AV RECEIVER REVIEWS

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Filed under
Mark Fleischmann Posted: Sep 06, 2013 0 comments
Audio Performance
Video Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
Price $1,099

At A Glance
Plus Integrated Wi-Fi and Bluetooth • Audessey Mult EQ Room Correction • THX Select 2 Certification • Excellent video processing
Minus Lean sonic character can be fatiguing

The Verdict
Chock-full of the latest features and connectivity, the TX-NR828’s less-than-warm sound was more suited to movies than music in our auditions.

Onkyo is like that kid in elementary school. You remember: The one whose hand went up first in response to every question from the teacher.

“Who was the first presi–”

“George Washington!”

“Onkyo, I haven’t even finished asking the question.”

When it comes to features, Onkyo aims to be there firstest with the mostest. Name a feature, and Onkyo’s usually got it, typically in a licensed version with a hip logo, and quite often before anyone else. For the consumer who wants the latest features and wants them now, Onkyo is generally an excellent choice.

Filed under
Mark Fleischmann Posted: Aug 15, 2013 0 comments

Audio Performance
Video Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
Price: $600 At A Glance: MHL, HTC, iOS phone links • 4K scaling and passthrough • Solid performance for price

Despite some price overlap, Pioneer’s two receiver lines hew to different sets of values. Its Elite line offers more custom-install features, comes with a two-year warranty, and is sold through different distribution, primarily brick-and-mortar stores. The just-plain-Pioneer line, on the other hand, has more features per buck, offers a one-year warranty, and is sold both in stores and online. Scrutinize both lines closely, and you’ll find several cheap-and-cheerful-Pioneer models that are close equivalents of higher-priced Elite models. The just-call-me-Pioneer VSX-1123 ($600), reviewed here, has the same rated power and nearly all the same features as the Elite VSX-70 ($700)—including some brand-new features that will interest the smartphone-centric. If a price differential of more than a hundred bucks looks large in your household budget, read on.

Filed under
Dennis Burger Posted: Jul 10, 2013 0 comments

Audio Performance
Video Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
Price: $450 At A Glance: Great sound for the price • MHL-enabled HDMI • Tricky setup

In a world so mixed up, muddled up, and shook up that we can’t even depend on Superman to wear his red Underoos outside his pants like a proper superhero, it’s heartening to know that tax evasion and mortality aren’t the only certainties in life anymore. If anything, a new slate of A/V receivers from the big names in consumer electronics is even a surer certainty, with high-end features from last year’s offerings trickling down a model number or two and support for the latest connectivity features from the middle of the line on up.

Filed under
Mark Fleischmann Posted: May 31, 2013 0 comments

Audio Performance
Video Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
Price: $2,999 At A Glance: Beefy but balanced performer • Top-of-the-line amplifier design • Entry-level Audyssey 2EQ

There are things I just won’t do. I won’t let a door slam in the face of a parent pushing a stroller. I won’t desecrate discs from the public library with fingerprints and scratches. I won’t have a second martini (learned that one the hard way). I won’t use the word anyhoo. That’s not even a word. Look it up. And I won’t let two-channel loyalists glory-hog the high ground when they claim the audio/video receiver is always an underperformer, never more than the sum of its attention-getting features, and somehow irredeemably anti-high-end.

Filed under
Darryl Wilkinson Posted: May 13, 2013 1 comments

Audio Performance
Video Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
Price: $2,100 At A Glance: Free iOS and Android remote control apps • Built-in Control4 home automation controller • Four Easy Automation multi-parameter programmable scenes

A chimera is a mythical animal consisting of parts from various other animals. In Greek mythology, for example, a Chimera (with a capital C) was an unpleasant, fire-breathing creature that had a serpent’s tail, a goat’s body, and a lion’s head. (Insert standard joke about previous spouse/significant other, mother-in-law, editors, etc.) Although it’s not an official definition in the A/V world, I consider a component that’s been soldered together using parts from different components to be a chimera, too. The active soundbar with its amalgamation of amps, speakers, processor, and etc. is a good example of such an electronic creature. The deviant TV/VCR/DVD Franken-combo, on the other hand, is an example of how things can go terribly wrong.

Filed under
Mark Fleischmann Posted: May 03, 2013 0 comments
Audio Performance
Video Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
Price: $1,000 At A Glance: Built-in Wi-Fi • Bluetooth with supplied dongle • Rudimentary room EQ

Sherwood can fairly lay claim to a slice of audio history. Born in Chicago in 1953, it was one of the great American brands of home audio’s infancy. Its vintage tube amps still sell on eBay as affordable alternatives to more sought-after brands like McIntosh and Marantz; some folks make a hobby of refurbishing them. Its early solid-state stereo receivers also have a modest following.

Filed under
Mark Fleischmann Posted: Apr 01, 2013 0 comments
Audio Performance
Video Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
Price: $499 At A Glance: Switch-mode power supply • Full Apple functionality • Unique Media Manager app

If you don’t enjoy paradox, life is no more fun than a sack of dirt. Here’s a long-running paradox in the home theater sphere: Some folks are turned off by audio/video receivers because they are so complex and loaded with features. So how do the people who design AVRs make them more appealing? Add more features!

Filed under
David Vaughn Posted: Feb 28, 2013 5 comments

Audio Performance
Video Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
Price: $900 At A Glance: Fabulous video processing • Audyssey MultEQ XT enabled • Apple AirPlay enabled

With over 100 years of history behind it, Denon Electronics has high standards for any product it releases. And in my experience, it generally delivers the goods. Its AVRs (audio/video receivers) are often among the best on the market and run the gamut from the budget category all the way up to high-end models that will set you back a few months’ worth of mortgage payments.

