AV RECEIVER REVIEWS

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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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Ultimate AV Staff Posted: May 24, 2006 0 comments

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Ultimate AV Staff Posted: May 24, 2006 0 comments

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Ultimate AV Staff Posted: May 24, 2006 0 comments

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Ultimate AV Staff Posted: May 24, 2006 0 comments

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Ultimate AV Staff Posted: May 24, 2006 0 comments

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Ultimate AV Staff Posted: May 24, 2006 0 comments

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Ultimate AV Staff Posted: May 24, 2006 0 comments

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Mark Fleischmann Posted: Apr 18, 2006 Published: Apr 19, 2006 0 comments
The great gray lady.

Consumer expectations are a pointed stick. You can almost hear manufacturers of surround receivers going, "Ow, ow, ow! Do you really expect us to provide seven amp channels and a silicon forest of surround modes—and make it all easy to set up?" Yes, yes, and yes.

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Michael Fremer Posted: Apr 09, 2006 0 comments

HDMI switching and upconversion are but two of the many standout features incorporated into the RX-D702B, JVC's newest, slick-looking 7.1-channel A/V receiver. Despite its low profile and compact size, this 17 lb. AVR contains seven of JVC's Hybrid Feedback Digital Amplifiers rated at 150W per channel, and is packed with unique performance and convenience features, as well as the latest Dolby and DTS surround decoding options.

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Mark Fleischmann Posted: Mar 17, 2006 0 comments
Clap to calibrate, and don't forget the PC.

During the first hour that the JVC RX-D702B surround receiver sat on my rack, it began to wirelessly suck MP3s out of my PC. Then it sensed the clapping of my hands and automatically set its channel levels. Unpredictable moves are typical of JVC, one of the most underrated companies in consumer electronics.

Rebecca Day Posted: Feb 14, 2006 Published: Feb 15, 2006 0 comments
A complete system you won't want to hide in the basement.

My basement audio/video system is so last century. It's a mix-and-match collection of gear that's been retired as I've put together my real home theater system upstairs. The TV, a 30-inch analog CRT, circa 1988, doesn't even have a flat picture tube to its credit. The receiver maxes out at four-channel Dolby Pro Logic, and the speaker system is a mishmash of center and surround speakers (unmatched), with unshielded front speakers that deliver a killer image with stereo music but an unwelcome rainbow of colors when placed next to a video display. The DVD player is the only current-millennium piece in the stack, but not by much.

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Mark Fleischmann Posted: Jan 23, 2006 0 comments
Chairman of the boards.

A receiver that doesn't handle the latest video and surround formats is a doorstop. A similarly outmoded high-end receiver is a very expensive doorstop. And that's a problem for anyone who bought one during the 20th century. Most DVDs have Dolby Digital and/or DTS soundtracks—those are must-haves. Stereo material usually sounds much better to me in Dolby Pro Logic II than in DPLI or stereo. And, for the largest rooms, Surround EX and DTS ES have added the back channels some people deem necessary. HDMI is on its way in, component video is on its way out, XM and HD radio are knocking at AM/FM's door, and, in a few years, surround receivers will be called on to do things that we can barely begin to imagine today.

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