Receiver upgrade from 1014TX... Pioneer, Onkyo, Denon?

Stephen Hopkins

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I've had my Pioneer Elite 1014TX for a little over 2yrs now and have been very happy with it. My speakers are Swans Diva 4.1s, 2.1s, and C3 center with a DIY 5.25 cft Ascendant Avalanche subwoofer powered by a BASH Digital 500w Sub Amp. I just replaced my Bravo D1 dvd player with a Toshiba A1 HD-DVD player and I have a Motorola dual-tuner HD-DVR cable box that has HDMI output. I will likely get a PS3 when they become readily available. My projector is currently a Panasonic L300u but will soon be replaced, likely by a Panasonic AE900u.

I'm currently building a house which will have a 3rd floor dedicated Home Theater. The projector will be ceiling mounted. I've already pre-run HDMI and Component (just in case we get in the new house before i get the new projector) as well as power to the ceiling mount location.

I'm looking to upgrade my receiver to a model capable of switching HDMI. I also want to use HDMI for audio from my sources to the Pioneer 1016TXv is out of the question. My price range is probably around $750 max, but would like to stay closer to the $500 - $600 range (otherwise the projector upgrade would be less feasable)

There are a few different models I'm interested in. The main one that's caught my eye is the Onkyo SR803. It has HDMI switching but I'm not sure if it handles HDMI audio or just video. It's also available for a great price, around $540 refurbished from eCost. The Onkyo SR674 and SR604 are also interesting but the SR803 seems to be the most bang-for-the-buck if it handles HDMI audio properly. The SR804 would stretch my budget and probably kill the projector upgrade in the near future.

Another interesting model is the Pioneer Elite 72TXV. It's going on clearance for around $675 from Hi-Fi Buys and Magnolia and around $600 B-Stock online. This, like the SR803, I'm not 100% sure handles audio over HDMI and that's a feature I'd really like to have, especially for True HD and DD+ from the Toshiba A1.

I also like the looks of the HK 445 but again I'm unsure about how it handles audio over HDMI.

Does anyone have any advice/opinions/info on these receivers, which offers the best value, and how they handle audio over HDMI?

Thanks!
 

Nick:G

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The only way that you'll be able do Dolby TruHD and DTS-HD over HDMI is with an HDMI 1.3 compliant receiver or pre/pro (both of which you won't be able to get next year). The bandwidth requirements of these new formats exceed what the current versions of HDMI are capable of doing. Incidentally, Sony rushed their PS3 to the market without complete HDMI 1.3 support (which was supposed to have) because the IBM cell processor is actually doing the HDMI functions through emulation rather than the dedicated Silicon Image chip they didn't want to wait a couple months for. The result has been rather interesting (if not predictable): it doesn't work right.

You'll be able to utilize the TruHD and DTS-HD formats with older gear, provided that the disc player itself has built-in decoders by hooking it up to the external 6-channel inputs on the back of your receiver or pre/pro. It's like upgrading from Pro Logic to Dolby Digital all over again!

So it sounds like if you really want a receiver that'll handle HDMI audio AND be ready for the future audio formats, you'll want to wait a couple months for the new HDMI 1.3 stuff.
 

Jesse Blacklow

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It certainly seems to be working right for plenty of people elsewhere, even through HDMI switching receivers. I've not read anywhere about an incomplete implementation of HDMI 1.3 on the PS3, either.

For more information, you can check out this thread on another forum that has tons of details in the first post on what receivers can do multichannel PCM. The two Onkyos 6-series that you mentioned are on the list.
 

Stephen Hopkins

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Right now I'm leaning towards the Onkyo SR803. It looks like it does work with multi-chanel LPCM. The only minor gripe is it doesn't convert analog sources to HDMI. That said, I won't have any analog sources (HDTV box and HD-DVD player) and if/when I do get a PS3 then I'll still have component video ran to the projector which I'll use for the HDTV box. If anyone knows of a similar receiver w/ 3 HDMI inputs in the price-range I'd love to hear it!
 

Stephen Hopkins

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Well, it looks like the decision was made for me by my father-in-law who bought me a Yamaha RX-V1700 for Christmas. This one wasn't really on my list because it was just above my price-range. He'd asked my wife what to get me so she forwarded him an email of gift ideas I'd sent to her (Harmony 880, Onkyo 803, Nikon D80). I was extremely surprised when she told me she'd sent it to him and that he'd got me a receiver. I was even more surprised when she told me it was actually "one step up" and she showed me the model. Maybe she'll end up getting me the Harmony 880 and my HT will be rounded out and ready to go when the new house is finished!

Now I guess I need to decide what to do with the $300 or so I get out of my 1014TX when I sell it... maybe sell my Swans 4.1s as well and move up to 5.2s?
 

Nick:G

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Silly me, I completely forgot about the whole on-player decoder thing (don't they make these things too confusing?). But onboard decoders on players of this type can be sort of a mixed bag.

For example, NONE of the current Toshiba HD-DVD players will actually decode the "Master Audio" or "High Resolution" versions of dts-HD, which is the whole reason you'd want it. It will only decode "Core", otherwise known as "Encore". "Encore" is actually compatible with soon-legacy dts hardware because its bitrate is limited to the original 1.5Mbps of the founding dts spec. dts titles never really used the full bitrate because of capacity limitations of the DVD format (there has to be a compromise between audio, special features, commentary, etc.). So in this case, you would still need HDMI 1.3 to pass the encoded bitstream along to a properly-equipped receiver/processor to enjoy dts-HD in its full form. HDMI 1.1/1.2 will work via LPCM, assuming that the player has a fully-fledged dts-HD decoder.
 

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