvement is when the characters are flying in the helicopter for their first trip into the jungle. Near the end of the scene when the pilot drops down near a waterfall it literally feels like you are riding in a chopper. Virtual reality be damned the floor was shaking and buckling in synch with the sounds of the cabin on the screen, it was the craziest experience I have had in a movie.
I like to listen to a good bit of music. I have just started getting into serious 2 channel listening. I mostly used a good pair of headphones and my pc up until a year or so ago. Now that I have a capable system I have been listening using my speakers more and more. My next purchase will be a squeeze box touch and a vortexbox appliace to act as NAS. I have heard good things about the Integra in the 2 channel department so I am looking forward to switching from my ps3 as a transport to a more qualified component.
Audyssey vs MCACC
I have to admit other than the noticeable increase in LFE quality the rest of Audyssey left me feeling meh. I do not feel it is doing anything wrong but outside of the lfe department I do not notice much else different from MCACC. Granted I probably need more time to experiemnt with Audyssey. I do have measuring equipment I bought last month but I have not had time to experiemnt and learn how to use REW just yet. I will reserve my final judgement on Audyssey once I am able to properly run some measurements and play around with my minidsp.
Overall I am glad I bought the unit. The sq difference there and can only improve as I learn how to utilize the system. I am enjoying the added benefit of using balanced connections, the system is dead silent now. The added HDMI ports is really nice, I no longer have an excuse to not own an Xbox360 now. All in all I am a happy camper.
Thanks for the advice jmshnur but I was able to fix the center issues, I re ran audyssey and reset my trim levels and now the center channel has come to life.