AV RECEIVER REVIEWS

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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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Shane Buettner Posted: Sep 13, 2006 0 comments
  • $1,500
  • 140-Watts x 7 into 8 ohms
  • Processing Modes: DD, DD-EX, ProLogicIIx, Dolby Virtual Speaker, Dolby Headphone, DTS, DTS-ES/Discrete/Matrix/Neo: 6, DTS 24/96, Windows Media Audio
Features We Like: THX Select2-Certified, HDMI 1.1 and i.LINK switching, MCACC auto calibration and room EQ, component video switching, transcoding of analog video to HDMI with upconversion to 720p or 1080i by Faroudja, two coaxial and five toslink optical digital audio inputs, one 7.1-channel analog audio input, 7.1-channel preamp outs, USB, XM and iPod compatible, AV sync delay, multi-source/multi-zone
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Shane Buettner Posted: Sep 13, 2006 0 comments
  • $2,000
  • 170-Watts x 7 into 8 ohms
  • Processing Modes: DD, DD-EX, ProLogicIIx, Dolby Virtual Speaker, Dolby Headphone, DTS, DTS-ES/Discrete/Matrix/Neo: 6, DTS 24/96
Features We Like: HDMI, component and i.LINK switching, transcoding of analog video to HDMI, Direct Drive Digital Amps, three coaxial and five toslink digital audio inputs, multichannel analog inputs, preamp outputs, amplifier channels can be relocated to power separate zones, multi-source/multi-zone
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Shane Buettner Posted: Sep 13, 2006 0 comments
  • $1,499
  • 75-Watts x 5 into 8 ohms
  • DD, DD-EX, ProLogicIIx, Dolby Virtual Speaker, Dolby Headphone, DTS, DTS-ES/Discrete/Matrix/Neo: 6, MP3, MPEG multichannel, HDCD
Features We Like: HDMI 11 switching, transcoding of composite and S-Video to component video, three coaxial and two toslink digital audio inputs, one 7.1-channel analog audio input, preamp outs, expandable to 7.1-channels, massive overbuilt power supply, multi-source/multi-zone
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Shane Buettner Posted: Sep 13, 2006 0 comments
  • $1,099
  • 110-Watts x 7 into 8 ohms
  • Processing Modes: DD, DD-EX, ProLogicIIx, Dolby Virtual Speaker, Dolby Headphone, DTS, DTS-ES/Discrete/Matrix/Neo: 6, DTS 24/96
Features We Like: HDMI 1.1 and component video switching, auto calibration with Audyssey MultEQ room EQ, transcoding of analog video to HDMI, two coaxial and five toslink digital audio inputs, one 7.1-channel analog audio input, 7.1-channel preamp outs, XM Satellite Radio Ready, AV sync delay, multi-source/multi-zone
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Posted: Sep 07, 2006 0 comments

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Posted: Sep 07, 2006 0 comments

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Mark Fleischmann Posted: Aug 17, 2006 0 comments
Set me up, and let me fly.

Back when Jimmy Carter was president (or was it Ford?), my first audio system featured a Pioneer SX-434 receiver. Even then, manufacturers had figured out that SX sells. My old receiver was rated at 15 watts per channel and weighed 18 pounds. Today, I'm reviewing a Pioneer VSX-816 A/V receiver (SX still sells) with 110 watts times seven. At 20.3 pounds, it's put on some weight, but what a difference a couple of pounds can make.

Mark Fleischmann Posted: Aug 17, 2006 0 comments
Two products, one look.

It wasn't until I uncrated both the Paradigm Cinema 330 speakers and the Harman/Kardon AVR 340 receiver that I realized I'd found something rare in the home theater realm—a visual match between speakers and receiver. Did some invisible hand simultaneously guide Paradigm's whizzes in Toronto and Harman/Kardon's design squad in Northridge, California? These two large companies have no connection that I know of. Yet, this month's Spotlight System is a genuine fusion of Canadian and Californian design sensibilities.

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Michael Fremer Posted: May 26, 2006 0 comments

DVD players have become so "commoditized" that it's typical today for players to sell for less than $100. And you know what? Some of these inexpensive players feature progressive scan output and perform quite well overall. I saw one such player advertised in my local paper today selling for $18! It wasn't too long ago that de-interlacing meant adding a $10,000 Faroudja scaler to an already expensive DVD player.

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