AV RECEIVER REVIEWS

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Chris Lewis Posted: Jun 28, 2001 Published: Jun 29, 2001 0 comments
Integra's DTR-9.1 A/V receiver has a sound battle plan, thanks to its potent mix of high-end tricks and approachability.

In case you hadn't noticed over the last year, the high-end-receiver war is on. With this donnybrook comes a blurring of the formerly distinct line between the bottom end of the separates market and the high end of the receiver market. It used to be simple: If you had X amount of money or less to spend, you bought a receiver; if you had more in your budget, you bought separates. Now, the competition for home theater dollars in the $2,500-to-$4,000 price range has become fierce, not only between receivers and separates but also amongst receivers themselves.

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Thomas J. Norton Posted: Feb 23, 2009 0 comments

If you sometimes get nostalgic for the days of 2-channel audio, you're not alone. Life was simple then. You plugged your CD player in here, your turntable in there, hooked up the preamp to the power amp (unless you were a hair-shirt audiophile with an all-in-one integrated amp) and you were done. Select the source, adjust the volume, sit back, and listen.

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Thomas J. Norton Posted: Mar 02, 2009 0 comments
Price: $2,600 At A Glance: Outstanding audio and video performance • All the latest Audyssey and THX Ultra2 Plus features • Uniquely flexible video calibration controls

Covering All the Bases

If you sometimes get nostalgic for the days of two-channel audio, you’re not alone. Life was simple then. You plugged in your CD player here, your turntable over there, hooked up the preamp to the power amp (unless you were a hair-shirt audiophile with an all-in-one, integrated amp), and you were done. Then you would select the source, adjust the volume, sit back, and listen.

Mark Fleischmann Posted: Jul 23, 2007 0 comments
The inverted bottle meets the custom virtuoso.

At some point in the evolution of home theater, someone noticed that the phrase includes the word home. At that point, weird and wonderful things began to happen. Speakers morphed into smaller, more rounded, and occasionally more imaginative shapes. The surround receivers that fed them maintained their black-box identities but moved discreetly into closets. Back panels began to sprout extra jacks, the better to interact with touchscreen interfaces, second zones, and other niceties that have become staples of the connected home.

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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.

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?

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Chris Lewis Posted: Jan 03, 2002 Published: Jan 04, 2002 0 comments
The receiver drum beats on.

In case you hadn't noticed, the receiver market is proceeding at a breakneck pace. It almost seems as though new models are hitting the store shelves every month. Hardly a year goes by in which each receiver manufacturer doesn't introduce new models, if not entirely new lines. Part of this phenomenon is based on the rapid expansion of processing options and other technologies, and part of it is simply business as usual in the receiver game. Receiver buyers, in general, have always seemed to focus on features, options, and having the latest technology at their fingertips—no matter what. As we know, receiver manufacturers are more than happy to oblige.

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Michael Fremer Posted: Jun 17, 2002 0 comments

Kenwood's entry in the category of top-shelf A/V receivers is the Sovereign VR-5900—a curvaceous, feature-packed powerhouse combining a user-friendly operating system, THX Ultra certification with all attendant processing facilities, Dolby Digital EX, matrixed and discrete DTS ES, HDCD decoding, and enough digital and analog inputs and outputs (including 2-zone operation) to satisfy almost any videophile's needs. It even includes a moving-magnet phono stage (but laserdisc aficionados will have to add an outboard RF demodulator).

Chris Lewis Posted: Jun 16, 2005 0 comments
Klipsch and Yamaha show that not every Spotlight System requires a second mortgage.

So far, we may have given you the false impression that the pages of this new column were going to be dedicated almost exclusively to the rarified air of the high end. After all, there has only been one installment so far that rang in under five figures, and last month's MiCon Audio system seriously blew the curve with a price tag roughly equivalent to that of a decent house in some parts of the country. Little did you know it was all part of an ingenious plan to build momentum for the column with flashy, big-ticket systems before settling in to the meat and potatoes of the A/V world—i.e., the systems the rest of us can afford. This month's Klipsch/ Yamaha combo is just such a system. Sure, it's not something you'll be able to buy with the change you find in your sofa, but it is certainly more attainable to a broader range of people than the MiCon Audios of the world are.

