SURROUND PROCESSOR REVIEWS

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Chris Lewis Posted: Mar 01, 2004 0 comments
Another contender emerges among entry-level separates.

In case you hadn't noticed, the bell has rung, and the blows are flying in the $3,000-to-$5,000 range for electronics systems (i.e., preamplification, processing, and amplification). It's easy to characterize this as a melee between receivers and separates, which is a key component of what we're seeing at this price level. Receivers are sounding better and getting more expensive; separates are getting more user-friendly, offering more features, and dropping in price.

Chris Lewis Posted: Mar 18, 2005 0 comments
The Canadians and the Brits are at it again.

If you know your history, then you already know that the Canadians and the English can do some good things when they get together. While we were taking care of our business down at Utah and Omaha, the Canadians and the Brits were giving the Germans a pretty good working-over of their own up the beach at Normandy. They even teamed up rather effectively against us during the American Revolution and War of 1812, managing to hang on to Canada despite our various efforts to take it and, in the process, preserving one of England's last real toeholds in the New World.

Darryl Wilkinson Posted: Feb 26, 2008 0 comments
Hide your credit cards now before it's too late.

My son, Nick, recently attended an engineering weekend for high-school seniors at a nearby university. After splitting into teams, the attendees competed in several engineering challenges, one of which was to build a contraption made from a meager assortment of supplied materials (including an Alka-Seltzer tablet) that would move a small toy car across a pan of water.

Shane Buettner Posted: Sep 22, 2008 1 comments
Worthy of a sequel.

When we first reviewed Anthem’s Statement D2 in the December 2006 issue, HDMI switching was just emerging. But it wasn’t as crucial as it is today, now that next-gen audio and video applications are firmly established. There’s a story to be told in how the Statement D2 increased its utility in the connectivity tumult of these last two years. And there’s another story in its ability to stand tall even now, as onboard decoding of the advanced audio formats is now emerging in AVRs and pre/pros. The Statement D2 has adapted to the evolving standards and features that HDMI carries. Now at $7,499, the Statement D2 offers an advanced auto-setup and room-calibration system that furthers its value. It’s worth a fresh look.

Steve Guttenberg Posted: Dec 31, 2006 0 comments
Close to the edge.

I'm constantly amazed by the steadily improving sound of real-world-priced components, but it's fun to see how far mind-bogglingly fantastic high-end electronics have come. Yes, I have to admit that there's a certain amount of poseur gear that sports nosebleed pricing but doesn't really deliver sound that's much better than everyday good stuff. Have no such worries here, though. Anthem's Statement D2 surround processor and P5 amplifier are the real deal. Even by high-end standards, their capabilities are inspired.

Chris Lewis Posted: Dec 19, 2002 Published: Dec 20, 2002 0 comments
A flagship pre/pro, Arcam's way.

If there's one thing I know about Arcam, it's that they like to do things their own way. Yes, this is a high-end company and, as such, is relatively small—which usually means that they wouldn't have the resources to do major product overhauls or built-from-scratch developments very often. This being Arcam, though, it didn't surprise me when I heard that they were spending gobs of time and money developing a new statement pre/pro for their top-shelf FMJ line. Back in February, I spent some time with their DV27 DVD player—another built-from-the-ground-up effort—and was sincerely impressed, so I was curious to see what these fellows across the pond could accomplish when they set their sights on the world of flagship pre/pros.

Fred Manteghian Posted: Jan 06, 2013 1 comments

SP3 Surround Processor
Audio Performance
Video Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
 
9B SST² Amplifier
Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
Price: $17,595 At A Glance: No-compromise musicality in a home theater • Clean and powerful • No-frills design

If you’ve ever spent an afternoon at a big-box store courting eye strain and knee pain comparing the lineup of AVRs, then you’ve doubtless discovered that, superficially at least, the offerings have more in common than not. Sure, the more you spend, the more buzzwords are silk-screened across the front panel, the more HDMI connections you find around back, and, when it comes to power, the more exaggeration you get. One thing about Bryston and power—it’s not within theirs to lie. My first audiophile speakers, Magnepan MG-IIIa speakers, didn’t turn amazing until they met a Bryston 4B amp. If current is what your speakers crave, a Bryston amp could be their best friend.

