I attribute the weak appreciation of the music section to placebo/bias based on my speaker's price, and for the stereo section a lack of enough toe in - which I have since corrected --- These observations and my opinion on the matter is based on my many experiences in this hobby...
As to what we were testing?
We tested 7 different receivers auto EQ setup. To see if there was a clear winner among a group of blind listening auditions. That was the goal. One of the units - the Onkyo 636 had Atmos, so I installed a couple of inexpensive Sony in walll/ceiling speakers to give it a far go. It was the only unit with Atmos. With ceiling speakers the Onkyo 636 was only a 5.2.1 setup. Meaning it only supported 5.1 + ceiling, while the other AVRs supported 7.2. So the Onkyo 636 was disadvantaged in that
1) it was only a 5.1 for all the clips except the single Atmos clip.
2) it used accuEQ which only eq'ed the bass and surrounds
3) it was by far the cheapest unit tested
4) it used the cheapest, lowest rated amp section
5) it had a single subwoofer out
There was a single atmos clip in the mix, all the rest of the source material were various pieces of 2 channel, 5.1, and 7.1 channel material. Everyone was able to immediately identify the 636 as the Atmos receiver and most people there thought the Atmos was more important than the difference between 5.1 and 7.1 systems.
And apparently the better EQ systems didn't really amount to much real world advantage in the end.
At it's base intent -- it was just a blind AutoEQ comparison. There were a lot of takeaways.
1) Reference is NOT equal between AVRs and auto setup utillities
2) Atmos is excellent and quite distingusihable
3) Accu EQ which does NOT EQ the mains, was more preferred in blind testing with multiple seats than much more expensive - well touted options.
4) Seperate audiophile amps do NOT make a system. (Sherbourn 7-350 with XLR connected pre-pros vs cheap Onkyo 636 onboard AVR
5) --- probably many more conclusions ----but really quite a bit of interesting data in that meet. I'm QUITE confident if the comparison had been sighted, the cheapest unit wouldn't have been the favorite. QUITE CONFIDENT INDEED.
I recommend the read for those who haven't. It shows the state of disparity our hobby is in.