Looking for new AV receiver


My Sony STRGX-900ES receiver recently completely died, so I am in the market for a new improved (AC-3, DTS, etc.) AV receiver and would appreciate input.

The particulars: Room is 22' x 14'. HT/music mix is probably 70/30, but music is not un-important. Speakers are a pre-Dolby Digital Atlantic Technology System 250 - meaning it's a (8 ohm) surround sound set (L, R, C, sub, 2 rear) but the rear 2 speakers have a limited frequency range (50Hz - 12.5kHz). I've been budgeting about $700-1000 for the receiver, but less would be fine (!).

My most difficult particulars are inputs & outputs. In addition to new eqpt (cableTV, DVD, etc.), I have a mess of old stuff that I want to keep - turntable, beta vcr, laser karaoke, etc. So I want a receiver with at least 6 AV inputs, 4 A inputs, and 2-3 AV outputs. Current TV only has svideo & composite jacks, but will be replaced in the next 2-3 yrs. For ease of setting up & turning on, up/down conversion is a big plus - if I'm the only one who can operate the whole system, it's a problem.

I have considered Onkyo (I forget the model), Yamaha 1400 & 2400, and Denon 2803 & 3803, but have not been able to listen to any of them. Assuming that they sound good, I think the Yamahas would best meet my needs & constraints. But I've been reading this forum for a couple of weeks and am a little concerned by the "bright", "hard", etc. comments about both Yamaha & Denon.

Some questions I have:
- how would the Yamahas sound w/ my speakers?
- should my rear speakers be sufficient?
- should I wait for the Prologic IIx upgrade that others here have mentioned? (a dealer I talked to said he couldn't imagine Yamaha having a single model where some units had new technology & others didn't, but of course he had his own agenda...)
- what other brands/models I should be looking at?
- is it worth the hassle of a possible return to buy online? what's your experience?
- I'm toying with the idea of valuing the return hassle factor at $100: $40 return shipping + $60 for my time in hooking/ unhooking/ packing/ shipping, & saying if a dealer can approximate the online price+$100 then I'll buy there. Is that a reasonable way to view it?

Your advice and experiences would be welcome. Thanks in advance!

- A

Add Harmon Kardon, Pioneer Elite, Marantz, Outlaw, and NAD to your list. Look at all of them, and listen if you can.

Personally I don't care for Yamaha.

I like the NAD. The T752 is $699 from SaturdayAudio.com , but can be found even cheaper if you can negotiate with your local dealer. Just like Railbait says, you want to listen to all your choices before buying. Good luck.
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