Michael Fremer Posted: Apr 12, 2010 0 comments

Cinema 11a Surround Processor
Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
 
Model 7.125 Amplifier
Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
Price: $8,000 At A Glance: Minimal video-switching capabilities • Maximum sound quality • Amplifier made in America

Core Audiophile Values

During the last decade or so, specialty audio manufacturers have seen the marriage of home theater and high-performance audio become contentious at best and life threatening at worst. These days, companies have fewer financial resources and longer R&D lead times. Relatively small audiophile-oriented companies that sought the A/V path have been overwhelmed. Sometimes, fast-moving, shelf-life-shortening developments­—such as the adaptation of new audio and video formats—have burned these companies outright.

Chris Lewis Posted: Sep 18, 2004 Published: Sep 01, 2004 0 comments
High-end home theater for the rest of us.

Home theater in 2004 is like America in the 1950s, with a middle class that has steadily been building momentum and now finds itself in the midst of a major breakout. The same philosophy of the good life at a better price that spawned a culture of suburbs and credit-card debt in the '50s is spawning an unprecedented emergence of high-end home theater components at mid-level prices in the '00s.

Fred Manteghian Posted: Jan 27, 2012 2 comments

Cinema 12 Surround Processor
Audio Performance
Video Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
 
Model 7.125 Amplifier
Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
Price: $8,990 At A Glance: Excellent detail and resolution • Music jumps alive • No video processing

Over a decade ago, while writing for a now-defunct audio magazine, my editor shipped me a pair of monoblock Cary tube amps he’d never gotten around to reviewing. Something must have shook loose during transit, because instead of music, all I got when I powered them up was a wisp of smoke as one monoblock sadly committed hara-kiri! The Cary Cinema 12 and Model 7.125 are an eternity of light years away from those fragile forays into bottle socketry. They exude an air of quality and reliability that physically and musically justify their significant price.

Call me weird, but I get excited when I see XLR connectors on my audio gear. Time spent in my fledgling home studio has taught me why pros prefer them. The Cinema 12 offers both single-ended RCA and true, differentially balanced XLR outputs, an arrangement and circuit design mirrored on the Model 7.125 amplifier. The Cinema 12 even offers a pair of stereo analog XLR inputs and a single balanced digital input beyond the roster of seven single-ended analog input pairs. Audio purists will appreciate the fact that you can bypass all digital conversions for your analog sources, including the 7.1 analog input you might use with an SACD player.

Steve Guttenberg Posted: Jul 14, 2006 0 comments
Classy Classés.

Even before you hear Classé's new Delta series of electronics, you'll probably want to do what I did—feel them up. This is not just because their curved aluminum-and-steel chassis are exquisite works of industrial art—your fingertips wield extraordinary control over the SSP-300 surround processor. The matching CA-5100 five-channel power amplifier will supply the muscle to make your home theater roar.

Fred Manteghian Posted: Sep 21, 2010 1 comments

Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
Price: $18,000 At A Glance: Audio is smooth yet highly detailed • Amp has power to drive cattle • Great ergonomics • Spartan video

HT editor Shane Buettner laughed at me when I told him I spent two months strength training before the Revel Salon2 speakers arrived at my home last year.

Kris Deering Posted: Jul 27, 2009 0 comments

Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
Price: $15,000 At A Glance: State-of-the-art video and audio performance • Customizable amplifier • Sets the bar for connectivity • Tedious GUI and remote

Both Guns Blazing

The separates market has long been the pinnacle of audio performance for high-end home theater setups. But you’ve always had to pay a price for that performance: the lack of bleeding-edge features. While standalone processors typically set the bar for pure audio performance, many of them lack the latest features that A/V receivers offer. I’ve been guilty of envious glances at the latest high-end receiver designs, wishing that those cutting-edge features would find their way into a reference-level surround processor. But unfortunately that hasn’t been the reality—until now, that is.

Michael Fremer Posted: May 18, 2012 13 comments
Do you dream in surround sound? Since you’re reading this magazine, the answer is probably yes. Psychiatrists say dreaming is good for you. Thumb through any issue of Home Theater and you’re more likely than not to encounter components, systems, and lavish, dedicated rooms equipped with the latest 4K projectors and high-powered, surround-sound systems that most of us can only dream about.
David Vaughn Posted: Apr 10, 2013 17 comments

Emotiva UMC-200 Preamp/Processor
Audio Performance
Video Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
 
Price: $599 At A Glance: Audiophile audio quality at a bargain price • Customizable EQ solution • Outstanding value

I’m not an engineer, and no, I don’t play one on TV either, although I’ve been around the A/V business long enough to know the technological challenges manufacturers face when creating a new pre/pro or AVR from the ground up. This is especially hard for smaller companies with limited budgets in an HDMI-enabled world.

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