1. The "custom" 2CH playback option is still present for both STEREO and DIRECT modes. (p. 145 OM).
If you're sure about that it would push me to the 4520 as that's a biggie for me. Batpig's post #2 of this thread states that 2 channel customization is only available if you have separate dedicated speakers?
2. These are still available, rather the 4520CI can only display "either" the INPUT or OUTPUT channel icons, but not both at the same time. ("Channel Indicators" p. 153 OM).
Yes, I did know that I just wasn't clear in my cons but I do like having both input & output displayed at the same time. It provides a quick visual reference so I can tell all is as it should be. Just something I've gotten used to and I would miss.
3. IIRC, the few noted issues have been right out of the box, and a small % of defective units is to be expected with any mfr.
Yes, I agree. The reliability concerns are the least of my cons. As I mentioned I believe all these forums are generally skewed towards people who are having issues and not a true indicator of how reliable any given piece of equipment is.
I believe your #1 Con can also be easily addressed by dedicating a Quick Select to custom Stereo settings or by programming a universal remote.
That's good to know. I'm not familiar with Quick Select. While my receiver has that function, I've never had the need to use it as I use a Harmony One to control everything.
You can achieve #1 & #3 of your goals and address #2 & #3 of the cons by purchasing a 4311 while there's still some available. You'll save hundreds, which you could use towards other HT improvements (Audyssey Pro, etc.), software or even towards your next AVR, which will doubtless have yet more features.
When I first noticed that 2 channel custom may not be available on the 4520, I looked hard at the 4311. There's a few new features it doesn't have that the 4520 does but the one feature it lacks that is a deal killer is DTS Neo:X. I know a few people have said they don't notice much difference when using front wides but I do. I think they add quite a bit of, well.......width to the sound stage. What I don't like is the artifacts that DSX seems to add to dialog. On some movies it's very noticeable and distracting. I was told by someone else on this forum that the DTS Neo: X mode is much better than DSX and does not add that echo to dialog.
Thanks for all the input, it's appreciated.