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AV RECEIVER REVIEWS

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Mark Fleischmann Posted: Jun 04, 2007 Published: May 04, 2007 0 comments
The natural high.

I drink green tea the way some people drink water. I make it in large batches, keep it in the fridge, and guzzle it all day. Such are the dimensions of this innocuous drug habit that I blend teas, often adding a pinch of Butterfly Sencha (with peach and sunflower petals) to a standard Sencha, creating something more subtle than the former and more interesting than the latter. (The Tea Squad may burst through the door to arrest me at any moment.) I do the same with surround equipment. This month, I've deliberately brought together a receiver brand that prides itself on neutrality with a speaker brand that obsesses about the purity and phase coherence of high frequencies. Marantz, meet Tannoy. Tannoy, meet Marantz. What will happen next?

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Fred Manteghian Posted: Apr 29, 2007 0 comments

"The new phone book is kinda' slim. Everyone must be switching to cellular," Gina remarked seeing what I was holding.

Steve Guttenberg Posted: Apr 23, 2007 Published: Mar 23, 2007 0 comments
Together again for the first time.

As I unboxed this month's Spotlight System, I flashed on the innovative histories of Marantz and Snell Acoustics. Saul B. Marantz was a bona fide American audio pioneer in the 1950s and 1960s. His company's electronics not only sounded amazing, they were drop-dead gorgeous. Maybe that's why Marantz's early designs regularly sell on eBay for more than their original prices. Peter Snell was one of the brightest speaker designers to emerge in the mid-1970s. Back in the day, I owned a pair of his first speakers, the Type A, and had many conversations with Peter about music. In those simpler times, Saul Marantz and Peter Snell could launch their companies armed with not much more than a driving passion to produce great audio gear—and the inspired engineering to make the dream real. Best of all, both companies still adhere to their founders' perfectionistic traditions.

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Shane Buettner Posted: Apr 17, 2007 0 comments
  • $1,499
  • 75-Watts x 7 into 8 ohms
  • Processing Modes: DD, DD-EX, ProLogicIIx, Dolby Headphone and Dolby Virtual Speaker, DTS, DTS-ES/Discrete/Matrix/Neo: 6, DTS 24/96, Logic 7
Features We Like: Two HDMI 1.1 inputs (PCM-audio compatible), three component inputs, EzSet/EQ auto calibration and room EQ, three each coaxial and toslink optical digital audio inputs, one 7.1-channel analog audio input, XM Ready, USB Audio and iPod connectivity, AV sync delay, A-BUS Ready, multi-source/multi-zone
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Thomas J. Norton Posted: Apr 15, 2007 0 comments

Most popular AV receivers come from companies based in Japan, Korea, and China. Most of these are huge companies with the resources to develop products quickly and promote them widely.

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Shane Buettner Posted: Apr 07, 2007 0 comments
  • $1,999
  • 125-Watts x 7 into 8 ohms
  • Processing Modes: DD, DD-EX, ProLogicIIx, DTS, DTS-ES/Discrete/Matrix/Neo: 6, DTS 24/96, SRS Circle Surround II, HDCD decoding
Features We Like: THX Select2-Certified, Four HDMI 1.2 inputs and two outputs with video upconversion and cross-conversion, four component inputs, Audyssey auto calibration and room EQ, three coaxial and four toslink optical digital audio inputs, one 7.1-channel analog audio input, XM Ready, 7.1-channel preamp outs, AV sync delay, multi-source/multi-zone
Mark Fleischmann Posted: Mar 22, 2007 Published: Feb 22, 2007 0 comments
Tubular chic meets comforting conformism.

KEF's KHT5005.2 speaker system and Onkyo's TX-SR674 surround receiver are an odd couple. The KEF speakers are slim, tubular, and chic, the latest thing in décor-friendly sub/sat sets. And the Onkyo receiver? It couldn't be more conventional, conservative, even conformist. It's a plain black box with a very good features set for the price. But could it be that the two complement one another? Could this, in fact, turn into a long-term relationship?

Mark Fleischmann Posted: Jan 26, 2007 0 comments
Little speakers are looking up.

Pricewise, these Definitive Technology ProCinema speakers and this Pioneer Elite A/V receiver are a perfect match. Even visual cues unite them, with the receiver's shiny-black metal faceplate echoing the satellite enclosures' black-gloss curve. In other ways, they may seem like an odd couple (or septet, rather). Wouldn't that big receiver be too much for those little speakers? No, say the specs. With the satellites rated to handle as much as 200 watts per channel, the receiver's hefty rated 140 watts are well within the acceptable range, although the speakers' 90-decibel sensitivity suggests that they'll play fairly loudly, even with a lower-powered amp. Therefore, it is legal to marry these speakers to this receiver, at least in Massachusetts, Canada, Spain, and the Netherlands.

