Of course, none of those is capable of decoding SACD, TrueHD or dts MA. Nor does any one have HDMI facilities, afaik.
Why not just get an Outlaw Audio 990 on closeout for $699 with full factory warranty? It's based on the highly regarded Sherwood Newcastle 965. I have the Boston Acoustics AVP7, which is based on the same unit. It has a very nice sound, much nicer than Outlaw's earlier 950. The Outlaw version of the Sherwood adds balanced XLR outpus and 3-to-1 DVI switching, which means it can easily switch the video portion of HDMI output.
The Sherwood 965/BA AVP7/Outlaw 990 comes with a mic and automated surround setup, dialog sync, and a host of usable features. Also has a phono section and FM tuner.
It also has analog 7.1 inputs, so you can hook up a Blu-ray player with internal decoding and 7.1 output (e.g., Panasonic 55) directly into it and get the lossless surround codecs.
Another thing to think about: I suspect the upcoming Oppo Blue-ray player will also do SACD and DVD-A. If so, the purchase of that one unit plugged into an Outlaw 990 would give you lossless surround from DVD-A, SACD, Dolby TrueHD, and DTS-HD Master Audio.
03-30-09: HyadstroyaWell, that's sort of my point. The Outlaw 990 is on closeout at $699 (down from about $1199 at its peak) because it *doesn't* have the latest surround features. What it does have is 7.1channel in and out, a very good linestage whether running in 2-channel or 7.1, and an excellent upsampling DAC that goes up to at least 96KHz, maybe 192, I can't remember.
My previous preamp was a VSP Labs Straightwire II, a handbuilt preamp from the mid-'80s that was still exemplary in transparency, speed, neutrality, and musicality. I didn't feel like I gave anything up in those areas when I dropped in the Outlaw 950 first and then the Boston AVP7 a year later. And if there's something I notice right away, it's when resolution drops and the music loses its communication and excitement. That Sherwood-Newcastle-based unit is a really fine unit. It's very smooth and musical, quiet, linear. I think it's a really good line stage.
The best thing is that unlike most used gear at that price range, you have 30-day return privileges if it doesn't impress you.
I am not an Outlaw booster. Their first pre/pro, the 950, had an over-achieving line stage, but I found the digital surround section to be lackluster and dodgy. I also tried out their RR2150 Retro Receiver and sent it back; it couldn't even approach my old pawnshop Amber gear, let alone the Onkyo integrated amp I settled on later.
But the Sherwood-Newcastle engine behind the Outlaw 990 is a keeper.