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Michael Fremer Posted: Apr 10, 2005 Published: Apr 11, 2005 0 comments

That last cell phone you bought—the one with the nearly telephone book-sized instruction manual—did you take the time to read through the tome completely, learning every function and programming feature before using it to actually make phone calls? Products are becoming so over-engineered and laden with features and functions, most of us merely skim the surface of the ones we buy, often remaining content with just getting the thing to actually function as intended.

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Clint Walker Posted: May 26, 2000 Published: May 27, 2000 0 comments
The receiver that shagged me.

The details surrounding my technical background are really quite inconsequential. Summers in retail, winters in correctional facilities for the perfectly capable. Desperate for the dollar, I'd often drug customers and dress them up like French maids. When they'd awaken, my friends and I would thank them for shaving our backs and assure them we wouldn't tell anybody. This was the sort of activity that would keep food on the table and our young bodies healthy for the beach. In the springtime, we'd make capacitor helmets with heatsinks on them. Then, we'd test each other's knowledge of schematics while running downhill. It was really quite breathtaking . . . you should try it sometime.

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Mark Fleischmann Posted: Feb 15, 2005 0 comments
Close your eyes and count to 80.

Most human beings have 10 fingers and 10 toes. Therefore the number 10 is a big deal to us. We use a base-10 number system, bestow honors in top-10 lists, and think in multiples of 10. So it's inevitable that makers of surround receivers have fixated on the number 100, or 10 times 10. For some of them it's the minimum power-output number allowed on any spec sheet, whether the amplifiers measure anywhere near that level of performance or not. Anything beyond that is likely to be in multiples of five (the fingers of one hand): 105 watts, 110 watts, 125 watts, etc. The more you become aware of this compulsion to express everything as a function of our physical form, the more comic it gets—humans are so self-absorbed. Or am I just projecting?

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Mark Fleischmann Posted: Feb 09, 2009 0 comments
Price: $800 At A Glance: New rounded front panel is borrowed from higher-end gear • Audyssey MultEQ auto setup and room EQ • Audio circuits on separate circuit board

The Middle Kid Syndrome

As the third child in a series of four, I know what it’s like to be in between. My older siblings arrived a decade before I did and towered over me with their adult-like achievements. They had summer jobs, bought Volkswagen Beetles, headed off to college, and—most fatefully, I now recognize—turned me on to rock ’n’ roll. I was the pampered baby for a few years until my younger sibling arrived and, predictably, absorbed more of my mother’s time. This made me terribly jealous.

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Mark Fleischmann Posted: Feb 22, 2010 0 comments
Price: $1,250 At A Glance: Bluetooth adapter is supplied, not merely optional • Connect compatible iPod models without a dock • Audyssey MultEQ, Dynamic Volume/EQ

Restraint and Simplicity

Marantz was founded in 1952 by Saul B. Marantz, who designed and built his first products at his home in Kew Gardens, New York. By the time I envied a college friend for owning a beautiful 1975-vintage Marantz stereo receiver, the company was owned by Superscope. The brand’s North American operations passed into the hands of Philips before it finally merged with Denon to form D&M Holdings in 2002.

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Mark Fleischmann Posted: May 25, 2012 4 comments

Audio Performance
Video Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
Price: $1,200 At A Glance: AirPlay and Bluetooth connectivity • Porthole design • Marantz audiophile tradition continues

Few brands offer as many entry points into audiophilia as Marantz. The vintage angle alone is priceless. Cruise eBay and Audiogon for everything from pricey restorations of vintage tube components to affordable, classic stereo receivers from the 1970s. The present-day Marantz, an honored member of the D&M Holdings family, is the brand to look to for answers to questions like, “Does anyone still make a decent-sounding, standalone CD player?” In some future lifetime, I may explore the potential of such bleeding-edge Reference Series components as the SC-7S2 stereo preamp ($6,500) or the TT-15S1 turntable ($1,500) with the acrylic chassis and platter. But Marantz’s lines of A/V receivers and surround separates have plenty of meat on the bone for both high-end and real-world home theater buffs. In fact, many of Marantz’s multichannel products are adorned with the same distinctive porthole display as the highest-performing members of the brand’s two-channel lines. Putting a round display on a product doesn’t necessarily guarantee quality, but the migration of this cosmetic signature does suggest that Marantz holds surround audiophiles and stereophiles in equally high regard.

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