I think sticking with Yamaha makes a lot of sense. They’re always highly rated for their sound and are one of the most reliable AVRs you can buy. Plus, you can buy them on accessories4less.com and get a like-new unit at a large discount. Best of luck.
@maxwave Yeah, I hear ya. Have you used YPAO? I’ve worked with Audyssey and, meh. My opinion on these things is that they’re just a starting point and you really need to fine-tune by ear to your own preferences in the end anyway. The Anthem ARC might be an exception, but even a used MRX720 (previous generation) is a bit above the OP’s preferred budget and doesn’t have a phono input. What might be interesting is the new Dirac upgrade option, but not many AVRs have that capability and even if they do it adds significantly to the cost and honestly not sure it’s worth it. From the reviews I’ve read Audyssey and YPAO aren’t exactly night n day different so not sure how much a decision point that should be, but again I’m a bit of a control freak and don’t trust any of these RC algorithms anyway. But point well taken.
BTW, the main reason I recommend Yamaha AVRs besides bulletproof reliability is 2-channel performance. I worked for Magnolia at Best Buy for a short bit and got the opportunity to compare all the top Yammy, Onkyo, Marantz, Denon, and Arcam AVRs with B&W 804D3s and the Yammy was the only one that was able to produce a deep, 3D soundstage and clarity with my audiophile demo material that reminded me of my own $7k separate amp/pre. (Going into the shootout my $$$ was on the Arcam so I was more than a bit surprised by this). The others sounded more flat, congested, and 2D by comparison, and I was interested to see in the review you linked the reviewer found something similar. FWIW.
Thanks so much for the advice! I had been looking at the Denon AVR-X2700H. Any thoughts you have about that brand would be helpful. My understanding is that it does also have a phono input.
Truth of it is that despite being in my 30s I have started losing hearing and now wear hearing aids. I find that I still appreciate the good quality of sound systems on a relative basis (meaning I still appreciate the higher quality systems others have that I hear compared to lower quality), but have a lot more trouble with tuning and differentiating by ear the balance of my own system these days.
@audiotroy , a dealer that doesn't have his own system posted in his profile is like an artist that doesn't have a gallery. Please knock it out of the park with an impressive system and post it. otherwise your sales pitches lake believability. If NAD is so great, where is yours?