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AV RECEIVER REVIEWS

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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 receiver's front panel is black but sets itself apart with a high-gloss finish and Pioneer's traditional (and rather attractive) amber display. It doesn't depend excessively on the jog dial. To the left, above the jog dial, are buttons labeled "music" and "movies," which make it easy to switch between Dolby Pro Logic II's music and movie modes (there's no IIx). To the right are buttons that choose the external line inputs for a universal player, select modes for the room EQ (including off), and bypass the tone controls for direct stereo playback. Touching any button on the remote activates red-orange backlighting.
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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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Mark Fleischmann Posted: Aug 19, 2004 Published: Aug 01, 2004 0 comments
The most reliable guide to power ratings isn't the specs provided by the manufacturers but the measurements made by our technical editor. He follows the mandates of the Federal Trade Commission in measuring power output and distortion with all channels continuously driven (along with a less-demanding two-channel spec). When objective third-party measurements aren't available, here's a quick-and-dirty means of sorting high-power receivers from the junk: Just feel the weight. Aside from the nefarious inclusion of useless lead weights, more pounds indicate either the presence of a heavier power supply or a heavier, more-sturdy chassis—ideally, both. All things being equal, with conventional amplifiers, you don't need expensive test gear to figure out that a 50-pound model is likely to play louder and cleaner than a 15-pound lightweight, even if both are rated at 100 watts per channel.
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Mark Fleischmann Posted: Aug 19, 2004 Published: Aug 01, 2004 0 comments
If you're shopping for a deal, you might find one on this stylish two-tone receiver. Its list price is not the lowest in this group. Search the Internet, though, and you'll find good deals on the AVR 630 from authorized dealers. (To make sure you buy from an authorized dealer, with a valid warranty, check the "where to buy" page at www.harmankardon.com.) The street-price differential between the AVR 630 and the others in this roundup is many hundreds of dollars. For some, that may prove to be the deciding factor.
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Mark Fleischmann Posted: Jan 01, 2004 0 comments
A receiver that listens to the room sounds better.

Home theater has its sweet spots. In the surround sound arena, the slickest compromise between "in a box" basics and "cost no object" indulgences would have to be the $999 A/V receiver. History tells us that Yamaha has a long track record of hitting this target with one best-selling model after another. So the RX-V2400 comes with a distinguished pedigree—and THX Select certification—even without the ground-breaking addition of automatic equalization. There's nothing new in the concept of using equalization to correct flaws in room acoustics. Custom installers have been using carefully tweaked EQ for years. What's new is that the idea has trickled down from custom home theaters to bleeding-edge preamp/processors to the humble receiver.

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Chris Lewis Posted: Oct 01, 2003 0 comments
The name says it all.

It's funny to me that so many people try to convince you that the high end is a relatively insignificant factor in the grand scheme of all things audio. Admittedly, if you put the sales figures of one large, mass-market manufacturer next to those of even several high-end manufacturers combined, the former will dwarf the latter every time. But when has audio ever been about sales figures? I certainly don't have space here to elaborate on everything that high-end audio companies do for the middle and lower ends, both tangibly and intangibly. However, one of those benefits is particularly relevant here: the issue of perception. It's hard to overstate the significance of high-end manufacturers getting into the receiver business. Certainly, high-end manufacturers have raised the receiver bar in terms of performance, the quality of internal componentry, and features, but they've also had a tremendous impact on the way that people look at receivers, legitimizing a form that many people consider to be inherently compromised for the sake of convenience and price.

Chris Lewis Posted: Sep 01, 2003 0 comments
Denon punches their ticket to the universal dance.

When you boil it all down, you realize that most format wars are somewhat ridiculous. Sure, it's fun to get the blood up every few years, and those of us in the A/V press certainly appreciate the opportunity to ramble on about these conflicts' various aspects and ramifications. Format wars ultimately belong in the software section, though, where the most that a wrong decision will cost you is the $20 or $30 that you spent on a disc, tape, or whatever else. When it comes to hardware, format wars can cost people hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars. Ultimately, that's no good for either side, let alone the buying public as a whole. Thanks to universal disc players' rapid emergence, the previously contentious (and occasionally ugly) high-resolution-audio war is now software-based, as it should be. This doesn't mean that the DVD-Audio and SACD camps don't still take shots at one another. Now high-resolution-player buyers have the luxury of either ignoring the conflict altogether or simply enjoying it for what it always should've been, secure in the knowledge that big bucks are no longer on the line. With competition between the various and ever-growing assortment of universal-player makers, capitalism survives, but nobody gets burned. The result should be a boom in universal-player buying over the next couple of years.

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Scott Wilkinson Posted: Feb 19, 2003 0 comments

I've always appreciated the quality of Yamaha receivers; in fact, my very first "serious" stereo receiver was a Yamaha. So it was with eager anticipation that I agreed to review the company's current flagship receiver, the Rx-Z1.

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Michael Fremer Posted: Feb 05, 2003 0 comments

"What's possibly left to add to an A/V receiver?" industry observers and reviewers ask at the end of each new product cycle. But always, by the time the replacement model has been introduced, manufacturers have found plenty to tack on. Only owners of last year's "state-of-the-art" A/V receivers can say how worthwhile are these additions, refinements, and upgrades.

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Chris Lewis Posted: Jan 01, 2003 0 comments
The new flagship from the creators of the form.

Where's the first place you look when you saddle up to the bar at your favorite watering hole? Some may say the waitress station or the sorority party in the back room; but, when it's time for business, you look at the top shelf. For it's in that rarified air that you'll find the 30-year-old Springbank, the Wild Turkey Kentucky Spirit, or the Old Rip Van Winkle. Then you scan the middle sections and find the 8-year-old Springbank, the Wild Turkey 101, or maybe some Crown Royal. Finally, it's down to the bottom shelf for the Banker's Club, the bottle that just says "whiskey," or my personal favorite: the jug with three Xs.

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