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Shane Buettner Posted: Jan 18, 2007 Published: Jan 19, 2007 0 comments
  • $1,999
  • 125-Watts x 7 into 8 ohms
  • Processing Modes: DD, DD-EX, ProLogicIIx, DTS, DTS-ES/Discrete/Matrix/Neo: 6, DTS 24/96, SRS Circle Surround II, HDCD decoding
Features We Like: THX Select2-Certified, Four HDMI 1.2 inputs and two outputs with video upconversion and cross-conversion, four component inputs, Audyssey auto calibration and room EQ, three coaxial and four toslink optical digital audio inputs, one 7.1-channel analog audio input, XM Ready, 7.1-channel preamp outs, AV sync delay, multi-source/multi-zone
Mark Fleischmann Posted: Dec 31, 2006 0 comments
2.1-channel home theater is more than mere reductionism.

Home theater is the union of big-screen television and surround sound. Those are the two bedrock principles on which this magazine was founded. So, it may seem heretical to even consider modifying that second requirement. After all, the whole notion of home theater has matured in tandem with advances in both video and surround technology.

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Fred Manteghian Posted: Dec 31, 2006 0 comments

Pioneer Elite gear gets more attainable and less "elite" with each passing year. In the days of Laserdisc players, though, the Pioneer Elite CLD-97 could run you $2,500. Thank you sir, may I have another!

Adrienne Maxwell Posted: Nov 21, 2006 Published: Nov 22, 2006 0 comments
HDMI: It's not just for video anymore.

HDMI is a wonderful invention filled with promise. When utilized to its fullest, it can offer the best of both worlds: uncompressed audio and video signals and intelligent, two-way communication over a single cable. Manufacturers have long teased us with talk of complete home theater systems that you can set up using just two or three cables, but the reality has fallen far short of the promise. Most designers have used HDMI only as a top-grade video connector, paying little attention to its audio and communication abilities. Armed with the new HDMI 1.2a spec (the products here were designed and released before 1.3 was finalized), Panasonic is aiming for the ultimate in connection and control with their new EZ Sync HDAVI Control products.

Steve Guttenberg Posted: Oct 24, 2006 Published: Oct 25, 2006 0 comments
The little system that could.

Some guys fantasize about winning the Mega Millions Lottery and driving into the sunset in a $1.25-million Bugatti Veyron 16.4 supercar. Or maybe a giddy winner would fork over heaps of cash for an ultimate home theater. The market for ultrahigh-end exotica is surging, but, while I'm waiting for my big payday, I thought I'd come back down to earth and have some fun with one of Onkyo's most reasonably priced audio/video receivers, the TX-SR504 ($300), partnered with Canton's sleek Movie CD 201 speaker system ($1,999). Budgetary constraints be damned, the little system still had to sound great in my home theater and deliver the goods in a cozy bedroom, office, or den.

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Fred Manteghian Posted: Oct 24, 2006 0 comments

To me, Rotel has always been the Everyman's answer to high-end audio. The company has always followed a "straight wire with gain" philosophy, which has earned it respect throughout the audiophile community. Like NAD, it's believed in holding to conservative power ratings, particularly compared to mass-market American and Japanese offerings. My daughter uses "40-Watt" Rotel integrated amplifier that's a decade old to drive her Magnepan MMG speakers, which are a pretty tough load, and it is more than comfortable with the task.

Steve Guttenberg Posted: Sep 14, 2006 0 comments
The sweet sounds of success.

Neil Young was on NPR chatting about his new movie, Heart of Gold, when he uttered a line that stuck with me: "The art of singing is making a sound that comes from your heart." Thanks Neil, I'm co-opting the idea to describe what distinguishes great home theater systems—their sound touches your heart. Yeah, that's it. While components are getting better all the time, many lack that special something. There's nothing obviously out of whack, it's just that their sound doesn't connect on an emotional level. Sometimes the individual components are all top notch, but, if they're not well matched to each other, the sound suffers. When everything clicks, you know it. That was certainly the case when I hooked up Marantz's SR8500 A/V receiver with a set of PSB's VisionSound VS300 speakers and SubSeries 5i subwoofer. They're all charmers.

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