Posting here as the amp is the heart of the matter Hi folks - huge first post from a forum newbie - hence the handle. Have an old HiFi with the Cyrus 1 base needing replacing since 1998 - I copped out then 'cos the new version was low on connections, and its woinderful sounding CD partner couldn't even play CD-R, let alone CDRW & MP3 - all of which I had then. I could see obsolescent kit then.. and still can. Been sorta limping since waiting for amp with Digital in (why so many DAC's when that one good one in top-end CD would do just fine ? ) Dipped into mags every now and then, saw nothing; now realise it was all copyright-protectionism that was holding up the chain. So I stuck to speakers (got MS208's, used old Wharfedale 505.2's for Kitchen & Landing - great to have sound all over) as at least they wouldn't go "obsolete". Then a sub (Strata III), off ebay, which has wonderfully thickened the soundstage. Knowing that my two Nicam VCR's won't last forever, my Tosh 28" TV is looking a bit long in the tooth, noting that I need a class CD & DVD player, noting the emergence of attractive HD/DVD burner units, I've been genning up & re-entering the fray. The Technics DAB will still need a socket home, as will the trusty cassette, there's nothing wrong with the CD recorder, plus I do listen to ad-hoc bits like portable MP3 players and minidiscs. And I still need to plug my LinnLP12 into something. The freview box is a Nokia 221T with RGB & digital audio out, but sorta takes over the VCR it's plugged into at the moment. Looking at high-end AV kit as the way out of "not enough inputs", I've been buying the mags for 2 months - and was intrigued to fund a lot of good words about individual Pioneer kit across most of the board. The appeal of having an integrated system which works from one remote is strong, so I'm well pulled in that direction. So I was looking at: Pioneer VSA-AX10i Receiver (omitted i originally, sorry) DV-757Ai DVD/CD/CDR/CDRW/SACD/MP3 DVR-5100H as workhorse recorder/archiver of interesting vid bits and possibly PDP-434HDE (would double the outlay, but it does seem a real cool beastie). Pioneer also get a lot of points for having the maunals downloadable & give a chance of looking at what is on offer. I note that even the AX10 is only just coping connection wise with all of the above, but is old enough to appear in the discount lists - as is the 757. Here's where the trepidation & fun starts, and where this forum comes in. Trepidation: I hate trying to set up equipment auditions. I need to trust folk in the know, but I find a lot of dubious approaches. With £60k of AV kit in the shop, they can't plug a plasma to off-air aerial because "they have to split it too many ways". Ple-ease. Some shops are superior (we don't find AV good enough for audio), or you can get the response as the loony on the bus ... (AX10 is a special order only, sir). - how the heck am I supposed to know if I want to buy it? Audio telepathy? Does the AX5 sound the same? Then comes the confusing info; "You can't get the 757any more, the replacement 868 is much better with HDMI - but it isn't in yet". Where can I plug it's HDMI output into? "Oh, the AX5 has has that, it's an upgrade of the AX10". But I know I need to hear the sound. Several thousand CD's say so. Last time, the Cyrus sound was great, the Arcam equivalent was way thin. But, I have to take off work to hear auditions, and the above doesn't inspire. I'm not going to be ripping the heart out of the system for a upgrade in two years. I want to listen and watch, not tinker or tweak. And I want to plug a new camcorder/whatever in if I get one.... I've noted the forum threads 113540 (HDMI on AV Amps) and 98530 (Pioneer AX10i v AX10i-S), which gave me food for thought, but in some ways clouded the "do I fork out the wonga now" decision. So, I've got a few questions which you good AV folk may be able to help with: * Any useful comparison points for the AX10 sound? * If I don't like the AX3/5 (which I can hear), might the AX10 change my mind? * Is using HDMI that much better? - if so, what on earth are Pioneer doing selling us DVD's with the output but no AV amp with an input? - is an AX10-with-HDMI imminent? - will an integrated HDMI or HDMI-2 implementation make the "new" kit redundant? - is the 868 *worth* the extra? * The AX10 has one bear of a remote - is it practical (important if it controls everything)? * Is the plasma OK off-air with a decent aerial? - I've heard there are "noise issues", but haven't seen it on anything but tethered DVD source yet. (I know I can watch it via freeview, but I often simultaneously record that & watch direct-off air). * will LCD's take over from plasmas in 2004? * Has anyone got a Pioneer "suite"? Do the "control interconnects" actually synchronise all the units as a whole properly? * Has anyone heard if Pioneer will respond to the challenge of Onkyo's "modular" approach - seems a sensible way forward to cope with a changing technology, but isn't here yet & would lose the "integrated system" - unless Pioneer come out fighting. Yeah, I know, a dozen topics all in one post. Trouble is, they're all wrapped up together in the "jump/don't jump" decision. Over to you. PS one respected dealer was sliding me towards the Arcam FMJ/AV8 for the sound angle, but it just doesn't have the socketry I need, plus no "system" again..