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Two thoughts: first, when you use the HDMI connection your receiver is decoding the audio, and when you use the analog connections your player is. So, whether this means the receiver will do the job equally as well or not is completely dependent on the differences between the decode circuitry in the player VS that in the receiver. It is impossible to know if it will sound better or worse. You won't know until you try!

Second, if the receiver only has 5.1 analog direct inputs, then that's only something you need to take into account and is not necessarily anything to "slam." Do you currently use a 6.1 or 7.1 speaker setup?
 

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Most of the time information in channels 6 and 7 is being created (synthesized) from the surround information in channels 4 and 5. There are very few (as in a handful) of movies with discrete information in channels 6 and 7, so it was me, simply lacking analog inputs for channels 6 and 7 would not cause me to bypass a preamp I otherwise liked. :)
 
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