"Truly amazing sound, excellent connectivity"4.5 starson by jmargaglione
Pros: Best sound for under $2000, 3 HDMI, and network audio
Cons: Setup can be confusing
Summary: I have this receiver matched with a Denon DVD-2930ci, and the sound and picture they deliver together is truly phenomenal. I auditioned several other receivers in this price range, including the Yamaha RX-V2700 and the Pioneer Elite VSX-84TXSI (plus a Sony or two). Nothing even came close to the pure, transparent sound of the Denon.
I originally bought the AVR-3806, but the lack of a third HDMI port made me rethink. I would say the audio quality between the 3806 and 4306 is pretty much the same to my ears, but I can crank the stereo just a little louder now. I noticed that during a particularly bass-heavy track from Moby the amplifier shut off to protect itself (that was with the 3806), which is always nice to have. I'd rather have to turn the amp back on than send a square wave to my speakers. Mind you I had the sound obnoxiously loud when this happened, and it was purely for experimental reasons!
Another reason I chose this over the 3806 is the video upscaling feature. The 3806 does HDMI switching, but it will not do scaling of video. The 4306 upscales to 1080i very nicely. The quality of the scaling was excellent as well. I played the War of the Worlds DVD on both the Denon 2930 and a decent Toshiba DVD player to see how well the receiver would scale the video. The 2930 uses a Silicon Optics processor to output 1080p, which I must say is amazing. Hard to tell you're not watching a Blu-ray disc. Anyway, the 4306's scaling did an excellent job of outputting the video at 1080i. Not quite as good as the 2930, but a huge leap over just watching the DVD through the 3806.
One of the features that I was most interested in was the network audio. I have a very large collection of high-quality MP3's that I ripped from my CD collection, and I wanted to be able to play those directly from the receiver without adding a separate component. I have been using a Slim Networks player for years now, and it does a great job of streaming audio, but it doesn't have an on-screen menu. I have a 60" Sony TV, and I like to be able to see what I am doing without having to walk over to the stereo cabinet and peer at the very small text on the Slim player. The 4306 does have an on-screen display for the network audio, and the responsiveness of the display is acceptable. Not fast by any measure, but enough not to drive me crazy. What was disappointing is that do access my MP3 collection I needed to install Windows Media Player 11 and load my entire collection into it, then set the "share library" feature. I still haven't managed to get that to work right, and I was really hoping that I could just point the 4306 to my network drive, but it is not to be. If I ever get the collection online I'll be happy, but I may just forgo that functionality and get a separate product to handle it (hopefully one that doesn't require me to run a Windows box all the time).
Overall, though, I couldn't be happier with the 4306. More than enough power to shake the house while maintaining crystal-clear sound. Remember that all the HDMI inputs in the world doesn't matter a bit if the sound is muddy. Skip the Yamaha and Pioneer and try this one out.