I bought a Pioneer VSX-D509 in 2000 and figured I wouldn't have to think about receivers for at least 5 years or so... ...i got back from vacation (a week in Reno :up: ) the wednesday before last and discovered that my Pioneer was dead. I presume it was a power surge of some sort since we get a lot of lightning here, but I can't be sure since it's on the same surge protector as everything else and everything else seems to be fine. It powered up and seemed to be sending something to the speakers, but it wouldn't process any signal (analog or digital) from any source into anything even remotely resembling theater including its own tuner. ...at any rate, it was disappointing, because I'd always been very happy with the unit. Made my Energy Exl:16s sing and had pretty decent bass management to the sub. Plus it had a wonderful learning remote. So I came here like any good HTer would and read a few threads. I was pretty much dead-set against getting another Pioneer because of the inexplicable demise of my 509, so I was looking for recommendations for a good $250-$400 receiver. I also figured I would upgrade to 6.1 even though I don't have any near future intentions of getting a rear center speaker. anyway, It seemed like a few people were happy with the low end Kenwoods and the new Panasonics seemed fairly interesting. I ordered a Kenwood 6050 on that same Friday. It came last Wednesday relatively unharmed via UPS, and the hookup/setup was relatively painless in spite of one minor gripe with the remote (more on that later). So all was relatively good, and I'd survived a WEEK without a receiver, but there was something not quite "right" about the way the Kenwood sounded. At first I thought it sounded OK, just different from the Pioneer. I think I described it as "warm" at the time, but I think i was just rationalizing. I wouldn't call the Kenwood underpowered by any means, but it had a really odd power progression. most of the way through the volume, it was to quiet, then it sort of came to life at a sweet spot, then two clicks later the sound turned muddy. Then I started to notice things missing on my CDs...like certain midrange and high frequencies were just gone. Then I noticed that on DD playback the dialogue was really subdued compared to the soundfield. I had to turn the center channel up 5 db just to make it tolerable, and even then, the people onscreen sounded...I think my girlfriend described it as "far away". Finally, there was no crossover per se on the receiver, just settings for speaker sizes "normal" and "large". I was constantly adjusting the gain on my sub because it was either boomy or silent. ...and then there was the remote...and this is no big deal, just a pet peeve. There was no input code or even a control button for a CD player! Can you believe it? Unless you happen to have or plan to buy a Kenwood CD player, you're just SOL. Notice I've been talking about the 6050 in the past tense. I tweaked it as best I could for 4 days, and gave up. I took it to Best Buy (and I'm not proud of this, so there's no need to flame) and traded it (plus $100, so it wasn't a total scam ) in for a Pioneer VSX-D811 which has about a million good reviews and recommendations on the board. I'm probably rationalizing again, but I'm going to write the death of the 2 1/2 year old 509 off as an oddity since they seem to be pretty reliable for everybody else. So thats how it's gone so far...two weeks and running. The 811 is still in the box and I have a legitimate receipt from Best Buy, which is as good as $405ish cash I suppose. I'm actually thinking pretty hard about not opening it and ordering an Onkyo 600. I'm just afraid to spend the extra $50-60 when I might just get the same crappy (to my ears anyway) "warm" sound I got with the Kenwood. ...the saga continues. sigh.