New HT Receiver

Building a dedicated 7.1 ht room and need advice on a quality receiver. Will have separate 2 channel system so this is really JUST HT. will likely be using focal speakers all monitors but haven't decided for sure. I want it to have all the newest formats. 2 hdmi outputs for a secondary tv in another room. Marantz, integra, anthem? Might add multichannel amp in future but not at first. Room 25x16x9. Thx
I haven't bought a new receiver for a few years, but judging by the reviews that I read the feature count seems fairly standard. The bigger issue is sound as many have gone to Class D Amps.
If you don't mind Class D, then you have more choices. I personally do not, so I would eliminate those brands and focus on the remaining ones
If you haven't shopped for a new AVR in a while, then be warned that the mainstream brands are feature laden but sadly lacking in their power output sections. This is evidenced by their continued declining physical weight by using cheaper and smaller power supplies. One popular mainstream 7.1 unit weighs a whoppng 12 lbs! But it has all the bells and whistles.

IMO, there a two ways to go. Get the cheapest mainstream AVR you can (the popular brands change models every year so you can get last years model for 50% off this year) and couple it with a good multi-channel amp. This way the AVR is just a cost effective processor and it can be discarded every couple of years as the technology chnages but you have made only a minimum investment. This is what I do.

Or, if you truly want the AVR to drive a full a set of 5.1, 7.1, 7.2, etc speakers, look at the higher end brands like NAD, Cambridge Audio, Arcam, etc. You will be getting honest amp sections. If you want to stick with Japanese mainstream, them only look at the models at the top of their lineups. Then research them carefully to get critical reviews.

Finally, whatever route you go, make sure the AVR has a full set of PRE-OUTS so you can add a multi channel amp later. Most don't! Ten years ago, pre-outs were on most $500 AVR's on up. Now they are only found on $1000 models on up. Entry to mid level models that need this feature the most, do not have them. Hope this helps.
Really depends on what other features are important to you? The advice on pre-outs is critical but partly off - if you do any digging (or have any luck) you can find very capable mid-level units in the $400-500 (your price - $899+ list) that are full-featured & have pre-outs. For example, some Pioneer (non-Elite) or Yamaha (HTR-7065 for one) can be had online or in Costco and fit that bill. Then you just get a 2- or 3-channel external amp and you're good to go. BTW, if the receiver uses Class D that's not all bad - you're mostly just driving ~3 channels for HT with some spillover for the others. Any of those receivers (w/ the external amp) can handle that and you just cannot tell any supposed Class D differences for surrounds...
I have an 5 year old Onkyo that works well as well as a Yamaha--both mid-level $800 receivers (list) that I paid about $500 for. Personally, I'm just not that concerned about "audiophile" home theater--I just want to hear clear dialogue and some thump when things blow up. Maybe the Emotiva gear? Seems likes it's well priced. I like REL subs too, btw, and they can be used with the front speakers AND to feed the LFE output of 7.1 Just my 2 cents...
My rule of thumb is to spring for Audyssey xt 32 pro. It's really outstanding room correction/subwoofer integration software. XT 32 is also only found in upper end models, so you get all the other bells n whistles as well as reasonably robust power output. I think that the SQ on most of these units (I auditioned a half dozen models last year) with appropriate speakers and subs will be a pleasant surprise if you're in the camp that believes all Japanese main stream brands sound lousy

The Onkyo 1009 is the least expensive such unit Ive seen and IMHO it's very good deal at +/- $1k
Perhaps I was not clear when I said AVR's with pre-outs are nolonger available at $500. They are - at the 50% discount that I alluded to in my above post when last years models get blown out.

At list price they are around $1000. OK, maybe $900 - I was just using round numbers. The point I was making is AVR's with pre-outs now start a lot higher up the model line than ten years ago when entry to mid priced models had them. And the entry to mid priced models are the units that would benefit the most from an external amp.

As a pre/pro I use a 2011 Pioneer Elite VSX 52 that listed at $900 when introduced new. I bought it a year later in 2012 for $499 brand new. It has a full set of pre-outs so I can couple it to a Parasound 5125 5 channel amp. And I personally like Pioneers Advanced MCACC room correction. This combo works well for me fulfills all my HT requirements. When the technology in the AVR becomes obsolete, I'll get another at a close out price but the Parasound amp will always be ready.