AV RECEIVER REVIEWS

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Scott Wilkinson Posted: Apr 03, 2005 0 comments

When Michael Fremer reviewed the <A href="http://ultimateavmag.com/avreceivers/55/">Pioneer VSX-49TX</A>, he concluded that it was "one of the best, if not <I>the</I> best, A/V receiver on the market today." Of course, technology marches ever onward, and Pioneer hasn't rested on its laurels. Their subsequent flagship receiver, the VSX-59TXi, builds on the qualities of its predecessor, offering even more features for the same $4500 price tag.

Chris Lewis Posted: Mar 18, 2005 0 comments
It's a speaker system away from an HTIB, with more bang for the buck.

Back in the days before HTIBs, there was another kind of home-theater-in-a-box—better known as an A/V receiver. In this era of consolidation, we probably don't entirely grasp the impact that A/V receivers had when they debuted some 25 years ago. A preamplifier, processor, and amplifier all in one box (literally), with a radio tuner thrown in for good measure, was impressive stuff back in the early '80s. Receivers were the Swiss Army knives of home audio, and they, along with surround sound itself, are probably as responsible as anything for the audio explosion amongst the masses that we now know as home theater.

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Michael Fremer Posted: Feb 27, 2005 0 comments

When Apple introduced the iPod, many industry observers scratched their heads, wondering why Sony hadn't been the first to deliver such a product. After all, Sony had invented the Walkman&mdash;the first speakerless, portable personal audio cassette player, and Sony has a strong presence in the computer market. Perhaps heads get buried in the sand when you're promoting a new high-resolution audio format and the world is heading in the other direction. It's human and corporate nature.

Chris Lewis Posted: Feb 15, 2005 0 comments
Good sound made easy by Lexicon and Canton.

In case you didn't believe we were serious about dedicating more of our pages to the overriding reality of home theater—the necessity of individual components coming together to form a cohesive system—we offer exhibit B, our new Spotlight System review. Exhibit A, for those keeping score, is our Hook Me Up column: Sometimes it includes reviews, and sometimes it doesn't, but it always keeps an eye on system issues, especially connections. This new column contains all of the elements of a standard gear review, with the notable exception of being focused on a system, rather than individual components.

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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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Lawrence E. Ullman Posted: Feb 13, 2005 Published: Feb 14, 2005 0 comments

For a company that recently celebrated its 50th anniversary, Harman Kardon looks maahvelous. Consider the sleek industrial design of the company's new AVR-series receivers. With minimalist gloss-black front panels and distinctive, ring-shaped, blue-illuminated volume controls, these components look both strikingly modern and a tad retro&mdash;an appropriate synthesis coming from the company that introduced the world's first receiver back in 1954.

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Mark Fleischmann Posted: Jan 18, 2005 Published: Jan 19, 2005 0 comments
Practicality trumps mystique.

Years ago, I crossed swords with the editor-in-chief of a magazine that covered tech only in passing. His deputy editor took me aside, and a reflective look came into his eyes as he explained why his distinguished boss hated my work: "There's a kind of hardheaded practicality to him, and the whizbang stuff you write just leaves him cold. High-end cars he understands, but not high-end audio, and he wants you to convince him that this stuff is really worth paying good money for." Ever since then, I've tried to recognize that hardheaded practicality when I run across it—especially in readers.

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Thomas J. Norton Posted: Dec 15, 2004 0 comments

The STR-DA9000ES is Sony's entry in what has become a new trend in home theater: receivers that seriously challenge separate components. That challenge is extended not only in features and performance, but in size as well. Many of these new behemoths equal the sheer bulk of more than a few preamplifier-processor and amplifier combinations.

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Chris Lewis Posted: Dec 14, 2004 Published: Dec 15, 2004 0 comments
The gateway to four figures.

Being a big electronics company and not having a $1,000 A/V receiver is a little like being a big car company and not having a car around $20,000 to $25,000. It's that key middle ground that you hope will ultimately help transition people from your entry level to your high-end level. It's also one of the first levels where people expect something well beyond the basics, and the competition to provide it, and grab those extra dollars, is stiff.

Steve Guttenberg Posted: Dec 14, 2004 Published: Dec 15, 2004 0 comments
The sound goes round and round and comes out here.

The 2004 Home Entertainment East Show was chock full of cool, new high-tech goodies, but I found myself returning again and again to the Arcam/Gallo Acoustics room. This was all the more surprising because I'm pretty familiar with Arcam's uncommonly elegant electronics and Gallo's radically round speakers, but they were demoing the Drumline DVD at realistically loud levels, and the choreographed thunder of competing marching bands was huge, dynamically alive, and tons of fun. A week after the show, I was still reminiscing about the sound. I made some phone calls, worked out some scheduling and shipping details, and now I'm sitting here exploring the system's capabilities in my very own home theater. Let me tell ya, the spectacular sound I heard at the show wasn't a hallucination; the Arcam/Gallo combination is good. . .really good.

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Lawrence E. Ullman Posted: Dec 15, 2004 0 comments

Back in the misty days when 2-channel stereo was still an exciting new format and tubes ruled the land, Sherwood was a brand name to be reckoned with. Together with such companies as Harman/Kardon, Fisher, Marantz, and McIntosh, Sherwood was instrumental in launching the American hi-fi industry on a path that would culminate in today's high-end audio gear&mdash;grist for our sister publication, <I>Stereophile</I>.

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Barry Willis Posted: Nov 05, 2004 0 comments

New Acoustic Dimensions, aka NAD, has been building reliable, affordable, good-sounding audio equipment for well over a quarter of a century. Anecdotal evidence: My NAD 7225PE receiver, 20+ years old, is still working perfectly as the heart of my garage workshop audio system.

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Fred Manteghian Posted: Oct 16, 2004 0 comments

A cross between a torque-driven Datsun Z and a rev-happy Mazda RX was the first thing I thought of when I read the model designation of Yamaha's new flagship receiver: RX-Z9. I wasn't far off. This baby is a beast of a receiver with enough horse under the hood to drag you kicking and spitting into a 21st-century home theater beyond reproach. The list of standard features is as long as a dragster's tailpipes, but starting with the 170W to each of seven primary channels (and another 50W for two Presence channels), Yamaha's intentions are quite clear: This is all the receiver you need!

Kevin Hunt Posted: Oct 15, 2004 Published: Oct 01, 2004 0 comments
1-Bit o honey.

In a previous lifetime, the Sharp SD-PX2 was probably a too-cool 1940s Bakelite radio—boxy, plastic, and proud of it. The SD-PX2 DVD/receiver is a certifiable forward-thinker. Utilizing Sharp's 1-Bit digital amplifier technology, the streamline SD-PX2 packs a DVD player and receiver into a stand-up chassis that, at only 4.5 inches deep, wouldn't look out of place on a bedside stand.

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Mark Fleischmann Posted: Aug 19, 2004 Published: Aug 01, 2004 0 comments
This feature-laden receiver conceals its gifts behind a basic black exterior. There's nothing unusual about the plain white fluorescent display, volume and jog dials, or flip-down panel that conceals most of the buttons. Denon's one original touch is a set of navigation controls behind the hinged panel that follow the same layout as those on the remote (up/down/left/right, with the enter button in the center).

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