I decided to get on the 1014 bandwagon but now I'm not so sure. If the unit was exclusively for home theater then I would be very happy, but I also really enjoy straight music out of my system as well.
I'm using the 1014 with Paradigm 5se fronts, 3se surrounds, and cc-300 center. As a point of reference, I started out with this system as 2-channel with the 5se's with a Yamaha 70x2 receiver from the Dolby Surround era, then moved to a Sherwood 6108 100x5 surround receiver as a low-cost entry into surround sound. I felt like I lost some detail and smoothness going to the Sherwood, but it did a decent job with movies and I was still satisfied with it for music , too, especially it's smooth midrange for female vocals, which I felt matched well with the Paradigms.
So, now with the 1014, the sound is definitely much more detailed and crisp and much smoother than the Sherwood. For movies, it sounds great. But somehow, for music, it just seems very sterile sounding. I've tried a variety of recordings and the 1014 makes pop music so antiseptic and *too* precise. (which I never thought I'd use in a negative sense) With acoustically recorded vocals, it's somewhat better but still doesn't seem to present in a musically involving way.
At first I thought it was a matter of burn-in. For the first 3 days, I ran the thing continuously, either with me listening to music, watching movies, or running white noise from the antennaless tuner at -25. This seemed to improve its smoothness a bit, but it still seemed too bright.
So I started playing with the MCACC auto-eq settings and every combination of large/small/sub on/plus, etc. The auto-eq did fix some problems that I wasn't consciously aware of previously...like my center channel had a slightly congested sound in the lower vocal region that is made obvious by turning the EQ on and off, probably a room resonance from the corner it is in. Also, in stereo mode, I couldn't get to sound levels that I'd consider loud without the treble taking on a painful sibilance or harshness (depending on the nature of the music selection). I started by turning down the 14kHz EQ by 0.5dB steps on both the L and R (from where Auto EQ had set them) until I got to -1.5dB from the auto setting. This helped the treble problem but not completely. The female midrange vocals also did not have the smoothness that I'd loved before, so I then turned down the 4kHz EQ -1.0dB from the auto setting and that helped alot, though not to my complete satisfaction.
So at this point, I think I'm ok with the tonal balance though I may tweak the EQ settings more. The imaging seems too precise with studio recordings. Something about the sound just doesn't seem musical in the way that the Yamaha and even the Sherwood were, even though the consciously discernable characteristics of the sound are better.
I really want to love this receiver, because it has the features I want at a great price, but I can't find it in me yet. The next steps up for equivalent features would seem to be the Marantz 7500 or HK 635, which I understand have a warmer sound that I now think I may be partial to, but they are also over twice the price.
I'd be interested to hear what other music lovers have to say if they've listened to the 1014 critically. I'd also like to hear any other setup or tweaking advice that I've overlooked.
Thanks in advance...