SURROUND PROCESSOR REVIEWS

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Mark Fleischmann Posted: Apr 09, 2006 1 comments
Trendy yet rebellious.

The audio industry seems about to leap off a cliff. Permit me to suggest that this may be a rash decision. True, component audio sales have diminished, but that's no excuse for the industry to abandon its principles and give up on sound quality. What consumers are rebelling against is not good sound but bad design. They've had enough of big, dumb, room-hogging speakers. "It doesn't suit the room, but it sounds good" doesn't cut it anymore. "It looks as good as it sounds" is the winning combination.

David Vaughn Posted: Feb 08, 2011 3 comments

Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
Price: $1,200 At A Glance: THX Ultra2 Plus certification • Seven HDMI inputs • Dual HDMI outputs • Home network and Internet audio streaming

Four years ago, Integra rocked the A/V world when it released its well-reviewed DTC-9.8 surround processor (HT, May 2008) for an unprecedented price of $1,600. It boasted a bevy of cutting-edge features and was one of the first processors on the market that could decode Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD Master Audio. Since that time, the company hasn’t rested on its laurels. It’s offered yearly upgrades with the DHC-9.9 (HT, July 2009) for $2,000 and DHC-80.1 (HT, May 2010) for $2,300. Each subsequent year, the processor has offered additional improvements to justify the price increase. However, those seeking out separates on a budget were being left behind.

Michael Fremer Posted: Nov 27, 2013 6 comments
Audio Performance
Video Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE 2,000

AT A GLANCE
Plus
HDBaseT audio/video via CAT5e/6
4K upconversion and passthrough
Feature packed and futureproof
Minus
Lackluster sonics

THE VERDICT
The futureproof, feature-packed, and easy-to-operate midline DHC-60.5 is a custom installer’s dream, but it falls short on sound quality.

Integra’s new THX Ultra2 Plus–certified DHC-60.5 A/V controller—one of the first to offer HDBaseT connectivity—is clearly intended for the custom install market. But with its generous feature array and ease of operability, the $2,000 midline offering will no doubt also attract its share of retail consumers.

Kris Deering Posted: May 03, 2010 0 comments
Price: $2,300 At A Glance: Bleeding-edge surround sound processing includes 9.2 Audyssey DSX • State-of-the-art video processing • Internet and home network streaming

Third One’s a Charm

In the separates world, we seldom see a lot of change within a short period of time. With A/V receivers, manufacturers almost customarily update their lines yearly, introducing new features and aesthetics that beckon for your dollar. On the other hand, surround processors are usually a slow burn. New versions hit the shelves every few years. Plus, manufacturers offer upgrades to existing models, so you don’t have to buy new equipment every time there’s a new whiz-bang format.

Kris Deering Posted: Dec 29, 2011 4 comments

DHC-80.3 Surround Processor
Audio Performance
Video Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
 
DTA-70.1 Amplifier
Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
Price: $4,400 At A Glance: 4K scaling • Reference-quality video processing • Audyssey MultEQ XT32 ups the ante for room EQ • Nine channels of THX Ultra2 amplification

I don’t know what’s more impressive, the fact that Integra can produce a new state-of-the-art surround processor each year, or that the company can find new audio/video processing modes to add to its already ridiculous list of features. The Integra DHC-80.3 is the latest home run from Integra, with some of the most future-proofing features the company’s delivered yet. I can’t imagine adding much more to a surround processor, but I’m sure Integra will pull some new surprises out of the bag next year.

I’ve reviewed several of the past incarnations of Integra’s A/V processor, but this time up, Integra also sent out its nine-channel THX Ultra2–certified amp, the DTA-70.1. This monster delivers 150 watts per channel and sports balanced inputs and a gorgeous solid-aluminum front panel that matches the DHC-80.3 perfectly.

Kris Deering Posted: May 26, 2009 0 comments
Price: $2,000 At A Glance: Outstanding video processing • All of the latest audio flavors • Dynamic EQ offers exciting experiences at lower volumes

More Bang, Less Buck

Last year, I had the pleasure of reviewing the Integra DTC-9.8 surround processor (HT, May 2008). The DTC-9.8 was one of the first processors to offer full decoding abilities for Dolby TrueHD and DTS-HD Master Audio, and it included state-of-the-art video processing. But one of the DTC-9.8’s best features was its price. Seldom do we see a feature-rich processor that’s south of the $2,000 price point.

Kris Deering Posted: Apr 07, 2008 0 comments
Next-generation audio/video controller.

Integra raised a lot of eyebrows when it announced the new DTC-9.8 A/V processor at CEDIA last year. Not only was this the first pre/pro on the market to offer decoding of the next-gen audio codecs from Dolby and DTS, it also boasts Silicon Optix video processing and highly sophisticated Audyssey room correction. And its $1,600 price point was almost unheard of in the separates market.

Chris Lewis Posted: Dec 12, 2005 0 comments
This time, it's all English.

After the parade of international system mates that we've had in every other installment of this column recently, we finally settle into a system whose parts share their nation of origin. Don't be too quick to assume that it is the United States or Japan I speak of—this month's system hails entirely from merry old England. This isn't terribly surprising, but it does give me an opportunity to say a few things to our friends across the pond that I've been meaning to say for a while, such as: Sorry about that whole revolution thing (although I don't really mean that sincerely), and thanks for the Rolling Stones, Lord Stanley (who gave us the Stanley Cup), and Elizabeth Hurley—in no particular order, of course.

