This receiver meets my expectations. It sounds great and works well. It has a great video GUI interface for setting up the system configuration, and has a lot of complexity made simple. I don't think the spring clip speaker connections are an issue as some people criticize it for. It is actually a good idea since the wires will be pulled out of the spring clips if someone trips over them and will reduce damage to the receiver being pulled by the wires if this happens. That is why Sony made them this way except for the front speakers which are not connected with long wires going across the room that can be tripped over. I can also get 16 guage wire into them, which is plenty large enough for the power levels being output. The power is adequate and if the volume changes when it switches from using the 2 front speakers to using them and the back surround speakers, it doesn't really matter that you may have to turn up the volume a little to compensate. It is normal since the power is being divided into more speakers. This unit has enough power for a home entertainment system to be loud and not create distortion from overdriving the amplifier. You can manually adjust the speakers if the automatic speaker calibration does not suit your tastes, but it works very well if you follow the instructions. The unit automatically turns on from standby when it senses a video signal or audio signal and switches to that input. As far as pass-through being not there for cable box input, it is not necessary since the unit will turn on to pass the signals along to the TV. If you don't want to use the system for using the cable box, don't connect it to the receiver through the composite video and audio cables and just run them directly to the TV. Also, you can run the coax output to the TV and the cables to the receiver and choose which ones you want to use. If you turn the unit to standby (OFF#, then you can use the coax input on the TV to watch cable. Why someone would want to have pass-through for cable box video/audio #not HDMI) is beyond me. The receiver does up-convert the 480i signal to 1080i and improve the image, but this kind of upconversion stretches the aspect ratio of the picture as can be expected. This means an improved resolution, but things are wider and people look fatter. The HDMI audio channel return works great when the receiver is in the TV mode and if the show is transmitted in HD with 5.1 or 7.1 audio, then the receiver will output the audio in 5.1 or 7.1.
There is a lot of complexity to the unit because it has many features and flexibility, so it may take awhile to learn everything about it. Just read the manual carefully and you will learn all about the best ways to set it up for your equipment. I use is with a Panasonic DMP-BD210 3D blu-ray player, a Toshiba DVD recorder, a Vizio 3D E3D420VX, a Sony CD player, a cable box, 4 JBL tower speakers, 1 JBL center speaker, 2 JBL 3 way L36 speakers and a Yamaha powered subwoofer. It sounds fantastics. It has a IPOD pod to connect it, but I have not tried that since I don't have one. You can change the labels on the inputs to a list of standard names or give it your own name.
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