Have Processors Improved Much in the last 5 Years?

I ask this question because I am currently using a Sunfire Theater Grand II pre/pro for the home theater portion of my system. I do not use it for any two-channel operation whatsoever. This processor has served me quite well for the last 5 years and I have been thoroughly satisfied with its performance as an HT processor.

With the advent of hi-def audio and video...and the requisite HDMI connections, I now need a new processor. My Sunfire does not have the 5.1 inputs to accommodate my new Toshiba HD-XA2 hi-def dvd player, nor does it have and HDMI inputs or outputs for audio or video. I want acess to hi-def audio options that HD-DVD offer. The Sunfire will of course play Dolby Digital 5.1 and DTS, but not the new hi-def audio formats.

The Onkyo TX-SR 805 receiver ($995.00) has all of the HDMI connections and the 5.1 inputs to accommodate my new HD-DVD player. My question is, will it be as good a processor as the 5 year old technology of my Sunfire? Again, all I want the Onkyo for is its HT processing features....it won't be used for 2-channel at all. It has the pre-outs so that I can use my existing HT amplifiers.

So, my basic question is, does the processor sections of today's top receivers measure up to the HT pre-pros of 5 years ago?

Also, I only need the HT processing portion of the receiver, the amplifier section and tuner section of the thing will be totally useless to me.

Does anyone make a stand-alone processor for people with 2-channel based systems that don't need a tuner, preamp or amplifier in the processing unit? I think it is horrible waste of money to buy all of those features in a receiver or a pre-pro that will never be used.

I don't look forward to spending another $3k-6k for a pre-pro laden with stuff I'll never use. Will this Onkyo reciever do the trick for me?

[http://forum.audiogon.com/cgi-bin/fr.pl?vopin&1142632707&openusid&zzMitch4t&4&5#Mitch4t]Please Click Here to view my system page[/url] to see the other components in my system and where the receiver will fit in.

Your comments and suggestions will be greatly appreciated.

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I would guess a lot of us are in this boat. I too have an older piece.(Marantz 9300) Mine does have the 7.1 analog input. I also have both of the new players;bd and hd-dvd.I can comment on using the analog out/ins;with the new audio formats. My '9300 is a rec---the sound of the uncompressed audio makes it seem like I bought new separates. Whereas the sound using coax is a lot 'less'.---If you can't wait to get this new audio,get the 805. IMO,it will give you better audio,than your present processor. Just to make things complicated; all discs aren't created with the new formats and some players don't output all the new formats. I would guess,a year or so from now, all this will be resolved.
I can tell you that my first impression of the 805 is that it is a great machine. I don't know how much you would have to spend on a dedicated pre-pro to best it. With separate high quality amps it is a killer combination. I have compared it to my separate Modwright pre-amp and it is quite close, almost too close, considering the pre-amp is over $2K. It has so many features and the layout and design is very intuitive. To my mind the receiver designers have one-upped the pre-pro designers with this one. This shifts the balance from the pre-pro side to spending more on source and speakers. I think this will provide more improvement per dollar. Even Outlaw and Emotiva are aiming for the $1200-$1600 mark for their newest pre-pros next year and this is $900 now. That saves $300-$700 for the rest of the system.
If you want a stripped down processor at a reasonable price look at the NuForce. No amps, tuner or zone 2. The lack of zone kills it for me, but it may work for you. Being NuForce I assume it sounds good.
Whoa! the Onkyo TX-SR805 must be a really hot item. I went to Crutchfield to buy one today and they are out of stock because of the high demand. I was waiting until my Sunfire Theater Grand sold here on the 'Gon before I ordered mine. They expect to have some around July 9th, so I reserved one. I found it somewhere else for $150 less, but no return guarrantee. For this kind of dough, I'm ging with Crutchfield because I'd like to be able to return it if I don't like it. Besides they give free shipping and free return shipping. Gotta love that.