SURROUND PROCESSOR REVIEWS

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David Vaughn Posted: Feb 20, 2013 12 comments

AV8801 Surround Processor
Audio Performance
Video Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
 
MM8077 Amplifier
Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
Price: AV8801, $3,599; MM8077, $2,399 At a Glance: Up to 11.2-channel playback with Audyssey DSX and DTS Neo:X Audyssey MultEQ XT32 and Sub EQ HT Apple AirPlay support

As A/V enthusiasts, we are constantly on the lookout for the best audio and video we can find, and when we reach that state of nirvana, we enjoy our equipment until the next CES or CEDIA when we then hear about something new and begin to worry that our system will soon be second best. Writing for Home Theater makes me an unwilling accomplice in this never-ending cycle of upgrade-itis, but truth be told, I’m just as affected by this as the rest of you. Thankfully, I’m able to get my fix by having lots of equipment moving through my rack, but every now and then, I fall in love with a piece and don’t want it to leave my possession.

Chris Lewis Posted: May 01, 2005 Published: May 17, 2005 0 comments
Turn on, tune in, strap down. I was standing in an area of last year's Home Entertainment Show in New York that had no demonstration rooms anywhere nearby. It started with a boom and a rumble, like the gathering of a distant but powerful storm. It wasn't enough to shake me yet, but it was enough to grab my attention. Then came another boom, another rumble, and enough curiosity that I felt compelled to find a tactful way out of my conversation and make my way toward this growing intensity. Not only could I feel the floor moving under my feet as I got closer, but I even started to believe I was seeing Sheetrock flakes on the floor, steadily gathering into a distinct trail. Soon enough, the rattling of the walls, the low-frequency energy waves hammering my senses, and the shaken but excited looks of people coming the other way told me I had arrived. MiCon Audio, the door announced. Curious, I thought—or tried to think, before another sortie ripped out from inside—and a belief that the door might literally be blown off its hinges began to monopolize my thoughts. Finally, the door opened, and the answer to all of the riddles awaited me inside—but, for that, you'll have to read on.
Steve Guttenberg Posted: Jan 26, 2007 0 comments
They want to take you higher.

The component that put NAD on the map in the mid 1970s—the 3020 integrated stereo amplifier—didn't look like a giant killer. Finished in an indeterminate shade of grayish-brown and devoid of gee-whiz features, the 3020 nevertheless became one of the best-selling audiophile amplifiers of all time—and not just because it sounded better than anything going for two or three times its humble MSRP. The 3020 had that special something that made it, well, lovable. Over the decades, the engineers squeezed a bit of the 3020's magic into every NAD product, but they've pulled out all the stops with the new Masters Series components. They had to, as the ultimate NADs are competing with the likes of Anthem, Arcam, B&K, and Rotel. They're playing with the big boys now.

Fred Manteghian Posted: Feb 06, 2014 8 comments

Audio Performance
Video Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
PRICE $1,095

AT A GLANCE
Plus
Fulfills your innermost audiophile aspirations
Simple operation
Excellent proprietary room EQ
Minus
Kiss your sweet analog sources goodbye
Feature-wise, it’s missing a lot more than the kitchen sink

THE VERDICT
You’ll easily get through your diet of high-def viewing and listening with this great-sounding surround processor that works without a hitch.

I couldn’t make the John Mayer concert in Hartford a few weeks ago, but I heard it was great. Best I can do is throw the Born and Raised CD into the tray and set the AVP-18 surround processor to one of the DSP modes that turns a studio album into a concert event in your living room. Let’s see, he was at the open-air under-cover Comcast theater which has really great sound from most seats, so nothing slap-echo-happy like the over-the-top Stadium or Theater modes. Ahh, Rock has just the right amount of reverb tail.

David Vaughn Posted: Jan 08, 2013 3 comments

Outlaw Model 975 Surround Processor
Audio Performance
Video Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
 
Price: $549 At A Glance: Audiophile audio quality • Excellent customer service • Meets or exceeds performance of processors costing multiples of its price

Remember the days when being the middleman of a business transaction reaped all kinds of rewards? Times have certainly changed in this regard with the invention of the Internet. The traditional distribution channels for electronics have been reshaped, and businesses that can't adapt—Circuit City, The Good Guys, and many specialty A/V retailers—are either extinct or on the express train to bankruptcy court. I'm talking about you, Best Buy.

How consumers buy electronics has evolved to where Amazon.com is king of the world, but there are some companies out there that are adapting in a different way. Outlaw Audio is a great example of this.

Chris Lewis Posted: May 12, 2003 Published: May 13, 2003 0 comments
Parasound's 7.5-channel surround controller has finally landed.

While it may always get second billing in the parade of human emotions, don't forget about anticipation's potent influence. This is the force that has been linked to Parasound's Halo C1 pre/pro ever since its trade-show debut a few years back, and it has only gained momentum with each successive instance of display without delivery. While some critics speculated that Lucas-like patterns of prolonged hype were at work, most people figured that Parasound simply wanted the C1 to be right before they finally let it go. Once you dig into it, you'll see why that took some time.