Michael Fremer Posted: Mar 13, 2014 8 comments

Audio Performance
Video Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $6,500

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Superb sonics High build quality No widgets, gimmicks, or extraneous features
Minus
No widgets, gimmicks, or extraneous features Klunky OS, incomplete instructions, non-backlit remote

THE VERDICT
Krell’s aptly named, sonically sophisticated Foundation counters a foolish industry trend toward sacrificing sound quality for useless and/or redundant features.

We live in a bizarre world where automobile commercials tout peripheral accessories while omitting mention of engines, transmissions, and brakes. What’s more important: Stopping distance or voice-activated Bluetooth?

So it’s not surprising that in much of today’s home theater electronics, sound quality takes a backseat to features and widgets. Backseat? In some, sound quality doesn’t even go along for the ride.

Chris Lewis Posted: Nov 04, 2002 Published: Nov 05, 2002 0 comments
With the Showcase pre/pro-and-amp combo, Krell hits a new low—price point, that is.

Much is made of the intense competition that goes on in the receiver game, and understandably so. For the most part, these are companies that have piles of money to spend on advertising, have the resources and inclination to bring out new models every year, and have hordes of accountants and marketing types to keep watch on things likemarket placement, pricing, competitor activity, and so on. But what about the healthy (and growing) competition in the separates arena, especially at the lower (all things being relative) price points? It may not draw the receiver war's headlines, involve a fraction of the corporate expenditure and model turnover, or feature dueling laser shows from multilevel booths at industry trade shows. But, make no mistake, the competition here is no less intense, no less important to the industry as a whole, and no less beneficial to its particular crop of potential buyers.

Chris Lewis Posted: Nov 07, 2001 Published: Nov 08, 2001 0 comments
Lexicon's long-awaited flagship pre/pro finally hits the shelves.

The rumors about Lexicon's new pre/pro have been swirling about for what seems like an eternity. It can do this. It will have that. It may pour you a straight bourbon if you set it up properly. So, it's with no small amount of anticipation that many await their first glimpse of this new megaprocessor, which has been touted (by the grapevine more than Lexicon) as having all of the performance of the highly respected MC-1 with a few more tricks up its sleeve. While the MC-12's goal is certainly to supplant the MC-1 at the top of the Lexicon line, it's undoubtedly aware of the debt of gratitude it owes its predecessor and ancestors like the DC-1, which laid the foundation for the respect and subsequent anticipation that this model enjoyed long before it ever hit the shelves.

Joel Brinkley Posted: Dec 07, 2001 0 comments
For years now, Lexicon has been a darling of home-theater owners, particularly those who care most about their components' performance and least about cosmetics. The home-theater preamp-processors that Lexicon has made in the last five years—the DC-1, DC-2, and MC-1—have been among the best-performing products of their type. But their plain-Jane appearances do not make them stand out for comment when uninformed friends come over to have a look at your equipment.
Chris Lewis Posted: Jul 14, 2003 Published: Jul 15, 2003 0 comments
Lexicon's next generation arrives with a bang.

You can't please everybody, especially in the home theater world. Lexicon came close in 2000 with the release of the MC-12, an end-all pre/pro that carried on the company's tradition of performance but also addressed the few issues that people had with earlier Lexicon controllers like the MC-12's direct predecessor, the MC-1. Almost everyone, myself included, loved the MC-1's sound, tweakability, and just about everything else. As with any high-profile piece, though, people did raise questions about the MC-1—some legitimate, some not. The MC-12 directly addressed the important issues, like the lack of analog bypass and a six-channel input. (Remember that, when the MC-1 debuted, SACD and DVD-Audio were still just a twinkle in the audiophile's eye.) Even many of the peripheral issues, such as aesthetics, got some attention on the MC-12. The only remaining issue was price, as the MC-12 cost a few thousand dollars more than the MC-1. True, but Lexicon didn't replace the MC-1 with the MC-12; they simply provided the MC-12 as another option.

Michael Fremer Posted: Apr 04, 2011 10 comments

Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
Price: $2,700 At A Glance: Receiver priced, separates performance and power • Next-gen Internet connectivity and versatility • Sophisticated sonics, simplified setup

Everybody’s Been Burned

Are you weighed down by a boat anchor of an expensive, powerful, but obsolete A/V receiver that doesn’t have HDMI inputs or processing for the latest lossless audio formats? You’re not alone. Everybody’s been burned by fast-moving technological change. You could unload your boat anchor for a few hundred dollars on eBay or AudiogoN and start over. But should you? Consider that today’s cost-conscious race-to-the-bottom A/V receivers and even some separates seem to be getting cheaper but worse sounding, not better. But if Marantz’s AV7005 surround processor and MM7055 amplifier are as good as the hype suggests, this could be the way to go. And in case of future obsolescence, at least now you’re into separates, which makes upgrades a less pricey proposition.

Michael Fremer Posted: Oct 13, 2008 0 comments
An Antidote to the AVR

With flagship A/V receivers approaching apartment building size and black-hole heft, there’s a great deal to be said about separating the brains of the operation from the brawn. If you choose separates, it means you never have to borrow a construction crane to hoist a feature-laden, mega-watt seven- or eight-channel receiver onto a tall equipment rack.

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