Filed under
Dennis Burger Posted: Feb 08, 2013 4 comments

Yamaha RX-V473 A/V Receiver
Audio Performance
Video Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
 

Yamaha RX-V573 A/V Receiver
Audio Performance
Video Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
Price: $450 (RX-V473); $550 (RX-V573) At A Glance (both models): Really fantastic sound quality for the price • Apple AirPlay, DLNA, Internet radio, and app control • Lean on streaming and other features

Conventional wisdom amongst us A/V geeks who put audio performance above all else is that there’s no such thing as a good $500 A/V receiver anymore. At least not from the big, well-known manufacturers whose wares you’d find at the typical electronics store. This mythical beast did exist before the dark days, before the Features Wars, but given that even a mid-priced offering these days is expected to sport all sorts of streaming audio and video goodies, something had to give. And sound quality has traditionally been that something.

So it’s something of a novelty for me to be sitting here with not one, but two good $500-ish receivers from Yamaha. The company’s RX-V473 and RX-V573 look identical from the front and both fall within $50 of that target price point—the former fifty bucks down, the latter fifty bucks up.

Filed under
Mark Fleischmann Posted: Jan 28, 2013 9 comments

Audio Performance
Video Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
Price: $1,100 At A Glance: 125 x 7 watts D³ power • Brawny, assured bass • Network audio cornucopia

Someday I will be able to review a Class D receiver without mentioning this up-and-coming amplifier technology in the lead. That day hasn’t come yet and probably won’t in the next few years. But I can see it shimmering on the horizon.

Class D has been steadily infiltrating Pioneer’s upper-crust Elite line since 2008 and now accounts for five of the line’s seven models. With the SC-61, reviewed here, the latest version of the technology—which Pioneer calls D3—has come down in price to as little as $1,100. That’s a far cry from the $7,000 Pioneer charged for its first-ever Class D model five years ago.

Filed under
Mark Fleischmann Posted: Dec 28, 2012 1 comments

Audio Performance
Video Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
Price: $1,200 At A Glance: Top-flight build quality • Clean and detailed sound • Second-zone HDMI

Sing me a song. Come on, it will cheer me up. Hey, that’s good. Can you sing while juggling? Here’s the fruit bowl, let’s see what you can do. Wow, that was great. Now do the singing and juggling while standing on one foot. That was amazing! Can you sing and juggle while hopping on one foot? Incredible, although I must say the hopping affected your vibrato a little. Now let me see you sing, juggle, and hop on one foot while rotating—hey, where are you going? You were just starting to amuse me.

Filed under
Mark Fleischmann Posted: Dec 07, 2012 4 comments

Audio Performance
Video Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
Price: $2,299 At A Glance: Audyssey’s best room correction • ISF, THX certifications • Nine amp channels

Onkyo is the quintessential feature-conscious audio/video receiver maker. The company is the champion of the mid-priced receiver, providing things like THX certification, Audyssey room correction, and other goodies at a poor man’s price point. The upper reaches of Onkyo’s line get a bit less attention in the press, however. So today we swing the spotlight onto the Onkyo TX-NR3010, second from the top of the line. At $2,299, it has a few logo-tattoos you may not have heard of before. It also has a lot more power and more ambitious build quality than its slightly less tattooed siblings.

Filed under
Mark Fleischmann Posted: Nov 28, 2012 3 comments

Audio Performance
Video Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
Price: $500 At A Glance: Wi-Fi • AirPlay • Bluetooth • DLNA • Windows 7 Play To • Proprietary room correction

Sony may not be the first brand you think of in connection with audio/video receivers. The company has always offered competently designed models, some of which provide good performance and value for the money, yet somehow it hasn’t basked in the limelight enjoyed by the market-leading brands. That may be about to change with the STR-DN1030. Sony needed a way to attract attention and has found one: This receiver is a wireless triple threat with Apple AirPlay, Bluetooth, and Wi-Fi connectivity. And all of that is dongle free. To enable the wireless features, you needn’t spend more for accessories or plug anything into anything.

Filed under
Dennis Burger Posted: Nov 01, 2012 0 comments
Audio Performance
Video Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
Price: $580 At A Glance: Incredibly intuitive Setup Assistant • Apple AirPlay • Assignable power amps • Network/Internet streaming

As much as the phrase “plug and play” has saturated the electronics world to the point of near-ubiquity, it’s not a label we’ve ever seen applied to the giant mess of inputs, outputs, and speaker connections that define the A/V receiver. That’s not to say that Denon is labeling the AVR-1913 as such, but you could make the case. Or, if not plug and play, perhaps plug and poke and plug and poke and plug and poke and play. (The comedic value would at least outweigh any drawbacks in marketability.)

Filed under
Mark Fleischmann Posted: Oct 05, 2012 42 comments

Audio Performance
Video Performance
Features
Ergonomics
Value
Price: $2,500 At A Glance: 32-bit asynchronous USB DAC • D3 Class D amplification • All the Apple trimmings

Like a parent who charts a child’s growth with colored pencil marks on the wall, I’ve been observing the growth of audio/video receivers since the beginning of the product category. The wall is covered with ascending marks: Here’s the first A/V receiver, with composite video switching and no surround processing. Here’s the first Dolby Surround model, the first Dolby Pro Logic model, the first Dolby Digital model—and the first with DTS, THX, lossless surround, room correction, satellite radio, HDMI, network audio, Apple everything.

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