Kris Deering Posted: May 31, 2012 3 comments

Halo P 7 Multichannel Preamplifier
Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
 
A 51 Multichannel Amplifier
Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
 
JC 1 Single-Channel Amplifier
Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
Price: P 7: $2,000, A 51: $4,500, JC 1: $4,500 At A Glance: Analog-audio-only preamp supports up to seven channels • Flexible hookup options • Halo amps deliver staggering performance

One of the few lessons that was ingrained into me during my time in the Navy was, “Keep it simple.” I admit it wasn’t phrased quite so politically correctly, but the point is still the same. It’s a motto I apply to just about everything I do in my daily life, and when I received the Parasound Halo P 7 multichannel preamplifier ($2,000) for review, it appeared that Parasound sticks to the same philosophy. The strictly analog preamp shrugs off digitaldecoding duties to your source components, shunning any dirty digital processing while providing a high-end, multichannel, analog preamp stage to feed into your amps. With the right front-end source components, this makes for a spectacular two-channel and multichannel listening experience.

Chris Lewis Posted: Aug 30, 2005 Published: Aug 31, 2005 0 comments
Performance and value never go out of style.

My curiosity was naturally piqued a few years ago when I heard that Parasound was going upscale with their look. This was a company that had become virtually synonymous with performance plus value, facilitated somewhat by forgoing aesthetic flair, and I wondered where the decision to go uptown with the finish in the Halo line would lead. The first good sign was the Halos' higher price tags. It costs a lot more to make boxes look that good, and this told me that they weren't taking resources away from performance to do so. What ultimately satisfied my curiosity, though, was how good the Halo models sounded. Yet, there are still those who want Parasound performance, have less to spend, and don't mind—or maybe even appreciate—Parasound's rugged, utilitarian old style. The New Classic line is exactly what they're looking for.

Mark Fleischmann Posted: Mar 22, 2007 Published: Feb 22, 2007 0 comments
Multinational speakers meet American amps.

On the battlefield of speaker design, I am the triage nurse. I walk into speaker demo rooms at trade shows, my badge sometimes inadvertently turned inward, listen for a moment, and quietly mutter to myself, "This one's a keeper," or, "He's dead, Jim." Or occasionally just, "Hmmm," because good speakers may sound iffy under bad conditions, and I respect the potential buried within an ambiguous first take. But, if my instincts tell me to pursue a review, I whip out a business card and start making arrangements on the spot.

Daniel Kumin Posted: Mar 25, 2013 0 comments

Emotiva. The name sounds like the latest cure-all marketed by Big Pharma on the evening news programs. (Remember “restless leg?”) It is, in fact the consumer-audio brand of Tennessee’s Jade Designs. And Jade Designs, in turn, is the direct-to-consumer brand founded by a longtime veteran of the rough-and-tumble electronics OEM (original equipment manufacturing) world.

Daniel Kumin Posted: Jan 30, 2012 1 comments

How long have Integra’s A/V preamplifier/processors been around? Long enough to become a bit of an institution among home theater insiders. If you were assembling a serious system and demanded legitimately audio/videophile performance in every aspect but were unable or unwilling to pay the sometimes absurd prices asked for “seriously high-end” gear, an Integra pre/pro is what you bought.

Fred Manteghian Posted: Oct 06, 2008 0 comments
Separates Are What Keep Us Apart

Back in the days when CRT front projectors roamed the earth, any serious home theater required a separate surround processor and amplifier. In fact, it wasn’t uncommon to find a Tri-Amplisauri from Parasound, Proceed, and others covering those three all-important front channels. Of course, technology has advanced significantly in the past decade. These days, unless you have some very special needs, you can’t go wrong with today’s powerful and reasonably priced one-piece receivers. Many have more amplified channels than Hillary Clinton has pant suits. Rotel makes a number of A/V receivers. I even reviewed one for UltimateAVmag.com a few years ago. But the separates I reviewed here are not simply a case of cutting the baby in half. This here is a new species.

Michael Fremer Posted: Oct 20, 2010 2 comments
Price: $4,998 At A Glance: Superior surround processor sonics • Excellent ergonomics • Cool-running ICEpower amp lacks definition

The Ladder to the High End

You’ve got to have sympathy for sound- and build-quality-oriented A/V electronics manufacturers like Rotel. You can go online, and for four hundred bucks and change buy a “630-watt” 7.1-channel AVR from a big-name manufacturer with all the latest lossless audio decoding from Dolby and DTS, video processing, 1080p HDMI switching, upconversion, and more. Since many people these days don’t care about good sound and because they’ve never actually heard it, they think, “Everything sounds the same.” And they think they should get it all for a pittance.

Daniel Kumin Posted: Dec 25, 2012 0 comments

As home theater has become ever more digitally sophisticated, A/V separate components, specifically preamp-processors, have become thinner on the ground as many smaller, separates-oriented manufacturers drop away. While A/V receivers today steal much of the limelight (and dollars), separates soldier on, mostly from the major-brand makers, each of which offers a flagship pre-pro. So too do a handful of low-volume, high-end makers offering very expensive models.

Rotel is one of a very few to occupy the middle ground with a separates line dedicated to both performance and value, and priced for people who might still have to think about it. The RSP-1572, the firm’s most recent pre-pro, is the company’s marquee A/V component.

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