There are receivers that do 5.1 audio over HDMI, but don't decode the HD audio formats. Those receivers will probably pass the audio along, if the player decodes it. Your receiver appeared to be a pass through only. See here: Denon USA | AVR-1609 Read the description under the receiver. The description of the 1709 sounds like it might pass the HD audio that the player decodes.
Above, I'm talking about HDMI. The 1609 does have multi-channel analog inputs (EXT. IN). If you get a blu ray player with the analog outputs, that decodes internally, then yes, you can hear the HD audio that way. But since the PS3 doesn't have the 5.1/7.1 analog outputs, that won't work.
The 1909 and 789 receivers you mentioned, will do the job. They'll be more future proof than the 1609, so I think you'll be happier in the long run with one of those. Good luck!